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

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

The original of this mirror site is HERE. My Blogroll; Archives here or here; My Home Page. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this site.
****************************************************************************************



30 September, 2012

Obama planning to bypass Congress again

The White House is preparing to direct federal agencies to develop voluntary cybersecurity guidelines for owners of power, water and other critical infrastructure facilities, according to people who said they had seen recent drafts of an executive order.

The prospective order would give the agencies 90 days to propose new regulations and create a new cybersecurity council at the Department of Homeland Security with representatives from the Defense Department, Justice Department, Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Commerce, a former government cyber-security official told Reuters.

"It tells those who have the ability to regulate to go forth and do so," said the person, who is currently outside the government and spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preserve access to government officials.

The draft executive order includes elements of what had been the leading cybersecurity overhaul bill in the Senate, which was defeated this summer amid opposition from industries opposed to increased regulation.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, an independent and one of the principal authors of that bill, on Monday urged the White House to issue such an order.

"The Department of Homeland Security has clear authority, if directed by you, to conduct risk assessments of critical infrastructure, identify those systems or assets that are most vulnerable to cyber attack and issue voluntary standards for those critical systems or assets to maintain adequate cybersecurity," Lieberman wrote to President Barack Obama.

The document has been circulating among the agencies and might go to top officials for their comments as soon as this week, another person involved in the process said.

A spokeswoman for the administration's National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden, confirmed that an order was being considered but would not provide details. "We're not commenting on the elements," Hayden said.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE COOPERATION

Former White House cybersecurity policy coordinator Howard Schmidt said the proposed order would also ask DHS to confer with independent agencies, such as electric regulators and others that don't answer to the president, to see who would take responsibility on cybersecurity.

The hope, said Schmidt, who has seen a recent draft, is that if those agencies won't let DHS act they would do it themselves, as the Securities and Exchange Commission did in October when it issued guidance on when companies should disclose cyber attacks.

The Commerce Department and the Pentagon declined to comment. Spokespeople for Lieberman and for Senator John Rockefeller, another Democratic leader on the issue who has asked for an executive order, said their offices had not been given copies of the draft.

Cybersecurity has become a major issue in Congress and for the White House, with intelligence officials warning of constant exploration of protected computer systems by hackers and both past incursions and the likelihood of more damaging future attacks on electric plants, banks and stock exchanges.

As of two weeks ago, the planned order did not include any penalties for companies that fail to adhere to the standards. or rewards for those who do. "There are no carrots or sticks," one person with a recent copy said.

If the order emerges before the election in November, it could become an issue in the campaign. Leading Republicans faulted the Lieberman bill as too onerous. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also criticized that bill, declined to comment on Monday on the merits of a prospective order.

But Lieberman said his bill had been watered down in pursuit of a compromise and asked in his letter Monday that Obama explore means for making the standards mandatory.

Both Lieberman and administration officials have said they will still seek legislation, which could go further in many ways. It might, for example, provide liability protection for companies that share information with government officials or that meet the standards but still get hacked.

SOURCE

*******************************

Media Bias, Elections and Economics




The would-be president continues to complain bitterly about media favoritism. His advisors, according to an article in yesterday's FT, criticize media "fawning" as interfering with official duties. The article sites media advantage coupled with opaque campaign financing as a threat to an otherwise "reliable" voting system. Because the president has the media in his pocket, control of government purse strings and threat of retribution against those that vote against him, a key adviser calls the upcoming election "David against Goliath."

The article I'm referring to was written about the upcoming election in Venezuela and about the heavy-handed tactics, including a fawning media at the disposal of Hugo Chavez.

Of course it would be easy to see why those comments in the first paragraph could be attributed to Mitt Romney's campaign, which hasn't mentioned just how bias media coverage has been, but it's as obvious as that controversial touchdown call on Monday night. The thing is, with so much rah-rah from mainstream media outlets that find the silver lining in all the news, it seems to have caught on in polling (also mostly biased) and yesterday's consumer confidence survey. But that faux sense that all's well wasn't enough to keep the market elevated.

Everyday this European crisis is like A Christmas Carol in that we get the benefit of seeing how our future could be if we remain on this current path. This current path is mostly about fiscal irresponsibly, fading demands for rigor in education, manners, and the embrace of a mindset that we are less able to care for ourselves so government should step up to the plate. Riots broke out in Spain as that nation gets closer to instituting austerity that means less welfare and more responsibility. This nation is in the midst of healing decades of socialistic policies that have diminished past glory and erased future glory unless a lot of pain can be tolerated.

I'm not sure if it can, and this is why Americans must pay attention. Do we have the guts to suck it up? At some point, that test will be upon the nation. All prior generations faced down challenges that could have destroyed the country. Our current generation is enthralled with television shows spawned from young men punching women in the face and children being exploited. I still think it's in America's DNA to do the right thing at the moment of truth. My worry is that that moment could come soon, making the challenge less difficult. I didn't say easy, but consider what's happening in Europe. It feels like we're jumping off a five-story building if we really tackle our problems or waiting for it to become a ten-story fall.

Americans have been able to put their heads in the sand for so long, but those people in Spain stumbling around the streets were doing that a couple years ago with a bottle of wine and joy rather than with Molotov cocktails and blind rage. Yesterday, I think the reality of it all hit the stock market, which reverted back to its historic role of harbinger of the future rather than another tool to celebrate mediocrity. But, I don't know that it was Spain that spooked the market as much as its neighbor-Portugal

Portugal has a center-right government that came up with a plan that asked workers to contribute more to their own social security while allowing businesses to contribute less to the general welfare fund. The plan is designed to spark job creation in the nation with 15.6% official unemployment rate (US is the same).

After succumbing to the riots and in order to hit debt targets of its 78.0 billion bailout, Portugal's leaders will now raise taxes on income, investments (cap gains), assets and even gas emissions. The masses might be appeased but the nation moves a giant step closer to economic doom. Those postponed riots will reemerge in greater force when government can no longer pay for the welfare state and businesses have been sucked dry. From a competitive point of view this means the best and brightest will leave for Brazil and other countries but don't underestimate many working poor looking for opportunities and not handouts, they will leave as well.

The gift for Americans not too busy watching Big Ang is we see how hard it is to do the right thing even when it's clear any other choice is a short term pain reliever at best. This is a center-right government; what happens when they vote back in the socialists? What happens when Spain votes back in the socialists?

What happens when America votes back in the socialists? Spooked Stocks

I think this is what the stock market saw yesterday. How ironic is it that on a day when a couple of key (second tier) economic reports came in well above consensus the market suffers one of its worst sessions of the year. This is how the stock market works. The rest of the world is slowing although growing at pace we dream about and the domestic economy isn't ready to carry the world. Heck, the domestic economy can't even create 200,000 jobs a month and the stock market is worried. Of course the happy news yesterday on all the media outlets from radio to newspapers is the possibility of 700,000 temp hires for the holidays. Last year it was 670,000.

Media favoritism works wonders in politics and even the stock market to a certain point. I closed out a couple of losers yesterday and have been aggressively taking profits on trading ideas in part to raise funds. We are not panicking but paying attention to a wakeup call barely audible because of all the other noise.

SOURCE

*******************************

Introducing The New Polling Firm of Madoff, Marist, Quinnipiac and Ponzi

Hugh Hewitt

After a few weeks spent tracking down and questioning pollsters and the reporters of polls, I can assure the reader that pollsters are the modern-day alchemists. They promise to turn numbers into predictive gold. We'd all like to believe these magical powers exist, but we shouldn't. The pollsters of 2012 just don't know who is going to win in November any more than did the pollsters of 1980 know that Ronald Reagan was headed towards a landslide in that late-breaking year.

I'd like to believe Scott Rasmussen that the race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama is tied. Democrats would like to believe Quinnipiac (used by the New York Times and CBS) or Marist (used by the Wall Street Journal and NBC) that Obama has surged to a lead in Ohio and other key battleground states. They'd also like to believe that Gallup's finding that the president has a six-point lead among registered voters means a six point win in five weeks.

But none of these beliefs are good journalistic practice.

(Gallup's tracking poll changes to a "likely voter screen" next week, and then it will make the most sense to average Rasmussen and Gallup and conclude that is the true "state of the race," though even that average is still subject to incredible volatility in the closing five weeks of the campaign.)

There are plenty of data points to encourage Republicans, and these are genuine data points as opposed to the junk food offered up by Quinnipiac and Marist, which derived their predictions from samples that included enormous Democratic voter margins in key states, pro-Democratic turnout margins that were even greater than those achieved in Obama's blowout year of 2008..

Two data points that warm GOP hearts and undermine the junk polls: (1) Absentee requests in Ohio by Democrats are trailing their 2008 totals --often by a lot in key Democratic counties like Cuyahoga County; and (2) overall voter registeration for Democrats in the Buckeye State is down dramatically from 2008.

These two bits of info undermine the credibility of the Obama booster polls, as did the interviews I conducted with key leadership from both polls and with other informed observers.

The data on absentees and registration point to a fall off in enthusiasm for the president from the highs of 2008, a result both of his epic failures as president and of the fact that the second time around isn't nearly as exciting as casting a vote for the first ever African-American president.

The conversations with the experts are the most revealing, however, and the Manhattan-Beltway media elite has really failed to do even minimal homework here, choosing instead to go with the conclusions of the people they have paid to give them data, thus outsourcing their work.

In this respect big media resembles nothing so much as investors in Bernie Madoff's funds. Madoff never got asked tough questions by his investors or the SEC, and thus he rampaged through his clients' cash.

Big news organizations that turn off their skepticism and write checks to polling firms are doing the same thing and for the same reason: They lack the skills to do their own analyses, and they don't want to be thought stupid for asking obvious questions.

I don't mind admitting I don't know why a sample should include 10% more Democrats than Republicans, so I ask --and ask and ask. This is what journalists do. Unless, apparently, they have paid for the product or want badly to believe it is true.

But don't believe me. Read the interviews.

Here's the transcript of the conversation I had with Quinnipiac's Peter Brown from early August.

Here's the transcript of the conversation I had with Marist's Lee Miringoff from mid-September..

I have talked polling with Michael Barone twice, on September 17 and onSeptember 26, and once with the Weekly Standard's Jay Cost, also onSeptember 26.

I also spent a lot of time with the National Journal's Director of Polling Reporting, Steven Shepard, on Septmeber 25, and that transcript is here.

Here are the key takeaways from all these conversations.

The pro-Obama pollsters don't have answers as to why their skewed samples are trustworthy beyond the fact that they think their approach to randomness is a guarantee of fairness, and they seem to resent greatly that the questions are even asked. Like Madoff would have resented questions about his stunning rate of return.

Barone notes that percentage turnout by party in a presidential year hasn't been much greater for the president's party than it was in the preceding off-year, which makes samples outstripping even the 2008 model of Democratic participation "inherently suspicious.".

Cost notes that Romney is winning the independent vote in every poll, which also makes big Obama leads suspect.

And my conversation with Mr. Shepard, whose employer National Journal has a reputation for the best non-partisan work inside the Beltway, didn't find any academic, disinterested support for the proposition that party identification cannot be weighted because of the inherent instability of the marker.

The biggest unanswered question of all: If party ID is so subject to change that it should not be weighted according to an estimate of turnout, why ask about it at all? And if it is for the purpose of detecting big moves, as Mr. Shepard argued, why not report that "big move" in the stories that depend upon the polling?

Over the next few weeks, the junk polls will start tweaking their samples and dancing around that fact in order to come closer to reality. Too late. The sample controversy has penetrated into the public's mind, and Quinnipiac and Marist are marked as either rubes or rogues unless the huge democratic turnout advantage materializes on November 6.

In the meantime, if you see a story on a poll that doesn't tell you the partisan make-up of the sample, note to yourself that the reporter is missing the most interesting bit of data to most readers.

Just as Bernie Madoff used to hide the real story.

SOURCE

*************************

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 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, 2012

Obama, the great divider

by Jeff Jacoby

"I'm the first one to confess that the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren't constantly in a political slugfest . I haven't fully accomplished that. Haven't even come close in some cases.. My biggest disappointment is that we haven't changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked." -- President Barack Obama on "60 Minutes," Sunday, Sept. 23

IT WAS THE COMMITMENT at the core of Barack Obama's candidacy, the most important promise he made to the American people: He would unify a divided nation. Again and again, he vowed to repair the political breach. To end the bitter polarization of American life, to do away with "slash-and-burn" politics that "tear us apart instead of bringing us together" -- above all else, that was the hope and the change he offered.

At every milestone in Obama's journey to the White House -- from the keynote address in Boston that put him on the national radar screen to his inaugural address in 2009 -- he held himself out as a healer. Skeptics might note that partisanship and rancor were as old as American democracy itself, but Obama insisted that would change when he was president. The toxic style of politics wasn't inescapable. Give me the highest office in the land, he assured a rapturous crowd in Ohio two days before the 2008 election, and "we can end it once and for all."

Millions of voters believed him. They took to heart his vow to transfigure American public life. They looked forward to the uplifting leadership he promised. What they got instead was the most polarizing and divisive presidency in modern times. The civility and goodwill that were to be Obama's touchstone? "I haven't fully accomplished that," he concedes. "Haven't even come close."

As the 2012 campaign heads into the home stretch, a story in Politico notes that "Obama and his top campaign aides have engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults than the Romney campaign." The man who won the presidency by decrying "partisanship and pettiness and immaturity" now seeks reelection by deploying slurs and aspersions with abandon: A key aide suggests that Mitt Romney's financial filings may amount to a felony. The vice president claims that Republicans want to put voters "back in chains." An Obama campaign video likens Romney to "a vampire."

Of course there is nothing new about ruthlessness in politics. For all of Obama's talk about not wanting "to pit red America against blue America," it was always foreseeable that his reelection campaign would eventually become a merciless march to the sea.

Yet Obama's brutal negativity can't simply be brushed aside as the inevitable surrender of idealism to realism. It's true that presidents have often lamented the shrillness of American politics. Abraham Lincoln sought to "bind up the nation's wounds." George W. Bush originally ran for office as "a uniter, not a divider." Even Richard Nixon said his "great objective" would be "to bring the American people together." But only Obama made national unity and bipartisan harmony the justification for his candidacy.

It never happened. The 44th president has been nothing like the healer-in-chief he promised to be. Early on he took the low road, inflaming resentments, demonizing his critics, and, yes, pitting red Americans against blue Americans. His defenders argue that he had no choice -- that in the face of unremitting Republican opposition, going negative was his only option.

But all presidents face partisan opposition. Democrats vehemently fought Bush; Republicans fiercely battled Bill Clinton. Obama never conditioned "hope and change" on GOP support for his agenda. His condition was that he be elected.

"2008's candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012's candidate of fear," New York Magazine's John Heilemann wrote last spring. "For anyone still starry-eyed about Obama, the months ahead will provide a bracing revelation about what he truly is: not a savior, not a saint, not a man above the fray, but a brass-knuckled, pipe-hitting, red-in-tooth-and-claw brawler determined to do what is necessary to stay in power."

The president says now that his "biggest disappointment" is that he hasn't been able to elevate the tone of American politics. For countless voters, a far bigger disappointment may be that he never tried.

SOURCE

*************************

Liberals Can't Break 200-Year Racism Habit

Ann Coulter

Democrats spent the first century of this country's existence refusing to treat black people like human beings, and the second refusing to treat them like adults.

After fighting the Civil War to continue enslaving black people and then subjecting newly freed black Americans to vicious, humiliating Jim Crow laws and Ku Klux Klan violence, Democrats set about frantically rewriting their own ugly history.

Step 1: Switch "Democrat" to "Southerner";

Step 2: Switch "Southerner" to "conservative Democrat";

Step 3: Switch "conservative Democrat" to "conservative."

Contrary to liberal folklore, the Democratic segregationists were not all Southern -- and they were certainly not conservative. They were dyed-in-the-wool liberal Democrats on all the litmus-test issues of their day.

All but one remained liberal Democrats until the day they died. That's the only one you've ever heard of: Strom Thurmond.

As soon as abortion is relegated to the same trash heap of history as slavery has been, liberals will be rewriting history to make Democrats the pro-lifers and Republicans the pro-choicers. That's precisely what they've done with the history of race in America.

In addition to lying in the history books, liberals lied on their personal resumes. Suddenly, every liberal remembered being beaten up by a 300-pound Southern sheriff during the civil rights movement.

Among the ones who have been caught falsely gassing about their civil rights heroism are Bob Beckel, Carl Bernstein and Joseph Ellis. (Some days, it seems as if there are more liberals pretending to have been Freedom Riders than pretending to be Cherokees!)

In the 1950s and '60s, Democrats were running segregationists for vice president, slapping Orval Faubus on the back and praising George Wallace voters for their "integrity." (That was Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in The New York Times.)

But the moment the real civil rights struggle was over, liberals decided to become black America's most self-important defenders.

Of course, once we got the Democrats to stop discriminating against blacks, there was no one else doing it. So liberals developed a rich fantasy life in which they played Atticus Finch and some poor white cop from Brooklyn would be designated Lester Maddox (racist Democrat, endorsed by Jimmy Carter).

White journalists who didn't know any actual black people (other than Grady the maid) became junior G-men searching for racists under every bed, requiring a steady stream of deeply pompous editorials.

You will never see anything so brave as a liberal fighting nonexistent enemies.

Liberals drove the entire country crazy with their endless battles against imaginary racists, to make up for their having been AWOL during the real fight over civil rights.

Throughout this period, every black-on-white crime became a re-enactment of "To Kill a Mockingbird"; every cop who shot a black perp was Bull Connor; and every alleged racist incident was instantly presumed true, no matter how preposterous.

When it turned out the hate crime was a hoax, the cop was being mugged and the black kid was guilty, the whole story would just quietly disappear from the news, as if the media were reading a bedtime story to a child, whispering the ending and tiptoeing out of the room.

Then came the O.J. verdict.

Millions of Americans watched as a mostly black jury acquitted an obviously guilty black celebrity and saw black America cheer the verdict. The sight of black law students whooping and applauding O.J.'s acquittal had the same emotional impact as watching Palestinians celebrate the 9/11 attack.

Overnight, the white guilt bank -- once thought "too big to fail" -- was shut down. Henceforth, instead of producing stuttering embarrassment, liberal moral intimidation on race produced only eye-rolling. With that, America became a much healthier country, especially for black people.

Without nonsense claims of racist "code words" to stop them, Republicans were finally able to implement long-sought reforms on crime and welfare. The unqualified success of Rudy Giuliani's crime policies in New York saved tens of thousands of black lives. Welfare reform was such a stunning success that Bill Clinton claimed credit for it.

Blacks had won the final civil rights battle: The right to be treated like adults. Even liberals ceased their oohing and ahhing over every little thing any black person did.

But the post-O.J. paradise came to a crashing halt with the appearance of Barack Obama.

Obama allowed liberals to return to accusing Americans of being racists and get the most liberal president America has ever seen at the same time.

The only firm evidence that there are any actual racists left in America is the fact that so many whites voted for Obama as some sort of racial penance.

More white people voted for Obama in 2008 than had voted for any Democratic presidential candidate in nearly 40 years.

They must have felt guilty about something. Not harboring any racist impulses, I was free to vote Republican.

Now that Obama is up for re-election, liberals are back to their old tricks. A nation with more child pornographers than racists -- a nation that's already elected a (half) black president once -- is suddenly said to be bristling with racists again!

My new book, out this week, "Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama," reminds us that nothing good has ever come of Americans capitulating to liberals' racial bullying, especially not for black people. Never. Don't make the same mistake again, America.

SOURCE

************************

Obama Versus Obama: The image versus the facts

Much puzzling behavior by Barack Obama falls into place when we go behind the image that he projects ("Obama 1") to the factual reality of the man's whole life and thrust ("Obama 2").

Obama himself is well aware of the nature and importance of his image. In his own words, "I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views." An 18th century philosopher put the matter bluntly: "When I speak, I put on a mask. When I act, I am forced to take it off."

Many of Barack Obama's actions as President of the United States reflect neither political expediency nor an attempt to promote the best interests of the American people. Take, for example, his bowing low from the waist to foreign leaders.

No President of the United States had ever done that before. It gained Obama nothing with the voters, nor was there any reason to think that he expected it to. Why then did he do it?

What did it accomplish? It brought the United States down a peg, in the eyes of the world, something that he has sought to do in many other ways.

These bows were perfectly consistent with his view of a maldistribution of power and prestige internationally, just as his domestic agenda reflects a felt need for a redistribution of wealth and power within American society.

It is not just the United States, but the Western world in general, including Israel, that needs to be brought down a peg, from the standpoint of the ideology prevalent among the people with whom Barack Obama has allied himself consistently for decades.

Against that background, it is not at all puzzling that President Obama has clamped down on offshore oil drilling by Americans in the Gulf of Mexico, but has actually encouraged and subsidized offshore oil drilling by Brazil with our tax dollars.

Nor is it surprising that he imposes draconian restrictions on industrial activities in the United States, in the name of fighting "global warming," while accepting the fact that Third World nations that are beginning to industrialize will generate far more pollution than any restrictions in America can possibly offset.

That is another example of international redistribution -- and payback for perceived past oppressions or exploitation of the West against the non-West. So is replacing pro-Western governments in the Middle East with Islamic extremist governments.

Some people may have gotten focused on the issue of Barack Obama's birth certificate because so much of what he has done seems foreign to American ideals, traditions and interests. But birth tells us nothing about loyalty. One-time American Communist leader Earl Browder was descended from the Pilgrims.

Those who have questioned whether Barack Obama is really a citizen of the United States have missed the larger question: Whether he considers himself a citizen of the world. Think about this remarkable statement by Obama during the 2008 campaign: "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that every other country is going to say, 'OK.'"

Are Americans supposed to let foreigners tell them how to live their lives? The implied answer is clearly "Yes!" When President Obama went to the United Nations for authority to take military action and ignored the Congress of the United States, that was all consistent with his vision of the way the world should be.

How has Obama gotten away with so many things that are foreign to American beliefs and traditions? Partly it is because of a quiescent media, sharing many of his ideological views and/or focused on the symbolism of his being "the first black President." But part of his success must be credited -- if that is the word -- to his own rhetorical talents and his ability to project an image that many people accept and welcome.

The role of a confidence man is not to convince skeptics, but to help the gullible believe what they want to believe. Most of what Barack Obama says sounds very persuasive if you don't know the facts -- and often sounds like sheer nonsense if you do. But he is not trying to convince skeptics, nor worried about looking ridiculous to informed people who won't vote for him anyway.

This is a source of much polarization between those who see and accept Obama 1 and those who see through that facade to Obama 2.

SOURCE

*************************

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 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, 2012

Markets vs. Morals? The mistaken worry that money and morality are at odds

BOOK REVIEW: What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, by Michael J. Sandel, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 256 pages, $27

Michael Sandel knows something about money. After all, the Harvard political philosopher exchanges his ideas for money—a lot of money, in fact. Now Sandel has written a book (available for $27) about what things should not be for sale.

Sandel’s basic warning goes like this: Markets—by which he means the use of prices expressed in money—lead inevitably to commodification, which "corrupts" and "crowds out" the moral norms that should otherwise guide our interactions. In What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, Sandel looks upon other people’s purchases and frowns. Important things in life—tickets to rock concerts, private medical consultations, access to shorter airline check-in lines—are being exchanged for money, he reports. "The reach of markets, and market-oriented thinking, into aspects of life traditionally governed by nonmarket norms is one of the most significant developments of our time," he writes, necessitating "a public debate about what it means to keep markets in their place."

Although Sandel is fuzzy on the specifics, he wants an enlightened debate to determine whether other people should be allowed to use prices when they cooperate or allocate scarce goods. "Democracy does not require perfect equality, but it does require that citizens share in a common life," he writes. "And so, in the end, the question of markets is really a question about how we want to live together." Let’s see where that takes us.

What Sandel offers as a moral/philosophical analysis of this alleged problem amounts to little more than an exploration of his own moral intuitions, unencumbered by critical self-scrutiny. Thus, "Treating religious rituals, or natural wonders, as marketable commodities is a failure of respect. Turning sacred goods into instruments of profit values them in the wrong way." This flat assertion may come as news to much of organized religion.

Synagogues regularly sell seats for the Days of Awe, or High Holy Days, which helps finance religious activities. One of my great aunts, a conservative French Catholic, sent me cards when I was a boy that said she had given money to an order of nuns to pray for me. Sikhs pay for scholars to read from their holy book. The candles one lights in Catholic cathedrals when saying a prayer are priced (not given away free); guests at traditional Polish weddings pin paper money on the dress of the bride in exchange for a dance. Do these practices show a lack of respect for religion and the sacrament of marriage? Should the collective "we" (Sandel uses the term a great deal in all of his books) prohibit the use of money to allocate synagogue seats, prayers, holy readings, candles, and dances with the bride? Or should those decisions be made by members of the respective synagogues, churches, and temples?

Sandel never once in his book entertains the idea that maybe we should let people sort such matters out for themselves, without having the decision made for them by "us." Instead, his own tastes are presented as suitable for everyone else. There’s a serious danger with such intuitive collectivism: It disguises restatements of one’s own unacknowledged and unexamined prejudices as a philosophical investigation and then imposes them on everyone else.

For Sandel, not deciding collectively on "competing conceptions of the good life" does not leave such questions undecided. Instead, "It simply means that markets will decide them for us." This statement is both ominous and incoherent. "Markets" are not some kind of omnipotent, singular, malevolent intelligence. When people exchange goods and services we use the term market. When the exchanges take place through the medium of money, the exchange ratios of goods against money are called prices. Sandel confuses prices with markets and then suggests that the question of whether something should be exchanged on markets will be "decided" by markets, which is a singular bit of confusion.

Sandel at least recognizes that a common alternative to pricing is waiting in line. But bizarrely, he seems rather fond of queues. He devotes a chapter to "Jumping the Queue," with subsections on "Markets Versus Queues" and "The Ethic of the Queue," and quotes approvingly a writer who moans that "gone are the days when the theme-park queue was the great equalizer, where every vacationing family waited its turn in democratic fashion." Sandel claims there are two arguments favoring prices over queues: "a libertarian argument…that people should be free to buy and sell whatever they please, as long as they don’t violate anyone’s rights," and a utilitarian economic argument. He then proceeds to ignore the libertarian argument while misunderstanding the economic.

Sandel acknowledges that "as markets allocate goods based on the ability and willingness to pay, queues allocate goods based on the ability and willingness to wait." Moreover, "there is no reason to assume that the willingness to pay for a good is a better measure of its value to a person than the willingness to wait."

Sandel thinks he has scored a fatal blow against the economic case for markets here, but what he doesn’t get is that the price mechanism provides a decentralized system of signals and incentives that help us to better coordinate our behavior. Consider that a longer queue without prices sends no signal to producers to make more of the product for which people are queuing. Using prices, rather than queues, has the advantage of disseminating information about supply and demand. Sandel sees no coordinating advantages to price allocation and bemoans "the tendency of markets to displace queues and other nonmarket ways of allocating goods." He describes substitution of prices for queues as "places that markets have invaded."

Sandel is right that the use of prices can have disadvantages, which is the core insight of Ronald Coase’s theory of the firm. If market pricing is so great, why are there firms? Because using the price system has costs. Firms, teams, and organizations are islands of nonprice allocation and coordination in a wider sea of price allocation. Price coordination co-exists with nonprice coordination. The issue is not which system will award scarce goods to those who value them the most but which will coordinate behavior better in which situations. Sometimes it’s queues and sometimes it’s prices, and sometimes it’s both. (I’m in a Starbucks now, and the system here is first come, first served, probably because it would be too costly to have an auction on who gets served first. Still, the coffee is exchanged for money.)

Bakers of communion wafers generally sell them to churches for money. The churches provide them as part of a sacrament for which the faithful queue. Whether to use prices or queues and at which point is really none of Sandel’s business.

Sandel is not only rhapsodic about queues but again invokes the collective we when he states: "Of course, markets and queues are not the only ways of allocating things. Some goods we distribute by merit, others by need, still others by lottery or chance." He’s not just pro-queue but rather strongly against prices, which seem to him somehow dirty ("corrosive") as a coordinating mechanism. Never addressed is whether some of "us" should be allowed to work out for ourselves our own solutions, without having one imposed on all.

Sandel explains that some things "can’t be bought," e.g., friendship. Aristotle may beg to differ; the Greek philosopher discussed "friendship for advantage" in Book 8 of the Nicomachean Ethics, declaring them one kind of friendship, though not the highest. Still, we may insult friends when we reward a favor with money; sometimes "the monetary exchange spoils the good being bought." That sounds right to me, if not all that original or deep.

More HERE

******************************

Fed Declares War on Canadian Economy- Rest of the World Too

The financial world cheered when Bernanke announced QE3 until it works (which is essentially forever, because it never will work).

Bruce Stewart, writing for the Winnipeg Free Press, is one of few who figured out QE for what it really is: A Beggar-Thy-Neighbor competitive currency debasement policy hoping to sink the US dollar.

Not that QE would work anyway, but one problem for Bernanke, is most of the rest of the world is doing the same thing.

Please consider "Bernanke declares war on Canadian economy":
Did you smile or cheer when U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced Quantitative Easing III (and the markets went up)? He just declared war on your job, and the whole Canadian economy.

Of course, so did the European Central Bank, the central bank of the Peoples' Republic of China and others. All of them are engaged in the same practice. They're printing money. Gobs of it, in programs that have no end point.

Some are doing it to apply stimulus to revive their economies. Some are doing it to play extend-and-pretend games to hold their banks together.

For a country like Canada, with an economy in reasonably good shape, a government that's not out of control, banks that are healthy and dependent on exports, it's a declaration of war.

The game everyone else is playing is "beggar thy neighbour." All this excess cash, whatever its stated purpose, is designed to bring their currencies down.

Well, we could play the game: Mark Carney could drop our interest rates to zero, and print money like it's going out of style. The government could launch a larger Economic Action Plan II and rack up the deficits. Both would lower the Canadian dollar.

It would also send the price of a litre of gasoline and a week's groceries through the roof - food and fuel have gone up 35 to 40 per cent in the countries that are playing the "print and hope" game -- and anyone living on a fixed income, or anyone planning to collect their pension, would be in deep trouble. It's hard to live on zero interest.

But there is something else we can do. Think quality. Follow, in other words, the model the Germans used to become a high wage, high prosperity country.

It means running our businesses differently. You don't have to compete with call centres parked in Asian countries on cost if your business answers the phone and its employees are empowered to provide service on the spot. You don't have to compete with low-cost labour in other locations if you produce a product of such high quality and strong features that labour costs are a tiny fraction of its worth.

High service -- high quality products. These have a market in Canada (where the value of the Canadian dollar is a plus, if some components or tools must be imported), and as well as abroad because of their quality. ...
Global Beggar-Thy-Neighbor Currency Debasement

It's an interesting article well worth a read in entirety. However, Stewart dramatically underestimates what a housing bubble crash will do to Canada, and what a European collapse in trade will do to Germany.

Nonetheless, Stewart hits the nail on the head with his thesis about beggar-thy-neighbor tactics.

Economists in general do not howl about Bernanke, but they all bitch about China pegging the yuan to the dollar. It's all blatant beggar-thy-neighbor manipulation, and a great reason to get rid of central banks.

None of these tactics will create a single job.

SOURCE

*******************************

Should Advocates of Small Government Escape to Canada?

Back in 2010, I wrote about the Free State Project, which is based on the idea that libertarians should all move to New Hampshire and turn the state into a free market experiment.

I was impressed when I spoke at one of their conferences and gave them a plug, but more recently I’m running into people who are so discouraged about America’s fiscal outlook that they’re thinking of moving to some other nation.

Wealthy people seem to prefer Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, while middle-class people mostly talk about Australia and Latin America (mainly Costa Rica or Panama).

But maybe Canada is the place to go. It’s now the 5th-freest economy in the world, while the United States has dropped to 18th place.

I’m a big fan of Canada’s fiscal reforms. On several occasions, I’ve explained how Canadian lawmakers boosted economic and fiscal performance by restraining the growth of government spending.

Indeed, Canada is my main example when I explain why the United States should follow my Golden Rule of fiscal policy.

By allowing the private sector to grow faster than the government, Canada has also been able to implement big tax cuts. Heck, they even privatized their air traffic control system.

Canada’s reforms got some positive attention in today’s Wall Street Journal from Mary Anastasia O’Grady.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has a stern warning for the U.S. political class: Get real about the gap between federal revenues and spending, or get ready for disaster. Mr. Martin knows of what he speaks. In 1993, when he was Canada’s finance minister, his country faced a daunting fiscal crisis. …When the Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien took power in October 1993, Mr. Martin was charged with pulling his nation out of the fiscal death spiral. He did it with deep cuts in federal spending over two years that amounted to 10% of the budget, excluding interest costs. Nothing was spared. Even federal transfers to the provinces to fund Canada’s sacred national health-care system got hit. The federal government also cut and block-granted money for welfare programs to the provinces, giving them almost full control over how the money would be spent. In the 1997 election, the Liberals increased their majority in parliament. The Chrétien government followed with tax cuts starting in 1998 and one of the largest tax cuts—both corporate and personal—in the history of the country in 2000. The Liberals won again in 2000.
In the U.S., by contrast, we’ve degenerated to the point where the central bank is now financing a disturbingly large share of the deficit.
Market discipline doesn’t exist in Washington, which has the "privilege" of an accommodating central bank issuing the world’s reserve currency. The big spenders don’t need to pay attention to pesky numbers. …the Fed bought 77% of all new federal debt last year. It is doing so at rock-bottom interest rates. By holding the short-term fed-funds rate low while it buys up long-term securities, Mr. Bernanke is helping our political class ignore the real cost of rising federal indebtedness.
This doesn’t mean we’re at near-term risk of becoming another Argentina or Zimbabwe, but I definitely don’t like the trend. No wonder the Canadian dollar is now stronger than the dollar.

But that’s a separate issue. This post is mostly about fiscal policy and Canada’s outlook.

In the short run, Canada’s a good bet. Reforms have been implemented, and they happened under a left-of-center government and have been continued more recently by a right-of-center government.

We’ve had bipartisanship in the United States as well, but the wrong kind. For the past 12 years, we’ve endured big spenders from both parties. No wonder Canada now ranks higher.

In the long run, though, I’m not sure Canada’s the right choice. I joke about the cold weather, but I’m more concerned about the fact that the burden of government spending remains too high, consuming about 42 percent of economic output. And even though Canada has implemented some pension reforms, it has a government-run healthcare system that will become a greater burden on taxpayers as the population ages.

This doesn’t mean I’m optimistic about the long-run outlook in the United States. Yes, we can fix our fiscal problems if we cap the growth of spending and implement entitlement reform to address the long-run problem, but I’m not holding my breath expecting those policies.

SOURCE

*************************

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 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, 2012

Google have lost the plot

Amid the great issues of the day, complaints about Google must seem small-minded, but Google is after all a worldwide phenomenon and a very profitable corporation. So it surely deserves to have a light shone upon it. So I thought I might spend a few moments more to give background to Google's latest disaster.

Google's blogging program (blogger.com) is as buggy as a tropical night but it is hard to understand why. It was in beta for about a year and up for voluntary use for several months after that. So many people must have used and commented on it. Yet its faults are so great that it looks more like a first stab at a blogging program rather than a mature product. Whoever is in charge of it should be fired.

I haven't got the time to mention all the things that are wrong with it but in addition to the faults I mentioned yesterday, I note today that in the listing of my blogs on blogger.com, the most recently updated blog is almost out of reach. The access to it is almost completely overlaid by another feature so that you cannot even see what the name of the blog is. Only a tiny sliver of color keeps it accessible at all.

How can they put a out a program that has so many childish errors in it? I can only conclude that the success of their search engine has inflated their heads to the point where they think they are super-human. Sadly, all they are is super bunglers.

I am not in much of a mood to be amused but perhaps I should be. The problem just mentioned above seems to occur only when I use my usual browser -- which is -- wait for it -- Google's own "Chrome" browser. I can see a complete blog listing if I use clunky old IE8! One for Ripley, I think. And chalk up one for Bill Gates too, I guess.

Do I have any advice for Google? Futile though it undoubtedly is, I do: Allow users to revert to the earlier version of blogger.com if they want. The earlier version worked fine and was much more convenient. If it aint broke, don't fix it.

The only excuse for the new version seems to be that it has a more "modern" look -- whatever that means. Sounds pretty subjective and air-headed to me.

************************

America's professional diplomats under Obama/Clinton

Diplomats are trained to be inoffensive at all costs. That's what diplomacy means. So the degeneration of America's diplomatic service under Hillary Clinton is both amazing and alarming. They now have no patience with probing questions and it shows:

You have probably heard about it, but if you haven’t yet read the email exchange between Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s personal spokesman, and Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed, you should read it in its entirety. It begins with Hastings asking legitimate questions about the State Department’s Libya fiasco. The immediate subject was CNN’s discovery of Ambassador Chris Stevens’s diary at the unguarded consulate in Benghazi.....

The email exchange deteriorated rapidly from there. Hastings was the first to use a profanity:

"Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?"

Which prompted this remarkably unprofessional response from the Secretary of State’s official spokesman:

"I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated asshole.

How’s that for a non-bullshit response?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.

And by good day, I mean Fuck Off"

There is an obvious irony in the Secretary of State’s spokesman –the diplomat’s diplomat– being reduced to this sort of profane, out of control spluttering, which one would normally expect from a left-wing blogger.

But the reality goes far beyond the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State’s meltdown. It appears that the Department itself is in disarray. First it failed to protect its own employees, including an American ambassador, against obvious threats which the ambassador himself, among many others, recognized. Then it tried to mislead the American people about the circumstances of the Benghazi terrorist attack, an effort that continues to this day, although Barack Obama admitted on The View today that what happened in Benghazi "wasn’t just a mob action." Not unless mobs typically plan staged military attacks featuring RPGs, machine guns and mortars; but Obama was not willing to call it a terrorist act, either.

We can add the scandal of Hillary Clinton’s State Department to that of Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and many others that have accumulated over the last four years.

More HERE

*************************

Obama's Fact-Challenged Tax Claim

Where are the "fact-checkers" when you need them?

On CBS News’s "60 Minutes" Sunday night, President Obama said, "Taxes are lower on families than they've been probably in the last 50 years. So I haven't raised taxes."

As of Monday morning, neither the Washington Post’s Pinocchio-awarding Fact-Checker, nor the Annenberg Public Policy Center’sFactCheck.org, nor the Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning Politifact.com had risen to this opportunity, so let us take a stab.

There are a variety of possible ways to measure the tax burden on American "families" over the past 50 years. Fortunately, Mr. Obama’s own White House Office of Management and Budget provides a spreadsheet that summarizes federal tax receipts from 1940 through the present. Fifty years ago, in 1962, federal tax receipts were $99.7 billion. In 2011, they were $2.3 trillion. Far from being at a 50 year low, the taxes extracted from American families last year were about 23 times what they were fifty years ago.

Okay, but aren’t there more families in America now than there were 50 years ago? Sure. The 1960 Census counted about 179 million Americans, while the 2010 Census counted about 309 million. The population hasn’t even doubled, but the federal government’s tax receipts have increased 23 times.

Okay, but what about inflation? President Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget tries to deal with that question by using something called "constant (FY 2005) dollars." It’s not as trustworthy a measure as, say, the price of gold, but since the White House uses it, it’s worth at least a look. By this measure, federal taxes climbed to nearly $2 trillion in 2011 from about $660 billion in 1962. In other words, the taxes trebled, even as the population didn’t even double.

Remember, too, that 1962 wasn’t some kind of blissful Jeffersonian small-government era to which we can never possibly return. It was the height of the Cold War. President Eisenhower had only shortly before warned of the military-industrial complex. President Kennedy was going around giving speeches about how the tax burden was too high.

Okay, what about tax rates? By that measure, taxes aren’t at a 50-year-low, either. Don’t take my word for it: look at the chart from the Tax Policy Center operated by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, two center-left think tanks whose work President Obama likes to cite when he claims that a President Romney would raise taxes on the middle class. Sure enough, in 1988 and 1989 the top marginal income tax rate was 28%. In 1990, 1991, and 1992 it was 31%. Today it is 35%.

Okay, that’s the federal income tax rate. But what about the payroll tax rate? Here, too the Brookings-Urban Tax Policy Center has a useful chart. In 1962 the Social Security payroll tax was 6.25%, applied to the first $4,800 in wages. There was no Medicare tax, because Medicare did not yet exist. In 2011 — even after the two percentage point temporary payroll tax "holiday" — the tax was 10.4% applied to the first $106,800 in income, plus a 2.9% Medicare tax that applies to all wage income, with no cap. The tax, in other words, has more than doubled since 1962.

How about the federal gas tax? Fifty years ago, in 1962, it was four cents a gallon, according to the Tax Foundation. It’s now 18.4 cents a gallon. Far from being at a 50-year low, it has more than quadrupled.

There is one measure — federal tax revenues as a percentage of GDP — by which taxes under President Obama have been at a 50-year low, at least according to the Office of Management and Budget. But if that’s Mr. Obama’s yardstick, then it also shows government spending and budget deficits have been at 50-year highs under Mr. Obama.

The second sentence of Mr. Obama’s "60 Minutes" claim — "I haven’t raised taxes" — is similarly slippery. Before Mr. Obama had been in office for a month he signed a law increasing the tobacco tax by $71 billion over 10 years. A 10% tax on tanning salons went into effect on July 1, 2010, a tax increase of $2.7 billion over 10 years. If Mr. Obama hasn’t raised more taxes, it hasn’t been for lack of trying; the only thing stopping him has been the Republican House of Representatives.

It would be a shame if voters fall for Mr. Obama’s misleading claim that their taxes are at a 50-year low. But who can blame the voters, or, for that matter, the fact-checkers, if even Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, buys into the idea. In the same "60 Minutes" program, Mr. Romney said taxes would remain essentially unchanged if he won. "I don’t want a reduction in revenue coming into the government," Mr. Romney said.

It’s enough to make one nostalgic for George W. Bush, or at least to prompt one to wish for a politician who can articulate the tax issue not in terms of what it means for the government’s revenues but in the language of what it means for the individual.

SOURCE

************************

Dead Cat Bounce

The Democratic National Convention produced not much of a bounce in the polls for Obama, and the bounce was soon gone. A big part of the reason was the continuing economic bad news that rained on the propaganda parade. This news is worth analyzing, because most people don’t see its significance. Certainly the mainstream media don’t.

First, early in the week of the convention, the feds announced that we officially hit the $16 trillion mark in national debt. This happened during the administration of a man who questioned his predecessor’s patriotism for having spent much less in eight years than his own administration has spent in less than four. The media ignored this, of course.

But much worse were the job figures. The jobs report showed a measly 96,000 net jobs created in August. And the numbers for the previous two months were revised downwards — 41,000 fewer jobs were created in the previous two months than had been reported earlier.

The unemployment rate "dropped" from 8.3% to 8.1%, but only because an incredible 368,000 people simply left the labor force. Yes, four people quit searching for work for every one who found it.

In fact, if the labor participation rate were what it was on the day Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 11.2%. Hell, if the labor participation rate had just stayed the same as it was last month, the unemployment rate would have gone up to 8.4%. Count in the underemployed along with those who have given up looking for work, and the rate is really 19%.

Meanwhile, in the last month for which data are available, the number of Americans on food stamps rose by 173,000. Yes, about two Americans applied for food stamps for every one who got a job. More than 45 million Americans — i.e., roughly 15% of the population — are now on food stamps, almost double the 7.9% rate that was the average from 1970 to 2000.

The number of people on SSI (Social Security disability) has now hit 11 million, half signing up under Obama’s enlightened reign.

The fruits of neosocialism are bitter, except for the neosocialists themselves.

SOURCE

*************************

They haven't got a clue

Breaking news: officials in our U.S. Federal Government do not know how to solve all our woes. This actually shouldn’t be "news." Leaders from none other than the Federal Reserve, itself, have repeatedly admitted this in recent months.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has admitted this multiple times, and in a variety of different contexts (a point I’ll review momentarily). But last Wednesday, the President and C.E.O. of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reiterated this point himself, and his announcements have largely been ignored.

In a Speech before the Harvard Club of New York City, bank President Richard Foster publicly restated his opposition to the Fed’s recent decision to launch "QE3," its third attempt in three years to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy. Foster began his speech noting that "with each program we undertake to venture further in that direction (in the direction of using monetary policy as stimulus), we are sailing deeper into uncharted waters. We are blessed at the Fed with sophisticated econometric models and superb analysts. We can easily conjure up plausible theories as to what we will do when it comes to our next tack or eventually reversing course. The truth, however, is that nobody on the committee, nor on our staffs at the Board of Governors and the 12 Banks, really knows what is holding back the economy."

Later in the speech, Mr. Foster noted that our economy "is already flush with $1.6 trillion in excess private bank reserves owned by the banking sector and held by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Trillions more are sitting on the sidelines in corporate coffers. On top of all that, a significant amount of underemployed cash—or fuel for investment—is burning a hole in the pockets of money market funds and other non-depository financial operators. This begs the question: Why would the Fed provision to shovel billions in additional liquidity into the economy’s boiler when so much is presently lying fallow?"

The economy is being held back despite trillions of dollars "lying fallow," and the highly educated experts at the Federal Reserve can’t figure out why. Mr. Foster deserves our thanks for being so truthful – yet we should all be concerned about his observations.

Of course, it was only three months ago when Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that he had "no idea" why our economy is so "fragile." This is the man who has overseen the lending of more than $3 trillion American taxpayer dollars to foreign banks; the rapid-fire acquisition of the former giant Merrill Lynch by the gargantuan Bank of America; the multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout of Wall Street; and – although he craft legislation or sign bills in to law, he nonetheless supported the $800 billion "economic stimulus bill" from the Congress and the Obama Administration.

And after all that – and before the latest stimulus effort announced less than two weeks ago – the Fed Chairman nonetheless admits that he has "no idea" what is wrong with our economy.

The talent, econometric models, and superb analysts at the Federal Reserve notwithstanding, Americans of all stripes need to come to grips with some basic economic realities. If it is still a goal of our country to create wealth and opportunity for all, then we’ll have to start demanding that our government officials think and act differently.

For example, we will not have entrepreneurs once again using those "fallow trillions" to create new businesses and jobs in large quantities, until we demand that government stops bullying private enterprise. Despite the claims at the recent Democratic National Convention that President Obama "saved G.M" with government bailouts, last week General Motors announced that it wants to sever ties with our government. According to G.M. leadership, the restrictions on executive salaries that President Obama has forced upon the company have put G.M. at a competitive disadvantage with other car companies.

The fact that the Obama Administration would use an entire car company to satisfy its political agenda of cutting executive salaries, even at the expense of the company’s wellbeing, does not create a business-friendly environment. It conveys to entrepreneurs that President Obama’s agenda is preeminently important, and prosperity is secondary.

And did you hear about the Gallup organization? After publishing both political polling data and unemployment data that reflected poorly on the President, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod engaged Gallup in a series of intimidating conversations demanding that Gallup change their methodologies. Gallup didn’t budge – and mysteriously found themselves targeted with a lawsuit from the Department of Justice lawsuit over an "unrelated issue."

Americans must also demand that both Washington, and Wall Street, embrace the economic wisdom of Main Street. Most of us realize that, just as a drunken person cannot drink himself sober, no individual, household, nor organization can borrow and spend itself out of debt. This reality applies to our government, as well.

SOURCE

*************************

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 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, 2012

Google really are incredible

They have just changed all us users of blogspot to a new version of their blogging program: Blogger.com. And the new version is unbelievably bad. It is a great leap backwards. The biggest beef I have is that the new program enforces an assumption that all italicised passages and all indented passages must be only one paragraph long!

You want to indent two paragraphs buster? Fuggedaboudit! Terminally strange. So they will only indent the first paragraph of what you have marked for indenting with the "blockquote" command.

There is however a way to fix that. You can go into the html produced by the blogging program and move the "close blockquote" command back to where you originally put it. And if you are confident with html that is not too hard: Just pesky and time-consuming.

BUT: Sometimes when you go into the html, the html is presented to you with the "compose" text overlaid. So you have two versions of what you wrote all jumbled together. And the html is much fainter than the "compose" text so it is quite hard to see what is going on even if you are an old hand at html.

I am rather pleased to say that I have managed to fix up my posts even in such difficult circumstances but I am sure that it would be beyond a normal sane person.

I had exactly the problem I describe in today's postings below. You will see a series of paragraphs indented below. Blogger.com over-rode my original command to do that so I had to go into a heavily muddled version of their html to put it back the way I wanted it.

And moving to Wordpress would be no solution. There is quite a lot of html that they completely ignore! Difficult is the life of a blogger!




Another vast cost Obama has inflicted on the American people

Anybody who knows how frequently government computer systems never work properly would never mandate such a monstrosity. Britain spent over 20 BILLION dollars on a nationwide health records systems only to give up on it. They never got it to work properly. Where I live, just the PAYROLL system for the Health Dept. looks like costing a billion dollars and it is still not working properly after several years of trying. Small scale computerized health records systems (covering one group practice, for instance) sometimes work well enough but they take up a lot of the doctors' time -- time that could be spent with patients. Another Left-inflicted disaster awaits Americans -- JR

In its early days the Obama administration avidly promoted financial incentives for the adoption of electronic health records by medical providers. According to Obama, the adoption of electronic health records would save $80 billion in health care costs. The use of electronic health records has been touted by the government (state and federal) for years. Financial incentives for the adoption of electronic health records by Medicare and Medicaid providers, however, were first funded through the administration’s trillion-dollar so-called “stimulus” program, rammed through Congress in February 2009.

At the time Drs. Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband (both self-advertised Obama supporters) criticized the promotion of electronic health records essentially as a crock in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. Drs. Groopman and Hartzband were on to something. Yesterday’s New York Times reported that “Medicare costs rise as records turn electronic.”

The Times does not observe that we haven’t seen anything yet. We’ll be seeing a lot more of this as Obamacare is implemented.

UPDATE: A friend directs me to this WSJ article by Stephen Soumerai and Ross Kopel. My friend notes that the related letters to the editor are also interesting. Here is the text of the article:
In two years, hundreds of thousands of American physicians and thousands of hospitals that fail to buy and install costly health-care information technologies—such as digital records for prescriptions and patient histories—will face penalties through reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments. At the same time, the government expects to pay out tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and incentives to providers who install these technology programs.

The mandate, part of the 2009 stimulus legislation, was a major goal of health-care information technology lobbyists and their allies in Congress and the White House. The lobbyists promised that these technologies would make medical administration more efficient and lower medical costs by up to $100 billion annually. Many doctors and health-care administrators are wary of such claims—a wariness based on their own experience. An extensive new study indicates that the caution is justified: The savings turn out to be chimerical.

Since 2009, almost a third of health providers, a group that ranges from small private practices to huge hospitals—have installed at least some “health IT” technology. It wasn’t cheap. For a major hospital, a full suite of technology products can cost $150 million to $200 million. Implementation—linking and integrating systems, training, data entry and the like—can raise the total bill to $1 billion.

But the software—sold by hundreds of health IT firms—is generally clunky, frustrating, user-unfriendly and inefficient. For instance, a doctor looking for a patient’s current medications might have to click and scroll through many different screens to find that essential information. Depending on where and when information on a patient’s prescriptions were entered, the complete list of medications may only be found across five different screens.

Now, a comprehensive evaluation of the scientific literature has confirmed what many researchers suspected: The savings claimed by government agencies and vendors of health IT are little more than hype.

To conduct the study, faculty at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and its programs for assessment of technology in health—and other research centers, including in the U.S.—sifted through almost 36,000 studies of health IT. The studies included information about highly valued computerized alerts—when drugs are prescribed, for instance—to prevent drug interactions and dosage errors. From among those studies the researchers identified 31 that specifically examined the outcomes in light of the technology’s cost-savings claims.

With a few isolated exceptions, the preponderance of evidence shows that the systems had not improved health or saved money. For instance, various studies found the percentage of alerts overridden by doctors—because they knew that the alerted drug interactions were in fact harmless—ranging from 50% to 97%.

The authors of “The Economics of Health Information Technology in Medication Management: A Systematic Review of Economic Evaluations” found no evidence from four to five decades of studies that health IT reduces overall health costs. Three studies examined in that McMaster review incorporated the gold standard of evidence: large randomized, controlled trials. They provide the best measure of the effects of health IT systems on total medical costs.

A study from Regenstrief, a leading health IT research center associated with the Indiana University School of Medicine, found that there were no savings, and another from the same center found a significant increase in costs of $2,200 per doctor per year. The third study measured a small and statistically questionable savings of $22 per patient each year.

In short, the most rigorous studies to date contradict the widely broadcast claims that the national investment in health IT—some $1 trillion will be spent, by our estimate—will pay off in reducing medical costs. Those studies that do claim savings rarely include the full cost of installation, training and maintenance—a large chunk of that trillion dollars—for the nation’s nearly 6,000 hospitals and more than 600,000 physicians.

But by the time these health-care providers find out that the promised cost savings are an illusion, it will be too late. Having spent hundreds of millions on the technology, they won’t be able to afford to throw it out like a defective toaster.

It is already common knowledge in the health-care industry that a central component of the proposed health IT system—the ability to share patients’ health records among doctors, hospitals and labs—has largely failed. The industry could not agree on data standards—for instance on how to record blood pressure or list patients’ problems.

Instead of demanding unified standards, the government has largely left it to the vendors, who declined to cooperate, thereby ensuring years of noncommunication and noncoordination. This likely means billions of dollars for unnecessarily repeated tests and procedures, double-dosing patients and avoidable suffering.

Why are we pushing ahead to digitize even more of the health-care system, when the technology record so far is so disappointing? So strong is the belief in health IT that skeptics and their science are not always welcome. Studies published several years ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that health IT systems evaluated by their own developers were far more likely to be judged “successful” than those assessed by independent evaluators.

Government agencies like the Office of the National Coordinator of Healthcare Information Technology (an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services) serve as health IT industry boosters. ONC routinely touts stories of the technology’s alleged benefits.

We fully share the hope that health IT will achieve the promised cost and quality benefits. As applied researchers and evaluators, we actively work to realize both goals. But this will require an accurate appraisal of the technology’s successes and failures, not a mixture of cheerleading and financial pressure by government agencies based on unsubstantiated promises.
The Journal’s authors’ tag indicates that Mr. Soumerai is professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. Mr. Koppel is a professor of sociology and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and principal investigator of its Study of Hospital Workplace Culture.

SOURCE

*************************

In Obama, Jimmy Carter marches on

by Jeff Jacoby

Jimmy Carter's reputation as a foreign-policy schlemiel can hardly be blamed on the Romney campaign. Americans came to that conclusion more than 30 years ago, having watched the world grow more dangerous -- and America's enemies more brazen -- during Carter's feckless years as steward of US national security.

"There was strong evidence that voters … wanted a tougher American foreign policy," reported The New York Times on November 5, 1980, the morning after Ronald Reagan crushed Carter's reelection bid in a 44-state landslide. By a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, voters surveyed in exit polls "said they wanted this country to be more forceful in dealing with the Soviet Union, 'even if it increased the risk of war.'"

In fact, Reagan's muscular, unapologetic approach to international relations -- "peace through strength" -- didn't increase the risk of war with the Soviets. It reduced it. Within a decade of his election, the Soviet empire -- as Reagan foretold -- would be relegated to the ash-heap of history. See below:



Like all presidents, Reagan got many things wrong. But one thing he got very right was that American weakness is provocative. A foreign-policy blueprint that emphasizes the need for American constraint, deference, and apology -- what Obama's advisers today call "leading from behind" -- is a recipe for more global disorder, not less. Carter came to office scolding Americans for their "inordinate fear of communism;" he launched diplomatic relations with Fidel Castro's dictatorship and welcomed the takeover of Nicaragua by a Marxist junta. Only when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 did Carter wake up to the dangers of appeasing communist totalitarianism. Moscow's naked aggression, he confessed, had made a "dramatic change in my opinion of what the Soviets' ultimate goals are."

Equally disastrous was Carter's reaction to the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran following the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution. Bernard Lewis, the dean of Middle East historians, writes that Carter's meek response -- from his letter appealing to Khomeini "as a believer to a man of God" to his abandonment of the overthrown Shah, a longtime US ally -- helped convince dictators and fanatics across the Middle East "that it was safer and more profitable to be an enemy rather than a friend of the United States."

Is it fair to compare Obama's foreign policy to Carter's? The similarities were especially vivid after the murder of four US diplomats at the American consulate in Benghazi. Even more so when the administration insisted that the outbreak of anti-American violence by rampaging Islamists in nearly 30 countries was due solely to a YouTube video mocking Islam -- a video the White House bent over backward to condemn.

But Obama-Carter likenesses were being remarked on long before this latest evidence of what the appearance of US weakness leads to. Obama was still a presidential hopeful when liberal historian Sean Wilentz observed in 2008 that he "resembles Jimmy Carter more than he does any other Democratic president in living memory." Within weeks of Obama's inauguration, troubling parallels could already be detected. In January 2010, Foreign Policy magazine's cover story, "The Carter Syndrome," wondered whether the 44th president's foreign policy was beginning to collapse "into the incoherence and reversals" that had characterized No. 39's.

The Carter years are a warning of what can happen when the "Leader of the Free World" won't lead. Jimmy Carter's legacy is still too timely to ignore.

SOURCE

************************

No Way to Run an Economy

One defining characteristic of cronyism is that politically connected businesses and industries get special favors from the government. Most people oppose it because of the inherent corruption, but economists also dislike it because it lowers living standards by hindering the efficient allocation of resources.

Unfortunately, the bailout craze in the United States is a worrisome sign cronyism is taking root. In the GM/Chrysler bailout, Washington intervened in the bankruptcy process and arbitrarily tilted the playing field to help politically powerful creditors at the expense of others. Not only did this put taxpayers on the hook for big losses, it also created a precedent for future interventions.

This precedent makes it more difficult to feel confident that the rule of law will be respected in the future when companies get in trouble. It also means investors will be less willing to put money into weak firms. That's not good for workers, and not good for the economy.

The bailouts in the financial sector are equally troubling. When the politicians intervened, poorly managed firms were given a new lease on life — even though they helped cause the housing bubble!

The pro-bailout crowd argues that lawmakers had no choice. We had to recapitalize the financial system, they argued, to avoid another Great Depression. This is nonsense. The federal government could have used what's known as "FDIC resolution" to take over insolvent institutions while protecting retail customers.

Yes, taxpayer money still would have been involved, but shareholders, bondholders and top executives would have taken bigger losses. These relatively rich groups of people are precisely the ones who should burn their fingers when they touch hot stoves. Capitalism without bankruptcy, after all, is like religion without hell.

And that's what we got with TARP. Private profits and socialized losses are no way to operate a prosperous economy.

SOURCE

**************************

ELSEWHERE

Honduras: Private city will have minimal taxes, government: "Small government and free-market capitalism are about to get put to the test in Honduras, where the government has agreed to let an investment group build an experimental city with no taxes on income, capital gains or sales. Proponents say the tiny, as-yet unnamed town will become a Central American beacon of job creation and investment, by combining secure property rights with minimal government interference. 'Once we provide a sound legal system within which to do business, the whole job creation machine -- the miracle of capitalism -- will get going,' Michael Strong, CEO of the MKG Group, which will build the city and set its laws, told FoxNews.com."

Gaza: Israeli airstrike kills three: "An Israeli air strike on a vehicle killed three Palestinian security officials in the Hamas-Islamist ruled Gaza Strip yesterday, Palestinian medics and Hamas said. The Israeli military confirmed it had launched an air strike in Gaza but had no further comment. Hamas and Palestinian hospital officials said a raid after darkness fell in the town of Rafah on Gaza’s border with Egypt killed three officials responsible for overseeing tunnels used to import goods from Egypt."

A Webb of lies: "As implausible as the new Soviet man might seem, left-wing radicals in the West applauded the Soviet Experiment. They clearly believed Trotsky[s] description in Literature and Revolution: the 'average human type' under communism would be the equal of Aristotle and 'above this ridge new peaks' of humanity would rise. Among the loudest voices cheering ere the prominent British socialist utopians, Sidney and Beatrice Webb."

Oklahoma challenges health care tax in federally-run insurance exchanges: "Many employers under the ACA can be fined/taxed if they do not provide health insurance to individuals who qualify for the federal government’s subsidies. However, if a state does not build its own exchange, then no employee would qualify for the subsidy, and therefore employers in the state not would be subject to the tax because none of their employees would meet the criteria set out in the law. ... Not surprisingly, it was only recently that Washington woke up to this reality."

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

*************************

For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, 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 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, 2012

Obama raises taxes on the middle class

On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office confirmed what we've been saying for years now: President Obama has broken his pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class. During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised Americans that he wouldn't raise taxes on anybody making less than $250,000 a year. Technically, he broke that pledge weeks after taking office, when he signed an increase in cigarette taxes, which fall disproportionately on those with lower incomes. Now, the CBO has released updated estimates showing that Obamacare's insurance mandate -- which the Supreme Court ruled to be a tax -- will hit millions of middle-class Americans.

In its report, the CBO determined the mandate tax would cost 6 million Americans a total of $7 billion in 2016, with a minimum payment of $695 apiece. The annual cost will then average about $8 billion from 2017 through 2022. The health care law requires Americans either to purchase government-approved insurance or to pay a penalty. The CBO estimates 30 million will be uninsured by that year, but most will be exempted from the mandate because they are unauthorized immigrants, members of Indian tribes or don't earn enough income to file taxes, among other reasons.

Among those who will have to pay a mandate penalty, 4.7 million will have incomes below 500 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the CBO, which is projected to be $60,000 for individuals and $123,000 for families of four by 2016.

The tax penalty, according to the CBO, is "the greater of: a flat dollar amount per person that rises to $695 in 2016 and is indexed by inflation thereafter (the penalty for children will be half that amount and an overall cap will apply to family payments); or a percentage of the household's income that rises to 2.5 percent for 2016 and subsequent years (also subject to a cap)."

Lest some of his defenders argue that Obama's campaign pledge merely pertained to income tax rates, here's what he actually said as a candidate in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12, 2008: "I can make a firm pledge: Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase -- not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

As with many of Obama's "firm pledges," this one was a bit flimsy.

SOURCE

************************

Ex Obama Supporter Interviews Herself

Exploded dreams



***************************

Apple panders to Muslims

Apple’s new operating system iOS6 was released earlier this week, and one of the highly touted features is the addition of Apple Maps, but the new mapping feature fails to list Jersualem as the capital of Israel. In fact, according to the new Apple Maps application, Israel has no capital city.

The World Clock function, which allows users to pick a city and set the time on their device according to the local time zone, lists Jerusalem as a city with no affiliated country.

In the newly released Apple Maps, capital cities are noted with encircled 5-point stars, and Israel is the only country with no such notation.

More HERE



**************************

Bowing to the Mob

Government-funded film critics do grotesque damage to freedom of speech

By Mark Steyn



I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single “O” logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick hollow vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn’t occasionally intersect with reality?

On the latter point, after a week and a half of peddling an utterly false narrative of what happened in Libya, the United States government is apparently beginning to discern that there are limits to what even Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Susan Rice can say with a straight face. The official line — that the slaughter of American officials was some sort of improvised movie review that got a little out of hand — is now in the process of modification to something bearing a less patently absurd relationship to what actually happened. That should not make any more forgivable the grotesque damage that the administration has done to the bedrock principle of civilized society: freedom of speech.

The more that U.S.-government officials talk about the so-called film Innocence of Muslims (which is actually merely a YouTube trailer) the more they confirm the mob’s belief that works of “art” are the proper responsibility of government. Obama and Clinton are currently starring as the Siskel & Ebert of Pakistani TV, giving two thumbs down to Innocence of Muslims in hopes that it will dissuade local moviegoers from giving two heads off to consular officials. “The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video,” says Hillary Clinton. “We absolutely reject its content, and message.” “We reject the efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” adds Barack Obama. There follows the official State Department seal of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.

Fellow government-funded film critics call Innocence of Muslims “hateful and offensive” (Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) and “reprehensible and disgusting” (Jay Carney, White House press secretary). General Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and senior Pentagon adviser to Variety, has taken to telephoning personally those few movie fans who claim to enjoy the film. He called up Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who apparently thinks Innocence of Muslims is the perfect date movie, to tell him the official position of the United States military is they’d be grateful if he could ease up on the five-star reviews.

Obama and Clinton’s two-on-the-aisle act cost $70,000 of taxpayers’ money. That may not sound much in the $16 trillion–dollar sinkhole of Washington, but it’s a pretty big ad buy in Islamabad, and an improper use of public monies. If government functionaries want to do movie reviews, they should have a PBS fundraiser, offering a “Barack & Hill at the Movies” logo-ed burqa for pledges of over $100, and a complimentary clitoridectomy for pledges over $500. I fought a long battle for freedom of expression north of the border when the Canadian Islamic Congress attempted to criminalize my writing, and I’m proud to say I played a modest role in getting Parliament to strike down a shameful law and restore a semblance of free speech to a country that should never have lost it. So I know a little about how the Western world is shuffling into a psychological bondage of its own making, and it’s no small thing when the First Amendment gets swallowed up by the vacuum of American foreign policy.

What other entertainments have senior U.S. officials reviewed lately? Last year Hillary Clinton went to see the Broadway musical Book of Mormon. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”? The Book of Mormon’s big showstopper is “Hasa Diga Eebowai” which apparently translates as “F*** you, God.” The U.S. secretary of state stood and cheered.

Why does Secretary Clinton regard “F*** you, God” as a fun toe-tapper for all the family but “F*** you, Allah” as “disgusting and reprehensible”? The obvious answer is that, if you sing the latter, you’ll find a far more motivated crowd waiting for you at the stage door. So the “leader of the free world” and “the most powerful man in the world” (to revive two cobwebbed phrases nobody seems to apply to the president of the United States anymore) is telling the planet that the way to ensure your beliefs command his “respect” is to be willing to burn and bomb and kill. You Mormons need to get with the program.

Meanwhile, this last week has seen the publication of two controversial magazines in France: One, called Closer, showed Prince William’s lovely bride, the Duchess of Cambridge, without her bikini top on. The other, the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, showed some bloke who died in the seventh century without his bikini top on. In response, a kosher grocery store was firebombed, injuring four people. Which group was responsible? Yes, frenzied Anglicans defending the honor of the wife of the future supreme governor of the Church of England rampaged through Jewish grocery stores yelling, “Behead the enemies of the House of Windsor!” The embassy-burning mobs well understand the fraudulence of Obama and Clinton’s professions of generalized “respect” for “all faiths.” As a headline in the Karachi Express-Tribune puts it:

“Ultimatum to U.S.: Criminalize Blasphemy or Lose Consulate.”

The assistant attorney general of the United States has said he does not rule out a law against blasphemy, so that’s good news, isn’t it? Once we’ve got government commissars regulating movies, and cartoons, and teddy bears and children’s piggy-banks and Burger King ice-cream tubs and inflatable sex-shop dolls and non-sharia-compliant mustaches (just to round up a few of the innumerable grievances of Islam), all the bad stuff will go away, right?

If you’ll forgive a book plug before General Dempsey calls me up and asks me to withdraw it from publication, the paperback of my latest, After America, has just come out. On page 297, I speculate on how future generations will look back on our time from a decade or two hence:

In the Middle East, Islam had always been beyond criticism. It was only natural that, as their numbers grew in Europe, North America, and Australia, observant Muslims would seek the same protections in their new lands. But they could not have foreseen how eager Western leaders would be to serve as their enablers. . . . As the more cynical Islamic imperialists occasionally reflected, how quickly the supposed defenders of liberal, pluralist, Western values came to sound as if they were competing to be Islam’s lead prison bitch.

Gee, that’d make a pretty funny number for Koran: The Musical next time Secretary Clinton wants a night out on Broadway, wouldn’t it?

In the meantime, spare a thought for Abdullah Ismail, one of 10,000 Pakistanis who participated in a protest in Lahore the other day. He died after “feeling unwell from the smoke from U.S. flags burnt at the rally.” But don’t worry: I’m sure the new Obama flag is far less toxic, and there’s no risk of keeling over in mid-chant of “Death to America!”

SOURCE

**************************

The IRS: A bureaucratic monster

I’ve done thorough blog posts highlighting the economic benefits of the flat tax, but I find that most people are passionate about tax reform because they view the current system as being unfair and corrupt. They also don’t like the IRS, in part because it has so much arbitrary power to ruin lives.

But it’s not just that is has the power to ruin lives. That can be said about the FBI, the DEA, the BATF, and all sorts of other enforcement agencies.

What irks people about the IRS is that it has so much power combined with the fact that the internal revenue code is a nightmare of complexity that can overwhelm even the most well-intentioned taxpayer. Just spend a couple of minutes watching this video if you don’t believe me.

I’ve already shown depressing charts on the number of pages in the tax code and the number of special breaks in the tax law. To make matters worse, not even the IRS understands how to interpret the law. According to a recent GAO report, the IRS gave the wrong answers on matters of tax law more than 530,000 times in 2010.

Yet if you use inaccurate information from the IRS when filing your taxes, you’re still liable. To add insult to injury (or perhaps injury to injury is the right phrase), you’re then guilty until you prove yourself innocent – notwithstanding the Constitution’s guarantee of presumption of innocence.

Now we have some new information showing the difficulty of complying with a bad tax system. A new report from the Treasury Department reveals that volunteers (who presumably have the best of intentions) make mistakes in more than 50 percent of cases. Here are some key excerpts from the report.
Of the 39 tax returns prepared for our auditors, 19 (49 percent) were prepared correctly and 20 (51 percent) were prepared incorrectly. The accuracy rate should not be projected to the entire population of tax returns prepared at the Volunteer Program sites. Nevertheless, if the 20 incorrect tax returns had been filed: 12 (60 percent) taxpayers would not have been refunded a total of $3,996 to which they were entitled, one (5 percent) taxpayer would have received a refund of $303 more than the amount to which he or she was entitled, one (5 percent) taxpayer would have owed $165 less than the amount that should have been owed, and six (30 percent) taxpayers would have owed an additional total of $1,483 in tax and/or penalties. …The IRS also conducted 53 anonymous shopping visits during the 2012 Filing Season. Volunteers prepared tax returns for SPEC function shoppers with a 60 percent accuracy rate.

So here’s the bottom line. We have a completely corrupt tax system that is impossibly complex. Yet every year politicians add new provisions to please their buddies from the lobbyist community.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could rip up all 72,000 pages and instead have a simple and fair tax system?

Sadly, tax reform is an uphill battle for four very big reasons.

* Politicians don’t want tax reform since it reduces their power to micro-manage the economy and to exchange loopholes for campaign cash.

* The IRS doesn’t want tax reform since there are about 100,000 bureaucrats with comfy jobs overseeing the current system.

* Lobbyists obviously don’t want to reform since that would mean fewer clients paying big bucks to get special favors.

* And the interest groups oppose the flat tax because they want a tilted playing field in order to obtain unearned wealth.

But there are now about 30 nations around the world that have adopted this simple and fair system, so reform isn’t impossible. But it will only happen when voters can convince politicians that they will lose their jobs if they don’t adopt the flat tax.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

****************************

A creepy pledge

The pledge is nominally a pledge to vote and voting is of course fine but it still is all rather reminiscent of North Korea and homage to the "Dear Leader"

There was a day when Barack Obama couldn't muster the energy or desire to lift his hand to cover his heart during the national anthem. Now, the Obama campaign is asking his supporters to do for him what he refused to do for America: place their hands over their hearts to pledge support for none other than President Obama.

The campaign is being called "For All," which is a take on Christian socialist Francis Bellamy's Pledge of Allegiance, "with liberty and justice for all." This newest Obama for America gimmick asks committed fans of the President to take photos of themselves with their hand over their hearts with notes scribbled on the exposed skin explaining why they are vowing loyalty to Obama.

Among those willing to send America a message are the usual suspects - twenty-something Hollywood starlets like Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, and Jessica Alba.

More HERE

*************************

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 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, 2012

Psychopaths have poor sense of smell, say psychologists

One wonders how good Obama is at smelling. Any stories?

PSYCHOPATHS have a remarkably poor sense of smell, according to a study by Australian scientists published today.

Researchers at Sydney's Macquarie University tested a theory that psychopathy - a severe personality disorder characterised by lack of empathy, antisocial behaviour and callousness - may be linked to impaired smelling ability.

Both phenomena have been independently traced to dysfunction in part of the brain called the orbito-frontal complex (OFC).

Mehmet Mahmut and Richard Stevenson of the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University trialled the olfactory skills of 79 individuals, aged 19 to 21, who had been diagnosed as non-criminal psychopaths and lived in the community.

Using "Sniffin' Sticks" - 16 pens that contain different scents, such as orange, coffee and leather - they found the participants had problems in correctly identifying the smell, and then discriminating it against a different odour.

Those who scored highest on a standard scorecard of psychopathic traits did worst on both counts, even though they knew that they were smelling something.

The finding could be useful for identifying psychopaths, who are famously manipulative in the face of questioning, says the paper, published in the journal Chemosensory Perception.

"Olfactory measures represent a potentially interesting marker for psychopathic traits, because performance expectancies are unclear in odour tests and may therefore be less susceptible to attempts to fake 'good' or 'bad' responses."

The OFC is a front part of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, planning and behaving in line with social norms.

It also appears to be important in processing olfactory signals, although the precise function is unclear, according to previous research.

SOURCE

**********************

A "gelernt" perspective

"Gelernt" means "learned" in Yiddish/German and David Gelernter lives up to his surname (= The Learned One) with a very perceptive understanding of the world about him. I think he is right in his comments below

There is a mystery about this election. The slanted national press and Romney’s weaknesses are well understood, but a large gap separates these explanations from the fact that needs explaining: this election will be close. How is that possible when Obama has shown himself to be the worst president in modern history? And when Romney (on the other hand) is unexciting but safe, serious, solid—just the right sort of man to shelter all sorts of tempest-tost Americans in a storm?

Americans are not a skeptical people. But we could use a double shot of skepticism right now. Half of what experts say about this ongoing campaign makes no sense. Romney does make mistakes, does have weaknesses–but in light of recent presidential history, they are trivial. Obama is said to have great personal strengths, and he has—but not the ones he is said to have.

Romney’s weaknesses, harped on by the Establishment and some conservatives, are insignificant in the larger scheme. Reagan was often inarticulate and sometimes fumbling off-the-cuff; so were both Bushes. Romney is said to be unlikeable, but he won the nomination although Republican primary voters were a tough audience for this moderate-minded businessman. How dislikeable could he be?

And what does it matter, anyway? Nixon was thoroughly dislikeable, but he demolished likeable McGovern and beat Humphrey, one of the nicest guys in US political history. Ford was more likeable than Carter; Ford lost too. And then there is Obama’s snide arrogance. Romney might not be warm and folksy, but at any rate he is never mocking, patronizing, abrasive—in fact his handlers would love to see some mocking abrasiveness from Romney, and he tries, but just can’t bring it off. He is not a mocking or abrasive or arrogant man.

And yet polls show that Obama is likeable and Romney is not.

Time to ask whether these popular responses to poll-takers don’t sound just a bit rehearsed; not quite convincing. It used to be that black candidates did better in polls than elections: people wanted to impress poll-takers with their open-mindedness. That effect has disappeared. But a generation that wants to seem good might easily give birth to a generation than wants to be good. And the whole American Establishment has busied itself since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the late 1970s defining “good” in terms that exactly match Barack Obama.

Haven’t we all been taught that globalism is good and patriotism silly? That oil wells are bad and “renewable energy” good? That fighting to defend your friends or your honor is bad, but apologies are the staff of life? That Judaism, Christianity and the Bible must be kept away from public life lest they infect it? That “experts” and intellectuals are America’s natural leaders? That America is far less sinned against than sinning, that Africans, Arabs and other “less-developed” people are more virtuous than we? That the greatest American hero of all was a black civil rights leader?–who was also a devout Christian, but we hear a lot less about that angle.

The press is slanted, but everyone knows that. What really matters is that American culture is slanted.

Remember that Obama has demonstrated the competence of Carter with the integrity of Nixon. He has given us persistent unemployment and a pathetic recovery, Obamacare people don’t want, a pipeline project knifed in the back without explanation while money disappears down the great Green sinkhole, a staggering debt and huge yearly deficits, poisoned relations with Congress, an incompetent Department of Justice, states and cities wrestling with financial collapse across the country, schools that keep getting worse—not to mention calamitous security leaks, the Middle East in flames and Iran’s terrorist government closer to nuclear weapons every day.

Carter for all his sanctimonious incompetence had a certain humility. He announced that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan had opened his eyes to the evil of Communism–sad but honest. And Carter was never suspected of personal corruption. Of many contenders, the White House leaks will most likely emerge as the biggest Obama scandal.

Romney will win this election. But the wacko-left Culture Machine won’t fall silent; the schools and colleges won’t suddenly become patriotic, serious, politically neutral. The entertainment industry won’t discover open-mindedness regarding Judeo-Christianity and the Bible. Nor will mainstream churches and liberal synagogues suddenly catch on to the moral and spiritual greatness of America. Unless conservatives start taking education and culture seriously, an election day will arrive in which the outcome is never in doubt, because at least 51 percent of the electorate has been trained which way to vote. At which point the GOP might as well close shop and take the rest of the century off.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

SOURCE

****************************

America at a Precipice, Freedom at Risk

America stands at a precipice. Never before have so many of our fundamental, God-given freedoms hung by so thin a thread here at home as they do now.

This generation—you and I, our neighbors and co-workers, our families and friends—will soon decide on many fronts whether or not this great experiment in freedom continues or crumbles. We will decide if we keep our Republic.

We’ve all witnessed the dramatic events that began last week on the anniversary of Sept. 11th, when terrorists invaded our sovereign territory, burned it, and killed the US diplomatic team.

And we’ve also seen how certain members of our government responded to this atrocity: namely, by putting our First Amendment on trial.

This is not out of character for the Left – this is how they operate.

For years, American citizens and American traditions have come out on the short end of the stick when the Left steps in to be sure no crisis goes to waste. All it takes is for a “victim” from a favored group to complain about an offense real or imagined, and the anti-freedom Left jumps into action. And when they do, the first thing on the chopping block is always free speech and the free exercise of religious faith and conscience.

And while the events surrounding the September 11th anniversary were glaring examples of this, we cannot overlook that fact that there are smaller, daily erosions of our liberty that are happening all the time but going unreported.

For example, the same Left that is limiting free speech to protect the public’s “religious feelings” is also infiltrating professional organizations and the education systems that control the destinies of so many Americans. From those lofty perches they will enforce their ideology with such aggression that mere disagreement leads to banishment from the profession or expulsion from the schools.

They create quasi-government courts with noble sounding names like the “Human Rights Commission,” then use these bodies to drive people of faith from the marketplace or impose heavy penalties on those who choose to stay and fight. They come down especially hard on those who dare remain convinced of the Constitutionally-protected freedoms of religion and of speech.

Both the glaring attacks and the more subtle ones have one thing in common—they are all alike used to chip away at our freedoms and bring us into compliance with the ideology of a Left that has staked its claim on America’s failure.

We stand at a precipice. And this great country, through which God has given us so much, now teeters on the edge of a dark future in which freedom is a distant memory.

SOURCE

**************************

Free Speech Isn't the Problem

Jonah Goldberg

"No One Murdered Because Of This Image." That was a recent headline from The Onion, the often hilarious parody newspaper.

The image in question is really not appropriate to describe with any specificity in a family newspaper. It's quite simply disgusting. And, suffice it to say, it leaves nothing to the imagination.

Four of "the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity," according to The Onion, and yet "no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday."

"Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day."

There was one conspicuous no-show for the celestial orgy: the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

The Onion's point should be obvious. Amidst all of the talk of religious tolerance and the hand-wringing over free speech in recent days, one salient fact is often lost or glossed over: What we face are not broad questions about the limits of free speech or the importance of religious tolerance, but rather a very specific question about the limits of Muslim tolerance and the unimportance of free speech to much of the Muslin world.

It's really quite amazing. In Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, Christians are being harassed, brutalized and even murdered, often with state support, or at least state indulgence. And let's not even talk about the warm reception Jews receive in much of the Muslim world.

And yet, it seems you can't turn on National Public Radio or open a newspaper or a highbrow magazine without finding some oh-so-thoughtful meditation on how anti-Islamic speech should be considered the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a movie theater.

It's an interesting comparison. First, the prohibition on yelling "fire" in a theater only applies to instances where there is no fire. A person who yells "fire" when there is, in fact, a fire is quite likely a hero. I'm not saying that the people ridiculing Muhammad -- be they the makers of the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer or the editors of a French magazine -- have truth on their side. But blasphemy is not a question of scientific fact, merely of opinion. And in America we give a very wide legal berth to the airing of such opinions. Loudly declaring "It is my opinion there is a fire in here" is not analogous to declaring "It is my opinion that Muhammad was a blankety-blank."

You know why? Because Muslims aren't fire, they're people. And fire isn't a sentient entity, it is a force of nature bereft of choice or cognition of any kind. Just as water seeks its own level, fire burns what it can burn. Muslims have free will. If they choose to riot, that's not the same thing as igniting a fire.

Indeed, the point is proven by the simple fact that the vast majority of Muslims don't riot. More than 17 million people live in greater Cairo. A tiny fraction of a fraction of that number stormed the U.S. Embassy to "protest" that stupid video. And yet, the logic seems to be that the prime authors of Muslim violence are non-Muslims who express their opinions, often thousands of miles away.

I absolutely agree that our devotion to free speech can cause headaches and challenges. But so can any number of non-negotiable facts of life. Anyone with a child knows that having a kid creates all sorts of problems and inconveniences. But few decent parents respond to those problems and inconveniences by loving their kid any less. And as a general rule, only evil, incomprehensibly stupid or selfish people would consider getting rid of their kid to avoid the inconvenience.

There's nothing wrong with exercising sound judgment, even caution, when it comes to offending anybody's most cherished beliefs. But the First Amendment isn't the problem here, the dysfunctions and inadequacies of the Arab and Muslim world are.

James Burnham famously said that when there is no alternative there is no problem. If free speech in America causes a comparative handful of zealots to want to murder Americans, the correct response is to protect Americans from those zealots (something the Obama administration abjectly failed to do in Libya) and relentlessly seek the punishment of anyone who succeeds. Because, as far as America is concerned, there is no alternative to the First Amendment.

SOURCE

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

Sabbath



21 September, 2012

Romney's "Secret Video" and the Dem Politics of "Squirrel!"

Michelle Malkin

Democrats need to change their party mascot from the donkey to the squirrel. They divert the media's and the electorate's short attention spans with fleeting, fuzzy objects -- like the main canine character in the animated Pixar movie "Up," who was easily distracted from his main thoughts and serious duties by every last little moving trifle.

Embassy attacks? Quick, find a squirrel! Warnings ignored? Squirrel! American troops killed by long-plotting jihadis exploiting security weaknesses? Squirrel! First Amendment sabotage by White House officials in the name of political correctness? Squirrel! Chronic joblessness, high gas prices, exploding dependency? Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!

As Election Day draws nearer, the Obama campaign and its surrogates in the Fourth Estate have infested the political arena with an army of tactical and rhetorical rodentia. One week, it's GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney's high school hijinks. The next, it's a heinous smear about Romney killing a steelworker's cancer-stricken wife.

Or, it's a hit job on multiple sclerosis survivor Ann Romney's therapeutic horse. Then, it's faux rage over Romney's firm statement condemning the feckless White House response to the murders of our U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi.

This week, it's a "secret Romney video" shot undercover at a closed-door dinner with Florida donors in May. Unemployed Democratic operative James Carter IV (grandson of former president and malaise engineer Jimmy Carter) brokered the film to progressive Mother Jones magazine.

Now, the same media lapdogs who had conniption fits when the late Andrew Breitbart and conservative investigative journalist James O'Keefe used undercover video are tripping over themselves to publish glowing profiles of Carter the Fourth and his impressive "furtive efforts" to secure the Romney tapes.

Carter the Fourth found the cameraman on Twitter, invoked his family name and convinced the mole to leak the tape to Mother Jones' David Corn. To quote Joe Biden with all due sarcasm: BFD.

But back to the bigger Big, Fluffy Distraction at hand: Let's reflect for a moment on the Beltway hoo-hah over one small snippet from Romney's nearly hour-long talk. Here's the quote that has liberal finger-waggers and Republican wet-finger-in-the-wind windbags in meltdown mode:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney explained to an audience member who asked how the candidate was going to change the "we'll take care of you" mentality of Obama voters. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. ... And they will vote for this president no matter what."

Romney explained that this portion of voters was comprised of "people who pay no income tax. ... I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

He's talking, of course, about the Peggy the Moochers and Henrietta Hugheses of the world: savior-based Obama supporters for whom the cult of personality trumps all else. He's talking about the Sandra Flukes and Julias of the world: Nanny State grievance-mongers who have been spoon-fed identity politics and victim Olympics from preschool through grad school and beyond. And he's talking about the encrusted entitlement clientele who range from the Section 8 housing mob in Atlanta who caused a near-riot to the irresponsible, debt-ridden homeowners who mortgaged themselves into oblivion and want their bailout now, now, now.

Media wonks sliced and diced the words like hibachi chefs on bath salts. Beltway conservative scribes David Brooks and Bill Kristol denounced Romney as insensitive and out of touch. But Romney told hard political truths, which he's proclaimed openly on the campaign trail before. "If you're looking for free stuff you don't have to pay for, vote for the other guy," he told a heckler in March. "That's what he's all about, OK? That's not, that's not what I'm about."

Gasp! He said he's against freeloaders. Oh, the inhumanity.

In another section of the video that libs don't want to talk about, Romney received his biggest applause when he defended his success and mentioned what Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's Cuban immigrant parents taught him. "When he grew up here poor, they looked at people who had a lot of wealth. His parents never once said, 'We need some of what they have. They should give us some.' Instead, they said, 'If we work hard and go to school, someday we might be able to have that.'"

Let the parsers and panicky pundits chase their tails and hurl their nuts. This election is about America's makers versus America's takers. Romney should never, ever apologize for making that clear.

SOURCE

*************************

The Great Tax Divide

Thomas Sowell

New York Times economics writer David Leonhardt recently took the "no panacea" approach to rebut the argument for tax cuts. Presidents Bush 41 and Bill Clinton both raised tax rates, and the economy continued to grow, while the economy declined after President Bush 43's tax rate cuts, Leonhardt argued.

The 800-pound gorilla that gets ignored by people who use these talking points is the dominant economic factor of those years -- namely the huge and unsustainable housing boom that led to a catastrophic housing bust that took down the whole economy on Bush 43's watch.

Tax cuts are not a panacea. In fact, nothing is a panacea or else, by definition, all the problems of the world would already be solved.

Ironically, it was Mr. Leonhardt's own newspaper that reported in 2006, "An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year."

Expectations are of course in the eye of the beholder. Rising tax revenues in the wake of a cut in high tax rates was a possibility expected by five different administrations, both Democratic and Republican, over a period of more than three-quarters of a century.

No one expected automatic and instant surges in economic growth. Both John F. Kennedy and John Maynard Keynes spoke in terms of the long-run effects of lower tax rates, not the kind of instant results suggested by Mr. Leonhardt's graph of growth rates -- least of all during a very volatile housing market in which American homeowners took trillions of dollars in equity out of their homes.

Back during the 1920s, when there was no such monumental economic factor as the housing boom and bust until 1929, there was a rapid increase in both tax revenues and jobs after the tax rates were cut. Today, the uncertainties generated by an activist and anti-business administration probably have more of a chilling effect on investments than the tax rate does.

More HERE

**************************

Hate and Speech

Presidential confidante and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday-show circuit this weekend in an effort to spin the cascade of violent anti-American protests in the Muslim world into a story about the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. In the course of this impossible task, Ambassador Rice made a number of dubious claims, but perhaps none was more dangerous and stupid than this bold declarative to ABC’s Jake Tapper:

What transpired this week . . . in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region, was a direct result of a heinous and offensive video [entitled “The Innocence of Muslims”] that was widely disseminated, that the U.S. government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.

The baffling assertion that the protests were a spontaneous and unmediated reaction to an amateurish YouTube video that anteceded them by a month so strains credulity that we have to assume the administration doesn’t even believe it. House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) has said that there is preliminary evidence that the Benghazi attack was premeditated and well-planned. In Cairo, Mohammed al-Zawahiri, brother of al-Qaeda caporegime Ayman al-Zawahiri, was at the front of the horde. Other protesters were reportedly paid. They burned American flags and ran up al-Qaeda colors in their place. They chanted “Obama! Obama! We are all Osama!” And they did it all on the anniversary of September 11.
We may not think much of the president’s foreign policy, but we find it difficult to believe he could see all this and think “if it hadn’t been for that damned YouTube video . . . ”

The truth is that the video was a pretext, and the attacks the consequence of a deep current of anti-Western rage that persists in the Muslim world despite the president’s famous “Cairo speech” and the muddled engagement strategy for which it was the synecdoche. Because the administration cannot admit this — perhaps not even to itself — its spokesmen trot out patent absurdities such as Ambassador Rice’s and present them to a largely compliant media. Unfortunately, this does violence not just to the facts, but to that preponderant American value: the freedom of speech.

To say that the besieging of American missions abroad, and the murder of American diplomats, is “the direct result of a heinous and offensive video” is to implicitly legitimize such a causal connection; it is not more than a step or two removed from saying that the victim of a crime was “asking for it.” To lead not with condemnation of the killers but with apologies, epithets, and disclaimers for the speech acts alleged to have incited their rage, is to incentivize the kind of thinking displayed by the Egyptian prime minister, who said that the attacks on U.S. embassies were not wrong per se but merely misdirected because the United States government hadn’t actually produced the video. And to append embarrassed defenses of free speech aimed at Muslim extremists with soothing invocations of freedom of religion, as the Cairo embassy staff did and the administration continues to do, is to miss the point of both liberties in a tragically ironic way: Under the First Amendment, the free-speech and free-exercise clauses are both compatible and complementary. Under the Islamism that drives the embassy besiegers, the one is, as the vice president would say, literally the mortal enemy of the other.

Nor have the crimes against free speech been merely rhetorical. Before police brought in the video’s creator for “questioning,” ostensibly over whether he violated the terms of a 2010 probation agreement, the federal government reportedly requested that YouTube investigate whether “The Innocence of Muslims” violated the site’s terms of service, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs himself placed a phone call to a Florida pastor to ask him to withdraw support for it.
Advertisement

This not-so-subtle coercion occurs against the backdrop of renewed efforts to globalize anti-blaspemy laws, efforts with which the current administration has shown a troubling sympathy. In 2009, in what American diplomats said was an effort to “reach out to Muslim countries,” the administration joined with Egypt, the representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), to introduce a hate-speech resolution at the U.N. It called on all states to “take effective measures to combat” religious hate speech. Last year, Secretary Clinton followed up with an initiative, called the “Istanbul Process,” under which the State Department, together with the OIC, is seeking ways to implement other U.N. resolutions against “religious stereotyping.” But the OIC’s final objective is to obtain the international criminalization of blasphemy against Islam, and such missteps by the administration give the appearance of validating this repressive effort.
All of this unjustly undermines free speech, and for a problem it never caused in the first place. Rice’s statement, and the official administration narrative it reflects, is thus built on both empirical and moral errors. It is both incorrect and, in a profounder sense, wrong.

SOURCE

*************************

Shifting Demographics: The Death of Conservatism?

A major rule of political warfare is to never accept the wisdom of those who don’t have your best interests at heart.

Columnist Kathleen Parker, who inexplicably passes for conservative, recently sounded the death knell for the Republican Party in a piece entitled “Pale Party of Lincoln” (the Republican Party and conservatism, though two different entities, share many overlapping ideas and individuals, so, for the sake of brevity, “Republican Party” will be used throughout).

Many observers, on both sides of the aisle, echo the notion that, since America is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, the GOP, primarily a white party, will have to attract more minorities to remain viable. According to projections, by mid-century, white Americans will be outnumbered by all other groups combined.

Parker writes, “courageous Republicans might look for clues in their children’s science book…There they’ll learn that eco-systems thrive and are most productive when there is bio-diversity… The strongest and fittest are those who adapt and that species for now goes by the name Democrat.”

James Carville based “40 More Years: How Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation,” written before the Republican tidal wave of 2010, on partly the same premise. Granted, the claim is not unreasonable, as demographic and lifestyle shifts could spell trouble for a party moored in white, traditional America. But note the presumptuousness of conventional wisdom: generations not yet born are already deemed the property of the Democratic Party.

To those invested in bigger government, statism is always our inevitable fate, and that notion, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, hypnotizes freedom’s staunchest allies, as well. But another rule of political warfare is to beware of those who boldly claim that they can foretell the future. Life holds too many twists and turns to anticipate, and, as for politics, it is defined by a cyclical nature that reveals itself only in hindsight.

As Jonah Goldberg notes in “The Tyranny of Cliches,” no one group, once given the vote, has ever assured either party unlimited rule. Republicans, by the way, are told that they must especially worry about the growing Hispanic population.

Black Americans won the vote in 1870, massive waves of immigrants flooded this country in the early 1900s, women were given the vote in 1920, and eighteen year-olds in 1972, and the cycle of two-party dominance has remained steady. Republicans, for instance, all but owned the presidency between the Civil War and 1920, with only Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson (both elected twice) breaking their hold, but control of Congress shifted constantly.

And despite a century-old cottage industry predicting the demise of the GOP, Eisenhower, Nixon and even Bush 43 brought their party back after seemingly unstoppable Democratic rule.

Those who grumble that the Republican Party is too white actually mean it is too conservative. It is true that blacks and Hispanics are largely drawn to the Democrats, but it is also true that when liberals have to choose between their cherished “diversity” and raw power, they will leave America drab, uniform and dependent every time. Liberal control of social policy and culture has decimated the black, two-parent family, an institution rich in heritage, determination and community.

Large numbers of Hispanic and poor-white babies are now being born to single mothers, leaving them dependent on the same welfare state that deems its own continuation, and not the self-sustenance of families, as Priority #1.

Ideally, self-government is about competing ideas, not the clash of groups and interests. If racial identity is now the defining characteristic of public life, then it is not the future of the Republican Party we should be discussing, but the future of the United States of America as we know it.

SOURCE

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

The NET Bible

A Bible translation specifically designed for the internet? That is what the NET Bible started out as being but you can get various printed copies of it now. It was designed to be freely quotable without copyright restrictions but now has copyright restrictions.

All a bit confusing but it does retain one of its original virtues: Because space on the net is a lot cheaper than paper, the version comes complete with VERY extensive notes, probably as extensive as the old Companion Bible, which was a HUGE tome.

So I was interested in how the NET translators handled John 1:1, in which John stresses the role of Jesus as God's messenger. John puts that very strongly from the beginning by referring to Jesus as God's WORD.

The straightforward meaning of the text is however generally distorted by the Trinitarian thinking of the translators. John stresses that Jesus is an ancient spirit being who became incarnated but specifically rules out the idea that Jesus is also the Creator (everything was done THROUGH (di) him, not BY him). Most translators glide over that bit however. They say: "The word was God", creating the impression that Jesus was the creator.

The trouble is that in the ancient Greek the usage of the word for "the" was different, and John wrote in the Greek way whereas the translators usually do not. Furthermore, whoever you regarded as the chief God was always referred to in ancient Greek as THE God (ho theos). To the pagans that was mostly Zeus and in the New Testament, exactly the same expression was used for the one God of the Hebrews. So any reference to "God" in the English NT is a translation of "The God" in the original Greek. The "The" is normally dropped in English but is regularly used in Greek.

But if the "the" (ho) is dropped in Greek that is a very different story. And John DOES drop it in John 1:1. John refers to the creator as "ho theos" but Jesus is merely "theos".

So what does it mean when John refers to the creator as "ho theos" and Jesus as "theos"? In normal Greek usage the noun without the "the" becomes indefinite and can be translated in John 1:1 as either "a god" or "divine". So what John is saying quite clearly is that the Word was NOT the creator, even though Jesus in his pre-human form was also an ancient spirit being.

The idea that there is more than one spirit being in Heaven is of course no particular problem. We read of angels there and Paul promised the early Christians that they would become spirit beings too.

So the plain meaning of John is disliked by trinitarians who are convinced that Jesus is in some puzzling way also the creator. So they translate "kai theos een ho Logos" as "the Word was God" when a literal translation would be "the word was a god".

I could go on about exceptions in Greek grammar for the use of the definite article but verse 4 shows John was using the article in the regular way I have outlined. What I have said above is just scene-setting, however. I want to look at how the NET Bible treats the passage.

They have extensive notes on it and discuss fairly fully the issues I have outlined. They say, for instance:
"Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of ???? (theos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here.... The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons.... The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, “the Word was with God”); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence.

So, knowing all that, what translation do they give in their main text? They give: "The Word was fully God" -- which is just about the opposite of what they knew the passage to mean! Disgraceful!

So I am not impressed by the NET Bible either.

Another Bible translation that is famous for its footnotes is the old Geneva Bible, a translation even older than the KJV. And in their footnotes they interpret the passage to mean that the Word was of "the selfsame essence or nature" as the creator, which is pretty fair. Once again, I find that a translation from the early days of Protestantism is more respectful of the original Bible text than are most modern versions.

************************

Hegel in Japan

Prewar Japanese nationalists were the ultimate socialists -- even making the Nazis look wishy washy.

Below is part of a Book Review of Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism by Walter A. Skya. Review by Richard A. Koenigsberg


What is totalitarianism? Why did the Axis powers stick together? What did Japan have in common with Germany? This essential book articulates the ideology underlying Japanese ultra-nationalism.

According to the Japanese social theorist, Hozumi Yatsuka (1860-1912), the individual exists in society, and society within the individual. Skya explains that—in Hozumi’s view—the clash between individualism and socialism is resolved by Hozumi’s concept of g­odo seizon (literally, fused or amalgamated existence), by which he meant the merging of the individual into society. Society was composed of merged individuals; human beings fused together to create “society.”

The ideal person was one who desired assimilation into the “higher organic totality” of society. The purpose of ethics and morality, according to Hozumi, was to direct the individual toward kodoshin: submergence of the self into the social totality.

Skya explains that for Hozumi—and many other Japanese thinkers—Enlightenment thought was a threat to the Japanese ethnic state. The struggle against Western liberalism focused on hostility toward the idea of “the individual” as an entity separate from society. Hozumi stated that “the individual does not exist in isolation,” and that “it is a mistake to think that society is made up of isolated, self-supporting individuals.”

Skya says that Hozumi waged a war against Western civilization. This, essentially, was a war against the idea that it is possible for human beings to exist in a condition of separation from society. The bond between the individual and society, according to Hozumi, was rock-solid and eternal.

Minobe Tatsukichi (1873-1948) was one of the hundreds of Japanese students who flocked to German universities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and absorbed German thought. These Japanese students were influenced by theories pioneered by G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), who asserted that the state was not a contractual relationship between individuals, but was itself an “individuality, independent of and superior to all other individuals.”

Sovereignty, according to Hegel, was not the right or power of the individual or individuals, but stemmed from the state itself, an “organic unity with a personality of its own.” The state, in short, was conceived as a person or “individual organism,” and the emperor as an “organ of the state.”

Hegel’s theory easily transferred to Japanese society. Uesugi Shinkichi (1878-1929), a constitutional law scholar, also conceived of the state as an organism. In Japan, the emperor was the ultimate source of the nation’s organizational will, representing the ideal embodiment of the state organism. Obeying the emperor was not only a moral action that contributed to this “collective being as a totality,” but the highest realization of the self—of one’s “essential being.” To absorb the self into the emperor, Skya says—to become part of the emperor—was to “accomplish man’s essential being.”

One of the most important thinkers to shape religious nationalism in Japan was Kakehi Katsuhiko (1872-1961). Kakehi developed the theory of “one heart, same body,” which revolved around abandoning the self and offering one’s entire body and soul to the emperor. A true Japanese does not think of self-interest, but rather “forgets one’s own concerns and completely offers oneself to the emperor.” This was especially true for soldiers.

When one enlisted in the military, one “died and was reborn again to the armed forces under the command of the emperor.” According to Kakehi, “You give up your life, and do not think for a moment that you are what you are.” One abandoned one’s personal will in order to fulfill the will of the emperor.

In order to achieve the state of “one heart, same body,” the individual had to discard or annihilate the self. According to Kakehi, any consideration of one’s own personal needs was wrong: one had to totally submerge the self into the collectivity. When Kakehi spoke of the bad aspects of Western culture that had entered Japan, Skya says, he was referring to the evils of Western secularism and individualism. Kakehi believed that the Western focus on the value of the individual was the “greatest threat to the Japanese nation.”

What is the nature and meaning of this threat of “individualism” that pervaded Japanese political theory? I have found this same idea—that the nation is threatened by individualism—at the heart of Nazi ideology as well. Why should the idea of individual freedom be conceived as a threat to the existence of one’s nation?

Here we encounter a fundamental dynamic revolving around the idea of separation or separateness. “Individualism” for the radical nationalist is equated with the idea of separation from the nation, thus disrupting the idea of “one heart, same body.”

Totalitarianism revolves around the nation as an actual organism or body politic. Individualism or separateness represents the idea of a human being (a body or organism) that is not merged or fused with the national body. The terrifying idea is that the human body might become separated from the omnipotent body: that the human being will no longer be united with the body politic.

The totalitarian dream or fantasy, common to both Japanese ultra-nationalism and Nazism, is that all human bodies must unite to constitute one body: the omnipotent body politic. In totalitarianism, each and every human being is expected to abandon the “will to separation” (individualism) and to embrace and to subordinate the self to the “national will.”

But what becomes of the self after individual consciousness is denied? In Kakehi’s political theology, according to Skya, the individual “enters into the mystical body of the emperor once one’s own individuality is abandoned.”

Kakehi claims that subjects “cast aside their individual selves and enter into the emperor.” He asserts that all Japanese living at the present time exist inside the emperor; that all Japanese who have ever lived—from the origins of the state onward—exist within the emperor. The emperor, in other words, symbolizes an immortal body in which all Japanese bodies are contained.

Skya concludes that the “total assimilation of the individual into a collective body is the goal of all totalitarian movements,” of which Shinto ultra-nationalism was “only one variety.” I agree with this assessment. What’s more, the assimilation of the individual into the collective body is conceived as a moral imperative. The fundamental dictum of totalitarianism is: “There shall be nothing separate from the collective body.”

Those who embrace totalitarian ideals react with panic and rage to the possibility that anything could exist separately from the national body. Ultra-nationalism builds upon a symbiotic fantasy: the people and the nation are one, the leader and the nation are one, the leader and the people are one, the people are merged with one another (as if cells in a body).

The idea of separation or separateness acts to shatter the fantasy of perfect union with an omnipotent body (politic). Perfect union is achieved when the individual abandons his own will in order to internalize the will of the nation and its leaders. Hitler informed the German people, “You are nothing, your nation is everything.” The advantage of becoming “nothing” is that one can incorporate the nation into the self—thus becoming “everything.” One seeks to identity with the omnipotent body politic.

Soldiers occupy a special role in this totalitarian ideology. Kakehi singled out the armed forces, which he thought occupied a special position among the emperor's subjects in the modern Japanese state. In his "One Spirit, Same Body" address, he quoted a passage from the Gunjin Chokuyu (Imperial Rescript to the Armed Forces):

Soldiers and Sailors, We are your supreme commander-in-chief. Our relations with you will be the most intimate when We rely upon you as Our limbs and you look up to Us as your head. If the majesty and power of Our Empire be impaired, you share with Us the sorrow; if the glory of Our arms shine resplendent, we will share with you the honor.

This passage, Skya observes, emphasizes the “direct and intimate ties between the Emperor and the soldier.”

However, the relationship between leaders and led is more than “direct and intimate.” The soldiers and sailors are relied upon as “limbs,” and should look up to their commanders as their “head.” In short, soldiers and leaders of the armed forces are conceived as part of the same body. When a soldier carries out the will of his superior, he is not simply “obeying.” He can no more resist the order of his superior than an arm can resist the brain’s command.

More HERE

****************************

Judge reinstates federal kidnapping powers

A federal appeals judge restored the government’s alleged power to kidnap people on American soil and detain them until the end of an endless war.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest granted a permanent injunction on enforcement of section 1021(b)(2), which allowed the federal government to indefinitely detain virtually anybody for any reason without due process. The judge found language in section 1021 overbroad and that it would allow for detention of those engaging in constitutionally protected free speech. She also said detention provisions deny prospective detainees basic due process rights.

The Obama administration appealed almost immediately and asked Forrest for an immediate stay. She refused. On Monday, government lawyers asked the Second U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan to issue an emergency stay, reinstating the power to indefinitely detain people on U.S. soil.

“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” lead plaintiff Christopher Hedges wrote. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier granted the stay Monday evening. It will remain in place until the appellate court rules on the case. The court is expected to take up the issue beginning on Sept. 28.

Ironically, President Obama expressed concern about the scope of the indefinite detention provisions when he signed the NDAA into law.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” Obama wrote in a signing statement. “In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

Now, his administration continues to fight tooth-and-nail to hold onto those very detention powers.

“You have to wonder why he is fighting so hard to maintain a power he claimed he would never use. Makes you doubt his sincerity, doesn’t it?” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “This just goes to show that when the federal government gets its grubby paws around any given power, it will never relinquish its grip. That’s why we continue to insist that states need to take steps to block any actions that would deny their citizens basic rights of due process .”

SOURCE

****************************

Open Letter to Barack Obama

From economist Donald J. Boudreaux:

Speaking today in Ohio, you bragged that your administration brought unfair-trade complaints against China “at nearly twice the rate” at which George W. Bush’s administration brought such complaints. In other words, your administration…

… is nearly twice as active as was that of your predecessor at raising Americans’ cost of living by badgering suppliers to hike the prices charged on products such as consumer electronics, furniture, and footwear;

… has doubled-down on the Bush administration’s efforts to raise production costs for the many American producers who buy inputs such as zinc and oil-field-drilling equipment from Chinese manufacturers;

… is two times as likely to pander to the economically ignorant in order to grant special privileges to the politically powerful, all in efforts to prevent Americans from spending their money as they see fit.

And you’re proud of this record?

SOURCE

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

The NIV as a servant of Protestant theology

The "New International Version" translation of the Bible has been very widely adopted in Protestant circles but its claim to be a faithful rendering of the original texts is hollow. I am not alone in seeing it as the servant of Protestant theology, as the examples here show --but I thought it might be useful to add a couple of other examples which I regard as rather gross and which may be a bit clearer than the examples given in the link above.

In Genesis 2:4 the KJV refers to "the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens". That is of course a bit inconvenient -- did creation take one day or seven days? -- so my 1978 edition of the NIV simply replaces "the day that" with "when". That is a perfectly reasonable theological interpretation of the original text but it is not what the original text actually says. The Hebrew word concerned means simply "in the day". See here.

And the revised NIV issued last year seems to be even worse than my original 1978 edition. As soon as I heard that it featured "inclusive" language I resolved not to buy it. When political correctness steamrollers what the Bible writers actually wrote, we know we are in the Devil's hands. If they cannot translate pronouns accurately, what hope is there for accuracy in more difficult passages?

As it happens, however, a reader has sent me an excerpt, apparently from the new edition, which renders 1 Corinthians 20, 21 as:

"So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk".

But the word "private" is a complete interpolation that is not even in the 1978 NIV edition. There is no such word in the original Greek -- only the word "idion" (own). The point of the interpolation is an attempt to undermine the meaning of verse 20, which rather clearly denies that the communal meals of the early Christians constituted a celebration of the Lord's Supper -- as I pointed out on 17th..

So the NIV is thoroughly polluted. It is a work of theology as much as a translation and should be avoided by anyone interested in what the Bible writers actually said.

But not everybody can go back to the original languages so what translation do I recommend? Perverse as it undoubtedly seems, I use the original KJV version from the year 1611. It is actually a pretty literal translation. I think that they had more respect for what the Bible actually said back then.

The recensions of the original texts that they had back then -- such as "Stephanus" -- were undoubtedly inferior to modern recensions such as Nestle but all recensions are around 99% identical anyway. I wish I could say the same for translations.

*********************

If This Is Recovery, Who Needs Recession?

President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats meeting in Charlotte for their national convention danced around the answer to the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

If they were dancing Friday, it was probably to a dirge.

Economists had been expecting 125,000 new jobs in the August jobs report. Friday’s report showed only 96,000 jobs created in August and an unemployment rate that dropped to 8.1 percent. But the real unemployment rate is in the double digits, because people are not included in the jobs stats if they’ve become so frustrated at failing to find a job they’ve stopped looking.

“The most important answer to the ‘better off’ question is this: Americans on the whole are better off than they would have been without the stimulus. But (yes, there’s always a but) many are worse off than they were four years ago, and that means more work needs to be done,” writes the editorial board of Bloomberg News in an editorial headlined, “Are You Better Off? There’s No Easy Answer.”

This, Dear Reader, is in an editorial defending the president’s record. It’s the meme adopted by Obama and his apologists.

Many of us can remember the 1970s economy and its recessions, Arab oil embargoes, and “stagflation”—a combination of economic stagnation and rapid price inflation. By the time of the 1980 presidential campaign between incumbent Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan, the nation had double-digit interest and inflation rates and unemployment rates between 7.5 and 8 percent. This compares to the 7.8 percent rate in 2009, when Obama took office, and inflation rates of about 2 percent and interest rates that have been at or near record lows throughout his presidency.

Reagan won that election and took office early in 1981. The federal budget in 1981 was cut nearly 5 percent, the first of several cuts in tax rates occurred, and deregulation begun late in the Carter presidency continued. By November 1982 a strong recovery was underway.

Inflation, unemployment, and interest rates all fell to the single digits during Reagan’s reign. Real per-capita disposable income grew 18 percent from 1982 to 1989.

Contrast those results with the Obama regime’s record of more spending and regulation, calls for higher taxes on high-income earners, and new taxes in the Obamacare law:

* Median family income down approximately $4,000 and per-capita disposable income down from $33,229 during the 2008 campaign year to $32,677 in 2011. There was no growth in per-capita income during the first half of 2012, leaving it just $511 higher than the $32,166 when the so-called recovery began in 2009, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

* Nearly 12 million more people on food stamps.

* 43 months with official unemployment above 8 percent, the longest streak with such high unemployment since the Great Depression.

* More than 800,000 people added to the ranks of long-term unemployed since the start of the “recovery” in 2009.

This is not to suggest Reagan (and the Congresses he worked with) did everything right, or that government can start and stop an economy like a machine. The national economy is made up of hundreds of millions of persons making billions of decisions and interacting with billions of others around the world. People don’t necessarily act the way governments want or expect.

But experience shows lower taxes and less regulation make for happier people and better economic performance. For you anti-Reagan scoffers, remember the Kennedy tax cuts that helped boost the economy in the 1960s.

Sharp tax increases loom beginning January 1 if Congress allows the tax cuts of the early 2000s to expire. Financial and health care industry laws passed during the Obama presidency cover thousands of pages each, with thousands more pages of regulations to be written. The national debt has virtually tripled in the last 10 years. And whether we go with the Romney-Ryan budget projections or the Obama-Biden projections, trillions more dollars of debt will be added.

People have good reason to feel pessimistic—and very good reason to doubt more spending, regulation, and “monetary stimulus” will make things better.

SOURCE

*******************************

Obama leaves the rule of law in tatters

If he's reelected, the 2,000-year-old ideal will be pushed beyond the tipping point.

Whether you are 21 or 81, or whether you work on the factory floor or in the front office, you know something is fundamentally wrong with our great country. Today, we live in a society where uncertainty and economic stagnation are off the charts, causing financial pain for just about everyone. How did we descend to such depths? What can we do to right this great ship called America?

Don’t look for answers in the latest poll, but in the Obama administration's relentless attack on this country's DNA: the rule of law. Before Election Day, we need to know why a Obama second term will be the tipping point for the rule of law, and why its destruction will take your wallet and personal freedom down with it.

The rule of law, which is the cornerstone of our Constitution, has over 2,000 years of history behind it. This cherished ideal stands for the proposition that a free and prosperous society must be based on “a government of laws and not men.” Instead of nurturing this time-tested ideal, President Obama has acted as if the rule of law is an impediment to be dispensed with at will.

Since this nation’s founding, the formal rule of law ideal in the U.S. means that laws are supreme and apply both to the rulers and the ruled. As a safeguard to protect the ideal, all laws and lawmakers should meet constitutional safeguards at a minimum. To prevent politicians from picking winners and losers, laws should have the stabilizing attributes of “generality,” “certainty” and “equality of application.”

What most people do not know is that Barack Obama learned how to undermine the traditional rule of law ideal at Harvard. His march to undermine the rule of law – which has brought with it the uncertainty and stagnation we now take for granted in our personal or business decisions – has been on full display for the last four years. If he’s reelected, it will only get worse.

Obamacare is a glaring example. This law makes end runs around the rule of law with draconian cradle-to-grave domination and increased costs and taxes built on a class-warfare foundation. The adminstration's virtual takeover of the auto industry, which arbitrarily pushed aside its bondholders in favor of the United Auto Workers, adds to the narrative of a government that mocks the laws of bankruptcy. And think of the presidential fiat that deep-sixed the Keystone XL pipeline, resulting in potentially thousands of lost jobs. Think also of Obama’s National Labor Relations Board that arbitrarily blocked Boeing from building a plant in South Carolina, a “right to work” state. Also, Obama simply ignored federal immigration law when he used executive authority in June to defer deportation of up to 1.7 million young illegal immigrants, effectively passing the DREAM Act, which had failed in Congress.

Without question, your wallet will lose in an Obama second term. Our national debt is now over $16 trillion and climbing. The confiscatory taxation that goes along with picking winners and losers in a rule-of-law-challenged welfare state will surely grind our country’s economy to a near halt before 2016. As MIT researchers have found, based on a panel of over 80 countries, this is the prescription for becoming a second-class nation. On government policies, MIT’s research proves that Obama could not be more wrong. Contrary to Obama’s view, the MIT data concluded that “Better maintenance of the rule of law … and less government spending and the associated taxation … are key determinants of economic growth.”

The Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic Freedom study unequivocally confirms the MIT findings. As Heritage tells us, “the “rule of law” and “limited government” are key components of economic growth and prosperity.

Finally, we can only conclude that America's seemingly unsolvable problems – skyrocketing debt, high unemployment, tax class-warfare, and a pitiful housing market – have either been caused or exacerbated by Obama's disregard for the rule of law. When Obama no longer has to worry about reelection, things will only get worse in a second term.

If voters choose to once again make this country a “government of laws” over the cult of personality, all is not lost. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan showed us that limited government based on rule of law principles can make a sick economy thrive again.

SOURCE

****************************

How republics fall

The Fourth Estate’s degrading hero worship trivializes an election



The weird ecstasy of the media-political complex at the convention in Charlotte last month was the first sign that its attachment to President Obama, always fawning, had become morbid.

In spite of the anemic economy and a real unemployment rate above 11 percent, the high priests of pontificating liberalism were giddy with euphoria. The Democrats “put on a nearly flawless convention,” Paul Begala opined, and it was soon all but incontrovertibly established that, come November, the president — beautiful, magical, and lovable as he was — would vanquish his boring opponent.

The media savants sympathized with the delirium of Charlotte because they worship at the same altar and feed at the same trough. Two and a half centuries ago Edmund Burke said the reporters’ gallery in Parliament was an estate “more important far than” the other three put together. Today America’s Fourth Estate is not merely predisposed, as it has been for generations, to favor a particular political party: It is deeply engaged in the hero worship of a particular political leader.

The closeness of mainstream journalists to President Obama has debauched their integrity. Some of them give the White House veto authority over their stories. Others look to be rewarded with plum jobs or stimulus-funded ads. This abasement before power presages a return to a time when political writers, among them Swift and Defoe, were the professed protégés of statesmen and relied on Whig or Tory patronage for their bread; it also leaves the country vulnerable to the distortions of ostensibly neutral journalists who are too fervently committed to the leader to tell the truth about him.

Obama worship, once the quaint foible of Grub Street liberalism, has become its opium, perhaps its bath salts. The unhinged quality of its analysis was painfully evident during the interval of bounce-talk that followed Charlotte. When, after days of media cheerleading, Obama rose modestly in the polls, the acolytes instantly sounded the death knell for Romney. The election was all but over, the princes of palaver declared. Time’s Mark Halperin spoke of the Romney campaign’s “death stench,” and MSNBC’s Steve Benan said that the president was now “exactly where he wants to be.”

Would a less prejudiced observer claim that the president was exactly where he wanted to be in early September, with a credit downgrade looming, a miserable jobs report on the wires, and a strike by Chicago schoolteachers trash-talking the generous, even lavish deal they had been offered, the kind of deluxe package that induced liberal Wisconsin to rise in revolt against public-sector irresponsibility?

Then came Cairo and, still more terribly, Benghazi. The “Gang of 500,” as Halperin styles the bigwigs with whom he shares the liberal soapbox, was duly outraged . . . by Mitt Romney. The Republican nominee had the lèse-majesté to criticize Obama’s foreign policy.

The president’s own statement on Benghazi, which he delivered in the Rose Garden before departing for a campaign event in Las Vegas, went largely unscrutinized by the media gang: “Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.”

The president’s air of certainty contrasted sharply with the reticence of his underlings. The State Department has consistently said it does not know what happened to Ambassador Stevens that night, and grim photographs cast doubt on the notion that he had been innocently conveyed from the bloody scene.

The Beltway clerisy failed to ask the obvious question: Was the president’s version of his emissary’s death a self-serving attempt to salvage a failing foreign policy? Three years ago Obama went to Cairo “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” Should we learn that the men in the Benghazi photographs were not good Samaritans generously carrying an American to safety but thugs snapping trophy pictures of a Yankee infidel, Obama’s “new beginning,” if it came at all, will not have made much of a difference. The “new” Middle East in which American diplomats are abused and murdered and black flags fly over American embassies may prove to look a lot like the Old Middle East.

Which raises another question: If the administration’s Islamic policy has failed to pacify Islam and “make us safer,” why didn’t the president act forcefully in the months preceding the tragedy to protect American diplomats? Yet other than the British Independent and Matt Drudge, no big journalistic enterprise pressed for an explanation. Rather than probe the most devastating assault on the diplomatic corps since 1979, the media-political complex blithely turned its collective attention to happier matters, among them the president’s rising poll numbers in the swing states.

Like the decadents of France’s ancien régime, the liberal literati of mainstream journalism are convinced that the party will go on forever. Islamic zealots can be talked out of making nuclear bombs; stagnant growth and high unemployment can be counteracted with a Caesarian policy of bread and shows, free food and even free cell phones; a moribund economy can be propped up with the saline drip of Ben Bernanke’s liquidity transfusions.

As detached from reality as Marie Antoinette milking cows with Sèvres buckets, liberal journalists fail to grapple in any serious way with the “crisis of liberalism” at home and abroad, preferring instead to compose billets-doux to Barack praising his basketball prowess and panegyrics on Michelle’s dexterity as a horticulturalist....

More HERE

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

They're still lying with statistics

In 1954 Darrell Huff wrote a book called "How to lie with statistics". It is well-known and has often been used as an introductory college textbook. The point of the book was of course to alert people to statistical skullduggery so that they were not deceived by it.

But even though it sold a lot of copies the book has been an almost complete failure. In most academic fields where statistics are used (e.g. medical research, psychological research, climate research) statistics are still routinely misused. I spent 20 years getting papers published in the academic journals of the social sciences pointing out the defective reasoning in other articles in my field and, more recently, my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog has tackled the outlandish conclusions that prevail in much of medical research. It's all a very sad tale. A lot of so-called "science" is basically corrupt.

So I would very much like readers to take the time to listen to a breezy video below by statistican W.M. Briggs in which he gives examples of corrupt statistical reasoning from psychological, medical and environmental research.



And the lesson from the above? Don't accept ANY scientific statement until you have seen what people say who don't agree with that statement. Corrupt science is so common that the odds are that the critics will be right.

So why is statistically-based science so corrupt? Briggs gives you some answers but I will give you another one that you may not see elsewhere: Most users of statistics are Left-leaning academics and for them "There is no such thing as truth". There is however a desperate need for them to defend their ideology. Their egos depend on it.

Even medical science has become heavily politicized with the "war on obesity" and the general elitist view of the Left that anything popular is either wrong or bad for you (cue cellphones).

************************

The Media's Rape of Reality

I didn’t want to write this column. I definitely didn’t want to use these words. I wanted to write about something else, but after the events of this week, I had no choice.

I am here to report a rape. To protect President Obama from the failure of his administration to anticipate or respond appropriately to the attacks on our embassies in the Middle East, the media has absolutely raped the truth.

Americans were targeted and murdered by radical monsters around the globe. The president did nothing about it. The White House had at least a 48-hour advance warning this was coming. It told no one. It didn’t warn the diplomats or increase security at the embassies. It didn’t warn the complicit governments – and they are as involved in this as the mobs and murderers themselves – of potential consequences.

And when the attacks were over? The president took all of one hour of out of his busy fundraising/campaign schedule to address this matter. Then, it was off to Las Vegas and back to his rich friends to shake the money maker.

Let me be clear, every drop of blood spilled by Americans as a result of the actions of these monsters drips through the hands of this administration before it hits the ground.

There’s no need to recount the story now, except to say the president, the secretary of state and their auditioning second-term press secretaries in the media burnt more calories this week attacking an American in California for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech than they did condemning the murderous mobs or their enablers in their respective governments.

Whatever outrage they had leftover was reserved for Mitt Romney for committing the unforgivable sin of standing up for American values in the face of terrorism and speaking out against it hours before the President did. That the President’s campaign attacked Romney for standing up for American values a full 8 hours before the President condemned the attacks on and murder of Americans isn’t a story.

Until a better word is invented, disgusting will have to do.

Within 48 hours of the first attacks the Justice Department had tracked down the filmmaker and leaked his name to the media. The media dutifully reported it as if they’d found an escaped Nazi. Of course that analogy doesn’t fit perfectly as escaped Nazi are granted the presumption of innocence.

After all, all the filmmaker did was make a bad movie despotic governments we helped empower could use to incite rioting and direct the anger away from their own incompetence and toward the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known. Through state controlled media, they played this unknown video endlessly and spread it throughout the region. All the while, our President skipped nearly 60 percent his national security briefings. Turns out maybe you can’t get by on the Cliff notes on those briefings. Maybe you do have to show up.

But Mitt Romney spoke first, and that was the story the media covered.

It made little mention of how the Justice Department found and outed the anonymous American supposedly “responsible” for all this in just two days but, after looking for two years, still can’t find out who authorized Fast And Furious within their own ranks. It found no fault with the president returning to his real duties – campaigning and fundraising – after he’d devoted just an hour to the most significant security threat of his administration. Had a fiction writer scripted the media’s coverage even they wouldn’t have had the nerve to be so brazen as to attempt something so corrupt.

Now, the violence is spreading, and the president has no idea how to react. He’s sinking in concrete, campaigning and fundraising while the Middle East burns. But he thinks Mitt Romney spoke too soon? That’s it somehow a gaffe that Romney grasped the implications and the outrage of the situation a full workday before the president could be bothered even to release a statement? That’s somehow a Romney gaffe, but the President being uncertain if Egypt is our ally or not barely registers?

President Obama has learned well from great propagandists in the past: When the chips are down, invent a phony outrage to distract the public.

Follow the pattern:

As more stories of violence and dismissed warnings come in, more criticism of Romney comes out.

As our credit is downgraded again, more criticism of Romney comes out.

As the Federal Reserve announces plans to print $40 billion a month in a third attempt at “quantitative easing” to right the president’s broken economy, more criticism of Romney comes out.

No matter what happens, no matter how detached our president gets from the job he seeks to keep for four more years … no matter how many people die…we still haven’t seen enough of Mitt Romney’s tax returns.

That’s how sick the media has gotten.

Does the president defend our freedom? No. He asks YouTube to review the video to see if it violates the user agreement and can be taken down. Isn’t it amazing how the first instinct of liberals in any situation is to lionize extremists abroad and censor our speech at home? YouTube, showing a strong commitment to the Constitution than the man who swore an oath to “preserve, protect and defend” it, said it wouldn’t remove this horribly produced and acted Z-movie. Good for them standing up for the First Amendment. Bad for the media for trying to re-elect a man who turns his back on the very principle that protects its very existence.

The president has not acted like a president in this crisis, he’s acted more like a spoiled child told for the first time to eat his vegetables. Everything else he’s faced in office – abysmal economic data, the 2010 election, the unpopularity of his actions and policies – could be spun or somehow parsed to create whatever new data-metric reality he wanted because his media mouthpieces were only too happy to spread it.

But those events didn’t have smoke, fire, video and a body count the world can’t easily ignore.

The media’s spin will work on idiots, but the rape of reality can’t and won’t work on anyone with more IQ points than teeth. People, Americans, YOU, need to spend time every day between now and the election talking to anyone with at least one working ear who hasn’t yet decided how to vote and explain to them what is really happening. Donating money is great. Planning to vote yourself is key. But spreading the word to those open to hearing it and making sure they cast an educated vote is crucial.

Democrats don’t want voters to be educated or informed … thus the fight over voter ID laws. They want you to eat your gruel, take your medicine and re-elect the president because he knows more about what’s better for you than you do. With so many Americans now suckling the government teat, that easy message has a receptive and large audience. We have to be larger this November or our nation surely will be smaller in the future.

SOURCE

**************************

With Obama policy crumbling, White House blames movie for Mideast unrest

With anti-American demonstrations exploding across the Muslim world, the White House is insisting that the deadly attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya and violent protests targeting U.S. facilities in Egypt and several other countries are entirely the result of an anti-Islamic video on YouTube.

Why would the White House heap blame on the movie — indeed, insist that it is the sole cause of the violence — when officials don’t actually know that to be true? There are, perhaps, two reasons. One is that the administration has put an enormous amount of faith in the idea that Arab Spring uprisings will lead to democracy in much of the Middle East. Current events suggest that faith might be misplaced. For the administration, blaming the movie is easier than admitting they were wrong about something so big and important.

The second reason is that Barack Obama has based much of his approach to Middle Eastern affairs on what he perceives as his own unique ability to reach out to Muslims. The entire point of the president’s June 2009 speech to the Muslim world, delivered in Cairo — the same city where protesters are condemning the United States today — was that Obama’s life story allowed him to understand the Muslim experience in a way that previous American leaders could not. The fact that he spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country (Indonesia) and had many family members who were Muslim, the president apparently believed, would make many previously hostile Muslims somehow like the United States more.

It didn’t. So now, with anger at the U.S. burning throughout the region — and showing on Americans’ wide-screen TVs — it’s easier for the administration to blame the movie than to admit the president’s personal initiative failed.

More HERE

**************************

Why Do Swedes in America Earn Far More than Swedes in Sweden?

Sweden is a good example of a nation that has implemented some good reforms in recent years, such as school choice and partial Social Security privatization.

But I argue that these good reforms don’t fully offset the damage caused by excessive government spending. And now I have a new – and very pointy – arrow in my argumentative quiver. A study from the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs has found that Swedes in America earn significantly more money than Swedes in Sweden.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the IEA study.

"The 4.4 million or so Americans with Swedish origins are considerably richer than average Americans, as are other immigrant groups from Scandinavia. If Americans with Swedish ancestry were to form their own country, their per capita GDP would be $56,900, more than $10,000 above the income of the average American. This is also far above Swedish GDP per capita, at $36,600. Swedes living in the USA are thus approximately 53 per cent more wealthy than Swedes (excluding immigrants) in their native country (OECD, 2009; US Census database). It should be noted that those Swedes who migrated to the USA, predominately in the nineteenth century, were anything but the elite. Rather, it was often those escaping poverty and famine. …A Scandinavian economist once said to Milton Friedman, ‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty’. Milton Friedman replied, ‘That’s interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either’. Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7 per cent: half the US average (US Census)".

This is remarkable information, and it reminds me that Thomas Sowell had similar stats for other groups in his great book, Ethnic America.

I’m not familiar with the methodological issues involved in this type of research, but is certainly seems like this is a good way of getting apples-to-apples comparisons of different economic systems.

Like many other people, I’ve argued that the success of the overseas Chinese community (compared to their counterparts stuck in Communist China) is a damning indictment of statism.

Now we see that Swedes do reasonably well when living in a country with a big welfare state, but they do even better when living in a nation with a medium-sized welfare state.

So you can imagine how prosperous they would be if a bunch of Swedes lived in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore!

More HERE

****************************

New Woodward book shows how Obama made it worse

Bob Woodward knows a failed president when he sees one. The man who was instrumental in bringing down Richard Nixon has now covered eight presidents for the Washington Post while writing more than a dozen books about them.

Which is what makes the final verdict he renders on President Obama in his new book, "The Price of Politics," so damning. Woodward writes, "It is a fact that President Obama was handed a miserable, faltering economy and faced a recalcitrant Republican opposition. But presidents work their will -- or should work their will -- on the important matters of national business. ... Obama has not."

Over the course of almost 450 pages, Woodward depicts Obama as an arrogant, aloof and hyperpartisan president who manages to either alienate or disappoint everybody he needs to help govern Washington.

As a result of Obama's bumbling, Woodward concludes, "The mission of stabilizing and improving the economy is incomplete. First, the short-term federal fiscal problem has not been solved. Instead it has been pushed off to the future, leaving the United States facing what is now called the fiscal cliff. ... Second, the long-term problem of unsustainable entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, highlighted by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and familiar to all informed politicians and economists including the president ... has been left largely unaddressed."

"Americans are now left with a still struggling economy in the midst of a presidential election," Woodward writes. "It is a world of the status quo, only worse."

"The status quo, only worse." What a perfect description of the Obama presidency. It even fits on a bumper sticker.

More HERE

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

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

The Lord's supper

The Lord's supper is a central event in Christian life. Just about all Christian denominations commemorate it at Easter (though the Eastern Orthodox are a bit pesky about when Easter is) and, in the form of the Mass, devout Catholics can commemorate it every day if they wish.

So where does Christian practice in the matter come from? Is it Biblical? Sort of. Below are the commandments concerning it in the Bible.


Mark 14
[22] And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.
[23] And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.
[24] And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
[25] Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.


Matthew 26
[26] And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
[27] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
[28] For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
[29] But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.


Luke 22
[14] And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
[15] And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
[16] For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
[17] And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
[18] For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
[19] And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
[20] Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.


1 Corinthians 11
[20] When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
[21] For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
[22] What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.
[23] For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
[24] And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
[25] After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
[26] For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.
[27] Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
[28] But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
[29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
[30] For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
[31] For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
[32] But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
[33] Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.
[34] And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.


"This do in remembrance of me" is pretty plain but at the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton, I want to ask what "This" is. Was it not a Passover celebration and is it not a special celebration of the Passover that Jesus commanded? I think any Christian who was careful to obey Christ's commands would do so by observing the Passover. You can draw other inferences about what "This" is but why run the risk of getting it wrong?

Against that proposition, however, we have the account of early Christian practice from Paul in Corinthians. Theologians claim that it describes a celebration that went on whenever there were meetings of the original congregations. So it was much more frequent than the Passover, which is annual.

To me that seems however totally perverse. Paul starts out saying that "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper". How plain can you be? Paul is saying exactly the opposite of what the theologians claim. Apparently, there was a custom of a communal meal at meetings of the early Christian congregations and Paul is CONDEMNING that. He says it defiles the SACRED meal of the Lord's supper. Read the passage with that understanding and see if it makes sense. To me it seems the only way to get a straightforward meaning out of it. Theologians really have to twist themselves into a pretzel to get their meaning out of it, particularly in the light of verse 20.

So the whole of Christian practice in the matter seems fundamentally flawed to me. And from that flow other perverse responses to Christ's command. The "this" that he commanded was a meal around some sort of table, probably where the meal was taken in the form of a Greek symposium -- that is, where the diners were reclining rather than sitting up straight. I gather that a Pesach seder in some Jewish circles is still done that way. Be that as it may, however, there was certainly no kneeling or standing involved, unlike common Christian practice.

And perhaps it's a minor point of detail but the passing out of the bread and the wine were two quite separate events with a separate prayer before each. That too seems to be unknown in Christian practice.

And I won't go on about the wafers, grapejuice etc. which various Christian denominations substitute for the perfectly straightforward unleavened bread and wine. Why are they so disrespectlful of their proclaimed Lord? The connection between Christianity and the Bible gets very slender at times.

So there is only one commemoration that Christ commanded -- not Easter and not Christmas -- and Christians bungle that. But I guess their Lord is merciful. It is a good thing that the Christian god is not as demanding as Yahveh, though. Religious Jews have a much tougher time than Christians.

***********************

Judge rejects detention without trial

Shocking that this ever came to court. Huge arrogance in Obama's DOJ revealed

The Obama administration is battling to restore a controversial provision of a new federal law that it admits could have been used to arrest and detain citizens indefinitely – even if their actions were protected by the First Amendment.

A federal judge this week made permanent an injunction against enforcement of Section 1021 of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, which was declared unconstitutional.

The Obama administration then took only hours to file an appeal of the order from U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, and attorneys also asked her to halt enforcement of her order.

In her order, Forrest wrote, “The government put forth the qualified position that plaintiffs’ particular activities, as described at the hearing, if described accurately, if they were independent, and without more, would not subject plaintiffs to military detention under Section 1021.”

But she continued, “The government did not – and does not – generally agree or anywhere argue that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject an individual to indefinite military detention under Section 1021.”

The case was brought last January by a number of writers and reporters, led by New York Times reporter Christopher Hedges. The journalists contend the controversial section allows for detention of citizens and residents taken into custody in the U.S. on “suspicion of providing substantial support” to anyone engaged in hostilities against the U.S.

The lawsuit alleges the law is vague and could be read to authorize the arrest and detention of people whose speech or associations are protected by the First Amendment. They wonder whether interviewing a member of al-Qaida would be considered “substantial support.”

“Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention – potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity – and that specificity is absent from Section 1021,” the judge wrote.

Dan Johnson, a spokesman with People Against the NDAA, told WND it took only hours for the government to file an appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. “It most definitely tells us something about their intent,” he told WND.

He cited Obama’s signing statement, when the bill was made law, that he would not use the provision allowing detention of American citizens without probable cause in military facilities. “Just because someone says something doesn’t mean they’re not lying,” he said.

Bloomberg reports the Obama administration also is asking Forrest for a stay of the ruling that found the law violates the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments.

The judge expressed dissatisfaction with what one observer described as the arrogance of the Department of Justice in the case.

Forrest asked the government to define the legal term, noting the importance of how they apply to reporting and other duties. “The court repeatedly asked the government whether those particular past activities could subject plaintiffs to indefinite military detention; the government refused to answer,” she wrote.

“The Constitution places affirmative limits on the power of the executive to act, and these limits apply in times of peace as well as times of war,” she wrote.

She said the law “impermissibly impinges on guaranteed First Amendment rights and lacks sufficient definitional structure and protection to meet the requirements of due process.”

“This court rejects the government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention, and have as their sole remedy a habeas petition adjudicated by a single decision-maker (a judge versus a jury), by a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ standard,” she wrote. “That scenario dispenses with a number of guaranteed rights,” she said.

The Obama administration already has described those who hold a pro-life position or support third-party presidential candidates or the Second Amendment fit the profile of a domestic terrorist.

Obama stated when he put his signature to the legislative plan that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

Virginia already has passed a law that states it would not cooperate with such detentions, and several local jurisdictions have done the same. Arizona, Rhode Island, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington also have considered similar legislation.

More HERE

**************************

Don't Misplace Blame for Middle Eastern Mayhem

Jonah Goldberg

An incendiary video about the prophet Muhammad, "Innocence of Muslims," was blamed for the mob attacks on our embassies in Libya and Egypt (and later, Yemen). In Libya, Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered. The video stirred some passion here in America as well.

Over at MSNBC a riot of consensus broke out when contributors Mike Barnicle and Donny Deutsch as well as University of Pennsylvania professor Anthea Butler all agreed that the people behind the video should be indicted as accessories to murder. "Good Morning," declared Butler, "How soon is Sam Bacile [the alleged creator of the film] going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now."

Barnicle set his sights on Terry Jones, the pastor who wanted to burn the Koran a while back and who was allegedly involved in the video as well. "Given this supposed minister's role in last year's riots in Afghanistan, where people died, and given his apparent or his alleged role in this film, where ... at least one American, perhaps the American ambassador is dead, it might be time for the Department of Justice to start viewing his role as an accessory before or after the fact."

Deutsch helpfully added: "I was thinking the same thing, yeah."

It's interesting to see such committed liberals in lockstep agreement with the Islamist government in Egypt, which implored the U.S. government to take legal action against the filmmakers. Interestingly, not even the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian government demanded these men be tried for murder.

Now, I have next to no sympathy for the makers of this film, who clearly hoped to start trouble, violent or otherwise. But where does this logic end? One of the things we've learned all too well is that the "Muslim street" -- and often Muslim elites -- have a near-limitless capacity to take offense at slights to their religion, honor, history or feelings.

Does Barnicle want Salman Rushdie, the author of "The Satanic Verses," charged with attempted murder, too? That book has in one way or another led to several deaths. Surely he should have known that he was stirring up trouble. Perhaps the U.S. Justice Department and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security could work together on a joint prosecution?

Perhaps Rushdie's offense doesn't count because he's a literary celebrity? Only crude attacks on Islam should be held accountable for the murderous bloodlust they elicit.

One might ask who is to decide what is crude and what is refined? But that would be fruitless because we know the real answer: the Islamist mobs and their leaders. Their rulings would come in the form of bloody conniptions around the world.

Are we really going to hold what we can say or do in our own country hostage to the passions of foreign lynch mobs?

If your answer is some of form of "yes," than you might want to explain why U.S. citizens aren't justified in attacking Egyptian or Libyan embassies here in America. After all, I get pretty mad when I see goons burning the American flag, and I become downright livid when a U.S. ambassador is murdered. Maybe me and some of my like-minded friends should burn down some embassies here in Washington, D.C., or maybe a consulate in New York City?

Of course we shouldn't do that. To argue that Americans shouldn't resort to mayhem, while suggesting it's understandable when Muslims do, is to create a double standard that either renders Muslims unaccountable savages (they can't help themselves!) or casts Americans as somehow less passionate about what we hold dear, be it our flag, our diplomats or our religions. (It's hardly as if Islamists don't defame Christianity, Judaism, moderate forms of Islam or even atheism.)

But, I'm sorry to say, that may in fact be the case. After all, with barely a moment's thought these deep thinkers on MSNBC were willing to throw out the First Amendment for a little revenge. It was a moment of voluntary surrender to terrorism.

Within 24 hours, however, it became increasingly clear that the video wasn't even the motive for the murders; it was a convenient cover for them. In effect, the terrorists behind the Libyan attack not only successfully played the Muslim street for suckers, they played Barnicle & Co. for suckers, too.

SOURCE

********************

Another vicious Federal bureaucracy

Lance Armstrong, one of the greatest endurance athletes of modern times, who won the grueling Tour de France bicycle race a record seven consecutive times from 1995 to 2005, has been stripped of all awards and prizes he won during his storied cycling career. The reason for these harsh sanctions against Armstrong was a finding by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that the athlete had used illicit, performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career. Yet, because of its status as unaccountable regulatory power, the USADA never had to prove its case against Armstrong.

Armstrong's unprecedented fall from grace has precipitated much gloating and smug cries of "we told you so" from the many jealous detractors his success inspired over the years. However, the manner in which the USADA conducted its prosecution of this athlete, should give serious pause to all Americans who believe fundamental fairness and basic due process should precede stripping a person of their career, their reputation, and their financial resources.

The USADA's actions also should precipitate action by the Congress, which annually appropriates $10 million taxpayer dollars for the Agency's operations -- operations which permit a small group of unelected, unaccountable men and women to investigate and punish athletes within its questionable jurisdiction, without so much as a passing tip of the hat to fairness or due process.

As a lawyer whose practice includes litigating cases in court, I rely on well-established rules of procedure to ensure fundamental fairness, so that both sides have a more-or-less equal opportunity to uncover and present evidence in behalf of their clients. Those procedures -- monitored and enforced by judges either elected or appointed as objective and uninterested umpires -- also permit both sides robust opportunity to challenge and test the credibility and strength of the other's witnesses and evidence. We inherited such procedures from Great Britain during the colonial era, and our Founding Fathers strengthened and enshrined them in our Constitution. Our Liberty rests on their continued viability.

But not for athletes subject to regulation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, as outlined in depth in papers filed with the federal court by Bob Luskin, one of Armstrong's attorneys.

In the world as defined by, and in which the USADA operates (with the official imprimatur of the U.S. government since 2000), the deck is stacked heavily in favor of USADA and against the unfortunate athlete who finds himself in its regulatory crosshairs. In fact, there is so little room for the defendant-athlete to maneuver, that it is virtually impossible for any such individual to enjoy even a slim chance of defeating a USADA charge. Thus the recent decision by Armstrong to end his challenge to the charges against him by this rogue regulatory agency.

Unlike the real world, in which a person charged with an offense enjoys at least a fighting chance to defend themselves, a defendant facing USADA-defined charges essentially is presumed guilty unless he or she can prove the drug testing on which USADA based its indictment was faulty. That might sound like a manageable task, until one considers that the athlete has no real opportunity to test the evidence available to USADA, and cannot conduct any meaningful discovery to prepare and present a defense as they certainly would in a real legal proceeding.

Moreover, as in Armstrong's case, despite having been tested between 500 and 600 times -- both random and scheduled -- and never having failed a single USADA-sanctioned test for illicit substances, he still faced fatal sanctions. The actions which led to Armstrong being stripped of more than a decade of hard-won accolades that placed him at the pinnacle of world cycling, were based not on scientific tests, but on allegations leveled against him by others, including cyclists he beat over the years.

The manner in which Armstrong has been subject to a regulatory witch-burning is a disgrace to any notion of fairness or due process; and it ill-serves either the cycling profession or the American legal system.

Insofar as USADA operates with the blessing of the Congress and under the nominal supervision of the White House "Drug Czar," and considering the un-American manner in which it conducts its business, it is high time the Congress moves to revoke its charter and halt its access to American taxpayer dollars.

SOURCE

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

What's So Hard About Saying, "In the United States, we are not in the business of approving these messages"?



The U.S. State Department, and even its besieged embassy staff in Cairo, is receiving a barrage of criticism because of statements like this:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

The criticism is well-deserved. As James Joyner succinctly put it,
In point of fact, making a movie commenting on the sexual proclivities of someone who died some fourteen hundred years ago in no way constitutes "incitement" under any meaningful use of the term.

I would add that my government has no business giving a whirl about "hurt[ing] the religious beliefs of others" (a standard both elastic and asymmetrical, virtually begging for a heckler's veto) and that there is no "universal right of free speech," at least in practice (as opposed to the philosophical principle, which I wholeheartedly endorse).

The fact is that the First Amendment, no matter how embattled, protects a range of expression unthinkable even in Western Europe. Because of that unique position, and because the U.S. seems doomed to play an outsized diplomatic and military role in the tumultuous Muslim world, it behooves the State Department to constantly explain the vast differences between state-sanctioned and legally protected speech in the so-called Land of the Free. If the U.S. government really was in the business of "firmly reject[ing]" private free-speech acts that "hurt the religious beliefs of others" there would be no time left over for doing anything else.

It's really not that hard. The values in that film (or "film") are not our values; our government respects religion, religious expression, and religious pluralism (including and especially that of Muslims, even in the wake of murderous Muslim-led attacks on American soil); and we are not in the business of approving or (for the most part) regulating the private speech of our citizens. To the extent that that message is not sufficient for rioters, the problem is theirs.

Some liberal Tweeters this morning are pointing out that, hey, the Bush administration condemned the Mohammed cartoons, too!, but this mostly goes to illustrate how bipartisan cravenness can be. We know that this issue will keep coming up; maybe it's about time the American government, and the rest of us, develop a more American response.

SOURCE

****************************

House conservatives call for stripping aid to Libya, Egypt from spending bill

A group of House conservatives is calling for foreign aid to Libya and Egypt to be stripped from a six-month federal funding bill set for a vote on Thursday.

A handful of lawmakers voiced outrage Wednesday at the Obama administration's response to the attacks on the U.S. embassies in those countries, and suggested the inclusion of foreign aid could influence their votes.

"It makes it easier to vote ‘no' " on the spending bill, freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said at a press event with conservative House Republicans at the Capitol.

The House on Thursday plans to vote on a continuing resolution that would extend federal funding through March, preventing a government shutdown before the election or during a lame-duck session of Congress this fall. While conservatives pushed to avoid a shutdown fight, they have also raised alarms about the inclusion of additional welfare funding in the bill.

"It would show a tremendous amount of leadership from this administration, in light of the recent developments, if the president were to come back and demand that the amount of money that is in the [continuing resolution] for Libya and Egypt be stripped. That would be tremendous leadership," Landry said.

Lawmakers said they planned to bring up the issue at a meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee on Wednesday, although they acknowledged it would be difficult to strip the foreign aid in so short an amount of time.

The stopgap spending bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support, including from Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.).

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said that defunding Libya and Egypt in the continuing resolution (CR) would not be possible.

"The CR is closed for changes," he said Wednesday.

The chairman said the Foreign Affairs Committee should take up the matter, and suggested that moving on aid now would be "premature."

In a separate statement Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said continued aid to Libya should be contingent on its government's help in finding those responsible for the attack on the U.S. embassy.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) said the administration should be asking several questions in the wake of the attacks, which killed four Americans at the consulate in Benghazi, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

"Why is it that the United States is bankrolling some of these countries?" he asked. "Why do we continue to bankroll them at the level that we are? We're waiting for that discussion from the administration."

SOURCE

***********************************

The Obama administration has engineered a “recovery” in name only

When this column was written, the smart money was once again saying that the bad times were behind us. “Nearly seven years after the housing bubble burst, most indexes of house prices are bending up,” David Wessel wrote in The Wall Street Journal in July. “Nearly 10 percent more existing homes were sold in May than in the same month a year earlier, many purchased by investors who plan to rent them for now and sell them later, an important sign of an inflection point.”

In the summer edition of the house magazine for Markit Group Ltd., a credit-default swap pricing firm, Bruce Kasman, head of economic research at J.P. Morgan, explained why he believes the American economy will triumph over “persistent lacklustre growth.” Kasman identified three hopeful trends: 1) “A competitive corporate sector that is willing to hire,” 2) “Consumer behaviour has turned neutral,” and 3) “Housing turns from drag to lift.”

But in the battle for hope, it’s no surprise that President Barack Obama has gained the highest ground. “The private sector is doing fine,” the president intoned in June. That phrase was immediately controversial, but it had the rare distinction of sounding even worse in context than standing alone. Obama’s real concern was for government employees facing “cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government.”

So is economic health returning? The short answer is no. The mortgage crisis has become so grave that some city governments are threatening to deploy their eminent domain powers to seize loans at high risk of default. Seven municipal governments, including three of the 50 largest cities in California, have declared bankruptcy. Wealth creation in America has become so difficult, and wealth destruction so common, that in many respects the recovery, which is not a recovery at all but a period of indefinite stagnation, has become worse than the “Great Recession” that allegedly ended in 2009.

The long answer is also no. A June Federal Reserve study revealed that the median value of pretax family income fell 7.7 percent between 2007 and 2010; during the same period, median net worth declined a whopping 38.8 percent, and mean net worth dropped 14.7 percent. The Fed’s quarterly flow of funds reports have consistently shown flat household net worth since 2010. At $62.9 trillion in the first quarter of this year, household net worth is still almost $5 trillion below where it was in 2007.

As if having fewer dollars weren’t bad enough, the dollars have been, according to the strict definition of the word, decimated. Consumer Price Index inflation has robbed the dollar of 10 percent of its value since 2007. With the interest rate on a savings account below 1 percent, saving money in the bank has come to mean losing your money, and not slowly.

Under those conditions, who would save? Nobody. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. personal savings rate (disposable personal income less outlays), which briefly topped 6 percent in 2009, has averaged below 4 percent throughout this year and is now close to 3 percent. That rate was 10 percent as recently as the late 1980s.

Also headed steadily downward is the equity portion of real estate owned: Mortgage debt makes up 55 percent (and growing) of all real estate assets in America. Again, the long-term trend is even more frightening: In 1983 American homeowners had more than 70 percent equity stakes in their homes.

According to a July report from Bianco Research, aggregate personal debt has increased since the recession ended. Total credit-market debt is nearly $54 trillion. Public-sector debt has increased from $21 trillion to $24 trillion during that period—and as the Golden State cities of Stockton, Vallejo, and San Bernardino show, government bankruptcy is no longer something that only happens in Rhode Island, nor is it a figment of alarmists’ imaginations.

Against this slow (and sometimes fast) dribbling away of wealth, we are supposed to believe the economy is improving because U-3 unemployment is “holding steady” at more than 8 percent, or because of a small spike in real estate settlements.

Don’t believe it for a minute. It’s a step in the right direction that lenders have finally increased the pace of foreclosures (according to RealtyTrac, foreclosures jumped 6 percent in the first quarter), but it will take many years to work through the backlog of distressed mortgages. The percentage of Americans even looking for jobs, let alone holding them, continues to fall, and the 80,000-a-month rate of private-sector job creation doesn’t come close to keeping up with population growth.

There’s something about old-fashioned print media that makes doomsday predictions all the more enjoyably awful. From Paul Erdman’s The Crash of ’79 and The Panic of ’89 to the late libertarian leader Harry Browne’s How You Can Profit From the Coming Devaluation through Nassim Taleb’s recession appetizer The Black Swan, people still love to curl up with dead-tree visions of hell in a handbasket.

So here’s my dire print prediction: By the time you read this, Americans will be feeling poorer than ever. And they won’t be wrong.

SOURCE

****************************

The Brass Standard

Thomas Sowell

Politics takes a lot of brass. And Bill Clinton is a master politician. His rousing speech at the Democrats' convention told the delegates that Republicans "want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place."

That is world class brass. Bill Clinton's own administration, more than any other, promoted an unsustainable housing boom, which eventually and inevitably led to a housing bust that brought down the whole American economy.

Behind all the complex financial processes that reached to Wall Street and beyond, there is one fundamental fact: many people stopped making their mortgage payments.

Why did that happen? Because mortgage loans were made to people who did not meet the long-established qualification standards for getting a mortgage loan. And why did that happen? Because the Clinton administration threatened lawsuits against lenders who did not approve mortgage loans to minority applicants as often as to white applicants.

In other words, racial quotas replaced credit qualifications. A failure to have racial statistics on mortgage approvals that fit the government's preconceptions was equated with discrimination.

Attorney General Reno said that lenders who "closely examine their lending practices and make necessary changes to eliminate discrimination" would "fare better in this department's stepped-up enforcement effort than those who do not." She said: "Do not wait for the Justice Department to come knocking."

Clinton's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had similar racial quota policies, and began taking legal actions against banks that turned down more minority applicants than HUD thought they should.

HUD said that it was breaking down "racial and ethnic barriers" so as to create more "access" to home ownership. It established "goals" -- political Newspeak for quotas -- for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy mortgages that the original lenders had made to "the underserved population." In other words, the original lenders could pass on the increasingly risky mortgages to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- and, ultimately, to the taxpayers.

Other federal agencies warned mortgage lenders against having credit standards that these agencies considered too high. And these agencies had many powers to use against banks and other lenders who did not heed their warnings.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, for example, issued guidelines for "non-discriminatory" lending which warned lenders against "unreasonable measures of creditworthiness." Lenders should have standards "appropriate to the economic culture of urban lower-income and nontraditional consumers" and consider "extenuating circumstances." In other words, when some people don't come up to the lending standards, then the lending standards should be brought down to them.

What was the evidence for all the lending discrimination that the government was supposedly trying to prevent? Statistics.

In the year 2000, for example, black applicants for conventional mortgage loans were turned down at twice the rate for white applicants. Case closed, as far as the media and the government were concerned. Had they bothered to look a little deeper, they would have found that whites were turned down at nearly twice the rate for Asian Americans.

Had they bothered to check out average credit scores, they would have discovered that whites had higher average credit scores than blacks, and Asian Americans had higher average credit scores than whites.

Such inconvenient facts would have undermined the whole moral melodrama, reducing it to a case of plain economics, with lenders more likely to lend to those who were more likely to pay them back. Once lending standards were lowered, in order to meet racial quotas, they were lowered for everybody. Deadbeats of any race could get mortgage loans, and most were probably not minorities.

Democrats like to blame the "greed" of business, rather than the policies of government, for problems. But lenders don't make money by lending to individuals who don't pay them back. That is what government forced lenders to do, beginning under the Clinton administration. And the eventual collapse took down the economy.

It takes brass to defy the facts. And Bill Clinton has brass.

SOURCE

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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 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, 2012

Sabbath



14 September, 2012

Shana Tova Umetukah

To my Jewish readers -- if I still have any after the naughty things I have said about the holy book, the desirability of aliyah etc. I have borrowed the defiant video below from the inestimable Caroline Glick of Latma. More here. Caroline has a great name. "Glick" sounds a bit odd to us Gentiles but in Yiddish it means luck or happiness.



************************

How U.S. leaders from JFK to Roosevelt and George W Bush share character traits with psychopaths

If you Google the term "subclinical psychopathy", my academic journal article on that topic -- which is also the topic below -- heads the list. So it would appear that I am in an unusually good position to comment on the research below.

And I think I should note at once a major elision in it. They in fact have no findings about psychopathy as such. They appear to have looked for a whole host of psychopathic traits in U.S. Presidents and found little that stood out. All they found was a tendency towards dominance (surely unsurprising in a President!) and an unusual degree of fearlessness.

But these are not central characteristics of psychopaths. The central attributes of psychopaths are a lack of moral anchors (Clinton?) and an untroubled ability to tell bald-faced lies (Obama?). I say more on those two characters here.

So the article below is the product of what statisticians call "data dredging". If you look at enough correlations, you are reasonably certain to find one that is significant by chance alone.

So it is not at all clear that the characteristics the researchers highlight below are at all villainous. Psychopathy is undoubtedly villainous but is fearless dominance villainous? I can't see it. It is probably a desideratum for leaders generally. So the whole story below rather falls in a heap when you look closely at it.

I cannot help being amused, however, by the inclusion of GWB, the total omission of Obama and the failure to highlight Bill Clinton. That will presumably enable Leftists to gloat that GWB was a defective while Obama and Clintion are paragons. That is what psychologists call an "artifact" -- a conclusion produced by the research method rather than something that is really in the data.

And I think I should in conclusion note that GWB was anything but a psychopath. He was a deeply sentimental man, which is just about the opposite of psychopathy. He made a point of not highlighting the sentimental side of himself during his presidency but the way he would make unpublicized visits to families of the war-dead just to sit and pray with them reveals a very emotional and sincere man indeed. He was a Christian gentleman rather than a conservative as such but he was above all a decent human being -- despite the foam-flecked "Bush=Hitler" rage from the Left -- -- JR


A character trait in psychopaths has been identified by scientists as a common thread in successful US presidents. Fearless dominance, which is linked to less social and physical apprehensiveness, boosts leadership, persuasiveness, crisis management and congressional relations, according to new research.

Theodore Roosevelt, regarded as one of the most influential US leaders even though he was in office more than a hundred years ago, ranked highest for this type of personality followed by John F Kennedy, Franklin D Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

Then came Rutherford Hayes, Zachary Taylor, Bill Clinton, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson and George W Bush.

Fearless and dominant people are often a paradoxical mix of charm and nastiness. Cool and calm under pressure, they not easily rattled.

They lack the same kind of anticipatory anxiety that most people have so are not put off from taking dangerous actions.

They are usually intelligent and wealthy, relishing directing other people’s activities and basking in their admiration.

Psychologist Professor Scott Lilienfeld, of Emory University, Atlanta, said: 'Certain psychopathic traits may be like a double edged sword. 'Fearless dominance, for example, may contribute to reckless criminality and violence, or to skillful leadership in the face of a crisis.'

They are sexually adventurous and often takes risks.

It’s not that they can’t feel fear or anxiety, but it takes a much more extreme situation to elicit those emotions.

They live for the thrill, the excitement and the adrenaline rush and are attracted to jobs such as a fireman or policeman.

If you were assembling a Special Forces team, you would want to screen for people high in fearless dominance.

The analysis, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology ["Fearless dominance and the U.S. presidency: Implications of psychopathic personality traits for successful and unsuccessful political leadership."], drew upon personality assessments of 42 presidents up to George W Bush and compiled by Steven Rubenzer and Thomas Faschingbauer for their book ‘Personality, Character and Leadership in the White House.’

More than a hundred experts including biographers, journalists and scholars who are established authorities on one or more US presidents evaluated their target presidents using standardised psychological measures of personality, intelligence and behaviour.

For rankings on various aspects of job performance, the analysis relied primarily on data from two large surveys of presidential historians.

The rich historical data on presidents, combined with detailed expert rankings, provided a window into an emerging theory some aspects of psychopathy may actually be positive adaptations in certain social situations.

Prof Lilienfeld said: 'The way many people think about mental illness is too cut-and-dried. 'Certainly, full-blown psychopathy is maladaptive and undesirable. 'But what makes the psychopathic personality so interesting is that it is not defined by a single trait, but a constellation of traits.'

A clinical psychopath encompasses myriad characteristics, such as fearless social dominance, self-centered impulsivity, superficial charm, guiltlessness, callousness, dishonesty and immunity to anxiety. Each of these traits lies along a continuum, and all individuals may exhibit one of more of these traits to some degree.

Prof Lilienfeld explained: 'You can think of it like height and weight. Everyone has some degree of both, and they are continuously distributed in the population.'

The results of the analysis raise the possibility that the boldness often associated with psychopathy may confer advantages over a variety of occupations involving power and prestige, from politics to business, law, athletics and the military.

The findings also add to the debate over the idea of the so-called 'successful psychopath,' an individual with psychopathic traits who rises to a position of power in the workplace.

Psychopathy is defined as a lack of empathy for others, or a conscience, and can be associated with extreme and manipulative behaviour. This is distinct from psychosis, a group of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.

SOURCE

*****************************

Massive Government Cover-Up In Virginia?

by Lawrence A. Hunter

On September 6, 2012, Revolution PAC, which I chair, submitted Freedom-of-Information-Act (FOIA) requests to eight state and local agencies and offices of the Commonwealth of Virginia demanding release of all information and communications relating to the Brandon J. Raub case. Mr. Raub, a former, decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan, was kidnapped on August 16 by a joint strike force of Virginia and Federal “law-enforcement” agents, after which they tried to “disappear” him into the Virginia psychiatric gulag without charging him with any wrongdoing.

What did Raub do to deserve this abuse and torment by the government? He posted comments on Facebook that were critical of the government, and it was a private Facebook page, to boot. It was only by the courageous efforts of his mother, a dedicated lawyer for liberty (John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute), and widespread protest about this abuse of government power by average people across the nation that Raub was saved from being stashed away and subjected to psychotropic drugs and brainwashing by government shrinks.

According to Whitehead, something is rotten in the Commonwealth of Virginia that goes way beyond just the Raub case:
“Every year in Virginia, more than 20,000 people are detained for civil commitment and whisked away just like Raub. Brandon Raub’s case exposed the seedy underbelly of a governmental system that seems to be targeting Americans – especially military veterans – for expressing their discontent over America’s rapid transition to a police state.”

Is there a massive government cover-up involving the Raub case, and perhaps many others, going on in Virginia? It’s too early to tell but the early returns are not encouraging.

It took the Virginia State Police, through its Public Relations Director, exactly 36 minutes to respond to our 10-page FOIA request, which asked for much more than simply the “documents,” to which the pro forma response refers:
“The Virginia State Police has no documents responsive to your request, in accordance with Code of Virginia Section 2.2-3704. You may wish to contact the primary law enforcement agency involved in this incident: Chesterfield County Police Department. The Chesterfield County Police Department’s mailing address is P.O. Box 148, Chesterfield, VA, 23832.”

Clearly, this is not a serious, good faith response to a lengthy and detailed FOIA request that demands not only “documents” but also all electronically stored information and communications (ESI). The FOIA request reads, in part:
“Paper Preservation of ESI is Inadequate

“As hard copies do not preserve electronic searchability or metadata, they are not an adequate substitute for, or cumulative of, electronically stored versions. If information exists in both electronic and paper forms, agencies should preserve both forms.”

Unless the Virginia State Police are simply outright lying, they are playing word games designed to avoid having to come clean with what they knew, what they did and when they knew and did it. The PR Director clearly already had her orders and a prepared response in hand ready to go based on the old propaganda tactic of responding only to the questions they want to answer and ignoring the rest.

It strains credulity to accept at face value in this day and age that Virginia State Police were unaware and uninvolved in a joint Virginia-Federal strike force clearly planned and coordinated well before the fact and carried out with precision and cooperation among local police and several different federal “law-enforcement” agencies. At a minimum, one would expect the Virginia State Police to have audio records of police transmissions connected with the Raub case, which the FOIA request specifically included.

It took Governor Bob McDonnell’s Deputy Chief of Staff exactly 113 minutes to respond with this brush-off:
“Thank you for contacting the Office of the Governor with your request outlined below. This Office has no records responsive to your request. To the extent you seek documents that may or may not be in the possession of other state agencies or local law enforcement, please contact those agencies directly with your request.”

Either the Governor’s Office is lying or the Governor has totally ignored the high-profile Raub incidents and has not even been briefed on the matter, accounts and records of which would fall within the purview of the FOIA request. Mendacity or dereliction, I don’t know which is worse.

What about the Attorney General’s Office? Only this, 28 hours and 58 minutes and four separate submissions later from the AG’s FOIA Administrator:
"I can confirm that your FOIA request was received and passed on to me, the FOIA Administrator, for handling. We have begun the process of determining whether or not this Office has documents responsive to your request and will provide you with a response within the statutory time frame. Thank you."

Which at least reveals that the AG is aware of the case and probably has seen the complete file on it. The question now is, will he respond in good faith and reveal the contents of this file or will he use the period “within the statutory time frame” to construct a Nixonian modified limited hang-out. Time will tell.

In the meantime, though, the most revealing of all responses thus far came from the Clerk of the Circuit Court that ended up releasing Mr. Raub on August 23:
“Pursuant to Code of Virginia Section 37.2-818 which requires the Court to keep confidential any recordings, records, reports and documents, this file was sealed by Judge W. Allan Sharrett and as such I have no authority to unseal the file.”

This section of the Virginia code ostensibly is intended to protect the privacy of people caught up in the civil-commitment web, and it provides for the person held under civil-commitment proceedings to obtain the file. Additionally, however, the statute also provides that anyone else may request access to the Court’s file, in which case the Court is required to unseal the file “if it finds that such disclosure is in the best interest of the person who is the subject of the hearing or of the public.”

Whitehead has stated publicly that Raub intends to sue the FBI, and presumably during the process of discovery, Mr. Raub will seek access to the sealed file. But, as I wrote in this space earlier, and especially in light of the apparently promiscuous use of civil commitment in Virginia, much more is at stake than simply Mr. Raub’s civil suit against the FBI, notwithstanding its extraordinary importance:
"These Orwellian actions and this criminal conspiracy between Virginia and federal officials are so outrageous and so contrary to the precepts of American and Virginian justice that the ramifications of these unlawful acts go far beyond the harm done to Mr. Raub; they undermine the constitutional foundations of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Therefore, all communications related to these incidents that occurred among Virginia agencies and personnel and with federal officials should be released to the public without delay."

Therefore, the Circuit Court’s response to Revolution PAC’s FOIA request is far from adequate. Either the Court must open the file to public scrutiny or explain why, in its opinion such disclosure is not in the best interest of the public.

So far, we have not received any response to our FOIA request from either the Chesterfield Police or the Commonwealth Attorney for Chesterfield County. Stay tuned.

SOURCE

**************************

ELSEWHERE

Russian ships displayed at DNC tribute to vets: "On the last night of the Democratic National Convention, a retired Navy four-star took the stage to pay tribute to veterans. Behind him, on a giant screen, the image of four hulking warships reinforced his patriotic message. But there was a big mistake in the stirring backdrop: those are Russian warships. While retired Adm. John Nathman, a former commander of Fleet Forces Command, honored vets as America’s best, the ships from the Russian Federation Navy were arrayed like sentinels on the big screen above. These were the very Soviet-era combatants that Nathman and Cold Warriors like him had once squared off against. “The ships are definitely Russian,” said noted naval author Norman Polmar"

MA: ROTC returns to Harvard after 41-year absence: "For the first time since Richard Nixon was president, Army cadets are training at Harvard University. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, better known as the ROTC, has been absent from the venerable Boston institution since 1971, when it was banned amid protests of the Vietnam War. But this week the program returned, as 25 cadets in gray shirts and black shorts -- including 10 Harvard students -- did an hour of calisthenics at McCurdy Outdoor Track behind Harvard Stadium. The school renewed its ties with ROTC after the military’s 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' law, which effectively banned gays from the military, was repealed."

Judge tells Twitter to give up protester’s posts or face fine: "Twitter Inc. has to turn over information about an Occupy Wall Street protester’s posts or face a fine, a judge ruled, giving the company three days to show it isn’t in contempt of court. ... Sciarrino ruled June 30 that Twitter must turn over Twitter’s posts from Sept. 15 to Dec. 30 and user information linked to the '@destructuremal' account of Harris, who was arrested on Oct. 1 with about 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, denying the company’s request to quash the subpoena."

'New York Post' Runs Boldest Anti-Obama Ad Yet: "Even casual readers of the New York Post will find it hard to miss the full-page ad immediately following the paper’s must-read gossip section, Page Six, that claims President Obama’s biological father is not Barack Hussein Obama Sr., but rather poet and labor activist Frank Marshall Davis. Or as the ad puts it, “Communist Party Propagandist Frank Marshall Davis.” The ad, headlined “Obama’s Big Lie Revealed,” is a promotion for a DVD titled Dreams from My Real Father, which is billed as “Amazon’s #1 documentary.”

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

Was George W. Bush given SEVEN warnings about threat from Bin Laden in months before 9/11?

Reports such as the one below are doubtlessly causing erections galore among "truthers" but they should not. There are innumerable examples of intelligence warnings being ignored because the decision-makers simply didn't WANT to believe them.

For instance, the excellent Soviet spy apparatus gave Stalin ample warning that Hitler was going to attack Russia but Stalin refused to heed or act on the warnings -- probably because he a had a treaty with Germany and did not believe that Hitler could be as treacherous as he was.

And the events of 9/11 were so outlandish and unprecedented that it was reasonable to discount them as just scaremongering from Middle Eastern blowhards


Former President George Bush was given a series of direct warnings throughout 2001 about the possibility of a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda - but failed to take them seriously, it was claimed today.

On the eleventh anniversary of the atrocity, it has been reported that the White House received multiple briefs between May and August that year about an attack with explosives and numerous casualties.

But the president continually failed to take any significant action and questioned the thoroughness of the briefings - leading to huge frustrations within the CIA.

The retrospective report was lambasted as 'unfair' and a 'disservice to history' by George Pataki, the New York state governor during 9/11 who praised Bush's leadership in the months after the attacks.

But it shows the repeated warnings came before the famous top secret briefing - which has previously been reported - given to Bush on August 6 with the heading 'Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S'.

Just a few weeks later on September 11, terrorists smashed planes into the World Trade Center in New York City - killing nearly 3,000 people and horrifying the world.

Details of the other briefings given to Mr Bush and his administration - which have never been made public - have now been revealed by The New York Times.

However, the new neoconservative leaders at the Pentagon told the White House that the CIA had been fooled. They believed that Bin Laden was pretending to plan an attack to distract the U.S. from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Following the devastating attacks on 9/11, the White House - which was receiving criticism it had ignored CIA warnings - said it had never been told when or where the attacks would take place.

Yet many have claimed that if the government had been on high security alert over that summer they may have found out about the planned attack - and saved the lives of thousands.

More HERE

****************************

The Democrats' Fake Freedoms

The 2012 Democratic platform includes 1,400 words on "Protecting Rights and Freedoms." Among the alleged rights that the Democrats promise to defend: freedom from "discrimination in the workplace and other settings," "paycheck fairness" for women, "job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons," "evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education," government subsidies for Planned Parenthood and taxpayer-supported health care, including "free access" to "prenatal screenings, mammograms, cervical cancer screening, breast-feeding supports and contraception." These items all amount to promises of other people's money or demands that they be compelled to enter into contracts they would otherwise eschew.

Even "putting Americans back to work" -- a rather vague mandate that presumably means whatever President Obama says it does -- appears in the section on "rights and freedoms," specifically as a women's issue.

Why? Because "the challenges of supporting and raising a family are often primarily a woman's responsibility." All right then.

The platform does mention a few real rights, including "the individual right to bear arms." I also give the Democrats credit for "freedom to marry," since they argue (persuasively, in my view) that equality under the law means the government should not discriminate between couples based on sexual orientation.

Similarly, "a woman's right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion," is based on a constitutional argument -- not a very sound one, at least as laid out in Roe v. Wade, but nevertheless an argument about the proper relationship between government and the individual. True to form, the Democrats immediately add that women have a right to obtain abortions "regardless of ability to pay," once again conflating freedom from coercion with a claim on other people's resources. If the right to arms does not entail a right to gun subsidies, why would a right to abortion entail a right to abortion subsidies?

This fundamental confusion about rights was on display throughout the Democratic convention. Although Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, opposes legal restrictions on contraceptives, Fluke warned that a vote for him would be a vote for "an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it." Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards likewise claimed that if you question government subsidies for her organization, or if you think insurers and employers should not be forced to offer health plans that cover contraceptives, you "want to end access to birth control."

Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, declared that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act shows Obama "believes in a woman's right to make her own decisions." Yes, as long as the woman is not an insurer, an employer or a consumer interested in a health plan that does not meet the government's specifications.

Keenan also praised Obama for defending Fluke's "right to tell her story." At last: an actual right! Fluke surely should be free to tell her story, but that does not mean we have to listen.

More HERE

********************************

Forward to What, Democrats?

Jonah Goldberg

"Forward" is a perfectly appropriate slogan for progressives. Progress suggests forward or upward motion. That's why revolutionaries and radicals as well as liberal incrementalists have always embraced some derivation of the forward trope. So ingrained are these directional concepts in our political language, we often forget they are mere geographic metaphors applied -- and often misapplied -- to policy disputes.

For instance, some on the left might see enrolling more people on food stamps as a step in the right direction, moving us "forward" to a more generous and all-encompassing welfare state. But other self-described progressives might see a swelling of the food stamp rolls to be a step backward, either in strict accounting terms (we are, after all, broke) or even in cultural terms. Some Democrats have even been known to brag when they've gotten people off the food stamp rolls.

In other words, even for progressives, what counts as moving forward depends entirely on where you want to go -- and where you think you've been.

And that's where the Democratic Party, and liberalism itself, tends to get horribly confused. According to President Obama and the whole team of Democratic all-stars, we've been moving forward to a better place these last four years.

Joe Biden shouted from the podium, "America is coming back, and we're not going back!"

"Back to what?" you might ask. The answers to that question are usually no less vague for being passionately stated. Perhaps the ugliest answer, an insinuation really, came from Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement. He seemed to suggest that a vote for Mitt Romney was a vote to return to the Jim Crow era and the beatings Lewis endured to overturn it.

A more common answer came from Obama. "After all that we've been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand or the laid-off construction worker keep his home," he explained to a enraptured crowd. "We have been there, we've tried that, and we're not going back."

This is an appeal to the mythology of the Bush years as some kind of anarcho-capitalist dystopia in which "market fundamentalism" reigned and Republicans tried to shrink government to the point where "we can drown it in the bathtub" (to quote anti-tax activist Grover Norquist).

This was always a bizarre liberal hallucination. Government grew massively under President Bush. He was a bigger spender than any previous president going back to Lyndon Johnson. He massively expanded entitlements, grew food stamp enrollment (almost as much as Obama) and nearly doubled "investments" in education. He created a new Cabinet agency -- Homeland Security -- and signed into law sweeping new regulations, like No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley and McCain-Feingold.

This, according to Democrats, amounts to telling Americans "you're on your own."

Ironically, it was Bill Clinton who mocked Republicans last week for conjuring an "alternative universe" where Americans are self-reliant individualists. The real truth is that Democrats rely on fantasy worlds -- including a past that never was -- in order to make walking in circles seem like progress.

More HERE

*************************

Uncle Sam: Chief persecutor of Americans living abroad

Legal shackles push expatriate Americans to keep their money in their mattresses

Matt Welch

There are many things American residents do not realize about their 6 million or so countrymen living abroad. One of them is that the United States—unlike every other country in the world except Eritrea—taxes its citizens based on passport, not residence. If my French-American daughter moved to Lyon tomorrow and lived there for the rest of her life, she would be obliged to file a U.S. tax return every year, including all those aforementioned intimate and convoluted banking details. (So convoluted that my paid tax preparer this year contemplated the TD 90-22.1 form used to report holdings in foreign financial institutions, shrugged, and handed me a highlighter pen in case I could figure the damned thing out.)

But it gets worse for our expatriate friends. That’s because in 2010 a revenue-starved populist Congress passed an abomination of a law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (or—you guessed it!—FATCA) “to combat tax evasion by U.S. persons holding investments in offshore accounts.” The law jacked up the penalties for those of us above the $10,000 threshold and created a new form-filling threshold at the $50,000 level ($100,000 for joint filers). It also charged IRS agents with determining whether the foreign assets Americans report were properly taxed before being parked abroad. “Underpayments of tax attributable to non-disclosed foreign financial assets,” the IRS website warns, “will be subject to an additional substantial understatement penalty of 40 percent.” Worse, FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to disclose information about their American customers to the IRS and send 30 percent of assets believed to be untaxed directly to the U.S. government.

Close your eyes for five seconds and imagine what “unintended” consequence might result from such an unprecedented power grab in the name of bringing rich tax outlaws to heel. Yes, that’s right: Nonrich Americans the globe over can no longer open bank accounts.

A group called American Citizens Abroad collected dozens of stories from such Americans for an April 2012 letter to the IRS. Here’s an American retiree and former non­governmental organization employee who has lived in Geneva for all but four years since 1973: “Just since the beginning of the year, I have been informed by one of Switzerland’s two largest banking institutions that due to the fact that I am an American, I had to divest myself of all my investment holdings in their financial institution. Another bank agreed to accept my investments; then, just this month, on the day that I went to sign the papers, I was informed that the authority to do this had been withdrawn.…I feel that I now am being squeezed between my country of citizenship and my country of residence and they are forcing me to choose my mattress as the only site where I can place my savings. I am an American who loves my country. I always have filed my U.S. income tax return.…I do not understand why my government is treating me this way.”

Suddenly (and I mean “why doesn’t my ATM card work anymore?” suddenly), expatriate Americans are discovering they can no longer use banks where they live. Some are opting to renounce their U.S. citizenship rather than continue dealing with the hassle. A presumed record of at least 1,788 Americans turned in their passports in 2011. We know that number because the IRS publishes a “name and shame” list of citizenship renouncers it suspects of evading taxes each year.

Who are these hateful tax evaders? Some are billionaires, such as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, a longtime Singapore resident and dual national who renounced his U.S. citizenship in advance of his company’s initial public offering. But many are guys like Peter Dunn, a dual American-Canadian citizen, married to a Canadian, who has lived abroad for a quarter of a century, and who (according to a Reuters article) “felt American citizenship had become more of a liability than a privilege.”

“If it was just me then it would be one thing,” Dunn told Reuters in April. “Disclosing joint accounts I hold with my wife and anyone I ever want to do business with—that’s just too much. My wife’s account is none of their business.” FATCA is “making life difficult for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s driving us away.”

What’s the upside of such harassment? The U.S. Treasury projects that increased FATCA enforcement will bring in a little less than $1 billion a year. The federal government spends about that much every two and a half hours. And in case the cost-benefit formula isn’t whacked enough, consider that Swiss and other European expatriate executives who live and work in America are seeing their home-country bank accounts unceremoniously shuttered by financial institutions that just don’t want to deal anymore with anything involving the United States. In an age of globalization, when countries that trade are countries that thrive, Washington is making it much more difficult for Americans to live abroad and for the best and brightest foreigners to live here.

More here

***********************

A note on U.S. air travel

All that I hear about air-travel in the U.S. these days makes me glad I did my travelling in the U.S. years ago when the world was young (i.e. before the TSA and other modern decrements in comfort and civility). But I was still not quite prepared for the report from family members travelling in the USA at the moment accompanied by their young baby (Matthew, 1 year old). This is what the father wrote:
The DELTA Airlines flight from L.A to New York was really Budget and scary! Scary because the inside of the plane was just not looked after. Gaping holes, huge visible cracks and grubby. This last leg seemed also to drag but I managed to get 1 hour sleep. Matthew had no bassinette so we had him on our laps but he slept almost the whole way. We asked the stewardess about the “baby seat belt” used to attach to our seat belts. We are required to use these on our Aussie flights. The stewardess said “Oh we don’t have those – you just hold him” :-O

Worse than I thought -- JR.

****************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

Exodus, Moses and Zipporah

I have been reading Exodus again. Trouble ahead! By general agreement, Exodus 4:24-26 is one of the most puzzling passages in the Bible. Look it up and you will see what I mean. Out of the blue it tells us that Yahveh wanted to kill Moses. No preamble, no explanation. But Zipporah (wife of Moses) saved Moses from death by circumcising one of her sons

What gives? The most usual answer is that Moses had got behind on his circumcising of his sons and Yahveh was mad about that. So when Zip did the deed (with a sharp rock!) Moses was off the hook.

But the text doesn't say that. It does not say what got Yahveh mad. And what Zip said when she did the cut doesn't seem to relate to anything anyway. She touched Moses's feet with the detached flesh and said: “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me". Was it some sort of wedding?

So what is a "bridegroom of blood" anyway and why did that mollify Yahveh?

I think I can suggest a very tentative answer: Blood was identified with life in the OT and the Israelites were even forbidden to eat the blood of their animals (Leviticus 17:14). Hence Kosher slaughter to this day. No black pudding for Jews! So spilling blood was a big-deal sort of sacrifice and Yahveh liked sacrifices. And the point of Zip's words was that she and Moses were joint authors of that sacrifice.

And why was Yahveh mad at Moses in the first place? Because Moses had been a big-time foot-dragger (what's the Yiddish for people like that?) up until that point. Yahveh had to wheedle him to undertake his mission to Egypt. So Yahveh simply got fed up with Moses.

If my account of Yahveh portays him in a very human light, forgive me. Exodus does the same.

*************************

Leftist bias beats facts every time

PZ Myers is an American biology professor but his dismissal below of work by Satoshi Kanazawa is just Leftist bluster -- all too reminiscent of that old fraud Stephen Jay Gould. He accuses Kanazawa of being unscientific but what does he offer in replacement of Kanazawa's data and arguments? He offers a personal anecdote, some reasoning and lashings of self-righteous abuse. His resort to bad language and an accusation of racism shows how thin his arguments are. I have no background in the psychology of aesthetic judgments so have no opinion about the rightness or wrongness of Kanazawa's claims -- but at least Kanazawa seems to have had some data. Myers offers none

Kanazawa is the guy who claimed to look objectively at the data and thereby determined that black women are ugly (he also thinks Africans are stupid), and whose data were examined and found to have been selectively extracted. He got a lot of flak for that, and while he wasn't kicked out of Psychology Today, where he had his column, he hasn't posted anything there in over a year, so I suspect there was some pressure applied. Which is too bad.every time he opens his mouth, he's a great target for beating up bad science.

He argues that he was just paying attention to other people's data. He attended a seminar in which data on the dating behavior of 20,000 college people was discussed, and part of that data showed that black females and Asian males had the fewest dating partners, and he just wanted to explain it:

"My initial suspicion was that this might be because black females and Asian males were less physically attractive than their competitors. Thus began my scientific interest in race differences in physical attractiveness. "

And we're off! That's a very peculiar leap: why would you assume that the number of dating partners would correlate with physical attractiveness? My wife is a very attractive woman, but she had one partner in college (me). I'm a homely guy, and I also had one partner in college (her). It seems to me that number of partners is going to be more strongly affected by the strength and stabiity of relationships, which is going to be a consequence of far more than just appearance, and it's simply odd to leap to the hypothesis that it's because of physical beauty or lack thereof.

It's also odd because of Kanazawa's own premises. Listen to his introductory interview on Big Think, if you can; right at the beginning, he announces that the evolutionary goal of all organisms is reproductive success, and the key to achieving that is 1) status, and 2) access to resources. He must know that status is going to involve more than just appearance. So why doesn't he listen to the data in that seminar and think, "Hmm, maybe black women have lower socioeconomic status and fewer resources - I wonder if further analysis of the data would show that?" But no, that's complicated. He instead jumps to the conclusion that black women must be ugly. Why? Because he's a goddamned racist.

More HERE

*****************************

U.S. Government: Fire Good Employees, Hire Bad Ones‏

Hans Bader

The Obama administration is pressuring employers outside the financial sector to hire felons, even as its regulations force employers in the financial sector to fire “thousands of employees,” including exemplary employees who once committed misdemeanors decades ago. As Walter Olson notes:

Thanks to new federal banking and mortgage guidelines with $1-million-a-day penalties for noncompliance, banks are scrambling to fire any employee who has previously been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty. Among those tossed out: a bank employee with seven years’ service who used a slug in a washing machine in 1963, and a 58-year-old customer service representative with a shoplifting conviction forty years ago. A lawyer says thousands of employees have been fired under the new rules.

The Des Moines Register notes,“Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since the issuance of new federal banking employment guidelines in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines in February.” (Richard Eggers is the 68-year-old Wells Fargo employee fired for using a slug in 1963, nearly half a century ago.) Additional coverage of this can be found in USA Today and the ABA Journal.

While pressuring banks to fire good employees, the Obama administration is pressuring other employers to hire bad employees. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, dominated by anti-business Obama appointees, recently sued Pepsi for doing criminal background checks on job applicants, forcing it to pay $3.1 million to settle the lawsuit. It has previously sued other employers who take serious criminal records into account, or use criminal background checks, even though employers who hire criminals end up getting sued when those employees commit crimes. The EEOC’s demands place employers in a no-win position where they can be sued no matter what they do.

Employers’ ability to hire and fire based on merit is being undermined by the EEOC, which has ordered employers to discard useful employment tests and accommodate incompetent employees. For example, a hotel chain was recently compelled to pay $132,500 for dismissing an autistic desk clerk who did not do his job properly, in order for it avoid a lawsuit by the EEOC that would have cost it much more than that to defend. The EEOC has sued companies that quite reasonably refuse to employ truck drivers with a history of heavy drinking, even though companies that hire them will be sued under state personal-injury laws when they have an accident. The EEOC is also threatening employers who require high-school diplomas with lawsuits under the ADA. The EEOC forced a cafe owner to pay $20,000 for not selecting a hearing- and speech-impaired applicant for a cashier’s position, even though such impairments obviously affected the applicant’s qualifications for the job.

The Obama administration has interfered with employers’ merit-based hiring, thus discouraging job creation, by imposing a wide array of costly, harmful new labor and employment rules on American manufacturers.

The administration has also harmed the economy through Obamacare, which has caused layoffs in the medical device industry, and wiped out jobs in other industries. The Dodd-Frank financial law passed in 2010 is also expected to shift thousands of jobs from America to foreign countries. The administration has managed to alienate even some Democratic businessmen, like Steve Wynn, who called President Obama “the greatest wet blanket to . . . job creation in my lifetime.”

SOURCE

****************************

Christianity is Compatible with Ayn Rand

Katie Kieffer

Increasingly, priests and pastors are preaching that socialism (in the name of “social justice”) is Christ-like. In truth, capitalism, not socialism, reflects Christian values. I think Christians would be less likely to embrace socialism if they understood that the economic philosophy of Ayn Rand is compatible with Christianity.

‘Social Justice’ Evolves

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle speaks of a general form of justice that encompasses all virtue. Describing general justice, Aristotle writes: “It is complete virtue and excellence in the fullest sense… It is complete because he who possesses it can make use of his virtue not only by himself but also in his relations with his fellow men; for there are many people who can make use of their virtue in their own affairs, but who are incapable of using it in their relations with others.”

Thomas Aquinas, a renowned Catholic philosopher adopted a form of Aristotle’s idea of general justice. Eventually, the Catholic Church attempted to modernize Aristotle and Aquinas’ idea of general justice by calling it “social justice.”

The Catholic Church developed the term primarily to help explain justice in a modern society that was moving from farming to more complex forms of production and human interaction. As Michael Novak with the Heritage Foundation points out, Pope Leo XIII specifically slammed socialism and praised the natural differences in talents and abilities among human beings as beneficial to society.

Novak explains how, over time, progressives warped the term “social justice” to mean “equality” (redistribution of wealth and resources based on arithmetic, not individual production), the “common good” (determined by federal bureaucrats) and “compassion” (forced sharing).

Today, numerous pastors are preaching a version of social justice that is basically no different from socialism. I encourage Christians to exchange the convoluted idea of “social justice” for “capitalism.”

Atheism, A Mere Distraction

Rand was one of the best defenders and articulators of capitalism. Unfortunately, many Christians dismiss her economic philosophy because of her personal beliefs on religion.

Rand was an atheist. However, one does not need to be an atheist in order to be a capitalist. Indeed, in Rand’s magnum opus novel, Atlas Shrugged, the core takeaway is not that the hero is an atheist but that he is a capitalist.

Rand and her fictional heroes believe with almost religious zeal that there is no God—a belief that takes “faith.” For, it is impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that God does not exist, just as it is impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he does exist. To say either with absolute certainty takes faith (rational yet unconfirmed belief).

If it is rational for Rand to believe (without proof) that God does not exist, it is also rational for a Christian to believe that God exists. Since both atheists and Christians are rational, atheism is unessential to being a capitalist.

If there is a God, He is a Capitalist

That said, one may not believe in any “god” and still claim to be rational. For example, one cannot believe that God condones socialism because socialism is inherently irrational and violates natural law, as I explained here.

Natural law (that which we know through reason alone) tells us that private property and freedom are inherent human rights. Aquinas writes in his Treatise on Law that all human laws must stem from natural law: “But if in any point it [human law] deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of the law.”

Jesus did not say: “Blessed are the wicked, for they shall obtain equal salvation.” Jesus did not tell Caesar: “Take 90 percent from the wealthy and redistribute it among the poor.” As I’ve written, Jesus’ own biblical teachings were capitalistic in nature. So, if you claim to be a rational Christian, you must admit that Jesus is a capitalist.

Capitalism, Not Social Justice, Reflects Christianity

Rand may have been an atheist, but she embraced reason and natural law. Christians must do likewise. As Aquinas writes, if Christians embrace laws that violate reason and natural law, such as wealth redistribution mandates, they are in fact embracing injustice.

When Rand’s hero, John Galt, explains justice, he does so in a manner that is consistent with Aristotle, Aquinas and the biblical definition justice—in relation to objective truth and goodness: “Justice is the recognition of the fact that… just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero—that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions…”

I think Christians should avoid rushing to judgment on Rand’s philosophy because, at core, she has much to say about living with integrity and pursuing true happiness. No matter what term a pastor uses (think “social justice”), socialism is neither ethical nor Christian. Next week I will delve deeper into explaining how Rand’s beliefs are compatible with Christianity.

SOURCE

***************************

Fourth Amendment: RIP

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is, for all practical purposes, dead and buried on the streets of New York City. Police are doing things today to the citizenry there that they wouldn't have dared to even think about doing only a few years ago.

One no longer enjoys the basic fundamental constitutional right of personal security against unreasonable searches and seizures while simply walking down the street. New York City Police officers are randomly searching people without reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a crime has been committed or that a subject has committed a crime.

I'm not talking about people at airports boarding airplanes that might have bombs or guns in their handbags. This is about innocent pedestrians taking their dirty clothes to the Laundromat or returning home from the grocery store.

"I was coming home from the Laundromat and I was stopped by the police officer. Asking me, `Let me see your ID. `Where are you from?' `Do you live around here?," says Chris Bilal, a black man who was simply walking down the street in his Brooklyn neighborhood when he was stopped by a police officer for no reason whatsoever.

The cop then rummaged through Bilal's bag of freshly cleaned and folded laundry to see if he was carrying anything illegal. He wasn't. "They were searching for drugs. The funny thing was that it was a mesh laundry bag. I'm not sure what I could hide," Bilal said.

Since arriving in the city a little over a year ago, he's been repeatedly stopped on the street, asked what he's doing, where he's going, and often being frisked. "I feel guilty all the time," he explained. "I feel like I'm being watched and targeted all the time."

Bilal is the frequent victim of the NYPD's policy of Stop, Question and Frisk, in which officers randomly stop a person to determine if they are up to any wrongdoing or possess weapons and contraband items. In 2011, the New York City Police Department stopped 685,724 people wholly without probable cause of whom an overwhelming 88 percent were deemed innocent.

Yes, I suppose it is a very effective policy for deterring crime. Random searches of citizens' homes would be equally effective but the only problem with that -- it blatantly violates the Fourth Amendment:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

SOURCE

SCOTUS is adept at crafting exceptions to constitutional provisions and they might well do so if the cops were restricting the policies mentioned above to high crime areas. A rationale could be that just by the person being in a high crime area the search is justified as "reasonable suspicion". I have no idea whether the NYPD does so restrict itself but it would be rational if the controversial searches are in high crime areas. I gather that Brooklyn is a high crime area. This map shows a lot of robberies in Brooklyn North and a lot of shouting in Broooklyn South (!) -- JR

***********************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIEDa>, 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, 2012

The Evil One's party rips off the mask

Whether you regard Satan as a person or the evil in human nature, the Democrats have nailed their colors to the mast -- and the way their leadership ignored the vote shows you that the name of their party is a Satanic deception. They are "Democrats" who have no respect for democracy -- JR

By Doug Giles

Well, the DNC just wrapped, folks, and it looks like the Prince of Darkness has finally found his political party: the God-booing Democrats!

Booing God? Who the heck boos God? I’ll tell you who: Satan, his principalities and powers, devil worshippers and DNC delegates, that’s who.

Look, I get Democrats raising hell over a picture of George W. Bush, or Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s hairdo, or a video of Rosie speed drinking gallon jugs of chocolate milk … but God? Really?

Hey, media: You can say what you will about Republicans and their foibles, but you’ll never have audio or video of them, en masse, telling God to blank off. Wow.

I believe that three-minute display of divine disdain might have Chick-fil-A’ed the Dems come this November. I know if I were Romney I would run commercial loops of that sound bite over and over and over and over again. Back and forth. Back and forth. God handed Mitt a nugget that the greatest writers in Hollywood couldn’t script. Flog it, Mitt. Flog it.

One of the many funny things about the DNC’s Cirque du Freak last week was when queried about why God was removed from their party’s platform and Jerusalem scrubbed as the capital of Israel, Dick Durbin and other dipsticks said it was no big whoop, that the Dems are down with Yahweh and that Republicans were grasping at straws.

This, of course, satiated the lamestream media and sounded totally peachy until the delegates voted on whether or not the big man upstairs was welcome back to the big scam downstairs, and God got a resounding “screw off” from Obama’s backers.

If you haven’t seen the video clip of over two-thirds of the Democratic delegates shouting down the God vote and Villaraigosa’s teleprompted skewing of the delegates’ overwhelming decision to dis God, you must watch it here.

Obama thought he could bamboozle the U.S. and remedy the national outcry against his party’s platform by having a faux vote reinstating Jesus and Jerusalem to his group’s ticket. The only thing he did not figure on was his multitudinous freak patrol shouting that motion down.

SOURCE

****************************

How did this hate-filled bimbo get into a responsible position in ANY American political party?

More evidence of the decline of the Democrats: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Chair of the Democratic National Committee) caught in a lie. First she claims that a Conservative paper misquoted her. Then the audio surfaces showing that she did say what she was reported as saying.

According to her, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren claimed that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel. He denied saying that -- then she denied saying that he said that. But she did say that. It's the mentality of a six year old (with apologies to smart six-year olds) and the morality of a psychopath.



**************************

Job Creation Nation: America Faces Harsh Realities In 2013

Government must get off the backs of small business

The political conventions have passed, the August jobs report is out, and many Americans are said to be “giving up hope.”

So how can we jumpstart our greatest engine of economic growth – the American small business market – and get our economy growing again?

Regardless of which presidential candidate wins this November, in 2013 Americans will have to focus on saving, and expanding, the small business marketplace. The sector of our economy that makes up nearly 60% of the entire American private sector workforce, and creates between 60 and 80% of all new jobs, has been under attack over the past few years by politicians who have created lots of bad laws.

And if Americans are serious about expanding actual employment (rather than merely expanding government welfare and entitlement programs), then we will have to make better choices at the ballot box, and hold our elected leaders responsible for making serious changes. To start, let’s consider consider this harsh reality: the so-called “fiscal cliff” is real, and President Obama’s proposed solution to it is potentially lethal.

Under current federal law, both income tax rates and Social Security tax rates are set to rise dramatically on January 1st of 2013. Along with these tax increases, a dramatic reduction in government services will take hold at the same time.

This confluence of private citizens having more of their money taken away (higher taxes), and a reduction of government services (which means that private citizens will have to fill the gap and spend more of their own money) is expected to trigger a new recession next year. As a means of preventing a “double dip,” both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress have proposed that taxation rates be frozen where they are at, and held steady in 2013.

But President Obama has insisted that taxes should be raised on so-called “rich people” next year, and has refused to do what most economists and many members of his party have said is the one thing that could save us from another downturn.

And with the President polling as well as he is, it seems apparent that millions of Americans are far more excited about his “make the rich pay” rhetoric than they are aware of the consequences of his proposals. Obama supporters may get their wish in November, but it will come at a painful price – a price that all of us will pay.

And here’s another harsh reality: Americans need to get comfortable with other people’s financial successes. Since the early days of his first presidential campaign in 2007, Barack Obama has been pouring fuel on the fires of resentment and envy towards the wealthy. As a political strategy this has worked well for the President, but as government policy this has been bad for all of us.

The President’s tax-hike push is a perfect example, as many of America’s small businesses are set-up under the I.R.S. code as “Sub-chapter S” corporations. These are businesses wherein the company profits are reported to the I.R.S. directly as personal income by the business owners and are subject to personal income tax rates – and many of these business owners are being targeted by President Obama for an income tax-hike.

If the President gets his wish, and the government begins confiscating more money from the owners of Sub-chapter S corporations, by definition this leaves less money in these corporations for hiring and expansion. Thus Americans have a choice to make – do we want to employ our President for another four years so he can satiate the hatred some of us have towards “the rich” and take away more of their money? Or would we like private business owners to have money available to employ more of us? From the way things appear right now, we probably can’t do both.

And here’s harsh reality number three: Americans have to stop Obamacare from wiping-out small businesses. A central feature of this law is the mandate that businesses provide healthcare insurance to their workers. It sounds great – workers will now be “guaranteed” health insurance – but once again, the “make somebody else pay” approach is heaping more weight on the shoulders of small business owners.

Americans must decide how serious they are about job creation – even if it means that some jobs won’t include health benefits. If we honestly want employers to employ more, we must force the Congress and the President to fix this devastating component of Obamacare next year.

And here’s yet another harsh reality: Americans must stop making small businesses a scapegoat on illegal immigration. Roughly two-thirds of Americans want our national borders secured and a coherent immigration policy, yet for over a decade Washington has refused to do the former and has scarcely attempted the latter.

Amid the frustration, businesses have become the target of Americans’ wrath. If business owners would simply quit hiring illegals -so the reasoning goes -the illegals would go away.

Mitt Romney has pledged that, if elected, he will seek to require American employers and workers to register with the federal government’s “e-verify” website, as a means of policing the problem. But this adds even more bureaucratic burdens to small business owners, and ignores our failed immigration policies and un-secured borders.

Do we want politicians who merely tell us what we want to hear? Or do we want leaders in our government who can actually enable businesses to grow? Americans must become more discerning-and face some harsh realities.

SOURCE

************************

Twilight Zone Week

The Democratic National Convention is an elaborate effort to sanitize a failed record that cannot be rehabilitated, even by the glib sophistry of former President Bill Clinton.

President Obama has often lamented that it is not that his performance has been inferior but that he has failed to fully explain the wonders of it all in terms we bitter clingers can grasp.

It's not that his policies are misguided or that they've yielded objectively horrendous results; it's that he just hasn't figured out a way to condescend far enough to our level to make us understand. The convention gives his team one last chance to put his theory to the test and change our misperceptions.

Charlotte, N.C., is a desperate Hail Mary to turn Obama's ears into a silk purse. Unfortunately for Democrats, it involves a series of contradictions.

On the one hand, it is an orchestrated charade to depict his disastrous record as a striking success, and on the other, it's a simultaneous admission that it is a failure -- a failure caused solely by dastardly Republicans. By day, it is an embarrassing freak show, with speaker after speaker exhibiting contempt for traditional American values, and by night, it is toastmasters cunningly presenting the Democratic Party as the guardian of those values they've spent the entire day trashing.

The daytime and early evening speakers are angry, loud caricatures eerily redolent of Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream," hand-picked to feed the frenzy of the malcontented base. The prime-time roster features more polished figures -- Julian Castro, Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton -- carefully selected to present a reasonable and winsome face to the American public. But as the Democrats don't have a deep enough bench to fill all the prime-time slots, they are forced to -- or happily choose to -- showcase the social extremism of figures such as Sandra Fluke.

The entire week has been a concentrated conspiracy to convince the American people that they must ignore their lying eyes. Things are not as they seem; they are not as we know them to be from our own observations, experience, intellect and reason.

Thus, Michelle Obama spends the better part of her remarks endeavoring to convince us that the cool, detached character to whom she is married is really a warmblooded, sensitive, caring human being who spends his evenings agonizing sympathetically over letters from hurting Americans. Clinton takes almost a full hour reconstructing the nonfiction novel of Obama's actual record into a fictionalized fantasy of nonpareil success. Castro emotionally embraces the very values with which his party is at war.

This is the party of Barack Obama, the party that consciously and defiantly omitted God (and Jerusalem as Israel's capital) from its platform. It is the party that has cynically elevated the banning of protection of the innocent unborn to the highest moral act.

With due respect to Mayor Castro, his party is not the one that values rugged individualism, personal responsibility and equal opportunity for all. With ample deference to President Clinton for his virtuosity in manipulating damning data into a mythical yarn of national triumph, President Obama's record, in all categories, has been deplorable -- from economic policy to the debt to foreign policy to working with Republicans.

Democrat after Democrat complains about the free market while pretending he reveres it. "It's not the system we don't like; it's that it's rigged." Well, the only rigging we see is President Obama's unconstitutional favors for his friends and pet projects, including his favoring his union buddies and cheating secured creditors in the Chrysler restructuring, disproportionately retaining General Motors and Chrysler dealerships for women and minorities, illegally subordinating taxpayers to loans of private investors in Solyndra, killing a voter intimidation case against his New Black Panther Party allies, funneling money to his corporate executive buddies, and much more.

The Democrats' effort to make political hay from bad-mouthing the economy they've presided over for the past four years is nothing short of surreal. Their denunciation of cronyism when they are its primary practitioners is bizarre. Their portrayal of the worst economy since Jimmy Carter as a robust, job-creating marvel is delusional. Their vilification of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as hellbent on destroying entitlement programs -- for which they have presented credible, workable plans to save and strengthen and for which Obama would surely destroy by obstructing Republican plans and offering none of his own -- is patently offensive.

We are witnessing the Twilight Zone, not the TV series, not the feature-length movie but an entire week of jaw-dropping unreality.

Don't get too worked up over this, though, because, in the end, the American people are too savvy to buy into the illusions. No number of words could change what they know they're experiencing -- the assault on our values, the smothering of the private sector, the destruction of our economy and our impending national bankruptcy.

SOURCE

**************************

ELSEWHERE

Texas raises speed limit to 85 mph: Other states could, too: "Texas' new highest-in-the-nation speed limit - 85 mph on a 41-mile stretch of toll road between Austin and San Antonio -- could mean that other states will soon see higher speed limits, experts say. The Texas Transportation Commission approved the new speed limit on Aug. 30; the first section of the toll road opens later this year"

The hope of freedom in the American character: "On the eve of World War I, British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey stated, 'The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.' The lamps or lights were freedom and peace. Grey did not see them again. Today the lights are going out all over America. Many people are sick at heart about the future of freedom, and understandably so. But there is no need to live in darkness."

Collective bargaining: Mythical right turned constitutional in Michigan?: "Everyone knows that our Founding Fathers’ primary motive during the revolution was to preserve collective bargaining for the carriage industries. That as Washington crossed the Delaware he was shouting, 'Save collective bargaining, Christian soldiers!' Natch. But this is what labor unions in Michigan would have you believe."

***************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

American politics sinks to moron level

A clear message from the Democrat convention is that it is a basic human right to have someone else pay for your contraception. Never in any other place or in any other time in history has such an idea been proposed. It clearly shows that the "market" of the Democratic party is the lower IQ end of the population plus those who are capable of entertaining ideas that only an intellectual would believe in -- JR

***********************

Left Behind



According to a new poll by The Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C., 54 percent of likely voters believe President Obama does not deserve another term based on his economic record. With rising gas prices once again punishing working Americans and with fear in the air over unemployment, there is a very good chance that Obama will join Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush as a one-term president.

And if Obama goes down, so does the liberal movement in America, which has made great strides over the past three and a half years. Consider the following developments:

--Gay marriage is now accepted by most folks.

--"Medical marijuana" is openly sold in many cities to people with no maladies whatsoever.

--Anyone who opposes abortion can be categorized as biased against women.

--Successful Americans and prosperous small-business owners are not paying their "fair share" in taxes.

--And you are racist if you oppose Obama's liberal political viewpoint.

In addition, nearly half of American households are now receiving government benefits, but if you want to control entitlements, you are anti-poor. Almost 50 million folks are receiving food stamps, and a record amount of workers are filing for disability payments.

The federal colossus in Washington is reaching into every area of American life even as Obama has increased the debt by more than $5 trillion in less than four years. This is liberal nirvana: a big-spending central government dispensing "social justice" and calling many shots in the free marketplace. Soon the feds will control the health care industry.

Of course, the results of the left-wing blitz have been disastrous. The economy is moribund, with banks refusing to lend capital for expansion because they fear business failure. Our currency is tottering because the USA has to borrow billions of dollars every day in order to service debt. And employers are loath to hire because they don't know how Obamacare will affect their bottom line.

You would think the left would take a look at the chaos in Europe and slow down a bit. Not happening. If you watched the Democratic convention coverage, you heard some incredible stuff. Sandra Fluke and her crew not only want you to pay for female birth control; they also want you to pay for "transgender medical needs." That means if Harry meets Sally, and they want to switch genders through expensive surgical procedures, the American taxpayer gets the bill. And if you oppose that, you are a bigot.

I believe most Americans are uneasy with the liberal direction even if they are not fully convinced it is at stage three. But it is. The USA is on the verge of becoming a combination of Greece and Sweden, where almost anything goes and fiscal responsibility is a joke. If the president wins reelection, this country will continue to undergo a radical social and economic upheaval.

But if Obama loses, the liberal movement in America will be dealt a crushing blow. That's what's at stake on November 6th.

SOURCE

****************************

The Democrats' Soft Extremism

Peggy Noonan

Barack Obama is deeply overexposed and often boring. He never seems to be saying what he's thinking. His speech Thursday was weirdly anticlimactic. There's too much buildup, the crowd was tired, it all felt flat. He was somber, and his message was essentially banal: We've done better than you think. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

There were many straw men. There were phrases like "the shadow of a shuttered steel mill," which he considers writerly. But they sound empty and practiced now, like something you've heard in a commercial or an advertising campaign. It was stale and empty. He's out of juice.

Beneath the funny hats, the sweet-faced delegates, the handsome speakers and the babies waving flags there was something disquieting. All three days were marked by a kind of soft, distracted extremism. It was unshowy and unobnoxious but also unsettling.

There was the relentless emphasis on Government as Community, as the thing that gives us spirit and makes us whole. But government isn't what you love if you're American, America is what you love. Government is what you have, need and hire. Its most essential duties—especially when it is bankrupt—involve defending rights and safety, not imposing views and values. We already have values. Democrats and Republicans don't see all this the same way, and that's fine—that's what national politics is, the working out of this dispute in one direction or another every few years. But the Democrats convened in Charlotte seemed more extreme on the point, more accepting of the idea of government as the center of national life, than ever, at least to me.

The fight over including a single mention of God in the platform—that was extreme. The original removal of the single mention by the platform committee—extreme. The huge "No!" vote on restoring the mention of God, and including the administration's own stand on Jerusalem—that wasn't liberal, it was extreme. Comparing the Republicans to Nazis—extreme. The almost complete absence of a call to help education by facing down the powers that throw our least defended children under the school bus—this was extreme, not mainstream.

The sheer strangeness of all the talk about abortion, abortion, contraception, contraception. I am old enough to know a wedge issue when I see one, but I've never seen a great party build its entire public persona around one. Big speeches from the heads of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, HHS Secretary and abortion enthusiast Kathleen Sebelius and, of course, Sandra Fluke.

"Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception," Ms. Fluke said. But why would anyone have included a Georgetown law student who never worked her way onto the national stage until she was plucked, by the left, as a personable victim?

What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they're not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That's not a stand, it's a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool.

And she was one of the great faces of the party in Charlotte. That is extreme. Childish, too.

Something else, and it had to do with tone. I remember the Republicans in Tampa bashing the president, hard, but not the entire Democratic Party. In Charlotte they bashed Mitt Romney, but they bashed the Republican Party harder. If this doesn't strike you as somewhat unsettling, then you must want another four years of all war all the time between the parties. I don't think the American people want that. Because, actually, they're not extreme.

More HERE

**********************

The Clinton speech

All agreed he'd done what he'd needed to do: turn those Republicans every way but loose. And explain that prosperity was just around the corner, to borrow a phrase from Herbert Hoover. His self-absorption didn't prevent Bill Clinton from inundating his audience with facts-'n'-figures and general fun with numbers. He would need all that wonktalk to make the two basic numbers for this administration go away: An unemployment rate still above 8 percent after almost four years in office, and a national debt that topped $16 trillion just as this convention was getting under way.

For a time, listening to Bill Clinton with an open if not empty mind, with the kind of willing suspension of disbelief that any poetic flight requires of its listeners, with a concentrated effort and a mighty pull, folks might forget those two basic, looming unforgettable numbers. Almost. But even when they do, the queasy feeling those big, bad numbers generate won't go away. It's a feeling of dissatisfaction, of general unease. In the gut.

The suspicion that the country has been headed in the wrong direction has been hardening into a conviction. And it's hard to talk people out of what they feel. Bill Clinton is enough of a politician, more than enough, to recognize that feeling, and respond to it. The nub of his response:
"President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President -- not me or any of my predecessors -- could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving, and if you'll renew the President's contract you will feel it."

Bill Clinton's knowledge of history is as reliable as ever, that is, not very. The historian, or at least the good one, knows better than to make sweeping generalizations that sweep the exceptions under the nearest rug. "(N)ot me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years."

The biggest bulge under that rhetorical rug is the remarkable, the historic, turnaround in the American economy that came to be known as the Reagan Recovery -- for within four years it had repaired the damage of the Carter Years, which was one heck of a lot.

How did the Gipper do it? By following policies that in retrospect sound remarkably like the ones a current presidential candidate is now advocating, and his name isn't Barack Obama.

How sum up the course Ronald Reagan and his merry band of supply-siders chose at a time when their ideas, too, were being ridiculed as unworkable? "An amiable dunce," Clark Clifford called Ronald Reagan at the onset of his presidency, and Clark Clifford was supposed to know. He was the Wise Old Man of the Democratic Party at the time and had been for years. Today that honorary post is held by Bill Clinton, who says of Mitt Romney's ideas: "The numbers don't add up."

One of the Wise Old Men in Washington who really is a wise old man is George Shultz, the former secretary of labor, director of the Office of Management and Budget, secretary of the Treasury, secretary of state and former just about everything else in the Reagan administration. Here's how he explains the Reagan Recovery, 1981-84:
"When Ronald Reagan took office, inflation was in the teens, the prime rate was in the 20s, and the economy was going nowhere. We still had the remnants of wage and price controls, particularly in oil and gas. And Jimmy Carter said we were in malaise. It was a bad time. I'm convinced the economy can be turned around because I watched Ronald Reagan do it. . . . It took long-term thinking. I'll give you an example. (Reagan) knew and we all advised him you can't have a decent economy with the kind of inflation we've got. . . . And he held a political umbrella over (Federal Reserve Chairman) Paul Volcker, and Paul did what needed to be done. And by late '82 early '83, inflation was under control, the tax changes that he made were kicking in, and the economy took off." And it was morning in America again.

Can it be again? Or is this the best we can do? The best that America can do? That's the essential question being debated in this year's presidential election. Shall we hold to this course and hope for the best? Or strike out anew? With a new captain and a new crew and new hope. We the People will supply the answer November 6, 2012.

SOURCE

*************************

Obama minions: Gov't 'can override your religion'

Court brief says corporations not allowed to reflect faith of their owners

The Obama administration today argued in court that the government can make a requirement that violates religious beliefs and that a company cannot reflect the religious faith of its owners.

The administration’s statements came in a court filing that asserts the federal government has the authority to order private companies to provide abortifacients for their employees.

A case against the order was brought by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Legatus, the nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business leaders, and Weingartz Supply and its owner.

The Department of Justice attorneys argued the challenge by Weingartz Supply Company and its owners “rests largely on the theory that a self-described secular corporation established to sell outdoor power equipment can claim to exercise religion and thereby avoid the reach of laws designed to regulate commercial activity.” “This cannot be.”

The federal attorneys – Stuart F. Delery, Barbara L. McQaude, Sheila M. Lieber, Michelle Bennett and Ethan P. Davis – are arguing in federal court in Michigan against a request for a preliminary injunction that would prevent the enforcement of an Obamacare mandate requiring employers to provide such abortifacients through health programs for employees.

The plaintiffs argue that the federal order conflicts with the U.S. Constitution by requiring them to violate their religious faith.

The Michigan case is just one of dozens nationwide that raise similar issues.

Much more HERE

*************************

The last functioning synagogue in Egypt has been closed

It's rare for me to have difficulty writing an article given the fact that I concentrate on Israel, the Middle East, terrorism and Islam. However when something news worthy occurs, but no news outlets report it, it is almost impossible.

That unfortunately was the case with this story, it took me more time to try and track it down than it did to write it.

What I found most surprising is that the story of the closure of Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt was not even on the website "Historical Society of Jews from Egypt", but then again, the latest post on their website was from February 2012 and given the current situation in Egypt perhaps it is understandable.

Up until the 1940s, as many as 80,000 Jews lived in Egypt, significantly contributing to the country culturally and economically. But after the birth of Israel in 1948, and in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli wars, thousands of Jews fled Egypt. The shuls (synagogues) were sold, torn down and built over or locked up. Today, there are fewer than fifty Jews-most of whom are intermarried, elderly and poor-left in all of Egypt. Insecure and afraid, the few Jews left are careful not to draw attention to themselves.

I would not have heard the story of the closing of the last synagogue in Egypt had it not been brought to my attention by my friend Rabbi Aryel Nachman. It originally appeared in "Frontpage Mag" on August 31, 2012. Yet, every other story I could find on this was just a regurgitation of the Frontpage story,

The history of this synagogue is truly amazing; it is the largest in the Middle East and the way it stands today is from a rebuilding in the mid-19th century. Before its last rebuilding it had been destroyed twice; the last time under the decree of Napoleon. It was later repaired by an Italian architect and financed by members of the local Jewish community together with Sir Moses Montefiore.

But the importance of this synagogue goes far beyond its historical value; this was the last remaining functioning synagogue in Egypt. Now the Jews that have remained there no longer have a place of worship other than their own homes. This is more of the new "Democratic" government and what the so called "Arab Spring" has brought us thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood and the likes of the new Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi.

The fact is Anti-Semitism is on the rise from Europe to the U.S. and the Muslim countries are doing what they do best... Not allowing other religions to even exist...

With the closing of the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue we see the end of over 2000 years of Judaism in Egypt. The Jews have been shut out regardless of how many may remain, the Coptic Christians there are being murdered for their beliefs and all the while the world stands and applauds the exciting new Arab Spring Democracy.

More HERE

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

***************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

Denialist Democrats

The party of government refuses to even entertain the possibility that we can no longer afford it



What was your favorite unintentionally revealing moment of Tuesday night's kickoff of the Democratic National Convention? Was it the welcome-to-Charlotte video whose narrator let slip that "government is the only thing that we all belong to"? Perhaps Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's exhortation to "make the will of the people the law of the land"? Or former Ohio gov. Ted Strickland's thunderous, populist twaddle about "economic patriotism"?

All of these were fun, but for me the biggest direct reveal of how current Democratic rhetoric leads to bad public policy was one of the evening's honorary former Republicans, Cincinnati firefighter Doug Stern. "The Republican Party left people like me," Stern complained. "Somewhere along the way, being a public employee—someone who works for my community—made me a scapegoat for the GOP. Thank goodness we have leaders like President Obama and Vice President Biden who still believe that public service is an honorable calling."

It was classic major-party Manicheasm: Eastasians do bad things for the simple reason that their hearts are bad; Eurasians' hearts are good, so they don't do bad things.

In this idyllic landscape of Democratic magical thinking, there is no state and local budget crises, no unaffordable and underfunded defined-benefit public pension obligations, nothing at all standing in the way of "investing" in our public safety, except (in ex-Republican Stern's words) "right-wing extremists." Vallejo, California is not bankrupt because of public employee pensions, and the rest of the state is not following suit. It's a hell of a place, this Democrat-land. Wish I could live there.

Last night's speeches were notable less for what they contained and more for what they did not: any engagement with the issue of having a debt load (of $16 trillion) that is now larger than GDP, of having a long-forecasted entitlement time bomb marching northward toward 100 percent of federal spending, of having underfunded obligations in the trillions of dollars promised by politicians addicted to handing out "free" benefits.

"If you want to get America back to work, you don't fire cops, teachers, nurses and firefighters. You invest in them," said Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.). It really is that simple. Keynote speaker and mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro offered a similarly basic formula: Spend Invest more money on education, and education will improve. It's worked so well up to now.

"We have to come together and invest in opportunity today for prosperity tomorrow," Castro said, in a speech long on policy banality. "We know that you can't be pro-business unless you're pro-education." And we know that you can't be "pro-education" unless your idea of education policy involves spending more money on it.

Virginia Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley summed up this worldview succinctly, in a question to Republican nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: "How much less, do you really think, would be good for our country? How much less education would be good for our children?" When you are unbounded by spending restraints, government budgets can be boiled down to a simple question: How much, at long last, do you care?

What makes last night's fiscal denialism even more appalling was that many of the speakers themselves have had to fight tooth and nail with public sector unions over compensation and work rules. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel outraged police and fire unions by tackling pension reform and pointing out that "city government is not an employment agency." Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former labor leader, has called teachers unions an "unwavering roadblock to reform." Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been there as well. Needless to say, such talk was absent from the podium last night.

One of the great ironies of this convention already is that speaker after speaker denounces Republicans for being unable to tell the truth or get their facts straight. Meanwhile, one of the most important truths of modern governance—we are well and truly out of money—sits neglected in the corner. This might be a great way to rally the Democratic base, but it's thin gruel for the majority of Americans who think, correctly, that the nation's finances have spun out of control.

SOURCE

***************************

Regulations bar upward mobility

Let's pretend that we have the political guts to expand economic opportunities for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum. What vested interests should be attacked, and what economic regulations should be targeted for elimination?

It doesn't take a lot of money to become a taxi owner-operator and earn more than $40,000 a year. One needs a car, an insurance policy and ancillary interior equipment to make a car a taxi. In New York City, to be a taxi owner you'd have to purchase a license – called a medallion – that in June 2012 cost $704,000. New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission restrictions that generate such a license price outlaw taxi ownership by people who don't have access to a $704,000 loan. By contrast, in Washington, D.C., the annual fee for a license to own a taxi is $125. I'll let you guess which city has more taxis per capita, cheaper fares and more black taxi ownership.

For decades, the Institute for Justice has been successfully bringing suit against egregious taxi regulations. Last year, it filed suit, Ghaleb Ibrahim v. City of Milwaukee. In Milwaukee, a taxi license costs $150,000. The suit will be argued before the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in December 2012.

Taxi regulations such as those in New York, Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston and other cities just didn't happen. There are people with vested interests who benefit from keeping outsiders out and therefore enrich both companies with large fleets and single taxi owners at the expense of would-be owners and the riding public through higher prices.

Suppose you are affiliated with a poor congregation and wish to sell them caskets as did the Rev. Nathaniel Craigmiles. Casket retailers neither perform funerals nor handle dead bodies, but the state of Tennessee required anyone selling caskets to be a licensed funeral director, which takes years of costly training, including learning how to embalm. The Institute for Justice brought suit, Craigmiles v. Giles, and successfully got the law repealed. The institute has attacked and is attacking similar regulations in other states.

What kind of money does it take to get into the business of African-style hair braiding? The main inputs are the skills and a place in which to braid. However, in some states – such as Utah, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and California – a person had to spend thousands of dollars in tuition and anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 hours at a cosmetology school to obtain a beautician's license. Safety is not an issue, because African-style braiders do not use chemicals, shave or give facials. Most of what's in cosmetology school curricula is irrelevant to hair braiding. As a result of Institute for Justice lawsuits on behalf of hair braiders, a number of restrictive state licensing laws have been struck down or repealed by state legislators under the threat of suits. Nonetheless, hair braiding restrictions remain in some states.

As I have documented in my recent book "Race and Economics" (2012), historically, occupational licensing and economic regulation have been used to keep blacks out of particular trades. For example, the Plumbers, Gas and Steam Fitters Official Journal, in January 1905, wrote, "There are about 10 Negro skate plumbers working around here (Danville, Va.), doing quite a lot of jobbing and repairing, but owing to the fact of not having an examination board (licensing agency) it is impossible to stop them, hence the anxiety of the men here to organize." Black scholars Lorenzo Greene and Carter G. Woodson said, "A favorite method of barring (Negroes) from plumbing and electrical work was to install a system of unfair examinations which were conducted by whites."

Today we don't hear racist intentions for restrictive economic regulations and licensure laws, but the intentions behind those laws do not change their effects. Their effects are to prevent people with meager means and little political clout from getting a foothold on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. Politically, it's preferable to give handouts than attack these and many other vested interests.

SOURCE

***********************

Those who will not learn from the past .....

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

E.J. Dionne praises Elizabeth Warren for “presenting government Wednesday not as an officious meddler in people’s lives but as an ally of families determined to help their children rise. Government, Warren said, ‘gave the little guys a better chance to compete by preventing the big guys from rigging the markets’” (“Bill Clinton’s tutorial on the need for government,” Sept. 6).

Ignore here the countless ways that government does meddle in people’s lives not only officiously but also obnoxiously – actions such as rampant imprisonment of non-violent drug ‘offenders,’ hiking the cost of food through agricultural tariffs and other farm programs, and abuse of eminent domain to enrich large corporations with property confiscated from middle-class families.

Focus instead on the fact that Mr. Dionne’s “Progressive” view of government really isn’t so progressive. Its premise was known to, and rejected by, America’s founding generation. Here’s Thomas Paine:

“Almost everything appertaining to the circumstances of a nation, has been absorbed and confounded under the general and mysterious word government. Though it avoids taking to its account the errors it commits, and the mischiefs it occasions, it fails not to arrogate to itself whatever has the appearance of prosperity. It robs industry of its honours, by pedantically making itself the cause of its effects; and purloins from the general character of man, the merits that appertain to him as a social being.”*

Thomas Paine and America’s other founders were never so naïve about the essence of government – nor as incognizant about the nature of society – as are Prof. Warren and Mr. Dionne.

SOURCE

************************

Russia is bulking up its gold reserves

I can’t imagine it means anything cheerful that Vladimir Putin, the Russian czar, is stockpiling gold as fast as he can get his hands on it.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

Putin’s moves may matter to your finances, because there are two ways to look at gold.

On the one hand, it’s an investment that by most modern standards seems to make no sense. It generates no cash flow and serves no practical purpose. Warren Buffett has pointed out that we dig it out of one hole in the ground only to stick it in another, and anyone watching this from Mars would be very confused.

You can forget claims that it’s “real” money. There’s no such thing. Money is just an accounting device, a way of keeping track of how much each of us produces and consumes. Gold is a shiny and somewhat tacky looking metal that is malleable, durable and heavy. A recent research paper by Duke University’s Campbell Harvey and co-author Claude Erb raised serious questions about most of the arguments in favor of gold as an investment.

But there’s another way to look at gold: As the most liquid reserve in times of turmoil, or worse.

More HERE

It is perfectly clear why Putin is buying gold. The way the Fed has been printing gushers of new dollars all dollars have got to lose a lot of their buying power not far down the track. Gold is more likely to retain its buying power. I bought a reserve of gold years ago

************************

ELSEWHERE

Record 88,921,000 Americans ‘Not in Labor Force’—119,000 Fewer Employed in August Than July: "The number of Americans whom the U.S. Department of Labor counted as “not in the civilian labor force” in August hit a record high of 88,921,000. In July, there were 155,013,000 in the U.S. civilian labor force. In August that dropped to 154,645,000—meaning that on net 368,000 people simply dropped out of the labor force last month and did not even look for a job. There were also 119,000 fewer Americans employed in August than there were in July. In July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 142,220,000 Americans working. But, in August, there were only 142,101,000 Americans working."

Norris: “1,000 years of darkness” if Obama wins: "A video released this weekend by action movie hero Chuck Norris claims that America faces '1,000 years of darkness' if President Barack Obama is reelected. 'If we look to history, our great country and freedom are under attack,' Norris warns, standing next to his wife. 'We’re at a tipping point and, quite possibly, our country as we know it may be lost forever if we don’t change the course in which our country is headed.' The pair go on to explain that Obama won in 2008 because more than 30 million evangelical Christians stayed home on Election Day."

Canada: Separatist party wins power in Quebec: "A separatist party won power in the French-speaking province of Quebec on Tuesday night, but another referendum to break away from Canada isn't expected any time soon after the party failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who becomes Quebec's first female premier, replaces Liberal Jean Charest, Quebec's leader for nearly a decade."

Israeli “skunk” fouls West Bank protests: "Imagine taking a chunk of rotting corpse from a stagnant sewer, placing it in a blender and spraying the filthy liquid in your face. Your gag reflex goes off the charts and you can't escape, because the nauseating stench persists for days. This is 'skunk,' a fearsome but non-lethal tool in Israel's arsenal of weapons for crowd control. It comes in armored tanker trucks fitted with a cannon that can spray a jet of stinking fluid over crowds who know how to cope with plain old tear gas. While the army calls skunk an attempt to minimize casualties, rights groups dismiss it as a fig-leaf for the use of deadlier force against protesters in the occupied West Bank."

Why liberals should love low taxes: "You can say two things for certain about modern liberals -- they love spending government (read: your) money, and they hate the wealthy. Which makes the liberal loathing of low taxes especially baffling. For the truth of the matter is that lower tax rates often bring in more, not less, revenue for the federal government. And when they do, that revenue is overwhelmingly plucked from the pockets of the 'millionaires and billionaires' whom liberals constantly decry."

TSA: Keeping America safe … from Ron Paul?: "Congressman Ron Paul, of course, famously introduced the 'American Traveler Dignity Act' to rein in this unaccountable agency and its goons; while his son, Senator Rand Paul, has similarly vocally led the charge to abolish the TSA .... Yesterday, TSA took its revenge, detaining and demanding a thorough search of the Paul family and plane, over the objections of their pilot."

NH cleared by feds to implement new voter ID law: "The U.S. Department of Justice has cleared the way for the state to implement its new voter identification law for the upcoming elections. New Hampshire is among a group of states, including Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, that are required under the Voting Rights Act of 1964 to submit any election law changes to the Department of Justice for review to determine whether they would result in racial discrimination."

DNC: Less hope, more “rope-a-dope”: "The Democratic National Convention, held in Charlotte, N.C., is playing out as scripted this week. It was good to see that the Democrats chose the U.S. as the host country for their event again this year, narrowly defeating bids from France and Venezuela. ... The size and scope of the DNC had to be scaled back considerably. At first the Dems thought they needed the Charlotte Motor Speedway, capacity 165,000, to hold all of Obama's loving fans. When they realized that the 'mainstream' press corps is not that big, they looked for smaller venues."

***************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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

Sabbath



7 September, 2012

Akhnaten and Moses -- a connection?

The first monotheist known to secular history was the "heretical" Egyptian Pharaoh Akhnaten. To him the sun was the only God. When he died all his temples were torn down and much was done to erase his memory. Traditional Egyptian polytheism resumed.

So what about those Egyptians who had accepted Akhnaten's religion -- which after all was a pretty commonsense one -- You could see the sun moving about and feel its importance? The presence of other gods was much less evident.

So it is reasonable to believe that the Akhnaten cult was hard to erase and many true believers might have remained. Such believers would however be seen as a threat to the restored state religion and would no doubt have been persecuted.

And at the height of the persecution might they not have fled Egypt across the Sinai and into lands out of the immediate control of the Pharaohs -- Pharaohs who would indoubtedly have been weakened by the Akhnaten episode. And might they not have been led by a priest of Akhnaten named Moses?

So I wonder why the Israelites of old are not generally seen as remnants of the Akhnaten cult? The dates are reasonably close. Some put the Akhnaten cult before the Biblical exodus and some put it after. But both Biblical and Egyptian chronology contain considerable uncertainties so there is no real chronological reason to exclude the hypothesis. And one might note that the troubles of the Israelites in Egypt began when a "new king" came to power (Exodus 1:8).

The main reason for not making the identification would be that the Israeli God is not a sun God. He is more a personal God whom Moses and his assistant used to meet face-to-face (Exodus 33:11) and who was handy with stone carving and who thought it was very important to cook a young goat the right way (Exodus 34:1-26). But this personalization of the Deity (by Moses?) and giving him a personal name (Yahweh/Jehovah -- See Psalms 83:18) was a normal thing among the people of the times so I don't really see that as a major difficulty. That monotheism should have arisen in two neigbouring places at roughly the same time seems more than a coincidence to me. So am I alone these days in thinking that? I seem to be almost alone. Sigmund Freud mentioned the theory back in the '30s but it does not seem to have caught on. Though there is a slightly different exploration of it here.

I can understand that believers in the literal interpretation of the Bible might object to my account as the Biblical account is very detailed and yet has no mention of a monotheistic Pharaoh. But most historians of the period are not Biblical fundamentalists so it is their silence which rather puzzles me.

Even many Christians who see the Bible as inspirational history rather than literal history should, it seems to me, find an independent record of the emergence of monotheism in roughly the same time and place as useful (if broad) confirmation of one of the foundational event of Israel's history.

Just in passing, I note that it is fairly clear that the Torah is not literal history. As Wikipedia says:

"According to Exodus 12:37-38, the Israelites numbered "about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children," plus many non-Israelites and livestock. Numbers 1:46 gives a more precise total of 603,550. The 600,000, plus wives, children, the elderly, and the "mixed multitude" of non-Israelites would have numbered some 2 million people, compared with an entire Egyptian population in 1250 BCE of around 3 to 3.5 million. Marching ten abreast, and without accounting for livestock, they would have formed a line 150 miles long. No evidence has been found that indicates Egypt ever suffered such a demographic and economic catastrophe or that the Sinai desert ever hosted (or could have hosted) these millions of people and their herds." -- for 40 years at that.

I would see the numbers given as a way of stressing that Moses had a big following.

*************************

Israel has much at stake in the November election

Yes. We're still talking about Israel -- about 3,000 years later. It's almost enough to make you religious

"President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus." That's what Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president, said in the high-profile speech accepting his party's nomination last week, repeating a slang phrase for sacrificing a friend for selfish reasons that he had deployed before, for example in May 2011 and Jan. 2012. This criticism of Obama fits a persistent Republican critique. Specifically, several other recent presidential candidates used or endorsed the same "bus" formulation vis-à-vis Obama and Israel, including Herman Cain in May 2011, Rick Perry in Sept. 2011, Newt Gingrich in Jan. 2012, and Rick Santorum in Feb. 2012.

These Republican attacks on Obama's relations with Israel have several important implications for U.S. foreign policy. First, out of the many Middle East-related issues, Israel, and Israel alone, retains a permanent role in U.S. electoral politics, influencing how a significant numbers of voters - not just Jews but also Arabs, Muslims, Evangelical Christians, conservatives and liberals – vote for president.

Second, attitudes toward Israel serve as a proxy for views toward other Middle Eastern issues: If I know your views on Israel, I have a good idea about your thinking on such topics as energy policy, Islamism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, AKP-led Turkey, the Iranian nuclear build-up, intervention in Libya, the Mohamed Morsi presidency in Egypt, and the Syrian civil war.

Third, the Republican criticism of Obama points to a sea change in what determines attitudes toward Israel. Religion was once the key, with Jews the ardent Zionists and Christians less engaged. Today, in contrast, the determining factor is political outlook. To discern someone's views on Israel, the best question to ask is not "What is your religion?" but "Who do you want for president?" As a rule, conservatives feel more warmly toward Israel and liberals more coolly. Polls show conservative Republicans to be the most ardent Zionists, followed by Republicans in general, followed by independents, Democrats, and lastly liberal Democrats. Yes, Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, also said, in Sept. 2011, that Obama "threw Israel under the bus," but Koch, 87, represents the fading old guard of the Democratic party. The difference between the parties in the Arab-Israeli conflict is becoming as deep as their differences on the economy or on cultural issues.

Fourth, as Israel increasingly becomes an issue dividing Democrats from Republicans, I predict a reduction of the bipartisan support for Israel that has provided Israel a unique status in U.S. politics and sustained organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. I also predict that Romney and Paul Ryan, as mainstream conservatives, will head an administration that will be the warmest ever to Israel, far surpassing the administrations of both Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. Contrarily, should Obama be re-elected, the coldest treatment of Israel ever by a U.S. president will follow.

Obama's constipated record of the past 3½ years vis-à-vis Israel on such topics as the Palestinians and Iran leads to this conclusion; but so does what we know about his record before he entered high electoral politics in 2004, especially his associations with radical anti-Zionists. For example, Obama worshipfully listened to Edward Said in May 1998 and sat quietly by at a going-away party in 2003 for former PLO flack Rashid Khalidi as Israel was accused of terrorism against Palestinians. (In contrast, Romney has been friends with Binyamin Netanyahu since 1976.)

Also revealing is what Ali Abunimah, a Chicago-based anti-Israel extremist, wrote about his last conversation with Obama in early 2004, as the latter was in the midst of a primary campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Abunimah wrote that Obama warmly greeted him and then added: "Hey, I'm sorry I haven't said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I'm hoping when things calm down I can be more up front." More: referring to Abunimah's attacks on Israel in the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere, Obama encouraged him with "Keep up the good work!"

When one pus this in the context of what Obama said off-mike to then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in March 2012 ("This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility"), it would be wise to assume that, if Obama wins on Nov. 6, things will "calm down" for him and he finally can "be more up front" about so-called Palestine. Then Israel's troubles will really begin.

SOURCE

***********************

The Charlotte Democrats

Hope and change have given way to a grim determination

The Democrats gathering in Charlotte this week are united behind President Obama but more than a little nervous about their November prospects. The thrill of 2008 is gone, replaced by an almost grim determination. The party of hope and change has become the party of grind-it-out, slug-it-out, and hope to win as less awful than Mitt Romney.

This isn't the way it was supposed to be. The Obama Presidency was going to usher in a new era of long-term Democratic dominance, and the circumstances to make it happen were on their side. Democrats took power in a recession they could pin on Republicans, knowing they could take credit for the inevitable economic recovery and ride that to re-election. Young people went for them 2 to 1 and might have been loyal for decades. It all might have worked had they made the economy their priority.

But this misjudges the modern Democratic Party. Four years ago in Denver, we wrote that the country deserved to know that the Democrats who would really be running the country in 2009 would be named Henry Waxman, John Dingell, John Conyers, David Obey, George Miller, Barney Frank and James Oberstar. Those were—and mostly still are—the liberal barons of the House.

They weren't about to let a crisis go to waste, and so they went about using their accidentally large majorities to drive through a generation of pent-up liberal legislation. Mr. Obama famously let them write the stimulus and health-care bills. Republicans were helpless to stop them for two years. Liberals got nearly everything they wanted—which is what may be their ultimate undoing.

Democrats of the Obama era are united by cultural liberalism, but above all else they agree on the goal of expanding the reach of government. The Democratic Leadership Council, the centrist idea shop of the Clinton years, is moribund. The vanguard of ideas for the Obama White House is the Center for American Progress, which churns out proposals for government to mediate every sphere of economic life.

In this view, the entire American economy is a giant market failure—except perhaps Silicon Valley. Health-care costs can be controlled by dictating prices and medical practice. The climate can be controlled by putting coal out of business and subsidizing wind, solar and ethanol. Wall Street can be controlled by more rules and hanging the occasional banker in the public square as an example.

Most important, government spending can conjure private growth by "investing" in whatever seems like a good idea. So taxes must rise and rise again to pay for these "investments."

The same priorities prevail, by the way, in the rare states where Democrats still dominate. While a wave of GOP Governors elected in 2010 have been reforming government, Democrats in Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut and California are bent on protecting every corner of government they can. The first three have raised taxes enormously, and Jerry Brown is desperate to get voter approval in November so he can raise the top income-tax rate in California to 13.3%.

There are very few Chris Christie Democrats. The closest might be Andrew Cuomo in New York, but his productive first year has given way to status-quo accommodations to unions on school and pension reform and a tax increase. This reflects today's Democratic coalition, which is dominated by affluent cultural liberals, voters who depend on government, and especially public-employee unions.

Here and there in the hinterlands, you can see a glimpse of new Democratic thinking. Gloria Romero in California wants to reduce the power of teachers unions, and treasurer Gina Raimondo dared to rein in public pension benefits in Rhode Island. Even President Obama sometimes sounds like a reformer on education, until election years when he resorts to proposing more federal spending to hire more teachers.

But those reform voices won't be anywhere in evidence in Charlotte, where the message will be four more years of more of the same. The main theme is to preserve the government that Democrats have expanded. Democrats made a generational bet in 2009-2010 that the country was ready to be yanked sharply to the left, and they know that nearly all of their grand ambitions will be undone if Mr. Obama loses.

Yet the liberals who dominate the party believe that if Mr. Obama wins, however narrowly, their gamble will have been a great success. They may have lost the House in 2010, and perhaps they'll lose the Senate this year, but those can be won back.

Meanwhile, ObamaCare won't be repealed, its subsidies will start to flow in 2014, and then another huge chunk of the private economy and voting public will be dependent on the government for decades to come. Nancy Pelosi will take her bows as an icon of the entitlement state.

Thus the frowning resolve to grind out a victory by whatever means possible. It's hardly an optimistic vision and it's far from commanding the oceans, but if Democrats win, what you've seen is what you'll get.

SOURCE

*************************

Democrats Won't Admit Their Side Lies

"They lie, and they don't care if people think they lie," California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton told reporter Joe Garofoli before a state delegation breakfast Monday. Burton even brought up that "as long as you lie, Joseph Goebbels, the big lie, you keep repeating it, you know."

First off, Nazi analogies are obnoxious; they trivialize Adolf Hitler's atrocities. For his part, Burton is not above spewing hate himself. In a radio interview, he told KCBS' Doug Sovern that Republicans are likely to take his remarks as a compliment. Later in the day, Burton issued a statement that stipulated he never said the word "Nazi" and included an apology "if" he offended anyone.

Secondly, there's something annoying about Democrats' apparent belief that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been untruthful but that their side has not. Never their side.

Nonsense. Addressing the Faith Council at the Charlotte Convention Center, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., told a whopper when she insisted that Romney and Ryan believe "we should give more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires -- more tax breaks to people who are already doing really well -- and make sure that they can do even better and have the middle class and working families pay for those tax breaks."

Where does this silly charge originate? On Aug. 1, the Tax Policy Center came out with a report that said Romney's tax proposals "would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers."

Here's the problem: The Tax Policy Center report starts with the caveat, "We do not score Governor Romney's plan directly, as certain components of his plan are not specified in sufficient detail." Analysts made a number of assumptions, also known as guesses.

They ignored the fact that Romney wants to cut everyone's taxes by 20 percent, not raise them. The analysts purposefully and explicitly ignored Romney's pledge to cut federal spending. Then they jumped on the most impossible-to-imagine scenario of Romney's approving a tax increase on the majority of American workers -- with the help of a spineless Congress, no less.

Now, I agree that Romney's blurry economic plan -- which promises a tax rate reduction paid for by eliminating as yet unspecified tax deductions -- has the dangerous potential to increase the deficit. That's my concern with the Romney tax package. Of course, I have much bigger concerns on that score with President Barack Obama.

Wasserman Schultz has cover for her charge: She can cite fact check groups such as the Tax Policy Center because it laid out its assumptions, and given its assumptions, its scenario works. But a politician of her acumen knows that a Romney White House would not pass a big tax increase on to middle-class voters. Romney doesn't want to do it. Likewise Congress, where pols of both stripes nurse an abiding fear of incurring the wrath of American voters.

Then again, as Burton said of the Republicans, operatives can be "very cynical." And: "They do not care about the truth."

SOURCE

***************************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

The pestiferous new interface at blogger.com

Most readers here will be unaware of what we bloggers have to put up with when we use blogging programs. The program that produces this blog is a tentacle of Google called blogger.com. In recent months, Blogger.com have been converting us bloggers to a new shiny all-singing, all-dancing interface for their program.

It is a dog. I can find nothing good in it. It is much less convenient than the interface it replaces.

My biggest beef is what happens when you look at what you have put up and want to go back and change something in your html. You cannot. All your html has been interpreted and does not appear in your edit window as you wrote it. You can try to fiddle around with it but the easiest way to make alterations to your html is to delete everything, go back to your offline copy of the post, alter that and then reload everything. What was once a simple change to one tiny bit of html is now a delete and reload of the whole post! Absurd. Fortunately I rarely get my html wrong so I usually have to do only one delete and reload for a particular post.

There are other infelicities in the new interface that force you into roundabout procedures but if they stopped interpreting what appears in the edit window my main gripe would be fixed.

Best of all would be if they kept the old interface permanently available to those of us who prefer it. But I suppose that would wound their pride in their new abomination of an interface.

I also have a Wordpress blog and in it they will not interpret some of your html at all! You can't win.




Discrimination? Beck Details ‘Subhuman’ Treatment He Received on American Airlines & in NYC This Weekend‏

Leftist hate seen at work below. Conservatives disturb Leftists deep in their bones because conservative speech threatens to pop the comfortable little bubbles of illusion that Leftists live in

Over the Labor Day weekend, Glenn Beck traveled with his wife and children to New York City. What he likely thought would be a relaxing trip ended up offering him and his family a few, not-so-pleasant surprises.

Among them, Beck highlighted the horrific treatment he received at local restaurants and a troubling interaction he had with an American Airlines employee — an individual whom the radio host said treated him as though he were “subhuman.”

The incidents, he said, reminded him why he had left New York City. The examples, which were purportedly based upon Beck’s views on social and political issues, were disturbing. While at a barbecue restaurant, he said, “The look that I was given by those in charge at this restaurant was, ‘how dare you even come in here.’” But, the negative treatment he encountered didn’t end there.

“The next morning we had breakfast in the heart of the land of diversity,” Beck recalled. “I was openly mocked by the patrons, and my wife was begging to leave as she heard the wait staff and management gasp in horror that they actually had to serve me. Lunch was no different.”

Beck said that New York, though he believes it is “one of the greatest cities in America,“ has become ”a very vile and hateful place, if you happen to have a different opinion.” But, his problems didn’t end on the ground. During an American Airlines flight, the popular host encountered similar hostility.

“I want to personally thank American Airlines for bringing to my attention that they don’t mean ‘American Airlines — they mean ‘liberal American Airlines’ apparently,” Beck said, while discussing the incident.

Beck went on to provide his detailed exchange with a flight attendant who seemingly went out of his way to treat him with malice. While this man was purportedly kind to others on the flight, he barked “breakfast” at Beck and slammed a soda down on his tray (and those are only two examples).

“Never once did he look me in the eye. Never once did he offer a kind or even a neutral word to me,” Beck said. “I had service unlike I have never had ever before in my life, and I have had rude service before. I lived in New York City.”

Beck maintained that he had never experienced service that was “specifically designed to make me feel subhuman.” The host described how the attendant loudly told other passengers his life story — about how he was a former Israeli soldier and that he truly values the very liberal cities that exist in America. Clearly, these were details that were spouted as digs aimed at Beck.

Later, the host described how the man reacted when Beck thanked him for treating his children well, despite the flight attendant’s subpar treatment of Beck:

“While he treated me as a subhuman, he treated my children nicely. So as I was deplaning, as he was standing next to the pilot, I said to him, ‘I want to sincerely thank you for not treating my children the way you treated me.’ His response? ‘It was my pleasure. You deserved it.’ The pilot didn’t say anything, nor did the other passengers, but they probably didn’t know what was going on.”

SOURCE

UPDATE: AA need to hire less opinionated employees but their response so far has been just bureaucratic. See here

************************

The media assault on Paul Ryan

If you missed Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention last week and tried to play catch-up the next morning, you could be forgiven for concluding that nothing the Wisconsin congressman said was true.

Twelve hours after the speech, Josh Marshall, editor of the liberal Talking Points Memo, popular among journalists, asked: “Will the Paul Ryan Lying Thing Break Through in the Mainstream Press?” Um, yes. It would.

The mainstream media “fact checked” Paul Ryan’s speech with alacrity. At the Washington Post, for instance, four of the five most-read articles were, in effect, accusations that Ryan had lied. The New York Times published an article under the headline: “Ryan’s Speech Contained a Litany of Falsehoods.” The Associated Press accused Ryan of taking “factual shortcuts.” The Week magazine published not only “The media coverage of Paul Ryan’s speech: 15 Euphemisms for Lying,” but also “Why Paul Ryan thought he could get away with lying: 6 theories.”

Here’s the funny thing about most of these articles: They fail to cite a single fact that Ryan misstated or lie that he told. In most cases, the self-described fact-checks are little more than complaints that Ryan failed to provide context for his criticism of Barack Obama. For example, virtually every one of these articles included a complaint about Ryan’s comments on Obama and entitlement reform. In accusing Obama of failing to lead on entitlements, Ryan noted that Obama had ignored the findings of the Simpson-Bowles Commission that the president himself had empaneled. The complaint: Ryan did not mention that he had served on the commission and voted against its findings.

Could Paul Ryan have gone out of his way to disclose his role? Of course. Does his failure to do so constitute a “lie”? Hardly. There’s an additional irony here. None of those accusing Ryan of omitting important context noted in their reports that Ryan, both before and after voting against Simpson-Bowles, authored comprehensive and detailed plans to address entitlements and debt—something that might be considered important context for their critiques of Ryan.

Most of the fact checking focused on a passage about a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, Ryan’s hometown. This, allegedly, is the big lie:
My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it—especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory. A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that G.M. plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said, “I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another 100 years.”

That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s fact-checker, accused Ryan of lying.
In his acceptance speech, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan appeared to suggest that President Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisc. That’s not true. The plant was closed in December 2008, before Obama was sworn in.

There are two things wrong with this. Ryan didn’t claim that Obama was responsible for the closing of the GM plant, he faulted Obama for failing to do what he’d suggested he’d do: Save it. It’s an important distinction.

If Ryan’s intent had been to deceive, he wouldn’t have introduced his critique noting that “we were about to lose a major factory” when Obama told workers, “this plant will be here for another 100 years.” Second, Kessler was simply wrong to claim “the plant was closed in December 2008, before Obama was sworn in.” The plant was producing trucks as late as April 2009, several months after Obama was sworn in. On February 19, a month after Obama’s inauguration, the Janesville Gazette reported on the imminent closure: “General Motors will end medium-duty truck production in Janesville on April 23, four months to the day after the plant stopped building full-size sport utility vehicles. About 100 employees associated with the line learned of the layoffs Wednesday.”

It’s true that GM, in the summer of 2008, had announced its intention to put the plant on standby. But if announcing something accomplished it, I would have long ago announced that I’d lost 30 pounds. The plant was not, in fact, “closed in December 2008.”

But the narrative was set. How did this happen? Immediately after Ryan finished delivering the passage on the GM plant in his speech, top Obama adviser Stephanie Cutter sent this tweet: “Ryan blaming the President for a GM auto plant that closed under Pres Bush—thought he was smarter than that.” With one click after another, Cutter’s false claim became accepted wisdom.

So we are left with this irony: Paul Ryan was accused of lying because journalists and self-described “fact checkers” relied, at least in part, on a misstatement of fact that came directly from the Obama campaign.

There’s a bigger problem. The same media outlets so energetically fact-checking every claim made by Republicans are missing extraordinary contradictions and inconsistencies from the Obama campaign. (Note to fact-checkers: The words “every claim” are deliberate hyperbole, not meant literally.)

Think about this: In an election in which voters cite the economy as their top concern, the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is a policy proposal that he has twice insisted would damage the economy. It might be considered the most audacious and important contradiction of the 2012 campaign. Most journalists haven’t noticed.

Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich. He has vigorously opposed Republican efforts to maintain the current tax rates for all taxpayers, including the wealthy, and he’s mentioned his desire for tax “fairness” in recent campaign speeches in Virginia, Colorado, and Iowa. An ad the Obama administration ran in August urges higher taxes on “millionaires” and concludes: “I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message because to cut the deficit we need everyone to pay their fair share.”

In the summer of 2009, Obama said in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd that raising taxes in a recession “would just suck up—take more demand out of the economy and put business in a further hole.” Raising taxes in such a downturn, the president said, is “the last thing you want to do.” Obama can point out, correctly, that we’re not in a recession. The obvious question to ask him, however, is why it’d be foolish to raise taxes in a recession but wise to do so in a sputtering recovery.

The second time he made this argument presents more problems—or might if journalists actually asked him about it. On January 29, 2010, with an economy he described as “somewhat fragile,” Obama said that the “consensus among people who know the economy best” was that raising taxes was one of two ways to damage the economy. At a House Republican retreat in Baltimore, Obama rejected a Republican proposal to freeze spending at pre-stimulus levels and warned against the “destimulative effect” of tax hikes.
I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy best. And what they will say is that if you either increased taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a de-stimulative effect and potentially you’d see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off.

Raising taxes, the president said without qualification, would be a “mistake” that could lead to “a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs.” Here’s the kicker: The economy today is not doing nearly as well as it was when Obama made those comments. Then, the “somewhat fragile” U.S. economy was coming off a fourth quarter in 2009 that had seen economic growth at a robust 5.6 percent—a pace that the New York Times described as a “roaring growth rate,” while noting that it was expected to slow. (The first quarter of 2010 would show growth at 3.2 percent.) Growth today is considerably slower—a mere 1.7 percent in the last quarter, down from 2 percent in the first quarter.

Why would the president run for reelection on a policy that he believes will damage the economy, hurt business, and lead to higher unemployment?

It’s a good question. Perhaps when journalists are done fact-checking the Republicans, they’ll ask him.

SOURCE

************************

Obama's dreams

By THOMAS SOWELL



After reading Barack Obama's book "Dreams from My Father," it became painfully clear that he has not been searching for the truth, because he assumed from an early age that he had already found the truth -- and now it was just a question of filling in the details and deciding how to change things.

Obama did not simply happen to encounter a lot of people on the far left fringe during his life. As he spells out in his book, he actively sought out such people. There is no hint of the slightest curiosity on his part about other visions of the world that might be weighed against the vision he had seized upon

As Professor Richard Epstein of the University of Chicago Law School has pointed out, Obama made no effort to take part in the marketplace of ideas with other faculty members when he was teaching a law course there. What would be the point, if he already knew the truth and knew that they were wrong?

This would be a remarkable position to take, even for a learned scholar who had already spent decades canvassing a vast amount of information and views on many subjects. But Obama was already doctrinaire at a very early age -- and ill-informed or misinformed on both history and economics.

His statement in "Dreams from My Father" about how white men went to Africa to "drag away the conquered in chains" betrays his ignorance of African history.

The era of the Atlantic slave trade and the era of European conquests across the continent of Africa were different eras. During the era of the Atlantic slave trade, most of Africa was ruled by Africans, who sold some of their slaves to white men.

European conquests in Africa had to wait until Europeans found some way to survive lethal African diseases, to which they lacked resistance. Only after medical science learned to deal with these diseases could the era of European conquests spread across sub-Saharan Africa. But the Atlantic slave trade was over by then.

There was no reason why Barack Obama had to know this. But there was also no reason for him to be shooting off his mouth without knowing what he was talking about.

Similarly with Obama's characterization of the Nile as "the world's greatest river." The Nile is less than 10 percent longer than the Amazon, but the Amazon delivers more than 50 times as much water into the Atlantic as the Nile delivers into the Mediterranean. The Nile could not accommodate the largest ships, even back in Roman times, much less the aircraft carriers of today that can sail up the Hudson River and dock in midtown Manhattan.

When Obama wrote that many people "had been enslaved only because of the color of their skin," he was repeating a common piece of gross misinformation. For thousands of years, people enslaved other people of the same race as themselves, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Western Hemisphere.

Europeans enslaved other Europeans for centuries before the first African was brought in bondage to the Western Hemisphere. The very word "slave" is derived from the name of a European people once widely held in bondage, the Slavs.

As for economics, Obama thought that Indonesians would be worse off after Europeans came in, used up their natural resources and then left them too poor to continue the modern way of life to which they had become accustomed, or to resume their previous way of life, after their previous skills had atrophied.

This fear of European "exploitation" prevailed widely in the Third World in the middle of the 20th century. But, by the late 20th century, the falseness of that view had been demonstrated so plainly and so often, in countries around the world, that even socialist and communist governments began opening their economies to foreign investments. This often led to rising economic growth rates that lifted millions of people out of poverty.

Barack Obama is one of those people who are often wrong but never in doubt. When he burst upon the national political scene as a presidential candidate in 2008, even some conservatives were impressed by his confidence.

But confident ignorance is one of the most dangerous qualities in a leader of a nation. If he has the rhetorical skills to inspire the same confidence in himself by others, then you have the ingredients for national disaster

SOURCE

***********************

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

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

****************************

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

***************************



5 September, 2012

More on the doubtful historicity of the Quran

Film-maker Tom Holland responds to the programme's critics

Channel 4 has received a number of criticisms over my documentary, Islam: The Untold Story. This is a brief response.

The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical enquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programmes on Channel 4 where the historical context of world religions has been examined, such as The Bible: A History. A considered exploration of the tensions that inevitably arise when historical method is applied to articles of faith was central to the film. We were of course aware when making the programme that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilizational power of Islam was acknowledged in our film, and the perspective of Muslim faith represented, both in the persons of ordinary Bedouin in the desert, and one of the greatest modern scholars of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

It is important to stress as we do in the film that this is a historical endeavour and is not a critique of one of the major monotheistic religions. It was commissioned as part of Channel 4's remit to support and stimulate well-informed debate on a wide range of issues, by providing access to information and views from around the world and by challenging established views.

As a non-Muslim historian I tried to examine, within a historical framework, the rise of a new civilisation and empire that arose in the late antique world as the two great ancient empires of Rome and Persia were in decline. The themes in the programme have been previously written about extensively by many other historians including: Patricia Crone, Professor at Princeton; Gerald Hawting, Professor at SOAS; and Fred Donner, Professor at Chicago all of whom lent their support to the programme. The themes it explores are currently the focus of intense and escalating academic debate.

An accusation laid against the film is one of bias and, although I believe that absolute objectivity is a chimera, what was incumbent upon us, in making the film, was to be up-front about my own ideological background and presumptions, and to acknowledge the very different perspective that Muslim faith provides. If the film was about the origins of Islam, then it was also about the tensions between two differing world-views. Whether one accepts or rejects the truth of the tradition is ultimately dependent upon the philosophical presumptions that one brings to the analysis of the sources.

To answer some other substantive points:

1. It has been suggested that I say in the film that Mecca is not mentioned in the Qu'ran. In fact, I say that Mecca is mentioned once in the Qu'ran. As a historian I have to rely on original texts and although later tradition (as brought to us through the hadith) has come to accept that other names are synonymous with Mecca, the fact is that there is only one mention of Mecca in the Qu'ran(although due to an unwarranted interpolation, a second one does appear in the Pickthall translation).

2. On the broad perspective some complaints assert unequivocally, as is often said, that Islam was "born in the full light of history unlike the ancient faiths". That may have been the belief of Western scholars back in the days of Ernest Renan, but it is most certainly not the academic consensus today. One leading authority, Professor Fred Donner, who appears in the film, has written:

"We have to admit collectively that we simply do not know some very basic things about the Qur'an - things so basic that the knowledge of them is usually taken for granted by scholars dealing with other texts. They include such questions as: How did the Qur'an originate? Where did it come from, and when did it first appear? How was it first written? In what kind of language was - is - it written? What form did it first take? Who constituted its first audience? How was it transmitted from one generation to another, especially in its early years? When, how, and by whom was it codified? Those familiar with the Qur'an and the scholarship on it will know that to ask even one of these questions immediately plunges us into realms of grave uncertainty, and has the potential to spark intense debate."

This summary may fairly be said to represent the current state of play in the academic debate.

3. It has also wrongly been suggested that we said there is no historical evidence for the seventh century origins of Islam. What I actually said in the film was that I had expected to find contemporaneous Muslim evidence - "but there's nothing there." And the Qur'an aside, the first mention of the prophet Muhammad's name in Arabic is on the coin that we featured in Part Five, and on the Dome of the Rock, which we also featured prominently. The evidence provided by Christian contemporaries was mentioned in Part Three, and is dealt with at greater length in the book.

Obviously in a film of only 74 minutes, which opens up very rich and complex arguments and brings to light detailed academic scholarship, which has been going on for over forty years, it is impossible to articulate all the resonances and implications of every argument. Much more detail, with full citation of sources, will be found in my book In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World. All the film can hope to do is to introduce this fascinating (but until now, largely academic) debate with careful contextualising to a larger television audience. The subject, it should be said, is advancing and changing all the time as new discoveries are made, and new insights are gained. That is precisely what makes it such a fascinating area of research, and an entirely valid topic for a documentary.

SOURCE

********************

Before he was President, Barack Obama was a prime mover in pushing banks to give subprime loans to Chicago’s African-Americans

President Barack Obama was a pioneering contributor to the national subprime real estate bubble, and roughly half of the 186 African-American clients in his landmark 1995 mortgage discrimination lawsuit against Citibank have since gone bankrupt or received foreclosure notices.

As few as 19 of those 186 clients still own homes with clean credit ratings, following a decade in which Obama and other progressives pushed banks to provide mortgages to poor African Americans.

The startling failure rate among Obama’s private sector clients was discovered during The Daily Caller’s review of previously unpublished court information from the lawsuit that a young Obama helmed as the lead plaintiff’s attorney.

Since the mortgage bubble burst, some of his former clients are calling for a policy reversal.

“If you see some people don’t make enough money to afford the mortgage, why would you give them a loan?” asked Obama client John Buchanan. “There should be some type of regulation against giving people loans they can’t afford.”

Banks “were too eager to lend to many who didn’t qualify,” said Don Byas, another client who saw banks lurch from caution to bubble-inflating recklessness.

“I don’t care what race you are. … You need to keep financial wisdom [separate] from trying to help your people,” said Byas, an autoworker.

SOURCE

*************************

A Labor day with no jobs for millions



The traditional end of summer is greeted with cookouts, last splashes in the swimming pool, and final trips to the beach, but it is something much more in this election year.

Labor Day is a reminder of the unemployed, underemployed and those who don’t even bother looking for a job anymore because they don’t believe any are available.

Labor Day will also be a time when current and former Labor Secretaries come out from wherever they have been hiding, to talk about the nation’s employment situation.

This year, they can stay at home. They are not needed.

Everyone knows the state of the nation’s labor force — wages are falling, work is hard to find, and prices are rising again at both the gas pumps and in the supermarkets. Retirement plans for many in the labor force are delayed, and parents worry that their children will suffer a failure to launch due to an inability to find a job.

In fact, the unemployment rate over the past three years has only managed to stay slightly below the final three years of the Great Depression when the labor force is counted the same way.

Yet, ever persistent Obama Administration officials will infest television screens on Labor Day attempting to explain his “new normal” of 8.3 percent unemployment, blaming his predecessor and pretending that they hadn’t been in office for almost four years.

The same people who bashed previous Administrations for only creating jobs for “hamburger flippers” will tell America how not having a job is better than not having that one.

They also will attempt, for one more time before the election, to convince America that an economy that has only 37,000 more people employed today than when Obama took office is moving forward.

Think about that for a moment.

The civilian non-institutionalized population which consists of people over the age of 16 who are not in the military or incarcerated has increased by more than nine and a half million people since Obama took office, yet only 37,000 more people have a job today after four years of his policies.

If Americans care to watch these officials pontificate and gyrate through talking points, they will likely be watching with the same mindset as Ricky Ricardo used to have when he would say to Lucy, “You got some ‘splainin to do.”

Of course, the truth of the matter is that the only people who are likely to see and comment on Team Obama’s Labor Day media assault will either be those who already have their minds made up, or those who are paid to watch.

The rest of America will be enjoying the end of summer and hoping that next spring will bring change and renewed hope.

SOURCE

******************************

On Labor Day, Unions Have Nothing to Celebrate

For labor unions around the country, this Labor Day serves as a painful reminder that when they decided to go all-in for Obama in 2008, they alienated the rest of us non-government, non-union members- the 99 Percent- who have to go out and earn our keep every day. And that alienation is being expressed in political defeats by unions around the country.

I’m wondering if the unions are starting to regret their investment in Obama.

Unions dumped $450 million into the Obama effort in 2008, according to the New York Times, hoping that they’d buy political clout with Obama that they don’t actually own on Main Street. But besides the auto bailout, and a few years of government stimulus spending, the strategy has been pretty much a disaster.

“This is not about payback,” the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s director of government affairs told the New York Times. “We’re looking to work with the new administration on a shared set of priorities that focus on lifting workers and improving the economy.”

I think he meant “lifting workers’ wallets.” Because on the other counts, I think you can call their strategy a failure: No payback for unions and no improving economy.

And just another fine job for liberals, who don’t seems to be able to accomplish even those things that they say they desire.

Instead, the mass of the country has turned on unions, union members, bloated union benefits and even- gasp!- public teachers- who used to be as iconic in America as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and, um… Chevrolet?

The laundry list of failures for the union agenda is really staggering. They spent the most money ever. They elected the greatest president EVER.

But what did they really get? The union has faced the longest string of defeats since the losing streak that started at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Well, they wanted to be in politics. Congrats, Mr. Union. You are now in politics.

Card check? The union equivalent of forced busing and segregation? Voters completely rebuked unions on that one.

Then there was Madison, WI and the recall rebuke when Scott Walker took on teachers’ unions. What do you call it when voters vote a governor back in by recall with a wider margin than he originally received in the general election? A permission slip to give the unions detention.

How about that union fiasco with the National Labor Relations Board trying to stop Boeing Corporation from opening a $1 billion plant in South Carolina because it wasn’t a union shop? Another union disaster where they had to lower their colors.

Boeing’s CEO, Jim McNerney, is calling the regulatory climate for business the worst in U.S. history. From MarketWatch:
Asked by a reporter if regulations are any worse now than in decades past, McNerney gave an emphatic yes. “It’s different today. The attitude is different,” he said. “Unless you live it it’s hard to see it.”

McNerney said the Roundtable “hears about it all day long” from member companies. The group represents large U.S. firms that employ more than 14 million people and generate sales in excess of $6 trillion a year.

Many of those regulatory hurdles are put there just to coddle unions.

SOURCE

***********************

On the Right to vote with your feet, France gives more freedom than America

The New York Times has a big story about French entrepreneurs and investors looking to escape looming class-warfare tax hikes. Here are a few excerpts
Benoît Pous-Bertran de Balanda, the descendant of a French general who fought for the Americans, is trying to help his wealthy countrymen escape what he calls the tyranny of a new Socialist government primed to severely tax the rich. …Well-heeled French citizens are scouring real estate opportunities in neighboring countries like Britain and Switzerland. What the French are so concerned about is Mr. Hollande’s campaign vow to tax income over 1 million euros at a 75 percent rate. …it will also raise the tax rate on capital gains to the same level as the tax on ordinary income.

Normally, this type of story would be an excuse for me to write about the Laffer Curve and the foolishness of penalizing success. But I want to focus instead on the right to emigrate. Specifically, there are two ways in which France has better policy than the United States.

1. France, like almost every other civilized nation, does not have worldwide taxation. So when French citizens move to Switzerland, Hong Kong, or the United States, they pay tax to those nations. But they’re no longer subject to French taxes on this foreign-source income. Sadly, that is not true for overseas Americans, who are subject to tax in the nations where they live AND the IRS. Their only choice, if they want to escape this punitive and unfair form of double taxation, is to give up U.S. citizenship.

2. But when Americans like Eduardo Saverin decide to surrender their passports, they are hit by punitive exit taxes. This is the type of policy normally associated with some of the world’s most odious regimes, such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. France, I am told, is not perfect in this regard, but the tax treatment of people re-domiciling in another country is not nearly so onerous, especially if they go to another EU nation [e.g. Britain, which is both conveniently located and has a top tax rate of "only" 45%. The London to Paris train trip is 2 hours 15 minutes --JR].

I want good tax policy, like the flat tax, regardless of what’s happening in other nations. But it says a lot (and none of it good) when one of the world’s most statist nations has better policy than America.

SOURCE

***********************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

“Trickle Down Fairy Dust”

Comment by Dick McDonald

The chief strategist for Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign, David Plouffe, states this morning on Sunday Talk that Governor Romney is offering the same policies that got us into the Great Recession in the first place – “top-down trickle-down fairy dust.” “It didn’t work then and it’s not going to work now.”

Unfortunately many uninformed citizens will buy this deception because the Republicans don’t forcefully dispute these lies. First of all the Great Recession was caused by the Democrat’s forcing banks to finance with government guarantees homes for people who couldn’t afford them.

Those guarantees from Freddie and Fannie were backed by the people of the United States essentially without their knowledge or approval because had they been asked they never would have given it. It is time for the Republican talking heads to speak up and destroy the fallacy that their policies caused the Great Recession.

The trickle-down, top-down charge is ludicrous. That is how economies have always worked. Before 1776 just a very few people called all the shots. The kings, queens and other monarchs dictated what trickled down to the masses. The democratic revolution in America changed all that to allow just about anyone to become powerful and wealthy and trickle down economic benefits on others.

Today we have several million industrious people in America that do the trickling. These are the same people Democrats are blaming for a bad economy. It is their 2012 campaign to vilify and punish them as greedy selfish heartless Republicans.

The implied policy of the Democrats is to unmercifully tax and regulate the “heartless” and redistribute their wealth to the middle class – with no mention of the poor (Democrats don’t mention the poor as they already have them buffaloed).

What Republicans should vehemently promote is that trickle-down is the effect of wealth creation not the cause. Wealth is created by the mere fact that opportunity to create it exists in America. Republicans should shout from the rooftops that Democrats are stifling and limiting opportunity at every turn and that is what is causing the massive reduction in the personal wealth of Americans and blocking its recovery.

Opportunity is what is meant by the word free in the term free market system. Republicans need to make this abundantly clear to those who want to vote for a Democrat. The American Dream depends on it.

Received by email

*************************

Liberty vs. government

No visual dominates the landscape of our nation's capital like the Washington Monument. Today, however, other than memorializing our first president, it also provides a message about the role and efficacy of government.

Last year on Aug. 23, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit Washington, D.C. The earthquake caused cracks in the monument, which stands at a height of almost two football fields, so the National Park Service shut it down.

Now, one year later, the monument remains in disrepair, closed to the 600,000 annual visitors it usually receives.

The Washington Post reported in January that the monument would be closed until sometime in 2013. According to that report, the contract to do the repairs would "probably not be awarded until late summer, with work starting sometime after that."

Now the latest report in The Washington Post indicates that repair of the monument may not be complete until sometime in 2014.

In January 1994, Los Angeles was hit with a massive 6.7-magnitude earthquake, knocking down two sections of the Santa Monica Freeway.

An initial estimate from the California Department of Transportation was that it would take 12 to 18 months for repairs.

Considering the massive potential costs to the local economy of shutting down sections of the world's busiest freeway, Caltrans officials decided to turn loose the time-tested formula for American success: market incentives and individual ingenuity.

They opened bidding to contractors who would accelerate the repair process, offering incentive bonuses for early completion.

The result: The repairs were completed in less than three months, with the contractor collecting a $14.5 million bonus for finishing 74 days ahead of schedule.

A rule of life is that we can always expect the unexpected.

Natural disasters deliver this truth in graphic and shocking ways. But the unexpected is with us constantly, natural disasters or not.

It's why an enduring society must be a free society. Only when free can individuals deal with life's endless surprises in creative and resilient ways.

Bureaucracy and government control are guarantees for failure.

Now, sadly, we watch those on Louisiana's Gulf Coast bear the brunt again of a brutal hurricane.

Think of the despair that followed Katrina. There was no shortage of opinions that New Orleans was done forever, that it could never recover.

But, human resilience, will, creativity and freedom have revived this city.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the New Orleans region is below the national average.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the surge of entrepreneurial activity that has occurred there. Tax incentives have given birth to a growing, nationally competitive film industry, with music and software design following suit.

A failed public school system has been revitalized, with 80 percent of the schools now charter schools.

Shouldn't it tell us something that Apple, the icon for innovation, once on the brink of failure, is now the most valuable company in history?

And that all the major areas where we are having problems are areas controlled or dominated by government?

Americans don't need to watch fancily produced political conventions to know that one question faces us this year: Do we want to be free?

SOURCE

****************************

Spain (past and present) shows where Obama's policies lead

The economic model President Obama wants America to embark on has been tried many times in many places and every time its failed. We are reminded of this when we look at Spain. Massive government spending on projects like countless airports never used, high speed rail and new highways.

Sure, it looks fantastic but there are no commercial trucks, there are no commuters, and the only mobility is downward. Three regions of Spain have requested emergency bailouts and more are lining up.

They are bogged down with gigantic debt for public projects that were ill-advised and have become costly white elephants.

* Murcia needs 1.0 billion (200.0 million for a much-delayed airport that looks like a flop before it even opens)

* Valencia needs 3.5 billion just to cover current needs and help its army of homeless as a 26.0 million new hospital sits there gleaming with only 120 beds but six operating theater.

* Catalonia need 5.0 billion after wasting money on things like an 150.0 million airport that gathers dust but not birds because they pay a falconer 200,000 euros annual to keep them away.

As much as Spain stands today as a cautionary tale against mindless spending in the name of short-term glory (so many projects have grandiose statues often in the image of local politicians) and temp jobs (and really redistribution of wealth from taxpayers to union workers) it was the Spain of the past that truly stands as the best example of how the greatest nation in the world can begin a decent into an also-ran nation with 25% unemployment (there was another glory period under King Charles III 1759 to 1788). The Spain of King Philip II.

When he became King in 1556 at age 29 King Philip II of Spain his nation was rising above all others in the world. His reign covered much of the world but was marred by massive spending and borrowing. In the end the empire went bankrupt 13 times from 1500 to 1900. The ball got rolling with an ambitious scheme to conquer the world including the Netherlands and Britain. What good is being in the midst of a Golden Age and not own your largest rivals? But wars are expensive and not just the ones fought back then with swords and cannons. Wars on poverty, drugs, and these days success all take on budgets.

Of course it comes down to government spending and realizing when it's time to reel it back. The string of bankruptcies began. Some scholars claim the first three (1557, 1560 and 1575) were simply liquidity shocks But the nation continued to not be able to pay its debts and fell bankrupt again in 1596.

Instead of cutting back on ambition or spending, Spain had other ideas on how to tackle their fiscal problems- raise taxes.

From 1559 to 1598 taxes increased 430% raising 1.4 million ducats and still not enough to offset government spending. Making matters worse was the fact Aristocracy was exempt from paying taxes. This create a real and legitimate war of envy across Europe and eventually led to a revolution in the New World. Speaking of the New World, not only was all that tax money pouring into the coffers but Spain was raking in mounds of gold and silver from the Americas. (Demand was so intense that natives were broken and killed sparking the demand for slaves from Africa that could handle the heat and workload.)

Even with all that cash pouring in spending remained out of control. In the meantime Spain eventually lost a prolonged war in the Netherlands that saw the Dutch declare independence, and an ill-timed invasion of Britain saw the demise of the so-called "invincible armada." There was also the suppression of the Moriscos revolt where 80% of the arms used by Spanish military and mercenaries were imported.

Because of Spain's massive spending and series of bankruptcies there was very little investment in the nation and its private businesses. Like the United States today lenders were willing to make investments in debt knowing defaults would only trigger much higher interest payments later. Moreover, Spain during its Golden Age and America today were cash machines. Yet, the underlying fundamentals were fading. The circumnavigation of the world brought in cheap products from China and India not only hurting taxes collected from Silk Road trade but also harming domestic manufactures.

Spain's current situation after spending the kind of money on public works advocated by the left in America serves as a great example that simply building it doesn't mean they will come. But, it's the Spain that once ruled the world that truly underscores how governments spending can destroy the greatest of empires.

By the way the mainstream media is giddy over how well the levies held up this week. The fact that Irene's punch was to Katrina what a seven year old kid's punch was to a Mike Tyson in his prime I'm giddy the levies held, too. But make no mistake nobody is upset with spending used to keep Americans safe. We want to be safe from nature, terrorists and military threats (now and down the road). This is a lot different than pouring billions of dollars into making over-priced glass panels that can't compete with cheaper versions from China. It's different than taking money from taxpayers to pay off political donors. Its different than punishing earnings of hardworking people and job creators out of uncontrollable envy.

SOURCE

**************************

Liberal Media Brings Out the Hockey Pucks

Jonah Goldberg

In 2004, Arnold Schwarzenegger, then a popular figure in the Republican Party, gave an exciting, upbeat and surprisingly funny speech at the GOP convention. He covered a lot of territory: the story of how he came to America, how he became a Republican after listening to Richard Nixon, and other highlights of his life story.

Afterwards, then-CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported that Schwarzenegger "slapped John Kerry around like a hockey puck."

The only problem: Schwarzenegger never mentioned John Kerry, not even once.

I bring it up because it's hardly news that much of the press likes to report the convention as they want it to be rather than as it is.

It's also somewhat less than a thunderclap revelation that the press and the Democratic Party tend to see things the same way. Which is why it's unremarkable that the "fact-checkers" and Democratic Party press-release writers are on the same page.

Hence the relentless coverage of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's "lies" during his convention speech. His story about a Janesville, Wis., GM plant, in particular, has stirred up a journalistic fuss:

"A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is there to support you ... this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That's what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year."

The Associated Press fact-checkers were among the most restrained in their "correction."

"The plant halted production in December 2008," the AP explained, "weeks before Obama took office and well before he enacted a more robust auto industry bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler and allowed the majority of their plants -- though not the Janesville facility -- to stay in operation."

The first problem is that Ryan wasn't referencing the bailout at all, but the sorry state of the overall economy and President Obama's record of over-promising and under-delivering.

A bigger problem is that the AP didn't even look up its own reporting about the Janesville plant. "Production at the General Motors plant in Janesville is scheduled to end for good this week," the news services reported on April 19, 2009. "GM spokesman Christopher Lee says operations at the southern Wisconsin plant will cease Thursday."

And there's the small matter that everything about Ryan's statement was true if you go by the plain meaning of the words.

Or consider the media's obsession with the alleged racism of the GOP. The folks at MSNBC are particularly obsessed with the race angle. New York Magazine political reporter John Heilemann and "Hardball" host Chris Matthews concluded the other night that the word "Chicago" is racially loaded code.

"They keep saying 'Chicago,'" Matthews said. "That's another thing that sends that message -- this guy's helping the poor people in the bad neighborhoods, screwing us in the 'burbs."

Heilemann nodded, adding, "There's a lot of black people in Chicago."

One standard cliché is to bemoan the fact that there are so many "white faces" among the delegates. This potted observation is usually brought up in connection with some chin-pulling insight about the GOP's problems reaching out to minorities.

Many an hour can be wasted listening to the gang at MSNBC expressing their deep concerns about this pressing issue and how the GOP must adapt to a more diverse America. Perhaps the GOP would do better if allegedly serious people stopped going on national television and saying that even the use of the word "Chicago" is now racially loaded.

Meanwhile, one thing the GOP could do is put forward some really attractive and compelling minority speakers to deliver its message. Indeed, that's what the GOP did on its first night of the convention -- and the concerned folks at MSNBC opted to stop covering the speeches whenever a minority took the stage.

If the coverage of this convention is an indication of the trajectory the media will follow for the rest of the campaign, you can be sure of three things: Lies will be defined as facts that are inconvenient to President Obama, racists will be understood to be Republicans who are winning an argument, and truth will be slapped around like a hockey puck.

SOURCE

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 old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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

****************************

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

****************************



3 September, 2012

Wow! British TV channel airs doubts about the history of Islam

This has been known among scholars for years but was totally unknown to the general public. Unlike the four gospels, all the written records of Mohammed and his doings date from around 200 years after the events alleged. There is a view that he is a myth created for the purposes of Egyptian politics in the 9th century AD

I myself find it a little strange that the allegedly all-conquering Muslims coexisted alongside the Christian Greek empire of Byzantium for roughly half a millennium. And when Byzantium did fall, it fell to marines of the Most Serene Republic (of Venice) -- not to Muslims. Cursed be Doge Dandolo! Though Muslims soon exploited the damage done by the Venetians


Channel 4 is at the centre of a storm over a programme it broadcast on the history of Islam. Islam: The Untold Story has triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself. It has also sparked a bitter war of words on Twitter involving leading historians and Islamic scholars.

Since it was screened last week, presenter Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, has been subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets, some of which have included physical threats. He is accused of distorting the history of Islam by claiming the Koran makes little or no reference to the religious city of Mecca.

One Twitter user accused Mr Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.

The Islamic Education and Research Academy has published a lengthy paper denouncing the programme. But historians have rallied to Mr Holland’s defence.

Dan Snow, who has presented history shows for the BBC with his father Peter, described the programme as ‘a triumph’, tweeting: ‘Dear angry, mad people – it is conceivable that you know more than the world’s leading scholars, but very unlikely.’

The Academy claims the programme’s assertion that there are no historical records detailing the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad is flawed. ‘Holland appears to have turned a blind eye to rich Islamic historical tradition,’ says the Academy.

Ofcom, which has received 150 complaints about the programme’s alleged bias, inaccuracy and offence caused to Muslims, is considering an investigation.

Last night Mr Holland said: ‘The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical inquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programmes on Channel 4. 'We were of course aware that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilisational power of Islam was acknowledged.’

SOURCE

********************

Mediscare

Within minutes of the announcement that Paul Ryan would be Mitt Romney's running mate, the Democratic attack machine shifted into high gear. "Paul Ryan will destroy Medicare as we know it," claimed the ads. "So will Mitt Romney." Be afraid. Be very afraid.

But isn't ObamaCare what seniors should really be scared of? Yes, indeed. And to hide that fact, the Obama forces are telling five big lies.

Lie Number One: Health Reform Is Good For Seniors.

Millions of taxpayer dollars (that's our dollars) have been spent on Andy Griffith television ads and other advertisements trying to convince seniors that they are big winners under health reform. If the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could claim jurisdiction over these ads, a lot of Obama administration folks would be headed for the hoosegow.

In fact, 40% of the cost of giving subsidized insurance to young people is being paid for by reduced spending on the elderly and the disabled. For the next 10 years, the spending reduction totals $716 billion. That's no small change.

The Obama ads and the White House television talking points stress new benefits for seniors: a free annual wellness exam and the eventual closing of the "donut hole" for drug coverage. What they conceal is that for every $1 spent on new benefits, seniors will lose $9 in other spending — which gives a whole new meaning to the term "bait and switch."

Consider people reaching the age of 65 this year. Under ObamaCare, the average amount spent on these enrollees over the remainder of their lives will fall by about $36,000 at today's prices. That sum of money is equivalent to about three years of benefits. For 55 year olds, the spending decrease is about $62,000 — or the equivalent of six years of benefits. For 45 year olds, the loss is more than $105,000, or nine years of benefits.

In terms of the sheer dollars involved, the planned reduction in future Medicare payments is the equivalent of raising the eligibility age for Medicare to age 68 for today's 65 year olds, to age 71 for 55 year olds and to age 74 for 45 year olds. But rather than keep the system as is and raise the age of eligibility, the reform law instead tries to achieve equivalent savings by paying less to the providers of care.

Lie Number Two: Seniors Will Not Lose Any Medicare Benefits.

To begin with, one in four Medicare beneficiaries is in a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans may be overpaid by Medicare, but they are required to "spend" their overpayments on extra benefits for the enrollees. These include extra drug coverage, dental benefits, etc. Over the next 10 years, ObamaCare will reduce spending on these plans by $156 billionand this reduction will inevitably lead to a loss of benefits. The remainder of the cuts in Medicare spending will mainly be in the form of reduced payments to providers. Although promised benefits won't change under orthodox Medicare, in the very act of reducing provider fees, health reform will cause seniors to get less care. So while the White House claim that beneficiaries will not lose benefits may not be technically a lie, surely the FTC would pounce on a private company if it said the same things.

Remember: lower payment to providers means less access and less access means less care. One study of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) found that simply enrolling children in CHIP did not result in more health care. That is, they had the same number of doctor visits, etc. However, increasing the fees CHIP pays to doctors does result in more care. And presumably the converse is true as well.

According to the Medicare Office of the Actuary's memorandum, in about two years, Medicare payments to doctors will fall below Medicaid rates and will fall further and further behind Medicaid with each passing year. Medicare payments to hospitals will basically match the Medicaid rate, indefinitely into the future. What will this mean? Seniors will be lined up behind welfare mothers in the attempt to find doctors who will see them and institutions that will admit them. As Harvard University health economist Joe Newhouse has explained, seniors will likely have to seek care at community health centers and safety net hospitals. As the Medicare Office of the Actuary has explained, in a few short years, hospitals will begin closing and senior citizens will have increasing difficulty obtaining access to care.

Lie Number Three: Health Reform Has Made Medicare More Solvent.

Remember, all the health reform act does is pay doctors and hospitals less money. On paper this makes the Medicare trust fund appear to last longer because its expected expenses go down. But if you think this is a legitimate way to make Medicare more solvent, why not be even more aggressive? We could wipe out Medicare's $43 trillion unfunded liability entirely if we reduce doctor and hospital fees all the way to zero!

The problem is: seniors would not be able to find a doctor who would see them or a hospital that would admit them.

Lie Number Four: ObamaCare Is Fully Paid For.

The White House claims that ObamaCare makes a small profit — that is, that it actually reduces the deficit.

Yet last Sunday on ABC's This Week, Cokie Roberts baldly asserted that the (ObamaCare) cuts in Medicare spending will never happen. In fact she asserted this with such an air of inside-the-Beltway authority that none of the other talking heads on the program dared to challenge her. She may be right.

We've already been through this exercise with a piece of Republican legislation — the 1996 budget act. The Republicans decided to balance the budget, in part, by slowing in the growth of Medicare doctors' fees. However, in the following years, Congress repeatedly stepped in at the last minute to delay the reductions. The next point of reckoning will come in January, 2013, when a 10-year "doctor fix" will require about $271 billion.

Think about that for a moment. Republicans and Democrats together have promised various constituencies almost $1 trillion in benefits — to be paid for by taking $1 trillion away from Medicare providers over the next 10 years. Yet, like Cokie Roberts, no one in Washington thinks that Congress will stick to the bargain.

If it doesn't, that means that ObamaCare was never really paid for, that it will create a new entitlement that will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit, and that nothing has happened to make Medicare more solvent.

By the way, neither the Congressional Budget Office nor the Office of the Medicare Actuaries thinks the cuts are sustainable. That's why both agencies have put out "alternative" projections of Medicare finances for future years — which is Washington's way of telling Congress, "We don't believe you."

Lie Number Five: Health Reform Is Going to Make Medicare More Efficient.

An alternative to cutting provider fees is to slow the growth of Medicare by making the whole system more cost effective.

The goal here really isn't a partisan issue. The Obama administration has continued a number of the pilot programs and demonstration projects started under the Bush administration. These are designed to find ways of making Medicare less costly through pay-for-performance, coordinated care, managed care, home-based care, electronic medical records, etc. The Congressional Budget Office has looked at these efforts on three separate occasions and each time has concluded that they are not working or, in the few cases where there are positive signs, the performance is lackluster.

In the absence of such efficiencies, the law basically mandates a reduction in provider fees.

SOURCE

***************************

Liberal pundits use race to demonize Republicans

">



People of good will must be puzzled by the liberal media's obsession with race in this week's Republican National Convention. Presuming to understand the motives of strangers, liberal pundits manage to find bigotry in nearly every utterance by a Republican. Whether you were watching MSNBC or reading Harper's or Politico or National Journal or the New York Times -- or any number of other left-leaning outlets -- you learned that racist code exists wherever a Republican opens his mouth.

For example, who knew that the word "Chicago" is a racist epithet? It is, according to MSNBC's Chris Matthews. "They keep saying Chicago," he said of the convention speakers. "That's another thing that sends that message -- this guy's helping the poor people in the bad neighborhoods, screwing us in the 'burbs." His guest replied: "There's a lot of black people in Chicago." And there you were, thinking Chicago was merely Obama's hometown.

America also learned this week that chants of "U.S.A., U.S.A.!" are racist as well. The chant actually broke out on the convention floor when Romney-backers were trying to drown out Ron Paul supporters. But Jack Hitt of Harper's recognized the racism right away -- this rowdiness occurred when a Republican Party officer from Puerto Rico was speaking from the podium.

To the liberal mind, all policy criticisms of President Obama seem motivated by race. National Journal's Ron Fournier detected it in Mitt Romney's ads about the 1996 welfare reforms, which Obama opposed as a state senator and whose work requirements he has illegally given states permission to dilute. "Romney's team knows, or should know, they are playing the race card," Fournier wrote. The New York Times joined in, noting that Romney's message on this issue contains "a sharper edge and overtones of class and race." Better not to discuss welfare policy at all -- or at least not while Obama is president.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., commented this week on Obama's enthusiasm for golf: "He hasn't been working to earn re-election. He's been working to earn a spot on the PGA tour." That may sound like a wry jab at a political opponent, but MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell saw right through it: "Well, we know exactly what he's trying to do there," he told host Martin Bashir on Wednesday. "He is trying to align to Tiger Woods and surely, the -- lifestyle of Tiger Woods with Barack Obama. ... these people reach for every single possible racial double entendre they can find in every one of these speeches." (Don't try to understand the logic -- it's way over your head.)

So many racial dog whistles. Or maybe not. Maybe these liberal pundits are just trying to invent a nobler cause in their own minds than the one they actually serve. Maybe it helps their self-esteem to pretend that, instead of defending a failed presidency and a lousy economic recovery, they are living 50 years ago, standing alongside freedom riders and marchers in the segregated South. Their fantasy lets them confer upon themselves all the glory of the Civil Rights struggle, without ever having to face the insults, the discrimination, the firehoses, the lynchings, the state-sanctioned terrorism or any of the other dangers that far braver Americans fought against decades ago.

SOURCE

************************

Liberalism, as we know it

By George F. Will

After a delusional proclamation — General Motors “has come roaring back” — Obama said: “Now I want to do the same thing with manufacturing jobs, not just in the auto industry, but in every industry.” We have been warned.

He intervened to succor one of two of the U.S. auto industries. One, located in the South and elsewhere, does not have a long history of subservience to the United Auto Workers and for that reason has not needed Obama’s ministrations. He showered public money on two of three parts of the mostly Northern auto industry, the one long entangled with the UAW. He socialized the losses of GM and Chrysler. Ford was not a mendicant because it was not mismanaged.

Today, “I am GM, hear me roar” is again losing market share, and its stock, of which taxpayers own 26 percent, was trading Thursday morning at $21, below the $33 price our investor in chief paid for it and below the $53 price it would have to reach to enable taxpayers to recover the entire $49.5 billion bailout. Roaring GM’s growth is in China.

But let’s not call that outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, lest we aggravate liberalism’s current bewilderment, which is revealed in two words it dare not speak, and in a four-word phrase it will not stop speaking. The two words are both verbal flinches. One is “liberal,” the other “spend.” The phrase is “as we know it.”

Jettisoning the label “liberal” was an act not just of self-preservation, considering the damage liberals had done to the word, but also of semantic candor: The noble liberal tradition was about liberty — from oppressive kings, established churches and aristocracies. For progressives, as liberals now call themselves, liberty has value, when it has value, only instrumentally — only to the extent that it serves progress, as they restlessly redefine this over time.

The substitution of “invest” for “spend” (e.g., “We must invest more in food stamps,” and in this and that) is prudent but risky. People think there has been quite enough of (in Mitt Romney’s words) “throwing more borrowed money at bad ideas.” But should progressives call attention to their record as investors of other people’s money (GM, Solyndra, etc.)?

In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton’s campaign ran an ad that began: “For so long government has failed us, and one of its worst features has been welfare. I have a plan to end welfare as we know it.” This was before progressives defined progress as preventing changes even to rickety, half-century-old programs: Republicans “would end Medicare as we know it.”

When did peculiarly named progressives decide they must hunker down in a defensive crouch to fend off an unfamiliar future?

Hoover Dam ended the lower Colorado River as we knew it...

Rockefeller Center ended midtown Manhattan as we knew it...

Desegregation ended the South as we knew it.

The Internet ended...

You get the point. In their baleful resistance to any policy not “as we know it,” progressives resemble a crotchety 19th-century vicar in a remote English village banging his cane on the floor to express irritation about rumors of a newfangled, noisy and smoky something called a railroad.

Given Democrats’ current peevishness, it is fitting that Sandra Fluke will address their convention. In February she, you might not remember, became for progressives the victim du jour of America’s insufficient progress. She was a 30-year-old-student — almost half way to 62, when elderly Americans can begin collecting Social Security — unhappy about being unable to get someone else (Georgetown University, a Catholic institution) to pay for her contraceptives.

Say this for Democrats: They recognize a symbol of their sensibility when they see one.

SOURCE

***********************

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

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

****************************

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

****************************



2 September, 2012

A Different Sort Of Acceptance Speech From A Different Sort Of Candidate

We don't know what Romney can deliver for an America ruined by Obama's extravagance but with a background both in the clergy and in business Romney has the moral anchors and can-do experience that give hope -- JR

In my lifetime, America has not nominated a man like Mitt Romney for the presidency. Yes, like all save one, he is a white man. And yes, like of the others, he is a man of some means – though perhaps more substantial wealth than most of the others. But Mitt Romney is different in that he is not primarily a politician – he is a businessman – and he has also served for a time in a pastoral role. Those things make him stand out among others who have sought the presidency as major party nominees over the last half century.

Nothing made this more clear than the cluster of speeches from those who knew Romney from his work as a local leader in the LDS Church. When else have we heard a story like this one from Ted and Pat Oparowski?
Explaining that they are a family of “modest means” firefighter Ted Oparowski spoke of meeting the Romneys and the son, David, the Oparowskis lost over 30 years ago with the Romneys by their side — “America deserves to hear it” he exclaimed.
“You cannot measure a man’s character based on words he utters before adoring crowds during happy times,” he said. “The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble. The quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters — that is the time to make an assessment.”

Pat Oparowski detailed how son, David, at age 14 was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and the way in with Romney helped David and the family — including helping young David write his will.

“On another visit, David, knowing Mitt had gone to law school at Harvard, asked Mitt if he would help him write a will. He had some prized possessions he wanted to make sure were given to his closest friends and family,” she detailed. “The next time Mitt went to the hospital, he was equipped with his yellow legal pad and pen. Together, they made David’s will. That is a task that no child should ever have to do. But it gave David peace of mind.”

She posed the question: “How many men do you know would take the time out of their busy lives to visit a terminally ill 14 year old and help him settle his affairs?”

And of what other modern candidate would we have heard a story akin to this one from Pam Finlayson about her seriously ill newborn?
Her lungs not yet ready to breathe, her heart unstable, and after suffering a severe brain hemorrhage at three days old, she was teetering on the very edge of life.
As I sat with her in intensive care, consumed with a mother’s worry and fear, dear Mitt came to visit and pray with me.

As our clergy, he was one of few visitors allowed.

I will never forget that when he looked down tenderly at my daughter, his eyes filled with tears, and he reached out gently and stroked her tiny back.

I could tell immediately that he didn’t just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her.

During the many months Kate was hospitalized, the Romneys often cared for our two-year old son, Peter. They treated him like one of their own, even welcoming him to stay the night when needed.

I don’t mean to suggest that no candidate who came before him would have shown kindness and compassion for others – each of them, from Kennedy and Nixon to Obama and McCain, would undoubtedly have shown human kindness in such situations. But if elected, Romney’s experience would put him in a small category among American presidents – only James A. Garfield was a minister, and Romney’s pastoral work was in some ways more extensive than Garfield’s. Yet what they share in common is a certain humility about the work they did in the name of their religion.

That may be why, listening to Romney last night, I heard a speech that struck me as quite humble in tone. As I re-read it I am struck by how it follows one of the rules for preaching that I learned in seminary – for most of the speech, when Romney included deeply personal stories they were there to point to something greater and more significant than himself. While the preacher in the pulpit points towards Christ, candidate Romney pointed towards the greatness of America and what makes our country great. Consider his conclusion.
The America we all know has been a story of the many becoming one, uniting to preserve liberty, uniting to build the greatest economy in the world, uniting to save the world from unspeakable darkness.
Everywhere I go in America, there are monuments that list those who have given their lives for America. There is no mention of their race, their party affiliation, or what they did for a living. They lived and died under a single flag, fighting for a single purpose. They pledged allegiance to the UNITED States of America.

That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother's confidence that their children's future is brighter even than the past.

That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it.

That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator, and codified in our Constitution.

That united America will care for the poor and the sick, will honor and respect the elderly, and will give a helping hand to those in need.

That America is the best within each of us. That America we want for our children.

If I am elected President of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it, our nation depends upon it, the peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us begin that future together tonight.

Yes, Mitt Romney is a different kind of candidate with a different sort of background from that which we are accustomed to. He is the evangelist of an American vision that is both traditional and modern at the same time. As such, he points away from himself and towards that vision that he wants us to share, in the hope that his fellow Americans will be swayed to that call to a secular salvation of freedom and prosperity. It is to be hoped that Americans respond.

SOURCE

**************************

Dotty Old Clint Eastwood Gave the Best Speech of the Week

Getting the attention of the media to an anti-Obama speech was gold. And the furious reaction from the Left proves that. Full transcript and some of the Leftist response here -- JR

I made my share of Clint Eastwood jokes last night. But I also watched his performance a second time, which is kind of amazing: How many convention speeches are worth watching twice? And of that tiny number, how many would you watch twice on the same night? This is what I saw:

1. A comedy-improv debate with a chair may be the worst idea for a vaudeville act in showbiz history, but the crowd loved it. Or rather, they loved him. He's Clint Eastwood; almost everyone loves him. Even when he seemed like he might wander off into Rick Perry territory and choke completely, the audience in the hall was rooting for him. So, I suspect, was a lot of the audience at home.

2. Eastwood's criticisms of Barack Obama were the average American's criticisms of Barack Obama. If you want to hammer the president in a way that appeals to undecideds, you couldn't do much better than to complain about high unemployment and an endless war. That won't sound authentic coming from Romney, who has been tagged, fairly or not, as the guy who likes to fire people, and whose position on Afghanistan is 180 degrees away from Eastwood's. But coming from Clint Eastwood, that isn't a big problem...

3. ...because Eastwood barely endorsed Mitt Romney last night. He was really endorsing Not Obama. The most substantial compliment he gave to the GOP's nominee was when he pointed out that Romney was a successful businessman -- and that came in the context of slamming the president for being a lawyer, Eastwood apparently forgetting that Mitt too is a graduate of Harvard Law School. "When somebody does not do the job, we've got to let them go," Eastwood said. That isn't an argument for any candidate in particular. It's a pitch for Despair and Change.

4. Eastwood didn't embrace the Republican Party, either. At the beginning of the address he seemed to be identifying himself with the "conservative people" in Hollywood, but then he rushed to expand the group to include "moderate people, Republicans, Democrats" as well. He had a similarly expansive vision of his audience: "Whether you are a Democrat or Republican or whether you're Libertarian or whatever, you are the best around."

5. Above all, those 12 minutes were interesting to watch. They were a great break from the heavily scripted, relentlessly on-message, and utterly boring infomercial that was the bulk of the convention.

In short: A widely beloved figure came onstage, offered a politically popular critique of the other party's candidate, put it in transpartisan terms that are more likely to appeal to undecided voters, and did it in a way that guaranteed we will remember it. He was human, eccentric, funny, weird, relatable. Maybe I would have preferred a performance of Eastwood's anti-government monologue from The Outlaw Josey Wales, but I'm not the target audience. I say the speech helps Romney.

SOURCE

**************************

Democrats' Hypocrisy about the Rich

Did you know that President Obama is responsible for the loss of more U.S. jobs than any other person? Did you know that Sen. John F. Kerry and his wife are three to four times as rich as Mitt and Ann Romney, according to the New York Times, yet paid a lower tax rate than the Romneys in 2003, the year before Mr. Kerry ran for president? Do you know how to lower your tax rate? Read on.

Mr. Romney is being criticized in the mainstream media for having paid just about 14 percent of his income in federal income taxes and having some of his money in places like Switzerland and Cayman (even though he appears to have paid all of the taxes on interest and dividends that were due to the United States). Yet, eight years ago, when the far richer Mr. Kerry and his wife paid a slightly lower tax rate and also had their money dispersed globally, as sensible rich people do, they were lauded by many of the same folks who are now in a tizzy about Mr. Romney's finances. Note: Mr. Kerry's wife inherited her money, while Mr. Romney earned his by building real businesses.

Rich people usually employ others to manage their money. Presidents and presidential candidates put their money in blind trusts, as have Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama. When people hire money managers, they expect them to make the highest after-tax returns commensurate with the level of safety those people desire, and the managers have a fiduciary responsibility to do so. Diversification, by type of investment (stock, bonds and real estate) and by geography, is considered prudent financial management.

Mr. Romney's opponents are asking why anyone needs a Swiss bank account (except for the rich Democrats who have them). Three reasons come to mind: safety, better returns and better service. When Mr. Obama took office, the Swiss franc, in dollar terms, was about 20 percent cheaper than it is today and almost 50 percent cheaper than 10 years ago. Some of the Swiss private banks have been around for more than 200 years and are managed prudently because the owners are totally at risk (unlike U.S. banks). Alas, ordinary Americans are being prevented from protecting themselves from U.S. economic mismanagement by having Swiss and other foreign bank accounts because of new Internal Revenue Service regulations. Some, such as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), are so costly and complex that foreign institutions increasingly are refusing to open accounts for Americans. (Note: Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, is the primary proponent of these destructive and oppressive regulations. He demands transparency for everyone else's financial accounts, but he is one of the senators who has refused to release his own tax returns.) The attacks on Switzerland by the Obama campaign in its attempts to stigmatize Mr. Romney have become so vicious and inaccurate that the Swiss government has protested.

The Gawker Media Group hit Mr. Romney last week by "exposing" that some of the funds in which he had invested were registered in the Cayman Islands, and some of those funds had been invested in companies that had gambling and other such allegedly naughty but legal operations. It then was uncovered by an enterprising financial blogger that Gawker Media Group Inc. was a Cayman Islands company. If you own mutual funds, there is a high probability that some of them will be registered in Cayman, which has more funds than any other jurisdiction because of regulatory efficiency, not tax evasion. I expect that almost every major media company — including the owners of MSNBC — has some of its legal entities in Cayman. I also expect that most people who own mutual funds — including Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney — have no idea about all of the activities of the businesses in which the funds invest.

The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent, which puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage with other countries that have lower rates (e.g. Canada at 15 percent, Ireland at 12 percent, Bulgaria at 10 percent and so on). As a result, U.S. companies are forced to move some of their operations into other countries in order to remain competitive. If they bring the profits back to the United States, they are taxed at the full U.S. rate. So Mr. Obama and others who resist allowing companies to bring back the money to the U.S. at a lower rate are basically forcing them to invest their profits and create jobs outside America. Mr. Levin and other economic know-nothings want to penalize U.S. companies for not bringing their profits back to the United States. Such restrictions would backfire by driving more companies to move their place of incorporation and head offices outside the U.S. The correct solution is to reduce the corporate tax rate to make U.S. businesses internationally competitive.

Many people lower their tax rates by donating substantial portions of their incomes to charity, as Mr. Romney does, or buying tax-free state and municipal bonds — even though they provide a lower rate of return than many taxable investments.

SOURCE

*****************************

Ham-fisted government in Michigan

Anybody who distrusts government regulators is just being realistic. There have been too many instances of Gestapo tactics from them

Almost any breed of pig can go feral. We have some pretty formidable ones in Northern Australia that are descended from British domestic breeds. It is feral pigs, not a particular breed of pig, that should be targeted. Encouraging hunters would be the best idea but the animal rights and anti-gun people would be outraged


Mark Baker produces cured pork from a type of hybrid swine recently put on Michigan's invasive species list. Baker says complying with the state's new rules will end his business.
It's estimated that as many as 3,000 wild pigs are on the loose in Michigan. Nationwide, they cause more than $1.8 billion in damage to farms each year. So recently, the state's Department of Natural Resources put Russian boar on the state's invasive species list.

Mark Baker left the military eight years ago to start Baker's Green Acres, a small farm in Marion, Mich., with his wife and kids. Since then, he's put a whole lot of love, money and time into developing tasty charcuterie: salted and cured pork, derived from his hybrids of Russian boar and the heritage breed Mangalitsa.

"My chefs love it," Baker says. "They like the dark red meat, the woody flavor and the glistening fat."

At the moment, Baker is the only farmer raising the swine for human consumption who freely admits he has them.

But with Michigan's new order, Baker's herd was suddenly classified as an illegal invasive species — putting him at risk of up to two years in jail and $20,000 in fines. If Baker complies, he will receive no compensation for the loss of his investment.

That, he says, would finish his business. "It's over at that point," he says. "I'd be done." ....

The ultimate resolution to the debate may lie in court. Baker's lawsuit against the Michigan DNR has been joined with four other cases. The combined suit is just getting under way. Ultimately, if a judge rules in Baker's favor, the Invasive Species Order could be thrown out.

More HERE

***********************

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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, 2012

Sabbath





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.


IN BRIEF:

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 haters

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


If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)


My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.


I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.


"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.


There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts


Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.


Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.


America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course


The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"


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


Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left


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.


Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."


The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here


Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies


The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.


Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt


A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.


"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)


Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.


A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev


I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful


The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel


Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)


Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.


"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises


The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.


Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses


Among intelligent and well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.


A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.


Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.


Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.


If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.


“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser


“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775


"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.


Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.


Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance


Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.


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 Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.


Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.


"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


“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ? John Maynard Keynes


Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"



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 think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway


COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.


You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"




Index page for this site


FULL DETAILS OF CURRENT BLOGS BY JOHN RAY:

"Tongue Tied" blog
"Dissecting Leftism" blog (Backup here)
"Australian Politics" blog
"Education Watch International" blog
"Political Correctness Watch" blog
"Greenie Watch" blog
"Food & Health Skeptic" blog
"Eye on Britain" blog
"Immigration Watch International" blog.
"Marx & Engels in their own words" blog (Now rarely updated)
"A scripture blog" (Now rarely updated)
"A recipe blog (Now rarely updated)
"Some memoirs" (Occasionally updated)
"Paralipomena" (Occasionally updated)



There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)




Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)



Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/42197/20091027-0004/jonjayray.110mb.com/