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

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

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30 September, 2013

Greek ruling parties arrest their political opponents (Greece is ruled at the moment by a Left/Right coalition)

Greece is sliding into Fascism. And the Fascism is not coming from the alleged Fascists. It's thoroughly Fascist to arrest your political opponents on trumped-up allegations.

Despite various accusations, Golden Dawn is primarily an anti-illegal-immigrant party, which makes you "Fascist" or "Nazi" to the Left dominated media. Golden Dawn describe themselves as patriotic socialists. See here. Greece shares a border with the Muslim world so is heavily impacted by illegal immigration. Greek dislike of that gives Golden Dawn its support

The arrests are plainly unconstitutional. There is a technical exception in the Greek Constitution that allows for the arrest of MPs for flagrant crimes but how a crime committed by a supporter acting alone falls into that category is obscure to say the least. The arrests present Greek democracy in a very poor light. Anything is better than sending illegals back whence they came, apparently. Australia is doing so but it seems to be the only country with bipartisan support for such a policy

Greek police arrested the leader and more than a dozen senior members of the far-right Golden Dawn party early on Saturday after the killing of an anti-fascist rapper by a party supporter triggered outrage and protests across the country.

The arrests, which are the most significant crackdown on a political party in Greece since the fall of a military dictatorship in 1974, are the biggest setback to Golden Dawn since it entered parliament on an anti-immigrant agenda last year.

"Nothing can scare us!" shouted a handcuffed Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman of the party, as he was transferred to the prosecutors' office flanked by hooded anti-terrorism police officers carrying machineguns.

Kasidiaris and the party's leader, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, three other lawmakers and 13 other members of the party were arrested on Saturday on charges of founding and participating in a criminal organization.

Police also confiscated two guns and a hunting rifle from Mihaloliakos' home, saying he did not have a license for them.

Ranked as Greece's third most popular party, Golden Dawn is under investigation for the murder of rapper Pavlos Fissas, who bled to death after being stabbed twice by a party sympathizer last week.

The party has denied any links to the killing of Fissas.

The anti-terrorism force, which is handling the case, was looking for one more senior party official and lawmaker, police spokesman Christos Parthenis said. Two police officials were also arrested on Saturday, he added.

Late in the evening, the detainees were taken under high security to the prosecutors' office and charged officially on evidence linking the party with a string of attacks, including the stabbing of the rapper on September 17 and the killing of an immigrant earlier this year, court officials told Reuters.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias hailed the arrests as "a historic day for Greece and Europe."

"I want to assure Greek citizens that the investigation will not end here," Dendias said. "There is no room for criminal organizations in Greece."

Mihaloliakos has warned that Golden Dawn could pull its 18 lawmakers from parliament if the crackdown does not stop.

If potential by-elections were won by the opposition, as some polls indicate, Greece's fragile two-party coalition would become politically untenable, Mihaloliakos has argued. But a government official said Greece might be able to avoid such by-elections depending on how the constitution is interpreted.

The party called on its website for protests in solidarity with its jailed leader and members.

Several hundred of its supporters gathered outside police headquarters waving Greek flags and chanting: "Long live the leader!" and "Blood, Honour, Golden Dawn". About 200 protesters unfurled a banner reading: "Golden Dawn" outside the party's headquarters in Athens.

"Golden Dawn is here. It will not back down. You cannot jail ideas," Golden Dawn MP Artemis Mattheopoulos, who is not among those detained, told reporters.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' government has so far resisted calls to ban the party, fearing it could make it even more popular at a time of growing anger at repeated rounds of austerity measures. It has instead tried to undermine the party by ordering probes that could deprive it of state funding.

Samaras ruled out snap elections after the arrests. The government has also played down talk of political instability and promised all Golden Dawn members would receive a fair trial.

Golden Dawn controls 18 of parliament's 300 seats and had so far appeared immune to accusations of violence and intimidation, scoring 14 percent in opinion polls before the stabbing. Two polls this week showed support had fallen to as low as 6.7 to 6.8 percent.

Greek lawmakers do not lose their political rights or seats unless there is a final court ruling against them. But the government has proposed a law that could block state funding for Golden Dawn if police find links to Fissas' murder.

The party, whose emblem resembles a swastika, rose from obscurity to enter parliament last year after promising to mine Greece's borders to prevent illegal immigrants from entering. Its members have been seen giving Nazi-style salutes and its leader has denied the Holocaust. The party rejects the neo-Nazi label.

Human rights groups have accused the party of being linked to attacks on immigrants, but this is the first time it is being investigated for evidence linking it to an attack.

It is not the first time its leader is being prosecuted. In 1979, Mihaloliakos was convicted of possessing explosives.

Mihaloliakos' daughter rushed to kiss her father as he entered the court, on his way to the prosecutors' office.

"I'm proud of my father, like any child would be if its father faced such political charges," Ourania Mihaloliakou told reporters. "We are stronger than ever."



Democratic Party Loves Ill-Informed Voters

Larry Elder

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is worried. In a recent speech at Boise State, O'Connor said: "Less than one-third of eighth-graders can identify the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence, and it's right there in the name. ... The more I read and the more I listen, the more apparent it is that our society suffers from an alarming degree of public ignorance."

This is good news for the left. The ill-informed are more susceptible to emotional arguments. They are more likely to see life as a zero-sum game. They are more likely to believe that the prosperous become so only at someone else's expense.

Take my Twitterverse "discourse" on the proposal to increase the minimum wage:

Elder: Obama said a higher minimum wage is vital to "a rising, thriving middle class." Switzerland has no national minimum wage. Its unemployment is 3 percent.... U.S. had no minimum wage 'til 1938. How did it become so powerful?

Twitter respondent: America wasn't close to the super power it is until after World War 2 -- in 1939. And you're supposed to be a journalist?

Elder: The U.S. became a "superpower" because of minimum wage? Adjusted for inflation the first minimum wage would be $4. And I'm not a journalist -- I'm a commentator.

Twitter respondent: You asked how we're a super power. We don't recover from the Great Depression without military production in World War II and paying workers.

Elder: I repeat, prior to the 1938 introduction of minimum wage -- which today would be $4 -- how do you account for America's growth?

Twitter respondent: I guess you didn't go to high school like the rest of us to know there was no "growth" in the '30s due to the unemployment rate.

Elder: So far, I've politely asked questions. Before the '30s, we had a decade known as the "Roaring '20s" -- no minimum wage. Explain.

Titter respondent: We were "roaring" with a slave class. I don't accept that as good policy.

Once people resort to terms like "slave class" in a discussion on minimum wage, it's time to call the waiter and get the check.

Check out the "discourse" following my tweets on Aaron Alexis, the black man responsible for the Navy Yard killing spree. Did Alexis, as with killers Major Nidal Hassan of the Fort Hood massacre and former Los Angeles Police Department cop Christopher Dorner, receive LESS scrutiny from authorities out of fear of being called anti-Islamic or racist?

Twitter respondent: There is no dearth of pathetic Negroes like (at)larryelder willing to spout unsupported race-based guesses!

Elder: In your world is calling someone a "pathetic Negro" a brand of argumentation?

Twitter respondent (compilation): Pathetic Negro, a definition: To pander to racists using unsupported, fact-less race-baiting, eg. Your statement "in my world" is another Negro dog whistle to his masters, proving my point. "In my world" facts matter and your baseless suppositions of what others thought do not. Further, Negroes like you are always on hand with "observations" that "legitimize" Fox News views. Unless you're lying about your background, I'm not from the ghetto, gangs or criminal, what "world" do you mean?

Elder: I mean in the world of people who don't know how to craft an argument and instead resort to taunts and name-calling. That world.... Interesting that even the term "your world" disturbs you. Yet calling people with whom you disagree silly names is not disturbing.

Twitter respondent: I typically don't waste time with Negro amateur journalists promoting (at)FoxNews race-baiting narrative. You have my opinion.

Elder: Are you so ill-informed that you don't know the difference between a "journalist" and a commentator? As for my "race-baiting" narrative, here's exactly what I wrote and said. (I gave him a link to my last column on the Navy Yard killer).

Twitter respondent: "Pathetic Negro" is not a taunt, it's a term that describes Negros who fit their behavior to racist audience expectations.

Elder: Use whatever term you want for "pathetic Negro," it is not argumentation. I attempted to engage you, but you'd rather name-call.

Twitter respondent: Let's be clear. I do not "disagree" with you, Your "report" was base conjecture used as basis for race baiting "conclusion."... Your term, "your world," does not "disturb me" in the least. Like I said, I identified it for what it is, a Negro dog whistle.... You are neither and whatever you think you are, you are a pathetic Negro used by @FoxNews for "cover."

Elder: This is what passes for discourse? I make an argument. You attack the commentator. And you don't even realize it.

Democrats win because their narrative works on an emotional level -- us against them. Bad, selfish people -- known as Republicans -- want to stop the good and the decent -- known as Democrats -- from their right to health care, right to a job, right to a job with a "livable wage" and the right to not only enjoy one's own lifestyle but to brand critics as racists, sexists or homophobes.

Former Justice O'Connor is worried. We all should be.



Al Gore goes off at the deep end -- and loses support

In his address to the liberal Brookings Institution, Al Gore used the term "Political Terrorism" to refer to GOP threats to shut down the government and default on the U.S. debt in order to block Obamacare

"Now I’m going to talk about the potential for a shutdown in just a moment, but I think that the only phrase that describes it is political terrorism. ‘Nice global economy you got there… Be a shame if we had to destroy it. We have a list of demands… If you don’t meet them all by our deadline, we’ll blow up the global economy’… How dare you. How dare you.”

"Why does partisanship have anything to do with such a despicable and dishonorable threat to the integrity of the United States of America?" Gore also asked

Laurence Jarvik of PBS was offended and heads a blog post: "Al Gore's Brookings Hate Speech Made Me Quit Email List". He unsubscribed himself from Brookings saying:

"Shame on Brookings for passing on Al Gore's uncivil remarks, without condemnation.

Does Brookings want to arrest "political terrorists" now? Call in drone strikes? This rhetoric is simply beyond the pale of civilized discourse, a slippery slope of political dehumanization of the opposition.

As you know, Vice President Al Gore and the Republic survived a shutdown in the Clinton administration very nicely. There were shutdowns in the Carter administration, as well. It is called the congressional power of the purse.

After reading this email, I no longer have confidence in Brookings' rationality, nor its commitment to civil political discourse."



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

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


29 September, 2013

The liberal "logic" never stops


Book Review of 'David and Goliath' by Malcolm Gladwell. Review by Christopher Chabris, a psychology professor at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y

I have some previous comments on Malcolm Gladwell here and here. Gladwell too often presents as proven laws what are just intriguing possibilities and musings about human behavior. I think his reputation as a serious thinker owes more to that bush of African hair on his head than anything else. "Affirmative" racism is a most pervasive poison in American discourse -- JR

David Boies is the super-lawyer who represented IBM against the U.S. government, the U.S. government against Microsoft, Al Gore against George W. Bush and gay marriage against California's Proposition 8. A man at the top of his profession, presiding over a firm of 200 lawyers, he would seem to be a metaphorical Goliath. But Malcolm Gladwell sees this literal David as a figurative David too, because Mr. Boies came from humble origins and faced mighty obstacles to success.

We learn in Mr. Gladwell's "David and Goliath" that Mr. Boies grew up in rural Illinois, where he was an indifferent student. After he graduated high school, he worked construction. He went to college mainly because his wife encouraged him to. But the small university he attended near Los Angeles happened to have one of the country's premier debate programs. Mr. Boies traveled more than 20,000 miles to participate in debate tournaments. He left college early to start law school at Northwestern, became editor in chief of its law review and transferred to Yale, where he received his law degree.

One of Mr. Gladwell's best sellers, "Outliers" (2008), was about how outsize success results from arbitrary advantages and disciplined practice. Bill Gates was lucky enough to have a computer terminal in his high school when personal computers didn't yet exist; the Beatles laboriously honed their craft in Germany before hitting the London scene. So is the story of David Boies just another case like these—of a guy who stumbled into a rigorous debate program that inculcated the skills and provided the training he would need to out-argue his law-school peers and reach the top?

Not in this book. The overarching thesis of "David and Goliath" is that for the strong, "the same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness," whereas for the weak, "the act of facing overwhelming odds produces greatness and beauty." According to Mr. Gladwell, the secret of Mr. Boies's greatness is neither luck nor training. Rather, he got where he did because he was dyslexic.

You read that right. In a section on what Mr. Gladwell calls "the theory of desirable difficulty," he asks: "You wouldn't wish dyslexia on your child. Or would you?" You might if you were aware that Mr. Boies himself attributes his success to his dyslexia, as do Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs, and Brian Grazer, the Hollywood megaproducer. Examples like these are the main source of evidence Mr. Gladwell marshals for the claim that dyslexia might actually be a desirable trait. Difficulty reading is said to have forced Mr. Boies to compensate by developing skills of observation and memory, which he exploited in the courtroom. It's an uplifting story; what seems on the surface to be just a disability turns out, on deeper examination, to be an impetus for hard work and against-all-odds triumph.

Mr. Gladwell enjoys a reputation for translating social science into actionable insights. But the data behind the surprising dyslexia claim is awfully slim. He notes in passing that a 2009 survey found a much higher incidence of dyslexia in entrepreneurs than in corporate managers. But this study involved only 102 self-reported dyslexic entrepreneurs, most of whom probably had careers nothing like those of Mr. Boies or his fellow highfliers. Later Mr. Gladwell mentions that dyslexics are also overrepresented in prisons—a point that would appear to vitiate his argument. He addresses the contradiction by suggesting that while no person should want to be dyslexic, "we as a society need people" with serious disadvantages to exist, for we all benefit from the over-achievement that supposedly results. But even if dyslexia could be shown to cause entrepreneurship, the economic analysis that would justify a claim of its social worth is daunting, and Mr. Gladwell doesn't attempt it.

To make his point about the general benefits of difficulty, Mr. Gladwell refers to a 2007 experiment in which people were given three mathematical reasoning problems to solve. One group was randomly assigned to read the problems in a clear typeface like the one you are reading now; the other had to read them in a more difficult light-gray italic print. The latter group scored 29% higher, suggesting that making things harder improves cognitive performance. It's an impressive result on the surface, but less so if you dig a bit deeper.

First, the study involved just 40 people, or 20 per typeface—a fact Mr. Gladwell fails to mention. That's a very small sample on which to hang a big argument. Second, they were all Princeton University students, an elite group of problem-solvers. Such matters wouldn't matter if the experiment had been repeated with larger samples that are more representative of the general public and had yielded the same results. But Mr. Gladwell doesn't tell readers that when other researchers tried just that, testing nearly 300 people at a Canadian public university, they could not replicate the original effect. Perhaps he didn't know about this, but anyone who has followed recent developments in social science should know that small studies with startling effects must be viewed skeptically until their results are verified on a broader scale. They might hold up, but there is a good chance they will turn out to be spurious.

This flaw permeates Mr. Gladwell's writings: He excels at telling just-so stories and cherry-picking science to back them. In "The Tipping Point" (2000), he enthused about a study that showed facial expressions to be such powerful subliminal persuaders that ABC News anchor Peter Jennings made people vote for Ronald Reagan in 1984 just by smiling more when he reported on him than when he reported on his opponent, Walter Mondale. In "Blink" (2005), Mr. Gladwell wrote that a psychologist with a "love lab" could watch married couples interact for just 15 minutes and predict with shocking accuracy whether they would divorce within 15 years. In neither case was there rigorous evidence for such claims.

But what about those dyslexic business titans? With all respect to Messrs. Boies, Cohn and Grazer, successful people are not the best witnesses in the cases of their own success. How can Mr. Boies, or anyone else, know that dyslexia, rather than rigorous debate training, was the true cause of his legal triumphs? His parents were both teachers, and could have instilled a love of studying and learning. He also had high SAT scores, which indicate intelligence and an ability to focus. Maybe his memory was strong before he realized he had trouble reading. Perhaps it's a combination of all these factors, plus some luck. Incidentally, Mr. Boies's SAT scores and debate training aren't mentioned in "David and Goliath." I learned about them from his 2004 memoir, "Courting Justice."

In Mr. Cohn's case, dyslexia is said to have made him willing to take risks to get his first job in finance, as an options trader. Suppose he weren't dyslexic—isn't it likely that he would have still been a bit of a risk-taker? I know of no scientific evidence for a correlation between risk-taking and reading difficulty, and even if there were one, taking risks might just as well lead to bad outcomes (like those prison sentences) as to good ones.

A theorem of mathematics implies that in the absence of friction, any knot, no matter how complicated, can be undone by pulling on one end of the string. The causes of success in the real world are nothing like this: Resistance abounds, and things are so tangled up that it is virtually impossible to sort them out. Mr. Gladwell does no work to try to loosen the threads. Instead he picks one and, armed with the power of hindsight, just keeps yanking on it. Why are the Impressionist painters renowned today? Because they set up their own exhibitions to gain greater visibility in the 19th-century Paris art scene. "David and Goliath" discusses no other possibilities. Why did crime go down in Brownsville, Brooklyn over the past decade? Because the local police worked hard to increase their legitimacy in the minds of the community members. Nothing else is seriously considered.

None of this is to say that Mr. Gladwell has lost his gift for telling stories, or that his stories are unimportant. On the contrary, in "David and Goliath" readers will travel with colorful characters who overcame great difficulties and learn fascinating facts about the Battle of Britain, cancer medicine and the struggle for civil rights, to name just a few more topics upon which Mr. Gladwell's wide-ranging narrative touches. This is an entertaining book. But it teaches little of general import, for the morals of the stories it tells lack solid foundations in evidence and logic.....

One thing "David and Goliath" shows is that Mr. Gladwell has not changed his own strategy, despite serious criticism of his prior work. What he presents are mostly just intriguing possibilities and musings about human behavior, but what his publisher sells them as, and what his readers may incorrectly take them for, are lawful, causal rules that explain how the world really works. Mr. Gladwell should acknowledge when he is speculating or working with thin evidentiary soup. Yet far from abandoning his hand or even standing pat, Mr. Gladwell has doubled down. This will surely bring more success to a Goliath of nonfiction writing, but not to his readers.



Can We Finally Start Talking About The Global Persecution Of Christians?

Wealthy Kenyans and Westerners bustled about Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi on Saturday. Families ate lunch in the food court. A radio station targeting Kenyan Asians was hosting a children’s event on the roof of the parking lot.

Around noon, armed gunmen stormed the mall and exploded grenades. Thousands of terrified people dropped to the floor, fled out of exits and hid in stores. The gunmen began lining people up and shooting some of the five dozen people they would slaughter and 240 people, ages 2 to 78, that they would wound.

Al-Shabaab, which is claiming credit for the attack, is reported to have singled out non-Muslims. “A witness to the attacks at Nairobi’s upscale mall says that gunmen told Muslims to stand up and leave and that non-Muslims would be targeted,” according to the Associated Press.

To weed out the infidels, according to news reports, the terrorists asked people for the name of Muhammad’s mother or to recite a verse from the Quran.

And that wasn’t even the worst terrorist attack of the weekend.
The Washington Post reported that one British mother and her young children survived when captors who shot her allowed her to leave on the condition she immediately convert to Islam. The siege of the mall, which included the taking of hostages, lasted four days. Three floors of the mall collapsed and bodies were buried in the rubble.

And that wasn’t even the worst terrorist attack of the weekend.

The next day, two suicide bombs went off as Christians were leaving Sunday services at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, Pakistan.

“There were blasts and there was hell for all of us,” Nazir John, who was at the church with at least 400 other worshipers, told the Associated Press. “When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around.”

Some 85 Christians were slaughtered and 120 injured, the bloodiest attack on Christians in Pakistan in history. The hospital ran out of beds for the injured and there weren’t enough caskets for the dead.

“I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around.”
The situation for Christians in Egypt has also gone from bad to worse. August saw the worst anti-Christian violence in seven centuries. Sam Tadros, a Coptic Christian and author of Motherland Lost, says that there has been nothing like this year’s Muslim Brotherhood anti-Christian pogrom since 1321, when a similar wave of church burnings and persecution caused the decline of the Christian community in Egypt from nearly half of Egypt’s population to its current ten percent.

The violence of just three days in mid-August was staggering. Thirty-eight churches were destroyed, 23 vandalized; 58 homes were burned and looted and 85 shops, 16 pharmacies and 3 hotels were demolished. It was so bad that the Coptic Pope was in hiding, many Sunday services were canceled, and Christians stayed indoors, fearing for their lives. Six Christians were killed in the violence. Seven were kidnapped.

Maalula, Syria, is an ancient Christian town that has been so sheltered for 2,000 years that it’s one of only three villages where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Until September 7, when Islamist rebels attacked as part of the civil war ripping through the country.

An eyewitness to the murder of three Christians in Maalula—Mikhael Taalab, his cousin Antoun Taalab, and his grandson Sarkis el Zakhm—reported that the Islamists warned everyone present to convert to Islam. Sarkis answered clearly, Vatican news agency Fides reported: “I am a Christian and if you want to kill me because I am a Christian, do it.”

Sister Carmel, one of the Christians in Damascus who assist Maalula’s many displaced Christians, told Fides, “What Sarkis did is true martyrdom, a death in odium fidei.”

In recent weeks, we have Muslims killing Christians in Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria. Again.

It’s time to ask an important question that many of us have successfully avoided for far too long:

Can we finally start talking about the global persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims?

Finally? Please?



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

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


27 September, 2013

EU: What’s Fine for Spain Is Unacceptable for Israel

Recent news reports from Spain beautifully illustrate why nobody should take the European Union’s pretensions to moral superiority seriously–and especially not when it comes to Israel. Spain is now committing virtually every “abuse” the EU sanctimoniously accuses Israel of, without a peep of protest from its European peers.

For instance, Spain recently erected checkpoints along its border with Gibraltar that are creating real hardship. The checkpoints have lengthened travel times from 45 minutes to two hours for cross-border commuters and also increased costs, since people who used to drive now combine foot travel and taxis to reach work on time. These are precisely the complaints Europeans routinely level at Israeli checkpoints: that they undermine the Palestinian economy by increasing the time and expense of commuting to work or moving cargo.

But unlike the Spanish checkpoints–which blatantly violate the EU’s open-border rules–Israeli checkpoints are perfectly legal under international law, even if you accept the EU’s definition of the West Bank as “occupied territory” (which Israel doesn’t; it considers the area disputed territory). Under the laws of belligerent occupation, an occupying army is entitled to take reasonable military measures within the occupied territory to ensure its country’s security; it isn’t restricted to operating along the border. And Israel’s checkpoints were established to stop Palestinian suicide bombers.

Spain’s checkpoints, in contrast, are officially there to stop cigarette smuggling, though Gibraltar claims they are pure retaliation for its efforts to curb Spanish overfishing in its waters. By any standard, stopping suicide bombers is a stronger justification. Yet the same European officials who vociferously condemn Israel’s checkpoints have nothing to say about the Spanish ones.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Catalonians who formed a 250-mile human chain this month to demand independence from Spain. Catalonians also gave an absolute majority to pro-independence parties in last year’s provincial elections. Yet Spain adamantly refuses to let the province hold a referendum on secession.

By any standard, Israel has more justification for caution about Palestinian statehood than Spain does about Catalonian statehood. Catalonia has never threatened Spain in any way, nor is there any Catalonian terrorism. In contrast, large swathes of Palestinian society still call for Israel’s destruction, and every previous Israeli cession of land to the Palestinians has produced a security nightmare: nonstop rocket fire from Gaza, and endless suicide bombings and shooting attacks from the West Bank (until Israel reoccupied it). Indeed, of the roughly 1,800 Israelis killed by terrorists since Israel’s founding in 1948, fully two-thirds–about 1,200–were killed after Israel began ceding land to the Palestinians under the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Yet the European officials who repeatedly demand Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the West Bank haven’t said a word to support Catalonia. Apparently, Catalonians have no right to self-determination.

Then there are the Basques, whose oft-proclaimed desire for independence can’t be tested in a vote because Spain repeatedly bars pro-independence parties from running on the grounds of alleged ties to the Basque terror group ETA. That also doesn’t bother anyone in Europe, even though Europe objects vociferously when Israel refuses to talk to Palestinian parties that actively support terror, like Yasser Arafat’s PLO during the second intifada. Nor was Europe troubled when Spain severed peace talks with ETA at the very first terror attack, which killed exactly two people, though it condemned Israel viciously for halting talks with Arafat over repeated terror attacks that killed more than 1,000 people.

In short, Europe denounces Israeli actions as unacceptable even as it deems the exact same actions by Spain unexceptionable. There’s a name for such double standards, and it isn’t “human rights.” It’s known as hypocrisy.



Syria’s Refugee Problem and the West

Refugees from Syria should be hosted by Middle Eastern countries

By Daniel Pipes

The lull in the chemical-weapon crisis offers a chance to divert attention to the huge flow of refugees leaving Syria and to rethink some misguided assumptions about their future.

About one-tenth of Syria’s 22 million residents have fled across an international border, mostly to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Unable to cope with the numbers of refugees, the governments of these countries are restricting entry, prompting international concern about the Syrians’ plight. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, suggests that his agency (as the Guardian paraphrases him) “look[s] to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in countries better able to afford to host them,” recalling the post-2003 Iraqi resettlement program, when 100,000 Iraqis resettled in the West. Others also look instinctively to the West for a solution; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, has called on Western states “to do more” for Syrian refugees.

The appeal has been heard: Canada has offered to take 1,300 Syrian refugees and the United States 2,000. Italy has received 4,600 Syrian refugees by sea. Germany has offered to take (and has begun receiving) 5,000. Sweden has offered asylum to the 15,000 Syrians already in that country. Local groups are preparing for a substantial influx throughout the West.

But these numbers pale beside a population numbering in the millions, meaning that the West alone cannot solve the Syrian-refugee problem. Further, many in Western countries (especially European ones such as the Netherlands and Switzerland) have wearied of taking in Muslim peoples who do not assimilate but instead seek to replace Western mores with the sharia. Both German chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister David Cameron have deemed multiculturalism, with its insistence on the equal value of all civilizations, a failure. Worse, fascist movements such as the Golden Dawn in Greece are growing.

And many more Muslim refugees are likely on their way. In addition to Syrians, these include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Somalis, and Algerians. Other nationals (e.g., Yemenis and Tunisians) might soon join their ranks.

Happily, a solution lies at hand.

To place Syrians in “countries better able to afford to host them,” as Guterres delicately puts it, one need simply divert attention from the Christian-majority West toward the vast, empty expanses of the fabulously wealthy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the smaller but in some cases even richer states of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. For starters, these countries (which I will call Arabia) are much more convenient to repatriate to Syria from than, say, New Zealand. Living there also means not enduring frozen climes (as in Sweden) or learning difficult languages spoken by few (such as Danish).

More important, Muslims of Arabia share deep religious ties with their Syrian brothers and sisters, so their settling there avoids the strains of life in the West. Consider some of the haram (forbidden) elements of life in the West that Muslim refugees avoid by living in Arabia:

Pet dogs (of which there are 61 million in the United States alone)

A pork-infused cuisine and an alcohol-soaked social life

State-sponsored lotteries and Las Vegas–style gambling emporia

Immodestly dressed women, ballet, swimsuit beauty contests, single women living alone, mixed bathing, dating, and lawful prostitution

Lesbian bars, pride parades, and gay marriage

A lax attitude toward hallucinogens, with some drugs legal in certain jurisdictions

Blasphemous novels, anti-Koran politicians, organizations of apostate Muslims, and a pastor who repeatedly and publicly burns Korans

Instead, Muslims living in Saudi Arabia can rejoice in a law code that (unlike Ireland’s) permits polygamy and (unlike Britain’s) allows child marriages. Unlike France, Arabia allows wife-beating and goes easy on female genital mutilation. Unlike in the United States, slaveholding does not entail imprisonment and male relatives can kill their womenfolk for the sake of family honor without fear of the death penalty.

The example of Syrians and Arabia suggests a far broader point: Regardless of the affluence of the host countries, refugees should be allowed and encouraged to remain within their own cultural zone, where they most readily fit in, can best stay true to their traditions, least disrupt the host society, and from whence they might most easily return home. Thus, East Asians should generally resettle in East Asia, Middle Easterners in the Middle East, Africans in Africa, and Westerners in the West.

U.N. take note: Focus less on the West, more on the rest.



Shot Down, Twice

Shot down over Laos in 1969, the bodies of two MIA Vietnam era Air Force aviators were recovered and returned home for burial at Arlington National Cemetery this week. Major James Sizemore and his navigator Major Howard Andre were buried at Arlington National Cemetery, laid to rest side by side, just the way they flew.

However, the Air Force refused the traditional ceremonial flyover to honor these men. Captain Rose Richardson noted, “The Air Force is unable to support the flyover request for Major Sizemore due to limited flying hours and budget constraints.” In other words, this is the latest entry in Obama's “blame the Republican sequester” charade. However, volunteer pilots with the Warrior Flight Team stepped into the gap and provided a flyover, including a Douglas A26 Invader of the type Sizemore and Andre were flying when they were shot down 44 years ago. The Invader was joined by P51 Mustangs off its wings.

The Patriot Post has now written about Obama's moratorium on honor flights several times since his sequestration cuts began, and each time we have noted that, while these flights have been denied, Barack Obama continues to use Air Force One and its entire contingent of additional Air Force aircraft and support crews to commute to political fundraisers, stump speeches and vacations. It's not that we think Obama should book his flights on Expedia, but the fact that the commander in chief continues to use this most costly Air Force asset for purely political or pleasure trips while denying honor flights. And he should be called out by the national media. Even the conservative Beltway media have not seen fit to mention this unmitigated hypocrisy once.



Sliding Farther Down the Freedom Scale

It's becoming an annual lament: Once the United States was among the most economically free nations on the planet, but now we barely crack the top 20. According to the 2013 Economic Freedom of the World report, now co-published by the Cato and Fraser Institutes, we rank not only behind the usual leaders Hong Kong and Singapore, but Jordan and the United Kingdom as well. Jordan? Are you kidding us?

Apparently they're serious, and a key reason for the decline is the ever-growing role of our government in shaping the economy. At the turn of the century, the United States was generally just behind Hong Kong and Singapore atop the rankings, but that was before the size and scope of government grew thanks to the 9/11 terrorist attack and its resulting “enhanced” security measures, new and exploding entitlement programs, and – particularly in the last five years – a new regulatory state in response to economic crisis. “I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system,” said George W. Bush in 2008, and with that our economic freedom continued its plunge.

One piece of good news, if any can be found, is that the U.S. has stabilized its ranking at 19th after plunging eight spots from 10th to 18th between 2009 and 2010 – the current edition of Economic Freedom of the World is based on 2011 data, which is the latest available. The value assigned by the study showed we actually improved our lot from a 7.70 score (out of a possible 10) in last year's report to 7.74 this time. But that's a long way from the 8.65 rating we attained in the year 2000, and it may be at least a half-decade before we claw our way back over the 8-point barrier.




French socialists vow “unprecedented” spending cuts: "France vowed 'unprecedented' cuts in public spending to rein in its deficit without compromising much-needed growth, as it unveiled its draft 2014 budget on Wednesday. The pledge came as new figures showed the number of registered job seekers in France fell for the first time in more than two years. But critics on either side of the political spectrum remained sceptical that the cost-cutting would alleviate hardship in the Eurozone’s second largest economy, which is grappling with record-high unemployment, limited investment and low consumer spending."

Equality and the American public< /a>: "One of the reasons why our nation has prospered is that we have been able to capitalize on our individual abilities, abilities that are diverse and unequal. It’s the differences and 'disparities' between people that allows for innovation, invention, new technology, growth, prosperity and progress. To enforce equality upon the populous is not only unnatural (equality does not exist in nature), but it prevents the very prosperity we all desire, resulting in class warfare."


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

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


26 September, 2013

Media Blackout: Group Arrested For “Hunting Whites”

On Monday, police in Cincinnatti arrested a group of teenagers who reportedly terrorized folks in the downtown area, in a series of violent assaults. All of the beatings and robberies took place between June 1 to July 4.

Cortez Baker, 16, Randolph Jones, 16, and Kentrelle Aldridge, 16, have all been charged with several counts of robbery and assault, and more charges are likely to be filed.

WKRC reported:

"Police say the teens essentially hunted their victims. One says the suspects were passengers on his bus when they targeted him. “They didn’t ask me for anything.”

Chad Laumann was beaten and robbed on East Fourth Street last month while on his way to work. Though outnumbered, the 23 year-old says he outsmarted his attackers by intentionally staying in view of the surveillance camera. “So as they’re attacking you, you tell them there’s a camera. Yes, I tell them there’s cameras. And what did they say? They didn’t say anything. They just took off running.”

Two of the assailants can be seen kicking and punching Laumann, while a third rifles through his pockets.

In fact, it was that same surveillance footage which was essential in the teens’ capture. A Cincinnatti bike patrol officer recognized one of the suspects by the distinctive shirt he was wearing, which he also wore on the night of the attack.

In all, police believe the gang is responsible for at least four equally vicious attacks.

Cincinnatti Police Capt. Paul Broxterman described the string of assaults to WLWT, as “a pack of lions hunting down a wounded zebra.”

On Tuesday, another victim came forward, whose attack was also caught on video.

All three alleged assailants live in a group home operated by Kelly Youth Services and had been given an outside pass for ‘good behavior,’ the night Laumann was so brutally assaulted.

Of course, not one national media outlet has seen fit to give these racially-charged attacks any coverage, while providing nearly around-the-clock coverage to the George Zimmerman trial.



He Votes

Snopes tried to debunk this but could not

She votes


Would you like to fall into the hands of someone with this mentality?

Gaza man suspends animal that ate his salary by limbs and posts image on Facebook

A Palestinian man has retaliated against a mouse that chewed through some of his wages by suspending the animal by its limbs and posting an image on Facebook.

The man, who lives in Gaza but is originally from the city of Hebron in the West Bank, tied the mouse to ropes to avenge the mouse’s actions in sneaking into the Palestinian’s closet and eating 3 banknotes of 200 Israeli Shekels each (Dh200) of the man’s pay.

The man claimed he had just received his weekly salary and had hidden it from view for safety.



Forget Cyprus. What about Poland?

Are we sure "It can't happen here"?

While the world was glued to the developments in the Mediterranean in the past week, Poland took a page straight out of Rahm Emanuel's playbook and in order to not let a crisis go to waste, announced quietly that it would transfer to the state - i.e., confiscate - the bulk of assets owned by the country's private pension funds (many of them owned by such foreign firms as PIMCO parent Allianz, AXA, Generali, ING and Aviva), without offering any compensation. In effect, the state just nationalized roughly half of the private sector pension fund assets, although it had a more politically correct name for it: pension overhaul.

By way of background, Poland has a hybrid pension system: as Reuters explains, mandatory contributions are made into both the state pension vehicle, known as ZUS, and the private funds, which are collectively known by the Polish acronym OFE. Bonds make up roughly half the private funds' portfolios, with the rest company stocks.

And while a change to state-pension funds was long awaited - an overhaul if you will - nobody expected that this would entail a literal pillage of private sector assets.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said private funds within the state-guaranteed system would have their bond holdings transferred to a state pension vehicle, but keep their equity holdings. The funds would effectively be left with only the equities portions of their assets, even this would be depleted, and there will be uncertainty about the number of new savers joining.

But why is Poland engaging in behavior that will ultimately be disastrous to future capital allocation in non-public pension funds (the type that can at least on paper generate some returns as opposed to "public" funds which are guaranteed to lose)? After all, this is a last ditch step which no rational person would engage in unless there were no other option. Simple: there were no other option, and the driver is the same reason the world everywhere else is broke too - too much debt.



Chef Geoff: Wage hike would 'wipe me out'

Chef Geoff says that if tipped restaurant workers get a minimum pay raise to $8.25 or more an hour, it would "wipe me out"

Among the bevy of minimum wage hike bills introduced by D.C. Council members Tuesday is one that may destroy Chef Geoff. So wrote Geoffrey Tracy, aka Chef Geoff, in a letter to Councilman Vincent Orange, D-At large, whose proposed legislation would raise the minimum wage for tipped restaurant employees from $2.77 to $8.75 within five years.

That hike, wrote Tracy, owner of two D.C. restaurants (one downtown and another at 3201 New Mexico Ave. NW) would cost him $494,000 a year.

“Without getting into the specifics of my finances,” Tracy wrote, “that would wipe me out. Many politicians, when posed with this will say ‘Just raise prices.’ Please, if I could have raised prices to make an extra half million, I would have done it. People already complain about prices.”

Specifically, Orange’s bill calls for a hike to D.C.’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $12.50 an hour by January 2018. The tip employee minimum, Orange said, would increase to 70 percent of the city’s standard minimum wage, or $8.75 an hour.

Tracy is chairman of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. He told me Tuesday that restaurant employee compensation works differently than other, traditional businesses. Employees are guaranteed to earn a minimum wage, he said, either through salary plus tips, or, if tips fall short, through additional employer pay. Most workers, he said, “make a lot more than that.” “That’s how the system works,” Tracy said.

Kathy Hollinger, RAMW president, said the industry "recognizes there needs to be a modest increase in the minimum wage," but Orange's tipped worker boost, she said, is “a little extreme.” “It’s not a 50 percent increase,” Hollinger said. “It’s significant. This was not thoughtful at any level. How are you going to do this at a 190 percent increase?”

As he introduced the bill, Orange touted the measure as a means of lifting families out of poverty. He made the same argument for the living wage bill that Mayor Vincent Gray successfully vetoed.

“The time is right for the District to raise its minimum wage,” Orange said. “The city is in the midst of unparalled prosperity and citizens who weather the bad times should also be able to afford the opportunity to enjoy the good times.”

But restaurants, Hollinger said, are generally small businesses, and at more than $8 an hour, they’ll be destroyed.



Why Has Mahmoud Abbas Given the Nod to "Lone Wolf" Palestinian Terror?

No word of condemnation has come from any Palestinian leader for the murders of two Israeli soldiers two days apart by West Bank Palestinians: Saturday, September 21, Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, from Bat Yam, was found murdered in a water hole near the West Bank town of Qalqilya.

Sunday, another 20-year old, 1st Sgt. Gal Koby from Tirat Hacarmel, was killed by a single Palestinian sniper’s bullet while on guard at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

The silence from Ramallah is well-orchestrated, a signal that Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, is in favour of picking off Israeli soldiers every few days, so as to boost his hand in the US-sponsored negotiations with Israel.

Those talks have not advanced an inch, since the parties remain entrenched in their widely separate positions.

Three months into the talks initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni [pictured below] and Yitzhak Molcho for Israel and the Palestinian Saeb Erekat have not even agreed on an agenda. On September 8, Livni proposed a working agenda of 17 items. The Palestinians countered with an agenda of six items, all them relating to the most contentious “core issues” of the dispute.




Key official in IRS tea party controversy resigns: "Lois Lerner, a key official in the IRS’s tea party controversy, resigned Monday morning, according to the agency. Lerner submitted her resignation as an IRS accountability board was preparing to call for her removal on the basis of 'neglect of duties,' according to congressional aides from the House Ways and Means Committee. It is unclear whether Lerner’s resignation has already taken effect. The IRS said it could not comment further on the matter due to federal privacy rules."

States move ahead with food stamp cuts: "Some states are already embracing deep cuts to the food stamp program similar to those passed by House Republicans in Washington, ending the food subsidy for tens of thousands of low-income Americans regardless of what Congress does. Spurred by the ballooning cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the GOP-dominated House voted Thursday 217-210 to cut $39 billion in the food assistance program over 10 years. Among the changes: Ending waivers for states that during the recession allowed as many as 4 million people to collect food stamps who otherwise would not have qualified." [Note: These allegedly "deep" cuts are a whopping 5% and would take food stamp spending back to those bare-bones, small-government days of mid-2011]

Switzerland: Referendum voters choose to keep conscription: "Swiss voters want to keep the country's compulsory military service, exit polls from the latest national referendum on the topic have suggested. Voting trends indicated a large majority of Swiss rejected plans to abolish conscription. Correspondents say the Swiss Army is regarded as costly and many young men complain that their time is wasted. But older voters say obligatory duty in the armed forces remains the best way to defend the neutral country."

Former FBI agent to plead guilty to informing public: "The Justice Department says it’s solved one of the most significant leak cases in recent memory: disclosure of an Al Qaeda airliner-bombing plot last year that had reportedly been penetrated by western intelligence services. Former FBI agent Donald Sachtleben, 55, admitted in court papers Monday that he disclosed classified information about the plot to a journalist. The court filings don’t identify the reporter or the news outlet, but a federal law enforcement official who asked not to be named told POLITICO the leaks in question were to the Associated Press."


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

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


25 September, 2013

American Banana Republic

The decay of a free society doesn’t happen overnight, but we’re getting there

By Mark Steyn

‘This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.

Is all this spending necessary? Every day, the foot-of-page-37 news stories reveal government programs it would never occur to your dimestore caudillo to blow money on. On Thursday, it was the Food and Drug Administration blowing just shy of $200 grand to find out whether its Twitter and Facebook presence is “well-received.” A fifth of a million dollars isn’t even a rounding error in most departmental budgets, so nobody cares. But the FDA is one of those sclerotic American institutions that has near to entirely seized up. In October 1920, it occurred to an Ontario doctor called Frederick Banting that insulin might be isolated and purified and used to treat diabetes; by January 1923, Eli Lilly & Co were selling insulin to American pharmacies: A little over two years from concept to market. Now the FDA adds at least half-a-decade to the process, and your chances of making it through are far slimmer: As recently as the late Nineties, they were approving 157 new drugs per half-decade. Today it’s less than half that.

But they’ve got $182,000 to splash around on finding out whether people really like them on Facebook, or they’re just saying that. So they’ve given the dough to a company run by Dan Beckmann, a former “new media aide” to President Obama. That has the whiff of the banana republic about it, too.

The National Parks Service, which I had carelessly assumed was the service responsible for running national parks, has been making videos on Muslim women’s rights: “Islam gave women a whole bunch of rights that Western women acquired later in the 19th and 20th centuries, and we’ve had these rights since the seventh century,” explains a lady from AnNur Islamic School in Schenectady at the National Park Service website, nps.gov. Fascinating stuff, no doubt. But what’s it to do with national parks? Maybe the rangers could pay Dan Beckmann a quarter-million bucks to look into whether the National Parks’ Islamic outreach is using social media as effectively as it might.

Where do you go to get a piece of this action? As the old saying goes, bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is. But the smart guys rob taxpayers because that’s where the big money is. According to the Census Bureau’s latest “American Community Survey,” between 2000 and 2012 the nation’s median household income dropped 6.6 percent. Yet in the District of Columbia median household income rose 23.3 percent. According to a 2010 survey, seven of the nation’s ten wealthiest counties are in the Washington commuter belt. Many capital cities have prosperous suburbs — London, Paris, Rome — because those cities are also the capitals of enterprise, finance, and showbiz. But Washington does nothing but government, and it gets richer even as Americans get poorer. That’s very banana republic, too: Proximity to state power is now the best way to make money. Once upon a time Americans found fast-running brooks and there built mills to access the water that kept the wheels turning. But today the ambitious man finds a big money-no-object bureaucracy that likes to splash the cash around and there builds his lobbying group or consultancy or social media optimization strategy group.

The CEO of Panera Bread, as some kind of do-gooder awareness-raising shtick, is currently attempting to live on food stamps, and not finding it easy. But being dependent on government handouts isn’t supposed to be easy. Instead of trying life at the bottom, why doesn’t he try life in the middle? In 2012, the top 10 percent were taking home 50.4 percent of the nation’s income. That’s an all-time record, beating out the 49 percent they were taking just before the 1929 market crash. With government redistributing more money than ever before, we’ve mysteriously wound up with greater income inequality than ever before. Across the country, “middle-class” Americans have accumulated a trillion dollars in college debt in order to live a less comfortable life than their high-school-educated parents and grandparents did in the Fifties and Sixties. That’s banana republic, too: no middle class, but only a government elite and its cronies, and a big dysfunctional mass underneath, with very little social mobility between the two.

Like to change that? Maybe advocate for less government spending? Hey, Lois Lerner’s IRS has got an audit with your name on it. The tax collectors of the United States treat you differently according to your political beliefs. That’s pure banana republic, but no one seems to mind very much. This week it emerged that senior Treasury officials, up to and including Turbotax Timmy Geithner, knew what was going on at least as early as spring 2012. But no one seems to mind very much. In the words of an insouciant headline writer at Government Executive, “the magazine for senior federal bureaucrats” (seriously), back in May:

“The Vast Majority of IRS Employees Aren’t Corrupt”

So, if the vast majority aren’t, what proportion is corrupt? Thirty-eight percent? Thirty-three? Twenty-seven? And that’s the good news? The IRS is not only institutionally corrupt, it’s corrupt in the service of one political party. That’s Banana Republic 101.

What comes next? Government officials present in Benghazi during last year’s slaughter have been warned not to make themselves available to congressional inquiry. CNN obtained one e-mail spelling out the stakes to CIA employees: “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”

“That’s all very ominous,” wrote my colleague Jonah Goldberg the other day, perhaps a little too airily for my taste. I’d rank it somewhere north of “ominous.”

“Banana republic” is an American coinage — by O. Henry, a century ago, for a series of stories set in the fictional tropical polity of Anchuria. But a banana republic doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a sensibility, and it’s difficult to mark the precise point at which a free society decays into something less respectable. Pace Obama, ever swelling debt, contracts for cronies, a self-enriching bureaucracy, a shrinking middle class preyed on by corrupt tax collectors, and thuggish threats against anyone who disagrees with you put you pretty far down the banana-strewn path.



Obamacare will Question Your Sex Life

‘Are you sexually active? If so, with one partner, multiple partners or same-sex partners?"

Be ready to answer those questions and more the next time you go to the doctor, whether it's the dermatologist or the cardiologist and no matter if the questions are unrelated to why you're seeking medical help. And you can thank the Obama health law.

"This is nasty business," says New York cardiologist Dr. Adam Budzikowski. He called the sex questions "insensitive, stupid and very intrusive." He couldn't think of an occasion when a cardiologist would need such information - but he knows he'll be pushed to ask for it.

The president's "reforms" aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary, and to violate their Hippocratic Oath to keep patients' records confidential.

Embarrassing though it may be, you confide things to a doctor you wouldn't tell anyone else. But this is entirely different.

Doctors and hospitals who don't comply with the federal government's electronic-health-records requirements forgo incentive payments now; starting in 2015, they'll face financial penalties from Medicare and Medicaid. The Department of Health and Human Services has already paid out over $12.7 billion for these incentives.

Dr. Richard Amerling, a nephrologist and associate professor at Albert Einstein Medical College, explains that your medical record should be "a story created by you and your doctor solely for your treatment and benefit." But the new requirements are turning it "into an interrogation, and the data will not be confidential."

Lack of confidentiality is what concerned the New York Civil Liberties Union in a 2012 report. Electronic medical records have enormous benefits, but with one click of a mouse, every piece of information in a patient's record, including the social history, is transmitted, disclosing too much.

The social-history questions also include whether you've ever used drugs, including IV drugs. As the NYCLU cautioned, revealing a patient's past drug problem, even if it was a decade ago, risks stigma.

On the other end of the political spectrum is the Goldwater Institute, a free-market think tank. It argues that by requiring everyone to have health insurance and then imposing penalties on insurers, doctors and hospitals who don't use the one-click electronic system, the law is violating Americans' medical privacy.

The administration is ignoring these protests from privacy advocates. On Jan. 17, HHS announced patients who want to keep something out of their electronic record should pay cash. That's impractical for most people.

There's one question they can't ask: Thanks to the NRA, Section 2716 of the ObamaCare law bars the federal government from compelling doctors and hospitals to ask you if you own a firearm.
But that's the only question they can't be told to ask you.

Where are the women's rights groups that went to the barricades in the 1980s and 1990s to prevent the federal government from accessing a woman's health records? Hypocritically, they are silent now.

Patients need to defend their own privacy by refusing to answer the intrusive social-history questions. If you need to confide something pertaining to your treatment, ask your doctor about keeping two sets of books so that your secret stays in the office. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath seriously and won't be offended.

Are such precautions paranoid? Hardly. WikiLeaker Bradley Manning showed how incompetent the government is at keeping its own secrets; incidents where various agencies accidentally disclose personal data like Social Security numbers are legion. And that's not to mention the ways in which commercial databases are prone to hacking and/or exploitation.

Be careful about sharing your medical secrets with Uncle Sam.



Racism isn’t Right Wing

The article below refers to the British National Party, primarily an anti-immigration party

Why are groups such as the BNP exclusively labelled as far-right or right wing for their racist views?

Racism isn’t Right Wing. Nor is it Left Wing. Racism does not adhere to any specific typeset ideologue. Racism is just that, racism.

Looking through the BNP’s 2010 General Election manifesto they have significantly more policies in common with a hard line Left Wing party like the Socialist Workers Party than they do with any that sit on the Right Wing.

A BNP led Government would call for the re-nationalisation of vital services in “Britain’s interest”. The polar opposite to the approach of a Right Wing Government who by nature would seek success through Privatisation. It’s simply inaccurate to refer to the BNP as Right Wing, even more so as the label seems to be predicated entirely on their anti-immigration stance.

Similar “far-right” labels have been placed at the feet of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party who tried to rid pre-war Germany of Capitalism and the societal inequalities he perceived it to yield. It seems again the only “Right Wing” traits in Hitler’s Germany are again based upon race. Hitler was a Lefty.

Extremist politics tend to always look the same. State, and a lot of it. The real far right is almost exclusively dominated with Libertarians and Neo-Conservatives. The debate is no longer one of Left Wing and Right Wing, but Authoritarian against Libertarian. Those who would further impose the state, versus those who would repeal it.

Incorrectly labelling groups like the BNP as Right Wing is lazy journalism, and doing so creates an undeserved stigma around the Right Wing and this clouds the real issue.

The BNP are statists, and statists are the real enemy of freedom.



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

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


24 September, 2013

A seething cauldron of hate in the British Labour Party

One of the mysteries of history is that no documentary record exists of Adolf Hitler ordering the extermination of the Jews of Europe. This led some historians to question even whether the Nazi dictator really knew about the Holocaust.

Twenty years ago, Britain’s most acclaimed biographer of Hitler, Sir Ian Kershaw, addressed this question in a now-celebrated essay, Working Towards The Fuhrer. Kershaw argued that Hitler’s aides, seeking to gain his approval, would initiate actions which corresponded to what they knew to be his wishes and interests. Thus it was not necessary for the Fuhrer to write to Himmler, the head of the SS: ‘Dear Heinrich, please could you gas the Jews, every last one of them. All the very best, Adolf.’

Without wishing in any way to imply moral equivalence between mass murder and New Labour’s dirty tricks, I propose the same theory to explain the central question raised by the Daily Mail’s serialisation of Power Trip, the extraordinary political memoir of Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor, Damian ‘Mad Dog’ McBride.

That question is: did Brown know of or authorise the vicious briefings McBride gave to the press, trashing the reputations of any and all who were perceived as threats, first to Brown’s ambition to become Labour leader in place of Tony Blair and then later to his remaining in charge.

McBride himself summarises his actions as follows: ‘Everything I did as Gordon’s spin doctor, I did out of devotion, out of loyalty and out of some degree of love for the greatest man I ever met ... my attack operations against his Labour rivals and Tory enemies were usually both effective and feared, with me willingly taking all the potential risk and blame.’ Well, that’s certainly more honourable than the Nuremberg defence (I was only obeying orders).

But it does not satisfy the victims of these ‘attack operations’. At the weekend, the former Labour Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell said that ‘Gordon is not an innocent; it is inconceivable he did not know what Damian was doing’. It is worth recalling exactly how vile those attacks could be and just why, as McBride boasts, they were so ‘feared’.

In 2009, he was found out sending emails from No. 10 to that sleazy New Labour figure Derek Draper, encouraging him to put online stories McBride knew to be untrue, that pictures existed of George Osborne ‘posing in bra, knickers and suspenders .... with his face blacked up’, and that David Cameron suffered from an embarrassing medical condition.

The myth has grown up that Brown instantly sacked McBride. In fact, the PM spent many hours trying to save his fellow Scot’s job, on the spurious grounds that these email slurs against Cameron and Osborne were never intended for publication.

It was the insistence on the part of senior figures within the Labour Party — who had bitter experience of the terror of McBride’s methods — that forced Brown to cut his acolyte loose, with a memorably paradoxical statement: ‘I take full responsibility for what happened, and that’s why the person who was responsible went immediately.’

I’m prepared to believe that Brown did not know about the muck that McBride was trying to spread all over the personal lives of Cameron and Osborne. But this was still ‘working towards the leader’, in Sir Ian Kershaw’s phrase.

The thing is that Brown did not just see the two Tory chums as political rivals. He hated them; really, hated them — and McBride would have known that better than anyone.

Part of this might have been a kind of class hatred: for the puritanical Scot Brown, their former membership of Oxford University’s braying Bullingdon Club consigned them to the darkest circle of Hell.

But there is a wider point, I think. It is one of the factors tending to distinguish the Left in politics from the Right, that the former frequently regard the latter as actually wicked, if not evil; whereas most Tories tend to regard the Left as just misguided.

This was explained by a Labour-voting friend who told me ‘the Left are principally concerned to feel good about themselves, so the worse they can paint their ideological enemies, the better they themselves must be. Perhaps it’s even based on a psychological fear of their own dark side’.

Once that mind-set is established, it’s quite easy to see how someone with the brooding nature of Gordon Brown could apply this Manichean division — ‘Us good, them bad’ — to perceived opponents within his own party. Thus McBride felt licensed to leak unsavoury details — true or false — about the personal lives of Brown’s alleged critics within the Labour government.

By contrast, look at those two most politically opposed of Conservatives, Michael Howard and Kenneth Clarke. They have been rivals in every sense since they were officers of the Cambridge University Conservative Association more than half a century ago.

It is not just that they on two occasions contested each other for the leadership of their party. They disagree bitterly on policy from Europe to prisons. Yet they have always managed to remain personally friendly, with each — to this day — attending the other’s annual summer drinks party. There is a word for this: civilised.

It is not a word which is easy to attach to Gordon Brown, as described so memorably in McBride’s book (whatever you may think of his deeds, he is undeniably a superb writer). So, if unsatisfied with the nature of any radio interview, after it ended ‘Gordon would unleash a tremendous volley of abuse — usually a stream of unconnected swear words. I’m convinced he didn’t care that the BBC were still recording at the other end; he actually wanted them to hear’.

I’m tempted to add that the German Fuhrer was also prone to tantrums that terrified his aides and made them all the more anxious to do whatever it was they thought he must want. But it would be in the worst possible taste to compare Brown’s character with that of the Nazi dictator. Brown had — has — some admirable characteristics, and his concern for the disadvantaged and disabled was genuine and heartfelt.

My wife served on the Diana Memorial committee chaired by Brown when he was Chancellor, and she would often tell me how sensitive and charming she found him. I would invariably reply: ‘That’s because he does not see you challenging him for the leadership of the Labour Party, darling.’

For the Labour Party, indeed, the Caledonian blood feuds of Brown and his tribal vassal McBride are all too fresh in the memory; but at least they now have a balanced leader who does not see disagreement as betrayal.



Perhaps government regulation isn't the way to go then

That something must be done is sometimes true: that that thing must be done by government regulation might also be true at times. But I have a very strong feeling that the majority of times when something must be done doing it by any method other than government regulation would be a good idea. Just three examples from around the place just recently.

Auto-enrollment in the new compulsory pension schemes that the UK government is just introducing. Reports are that this is going to cost firms £15 billion just to fill out the paperwork. Money that, call me misguided if you wish, would probably have been better spent on being put into pension funds for those workers.

The Dodd Frank regulations on conflict minerals. Stopping slave labour at mines in The Congo is a good idea: we were originally told by the Enough Project that the checking system, to make sure no minerals from those mines entered the supply chain, would cost some $10 million a year. The SEC now estimates the cost of doing the paperwork at $4 billion.

The FATCA regulations to stop Americans hiding money abroad, away from the prying eyes of the Internal Revenue Service. This is expected to bring in a few billions a year in additional tax revenues. One estimate I've seen of the cost of compliance with these rules is $1 trillion.

The one thing that is common to all of these cases is that the bureaucracy set up to adminster each scheme has not had to consider the costs to other people of said schemes. That cost of bureaucratic regulation is, if you like, an externality to the legislative system. And as we all know from our studies of climate change externalities must be controlled. The polluter must pay is the most common catchphrase here.

So, to repeat a suggestion I've made before. We need to change the system so that those externalities are internalised, are made part of the legislative and decision making process. The most obvious method of doing so is that we get to charge the government for the time they make us spend on paperwork. They want us to fill out a complicated form? Great, that'll be £75 an hour (a reasonable semi-professional rate that) for the time it takes me to fill out said form.

That'll stop the little buggers in their tracks.....



The religion of peace again

A LARGE explosion rocked the Kenyan mall where Islamic extremists are holding hostages and killed 68 people. including an Australian.

Kenyan troops launched an assault on cornered Somali militants holding hostages inside a Nairobi shopping mall to end the deadly siege.

"Godspeed to our guys in the Westgate building," Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre said in a message on its Twitter site. "Major engagement ongoing."

The number of people killed in the ongoing siege, which began on Saturday, is feared to rise sharply from the 68 people confirmed dead, police sources said after entering the building.

Israeli forces have joined Kenyan efforts to end the deadly siege, a security source said. "The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured," the source said on condition he not be named.




CA: State adopts regs for ride-share services: "Ride-sharing companies like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX will have to obtain state licenses and put their drivers through training under rules passed Thursday by state regulators. The California Public Utilities Commission approved 28 regulations that are designed to ensure the safety of a relatively new and increasingly popular transportation service in which riders and drivers connect through smartphone apps. Critics had voiced concern that the industry didn't face the same standards that traditional taxi companies face." [Comment: This one, being an Internet service, is easy to avoid -- just move the companies and their servers out of the state, maybe even out of the country]

House votes to cut $4 billion a year from food stamps: "The House has voted to cut nearly $4 billion a year from food stamps, a 5 percent reduction to the nation's main feeding program used by more than 1 in 7 Americans. The 217-210 vote was a win for conservatives after Democrats united in opposition and some GOP moderates said the cut was too high. The bill's savings would be achieved by allowing states to put broad new work requirements in place for many food stamp recipients and to test applicants for drugs. The bill also would end government waivers that have allowed able-bodied adults without dependents to receive food stamps indefinitely."

US House conservatives submit bill to replace “ObamaCare” amid “defund” fight: "A group of House conservatives introduced legislation Wednesday that members say will replace ObamaCare and its 'unworkable' taxes and mandates with a plan that expands tax breaks for Americans who buy their own insurance. Under the proposal endorsed by the 175-member Republican Study Committee, Americans who purchase coverage through state-run exchanges can claim a $7,500 deduction against their income and payroll taxes, regardless of the cost of the insurance. Families could deduct $20,000."

What if hospitals treated “customers” not patients?: "One of my many faults is a total lack of patience. I am not patient in part because I am compulsive about being punctual. All this is relevant because I have recently had a lot of quiet time, sitting in several hospitals while being treated for a newly discovered malignant tumor found to have invaded my bladder. The urologist who announced the invasion to me also proclaimed -- 'It is no big deal.' Yeah, but to me the first time I am told I have cancer is a very big deal. ... I began to wonder at the irony of being called a 'Patient.' I suggest hospitals should begin to use the proper term: 'Customer.'"

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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


23 September, 2013

In Defense of Diana West

Speaking from his own knowledge, M. Stanton Evans says the infiltration of Soviet agents into the American government of the 1940s was every bit as pervasive as West says

Out of the public eye and far from the daily headlines, a fierce verbal battle is currently being waged about the course of American policy in the long death struggle with Moscow that we call the Cold War.

At ground zero of this new dispute is author Diana West, whose recent book, American Betrayal (St. Martin's), is a hard- hitting critique of the strategy toward the Soviet Union pursued in the 1940s by President Franklin Roosevelt, his top assistant Harry Hopkins, and various of their colleagues. Ms. West in particular stresses the infiltration of the government of that era by Communists and Soviet agents, linking the presence of these forces to U.S. policies that appeased the Russians or served the interests of the Kremlin.

For making this critique, Ms. West has been bitterly attacked by writers Ronald Radosh and David Horowitz, Roosevelt biographer Conrad Black, and a considerable crew of others. The burden of their complaint is that she is a "conspiracy theorist" and right wing nut whose views are far outside the mainstream of historical writing, and that she should not have presumed to write such a book about these important matters.

Though the professed stance of her opponents is that of scholarly condescension, the language being used against Ms. West doesn't read like scholarly discourse. She is, we're told, "McCarthy on steroids," "unhinged," a "right-wing loopy," not properly "house trained," "incompetent," purveying "a farrago of lies," and a good deal else of similar nature. All of which looks more like the politics of personal destruction than debate about serious academic issues.

From my standpoint, however, what is going on here seems to be something more than personal. Having delved into these matters a bit, I think I recognize the process that's in motion: the circling of rhetorical wagons around a long accepted narrative about the Second World War and the Cold War conflict that followed.

This narrative sets the limits of permissible comment about American Cold War policy, bounded on the one side by Roosevelt and Hopkins, representing generally speaking the forces of good (appeasing Moscow, e.g. , only in order to win the war with Hitler), and on the other by Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin, the supposed epitome of evil. Between these boundaries, variations are allowed, but woe betide the writer who goes beyond them. Ms. West has transgressed in both directions, sharply criticizing Roosevelt/ Hopkins and speaking kindly of Joe McCarthy.

(Full disclosure: I provided a cover endorsement for Ms. West's book, and wrote a book of my own some years ago examining the myriad cases of McCarthy. Based on that background, I can testify that conventional views about him are almost totally devoid of merit, based as they are on extensive ignorance of the archival record.)

Especially galling to West's critics is her contention that Washington in the war years was so riddled with Communists and Soviet agents as to be in effect an "occupied" city -- an image that seems to have sparked the greatest anger and most denunciation of her thesis.

By using the "occupied" image, Ms. West is of course not saying Soviet tanks were patrolling the streets of Washington, or that Red martial law was imposed on its cowering citizens. What she is arguing instead is that Soviet agents, Communists and fellow travelers held official posts, or served at chokepoints of intelligence data, and from these positions were able to exert pro-Soviet leverage on U.S. and other allied policy. Though ignored in many conventional histories, the evidence to support this view is overwhelming.

It is for instance abundantly plain, from multiple sources of Cold War intel, that Communist/pro-Soviet penetration of the government under FDR was massive, numbering in the many hundreds. These pro-Red incursions started in the New Deal era of the 1930s, then accelerated in the war years when the Soviets were our allies and safeguards against Communist infiltration were all but nonexistent. The scope of the problem was expressed as follows in an FBI report to Director J. Edgar Hoover:

"It has become increasingly clear... that there are a tremendous number of persons employed in the United States government who are Communists and who strive daily to advance the cause of Communism and destroy the foundations of this government. Today nearly every department or agency is infiltrated with them in varying degree.. To aggravate the situation, they appear to have concentrated most heavily in departments which make policy, or carry it into effect..."

Pro-Red penetration was especially heavy in such war-time agencies as the Office of Strategic Services and Office of War Information, which were thrown together in a hurry at the outset of the conflict, with little thought for anti-Communist security vetting. But the problem was acute also in old-line agencies such as the State and Treasury departments, both of which by war's end were honeycombed with Soviet agents.( Making matters worse, anti-Soviet officials and diplomats were in the meantime being purged from their positions.)

Far from being lowly spear carriers on the fringes, pro-Soviet operatives in case after case ascended to posts of great power and influence. Among the most famous-though only three of a considerable number-were Alger Hiss at the State Department, Harry D. White at the Treasury and Lauchlin Currie at the White House. All of these, as we now know, were Soviet agents, well positioned to affect the course of American policy in matters of concern to Soviet dictator Stalin.

A prime example of such policy impact occurred during the earliest wartime going, in the prelude to Pearl Harbor. At this time, Soviet agents White and Currie maneuvered to prevent a truce between the United States and Japan, which might have freed up the Japanese military for an assault on Russia, an attack Stalin was desperate to fend off while he was embroiled in Europe with the Nazis.

In this maneuvering, White worked with the Soviet intelligence service KGB, and in parallel with the efforts of a Soviet spy combine in Tokyo, headed by the German Communist Richard Sorge. The Sorge group sought to persuade the Japanese that there was no percentage in attacking Russia-- that there were much more inviting targets to be found down south in the Pacific. One such target turned out to be the American naval base at Pearl Harbor.

In the State Department, while Alger Hiss would become the most notorious Soviet agent of the war years, he was far from going solo. According to a long concealed but now recovered report compiled by security officers of the State Department, there were at war's end no fewer than 20 identified agents such as Hiss on the payroll, plus 13 identified Communists and 90 other suspects and sympathizers serving with him.

Like the FBI report saying "nearly every department" of the Federal government was infiltrated by Communist apparatchiks, these staggering numbers from the State Department security force look suspiciously like the description of a de facto "occupation" given in Ms. West's supposedly unhinged essay.

At the Treasury, there were at least a dozen Communists and Soviet agents, headed by Harry White, who exerted influence on a host of issues. In late 1943, to cite a prominent instance, White and his fellow Soviet agent Solomon Adler, Treasury attaché in China, launched a disinformation campaign to discredit our anti-Communist ally Chiang Kai-shek, deny him U.S. assistance, and turn U.S. policy in favor of the Communists under Mao Tse-tung.

This campaign, aided by Adler's State Department Chungking roommate John Stewart Service and other U.S. diplomats in China, succeeded, with results that we are still living with today. Meanwhile, an identical propaganda campaign was waged by U.S. and British pro-Red officials to discredit the anti-Communists of the Balkans, in order to deliver control of Yugoslavia to the Communist Tito. This, too, succeeded, resulting in the communization of the country and capture and murder by Tito of his anti-Communist rival, Gen. Draza Mihailovich .

In the summer of 1944, White and his pro-Moscow Treasury colleagues played a crucial role in devising the so-called "Morgenthau plan" for Germany, which would have converted the country into a purely agrarian nation. They were involved as well in plans to turn two million desperate anti- Soviet refugees over to the Russians, and a slave labor proviso that would herd millions into the Soviet Gulag.

All these projects would be promoted in the run-up to a 1944 Roosevelt- Churchill summit in Quebec, later becoming American policy in Europe. At an in-house meeting just before the summit, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. met with a group of his staffers and praised them for the excellent plans they had developed. Of these advisers no fewer than six would later be identified under oath and in secret security data as ideological Communists or Soviet agents. That amazing line-up of pro-Moscow assets at a single U.S. Treasury meeting would once more seem to justify the "occupied" description.

As to how such improbable things could happen under FDR, a post-script to the above is suggestive. Though Roosevelt signed off on the Morgenthau plan at Quebec, when he was later challenged on it by War Secretary Henry Stimson, he said he didn't know how he could have done so-that he "had evidently done it without much thought." As that response implied, the President at this time was failing badly in his powers, and would fail even more dramatically in the months to follow.

Which leads to a provisional wrap-up of this discussion. The culmination of the policy debacle of the war years occurred in 1945 at Yalta, where the American delegation headed by FDR made innumerable concessions to the Russians: slave labor for the Gulag as post-war "reparations" to the Kremlin , turning anti-Soviet refugees over to Moscow, Soviet control of Manchuria's ports and railways-presaging the Red conquest of China. A leading member of the American delegation that agreed to all of this was none other than the now famous Soviet agent, Alger Hiss.

In court histories and Roosevelt biographies, we're told that Hiss at Yalta was no big deal-an insignificant figure without substantive influence on the proceedings. As the archival records show, this is grossly in error. In fact, Hiss in the Yalta discussions was a ubiquitous and highly active presence, dealing as a virtual equal with British foreign secretary Anthony Eden, and speaking out on numerous issues-China prominent among them-voicing the "State Department" or "United States" position in backstage meetings.

Scanning these records, it's obvious that Hiss was far more conversant with issues and events at Yalta than was his inexperienced nominal chieftain , Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius Jr. (all of two months on the job). As with Joe McCarthy, our historians might be advised to consult the primary data on such matters, rather than re-cycling Hiss-was-no-problem comment from secondary sources.

Granted, getting at the primary data takes some digging, as many relevant records have been buried, censored or omitted from official archives. Presidential secrecy orders, disappearing papers, folders missing from the files, two manipulated grand juries (that we know of) used to cover up the extent and nature of the penetration ; all these methods and more were employed in the 1940s to keep the shocking story from Congress and the public. And, sad to relate, in some considerable measure the cover up continues now, in court histories that neglect archival data to repeat once more the standard narrative of the war years.

Diana West's important book is a valiant effort to break through this wall of secrecy and selective silence. Her work in some respects touches on matters beyond my ken-such as Soviet treatment of American POWs-- where I am not competent to judge . But on issues where our researches coincide-and these are many-I find her knowledgeable and on target, far more so than the conventional histories compared to which she is said to be found wanting . As the above suggests, her notion of wartime Washington as an "occupied" city, and the data that back it up, are especially cogent.



ICE Released 2,837 Convicted Alien Sex Offenders to Comply With Supreme Court Ruling

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released 2,837 convicted criminal alien sex offenders back into American communities in order to comply with a Supreme Court decision authored by Clinton-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The 2,837 sex offenders represented five percent of the 59,347 deportable aliens that have been released from detention under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the GAO report, which was released Thursday.

“There are circumstances in which criminal aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States – including those convicted of a sex offense – cannot be removed,” the report states. “For example, a criminal alien may not be removed because the designated country will not accept the alien’s return.”

The GAO report refers to the 2001 Supreme Court case Zadvydas v. Davis to explain why ICE is required to release foreigners who have been convicted of sex crimes. In its 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the indefinite detention of removable aliens for greater than six months is unconstitutional unless there is “significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future.”

“Freedom from imprisonment lies at the heart of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause,” Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion. Breyer was joined in this opinion by J.P. Stevens (a Gerald Ford apppointee), Sandra Day O'Connor (a Reagan appointee), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a Clinton appointee), and David Souter (a George H.W. Bush appointee).

But writing for the minority, Justice Antonin Scalia (a Reagan appointee) said: "Insofar as a claimed legal right to release into this country is concerned, an alien under final order of removal stands on an equal footing with an inadmissable alien at the threshold of entry: He has no such right."

Justice Anthony Kennedy (also a Reagan appointee) concurred, noting that "the authority to detain beyond the removal period is to protect the community, not to negotiate the aliens' return... An alien's admission to this country is conditioned upon compliance with our laws, and removal is the consequence of a breach of that understanding."

Justice Clarence Thomas (a George H.W. Bush appointee) and William Rehnquist (a Nixon appointee) also dissented from Breyer's opinion.

The GAO report also revealed that large numbers of convicted alien sex offenders that ICE did in fact manage to deport from the country simply turned around and came back in--and then committed another offense inside the United States.

"According to the data that ICE-ERO provided to us," said the GAO report, "of 4359 alien sex offenders who were removed from the country between January and August 2012, 220 of them (5 percent) had previously been removed but subsequently returned to the United States and were arrested for another offense."

Also, about five percent of released aliens sex offenders did not register as sex offenders in the communities where they settled as required by federal law. “The risk that alien sex offenders will reside in U.S. communities without being registered is increased,” the GAO concluded.



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

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


22 September, 2013

The Legal Assassination of Tom DeLay and Criminal Justice Reform

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was not my favorite Congressman while he was in office.

DeLay came to Congress as a Texas conservative, however, he soon abandoned conservative principles to join the Capitol Hill Republican establishment and put his formidable political skills to use growing government, adding billions to the budget through earmarks and playing “the Hammer” to pass Medicare Part D and many of the other excesses that set in motion the loss of the Republican House majority in 2006.

Among conservatives the philosophical and political disappointment in Tom DeLay was deep.

When an ambitious and vindictive Texas Democrat prosecutor indicted him for money laundering and DeLay was forced out of his leadership position and later his seat in Congress, and ultimately convicted of the charges in 2010, Tom DeLay’s fall from grace seemed complete.

Except it wasn’t – not by a long shot.

Tom DeLay, in a remarkable show of character, refused to take a plea bargain. He refused to admit he was guilty of anything other than being an effective tactician for his Party and he claimed that his prosecution was entirely political – he’d done nothing wrong.

DeLay fought the charges for eight years and yesterday, 11 years after the allegedly criminal activities for which DeLay was indicted occurred, a Texas Court of Appeals not only overturned the verdict against him, it also entered a full acquittal.

Justice Melissa Goodwin wrote in the majority opinion that, “Rather than supporting an agreement to violate the election code, the evidence shows that the defendants were attempting to comply with the Election Code limitations on corporate contributions.”

In other words, the majority on the Court of Appeals found that Tom DeLay was trying to comply with the law that he was convicted of violating – exactly the opposite of the allegations made by the prosecutor.

How can you be convicted of violating a law with which you are “attempting to comply?”

One way – and the most common way – is to run afoul of laws that are so broad, so complex and so subject to arbitrary and capricious enforcement that an ambitious and vindictive prosecutor can use the law to ruin anyone he singles out for personal destruction.

Our own Mark Fitzgibbons and University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds have written persuasive articles pointing out that “Given the vast web of legislation and regulation that exists today, virtually any American bears the risk of being targeted for prosecution,” as Professor Reynolds put it.

If prosecutors were not motivated by politics, revenge, or other improper motives, the risk of improper prosecution would not be particularly severe.

However, as Professor Reynolds noted, such motivations do, in fact exist, and they motivate prosecutors to pursue certain individuals, like Tom DeLay, while letting others off the hook.

Tom DeLay summed-up his near decade-long odyssey this way, “If you really look at this, this is an outrage and a violation of freedom, a violation of law and it’s a violation of just decency.”

And that fits perfectly with the original motivation of the case – if your goal is to oust someone from public office, bankrupt them, and destroy their reputation and family then a conviction on the facts and the law is somewhat beside the point.

The decision of the Texas court overturning the verdict and entering a full acquittal in Tom DeLay’s money laundering case is not only a personal vindication for DeLay, it is a clarion call for criminal justice reform and structural changes in the criminal justice system that will more successfully deter prosecutorial abuse in a legal system where today, even a ham sandwich can be indicted by an ambitious and vindictive prosecutor.



The Navy Yard Shootings: The Surveillance State Fails Again

The rampage at the Washington Navy Yard by alleged killer Aaron Alexis, who held a “secret” security clearance, is certainly a tragedy for the families of those killed and wounded, but it is also a stark reminder of the limits – indeed the abject failure – of the surveillance state being built by the federal government under Barack Obama.

As of right now the investigation into Alexis’s background and how he obtained a security clearance is in its early stages. We do know that the Navy has said Alexis enlisted as a full-time Navy reservist in May 2007 and that he was discharged in 2011 after a series of misconduct issues.

A series of “misconduct issues,” yet Alexis still passed the kind of background check that has become ubiquitous in today’s surveillance state?

The attack at the Navy Yard was the worst attack at a U.S. military installation since U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, who also had a security clearance, opened fire on unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, killing 13 people and wounding 31 others.

Hasan said he acted in retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim countries; however, the obvious warning signs that Hasan was a danger to his fellow soldiers were ignored or brushed aside out of political correctness.

Likewise, Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were given “background checks,” however the fact that they were involved in radical Islam was either not revealed or was ignored out of political correctness.

The signs the Tsarnaev brothers were capable of planning and carrying out a terrorist attack were there, but they were unrecognized until after the attack due in large measure to the inability of the government to sort through the huge volume of information it is collecting and the failure of the federal government and local governments to share the data collected in a useful manner.

Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who leaked the largest cache of classified documents in U.S. history, and who was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison for violations of the Espionage Act, had a high level security clearance as well.

Manning’s security investigation apparently failed to reveal, or out of political correctness ignored, the “gender identity issues” that he cited as part of his defense and that apparently led him to now prefer to be called Chelsea Elizabeth Manning and to seek to change his sexual identity.

In each of these cases the surveillance state had, or should have had, the information necessary to prevent the action that later proved so catastrophic – but it failed to act.

And it failed to act because it was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information the surveillance state is collecting and the political correctness that prevents it from focusing on the real threats.

While the NSA sweeps up the telephone records of millions of average Americans going about their daily business, the threats from radical Islam and the personal grievances of someone who sees themselves as being discriminated against are ignored.

Perversely, the government’s failure to deliver on the promise of more security in exchange for less freedom has now brought about new calls for further restrictions on the freedom of average American citizens.

President Obama and Senator Diane Feinstein of California both think we need more gun control and restrictions on our Second Amendment rights.

“Obviously, we’re going to be investigating thoroughly what happened, as we do so many of these shootings, sadly, that have happened, and do everything that we can to prevent them,” the president said.

The problem is that Obama, Feinstein and others of that ilk will not actually be “investigating thoroughly” the vast misallocation of resources and priorities their surveillance state has created – or the political correctness that blinds it to the obvious threats it does expose.

Rather than start with the premise that Americans need less freedom to be safe, if Obama and Feinstein really plan on “investigating thoroughly” what happened at the Navy Yard, they should start by admitting that while the government is looking at everything and everyone it is apparently seeing nothing.



PUTIN & OBAMA ARE WRONG: Here’s What We Mean by “American Exceptionalism”

Russia’s often-shirtless authoritarian strongman Vladimir Putin tells America that it’s “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional.”

Obviously, that’s a gross distortion of what we mean when we say “America is exceptional” in world history.

We are not saying the American people are inherently better than people anywhere else. We are saying the American system — of government bound by law — is exceptional, and allowed liberty and the spirit of enterprise to flourish, thus allowing America to quickly become the richest nation in world history.

Of course, Obama has also often mocked the idea of “American Exceptionalism” — for example, famously saying this shocker at a NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, in 2009:

“I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

No doubt, America is rapidly losing the distinction of being exceptional in today’s world – thanks to Obama and the Left in Congress not understanding what made America so exceptional.

So other countries are passing us by. The United States has fallen from #1 to #10 on the Heritage Foundation’s world index of Economic Freedom — now behind even Socialistic Canada and Denmark.

But America is exceptional in world history because America was the first nation to be “conceived in liberty.”

America is exceptional because of its Constitution.

America is exceptional because it’s the first country in world history to establish a government, the sole purpose of which is to “secure the blessings of liberty.”

America is exceptional because it was the first nation in human history to put such strict limits on the power of the central government.

America is exceptional because it is the first (and is still the only) nation in human history to be founded on this proposition:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable” because they are granted by God Himself. And it’s the responsibility of government to protect and secure these rights.

When government trespasses beyond this purpose, its activities become illegitimate.

That proposition, this purpose of government — to secure the blessings of liberty — is what makes America exceptional in world history.

As a result of all the limitations on government power imposed by the Constitution, Americans were free to build businesses and profit from their efforts. This allowed America to become the richest nation in world history in a very short period of time.

To the extent other countries are now enjoying liberty and prosperity, it’s because they followed the American example.

If America is no longer exceptional, it’s because our government has mostly ignored the Constitution for the past 90 years or so — since the Presidency of Calvin Coolidge (the last President who actually cut federal spending in real dollars). He really was a great President.

Calvin Coolidge loved to read through the entire federal budget — line by line . . . so he could cross items out of the budget. He often said nothing gave him more pleasure than saving taxpayers money.

Mostly what our elected leaders do (Democrats and Republicans) is look for ways to get around the Constitution — if they pay any attention at all to the Constitution.

Our political leaders in Washington, DC (not just Obama) respect few limits on government power.

Our political class today treats the Constitution as a set of guidelines, at best — not as law.

I believe America is still exceptional because we at least still have the Constitution — which is still supposed to be the supreme law of the land. We just need to get back to following the Constitution.

America also has an exceptional history that gave us advantages that other counties have not had.

America was settled by courageous people who had a pioneering spirit.

It takes a certain type of person to leave their family, friends, and familiar lives behind and travel to a new land, a wilderness, in search of freedom and opportunity.

Arriving on the shores of a desolate and freezing Cape Cod in November of 1620, half the passengers on the Mayflower died during the first winter.

The tens of millions of settlers and immigrants who followed them here did not expect anything from the government — certainly were not looking for handouts and free health care. All they wanted was freedom to build a new life.

That takes courage. America was built by risk-takers.



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

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


20 September, 2013

Census on Obama’s 1st Term: Real Median Income Down $2,627; People in Poverty Up 6,667,000; Record 46,496,000 Now Poor

During the four years that marked President Barack Obama’s first term in office, the real median income of American households dropped by $2,627 and the number of people in poverty increased by approximately 6,667,000, according to data released today by the Census Bureau.

The record total of approximately 46,496,000 people in the United States who are now in poverty, according to the Census Bureau, is more than twice the population of Syria, which, according to the CIA, has 22,457,336 people.

In 2008, the year Obama was elected, real median household income in the United States was $53,644 according to the Census Bureau. In 2012, the last full year of Obama’s first term, median household income was $51,017. Thus, real median household income dropped $2,627—or 4.89 percent—from 2008 to 2012.

In fact, real median household income dropped in every year of Obama's first term. In 2008, when he was elected, it was $53,644. In 2009, the year he was inaugurated, it dropped to 53,285. In 2010, his second year in office, it dropped to $51,892. In 2011, his third year in office, it dropped to $51,100. And, in 2012, his fourth year in office, it dropped to $51,017.

At the same time the number of people living in poverty in the United States increased. In 2008, according to the Census Bureau, there were approximately 39,829,000 people living in poverty in this country. In 2012, there were 46,496,000. That is an increase of approximately 6,667,000—of 16.73 percent—from 2008 to 2012.

The number of people in poverty increased during three of the four years of Obama's first term--taking a slight dip from 2010 to 2011, but then rising again from 2011 to 2012. In 2008, there were 39,829 people in poverty in the U.S. In 2009, it climbed to 43,569. In 2010, it climbed again to 46,343. In 2011, it dipped to 46,247. And, in 2012, it climbed to an all-time high 46,496.

In 2008, the year Obama was elected, people in poverty represented 13.2 percent of the national population. In 2012, they represented 15.0 percent of the population.

The income threshold at which a person was determined to be in “poverty,” according to the Census Bureau, depended on the size of their household. If a person lived by themselves and earned less than $11,270 in 2012, they were considered to be in poverty. A family of two people was considered in poverty if they earned less than $14,937. The threshold for a family of three was $18,284, for a family of four it was $23,492, and for a family of five it was $27,827.

The data reported here on real median household income and the number of people in poverty come from the Census Bureau’s report “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012,” which was released today.



Fight like an Australian on Obamacare

“In choosing Tony Abbott, the Liberal Party has chosen the least electable of the three candidates who were on the ballot today.”

That was Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher’s take way back in December 2009 on Tony Abbott winning leadership of Australia’s right-of-center Liberal Party.

All the smartest people in the room said he couldn’t win, but by sticking to his principles, four years later Abbott went on to win the general election on Sept. 7 in a Reaganesque landslide with 54 percent of the popular vote.

Hartcher’s analysis could not have been more wrong: “We see the Liberal Party choosing to fight on climate change knowing that they go into this fight with only 25 percent public support.” He called Abbott “combative,” “unpopular,” and said that the party thought that it was “more important to fight on climate change than it is to be readily electable.” Whoops.

Hailing Abbott’s example, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens urged House Republicans to fight like Australians on defunding Obamacare, contending that if it came to a government shutdown, the outcome would not be as purveyors of conventional wisdom predict.

In a letter addressed to House members, Mehrens called attention to Abbott’s ascension in Australian politics. In 2009, when Abbott became leader of his party, it was by just one vote, defeating Malcolm Turnbull who Mehrens wrote “had agreed to go along with the leftist majority in Parliament and fund a carbon tax scheme in Australia.”

The carbon tax “was about as popular as Obamacare is in the United States,” Mehrens noted. In the 2013 election, Abbott promised to roll back the unpopular tax on emissions.

“He did not make the mistake of believing that the talking heads of the media’s opinion givers had anything to do with the views of the public,” Mehrens wrote. Instead, Abbott went against the grain and reclaimed the identity of his party, which in 2009 was acquiescing to the Labor Party’s agenda.

On health care, Abbott also ran on privatizing Australia’s Medibank, a government sponsored enterprise that is currently the country’s largest insurer, even as Nicholas Reece of the Center for Public Policy at the University of Melbourne acknowledged it would be a “a political hard sell” in the pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The oped by Reece, a supporter of Abbott’s privatization proposal, underscores the new prime minister’s commitment to good policy even in the face of predicted overwhelming political opposition.

Days before the election, Abbott proclaimed, “We will put it into the private sector at what is the best time for Commonwealth taxpayers.”

Similarly, Mehrens urged House Republicans to “put policy before politics and fund the government with the exception of Obamacare.”

“On Obamacare funding, the media opinion is unanimous that in a test of wills the President will win. After recent events in the foreign policy arena that conclusion is laughable. Who with a straight face could believe that Obama will shut down his beloved bureaucracy for a prolonged period in order to save a program that is despised by the voters?” Mehrens asked.

For now, the media elite and political establishment in Washington, D.C. are of the view that a government shutdown over funding Obamacare would favor Democrats politically.

But a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports found “51 percent of voters favor having a partial government shutdown until Democrats and Republicans agree on what spending for the health care law to cut.”

Moreover, Mehrens wrote, “As in all government shut downs (i.e. weekends) essential government employees are kept on the job while the non-essential are furloughed.”

He continued, “When Obama realizes that this means his Environmental Protection Agency will be slowed down in its attempts to shut down power plants, the Department of Justice will be hampered in filing frivolous lawsuits, the Internal Revenue war on anyone who disagrees with him will be hampered, and various other of his efforts to transform America will be hindered, he will no doubt rush to the bargaining table.”

Meaning, a shutdown might not only win public support if it means cutting Obamacare, but that it could force concessions by the Obama administration on the health care law.

In other words, it might actually work. “Good policy is good politics as the recent Australian election demonstrates,” Mehrens concluded.



Ignoring an Obamacare opportunity?

Rahm Emanuel’s infamous quote, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that, it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before,” has never been more relevant than it is today when discussing ObamaCare.

The political landscape surrounding ObamaCare has changed dramatically.

Warren Buffett is now arguing for scrapping the entire law because of the harm it is doing.

Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan bitterly attacked ObamaCare at the national meeting of the AFL-CIO saying, “we’ll be damned if we’re going to lose our health insurance because of unintended consequences in the law!”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters president James P. Hoffa and two other major union heads sent a letter to Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) demanding that they do something about ObamaCare: “Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the [Affordable Care Act] will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The President had to scramble this week to keep the AFL-CIO from passing a resolution in favor of repealing ObamaCare.

The Democrats are in crisis over the implementation of ObamaCare. Only about 50 percent of the regulations are in place, and the system is not ready for roll out. The health information that is being collected is not protected from being stolen from the system. If implemented, ObamaCare is going to be an unmitigated disaster, and the Democrats know it.

More importantly, their political partners in the labor movement are now demanding that they fix it or repeal it outright.

The politics have shifted. Reid and crew can’t just dismiss House Republican efforts to defund the law out of hand, because their political constituencies are demanding they deal with the coming ObamaCare onslaught.

In spite of themselves, House Republican leaders are on the precipice of a major victory, if only they will remember the words of Emanuel and seize the opportunity.




Secret court judge proves in public that she is either illiterate or has never read the US Constitution: "The National Security Agency’s collection of phone records complies with the Constitution, and the government has shown it’s necessary to efforts to prevent terrorism, a U.S. court said in an opinion released today. ... The court released the July opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Claire Eagan, who serves on the secret court. The judge wrote that she was requesting that her opinion be released 'because of the public interest in this matter.'"

EU Parliament nominates Snowden for rights prize: "Fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden is in the running for a European human rights prize whose past winners include Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr Snowden, who is in hiding in Russia, is one of seven nominations made by members of the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, a move likely to upset Washington which wants to try him on espionage charges."

Stock market hits record high after Fed announces plan to continue debasing currency: "The stock market hit a record high Wednesday after the Federal Reserve’s surprise decision to keep its economic stimulus in place. Bond yields fell sharply -- their biggest move in nearly two years. Meanwhile, the price of gold jumped as some traders anticipated that the Fed’s decision might cause inflation."

Wage bill aimed at Wal-Mart dies in DC: "An effort to require Wal-Mart and other large retailers to pay their employees a "living wage" of at least $12.50 an hour met its end Tuesday when the D.C. Council failed to override Mayor Vincent Gray's veto. The bill put Washington at the center of a national debate over compensation for low-wage workers -- and whether some large companies should be required to pay more. Supporters said Wal-Mart can afford to pay higher wages, while opponents said the bill unfairly singled out certain businesses and would have a chilling effect on economic development."

Patent troll takes punch, still (too) many of ‘em: "Patent trolls function as one of the worst cancers on innovation. These companies, which don’t actually produce any tech products, wield (suspect) patents and search out any firm, large or small, that might infringe on said-patents and threaten to take them to court. Most times they know they don’t have a case and settle before a trial. The accused companies typically find it’s easier to pay a lower amount -- often called 'nuisance fees' -- than suffer the legal fees and time-wasting of a court case. Now Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that one entrepreneur is fighting back harder than usual. FindTheBest CEO Kevin O’Connor claims that the troll that’s come after his company has been so brazen that it’s actually violated racketeering laws."


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

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


19 September, 2013

Comment on "Inside the conservative brain: What explains their wiring?" by AVI TUSCHMAN

("Tush" is Yiddish slang for the buttocks)

The butt man has written a very long article rehashing facts mostly well-known to social scientists about Left/Right differences. The facts are presented from a decidedly Leftist perspective -- with amusing naivety sometimes. The article is too long and too old-hat for me to reproduce it but it is in the current issue of "Salon", that notably objective periodical.

That Buttman is no more than a Leftist apparatchik can be seen from his use of questionnaire surveys. He notes that Leftists answer such surveys by saying how compassionsate, caring, anti-authoritarian (etc.) they are. He completely ignores the fact that Leftists turn "red in tooth and claw" as soon as they gain untrammelled power -- Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc. Not to mention the French revolution. They are nothing more than savages hiding behind a compassionate mask. Deeds speak louder than words.

Buttman makes a considerable pretence of surveying the history of Left/right differences but is wilfully blind to major facts of political history. He is a sort of intellectual robot who has been programmed not to see the full range of reality. Of course Leftists "fake good"! That is their stock in trade. Admitting their dismal real motivations (towards destruction) would get them nowhere.

Buttman also makes an amusing display of reinventing the wheel. He "discovers" that conservatives are cautious and regard human nature as selfish. Conservatives don't assume that human motives will always be good and are alert for instances of dangerous behaviour. Those facts were of course hiding in plain sight. But Buttman seems to think that he has discovered something incriminationg in noting them. The day that caution is a fault will be the day.

The "selling point" of Buttman's article, however, appears to be his claims to survey psychological and neurological evidence about what goes on deep-down in conservative minds. Yet everything he "discovers" by such research was perfectly predictable from the defining characteristics of conservatives mentioned above. Because conservatives are less trusting and more alert to danger they react differently (usually more quickly) in situations that are contrived to look alarming. Buttman clearly thinks that is a bad thing. A man attached to an ideology that depends on duping people obviously would.

Finally, a couple of minor bloopers in Buttman's opus. 1). He is greatly impressed by insights gained from conservative responses to projective tests. Mainstream psychologists have however long ago abandoned projective tests (such as the TAT and Rorschach) because of their deficient validity. They have frequently been found not to predict the behaviour inferred from them. 2). Buttman says that Altemeyer's RWA test predicts conservatism. Yet even Altemeyer admits that it does not preduct vote. Republicans and Democrats are roughly equally likely to get high scores on it. A strange measure of conservatism!

Buttman has clearly had a lot of fun reinventing the wheel but he would have benefitted greatly from doing some basic background reading first. If my comments above seem derisive, I think they are deservedly so -- JR.


For Hollywood Liberals, It's Identity Politics Uber Alles


Ed Asner's explanation for Hollywood's silence regarding Obama attacking Syria epitomizes the absurdity and danger of political correctness and identity politics. Ironically, Hollywood progressives find themselves slaves of their own emotion driven brain-dead loon-icy. Hollywood along with Democrats and the mainstream media have declared all opposition or criticism of Obama racist. ‘

"A lot of people don't want to feel anti-black by being opposed to Obama," said Asner.

Excuse me - they don't want to "feel"? Dear Lord, while we adults are discussing national security, Hollywood progressives are still obsessed with their feelings and protecting the first liberal black president.

Hollywood and the mainstream media's supersensitivity to racism and sexism only applies when it involves supporting liberal Democrats. Thus, a Hillary Clinton presidency would, in essence, be the third Obama term; furthering his "fundamental transformation" of America.

Anyone opposing or criticizing the first "woman" president will be politically shackled and humiliated in the public square for sexism. Suckered again by allowing their political enemies to set the rules of engagement, wimpy weak-kneed Republicans will surrender and give Hillary everything she wants. They always do.

In glaring contradiction of their well-crafted image as defenders of blacks and women, Democrats have a history of take-no-prisoner assaults on black conservatives. Democrats seek not merely to stop them, but their total destruction, insuring that their uppity black derrieres never dare challenge the liberal's agenda again.

The term "high tech lynching" was birthed out of the over-the-top vitriolic media circus created by Democrat and liberal media efforts to block black conservative Clarence Thomas from becoming a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

A liberal radio host called the first black Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice an Aunt Jemima, claiming that blacks only have subservient roles in the Bush Administration. Imagine a conservative radio host calling a black Democrat politician an Aunt Jemima. Their career would be over.

With class and dignity Dr Rice endured the attacks of the racist white liberal cartoonists. Pat Oliphant and Jeff Danziger featured Rice with exaggerated big lips speaking in a rural southern dialect.

In his Doonesbury comic strip, Garry Trudeau called Rice "Brown Sugar".

Ted Rall in his comic suggested that Rice was Bush's "house nigga" in need of "racial re-education."

Was there push back from the mainstream media over the blatantly racist cartoons? Heck no. As a matter of fact, Universal Press Syndicate and the New York Times distribute these racist cartoonists.

Republican Michael Steele was the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland. And yet, when the LT Governor ran for the U.S. Senate he was pelted with Oreo cookies at a campaign appearance. An Oreo is a black person who is black on the outside, but white inside. A white liberal blogger released a racist doctored photo of Steele as a black-faced minstrel. The caption read, "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house."

Despite irrefutable evidence that decades of liberal Democrat policies have destroyed the black family, racist actress Janeane Garofalo concluded that black conservatives are getting paid or are mentally ill; suffering with Stockholm Syndrome.

Black actress Stacey Dash was unprepared for the tsunami of venomous hate she received from liberal Democrats for endorsing Romney for president. In solidarity with MLK's dream, Bash said, "I chose him not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character."

This is merely a glimpse into liberals' horrific record of racism. They are equally bigoted toward conservative women.

Million dollar contributor to Obama, liberal Democrat Bill Maher, called Sarah Palin a c**t. He called Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin MILFs. Imagine what would happen to a conservative displaying such disrespect for a liberal woman.

During a monologue, David Letterman took a cheap shot at Sarah Palin at the expense of her daughter. Letterman said Palin's daughter got "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez. Letterman also said Palin has the style of a "slutty flight attendant."

None of these outrageously mean-spirited sexist assaults on conservative women received significant pushback from Democrats or the liberal mainstream media.

In an unholy alliance, the mainstream media have duped low-information voters into believing the Democrats are superhero defenders of blacks and women, protecting them from villainous conservative Republicans. It's a crock of you know what.

Liberal Democrats are not paragons of virtue fighting for the rights of blacks and women. Quite the opposite. Blacks and women are useful to the Democratic party only insofar as they can be used to accrue power and discredit Republicans.

Democrats can not be trusted with national security, or restoring America's economic glory. Like zombies, Democrats and their liberal allies in the media are undeterred, totally focused on implementing the liberal socialist/progressive agenda and protecting the legacy of the first black president president. Thus, the anti-war party must support a war of choice in Syria.

Such will be the case if Hillary wins the White House in 2016. Protecting the legacy of the first liberal female president will trump everything, including national security.

Political correctness and identity politics are killin' us, folks.



Our Non-Serious President

Fresh from terrorizing the Russians and bringing everlasting peace to a war-torn Middle East, Barack Obama undertook Monday to work on the Republicans the same tactics that worked so resoundingly on the trembling Vladimir Putin. He made a speech.

Obama makes a lot of speeches because he has a lot to say on all topics. The one he made in the Rose Garden, touting his impending triumph over the country's economic woes, had all the right props, from impressive background to worshipful audience. The language was robust: "Republicans in Congress don't seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class. I say 'at the moment' because I'm still hoping that a light bulb goes off here.

"I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can't get 100 percent of what it wants.

"(A)re some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party they're willing to tank the entire economy just because they can't get their way on this issue?

"What they call this in the boxing ring and other such high-class venues is trash-talkin'. You try to make your opponent lose his cool, get mad, throw a premature punch. C'mon, man! You think you're such a big man! Well, where I come from, we got a name for folks like you."

And so on.

He's such a class act, Barack Obama! So much personal dignity! A week ago, getting ready to bomb the Syrians (or so he said), the president was wondering how many Republicans he could round up to compensate for all the left-wing Democrats he couldn't hold in line.

That was of course last week. Bailed out of a serious foreign policy jam by his old friend Vladimir Putin, who handed him the formula for calling off the pro-bombing movement, Obama decided he didn't need the Republicans after all, therefore he could attack them with his patented blend of patronizing language and sarcasm. (As I said, a genuine class act!)

While the Syrians, with Russian help, take care of crushing the Syrian rebellion -- in which 100,000 Syrians have lost their lives, just 1 percent of them due to chemical warfare -- our president can revert to taking bows for dealing with an economy still awaiting recovery despite his past ministrations.

What's really lovable about our president is his gift, no doubt divine in origin, for never putting a foot wrong, never making a mistake -- at least by his own account. Fifty-three percent of Americans, according to a new Pew Research poll, disapprove of Obamacare, yet in two weeks, it's "going to help" even more millions than it has already. And, oh, that sequester -- which he proposed, agreed to and signed into law!

"It's irresponsible to keep it in place." And we "need to grow faster" but can't because "the top one percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation's income last year" in this "winner-take-all economy where a few do better and better while everybody else just treads water or loses ground."

Three more years -- it hurts to say this -- is the period for which the United States is stuck with a non-serious president. Serious national leaders try to get things done, stretching out a hand to possible allies, standing firm where necessary, giving ground otherwise. If Barack Obama is a serious national leader, Miley Cyrus is an Amish housewife.

What a shame Obama trusts Putin and Bashar al-Assad twice as much as he trusts the average Republican member of Congress. With Obama, the point, perhaps, is that he has Putin and Assad out of the way momentarily. Not so the Republican House he faces, with its tea party constituency, as time draws near to deal with the budget and the debt ceiling.

The Rose Garden speech, to be sure, contained one high-minded exhortation: "Let's stop the political posturing." That was just before the Republican-bashing commenced anew.




"He Was More of a Liberal Type": Friend of Navy Yard Killer Speaks to CNN: "No doubt this nugget of information will be a non-issue for the MSM. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and see if they run with this the same way they would have had he been described as a conservative"

Washington Navy Yard. A new triumph for gun control: "I thought Washington, D.C.’s, strict and harsh gun-control laws were supposed to prevent this sort of thing. Isn’t that what gun-controllers always want to do in other parts of the country where there are gun massacres—impose harsh gun-control laws like the ones they have in Washington? It seems, not surprisingly, that the victims at the Navy Yard were unable to defend themselves by firing back at the shooter. Undoubtedly, that’s because they were complying with Washington’s strict and harsh gun-control laws and, no doubt, with the military’s own gun-control regulations on military bases. It will be interesting to see if the gun-control crowd starts calling for strict and harsh gun-control laws in the wake of the Washington Navy Yard massacre. Someone should tell them: “Been there, done that."


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

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


18 September, 2013

All Government Policies Succeed in the Long Run

By Robert Higgs

A crazy claim you are probably thinking after reading my title. After all, “failed policies” are a staple of discussions and debates about government actions in the United States. Everybody, regardless of political preferences, has a list of what he regards as the most glaringly failed policies. This way of looking at the matter, however, is all wrong.

People label a policy as a failure because it does not bring about its declared objective. For example, drug policies do not reduce drug use; educational policies do not educate children better; national-security policies do not make Americans more secure; and so forth. The mistake is to take seriously the announced policy objectives, to forget that virtually everything the government does is a fraud. The best way to document the government’s nearly unblemished record of policy success is to follow the money. With very little trouble, you will be able to follow the trail to the individuals and groups who benefit from the policy. Occasionally the true beneficiaries do not benefit in the form of augmented income or wealth, but in other forms of reward, yet the principle remains the same.

When I first studied economics and began to practice as an economist, back in the sixties and seventies, I learned how markets and the market system as a whole operate. With this understanding in mind, I was able to identify a number of reasons why a particular policy might fail: it might be based on insufficient or incorrect information; it might give rise to unintended consequences; it might receive inadequate funding for its implementation; it might be based on unsound theory or mistaken interpretation of historical experience; and so forth.

Analysts who approach the question of failed policies along these avenues can rest assured that they will never lack for new studies to perform and new measures to propose to legislators, regulators, administrators, and judges. For example, if government fiscal or monetary policy fails to stabilize the economy’s growth because it derives from unsound macroeconomic theory, then the analyst attempts to identify the ways in which the received theory is unsound and to formulate a sounder theory, on the basis of which a more successful policy may be carried out. This sort of back and forth between theoretical tinkering and policy appraisal fills many pages in mainstream economics journals.

But it’s all a waste of time insofar as the attainment of the ostensible policy objectives is concerned, because these objectives are not the policy-makers’ real objectives, but only the public rationales they use to disguise their true objective, which invariably is to bring about the enrichment, aggrandizement, and other benefit of the politically potent individuals and interest groups that pack the decisive punch in the policy-making process—for example, those who can most effectively threaten legislators with affirmative punishments or the withdrawal of financial support for the legislators’ reelection if the string pullers’ interests are not served.

Almost twenty years ago, I wrote an article on this subject called “The Myth of ‘Failed’ Policies,” commenting briefly on how seven different areas of important, obvious policy failure illustrate my thesis. Looking back at my 1995 article, I can say now that in each case the apparent “failure” and the actual success have only grown. In each case, much more money is being poured down the rat hole of a failed policy now than was being poured down it then—which is only to say that the American political process is at least as corrupt now as it was then, and probably even more so. Despite various surface changes in policy details, none of the ostensible “failures” has been repaired in the least, even though the apparent failure has become only more blatant and undeniable.

Many people, for good reason, have concluded that the surest test of whether a politician or public official is lying is to ask, Are his lips moving? An equally simple test may be proposed to determine whether a seemingly failed policy is actually a success for the movers and shakers of the political class. This test requires only that we ask, Does the policy remain in effect? If it does, we can be sure that it continues to serve the interests of those who are actually decisive in determining the sorts of policy the government establishes and implements. Now, as before, “failed” policies are a myth in regard to all policies that persist beyond the short run. The people who effectively run the government, whether from inside or outside the beast, do not run it for the purpose of hampering the attainment of their own interests; on the contrary. Everything else in the policy process is, as Macbeth would put it, “a tale told by an idiot [augmented by economists, lawyers, and public-relations flacks], full of sound and fury signifying nothing.



‘Almost Everything You Think You Know About the Matthew Shepard Narrative is False’

The death of 21-year old Matthew Shepard in 1998 launched yet another attempt by the MSM to attack the right; which in retrospect perfectly fits the template employed by the left in recent years to politicize the shootings of Gabrielle Giffords and Trayvon Martin:

Almost immediately Shepard became a secular saint, and his killing became a kind of gay Passion Play where he suffered and died for the cause of homosexuality against the growing homophobia and hatred of gay America.

Thanks to a new book by an award winning gay journalist we now know that much of this narrative turns out to be false, little more than gay hagiography.

As gay journalist Aaron Hicklin, writing in The Advocate asks, “How do people sold on one version of history react to being told that the facts are slippery — that thinking of Shepard’s murder as a hate crime does not mean it was a hate crime? And how does it color our understanding of such a crime if the perpetrator and victim not only knew each other but also had sex together, bought drugs from one another, and partied together?”

This startling revelation comes in The Book of Matt to be published next week by investigative journalist Stephen Jiminez, who over the course of years interviewed over 100 people including Shepard’s friends, friends of the killers, and the killers themselves.

No wonder “More than half of Democrats, according to a neutral survey, said they believed Bush was complicit in the 9/11 terror attacks,” according to JournoList member Ben Smith. From the cause of the Kennedy assassination to their fever swamp fantasies regarding presidents Nixon and Reagan to their multiple conspiracy theories of the 1990s, the left had been taking national news stories and overlaying on them their most lurid thoughts about the right.

The template the left uses to take already horrific incidents such as the Giffords shooting (in which a judge appointed by Republican George H.W. Bush was killed), Travyon Martin’s attempt to bash in George Zimmerman’s skull (which might also involve homophobia, according to Martin’s associate Rachel Jeantel on CNN), and the killing of Matthew Shepard and turn the amps up to 11 to politicize them is fairly predictable. Also predictable is that it won’t be too long before another crime is politicized by the left to score cheap points. And while the right has talk radio, Fox, and the Blogosphere, the left still has a much, much louder megaphone, including both the “news” media and pop culture.

The next sucker punch is surely coming. How does the right fight back?



Andrew Breitbart’s Sweet, Sweet Victories

I still think it is improbable that Breitbart's premature death was natural. Was he given something to bring on a heart attack? It did not appear to be a normal heart attack

Somewhere, up there, Andrew Breitbart is celebrating. On September 10, 2013, the legendary gadfly whose huge heart gave out far too soon chalked up a three more big wins in his campaign to take America back from the hypocritical liberal snobs he despised.

In New York, a Democrat electorate soundly rejected Anthony Wiener’s creepy comeback bid. And in Colorado, an enraged citizenry defied everything the liberal establishment could throw at them and tossed out a pair of Democrat state senators who thought they could trample on the basic civil right to keep and bear arms. Neither victory would have been possible without Andrew.

Before Andrew came along, we all knew that Democrat politicians were feminists on the podium and leering letches everywhere else. Yet from Ted Kennedy leaving a young woman to drown to Bill Clinton soiling the Oval Office with the ghastly evidence of his out-of-control libido, Democrats got away with posturing as the protectors of womankind from the ravages of the misogynist GOP.

Without Andrew Breitbart, no one would have ever known about Anthony Weiner’s bizarre predilections except Huma Abedin. She understood perfectly that the role of a male Democrat politician’s wife is to ignore her hubby’s seedy abuse of individual women so he can focus on cultivating women as a collective Democrat constituent group. And if she kept quiet, maybe she could be a senator herself. It had happened before.

Andrew broke the silence, not only pushing the story of Weiner’s genital selfies but refusing to let the mainstream media rule the story beyond the pale and ignore it. Then Andrew commandeered Weiner’s own press conference, launching into a glorious tirade and growing from raconteur to legend. Weiner slunk out of Congress and didn’t dare raise his head again until Andrew had passed. But he didn’t count on the fact that Andrew’s spirit remained.

Andrew was born and raised a liberal. He stopped being a liberal precisely because he believed in the things that liberals claimed they believed in – that all individuals should be treated with respect regardless of race or creed, that they should have a voice in their government, that civil rights matter, and that hypocrisy is wrong. It was his epiphany that liberals actually believe the opposite of what they preach that drove him out of the liberal camp. His incredible honesty and his refusal to accept the snobbery and lies that characterize liberalism made him liberalism’s Public Enemy Number One.

Don’t believe me? Scroll down to the comments. Give it a couple hours and you’ll see gleeful celebrations of Andrew’s premature passing from the members of the party of tolerance and compassion. Remember that when a liberal puts a “COEXIST” sticker on his Prius, he isn’t talking about people like us.

Anthony Wiener is gone now, swept away because Andrew refused to let the mainstream media enablers cover for him. Without Andrew, it would be Mayor Weiner, or perhaps even Senator Weiner. The mind recoils at the thought of the personal “filibustering” photos the Distinguished Gentleman from Twitter would be texting to barely legal teens.

In Colorado, a young plumber who had never been involved in politics was refused entry into his state senator’s town hall meeting. The senator didn’t feel like answering the questions the plumber and other voters had about the unconstitutional gun laws she and her fellow Democrats were shoving down Coloradans’ throats. That young plumber decided to make sure she heard him anyway, and on September 10th the entire liberal establishment heard him and other regular Americans roar as their shoestring campaign recalled two liberal senators.

That proud American probably never met Andrew, but he received a lot of help from people and organizations Andrew worked with during his years as a driving force in the Tea Party. Andrew believed that every American has a right to be heard, and he hated the pretension and snobbery of the liberal elite who think regular Americans should sit quietly and obey their masters.

Andrew was not much for sitting quietly.

He flayed the entertainment industry with Big Hollywood, the media with Big Journalism and the government – the last refuge of otherwise unemployable liberals – with Big Government. He confronted snobbery – we can only imagine Andrew’s delight in initiating a Twitter strike on the liberal who lamented the recall blowout by tweeting, “1) NRA money 2) Voter suppression (no mail-in) 3) Huge Amendment 2-like blow to Colorado economy as creative class recoils.”

Andrew would have savaged the bogus “NRA money” narrative by pointing out the ginormous dollar dump from liberals Mike Bloomberg and Eli Broad, and he would have mocked the “voter suppression” meme. But he would have saved his best for the “creative class” comment, a statement packed full of pretension and condescension toward the people who actually built this country and who make it function. That 29-year old plumber does more useful work for our country fixing pipes than a dozen “creative class” hipster doofuses twirling their goatees as they brew batches of undrinkable, cutesy-named, locally-sourced “craft brews.”

Andrew grew up with smug, smarmy liberals. He knew them. He was of them. That made his betrayal all the more intolerable. It made him dangerous.

And right now, as Weiner and the two ex-senators from Colorado try to find jobs in the Obama economy, Andrew is up there laughing his head off.



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

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


17 September, 2013

The Other 9-11—When Commies Tasted Their Own Medicine

It should be noted that Marxist President Allende won power in Chile with just a little over one third of the vote. The anti-communist vote was split between two parties -- JR

On September 11, 1973 the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet slapped Fidel Castro so smartly that his Stalinist regime (and its dutiful U.S. Media minions) are still sniveling and sniffling and wiping away tears of shock, pain and humiliation.

True to form, The New York Times leads the sniveling. They just published an article decrying the Chilean “tragedy” (i.e. Chile saving itself from Castroism with a military coup and today the richest and freest nation in Latin America.) The article’s author Ariel Dorfman is a former advisor to Chile’s Marxist president and Castro acolyte Salvador Allende. This same “columnist,” by the way, proclaimed Che Guevara as “Hero and Icon of the Century!” for Time magazine back in 1999.

"We’re following the example of the Cuban Revolution and counting on the support of her militant internationalism represented by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara!” boasted Chilean president Salvador Allende’s minister Carlos Altamirano in January 1971. “Armed conflict in continental terms remains as relevant today as ever!" he declared.

And he wasn’t bluffing. By the time of Pinochet’s coup, an estimated 31,000 Cuban and Soviet bloc operatives and terrorists infested Chile, including Castro’s top KGB-trained terrorist spymasters, Antonio De La Guardia and Manuel "Barbarroja" Pineiro." Among the hundreds of Soviet personnel were KGB luminaries Viktor Efremov, Vasili Stepanov and Nikolai Kotchanov.

By 1973, 60% of Chile’s arable land had been stolen by Allende’s Marxist regime, often with the aid of Cuba-trained death squads. "In the final analysis only armed conflict will decide who is the victor!" added Allende’s governmental ally, Oscar Guillermo Garreton. “The class struggle always entails armed conflict. Understand me, the global strategy is always accomplished through arms!"

Allende’s deputy economic minister, Sergio Ramos, didn’t mince words either: "It’s evident," he proclaimed in mid-1973, "that the transition to socialism will first require a dictatorship of the proletariat!"

"Stalin was a banner of creativity, of humanism and an edifying picture of peace and heroism!" declared Salvador Allende during a eulogy in 1953 to the Soviet mass-murderer whose crimes left Hitler’s in the dust. "Everything he did, he did in service of the people. Our father Stalin has died but in remembering his example our affection for him will cause our arms to grow strong towards building a grand tomorrow—to insure a future in memory of his grand example!"

In September 1973 General Augusto Pinochet, his military colleagues and a majority of the Chilean people (Allende had won in 1970 with a slight plurality not a majority of the Chilean vote) failed to recognize Stalin’s Great Terror as a “grand example.” The Chilean legislature and Supreme Court had already declared Allende’s Marxism unconstitutional.

So with the clock tickling ominously toward irreversible Castroism, Chile’s traditionally un-political military made a (genuine) pinprick strike against Allende and his Stalinist minions.

Allende and Castro’s media minions claim 3000 people were “disappeared” during this anti-Communist coup and its aftermath, collateral damage and all. Well, even if we accept the Castroite figure, compared to the death-toll from our interventions/ bombing- campaigns in the Mid-East (that have yet to create a single free, peaceful and prosperous nation) Pinochet’s coup should be enshrined and studied at West Point, Georgetown and John Hopkins as the paradigm for effective “regime–change” and “nation-building.” Granted, Pinochet had much better raw-material to work with.

But the Castroite –MSM figure is mostly bogus, as many of those “disappeared” kept appearing, usually behind the iron curtain.

More importantly, Pinochet and his plotters were scrupulous in keeping U.S. State Dept. and CIA “nation-builders” and other such egghead busybodies out of their plotting loop. (This probably explains Pinochet’s success.) Then two years after the coup they invited Milton Freidman and his “Chicago Boys” over for some economic tutelage. And as mentioned: today Chile is the freest and richest nation in Latin America.

Oh, I know, I know, whenever you read about Pinochet’s coup in the media you read how it was “U.S.-backed,” and by the diabolical Richard Nixon, no less. Unrepentant apologist for Communism Christopher Hitchens did much to perpetuate the worldwide leftist whine-fest over Castro and Brezhnev’s humiliation in Chile. “1968 actually began in 1967 with the murder of Che,” recounted Christopher Hitchens in A New York Times article on the 30th Anniversary of Che Guevara’s death. “His death meant a lot to me. He was a role model.”

Hitchens’ book turned BBC documentary titled “The Trial of Henry Kissinger,” remains the international Left’s “Nixon and Pinochet for Dummies.” But long- declassified U.S. documents publicized by Marc Falcoff in Frontpage Magazine expose the Castro-Hitchens-MSM version for the fairy-tale anti-Communist Chileans recognized from the get-go.

"We had nothing to do with it," Kissinger told Nixon over the phone on June 1973 after an earlier (and botched) coup attempt against Allende. “It came as a complete surprise to us." Added Assistant Sec. of State Jack Rush. “My firm instructions to everybody on the staff are that we are not to involve ourselves in any way,” reported U.S. ambassador Nathaniel Davis, who kept hearing coup rumors from his Chilean contacts.

Then on September 16, five days after Pinochet’s successful coup Nixon asked Kissinger: "Well, we didn't--as you know--our hand doesn't show on this one though?"

"We didn't do it,” replied Kissinger. “I mean …we helped create the conditions."



Why Do Liberals Believe What They Believe?

John C. Goodman

Do you know of any place you can go to find a rational, well-thought out economic argument for liberalism? I can't. And that's really strange considering the degree to which this political philosophy dominates our culture.

By the term "liberalism" I mean the intellectual effort to apologize for and defend economic programs primarily associated with Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. There are four main ones:

* The substitution of regulation for markets,

* The substitution of social insurance for private provision,

* The nationalization of welfare, and

* The manipulation of the economy by the government.

It is difficult to exaggerate how completely this intellectual movement dominated thinking in the post-World War II period. During the 1950s and 1960s there was virtually no book, no journal, and no college campus where you could find a serious competing point of view.

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas in the 1960s, there were only two people on the entire liberal arts faculty who you could describe as right of center — a moderate Republican in the English department and a libertarian in the Political Science department. And this was a campus with 27,000 students!

Then in 1962 Milton Friedman wrote Capitalism and Freedom. Friedman called himself a "classical liberal" and his book was a wholesale assault on modern liberalism and all its major programs. In place of Social Security, Freidman proposed private savings accounts. In place of the income tax system, a flat tax. In place of a monopoly public school system, educational vouchers. In place of the welfare state, a negative income tax. And so forth.

Whether you agree or disagree with Friedman, the book represented a coherent statement of a political philosophy. From cover to cover, you could see how it all fit together. Starting from a few simple values, you could see how the entire set of recommended polices cohered.

So here is the obvious question: Where can one find the counter to Friedman? Where is there a book that makes the case for modern liberalism as persuasively and as coherently as Friedman's critique? I can't find any.

How could so many people hold a viewpoint that has never been written down, explained and defended? Hold that thought for a moment.

Since I can't cover everything in a single article, let's stick with regulation. There are three things you need to know:

1.Virtually every federal regulatory agency created in the 20th century came into existence at the request of the regulated industry.

2.In virtually every case the regulatory body viewed maintaining industry profitability as its most important goal.

3.In almost every case the bulk of the agency's time was spent not protecting consumers from price gouging, but protecting the industry from "ruinous competition."

However, to get economic favors from government, the industries were expected to make a devil's bargain. Since the Republicans mainly believed in hands off government, the producers had to give political support to Roosevelt and other Democrats who were granting the favors.

This approach started with the progressives, who were the forerunners of modern liberalism. They were not the first to pass special interest legislation, of course. But they were the first to give an intellectual justification for the rejection of free markets while they were doing it, a justification that often belied their real intent.

For example, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) — our first federal regulatory agency — was ostensibly established to protect the general public from greedy robber barons. But, as the leftist historian Gabriel Kolko has documented, the ICC was primarily dominated by, and served the interest of, the railroads themselves.

The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 was passed ostensibly in order to protect the public from bad meat — exposed, for example, by the novelist Upton Sinclair. However, the regulatory apparatus the act created served the interests of large meatpackers instead. Safety standards were already being met — or were easily accommodated — by the large companies. But the regulations forced many small meatpackers out of business and made it difficult for new ones to enter the industry.

This same pattern — of regulatory agencies serving the interests of the regulated — was repeated with the establishment of almost all subsequent regulatory agencies. For this reason, Kolko called the entire Progressive Era the "triumph of conservatism."

As I reported previously, in the Franklin Roosevelt era, the ICC became a cartel agent for the trucking industry as well as the railroads. The Civil Aeronautics Board became a cartel agent for the airlines. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) became a cartel agent for the broadcasters.

Even the pretense of consumer protection was blatantly tossed aside with the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act. The goal of the NIRA was to allow each industry to set its own prices, set its own wages and control its own output. Had Roosevelt gotten his way, we would have had predatory monopolies in every market.

What was happening at the national level during the 20th century was replicated in spades at the local level. Virtually every professional licensing requirement in the country was requested not by consumers, but by people in the trade. Today, almost one in every three jobs requires a license.

Where can you find an intellectual defense of all this? You can't. What I'm describing contradicts not only Adam Smith, but also almost all of modern economics. Special monopoly privileges designed for one group create benefits for that group, but harm everyone else. And the harm to society as a whole is inevitably much greater than the benefits to the special interests.

So back to the question posed earlier: why do so many intellectuals apologize for and defend the indefensible? The only answer I can think of is that what we call liberalism is not an ideology at all. It's a sociology. And that would be okay, if it were comparable to one's preference for natural food or artsy movies.

It's not okay when it imposes costs on millions of innocent people.




I’ll gladly cost you your job on Tuesday for my pay raise today: "On Aug. 29, hundreds of fast-food workers in dozens of cities across the United States (including Saint Louis) walked off their jobs in protest. The focus of their discontent is the minimum wage, currently $7.25. Arguing that this wage simply isn’t enough, they demand that their employers increase the entry-level wage to $15. Economists of all stripes recognize the impacts that imposing such a wage on these employers would have. Most notably, it would reduce the number of jobs available for entry-level, unskilled workers."

The state as an attractor for sociopaths: "If the state is defined in terms of its enjoying a monopoly on the use of violence, what is the character of people who would be attracted to the use of its violent tools and practices? What sort of people would be attracted to careers that gave them the arbitrary power to force others to their will; work premised on the imperative of obedience? It is almost amusing to see legislators conducting hearings on the problem of bullying in schools: I often wonder whether these politicians are projecting their own 'dark side' forces onto others; using playground ruffians as scapegoats for the more widespread bullying that is the raison d'etre of politics. Or might these solons simply be trying to eliminate competition, in much the same way that local governments war with the street-gangs that violently dominate urban neighborhoods, a role to be monopolized by the state’s police system?"

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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


16 September, 2013

5 People Who Were Murdered For Being White in America

"Kill these racist honkeys, these crackers, these pigs, these pink people. It has been long overdue!" -- The New Black Panther Party

Liberals work hard to sow discord between black and white Americans, encourage divisiveness and discord at every turn, and regularly attribute run-of-the-mill political disagreements to racism. People like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Toure, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Eric Dyson, Tavis Smiley, and Ben Jealous make a living convincing black Americans that whites hate them and it's time they were called out on all of the lives they destroy in the process.

Not only are there a lot of decent black Americans who give up on having a good life because they're falsely convinced that the deck is stacked against them, but there are even people who die because the Left has embraced crying racism as a political tactic. The more the Left screams that everyone who opposes Obama is racist, that Republicans want to put black Americans back in chains, that conservatives want to lynch black Americans, that it's Birmingham, Alabama all over again, the more people on the fringes take liberals seriously and act out violently as a result.

Does anyone on the Left ever take responsibility for this? Do liberals ever say, "Gee, I guess I was wrong about that person being racist" or "Maybe we should tone down the rhetoric to make sure we're not getting people killed?"

No, they don't. If a few white people have to die so Al Sharpton can have a nicer house and Democrats can increase African-American turnout by 1%, that's a small price to pay.

Unless you're one of the people who ends up dead.

1) "I Hate White People!" (New York, New York, 2013): Earlier this month, Lashawn Marten yelled out, "I hate white people," and started punching people around him in New York City’s Union Square. One of the people he assaulted was 62 year old Jeffrey Babbitt, the sole caretaker for his sickly 92 year old mother. Babbit was initially walking around, but he slipped into unconsciousness. Babbitt went into a coma and was pronounced braindead. A few days afterwards, Babbitt died.

2) They wanted to rob a white person (Denver, Colorado, 2010): The Denver Crips gang had been specifically targeting white people to rob. They had robbed and attacked dozens of people because they were white. They went out specifically looking for another white person to rob and found 23 year old Andrew Graham. Graham, who had just been accepted into a Master's program for mathematical engineering, was walking home. Five members of the Crips followed him for two blocks before they confronted Graham, murdered him, and left his corpse lying in the front yard of a home in a residential neighborhood.

3) "90 percent of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM." (Duncan, Oklahoma, 2013): Twenty two year old Australian baseball player Chris Lane was jogging when he was shot in the back by James Edwards. Edwards said he did it "just for the fun of it," but his racist tweets suggest that he shot Lane because he was white. Edwards tweeted, "Ayeee I knocced out 5 (pecker)woods since Zimmerman court! :)" He also wrote, "90 percent of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM."

4) Shot dead for $10 and a sandwich (Wilmington, N.C., 2012): Four thugs were looking for white people to rob. After failing to break into a house and catch a woman they were stalking, they came upon a 20 year old college student, Joshua Proutley. They took ten dollars, a cell phone, and a sandwich before they shot him in the head and killed him.

5) "Who are those crackers walking past the park?" (Sarasota, Florida, 2011): Two British tourists got lost and wandered into the wrong part of town. They caught the attention of Shawn Tyson, who said, "Who are those crackers walking past the park?" Tyson tried to rob the men, but they said they had no money. Tyson responded by saying, “Well, since you ain’t got no money, I got something for your ass." He then shot the men to death as they pleaded for their lives.

Most Americans are good and decent people. However, that doesn't mean that the Left can relentlessly encourage racial division without consequence. The real danger of telling black Americans that those who oppose liberal policies secretly hate them is that some people may believe those lies and act on them. That sort of violence and hatred isn't good for anybody and liberals should stop tacitly encouraging it by treating allegations of racism as just another political tactic.



The British "nudge" system

Intended to steer people towards better decisions, the ideas of Nudge theory are meant to offer choices, while still getting us to do what the government thinks is best. Its pioneers, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, authors of Nudge, say they advocate for "soft paternalism."

Since July 2010, the U.K.'s Behavioral Insights Unit (or "Nudge Unit"), which puts their theories into practice, has merely allowed the state to expand its reach.

On this side of the Atlantic, we were told Nudge offered "encouraging, supporting and enabling people" through improved "choice architecture." If that sort of language doesn’t set all kinds of alarm bells ringing, then perhaps the unit’s track record will.

The Behavioral Insights Team boasts that it helps people make better decisions about their health. In order to do so, the unit has introduced a raft of measures to restrict consumer choice.

Bans on shop displays of tobacco products, cited as a success of the team in their 2010–11 annual report impose severe costs on smokers. Customers find it hard to determine which shops sell their preferred cigarettes at a glance and asking the cashier for your favorite brand takes on the feel of a back alley deal.

These anti-smoking interventions are justified on the grounds of cost saving, but the evidence suggests that smokers cost the U.K.’s healthcare system far less than non-smokers. Phony arguments about cost serve as excuses to victimize people trying to engage in a legal activity.

The next year, the unit began to focus on alcohol use and patted themselves on the back in their 2011–12 annual report. The team congratulated itself for trying to understand the "longer term effects of alcohol marketing … particularly on young people" and exploring the "impacts of different prices" on alcohol consumption.

While plans for a minimum price on alcoholic products have been shelved, the government is now likely to prevent liquor being sold below cost. Simultaneously, the government has reduced duties on beer, while upping the rates on higher strength drinks. You’re free to drink, but do try to drink what the bureaucrats prefer you to.

Don’t think that food is untouched either. The Nudge Unit has been getting supermarkets to cooperate in reducing the salt content in many of its meals. It’s worth remembering that these agreements are far from voluntary—any business that does not comply may face a regulatory penalty as a result.

When it comes to what we eat, interference is inescapable. You can avoid alcohol and tobacco, but food is somewhat more essential. Governments have already shown their incompetence with their adherence to poorly formulated food pyramids, which take no account of how different individuals are affected by dairy or grains.

Federal advice often lags well behind the nutritional evidence, and neglects the important debates between scientists. This is convenient for bureaucrats, who don’t want to admit that such controversy exists. If experts can’t agree on what works, then how can the state pick a winner? The health lobby consensus may be wrong on salt as well.

A more troubling thread runs through each of these interventions. The Nudge team has completely disregarded the enjoyment that customers get from tobacco, alcohol, and salt. It’s crass to suggest that people aren’t aware of associated health risks.

Here the standard liberal arguments apply. Even if the government can engineer our choices, are bureaucrats well-placed to make decisions for us? Probably not.

If those behind Nudge are serious about reducing the burden of "hard" paternalism imposed on us, then they should be supporting a scaling back of the state. While the UK unit makes nods towards the government’s declared deregulation agenda, known as "the Red Tape Challenge," their work is increasing the size of the state, not freeing us up.

For all their praise of trial and error, the Nudge Unit wishes to steer us down a path to uniformity. Having identified what they think are the best choices for us, and recognizing the hostility to state control, social scientists now believe they can nudge us into conforming with their idea of the good life.

This is no surprise. It’s well know that social scientists fail to be objective and their work often expresses their own ideological biases. Some in the US may even be happy with a less dictatorial method to get us to comply. Yet in the U.K., Nudge–think has begun to permeate government structures, and brings with it a sour taste. We’ve not just been nudged, we’ve been pushed.



Hope 'n' Change: Playing by the Same Rules

A level playing field?

On Thursday, the House passed the “No Subsidies Without Verification Act,” 235-191, which would block ObamaCare insurance subsidy payouts until the Department of Health and Human Services implements a system to verify eligibility. Republicans aim to close a loophole that HHS created in July that allows people to apply for insurance subsidies without proving their income or whether their employer already provides federally approved health benefits.

HHS insists Republicans are overstating the opportunity for fraud and abuse because fear of future HHS and IRS audits will keep people honest. Yet this audit power hasn't prevented people from, for example, playing fast and loose with the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Treasury Inspector General estimates that a quarter of those credits go to ineligible recipients, and equivalent fraud in ObamaCare would mean $250 billion in wrongful income redistribution over a decade. Predictably, the Democrat-controlled Senate won't consider the House measure, though Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced it, and the White House issued a veto threat. Team Obama needs the bodies to make the program work, and they don't want stricter rules blocking folks from getting their “fair share.”

In related news, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) submitted a bill to subject members of Congress to ObamaCare just like the rest of America. This summer, the Office of Personnel Management quietly issued a blanket exception that allowed Congress and congressional staffers to continue to receive their generous health benefits and be exempt from having to enroll in ObamaCare. The excuse was that if Swamp-dwellers had to contend with ObamaCare, they might leave government service and seek more lucrative employment in the private sector. Republicans, who could have used this outrageous exemption as a powerful weapon against ObamaCare, were mum until now. Given Democrats' enthusiasm for the law, it seems only logical that they be forced to enjoy it like everyone else. As for the concern about Beltway brain drain, repealing the exemption is a perfect opportunity to trim the fat – and ensuring that DC elites get a good taste of their own medicine.



Census: Americans in ‘Poverty’ Typically Have Cell Phones, Computers, TVs, VCRS, AC, Washers, Dryers and Microwaves

Americans who live in households whose income is below the federal “poverty” level typically have cell phones (as well as landline phones), computers, televisions, video recorders, air conditioning, refrigerators, gas or electric stoves, and washers and dryers and microwaves, according to a newly released report from the Census Bureau.

In fact, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones, and a healthy majority—58.2 percent—have computers.

Fully 96.1 percent of American households in “poverty” have a television to watch, and 83.2 percent of them have a video-recording device in case they cannot get home in time to watch the football game or their favorite television show and they want to record it for watching later.

Refrigerators (97.8 percent), gas or electric stoves (96.6 percent) and microwaves (93.2 percent) are standard equipment in the homes of Americans in "poverty."

More than 83 percent have air-conditioning.

Interestingly, the appliances surveyed by the Census Bureau that households in poverty are least likely to own are dish washers (44.9 percent) and food freezers (26.2 percent).

However, most Americans in “poverty” do not need to go to a laundromat. According to the Census Bureau, 68.7 percent of households in poverty have a clothes washer and 65.3 percent have a clothes dryer.

The estimates on the percentage of households in poverty that have these appliances were derived by the Census Bureau from its Survey of Income and Program Participation. The latest report on this survey, released this month, published data collected in 2011.



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

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


15 September, 2013

How a Philadelphia Family Lost Their Home to Asset Forfeiture

Under the legal doctrine of civil forfeiture, police can seize property tangentially linked to a crime, even if the property owner herself is innocent. As Isaiah Thompson reports in the Philadelphia City Paper, this is precisely what happened to Sandra Leino and her family:

“Long before the forfeiture action against her house would be completed, and without a judge or jury ever seeing her face, Leino would be forced from her house and made homeless along with her three children. She would lose her most precious possessions, and ultimately be deprived of her family’s most valuable asset — all without Leino ever being accused of any crime.”

But while Sandra and her children were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, her husband, Sam, was accused and arrested for selling prescription pills. (Sandra asserts Sam was legally using those painkillers for his own personal use, after he was partially disabled from a truck accident.)

Just a few months after his arrest, the Philadelphia District Attorney filed a motion to seize the Leinos’ home in May 2010—a year and a half before Sam Leino even went to trial. Later that month, the Leinos were kicked out of their own home. They tried staying at a motel, but couldn’t afford it for more than one week. With no other options at the time, they were even forced to sleep in the backwoods.

Fortunately, a relative was able to take the Leinos for five months, albeit in tight quarters. Since then, Sandra has been able to rent a new place.

“But on her own now, and unable to pay rent on top of the mortgage on the house she was barred from entering, she began missing mortgage payments. When the DA did eventually withdraw its forfeiture case against the Leinos’ house, it was only because the bank had already foreclosed.”

As for Sam, in 2012, he went to trial and was “found guilty of one count of possession with intent to distribute, and sentenced to three to six years.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Isaiah Thompson elaborates:

“Four of the police officers who surveilled and arrested Sam Leino are among a group of six narcotics officers whose credibility has been effectively dismissed by the DA’s Office itself after allegations were made in open court that they were part of a drug-dealing ring within the Philadelphia Police Department…How many times the DA’s forfeiture unit has seized property based on the testimony of these officers is not presently clear.”

So far, the Philadelphia DA has dropped almost 300 cases due to this misconduct.

Unfortunately, Sandra Leino’s story is not an isolated incident. Between 300 and 600 real-estate forfeiture cases are brought per year by the Philadelphia District Attorney. Lax laws and scant protections have created hundreds of Sandra Leinos, just in Philadelphia.

According to the Institute for Justice’s nationwide study, Policing for Profit, Pennsylvania has some of the worst civil forfeiture laws. Law enforcement agencies can forfeit property based on a mere “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a much less stringent standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal convictions.

Plus, property owners have to prove their innocence, reversing both the burden of proof and centuries of jurisprudence. In other words, in civil forfeiture proceedings, property owners actually have fewer protections than accused criminals.

Not only that, under Pennsylvania state law, police can keep 100 percent of all proceeds seized from civil forfeiture. In fact, the Philadelphia DA has raked in more than $6 million a year in civil forfeiture proceeds.

Most of this policing for profit is from cash seizures. But “the average amount of cash seized by Philadelphia police was $550 — hardly the proceeds of a Pablo Escobar or a Walter White.” No wonder a Pennsylvania judge has lambasted civil forfeiture as “little more than state-sanctioned theft.”



Another lying Leftist

Five days after WND first broke the news that the strategy by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Secretary of State John F. Kerry to cast members of the Free Syria Army as “moderates” among the Syrian rebel forces was the brain-child of a Wall Street Journal researcher, the analyst has been fired from a Washington think-tank for lying about her qualifications.

As WND reported, Elizabeth O’Bagy, 26, had claimed she was pursuing a Ph.D. in Arab studies and political science at Georgetown University and working on a dissertation on woman’s militancy.

In his Sept. 3 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Kerry cited O’Bagy, arguing that the war in Syria is “not being waged entirely or even predominately by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” but rather the struggle is being led but “moderate opposition forces – a collection of groups known as the Free Syria Army.”

Kerry was citing an opinion piece O’Bagy wrote for the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 30 titled “On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War.” It ran with a tag-line “The conventional wisdom – that jihadists are running the rebellion [in Syria] – is not what I’ve witnessed on the ground.”

O’Bagy, then the Syria team leader at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War think-tank, claimed she had submitted and defended her dissertation and Georgetown University would soon confer her degree.

“The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University,” the Institute for the Study of War said in a statement Wednesday. “ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.”

Upon learning O’Bagy had been fired from ISW, WND senior staff reporter Jerome Corsi, who broke the original story, said, “We investigated O’Bagy last week and reported she was a graduate student. I think it was our story that triggered the awareness by the Obama administration and Kerry and McCain that this woman was fraudulently represented herself as a Ph.D.”

He added, “We pointed out she had the associations with the radical Islamic groups that are promoting the Free Syrian Army.”

Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, told Politico, “[W]e were not aware of Elizabeth O’Bagy’s academic claims or credentials when we published her Aug. 31 op-ed, and the op-ed made no reference to them.

“We also were not aware of her affiliation with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, and we published a clarification when we learned of it. We are investigating the contents of her op-ed to the best of our ability, but to date we have seen no evidence to suggest any information in the piece was false.”

Corsi also reported that when McCain when to Iraq, O’Bagy set up interviews and provided him with a Washington operative who was in Syria.

“Basically O’Bagy made fools of them all (Obama, McCain and Kerry),” Corsi said. “They wanted so desperately to go on their theory there was a moderate force in Syria. They jumped on the bandwagon. They didn’t realize she was loading them up with radicals from the Free Syria Army.”

In his investigative piece, Corsi revealed that the O’Bagy narrative is contradicted by intelligence estimates and experts specializing in the region.

After Kerry’s testimony to Congress, Reuters reported: “Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and non-governmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.”



The President’s Embarrassment

When Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently irritated by a lack of sleep, gave a snippy and what he thought was an unrealistic reply to a reporter’s question at a London press conference last weekend, he hardly could have imagined the world’s response. Asked whether there is anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do at this relatively late hour to avoid an American invasion, Kerry told an international audience that if Assad gave up whatever chemical weapons his government possesses, the U.S. would forgo an invasion.

But not to worry, Kerry added. Assad is not going to do that, and we will end up invading Syria in order to vindicate President Obama’s threat to do so. For two days, Obama remained silent on this as his arch-nemesis, Russian President Vladimir Putin, grabbed the spotlight and the high moral ground.

Putin, sounding more like a Nobel Peace laureate than the killer he is known to be, offered to broker a deal whereby the Syrian chemical stockpile would be surrendered to the United Nations, the Syrian government could go about defending itself from the al-Qaida-driven effort to take it over, and the U.S. would leave Syria alone.

Obama is generally firm in his belief that he needs to vindicate the threat he made last summer when he was trying to outdo Mitt Romney on sounding tough. It was then that Obama threatened to intervene in the Syrian civil war if chemical weapons were used by the government. Nevertheless, hating the international embarrassment visited upon him when suddenly Putin seems more reasonable than he does, Obama conceded to my Fox News colleague Chris Wallace that the Kerry-inspired and Putin-pushed idea seemed worth considering. And then the Syrian government agreed.

Just last week, the president was arguing that only military force would show the world that the U.S. means what it says. Just last week, he realized that he needed political cover in order to justify an unpopular invasion, and so he asked Congress for permission to invade Syria, even while knowing that he already has the legal authority to invade on his own. Just last week, he dispatched his political team, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to argue that war is the only way to go. And just last week, he intimated that he might bomb Syria even if Congress said no.

What happened?

What happened was the president’s head counters polled their allies on Capitol Hill earlier this week and informed him that he was about to become the first American president in history to seek war-making authority from Congress and have it denied to him, including by many members of his own political party.

The president cannot even say for sure that the weapons he and his advisers claim were used were in fact deployed by the Assad regime. Nor can they state with intellectual honesty that the freedom or safety of Americans is affected by any weaponry used in this civil war 6,700 miles from our shores.

The legal linchpin of American involvement in a foreign war is not American hatred of one of the weapons systems used in the war, but the imminence of danger to American freedom and safety if we stay out. Treaties to which the U.S. is a party and the body of international law to which the U.S. subscribes make clear that the U.S. cannot lawfully use military force to punish the government of another country without first demonstrating that the other country’s military poses an immediate threat of danger to the U.S. Obama and Kerry have been unable to address this.

They also have been unable to address how the U.S. can punish Syria for using weapons that the U.S. and the U.N. have outlawed but Syria has not. Put aside the fact that Syria is a client state of Russia and hence will be protected by it at the U.N., Syria never agreed to the U.N. prohibition on chemical weapons in the first place. So the U.N. is without lawful authority to authorize any violent American intercession in Syria over the use of these weapons.




FL: Jones arrested on frivolous charges to stop burning of Qurans: "A Florida pastor was arrested Wednesday as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with kerosene-soaked Qurans to a park, where the pastor had said he was planning to burn 2,998 of the Muslim holy books -- one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sheriff's deputies in Polk County, Fla., arrested Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 44, each on a felony charge of unlawful conveyance of fuel. Jones had said he was heading to a nearby park in Mulberry to burn the Qurans on Wednesday, the 12th anniversary of the attacks. Sheriff's officials said that Jones was also charged with unlawful open-carry of a firearm, a misdemeanor, and that Sapp faces a charge of having no valid registration for the trailer"

Is your iPad ratting you out to the feds?: "Your home computer—assuming you still have one, of course—should be safe from the grabby hands of public officials. In theory, at least. Law enforcement personnel are supposed to obtain a search warrant before they barge into your house and start confiscating electronic equipment. But when you're on the road and perhaps storing important documents on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, all bets are off. Your devices are subject to seizure on the flimsiest of pretexts, and any data they hold can be pirated."

Hanauer and Liu: False premises beget false conclusions: "Like so many others, Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu base their disdain for libertarianism on a false premise of their own devising when they write in Bloomberg, 'Libertarians Are the New Communists:' 'Radical libertarianism assumes that humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution.' In reality libertarians understand that humans are wired to be both selfish and social, and they agree, with one caveat, that 'cooperation is the height of human evolution.'"


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

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


13 September, 2013

The monstrous evil that is Islam

America had its nose rubbed in the insensate hate that is Islam on 9/11/2001

Just one image has brought that monstrous evil to the front of my mind today. It is the much-reproduced image of grief below, where Carrie Bergonia looks over the name of her fiance, firefighter Joseph Ogren, during ceremonies at the 9/11 Memorial marking the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

What I see there is a woman, perhaps in her 30s, as skinny as a rake with her big tote bag and not a lot going for her. She probably never had a lot of good options in her life but she had finally got a break in finding her firefighter partner. Then that rare chance for lasting happiness was taken away from her by Muslim evil. "The poor woman! The poor woman!", I say to myself. I feel so sorry for her.


Obama no longer the most powerful man in the world. Putin is


How Just A Few Heroes Barely Saved the Internet from Being Hijacked: Beware SOPA 2.0

Two years ago Hollywood, no kidding, masterminded a plot to, in effect, steal the Internet (by criminalizing certain conduct, booby trapping the Web in ways that few non-mega-corporations could cope with). There are signs, as perceptively flagged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that the perps are back at it. We should care.

This two-part column reveals an untold part of the story about how the bad guys were stopped last time. And, if not stopped again, how it could lead to a fundamental loss of civil rights and freedom on the Internet.

The perversely named “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) itself may have been the most brazen attempted act of piracy in all recorded history. Truth in Legislation would have required it to be named the “Ultimate Act of Online Piracy.” Enactment effectively would have pirated the World Wide Web from a common space and converted it into the private preserve of the Big Entertainment Lobby.

The Plot to steal the Internet was foiled. It was foiled by an “Irresistible Force” — public opinion, rallied by a twenty-something Freedom Fighter, Aaron Swartz, now dead. This combined with an Immovable Object, the consciences of a tiny group of legislators. Together they — barely — defeated one of the meanest pieces of legislation in our lifetimes.

The “outside” story — of the late-rallying popular opposition — has been fairly extensively reported. 7,000 (some claimover 100,000) websites, including Wikipedia and other high traffic sites, were persuaded to close shop for a day. Google draped its logo in black. In the view of Harvard Law School professor, author, public intellectual, and co-creator of the Creative Commons Lawrence Lessig, “SOPA was stopped by the most important Internet campaign so far — lead by my (now dead) friend Aaron Swartz, and thousands of others.”

As the New York Times reported “’I think [stopping SOPA] is an important moment in the Capitol,’ said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California and an important opponent of the legislation. ‘Too often, legislation is about competing business interests. This is way beyond that. This is individual citizens rising up.’”

But the “inside” story — four liberty-minded lawmakers who stood up in front of SOPA like the protestor in Tiananmen Square against the column of tanks — has remained, mostly, obscure. This tells that story.

But first. Why should you care? Undaunted by its 2011 failure Hollywood and the Big Record Labels are staging the sequel. This time, the bad guys could win. The Huffington Post recently spotted the perps busy inside the federal (perhaps, more aptly, feral) bureaucracy hollowing out the Constitution: “The [Commerce] department’s Internet Policy Task Force last week proposed making it a felony to stream copyrighted works.”

Give the Internet to Big Business? Hollywood and the Recording Industry appear to have found a compliant handmaiden, Penny Pritzker, the new U.S. Commerce Secretary, to work the inside while they work the outside. Pritzker’s Commerce Department employs, among other things, the risible euphemism of “improving the operation of the notice and takedown system” of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That’s a system which is working rather beautifully for all concerned, content providers and distributors both. Something’s extremely fishy here.

Secretary Pritzker, a billionaire heiress, recently was bragging about cavorting with the head of the Recording Industry Association of America. It’s not hard to imagine whose side — the rich and famous … or mere citizens like us? — she’s on.

Practical upshot? Among much other potential damage, if Big Hollywood colluding with Big Government succeeds, it changes the very nature of the Web. Quite possibly, for example, “SOPA 2.0? could mean the end of the Drudge Report. Drudge hardly can maintain his Report if an innocent miscall on copyright makes him subject to prosecution, by any United States attorney, for a federal felony.

Would the silencing of Drudge be an unintended consequence? Or might it be intentional? Chairman Darrell Issa has written to Attorney General Holder: “The suggestions that prosecutors did in fact seek to make an example out of Aaron Swartz because Demand Progress exercised its First Amendment rights in publicly supporting him raises new questions about the Department’s handling of the case.”

(Matt? Meet Penny. The new “Big Sis” candidate?)

The hero in challenging Big Hollywood’s Big Piracy Gambit in the U.S. Senate was Ron Wyden. The main heroes in the House, reportedly, were Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Jared Polis (D-CO).

As hacktivist Aaron Swartz stated in his keynote speech delivered at F2C: Freedom to Connect 2012, Washington DC, “How we stopped SOPA,” six months before Swartz/s untimely, tragic, death:

“Senator Ron Wyden, the Democrat from Oregon, put a hold on the Bill, giving a speech in which he called in a nuclear bunker buster bomb aimed at the Internet. He announced he would not allow it to pass without changes. As you may know, a single Senator can’t actually stop a bill by themselves. But they can delay it. … He bought us time. A lot of time as it turned out. His delay held all the way to the end of that session of Congress. … There was probably a year or two of delay there. And in retrospect we used that time to lay the groundwork for what came later.”

The reintroduction of this legislation came (in the Senate) as PIPA, and (in the House) as SOPA. “The introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act and its Senate counterpart was the apotheosis of how Congress should not work,” recalls Seamus Kraft, then an Issa staff member and deeply engaged in the process. Kraft:

“Imagine the (metaphorically) smoke-filled room, special-interest authored legislation, launched without warning, without seeking input from stakeholders beyond a mere ‘sop for Cerberus’ — or, to Cyberspace: a single hearing on this bill, with five or six bigwigs from the content industry to catch softballs. And one lower level representative from Google … to be bullied.”

“The proposed legislation was seeking to combat intellectual property theft via the internet. The content creators wished to stop downloading of copyrighted content — especially music and movies. That’s a legitimate goal. But the mechanisms proposed for doing it were horrendous, a ‘kill them all, let God sort out the souls of the innocent’ strategy.”

The Web, oddly, still is a novelty to Washington, many of whose officials remain somewhat befuddled by the “interwebs” — that series of tubes — internets and website “numbers” . Kraft:

“This naivete left Congress vulnerable to special interests pushing a one-sided solution to an ill-defined problem. The relevant committee proceeded without seeking the input of representatives of those who use, or whose business is, the Internet. The most important locked-out constituency was users: you and me.”

The Internet’s precarious position then was summed up nicely by techdirt.com:

“It’s pretty much assured that VP Joe Biden is in favor of PROTECT IP/E-PARASITE/SOPA. Since the start of this administration, President Obama has delegated most copyright issues to Biden, and Biden’s general view on copyright seems to be ‘whatever makes Hollywood happier must be fantastic.’ How else do you describe his continued support of ever more draconian copyright law, contrary to the evidence suggesting that it only makes things worse? How else do you explain his claim that he got ‘all the stakeholders’ concerning copyright into a summit meeting, when it only involved government officials and the big labels and studios (no consumer advocates, no artists, no technologists, no entrepreneurs, etc.)?”


“Darrell Issa, a member of the Judiciary Committee, is an inventor. He holds the most patents of anyone who ever has served in Congress. He himself owns intellectual property — and benefits from a strong streamlined system. Here, however, the legislative proponents seemed clueless about what the heck the Internet really is.

“Even Rep. Issa did not realize the stakes were so serious until the ‘sop to Cyberspace’ hearing. His reaction was along the lines of You guys — out of the blue — are trying to give all this power — to shut down domains, to hold Google responsible for some joker who uploads some random item — to federal bureaucrats? What is being proposed would change, fundamentally, the architecture of the best thing that has happened to humanity in the past 50 years.



DNC Chairwoman: We Lost Colorado Gun Vote Because We Couldn't Cheat

Well, what Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz actually said - in a formal DNC press release – was: "This was voter suppression, pure and simple. Colorado voters are used to casting their ballots by mail, but because of lawsuits filed by opponents of common sense gun reform, voters were not mailed their ballots in this election… a result of efforts by the NRA, the Koch brothers and other right wing groups who know that when more people vote, Democrats win."

More of the statement is devoted to voting access than to gun control.

Wasserman Schultz is an interesting specimen because her exceptionally vicious and explicit anti-White American ethnic animosity takes very little decoding, as I noted in RNC Chairman: "GOP Natural Home Of Whites. Just LOOK At Democrats!" or sometimes none – see "New DNC Chair: More Hispanics Means We Win". My belief is that the Democratic managers try hard to keep her off the record.

But her reflexive citing of voter registration is extremely significant. The fact is voter fraud has become central to Democratic election strategy as I discussed at length in "Obama's Voter Fraud Facilitation Policy: Does The GOP Have The Courage To Resist?"

A resounding silence has greeted the totally counterintuitive news that Black turnout and vote totals are supposed to have risen substantially in 2012. Voter analysis shows Obama would have lost in 2012 if black turnout had mirrored 2008 (foxnews.com April 28, 2013). According to the US Census Bureau’s Voting Rates by Race survey (pdf) 1.7 Million or 11.04% more Blacks voted in 2012 than in 2008 when the Black vote was in turn 14.37% above the 2004 total of 14 million.

The idea that the Obama reality stimulated almost as much more enthusiasm amongst Blacks than the prospect of voting for the first time for a fellow Black for President in 2004 is simply not plausible. Especially with election night memories of stories of slow reporting from Black precincts in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, a tell-tale sign of fraud.

Wasserman Schultz’s reaction underlines that manipulating the voting mechanism is the first order of business for Democratic operatives.




USA ranks 17th among world’s happiest countries: "Something to smile about? Americans are not the happiest people on earth, but we do rank a respectable No. 17, among 156 countries evaluated for a new United Nations report. The second annual World Happiness Report, released Monday, finds the highest levels of happiness in Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden, all in northern Europe. The lowest ranked were Rwanda, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Benin and Togo, all in Africa."

De Blasio takes NYC Dem mayoral primary: "Public Advocate Bill de Blasio completed his surge from seemingly nowhere in New York City's mayoral primary Tuesday by taking a commanding lead on his Democratic opponents, hovering near the threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Former Metropolitan Transit Authority Chairman Joe Lhota easily won the GOP nomination, capping a chaotic primary to succeed 12 years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The night also marked the unceremonious end to the bid by a City Council leader trying to become the first female and openly gay mayor, and to the political comebacks of scandal-scarred candidates Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer."

Zimmerman: "This morning FL Judge Alex Ferrer who frequently comments on legal issues gave a very unusually frank evaluation of the now ended case against GZ. Judge Ferrer flatly stated that the case should never have been brought; that the prosecution never had the evidence but brought the case only because of unjustified political pressure and in the vain hope that evidence would eventually appear; and that GZ he expects will probably bring a civil case for damages against the prosecuting local authorities. Noting that the defense barely mentioned the FL 'stand your ground' law, Judge Ferrer said it had had little relevance because the case against GZ was too weak to even require the defense to raise 'stand your ground.'"


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

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


12 September, 2013

Grassroots Activists Take Home Major Second Amendment Victory in Colorado, Recall TWO Anti-Gun Senators

UPDATE 12:04 am: Colorado State Senator Angela Giron has also been recalled for her gun control votes. Giron and Morse are the first Senators in Colorado history to be recalled. Both Giron and Morse have officially conceded. Both areas formerly represented by Giron and Morse are deep blue.

This is a HUGE victory for grassroots activists and the Second Amendment. These results will no doubt send a loud message nationally. Giron and Morse both voted to limit ammunition magazine capacity to 15 rounds and for expanded background checks covering online and private firearms sales.

11:40 pm: Grassroots activists in Colorado took home a Second Amendment victory Tuesday night after efforts to recall State Senator John Morse over gun control votes earlier this year proved successful. More from Colorado Peak Politics:

"In a historic recall election Senate President John Morse was booted from office, capping the end of a long and passionate fight over gun rights in Colorado. It marks a wake-up call for Colorado Democrats, who are suddenly coming to the realization that they’re not invincible after all."

"In a session dubbed “one of the most liberal ever” by the Durango Herald‘s Joe Hanel, Democrats sprinted to the left on gun control, and virtually every other policy in the left-wing agenda."

"The Morse recall results are a swift kick in their proverbial nuts. A reminder to legislators that getting elected office doesn’t give you a free pass to do whatever your progressive paymasters demand of you."

And, as the Morse recall demonstrates, it’s ultimately the voters who control a politician’s fate, despite the competing intentions of a fat walleted few."

We speak, of course, of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has bankrolled the gun control agenda from the get-go. Even his billions can only buy so many friends…and votes."

The National Rifle Association, which helped fund the recall effort, has issued a statement.

"A historic grassroots effort by voters in Colorado’s Senate District 11 has resulted in the recall of Colorado Senate President John Morse (D). The people of Colorado Springs sent a clear message to the Senate leader that his primary job was to defend their rights and freedoms and that he is ultimately accountable to them – his constituents, and not to the dollars or social engineering agendas of anti-gun billionaires."

"Recall proceedings began earlier this year after Sen. Morse pushed through anti-gun legislation that restricted the ability of law-abiding residents to exercise their Second Amendment rights, including their inherent right to self-defense. This effort was driven by concerned citizens, who made phone calls, knocked on doors, and worked diligently to turn voters out in this historic effort."

"The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is proud to have stood with the men and women in Colorado who sent a clear message that their Second Amendment rights are not for sale. We look forward to working with NRA-PVF “A” rated and endorsed Bernie Herpin (R) from Colorado Springs."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg dumped tons of cash into the recall election with hopes of keeping Morse and Giron in office. His efforts failed.

"Recall opponents, floating on oceans of money funneled into the recall contests by billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, outspent recall backers by a whopping 7 to 1 margin."

"The fact that turnout numbers suggest such a competitive race given the anti-recall side’s jaw-dropping financial advantage is frankly, astounding. And the fact that so much of the money comes from out of state – the Denver Post recently reported that Bloomberg and California philanthropist Eli Broad personally stroked six figure checks – suggests that liberal elites from thousands of miles away think they can buy Colorado’s elections."



Wrong and Liars Too: 6 Tricks God Has Played on Liberals Since November

The last year has been highly informative for Americans who have been looking for information on hypocrisy, shabby intellectualism, broken promises, opportunism, populist dreck, and IPhones.

Since almost the moment Obama celebrated his re-election with Republican leader John Boehner by proposing to raise taxes on all of us, God has played an enormous practical joke on liberals.

In only ways He could, God has shown that liberals are wrong. Not just wrong, but really, really, seriously wrong. Demented even. And yeah, I’m talking about Ezra Klein.

No, the world really doesn’t work the way liberals want, they’ve found out, and what’s more, liberal leaders and scribblers know it. They have known it for years.

Liberals have, in 50 years, morphed from the idealism of Camelot to the reality-game show hostness of Al Sharpton.

It’s not even just that they are wrong, it’s that at the top of the liberal pyramid they are liars, intellectually bankrupt, the moral and intellectual equivalents of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, spreading a gospel which not only they don’t understand, but the they exploit for their own, and no one else’s gain.

It’s been little less than a year for people who enthusiastically voted for Obama in 2012 to find this out.

And what liberals miss in being wrong on specifics, they make up in volume. So let’s make a list, shall we?

1) Tax the Rich! Oh, and you too!

Liberals were wrong in blaming the rich for everything that was wrong with everything in the world. They got their tax increase on rich people- and poor people too- and it hasn’t ushered in period of great prosperity. In fact, research show pretty conclusively that the tax increase that liberals elected Obama on in 2012 has been bad for the economy.

Our contributor, Political Calculations has a nifty tool that can show you how quantitative easing, tax increases and government spending cuts have affected the economy.

“One thing that you'll find is that over 90% of the negative drag on GDP may be attributed to the tax hikes that took effect in 2013,” writes PC. “Less than 10% may be attributed to reductions in government spending at all levels in the U.S. Finally, if you really want to play the ‘what if’ game, try combining government spending cuts with modest tax cuts in our tool …. One may wonder why today's politicians aren't discussing implementing this particular combination of fiscal policies.”

One can wonder, but frankly the answer is easy. Liberals are greedy for the wealth acquired by others so they can use it to keep their government-dependent constituency happy. Which brings us to:

2) The Great Sequester Doom.

The world didn’t end because liberals were forced to agree to across-the-board spending cuts. In fact, generally speaking the world is a better place, even if across-the-board-spending cuts were the wrong way to approach spending cuts.

Economists- outside of nuts like Paul Krugman- agree that the sequester has had little impact on the economy short-term and provides a great deal of benefit long term.

Yet today the White House still says: “Harmful automatic budget cuts — known as the sequester — threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform. These cuts will make it harder to grow our economy and create jobs by affecting our ability to invest in important priorities like education, research and innovation, public safety, and military readiness.”

The White House is publically trolling for sequester sob stories on it’s website; and in a sign that few stories exist, few stories of sequester related disasters, personal or bureaucratic, are made public by the White House.

3) IRS-NSA-MOUSE scandals.

Well at least the evil, terrible Tea Party people got what they deserved when liberals from government agencies like the IRS started recognizing the great danger they pose through tax-exempt donations that mostly measure in the tens and twenties of dollars. And just to be sure that ordinary people don’t get too carried away by that whole “freedom” thing, the government, we know now, has been reading all of your internet traffic, tracking all of your phone calls, breaking laws, even those laws promulgated by a SECRET COURT. In the USA: A SECRET COURT. Really.

Right now as you read this, someone is watching you. Not that George Orwell predicted any of this, like the part about being constantly at war, hurling missiles at other countries in a standoff and fight war, or anything. Because that was just fiction, right? Which brings us to:

4) Missiles Over the Mid-East.

The president who said he was elected to bring us peace, has brought us more war, and losing war at that. Iraq, Benghazi, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt- almost- will be lost despite Obama’s chest pounding in the region. While Carter only lost a country- Iran- Obama’s set to turn over the Middle East to implacable enemies of the United States.

But what worries most people is Obama’s willingness to spin up missiles for whatever foreign policy goals he’s trying to achieve. And most people, including, I think Obama himself and even Mrs. Obama, are unaware of his foreign policy goals. Make no mistake, no matter how the Syria thing turns out eventually, Obama didn’t just tarnish his own image by amateurish foreign policy, but tarnished the United States.

A recent Fox News poll shows Obama’s problem:

Among Democrats, 25 percent say the U.S. is more respected around the world today. That’s a 27 percentage-point drop from 52 percent last year. Twenty-seven percent of Democrats say the U.S. is less respected, up from 11 percent.

A slim 51-percent majority of Independents thinks the U.S. is less respected, up from 38 percent last year. At the same time, the number of independents who think the country is more respected fell to just 9 percent, down from 27 percent.

While liberals will likely dispute the objectiveness of a Fox News poll, the trend is clear: Even liberals admit that Obama’s a failure if judged by the global sniff test that liberals adore.

5) Global Warming, er, Climate, uh, Change?

Yes, it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. At least climate-wise.

When I wrote earlier this year that the UK’s official weather service had quietly and only tacitly admitted that there had been a unexplainable pause in global warming according to most climate change models, liberals predictably attacked the messengers.

The UK’s MET Office, more formally called the UK's National Weather Service, updated global temperatures for 2012 and the new dataset shows that an “unlikely” event has occurred, according to their own models: Global warming has been halted for 15 years and counting.

While the MET Office accused critics of cherry-picking a starting point and nitpicked about language-for example the Daily Mail reported that the “Met Office report [was] quietly released,” while the Met office whined they just updated the data and there was no “report” at all- they don’t dispute that from 1997 until the halfway mark in 2012 there has been no statistically significant rise in global temperatures.

But , as Forbes contributor Larry Bell relates, even as the “U.N.’s Church of the Burning Planet are scheduled to finalize their latest hellfire and brimstone sermon, a chilling development has occurred. A flood of blasphemous reports circulated among ranks of former faithful parishioners are challenging human-caused climate crisis theology.”

Turns out the UK’s MET office WAS making an admission by omission on climate, er, global, uh, stuff:

According to a recent Opinion & Comment piece titled“Overestimating global warming over the past 20 years”that appeared inNature Climate Change,the model-based fear and loathing attached to global warming may be substantially overheated. Notably, Francis W. Zwiers, one of the three authors, is a vice-chair of this relevant section for AR5. The writers observe that whereas the global mean temperature over the past 20 years (1993-2012) rose at a rate of between about 0.14o–0.06oC per decade, average temperatures computed by 117 simulations of 37 climate models predicted a surface temperature rise of 0.30o-0.02oC per decade. The observed rate of warming was less than half of the simulated rate.

The inconsistency between observed and simulated warming was even greater over the past 15 years (between 1998 and 2012). Here the observed trend was 0.05o-0.08oC per decade, vs. the average simulated trend of 0.21o-0.03oC. The observed trend was four times smaller. The divergence began in the early 1990s. Accordingly, evidence indicates that the group of model simulations do not reproduce observed global warming over the past 20 years, or the slowdown over the past 15 years.

So what do you do when global warming doesn’t even remotely follow your “models” and Obamacare does the same? Start a war in the Middle East? Which bring us to:

6)Choooo, Choooo…Obamacare a’coming

Obamacare is not just everything conservatives predicted- pork-barrel, bad for health, expensive, government over-reach, bad for the economy, rationing, subject to abuse, fraud and waste- it is much, much worse than even that.

Because the guys who decided that the Tea Party was a menace- the IRS- will be enforcing provisions of Obamacare. That means that while the NSA watches my tax return as I file it electronically, the IRS on the receiving end will be making sure that I’m not supporting any patriotic un-American activities like itemizing deductions for medical expenses. And the person Obama proposed to head up the IRS enforcement arm of the government? The exact same person at the IRS who was at the center of the IRS Tea Party tax scandal.

Remember her? Lois Lerner. She was the one who, in front of Congress, invoked her constitutional right not to tattle on herself. She’s also invoked her constitutional right to hide from the press and the public, while being on official paid leave with the IRS.

There’s more. With Obama there is always more. But I’d run out of ink before I’d get through it.



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

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


11 September, 2013

ACRU Court Victory Means Dead People, Felons Will Finally be Taken Off Voter Rolls in Mississippi County

The American Civil Rights Union landed a major victory this week when a U.S. District Judge in the Southern District of Mississippi signed a consent decree to clean up Walthall County’s voter registration rolls. Census data for the county shows there are 9,536 people over the age of 18. The problem, however, is that there are 10,078 active voters listed on official records, which prompted ACRU to sue officials in the county earlier this year.

"This is historic and should have been done 20 years ago," ACRU Chairman Susan A. Carleson said in a statement. "It's the first time since Motor Voter [National Voter Registration Act] was enacted in 1993 giving private parties the right to sue over voting irregularities that any private party has won a case to require clean voter rolls. With the Justice Department on the warpath against state election integrity laws, it couldn't come at a better time."

ACRU had to act because federal authorities have been delinquent, according to former DOJ attorneys J. Christian Adams, Christopher Coates and Henry Ross, who filed the lawsuit.

"This case should have been called United States v. Walthall County instead of ACRU v. Walthall County," Adams said in a statement. "We're doing the job that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. won't do. In fact, he's too busy suing Texas for its new photo ID law and abusing power in other ways to harass states that are trying to ensure election integrity."

And the demographics of this county are important to point out (via The Blaze):

Walthall County, Miss. is [a] red county in a red state, is majority white, and was carried [by] Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, according to the Heritage Foundation. This could blunt the argument generally used by Democrats and the Holder Justice Department, that voter integrity measures harm minority voters and benefit Republican candidates.

The consent decree will force the county to clean up its voter rolls by removing dead voters, those who have moved out of the county, noncitizens, nonresidents, and convicted felons who are no longer eligible to vote.

"This is a huge victory for the American people," Carleson said. "Across the country, other counties have more registered voters than people alive. If they don't clean up their rolls, they risk litigation. Every time an illegal voter casts a ballot, it steals someone else's legal vote."

The ACRU also sued Jefferson Davis County on the same issue. A trial has been set for June 2014.



Thieves Are Kindred Spirit for California Government

When someone embezzles more than $300,000 from a business, that company is not likely to hire back the embezzler and give her a promotion. But such is not the case with the state of California, which even changed the rules so the embezzler could get a new job.

As a recent report noted, Carey Renee Moore (then going by the name Carey Renee Aceves) embezzled $320,000 from the state’s Department of Child Support Services “by using her position to purchase, among other things, a television, a hot tub and gazebo and electronics, pornographic videos, handcuffs, chains and whips. Moore falsified records to cover up the purchases and sold some items to buy a $65,000 Lexus.” The California Highway Patrol said it was one of the largest cases they had uncovered.

Before the cops could close the deal, Moore transferred with the greatest of ease to the State Board of Equalization, which learned of her arrest and began termination proceedings. But the embezzler resigned from the board before those proceedings became final. Moore served two years in prison for felony grand theft but then bagged a position with the state’s High Speed Rail Authority, the so-called bullet train, a boondoggle in progress. Moore was able to get the position because the state Personnel Board removed from state job applications two questions dealing with previous convictions for misdemeanors and felonies. Moore claims she didn’t lie about that because the state didn’t ask. This is an obvious case of double standards and special treatment, but there is more going on here.

The state does not reveal how many criminals it hires, and when a Sacramento Bee reporter asked bullet-train bosses how and why they hired a convicted embezzler, they called it a “personnel matter” and would not comment. Last year it emerged that the state parks department had hidden some $54 million, which one legislator called “deceit and thievery.” It later emerged that a key figure in the scandal had an extensive criminal background. As with Moore, that proved no object to state employment, and that should come as no surprise

A state where waste, fraud and abuse are common practice is certain to have a soft spot for convicted felons and embezzlers with their hand in the till. In state government they fit right in.



Under Obama: Job Growth 52% Greater for Foreign-Born Workers

Under President Barack Obama, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today, the increase in the number of foreign-born people employed in the United States has been 52 percent greater than the increase in the number of native-born people employed.

In January 2009, when President Barack Obama first took office, says the BLS, there were 21,375,000 foreign-born people employed in the United States. In August 2013, there were 23,833,000 foreign-born workers employed in the United States. That means that since Obama took office the number of foreign-born people holding jobs inside the United States has increased by 2,458,000.

By contrast, in January 2009, there were 119,061,000 native-born Americans employed in the United States, and, in August 2013, there were 120,676,000—an increase of 1,615,000.

The 2,458,000 increase in foreign-born workers since January 2009 is 843,000 (or 52 percent) greater than 1,615,000 increase in native-born workers.

The BLS numbers are based on a survey of 60,000 households that the Census Bureau conducts each month. That survey does not distinguish between foreign-born persons who are naturalized U.S. citizens, legal permanent U.S. residents, work-visa holders or “undocumented” foreign nationals working illegally in the United States. Rather, it counts them all simply as foreign-born individuals who are in the United States and who are either working or not working. The survey focuses on persons who are 16 years old or older.

The BLS numbers also show that the labor-force participation rate for both the foreign-born and native-born population has declined under Obama, although the native-born participation rate has dropped more than the foreign-born participation rate.

In January 2009, when Obama took office, the labor-force participation rate among foreign-born persons 16 years or older was 67.2 percent. By this August, it was down 66.9 percent. In January 2009, 65.0 percent of native-born Americans 16 years or older participated in the labor force. By August, that was down to 62.8 percent.

BLS counts someone as participating in the labor force if they are 16 or older and either have a job or have actively sought one in the last four weeks.



Norway has just elected a new conservative government

Some background

"Conservative Party leader Erna Solberg — nicknamed “Iron Erna” — will become Norway’s new prime minister as the leader of a center-right coalition government likely including an anti-immigration party.

Preliminary results from the oil-rich Nordic country’s parliamentary elections shows the Conservative Party got 26.8 percent of votes, the best result for the party in 28 years. Solberg, who will be Norway’s second female prime minister after Gro Harlem Brundtland, thanked the voters Monday for a historic victory.

“The voters had the choice between 12 years of red-green government or a new government with new ideas and new solutions,” Solberg said. …

The discovery of oil and gas in Norway’s waters in the 1960s turned the Scandinavian nation into one of the richest in the world, with a strong welfare system and a high living standard. The oil wealth helped it withstand Europe’s financial crisis and retain low unemployment throughout Stoltenberg’s years in power. Still, the Conservative Party has managed to attract votes amid pledges to increase the availability of private health care and cut taxes on assets over $140,000."

Although much of Europe continues to stagger beneath the tremendous weight of their own imploding welfare states and the accompanying fiscal and economic burdens, borne of their very progressive- and labor-influenced state-spending policies, Norway is still a relative island of plenty amidst that sea of European debt. Norway, too, has an extravagant welfare state, but the constant stream of wealth that comes from their nationalized system of tapping their vast reserves of oil and gas mean that they have a robust revenue stream that enables them to keep the welfare state going.

Norwegians take a lot of pride in their economic inclusiveness, and they boast some of the highest living standards in Europe with an unemployment rate of only 3.5 percent and a relatively (and I do mean relatively) good GDP growth rate of 3 percent in 2012. That 3 percent, however, is still a slowdown, and the conservative-minded politicians in the running want to avoid injecting too much public spending into the economic in the misbegotten attempt to spur growth as well as keep taxes low and business-friendly. What’s more, as the United States’ shale oil-and-gas boom continues to grow and as countries like Germany and the United Kingdom think about fracking for themselves, using oil riches to cover a full third of your country’s revenue stream isn’t necessarily a dependable plan for the future, and it sounds like they’re at least taking small steps toward a more definitely sustainable public-spending plan for the long term.

On a semi-related note concerning energy riches and Scandinavia, President Obama stopped in Sweden on his way to Russia last week and hailed the tiny country as an example to us all in bringing about the cleaner, greener future to which we should all be aspiring: “Sweden is obviously an extraordinary leader when it comes to tackling climate change and increasing energy efficiency, and developing new technologies. And the goal of achieving a carbon-neutral economy is remarkable, and Sweden is well on its way. We deeply respect and admire that and think we can learn from it.” That prompted RealClearEnergy‘s editors to wonder: …Er, Obama does know that Sweden is 40 percent nuclear, right?



How Conservatives Get Revenge on the IRS

In one of the biggest political scandals of the last decade, the IRS has been exposed for politically targeting conservative organizations and preventing them from gaining tax exempt status, all while quickly approving liberal organizations. This abuse of Federal power by the IRS threatens democracy at its core, because it uses the Federal government’s biggest weapon – taxation – to promote one political ideology over another. It’s no wonder why conservatives have long been skeptical of the IRS and why conservatives throughout history have sought to protect their money from IRS control. So how have conservatives gotten revenge on the IRS? By shielding their money and wealth in the one asset class that the IRS has no legal authority to know about.

So, how are conservatives beating the IRS, not to mention the Fed? By buying private non-reportable physical gold & silver and sitting on it. In other words, they're getting some wealth out of the crooked casino and away from the grimy paws of the IRS. But in order to beat the IRS at their own game, they're buying “the right gold."

First, let’s look at investing in "the wrong gold" -- gold on paper through an ETF -- and how that plays right into the hands of the IRS and Fed. You buy $100,000 in paper gold through your broker in the form of an ETF. Gold doubles, you sell and realize a 100k profit and now you get to send a check for $28,000 to the IRS. That’s right, you buy gold to protect yourself from inflation, inflation happens, your paper money buys less so your gold went up but, for some crazy reason, you have to give the IRS 28% of your “growth."

This is partly why the IRS is a joke. The central planners make inflation to get growth, and then things rise because of that inflation, but then they want some of your growth back into their own pockets? One would argue that if the central planners are going make inflation all day by printing money that YOU should be allowed to benefit from the asset appreciation that ultimately helps YOU to counter their inflation and the rising price of the goods and services YOU need to survive. But instead they want to ding you twice – once through an unfair tax called inflation and then again by taxing you on the asset appreciation that inflation created.

So, when we talk about the "right gold," we're talking about physical gold, which has none of the counter-party risk of ETF gold and is more shielded from the IRS. What many conservatives are doing is removing some wealth from the fractional system controlled by criminals and into an asset that not only lives outside the insolvent banking system and outside the paper fiat currency system, but is also invisible to the IRS. That's right, the IRS does NOT require the reporting of many types of gold and silver coin purchases and sales. So not only are conservatives protecting their money and wealth from systematic collapse when they buy gold and silver, they are shielding themselves from IRS scrutiny.


This is reasonable advice as long as you realize that gold prices have big ups and downs. I prefer real estate and blue chip company shares for asset protection myself -- JR


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

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


10 September, 2013

Liberals Hate Job Creation

It is becoming more apparent that Liberals actually hate job creation. As if crafting fiscal policies that stifle economic growth and discourage job growth weren’t enough, they feel it is necessary to actively protest one of the few sectors of the economy that is actually growing: low paid, unskilled, retail and service jobs.

OUR Wal-Mart, an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), held a series of protests last week against Wal-Mart’s “unlivable” wages. Of course, hardly anyone showed up. (Although, compared to recent Organizing For America events it looked like a million man march.) According to David Tovar, Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, less than one-tenth of the company’s 1.3 million employees took part in the “protests.” I guess that means there are potentially 50 new job openings at the retail giant.

The Wal-Mart walkouts (or . . . um . . . attempted walkouts) followed a recent series of protests aimed at shaming fast food restaurants into raising their hourly wages. Such demands, after all, make sense in the minds of Liberals: Of course a person flipping 99 cent hamburgers deserves $15 per hour!

But back to our point about Liberals hating job creation: According to the August Jobs report we have finally achieved something in the Obama-economy that has been elusive and evasive since the conception of Obamacare. . . Full Time positions were actually created! And in what sectors were these elusive full time positions created? In the “lowest paid” sectors. In other words: At Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc.

Exactly the places the UFCW and other Lefties are picketing.

The trend highlights a disturbing trend in both American’s understanding of work, and the overall economic conditions of the good ole’ USA. It seems highly improbable that the majority of full time “low paid” positions are being given to up-and-coming entrants to the work force. In fact, it is seeming more likely as Obama’s great recovery drags on, with penetrative devastation to our economy, that skilled labor is having to settle for less than optimal employment opportunities.

And there is a reason that these low-skilled and low-paid jobs are offering full time employment: The low wage allows employers to appropriate excess capital to the required benefits that laws such as Obamacare will soon mandate. What the UFCW and leftists world-wide seem incapable of grasping, is the concept that such a low-paid job is not designed to be a career. A position at a Wal-Mart, or a McDonalds, should be a stepping stone to something greater. Such a position is not designed to produce a “livable” wage, because it is not designed as a lifelong pursuit, or a 40 year investment of time and labor. Such a position is, by its very nature, a position that should offer new entrants to the workforce an opportunity for experience and resume building. It should not be the ambition of any American to work as a hamburger flipper for fifteen years – regardless of their ability to earn a livable wage.

Unfortunately, in Obama’s America, the opportunities for career minded individuals seems to be diminishing. As firms engage in “temporary” hiring, “contract” hiring, and part time hiring, careers are slowly being turned into lucrative “jobs” that offer employees a resume enhancer while prepping them for very little. The once praised action of engaging in a lifelong career, is being slowly eradicated by Labor laws, Obamacare regulations, and the anemic “recovery” that looks an awful lot like a recession continued.

And now, as America struggles to produce some sort of real job market recovery, Leftists are choosing to picket the few employers that are unafraid to offer full time work – albeit at entry level wages.

It seems to merely be more proof that the Left hates Job creation. . . Or they have a fundamental ignorance of free market economics. Either option should disqualify their altruistic impulse to engineer our economy into their economic vision.



Create a job and be harassed by your government

“So, what did you do during your summer break?” If you happen to be a certain 12 year old boy from Pocatello, Idaho, you spent the summer being productive and successfully carrying on an entrepreneurial venture, and then experiencing your state government cracking-down on you for not being licensed and demanding a portion of your revenues.

The 12 year old son of Jason Weeks is who we’re talking about. Weeks’ son announced at the beginning of the summer that he wanted to acquire a motorcycle. Weeks had the good sense to tell his son to earn money and purchase one for himself. So the son took the father’s advice, and – presumably with some help from some adults – he launched a fruit stand, right near a Red Wings Shoe store in small town Pocatello.

But soon after Weeks’ son launched, the Idaho State Tax Commission lunged. “They confronted him first and he called me” Weeks told the Idaho State Journal newspaper. “It was the second day that my son was in business.”

According to Weeks and the local newspaper, the state is demanding payment for a 6% state sales tax that they claim should have been collected by the boy from cash paying customers that bought his raspberries. Weeks would not return my calls prior to the writing of this piece, but, without commenting specifically about the incident, the state tax commission acknowledges that it happened and notes that they have to enforce the law with everybody.

Americans everywhere should make note of this situation and learn from it. Lesson number one is that nobody should attempt to launch any sort of business in the United States without making certain that they are in full compliance with city, county, state and federal regulations. That’s a tall order, but that’s how costly it has become to do business in America.

Governments nationwide and at all levels are almost universally on the hunt for money, and many of them are broke. There is no limit to governments’ willingness to turn people upside down and shake cash out of their pockets, and they’ll even do it with children. (The Idaho state tax commission had a similar run-in with a 6 year old back in 2010!). If a business is being operated without the proper licensure and permitting requirements being met, and without proper taxation procedures in place, an operator no matter their age will likely be fined for being out of compliance, and fined retroactively for however long the non-compliance has been happening. Business owners, beware.

The other great lesson in this situation is to realize that we live in an era of abusive government. Agents of city, county, state and federal government often don’t know any limits to how they can and will exercise their powers over the lives of private individuals, and the cause of the problem is we, the people. With often less than 50% of the American population participating in U.S. presidential elections, voter turn-out for state and local elections is usually even smaller. Such ambivalence is emboldening to bureaucrats and politicians who have power and enjoy using it.

Abusive government won’t stop until Americans wake up and choose otherwise. Hopefully the young Mr. Weeks from Pocatello – and others in his generation – will someday choose more wisely than today’s adult population.



Medisave Accounts in Singapore

By John C. Goodman

In 1984, Richard Rahn and I wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in which we proposed a savings account for health care. We called it a Medical IRA. That same year, Singapore instituted a related idea: a system of compulsory Medisave accounts. Through the years, my colleagues and I at the National Center for Policy Analysis have kept track of the Singapore experience, including publishing a general study of Singapore’s social welfare system in 1995 and a study of its health care system in 1996.

It’s taken about almost three decades, but all of a sudden Singapore has come to the attention of a lot of other policy wonks, including a book by Brookings, a whole slew of posts by Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll, a good overview by Tyler Cowen, and lots of links in all of this to other studies and comments.

Before commenting on the commenters, let me jump to the bottom line, which was completely missed by Austin and Aaron, as well as some others: No, Singapore does not have a free market for health care. What it does have is an alternative to the European/American welfare state, in which private saving and private insurance do what employers and governments do in other countries. The Singapore philosophy is:

Each generation should pay its own way.
Each family should pay its own way.
Each individual should pay his own way.

Only after passing through these three filters, should anyone turn to the government for help.

If the United States adopted a similar approach to public policy, there would be no deficit problem in this country.

How the system works.

In Singapore, people are required to save for health care, retirement income, and other needs. They can use their forced saving to purchase a home, pay education expenses, and purchase life insurance and disability insurance. For individuals up to age 50, the required saving rate is 36% of income (nominally divided: 20% from the employee and 16% from the employer). Of this amount, 7 percentage points is for health care and is deposited in a separate Medisave account. Individuals are also automatically enrolled in catastrophic health insurance with a deductible of about US $1,172, although they can opt out. When a Medisave account balance reaches about US $34,100 (an amount equal to a little less than half of the median family income) any excess funds are rolled over into another account and may be used for non-health care purposes.

Some hits and misses by the commenters:

A number of commentaries (including comments by Singapore officials) seem overly focused on the issue of whether health care should be delivered in free markets or in regulated markets. However, that has always been a secondary issue, if an issue at all. Medisave accounts are self-insurance, as distinguished from third-party insurance. They affect incentives on the demand side of the market, regardless of how capitalistic or socialistic the supply side is. The issue both in the United States and in Singapore is: can individuals be counted on to manage some of their own health care dollars in a responsible way, or does health care work better if all the dollars are controlled by third-party payers? This topic has generated extensive, heated debate in the United States ― ever since we formally proposed Health Savings Accounts in the early 1990s.

For example,Paul Krugman (who has almost a perfect record for getting everything wrong in health care) called HSAs a sop to the healthy and the wealthy. After three decades of experience, Singapore has shown the world (to the great consternation of the critics) that individual self-insurance works and it works well.

There has been a lot of back and forth about whether Medisave accounts have reduced overall health care spending, including some commentary by William Hsiao, who seems to have forgotten the Econ 101 distinction between the income effect and the substitution effect. Anytime you force people to save for a consumption item and the savings rate for a lot of them is higher than what they were previously spending, total spending is going to go up. Duh. That’s the income effect.

But, money in the accounts belongs to the account holder and anything not spent in the current period rolls over and is available for future spending. Choosing between current and future spending is the substitution effect. So, compared to taxing people and giving the revenue to insurance companies to pay for first dollar coverage, of course spending is going to be lower than it would have been. How could it be otherwise?

The most important thing Singapore has accomplished in health care (in contrast to all the other developed countries) is an enormous shift of money and power from the public to the private sector. Since 1984, the Singaporean government’s share of the nation’s total health care expenditure dropped from about 50% to 20%. When you stop to think about it, that’s incredible.

Finally, the most important feature of Singapore’s overall approach to social welfare is that the country has found a rational way to provide services that are provided by ill-conceived social insurance programs in the rest of the developed world. As is well known, programs for the elderly have devolved into little more than legalized Ponzi schemes in the United States and throughout Europe. Governments everywhere have made promises of benefits they were unwilling to fund. So now they must either default on those promises or impose draconian taxes on the productive sector. Singapore has avoided that problem.


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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


9 September, 2013

Obama Ignoring Real Racism?

Evidence mounts day by day, week by week that the White House not only doesn't care about the racial divisions in our society, but may actually seek to deepen them and incite new ones.

And why shouldn't they? Racial tension is one of the Democrats' most potent political tools for driving Americans to re-elect them.

Black racism or hatred of non-blacks is real, is poisonous and might be more commonplace than we are led to believe by the main stream media. There is plenty of evidence of this and our president is not living up to his promise of “one America”. Don’t look to the Liberal media because it isn’t reporting on this, in fact, they ARE IGNORING it, and in some cases, they conceal the truth!

The recent cases of Tuffy Gessling and Ayo Kimathi do nothing but draw that fact into sharper and sharper focus.

Tuffy Gessling, you may recall, is the Missouri Rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask in the ring while taunting a bull to come get him, as is a rodeo clown’s job. This however, drew down a mountain of liberal wrath. The Missouri State Fair banned him for life, the Missouri political establishment almost universally denounced him, and even the former president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association, Mark Fircken, resigned from the MRCA in protest when his organization failed to ban Mr. Gessling for life as the State Fair did.

Well, it only got worse from there! Recently, Mr. Gessling has reported numerous instances of threats and abuse directed against him. “I’ve had one lady spit in my face - called me a dirty name, spit in my face and walked off…I’ve had somebody threaten to run me over. One of them wanted to burn my house down!”

Even worse, the Missouri chapter of the NAACP called for a federal investigation of the rodeo incident!

This is plainly a witch hunt against anyone who dares criticize or mock our king of a president. Don't believe me? Consider the case of Ayo Kimathi, the employee of the Department of Homeland Security, who runs his own hate website, www.waronthehorizon.com.

Tell Congress and President Obama to stop playing political games and actually HEAL the racial divide in this country!

On August 21, the Left-wing group The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on Mr. Kimathi, who when posting under the pseudonym "The Irritated Genie," writes hate-filled posts declaring the coming of an imminent race war.

"[In order for Black people to survive the 21st century]”, he writes, “we are going to have to kill a lot of whites - more than our Christian hearts can possibly count." Does this sound very Christian to you?

On Friday, August 23, Mr. Kimathi was put on leave—not fired, not reprimanded, simply put on PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE—by DHS. Presumably, he is still receiving a paycheck from the same federal government into which we pay our hard-earned tax money year after year! Your tax dollars hard at work ladies and gentlemen, to help start a race war!

Worse still, it turns out that Mr. Kimathi has been known to be a terrifying hate-monger for some time now. His former supervisor, who goes unnamed in the SPLC article, learned of the website in mid-June. “When I saw the website, I was stunned,” she said. “To see the hate, to know that he is a federal employee, it bothered me." Did we not learn one lesson from the terrible tragedy in Foot Hood? Political correctness will destroy our culture.

And yet no one in DHS did anything to change the situation until August 21, when the SPLC ran their column on this hate-filled federal employee.

Check out some other highlights from Mr. Kimathi's website:

“Plan every act of vengeance, retaliation, protest, aggression, etc. … for the month of August knowing that the ancestors, and especially Prophet Nat [Turner], Boukman Dutty, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, will be with you as you do your hunting.”

A list of "enemies" that includes Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell (misspelled as "Colon"), Oprah Winfrey, Al Sharpton, and even President Obama, who are described as “treasonous mulatto scum dwellers… who will fight against reparations for Black people in amerikkka, but in favor of fag rights for freaking in amerikkka and Africa.”

Despite these examples of racism far more clear and obvious than any performance by a rodeo clown, there has been relative silence from the federal government. Also, not one representative of the NAACP has stepped forward to denounce Mr. Kimathi for his comments about President Obama.

So a white-hating, homophobic advocate of mass murder against white people is kept on the federal payroll, only being placed on paid administrative leave as punishment - while a rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask is fired from his job, banned for life from the Missouri State Fair, threatened with violence and made to fear for his home and his safety??

In what version of America is this remotely okay?

To put Tuffy Gessling's actions in perspective, bear in mind too that this is hardly the first time a rodeo clown—or anyone else—has made fun of a sitting president. “I didn’t think anything more of it than what we’ve done 15 years ago, 10 years ago, five years ago, when we’ve done it with Bush, Clinton and Ronald Reagan," he said in an interview, and wearing masks and making fun of presidents is an old, old game among rodeo clowns. IT WASN’T ABOUT Left or Right, after all, he’s a rodeo clown.

You don’t hear about racism unless it fits the Left’s agenda. For example, a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1994 describes the following scene from the Cowtown rodeo: "A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick… the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence."

And yet, in response to the more recent incident, one fairgoer described the scene as "awful… sickening… racist," and likened it to "a Klan rally."

Where was the outrage over the years from 2000 to 2009? Hateful, vile things were said and murderous anger was directed against President George W. Bush for years!

Some of the more offensive jokes implied threats and hatred was spewed at President Bush the entire time he was in office. There were numerous pictures depicting guns being pointed at Bush's head, with captions reading "Kill Bush." We had Bush piñatas, Bush decapitation signs and that “mockumentary” film showing a fictional assassination of President Bush!

The difference couldn't be the political party he belongs to, could it?

The difference between these two stories echoes a pattern that has repeated itself with depressing frequency over the past few years. Just this year, we saw a huge furor and uproar over the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case … but where was the outrage over the case of Roderick Scott, a black man who shot Christopher Cervini, a 17 year-old white kid, back in 2009?

There have been literally hundreds of cases of shootings of black teenagers in this country in the months since February of 2012, when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, but not one of those has received the scrutiny the Zimmerman case received. Why not? In most of those cases, the one doing the shooting was also black, and the story of black-on-black violence is nowhere near as politically potent and exciting to the progressive Left’s agenda!

The rhetoric of racism has played a prominent role in the political speech coming from Democrats since 2006, when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took control of the United States Congress and Senate.

At every level of government, Democrat leaders frequently invoke the specters of slavery and Jim Crow to emotionally bludgeon their way through difficult political issues like Obamacare, budget cuts, and even the decision on whether to go to war with Syria.



Blunt words about Muslim backwardness

Mark Steyn

In 2010, the bestselling atheist Richard Dawkins, in the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post, called the pope “a leering old villain in a frock” perfectly suited to “the evil corrupt organization” and “child-raping institution” that is the Catholic Church. Nobody seemed to mind very much.

Three years later, in a throwaway Tweet, Professor Dawkins observed that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” This time round, the old provocateur managed to get a rise out of folks. Almost every London paper ran at least one story on the “controversy.” The Independent‘s Owen Jones fumed, “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism. You are now beyond an embarrassment.” The best-selling author Caitlin Moran sneered, “It’s time someone turned Richard Dawkins off and then on again. Something’s gone weird.” The Daily Telegraph‘s Tom Chivers beseeched him, “Please be quiet, Richard Dawkins, I’m begging.”

None of the above is Muslim. Indeed, they are, to one degree or another, members of the same secular liberal media elite as Professor Dawkins. Yet all felt that, unlike Dawkins’s routine jeers at Christians, his Tweet had gone too far. It’s factually unarguable: Trinity graduates have amassed 32 Nobel prizes, the entire Muslim world a mere 10. If you remove Yasser Arafat, Mohamed ElBaradei, and the other winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Islam can claim just four laureates against Trinity’s 31 (the college’s only peace-prize recipient was Austen Chamberlain, brother of Neville). Yet simply to make the observation was enough to have the Guardian compare him to the loonier imams and conclude that “we must consign Dawkins to this very same pile of the irrational and the dishonest.”

Full disclosure: Five years ago, when I was battling Canada’s “human rights” commissions to restore free speech to my native land, Richard Dawkins was one of the few prominent figures in Her Majesty’s dominions to lend unequivocal support. He put it this way: “I have over the years developed a dislike for Mark Steyn, although I’ve always admired his forceful writing. On this issue, however, he is clearly 1000% in the right and should receive all the support anybody can give him.”

Let me return the compliment: I have over the years developed a dislike for Richard Dawkins’s forceful writing (the God of the Torah is “the most unpleasant character in all fiction,” etc.), but I am coming round rather to admire him personally. It’s creepy and unnerving how swiftly the West’s chattering classes have accepted that the peculiar sensitivities of Islam require a deference extended to no other identity group. I doubt The Satanic Verses would be accepted for publication today, but, if it were, I’m certain no major author would come out swinging on Salman Rushdie’s behalf the way his fellow novelist Fay Weldon did: The Koran, she declared, “is food for no-thought … It gives weapons and strength to the thought-police.”

That was a remarkably prescient observation in the London of 1989. Even a decade ago, it would have been left to the usual fire-breathing imams to denounce remarks like Dawkins’s. In those days, Islam was still, like Christianity, insultable. Fleet Street cartoonists offered variations on the ladies’ changing-room line “Does my bum look big in this?” One burqa-clad woman to another: “Does my bomb look big in this?” Not anymore. “There are no jokes in Islam,” pronounced the Ayatollah Khomeini, and so, in a bawdy Hogarthian society endlessly hooting at everyone from the Queen down, Islam uniquely is no laughing matter. Ten years back, even the United Nations Human Development Program was happy to sound off like an incendiary Dawkins Tweet: Its famous 2002 report blandly noted that more books are translated by Spain in a single year than have been translated into Arabic in the last thousand years.

What Dawkins is getting at is more fundamental than bombs or burqas. Whatever its virtues, Islam is not a culture of inquiry, of innovation. You can coast for a while on the accumulated inheritance of a pre-Muslim past — as, indeed, much of the Dar al-Islam did in those Middle Ages Dawkins so admires — but it’s not unreasonable to posit that the more Muslim a society becomes the smaller a role Nobel prizes and translated books will play in its future. According to a new report from Britain’s Office of National Statistics, “Mohammed,” in its various spellings, is now the second most popular baby boy’s name in England and Wales, and Number One in the capital. It seems likely that an ever more Islamic London will, for a while, still have a West End theater scene for tourists, but it will have ever less need not just for Oscar Wilde and Noël Coward and eventually Shakespeare but for drama of any kind. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe Dawkins is wrong, maybe the U.N. Human Development chaps are wrong. But the ferocious objections even to raising the subject suggest we’re not.

A quarter-century on, Fay Weldon’s “thought police” are everywhere. Notice the general line on Dawkins: Please be quiet. Turn him off. You can’t say that. What was once the London Left’s principal objection to the ayatollah’s Rushdie fatwa is now its reflexive response to even the mildest poke at Islam. Their reasoning seems to be that, if you can just insulate this one corner of the multicultural scene from criticism, elsewhere rude, raucous life — with free speech and all the other ancient liberties — will go on. Miss Weldon’s craven successors seem intent on making her point: In London, Islam is food for no thought.



Revising the past again

The Los Angeles Times: "Since Democrats led the passage of civil rights legislation that marchers pushed for in 1963, Republicans have struggled to recover with black voters, leaving a stark racial divide in American politics."

History Lesson: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 received greater support from Republicans than Democrats, both in the House and in the Senate. Senate Democrats, in fact, staged an 83-day filibuster in opposition to the measure.


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

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


8 September, 2013

The Australian election

Conservatives have just had a huge win in Australia's Federal election. Romney would have had a similar win but for the rusted-on vote of America's two big minorities. There are no such big minorities in Australia.

The picture below shows voting in Australia. Australians just use pencil and paper in temporary carboard cubicles. No voting machines so no hanging chads, no accusations of the machines being "fixed" and easy recounts. And results were known within a couple of hours of the polls closing.

Elections in Australia are also less hectic. They are on Saturdays when most people are not working. And if you turn up to vote mid-morning there are usually no lines of people waiting to vote. I had no wait at all.


Why America Is Saying 'No'

Peggy Noonan is pretty right below but at the same time I don't think it would go amiss to drop a large bomb on Bashir Assad's Presidential Palace

It is hard, if you've got a head and a heart, to come down against a strong U.S. response to Syria's use of chemical weapons against its civilian population. This is especially so if you believe that humanity stands at a door that leads only to darkness. Those who say, “But Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons—the taboo was broken long ago,” are missing the point. When Saddam used gas against the Kurds it was not immediately known to all the world. It was not common knowledge. The world rued it in retrospect. Syria is different: It is the first obvious, undeniable, real-time, YouTubed use of chemical weapons. The whole world knew of it the morning after it happened, through horrified, first-person accounts, from videos of hospital workers and victims' families.

The world this time cannot “not know,” or claim not to know. And though Bashar Assad has made his pro forma denials, it does not seem believable that this was not a government operation. Assad's foes may or may not be wicked enough to use such weapons, but it is hard to believe they are capable.

When something like this happens and the world knows and does not respond, you won't get less of it in the future, you'll get more. And the weapons will not only be chemical.

So the question: What to do?

After 10 days of debate in Europe and America, the wisest words on a path forward have come from the Pope. Francis wrote this week to Vladimir Putin, as the host of the G-20. He damned “the senseless massacre” unfolding in Syria and pleaded with the leaders gathered in St. Petersburg not to “remain indifferent”—remain—to the “dramatic situation.” He asked the governments of the world “to do everything possible to assure humanitarian assistance” within and without Syria's borders.

But, he said, a “military solution” is a “futile pursuit.”

And he is right. The only strong response is not a military response.

The world must think—and speak—with stature and seriousness, of the moment we're in and the darkness on the other side of the door. It must rebuke those who used the weapons, condemn their use, and shun the users. It must do more, in concert—surely we can agree on this—to help Syria's refugees. It must stand up for civilization.

But a military strike is not the way, and not the way for America.

Francis was speaking, as popes do, on the moral aspects of the situation. In America, practical and political aspects have emerged, and they are pretty clear.

The American people do not support military action. A Reuters-Ipsos poll had support for military action at 20%, Pew at 29%. Members of Congress have been struck, in some cases shocked, by the depth of opposition from their constituents. A great nation cannot go to war—and that's what a strike on Syria, a sovereign nation, is, an act of war—without some rough unity as to the rightness of the decision. Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward.

Can the president change minds? Yes, and he'll try. But it hasn't worked so far. This thing has jelled earlier than anyone thought. More on that further down.

What are the American people thinking? Probably some variation of: Wrong time, wrong place, wrong plan, wrong man.

Twelve years of war. A sense that we're snakebit in the Mideast. Iraq and Afghanistan didn't go well, Libya is lawless. In Egypt we threw over a friend of 30 years to embrace the future. The future held the Muslim Brotherhood, unrest and a military coup. Americans have grown more hard-eyed—more bottom-line and realistic, less romantic about foreign endeavors, and more concerned about an America whose culture and infrastructure seem to be crumbling around them.

The administration has no discernible strategy. A small, limited strike will look merely symbolic, a face-saving measure. A strong, broad strike opens the possibility of civil war, and a victory for those as bad as or worse than Assad. And time has already passed. Assad has had a chance to plan his response, and do us the kind of damage to which we would have to respond.

There is the issue of U.S. credibility. We speak of this constantly and in public, which has the effect of reducing its power. If we bomb Syria, will the world say, “Oh, how credible America is!” or will they say, “They just bombed people because they think they have to prove they're credible”?

We are, and everyone knows we are, the most militarily powerful and technologically able nation on earth. And at the end of the day America is America. We don't have to bow to the claim that if we don't attack Syria we are over as a great power.

Are North Korea and Iran watching? Sure. They'll always be watching. And no, they won't say, “Huh, that settles it, if America didn't move against Syria they'll never move against us. All our worries are over.” In fact their worries, and ours, will continue.

Sometimes it shows strength to hold your fire. All my life people have been saying we've got to demonstrate our credibility—that if we, and the world, don't know we are powerful by now we, and they, will never know.

But a Syria strike may become full-scale war. Is Barack Obama a war president? On Syria he has done nothing to inspire confidence. Up to the moment of decision, and even past it, he has seemed ambivalent, confused, unaware of the implications of his words and stands. From the “red line” comment to the “shot across the bow,” from the White House leaks about the nature and limits of a planned strike to the president's recent, desperate inclusion of Congress, he has seemed consistently over his head.

A point on how quickly public opinion has jelled. There is something going on here, a new distance between Washington and America that the Syria debate has forced into focus. The Syria debate isn't, really, a struggle between libertarians and neoconservatives, or left and right, or Democrats and Republicans. That's not its shape. It looks more like a fight between the country and Washington, between the broad American public and Washington's central governing assumptions.

I've been thinking of the “wise men,” the foreign policy mandarins of the 1950s and '60s, who so often and frustratingly counseled moderation, while a more passionate public, on right and left, was looking for action. “Ban the Bomb!” “Get Castro Out of Cuba.”

In the Syria argument, the moderating influence is the public, which doesn't seem to have even basic confidence in Washington's higher wisdom.

That would be a comment on more than Iraq. That would be a comment on the past five years, too.



Rachel Maddow Lies Again

Lies are stock in trade for Leftists

I don't watch Rachel Maddow much, but when I do, I am always amazed at how few minutes it takes before I hear her make a baldfaced lie.

Today I heard her say this on her August 16, 2013 broadcast (text from MSNBC transcript, with spelling corrected):

This is Viviette Applewhite. She was 92 years old when she started fighting the state of Pennsylvania for her right to vote. Republicans in that state passed a new law last year that would block you from voting unless you showed documentation that you've never had to show before and that hundreds of thousands of legal voters in the state do not have, including Viviette Applewhite.
Tell it to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rachel, which accompanied Mrs. Applewhite exactly one year to the day before your broadcast, and watched Mrs. Applewhite apply for and easily and immediately receive the required Pennsylvania ID.

The Inquirer further reported that there was no indication the Pennsylvania state employees had any idea Mrs. Applewhite was a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit claiming she cannot get an ID, saying, "an Inquirer reporter who accompanied Applewhite to the PennDot center on Cheltenham Avenue in [Philadelphia]'s West Oak Lane section saw no sign that the clerk recognized her or realized she was a major figure in the battle over the law."

In the August 16, 2013 broadcast, Maddow crowed about Applewhite's "victory" in the lawsuit, about which which the Inquirer described in 2012: "[it] claims the law would bar [Applewhite] from exercising the voting rights she's enjoyed for more than half a century…"

But, as the Inquirer pointed out in 2012, the ease with which Mrs. Applewhite got an ID made the need for a lawsuit, even then, questionable.

By the time of Maddow's August 2013 broadcast, it was even more questionable, as Mrs. Applewhite had had her photo ID for a full year by then. Despite what Rachel Maddow told her audience.



Jobs Recovery Bummer

At first blush, today’s jobs report once again seems to contain good news: 169,000 jobs added and unemployment dropping a tenth of a point to 7.3%, the lowest since December 2008. But beware what we call the “headline” numbers. The Leftmedia employes them to bolster the sorry record of their man in the White House.

Digging deeper, we find trouble quickly. July numbers were revised down from 162,000 to just 104,000, and June was revised down for the second time. The unemployment rate fell once again only because so many people are giving up looking for work—312,000, or nearly twice the number who found work—and they aren’t counted in the report. The labor participation rate fell to 63.2%, the lowest since Jimmy Carter’s malaise days of August 1978. If labor participation remained at the same level it was in January 2009, the headline unemployment rate would be 10.8%. It would be 7.7% if participation was the same as just one year ago.

As for the U-6 fuller measure, Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey observes that it “dropped from 14.0% to 13.7%, its lowest level in five years.” But, he warns, “[T]hat has to do with the shrinking workforce, too. In order to be counted in U-6, workers have to be at least marginally attached to the labor force. That’s defined as ‘those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months.’”

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his crack shot economic team promised that if we just passed the “stimulus” unemployment would be 5% by now.



Al Qaeda-Linked Rebels Attack Christian Village Where Aramaic--Language of Christ--Still Spoken

The sound of artillery reverberated Thursday through a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus as government troops and al-Qaida-linked rebels battled for control of the mountainside sanctuary.

The hit-and-run attacks on the ancient village of Maaloula, one of the few places in the world where residents still speak Aramaic, highlighted fears among Syria's religious minorities about the growing role of extremists among those fighting in the civil war to topple President Bashar Assad's regime.

The fighting came as President Barack Obama's administration pressed the U.S. Congress for its authorization of a military strike against the Assad regime, while the president arrived at a G-20 summit in Russia expected to be overshadowed by Syria.

The fighting in Maaloula, a scenic village of about 3,300 perched high in the mountains, began early Wednesday when militants from Jabhat al-Nusra stormed in after a suicide bomber struck an army checkpoint guarding the entrance.

The group - listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department - is one of the most effective fighting forces among Syrian rebels. The suicide attack triggered battles that terrorized residents in the village, famous for two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria - Mar Sarkis and Mar Takla.



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

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


6 September, 2013

The Syrian Political Charade

A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. attacking Syria: Barack Obama decided to seek congressional approval. Such is not his usual wont. Since occupying the Oval Office, Obama has made a practice of issuing executive orders and other decrees about all manner of policy preferences without bothering to go to Congress. He attacked Libya without Congress, but now with Syria he's seeking an accomplice -- though he still insists he doesn't need one.

Columnist George Will notes that, ironically, the British Parliament's rejection of military action prompted Obama to go to Congress. "If Parliament had authorized an attack," Will wrote, "Obama probably would already have attacked, without any thought about Congress' prerogatives."

The outcome of a looming congressional vote on military action is uncertain -- the sides don't break along party lines. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) support Obama's call, as does Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). But significant numbers of the rank-and-file aren't convinced, despite assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that we won't be "going to war in a classic sense."

The issue for many in Congress -- as well as grassroots Americans -- is whether a limited strike will achieve any clear policy objective that serves vital U.S. interests. Kerry warns that "we cannot allow Assad to be able to gas people with impunity." But will a strike eradicate Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons stores now that he's had time to move and protect them? If we weaken or remove Assad, will al-Qaida rebels come out on top? Will a limited strike sufficiently chastise Assad for crossing the "red line" Obama now ridiculously asserts he "didn't set"? And if a strike is strong enough, what reaction can we expect from Syria, Iran or Russia?

In short, Obama has turned this into a political charade. Any principle governing our response was lost as soon as he opened his mouth.



12 Unspoken Rules For Being A Liberal

There may be no official rule book for being a liberal, but that doesn't mean there aren't rules. There are actually quite a few rules liberals go by and the more politically active liberals become, the more rigidly they tend to stick to their own code of behavior. These rules, most of which are unspoken, are passed along culturally on the Left and viciously enforced. Ironically, many liberals could not explain these rules to you and don't even consciously know they're following them. So, by reading this article, not only will you gain a better understanding of liberals, you'll know them better than they know themselves in some ways.

1) You justify your beliefs about yourself by your status as a liberal, not your deeds. The most sexist liberal can think of himself as a feminist while the greediest liberal can think of himself as generous. This is because liberals define themselves as being compassionate, open minded, kind, pro-science and intelligent not based on their actions or achievements, but based on their ideology. This is one of the most psychologically appealing aspects of liberalism because it allows you to be an awful person while still thinking of yourself as better than everyone else.

2) You exempt yourself from your attacks on America: Ever notice that liberals don't include themselves in their attacks on America? When they say, "This is a racist country," or ",This is a mean country," they certainly aren't referring to themselves or people who hold their views. Even though liberals supported the KKK, slaughtering the Indians, and putting the Japanese in internment camps, when they criticize those things, it's meant as an attack on everyone else EXCEPT LIBERALS. The only thing a liberal believes he can truly do wrong is to be insufficiently liberal.

3) What liberals like should be mandatory and what they don't like should be banned: There's an almost instinctual form of fascism that runs through most liberals. It's not enough for liberals to love gay marriage; everyone must be forced to love gay marriage. It's not enough for liberals to be afraid of guns; guns have to be banned. It's not enough for liberals to want to use energy-saving light bulbs; incandescent light bulbs must be banned. It's not enough for liberals to make sure most speakers on campuses are left-wing; conservative speakers must be shouted down or blocked from speaking.

4) The past is always inferior to the present: Liberals tend to view traditions, policies, and morals of past generations as arbitrary designs put in place by less enlightened people. Because of this, liberals don't pay much attention to why traditions developed or wonder about possible ramifications of their social engineering. It’s like an architect ripping out the foundation of a house without questioning the consequences and if the living room falls in on itself as a result, he concludes that means he needs to make even more changes.

5) Liberalism is a jealous god and no other God may come before it: A liberal "Christian" or "Jew" is almost an oxymoron because liberalism trumps faith for liberals. Taking your religious beliefs seriously means drawing hard lines about right and wrong and that's simply not allowed. Liberals demand that even God bow down on the altar of liberalism.

6) Liberals believe in indiscriminateness for thought: This one was so good that I stole it from my buddy, Evan Sayet: " Indiscriminateness of thought does not lead to indiscriminateness of policy. It leads the modern liberal to invariably side with evil over good, wrong over right and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success. Why? Very simply if nothing is to be recognized as better or worse than anything else then success is de facto unjust. There is no explanation for success if nothing is better than anything else and the greater the success the greater the injustice. Conversely and for the same reason, failure is de facto proof of victimization and the greater the failure, the greater the proof of the victim is, or the greater the victimization."

7) Intentions are much more important than results: Liberals decide what programs to support based on whether they make them feel good or bad about themselves, not because they work or don't work. A DDT ban that has killed millions is judged a success by liberals because it makes them feel as if they care about the environment. A government program that wastes billions and doesn't work is a stunning triumph to the Left if it has a compassionate sounding name. It would be easier to convince a liberal to support a program by calling it the “Saving Women And Puppies Bill" than showing that it would save 100,000 lives.

8) The only real sins are helping conservatism or harming liberalism: Conservatives often marvel at the fact that liberals will happily elect every sort of pervert, deviant, and criminal you can imagine without a second thought. That's because right and wrong don't come into the picture for liberals. They have one standard: Does this politician help or hurt liberalism? If a politician helps liberalism, he has a free pass to do almost anything and many of them do just that.

9) All solutions must be government-oriented: Liberals may not be as down on government as conservatives are, but on some level, even they recognize that it doesn't work very well. So, why are liberals so hell bent on centralizing as much power as possible in government? Simple, because they believe that they are better and smarter than everyone else by virtue of being liberals and centralized power gives them the opportunity to control more people's lives. There's nothing scarier to liberals than free people living their lives as they please without wanting or needing the government to nanny them.

10) You must be absolutely close minded: One of the key reasons liberals spend so much time vilifying people they don't like and questioning their motivations is to protect themselves from having to consider their arguments. This helps create a completely closed system for liberals. Conservative arguments are considered wrong by default since they're conservative and not worth hearing. On the other hand, liberals aren't going to make conservative arguments. So, a liberal goes to a liberal school, watches liberal news, listens to liberal politicians, has liberal friends, and then convinces himself that conservatives are all hateful, evil, racist Nazis so that any stray conservatism he hears should be ignored. It makes liberal minds into perfectly closed loops that are impervious to anything other than liberal doctrine.

11) Feelings are more important than logic: Liberals base their positions on emotions, not facts and logic and then they work backwards to shore up their position. This is why it's a waste of time to try to convince a liberal of anything based on logic. You don't "logic" someone out of a position that he didn't use "logic" to come up with in the first place.

12) Tribal affiliation is more important than individual action: There's one set of rules for members of the tribe and one set of rules for everyone else. Lying, breaking the rules, or fomenting hatred against a liberal in good standing may be out of bounds, but there are no rules when dealing with outsiders, who are viewed either as potential recruits, dupes to be tricked, or foes to be defeated. This is the same backwards mentality you see in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, except it's based on ideology, not religion.



Family Farmers Fight Michigan Township For Their Animals

Kelly Vander Kley Hunter and her family have spent the last three years pouring their time and money into building a small hobby farm in Mattawan, MI. Today, they are fighting their local township government in order to keep their farm animals.

“We feel like we’re under a microscope. We feel like everything we do, on our own property, we have to get permission from the township,” says Vander Kley Hunter.

Roughly a three hour drive from Detroit, Mattawan is a rural community that is home to many small farms with many farm animals.

Yet Vander Kley Hunter had still checked before purchasing the property to make sure that having animals would be all right, and the township confirmed that farm animals were indeed allowed. But earlier this summer, the Hunters received a letter stating that their farm was no longer in compliance with the township zoning ordinance and that they had 90 days to get rid of more than half of their animals.

“It knocked the wind out of my sails,” says Vander Kley Hunter, "I was pretty depressed for awhile over it."

Vander Kley Hunter says that her neighbor complained to the township about the animals, thus prompting the township to reinterpret the ordinance and state that the Hunter farm was out of compliance.

“The local government can change the zoning of any parcel of land on a whim,” says Reason Foundation’s Adrian Moore, “it's being played out basically on crony politics rather than any kind of real, objective standard."

Moore says that property rights have eroded vastly over the last 100 years in America, and that these kinds of issues should be resolved in the courts, not in the political arena that is far more susceptible to abuse.

“The fact that the neighbors are using the political process rather than the court system already says they’ve got a somewhat suspicious complaint.”

Moore says the only way to fight a political battle is with politics, and that the community has to rise up against the township. Luckily for the Hunters, the community has come to their aid and is speaking out against the township at regular town hall meetings.

“The support that we’ve received from all of this has been completely overwhelming, I’ve never experienced anything like it,” says Vander Kley Hunter.

Vander Kley Hunter is hopeful that the community's support combined with her family's persistence will be enough to save her animals.




S&P: Lawsuit is “retaliation” for stripping AAA rating: "Standard & Poor's on Tuesday blasted a $5 billion fraud lawsuit by the U.S. government as retaliation for its 2011 decision to strip the country of its 'AAA' credit rating. The McGraw Hill Financial Inc unit was the only major credit rating agency to take away the United States' top rating, and the only one sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly misleading banks and credit unions about the credibility of its ratings prior to the 2008 financial crisis."

TX: Guard refuses to process same-sex benefits: "The Texas National Guard refused to process requests from same-sex couples for benefits on Tuesday, citing the state constitution's ban on gay marriage, despite a Pentagon directive to do so. ... Maj. Gen. John Nichols, the commanding general of Texas Military Forces, wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that because the Texas Constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, his state agency couldn't process applications from gay and lesbian couples. But he said the Texas National Guard, Texas Air Guard and Texas State Guard would not deny anyone benefits. ... He then listed 22 bases operated by the Department of Defense in Texas where service members could enroll their families."

DoD training manual: Founding fathers followed “extremist ideology”: "A Department of Defense training manual obtained by a conservative watchdog group pointed to the original American colonists as examples of an extremist movement, comments that have sparked fear of a broader crackdown on dissent in America. ... The first paragraph of the section entitled ‘Extremist Ideologies’ opens with a statement that has drawn heated criticism: 'In US history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.'"


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

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


5 September, 2013

Fascist America

The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics explains what fascism in Italy was all about:

"As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalist veneer. The word derives from fasces, the Roman symbol of collectivism and power: a tied bundle of rods with a protruding ax. In its day (the 1920s and 1930s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone liberal capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and revolutionary Marxism, with its violent and socially divisive persecution of the bourgeoisie. Fascism substituted the particularity of nationalism and racialism—“blood and soil”—for the internationalism of both classical liberalism and Marxism.

Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions."

Now that you've read what fascism entails, consider the following excerpt from an article yesterday at The Huffington Post, noting how nearly 40% of U.S. CEOs have come to have a very large portion of their income paid for by U.S. taxpayers:

"WASHINGTON -- More than one-third of the nation's highest-paid CEOs from the past two decades led companies that were subsidized by American taxpayers, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank.

"Financial bailouts offer just one example of how a significant number of America's CEO pay leaders owe much of their good fortune to America's taxpayers," reads the report. "Government contracts offer another."

IPS has been publishing annual reports on executive compensation since 1993, tracking the 25 highest-paid CEOs each year and analyzing trends in payouts. Of the 500 total company listings, 103 were banks that received government bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, while another 62 were among the nation's most prolific government contractors."

Meanwhile, that all would be occurring as American entrepreneurs would appear to be harder and harder to find:

"The US entrepreneurial spirit may be faltering. Check out these data points from The Wall Street Journal: a) In 1982, new companies made up roughly half of all US businesses, according to census data. By 2011, they accounted for just over a third; b) from 1982 through 2011, the share of the labor force working at new companies fell to 11% from more than 20%; c) Total venture capital invested in the US fell nearly 10% last year and is still below its prerecession peak, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers."

The United States would appear to be well on its way to adopting fascist Italy's political-economic system, favoring the politically-connected while starving entrepreneurs out of the economy. Although today in America, we call it "crony capitalism". And the people who practice it "progressives".

Do you think we should start calling it what it really is?



More glue in the works

By Martin Hutchinson

As the pace of extortion accelerates, the economic system inevitably nears the point where it ceases to work altogether.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been pouring regulatory glue into the U.S. economy since 1973. The trial bar has also been pouring litigation glue into the U.S. economy for a similar period, and their colleagues in the New York financial bar have equally been adding to the sticky stuff with documentation glue (as a former corporate financier I would quickly find another line of work if faced with today's U.S.-law documentation for the simplest transaction). Now a series of federal agencies have banded together to launch wave after wave of lawsuits against the big banks, mostly relating to the same set of transgressions they committed in 2005-08. At some point, an economic system with so many dysfunctional activities ceases to work altogether, turning into a rent-seeking mess. From the latest economic statistics, we may be nearing that point.

Last week's depredations against the big banks included a government order to J.P. Morgan to pay $6 billion to the Federal Housing Finance Agency in relation to subprime mortgages underwritten during the bubble—about 20% of the $33 billion principal amount of subprime mortgages underwritten by Morgan entities during that period. JPMorgan has spent $5 billion in legal costs in each of the last two years, and raised its estimate of legal losses to $6.8 billion at the end of the second quarter—presumably after this piece of bad news it will have to raise them again.

The same week, a judge rejected Bank of America's bid to dismiss a similar-sized case relating to toxic mortgages, and the case will go to trial this month (to be fair, the toxic mortgages concerned were issued by Countrywide, which Bank of America acquired in January 2008—surely one of the worst M&A deals ever done). The same day, a judge threw out Bank of America's lawsuit to recover $1.7 billion in losses related to the 2009 $2.9 billion Taylor Bean collapse (no, I'd never heard of Taylor Bean either—in the collapse of the housing market $2.9 billion was a mere rounding error).

The previous week a judge allowed the use of a specialized fraud law against Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Bank of New York Mortgage Corp.—and with it a 10-year statute of limitations instead of the normal 5 years, thus prolonging the banks' legal jeopardy until 2018 instead of ending the creation of new cases in a month or so. Last week also a New York court revived a $2.5-billion case against Barclays that had previously been dismissed relating to an April 2008 offering of shares.

That's within just two weeks. You have to remember that five banks last year paid a settlement totaling $25 billion, which was supposed to cover all their liabilities in relation to the mortgage market's bubble-era shenanigans. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the six largest banks' legal bills since the financial crisis totaled $103 billion, around 40% of which has arisen since January 2012, as the pace of extortion accelerates.

And yet none of the big banks' top managements have gone to jail. (Fabrice Toure, who faces a jail sentence, was strictly small fry, while Raj Gupta, a Director of Goldman Sachs, was sentenced in relation to unrelated insider trading.) So presumably criminal activity was not significantly involved—after all Enron's Jeff Skilling was sentenced to an excessive 25 years simply for selling his Enron shares after he left the company but before its bankruptcy occurred.

The only penalties in relation to the mortgage disaster are being borne by the banks' unfortunate shareholders—and they are being subjected to triple, quadruple and quintuple jeopardy in relation to the same offenses through suits brought by innumerable state and federal authorities seeking a piece of the action. Banking is generally a decently profitable business, but having seen the pattern of jeopardy applied to the United States' largest banks I have to say I wouldn't invest in them, and I suspect many of the largest investment institutions are coming to the same conclusion. Even with smaller banks subject to less extreme jeopardy, this has to reduce the growth in the U.S. economy, as well as making its biggest banks' foreign and corporate businesses subject to potential takeover by foreign banks not subject to the same pillage.

Since financial services represents around 10% of GDP these days, the tsunami of uneconomic activity forced on the sector by the regulators and legal community is a serious drag on U.S. economic performance. Yes, of course it allows innumerable lawyers to live high on the hog, but their activity is a classic example of rent-seeking; it merely extracts money from the productive economy and devotes it to the welfare of the rent seekers. That's only partly true of financial services itself, though I quite grant you that a substantial percentage of the businesses invented in the last thirty years serve little genuine economic purpose.

When you add up all the spurious drags on the U.S. economy from regulators and lawyers, it's a wonder the thing functions at all. As I have discussed before, big infrastructure projects cost in real terms about 10 times what they did in 1925. New businesses, if they have any kind of environmental angle, get interminably delayed, while costs are added—the Keystone pipeline, with the State Department decision on it now delayed into 2014, is a recent example of this.

Entire industries, such as coal-fired power stations, are in danger of being closed down by regulators, with billions written off. Other industries, such as corn-based ethanol, spring up from nowhere, with no economic or environmental rationale other than a collection of regulations and subsidies dreamed up by lobbyists and fed to Congressmen. Other industries, such as solar power, have their birth pangs gigantically subsidized, then to the surprise of cynics become successful, after which they disappear to China on cost grounds, with the subsidies to U.S. solar panel manufacturers having achieved absolutely zippo.

Then there is the unfortunate Binghamton, NY, a depressed medium-sized town whose main economic activity currently appears to be processing income tax returns, which sees in the distance the mirage of the Marcellus Shale oil and gas deposits, and unimagined riches (by Binghamton standards) for its inhabitants as a major center of the fracking business. Alas, this vision recedes ever further into the distance, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo refuses year after year to authorize fracking in the state. However the unemployed frackers of Binghamton need not worry—Cuomo has authorized a casino to open there, so they can gamble away their welfare checks. Of course I can't help thinking that giving the town two economic activities, income tax return processing and a casino, is asking for an unpleasant mutual interaction between the two.

As I have said before, I'm an optimist. One day, the United States will again have a vibrant economy. New discoveries, such as self-driving cars, genetic engineering and sophisticated online education will hugely increase U.S. wealth and productivity. However to regain the growth levels of the twentieth century, a major pruning will need to take place:

* Financial regulation must be cut back, with a simple division between deposit-taking institutions (assuming deposits are guaranteed) and deal-doers, and tight monetary policy used to burst bubbles before they really get going. Each financial institution must have one regulator, and thus be subject to only one pocketbook raid when things go wrong.

* Environmental regulation must be incorporated into the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Energy abolished, so that any necessary environmental regulations will be drafted with the care and attention to business's needs currently enjoyed by product standards and trade regulations.

* Contingency fee lawsuits and outsize settlements must be outlawed. However, as a London-based banker for many years, I have no idea how one suppresses today's grotesque document bloat, other than by re-creating the London merchant banks, who dealt with each other and with customers on the basis mostly of trust. That's a much more efficient way to run a financial system than the current one, but it unfortunately takes 200 years to create.

Without such pruning, U.S. economic growth will become ever more sluggish, or possibly disappear altogether. Ships encrusted with too many barnacles eventually sink.



Trains to Nowhere

John Stossel

When Democrats and Republicans agree, I get nervous. It often means that they agree to grab my wallet. Both parties now agree that we don't have extra budget money lying around, but both say government does need to spend more on "infrastructure." Even conservatives want more spent on roads and mass transit.

The reason, advocates claim, is that infrastructure, unlike most government spending, has a "multiplier effect" -- it creates new wealth by doing things like speeding up travel.

Well, it might.

Advocates also point out something that seems obvious to them: Infrastructure is a job that must be done by government. Who else would launch big projects like the New York City subway system? Subways are what Big Government supporters call a "public good."

They are important to many people, but there's no way that business would build subways or run them, they argue. Subways lose billions of dollars. Entrepreneurs would never invest in subway cars or dig subway tunnels -- there's no profit in that.

But often what we "obviously know" ... is not so.

Most of New York's subways were actually built by private companies. Few New Yorkers even know that. Private companies dug the first tunnels and ran the trains for about 40 years. But when they wanted to raise the fare to a dime, the politicians said they had to "protect" the public. Government took over the system, saying only "public ownership" could guarantee affordable fares.

But government doesn't do anything well. Under government management, profit disappeared and the fare rose well beyond the inflation-adjusted equivalent of what the private companies had wanted to charge.

Now, politicians want you to buy them new trains. Who wouldn't like a shiny new train? The Obama administration gave your money to California politicians who want to build a 200-m.p.h. train to take people from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Somehow, in the tradition of political boondoggles everywhere, the train that politicians actually approved doesn't yet come close to either city. It starts, and ends, "in the boondocks," says Reason magazine's Adrian Moore.

"I live in a little mountain town called Tehachapi," he says. "It's in the middle of nowhere, 50 miles to the nearest Walmart ... the high-speed rail line in California comes right through my town. This thing is like the boondoggle of boondoggles."

When I confronted train advocate Dennis Lytton about that, he said, "They're starting high-speed rail in the middle of the state because that's where you can build it fast."



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

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


4 September, 2013

Rosh Hashanah

Shana Tova umetuka. May Am Yisrael be blessed with clarity, moral strength and courage and may Hashem reward his people with a New Year of shalom, goodness and sweetness.


Democrats and Lawlessness

In the third of the six films of the Star Wars saga, the Sith Lord who has infiltrated to become the ruling Chancellor of the democratic republic confederation of peaceful worlds announces to the elected Assembly of representatives of those worlds that to deal with an exaggerated, fabricated crisis, “The Old Republic will be reorganized into the first Intergalactic Empire.” The distracted Assembly responds with polite applause. One of the few characters who understands what is happening remarks wryly, “So this is how the Republic ends. With applause.”

Proving that truth is stranger than fiction, this is happening right now in the United States of America. President Obama has already seized the power to rule by decree, and is doing so virtually every day now.

For those who do not immediately get what is meant by “rule by decree,” let me explain. The Constitution grants the power to legislate, to make laws, to the Congress, which is why it is called “the Legislative Branch.” It grants the power to carry out, or execute, the laws to the President, which is why the President and his Administration are called “the Executive Branch.” The Constitution accordingly specifies that the President’s duty is “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” It grants the power to interpret and adjudicate the law to the Judiciary, which is why that is called “the Judicial Branch.”

But President Obama does not accept the limitations of his role within this constitutional framework. He is now regularly exercising the power to legislate directly himself, either by announcing on his own supposed authority changes in existing laws that Congress has already passed, or by announcing that he will carry out entirely new laws that Congress never passed, or even refused to pass. These actions are brazen, lawless violations of the Constitution.

The President through his Executive Branch has the power to issue regulations interpreting the law as passed, for purposes of implementation. But all regulations must be authorized by an underlying law passed by Congress. Neither the President nor any agency underneath him in the entire Executive Branch can issue a regulation that contradicts or changes the law that is cited as authorizing it. In other words, if the law says 2014, the President has no authority to say screw it, I say 2015, by regulation or otherwise.

The same is true of Executive Orders. All Executive Orders must be based on authority granted to the President by some law passed by Congress, or by the Constitution itself.

The President does have the authority to refuse to enforce laws he believes are unconstitutional. But he cannot refuse to enforce laws because he disagrees with them, or to gain political advantage, such as delaying implementation of a law until after the next election, attempting to deceive the American people as to what has been enacted until the next election passes. The Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Justice Department exists to advise the President as to his legal powers. And this is what legal opinions issued by that office have said.

Similarly, in Clinton v. City of New York, the Supreme Court ruled, “There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes…. The only constitutional power the president has to suspend or repeal statutes is to veto a bill or propose new legislation.”

The Lawless President President Obama has engaged in such lawless usurpation of authority most of all in regard to his pride and joy, Obamacare, which he finagled through Congress in 2010 on a strict party line vote, openly buying off recalcitrant Democrats who foresaw the coming train wreck with various political sweeteners at taxpayer expense. But now that it has passed, he refuses to implement it as passed, even though former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said we would have to pass it to find out what is in it. But not when the public finding out what is in it might lead to political disadvantage for the Democrats, apparently.

The lawlessness started even before President Obama’s re-election. The law provided for $716 billion in cuts to Medicare in the first 10 years alone. But to evade political retribution for these cuts, the President delayed them until after the election, and dishonestly misrepresented them during the campaign. He and his campaign told voters the cuts involved only reductions in “overpayments” to doctors and hospitals providing health care to seniors, and in “subsidies” to insurance companies, which millions of seniors had chosen to provide their Medicare benefits under Medicare Part C, saying actual Medicare “benefits were not affected at all”— “not by one dime.”

The President did not want seniors to be able to see in their own lives that these gross mischaracterizations were not true. The Medicare Chief Actuary explained that within a few years, the cuts would reduce Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals to only about half what is paid under Medicaid for health care for the poor, which studies have documented results in poor health care for the poor. So the cuts disappeared until after the election, by illegal Presidential decree.

Similarly, the Obamacare law provided that insurance companies could not decline coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, but in an alleged mistake, the law as passed said that did not become effective until January, 2014. But to gain political advantage before the 2012 elections, HHS issued a rule declaring that this popular provision would become effective on September 23, 2010. Intimidated from challenging the illegal rule in court, health insurers began withdrawing the sale of child only policies, resulting in no one selling such policies in almost half the country.

The Obamacare law as passed also provides that the extensive Obamacare subsidies for purchasing health insurance on the exchanges apply in such Exchanges set up by the states, as the law contemplated. But 27 states exercised their right under the law to refuse to set up exchanges, leaving the federal government to do it in those states, primarily because the states were left with no discretion or authority regarding how to organize them. Only 17 states have actually established exchanges on their own. The law as written and passed only provides for the Obamacare exchange health insurance subsidies to apply in these 17 states. So on May 23, 2012, the IRS issued an illegal rule providing that the Obamacare exchange subsidies shall apply in all 50 states any way.

After the President’s re-election, he famously announced a delay for one year of one of the basic pillars of the law, the employer mandate requiring employers of 50 or more full time workers to buy health insurance for their workers, as the government specifies exactly what they must buy. The Obamacare law explicitly says the Obamacare law would become effective in 2014. The President has no legal authority to change that to 2015, as the Supreme Court has ruled. But the President brazenly flouted the law, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court by decreeing the mandate shall be delayed until 2015.

This rewriting of the law as we go is contributing to further Obamacare chaos. The exchange subsidies were only supposed to be available under the Obamacare law to those who do not receive the required employer-provided insurance. But since no such insurance will now be required next year, very few will actually have the elaborate and expensive employer insurance as required. Moreover, the CBO estimates on the cost of Obamacare are based on only a fraction of workers qualifying for the exchange subsidies.

The Obamacare law requires the exchanges to verify whether applicants for the exchange subsidies qualify because they do not have required employer coverage, and to verify applicant incomes with employers to determine how much applicants qualify for in subsidies. But with no employer mandate for next year, the Obama Administration recently issued another illegal rule authorizing exchanges to just take the applicant’s word on whether they have employer-provided health insurance, and how much they are paid.

The Obamacare law as passed provides that Obamacare shall apply to members of Congress and their staffs when it becomes effective next year. But that was causing extensive panic on Capitol Hill as our public servants began realizing what that would mean for them. So the Office of Personnel Management recently issued another illegal rule exempting Congressional members and their staffs from the Obamacare limitations on what the federal government could pay for their health insurance, which will still apply to others in the private sector.

The Obamacare law also provides for caps on out-of-pocket costs consumers themselves must pay under Obamacare policies, limiting such costs to $6,350 for individual policies and $12,700 for family policies. But because the Obama Administration is apparently unprepared to implement these caps, the Labor Department issued an illegal rule in February 2013, rewriting the Obamacare law once again to waive these caps until 2015.

The Obama Administration has similarly flouted the Obamacare law in regard to implementing the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), which was supposed to grant small businesses broader health insurance options, the Federal Basic Health Plan Option, which was supposed to offer a more affordable managed care insurance choice, and required electronic notification to consumers of eligibility for Medicaid and Exchange subsidies.

An Illegal Habit But President Obama’s illegal flouting of the law has not been limited to his own hapless Obamacare law. Last year, the President implemented the so-called DREAM Act by decree, after Congress had considered it, but refused to enact it, providing for new benefits for illegal immigrants brought to America as children. Before that, the President had ruled by decree that governors could apply for waivers from the welfare reform work requirements adopted in 1996 under President Clinton.

President Clinton was sent out during the Democratic National Convention to falsely claim that the ruling only allowed the governors to require more work. But under the 1996 welfare reforms, the governors did not need any more authority to require more work. The law already granted them complete authority to do so.

Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered all U.S. attorneys to stop prosecutions of all nonviolent, non-gang-related, drug crime defendants subject to mandatory minimum sentences. The law requires such mandatory minimum sentences. The Obama Administration is just refusing to follow and enforce the law.

Last week, the President asked the Federal Communications Commission to impose a $5 tax per cell phone to finance the extension of a program to expand Internet access. The American colonists protested in the Boston Tea Party against a 3 cent tax on tea, which they complained was not imposed in accordance with law. The colonists were smart enough to see that if the King could impose a 3 cent tax without legal authorization, there was no legal constraint at all on his abuses. That protest led to the Revolutionary War over the principle.

One of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was that he used the IRS for special audits and investigations of his political opponents. Under Obama, we all know now that the IRS has done the same thing. President Obama has also refused to obey court orders, such as when the federal courts ruled that his so-called recess appointments of federal officials when the Senate was not in recess were unconstitutional, or the federal rulings that the President’s extended moratorium on Gulf oil drilling after the British Petroleum oil leak were illegal under the law,

Charles Krauthammer wrote earlier this month regarding President Obama’s lawlessness that “such gross usurpation disdains the Constitution. It mocks the separation of powers….If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what is left of the law? What’s the point of the whole legislative process — of crafting various provisions through give and take negotiation — if you cannot rely on the fixity of the final product, on the assurance that the provisions bargained for by both sides will be carried out.”

Krauthammer further explained the resulting breakdown of our government, saying, “Consider immigration reform. The essence of any deal would be legalization in return for strict border enforcement. If some such legislative compromise is struck, what confidence can anyone have in it — if the President can unilaterally alter what he signs?”

Krauthammer adds, “Yet, this President is not only untroubled by what he is doing, but open and rather proud. As he tells cheering crowds on his never-ending campaign style tours: I am going to do X — and I’m not going to wait for Congress. That’s caudillo talk. That’s banana republic stuff. In this country, the President is required to win the consent of Congress first. At stake is not some constitutional curlicue. At stake is whether the laws are the law.”

Democrats Against Democracy If the President can rewrite and make up the law, then the bonds of democracy are broken completely. We are no longer governed by laws adopted through the democratic process, but ruled instead by authoritarian, Third World-style decree.

These brazenly lawless abuses of office by the President more than justify his impeachment. But with the most partisan Democrat control of the Senate in our history, that impeachment would go nowhere in the Senate. Moreover, even to raise the word guarantees a 250% Democrat voter turnout next year, especially given how the public reacted when the Republicans attempted to impeach President Clinton for his much more mild violations of law.

But there is another check and balance on President Obama’s abuse of office. Hold the Democrat party politically accountable for the third world-style authoritarianism and suspension of democracy of the Obama Administration. They are the ones covering for the authoritarian caudillo, in Krauthammer’s words. They are the ones who selected Obama as their party standard bearer despite his radical left-wing extremist roots and background.

Those today who contribute to, support, and vote for the Democrat party are supporting this lawless suspension of our democracy. Is democracy even socially respectable in America today?




Union dumps AFL-CIO for its sucking up to Obama: "The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has cut ties with the AFL-CIO, citing in part the private-sector union’s support for ObamaCare and immigration reform. In an August 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, leaders of the 40,000-member union said they have become 'increasingly frustrated' with the federation’s policy positions on such matters as immigration and healthcare reform. 'We feel the federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people,' wrote Robert McEllrath, president of the San Francisco-based ILWU"

Documents: AT&T assists US drug thugs with bigger database than NSA’s: "For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counternarcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls -- parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs. The Hemisphere Project, a partnership between federal and local drug officials and AT&T that has not previously been reported, involves an extremely close association between the government and the telecommunications giant. The government pays AT&T to place its employees in drug-fighting units around the country. Those employees sit alongside Drug Enforcement Administration agents and local detectives and supply them with the phone data from as far back as 1987."

University tries to nip professors’ union in the bud: "What does a research university in Boston have in common with the corporations Pfizer, Cablevision and IBM? They hire the same union-buster. According to Adjunct Action, a project of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Northeastern University has retained Jackson Lewis, a law firm used by major corporations to thwart employee organizing efforts. The AFL-CIO calls the New York-based firm 'the number one union-buster in America.' The move could signal intensified efforts by university administrations to defeat organizing drives among contingent faculty, which have been gaining momentum in several cities"

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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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


3 September, 2013

The cradle of conservatism

Comment from a British historian. She does not quite seem to see that political orientation can only be explained at the psychological level but she makes some interesting points -- particularly about Britain's infamous North/South divide -- a prosperous Conservative South and a raddled socialist North

Austerity has sharpened the perception of an incurable North-South divide: Tories fret about their appeal to the North and Midlands and a vanishing footprint in the great northern cities. Ed Miliband’s “One Nation” Labour still fails to ignite enthusiasm in the aspirational Home Counties.

Yet one of the compelling aspects of Britain’s political history is how settled wisdoms have been disrupted over time and the political geography of the country transformed as a result. So much so that the map we see today is pretty much the inverse of an older North-South divide, in which the centres driving economic prosperity were Lancashire, Yorkshire and the clanking foundries of Manchester and the mills of Bradford.

Many of the big ideas we associate with conservatism today were forged not in the sleepy, rural, hide-bound South, but in the North of England, crucible of noisy arguments about conservatism and its responses to economic change. I have just finished a quest to find its roots and turning points for a Radio 4 documentary - a grand tour of the idea of what we sometimes call “small c conservatism” – a recognition that its ideas and instincts wield influence whichever party is in office.

As a native north-easterner, one of the pleasures of the odyssey has been indulging in political archeology over more than two centuries. Whether we are naturally inclined to conservatism in its political clothing or suspicious of it, the country we live in has been shaped by the power of centre-Right ideas – and Tory-led governments have held power for well over half of the period since the French Revolution as a result .

One definition of conservatism is a resistance to change – or, as Michael Oakeshott, the post-war political philosopher put it, preferring “the familiar to the unknown, the tried to the untried, fact to mystery”. In essence, this has been true since the philosopher Edmund Burke resisted the lure of revolution in 1789, diagnosing the moral weaknesses of the French Revolution, when so many leading minds of the day were inspired by its radical ideas. “At the groves of their academy, at the end of every vista,” the sagacious Burke prophesied, “you see only the gallows.”

But the view of conservatism as opposing change is very far from its whole story. A less well-understood side is a crafty readiness to accept and adapt to challenges – even the ones it originally resisted or feared, from the extension of voting rights to today’s rows about gay marriage.

The 19th-century Reform Acts and the extension of the vote to more working men and the fast-growing population centres of the North looked like disaster for those Tory landowners of the kind we might now deride as the toffs of Camp Cameron. But a main reason why Britain has a history rich in reform rather than the bloodshed of radical upheaval is that since the Civil War, conservatives have adapted to social and economic changes, rather than waiting until the resentments blew up into street-fights or revolutions.

The question of how we should respond morally to changes that affect what the policy wonks would now call “social cohesion” between the well-off and the less fortunate has long inspired great conservative political thinkers. Contrary to the caricature of a creed interested only in self-advancement or selfish preservation of wealth, it is fascinating to revisit the ferocity with which thinkers such as Thomas Carlyle, the “sage of Chelsea”, responded in the first half of the 19th century to the rampant materialism of his era.

The reduction of links between different social groups to a mere “cash nexus,” was abhorrent to Carlyle, who, like another (small c) conservative, the Victorian critic John Ruskin, was horrified at the vulgarity of new money and its corrosive effect on the feudal ties that had bound the rich to the poor. So off Ruskin went to address Bradford mill-owners in 1864, denouncing “the goddess of 'Getting-on’ ”, and taking his audience to task for being so foolishly money-driven (not that they took much notice).

The political battles of the 19th century, as conservatism sought to maintain its relevance beyond the world of Jane Austen’s genteel rural society, were ferocious and produced some stomping sorts, ripe for the Matt cartoons of their day. Lord George Bentinck, who allied himself with Disraeli in opposition to Free Trade, had sat in the Commons for nearly a decade, without tousling it with a speech. He suddenly burst into life in the 1840s as a sort of Nigel Farage of his day, with an appeal against reforms and to the “stomach conservatism” of tradition.

Bentinck appeared in Parliament in his hunting gear and muddy boots in order to make his point that the fate of an established social system depended on maintaining the status quo of the Corn Laws. If we think that today’s alliance of David Cameron and Nick Clegg is an odd couple, imagine the sight of the horsey backwoodsman Bentinck and flamboyant “Dizzy” making common cause in swashbuckling speeches against Peel’s free traders. In the end, the Corn Laws were repealed because the economic case behind them had withered – another turning point for conservatives, coming to terms with an altered world – not for the last time.

Today, we watch the Tory party writhing in its uncertainties about foreign intervention in Syria, arguments about a foreign entanglement and its risks that would have seemed wholly familiar to Disraeli, opposing Gladstone’s resistance to action over the Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria. But if resisting interventions is nothing new for the conservative-minded, the wider world has often created fresh dividing lines. The Boer War became the focus of fierce patriotism, and one of its best-known Liberal opponents, Joseph Chamberlain, was routed by an angry conservative crowd of working men at a meeting in Birmingham, protesting in favour of the imperialist war (the real “Occupy” movement).

An intriguing aspect of my grand tour has been the interplay of place and culture in this story. Much of it lies buried below layers of arguments about the modern Left and Right. From the Lake District’s famous son, William Wordsworth, abandoning his revolutionary radicalism in favour of reverence for the “genius of Burke” and his gentler pursuit of reform, to the powerful undercurrents of causes such as Irish Home Rule, which attracted Unionists allied to the Conservative Party in the north-east in the first decade of the 20th century. Political history has its eddies and flurries, not all of which follow the kind of ideological straight lines we tend visit on them.

It seems important to me to avoid every exploration of politics ending up as a “which side are you on?” question. Sometimes we learn a lot more about ourselves – our beliefs and aversions – by digging into half-remembered periods of political history and tracing back the roots of our views. My grandfather disagreed with the generally pro-Boer War sentiments of most working men in his youth and would rail in favour of the “poor bloody Boers” facing the might of England’s armies. I now understand a bit more about why that was and the mental map of politics that shaped him.

So many themes recur, such as old arguments between protectionism and free trade that lurked at the heart of the rise of Ukip and our strained relations with the European Union.

Immigration, with its benefits and disadvantages, has long divided conservatives. A stirring figure in that story hailed from the industrial Midlands – Enoch Powell, the grammar-school boy from Wolverhampton, whose 1968 speech attacked immigration from the Commonwealth. Powell was, thankfully, wrong about the inability of Britain to absorb immigrants peacefully. The “rivers of blood” analogy was as over-stated as it was disagreeable.

But behind that speech lies a wider conservative anxiety – a suspicion that people lower down the social pecking order were suffering from the whims of elites and that change was being foisted on people without their agreement. For that reason, Powell’s questions echo today, ranging through the politics of immigration on the Right to Ed Miliband’s attempt to woo back Labour voters anxious about the impact of incomers on their jobs and services.

We end the grand tour looking at the ideas that shaped the young Margaret Thatcher on a trip to Grantham. These days, you approach Alderman Roberts’s sturdy red-brick chapel via a long road of Polish and Ukrainian shops, a testament to the single European market she helped create. The strong religious non-conformism of her upbringing, with the emphasis on individual responsibility as a spiritual, as well as a political value, accounts for a lot of her self-belief. And if she later adapted that creed to gain prominence on the national and world stage with convenient additions and subtractions along the way, then that is firmly within the flexible tradition of conservatism: the most elastic belief system of them all.



It's Super-Media! With the Power to Detect Non-Existent Racism

Ann Coulter

The media's fixation on the Trayvon Martin case, while ignoring much more brutal crimes with clearer racial motivations, is a return to pre-O.J. America.

The thesis of my book, "Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama" -- out in paperback this week! -- is that after decades of liberals play-acting Racist America, wherein they cast themselves as civil rights champions, and other, random white people as Bull Connor (a Democrat), it all ended with the O.J. verdict.

That's when white America said, That's it. The white guilt bank is shut down. It was one of the best things that ever happened to America -- especially for black people.

But then in 2007, Barack Obama brought it all back. In order to immunize the most left-wing presidential candidate the nation has ever seen, the Non-Fox Media went into overdrive reporting their fantasies of an America full of racists, constantly terrorizing innocent blacks.

Of course, once Republicans got the Democrats to stop terrorizing black people, there was no one else doing it. Nonetheless, for decades, the media would highlight every apparent white-on-black crime, treating each such incident as the Crime of the Century.

White-on-black crimes were, and are, freakishly rare. But the media weren't showcasing these one-off events as man-bites-dog stories, but rather as dog-bites-man stories in a universe brimming with packs of rabid dogs. According to liberals, whites attacking blacks was an epidemic -- a nationwide "cancer," in the words of erstwhile New York City Mayor Ed Koch.

In December 1986, a gang of white toughs were roaming around Howard Beach, Queens, brawling with anyone they met. They beat up an off-duty white fireman. They attacked a couple of Hispanics. But it was only when the young delinquents fought with three black men -- Cedric Sandiford, Timothy Grimes and Michael Griffith -- that they secured their place in history and became the literary event of the season!

After the initial encounter between the black and white punks -- there were epithets exchanged and criminal records on both sides -- the white gang returned with a baseball bat, spoiling for a fight. Grimes ran off unharmed, Sandiford got beaten, and Griffith tried to flee by climbing through a hole in a fence -- and ran directly into a busy six-lane highway, where he was hit by a car and killed.

The police summarily concluded that the white gang's other fights that night had "no racial overtones." Only the fight with the blacks constituted a hate crime. The FBI opened an investigation and 50 police officers were assigned to investigate. Hollywood made a movie about Howard Beach. The New York Times still celebrates anniversaries of the Howard Beach attack.

News stories were brimming with references to Birmingham and Selma. Columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote, "Howard Beach suddenly has become what Birmingham once meant." (A few years later, the ethnically sensitive Breslin was suspended for denouncing a young Korean-American colleague in the newsroom as a "slant-eyed b***h.")

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Atlantic editor Jack Beatty blamed Howard Beach on the Republican Party: "From Richard M. Nixon's 'Southern strategy' to Ronald Reagan's boilerplate about 'welfare queens,' the legatees of the party of Lincoln have wrung political profit from the white backlash. Howard Beach shows that the politics of prejudice may have some vile life left in it yet."

In 1986, only 2.6 percent of all homicides in the entire country were white-on-black killings. Black criminals killed nearly three times as many white people (949) as whites killed blacks (378) and they killed 16 times as many black people (6,235) as whites did.

Mayor Koch called the Howard Beach attack "the most horrendous incident of violence in the nine years I have been mayor."

Earlier that year, a 20-year-old white design student, Dawn Livecchi, answered the doorbell at her Fort Greene, Brooklyn, townhouse and was shot dead by a black man, Anthony Neal Jenkins, who had followed her home from the grocery store.

One Queens woman interviewed by the Times about the Howard Beach attack mentioned that her husband had been beaten so badly by a group of blacks that he remained in a coma two years later.

In one of dozens of "retaliatory" attacks that invariably follow these media-created racial incidents, the day after the attack, a black gang beat and robbed a white, 17-year-old boy sitting at a Queens bus stop, shouting, "Howard Beach! Howard Beach!" "He's a white boy, and they killed a black boy at Howard Beach."

Just a week before the Howard Beach attack there was another interracial crime in a neighborhood only slightly farther away from The New York Times' building than Howard Beach is. A 63-year-old white woman, Ann Viner, was attacked at her home in New Canaan, Conn., savagely beaten, dragged to her swimming pool and drowned by two 20-year-old black men.

It was the first murder in the affluent town in 17 years. That seems like a newsworthy event to me.

But the Times mentioned Viner's murder only in three short news items, totaling less than a thousand words. The longest piece, 500 words, was an initial report on the murder -- when there was still hope that the killers were white! No other major news outlets in the country mentioned Viner's murder.

So if you're confused by the blanket coverage of the Trayvon Martin case -- attracting even the attention of the president of the United States! -- while far more common and more vicious black-on-white murders are ignored, try to understand that liberals are frightened by change. They are desperately clinging to a world that never existed.

Their fantasy of an America bristling with racists allows them to portray any criticism of our massively incompetent and dangerous president as just another sad episode of oh-so-typical white racism. They have to protect Obama, so the rest of us have to get Mugged .



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

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


2 September, 2013

Why did liberals stop being patriotic?

Stalin fought WWII as "The Great Patriotic War"; JFK told people to ask what you could do for your country; The Communist Woody Guthrie wrote "This land is your land". TR rejoiced in battleships and seized slices of the old Spanish empire for America. Friedrich Engels (of Marx & Engels) was a furious German patriot who wanted Germany to seize neighbouring lands. And in Australia Communist poet John Manifold wrote a memorial to an heroic Australian soldier. .... I could go on.

The Left of today, however, are almost unrecognizable as the heirs of the historic Left. They still hate rich people and business and want to control everybody but these days they seem to have a visceral hatred of their own country. America can do nothing right. Far Leftists even condemn Obama.

So why? It's simple. Up until the great postwar surge in affluence, Leftists always saw themselves as the champions of the working class. Working class people up until that time did have often difficult lives, with putting bread on the table a real challenge at times. Things stayed that way for hundreds of years. And Leftists had a solution to all that: Government control of the means of production, socialism, communism.

But the gradual unwinding of the Soviet myth made their solution sound like the crap it was -- while capitalism steadily made almost everyone middle class by the standards of the past. Capitalism rescued the workers and the workers thoroughly enjoyed it. The workers came to live a life not greatly different from the hated middle class.

Leftists had always seen the working class as the real people -- as the backbone of the nation. Eulogizing the nation was to eulogize the working class. The middle and upper classes were seen as being simply parasites on the work of the working class.

So the transformation of the working class left the Left with nothing in the country to admire. Even the workers are complacent and doing well. And now they often vote Republican.

There is still the (non-working and welfare dependent) underclass, of course, but even Leftists find it had to see anything to idealize or hope for in them. Leftists who advocate busing, for instance, make sure that their own kids don't get bused. But the existence of the underclass is still handy. It has the advantage that it enables the old Leftist warcry of "poverty" still to ring out as an explanation of all social ills. It rings out more as a tic than as an attempt at thought but it still fills the speaker with a warm feeling of virtue.

So Leftist hatred now extends to the working class as well as the middle and upper classes. EVERYBODY is complacent, they wail. So they now hate us all and do their best to impose destructive policies (such as Obamacare and Greenie regulations) on the whole country.


When fascism came to America, it was wrapped in the clothes of tolerance and health

Dennis Prager

I cannot count the number of times I heard liberal professors and liberal writers quote the phrase: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

The phrase is brilliant. There is actually no threat to America of fascism coming from the right. The essence of the American right, after all, is less government; and fascism, by definition, demands ever larger government.

Therefore, if there is a real fascist threat to America, it comes from the left, whose appetite for state power is essentially unlimited. But because the left has so long dominated American intellectual, academic, artistic, and media life, it has succeeded in implanting fear of the right.

I have never written that there is a threat of fascism in America. I always considered the idea overwrought. But now I believe there really is such a threat -- and it will come draped not in an American flag, but in the name of tolerance and health.

Before explaining what this means, let's be clear about what this does not mean.

First, it does not mean, or have anything in common with, Nazism. Nazism may have been a form of fascism. But Nazism was a unique form of fascism and a unique evil. It was race-based and it was genocidal. No other expression of fascism was race-based. And not all fascism is genocidal. So my fear that the American left is moving America toward an expression of fascism in no way implies anything Nazi-like or genocidal.

Second, it is not liberals or liberalism that presents a threat of fascism. It is the left. Liberals of the 1940s to 1970s such as John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and so many others were not leftists. They were liberals.

But liberalism has been taken over by the left. There are virtually no non-left liberals.

The left now has a president who is a true leftist who is asserting unprecedented presidential power through his cabinet and myriad other agencies (such as the Environmental Protection Agency) and through presidential decrees. The left has taken over the universities and, increasingly, high schools and elementary schools. It dominates the news and entertainment media. And many judges and courts are leftist -- meaning that their decisions are guided by leftism more than by the law or the Constitution.

With all this power, the left controls more and more of the life of the American citizen. And when nothing stops the left, the left doesn't stop.

Take tolerance.

Last week, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that an event photographer's refusal on religious grounds to shoot the commitment ceremony of a same-sex couple amounted to illegal discrimination.

The photographer had never objected to photographing gays. She did not, however, wish to be part of a ceremony to which she religiously objected. In America today, thanks to myriad laws and progressive justices, people can go to prison for refusing to participate in an event to which they object.

This is what happened to a florist in Washington state who had always sold flowers to gay customers but refused to be the florist for a gay wedding: sued and fined.

This is what happened to a baker in Oregon who had always sold his goods to gays but refused to provide his products to a gay wedding: sued and fined.

This is what happened in Massachusetts, Illinois and elsewhere to Catholic Charities, historically the largest adoption agency in America. Their placing children with married (man-woman) couples, rather than with same-sex couples, was deemed intolerant and a violation of the law. In those and other states, Catholic Charities has left adoption work.

In the name of tolerance -- and fighting sexual harassment -- five- and six-year-old boys all over the country are brought to the police for innocently touching a girl.

In the name of tolerance, girls' high school teams in California and elsewhere must now accept male players who feel female.

In the name of tolerance, businesses cannot fire a man who one day shows up on the sales floor dressed as a woman.

For the left, tolerance does not mean tolerance. It means first, acceptance. And second, celebration. That is totalitarianism: You not only have to live with what you may differ with, dear citizen, you have to celebrate it or pay a steep price.

Meanwhile, in the name of health, there is a similar intrusion into the life of the individual. We saw it in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's call for a law limiting the amount of soda a person can order at one time.

In the name of health, people are banned from smoking outdoors, cigar stores are prohibited from allowing customers to smoke inside, and, incredibly, California is about to ban electronic "cigarettes" as if they were real cigarettes, even though they contain no tobacco, nothing is burning, and they emit only water vapor.

In the name of health, some businesses, like the Bert Fish Medical Center in Florida and Kids II, Inc. (Baby Einstein, Disney Baby) do not hire those who smoke at home. In the name of health, for the first time in American history, what you do -- legally -- at home will be reason for companies not hiring or terminating employees.

In the name of safety, first-grade boys are suspended from schools for playfully aiming a pencil at another boy and "shooting" him.

And then there are the ubiquitous "re-education" and "rehabilitation" seminars that the allegedly insensitive need to take at both private and government workplaces and the speech codes at nearly all universities.

The only question is: Will Americans awaken to the increasingly rapid deprivation of their freedoms -- not draped in an American flag but draped in tolerance and health?



High Time to Stop Dignifying Liberal Fraud


Among the most infuriating aspects of the leftist/Alinsky strategy is that it has been so effective, given it can only succeed with the tacit participation of its intended victim. On those occasions when a conservative, who has been targeted by the left for isolation and eventual political destruction, responds by going on the attack, the leftist onslaught quickly implodes. The surest sign of total retreat by the left is that the entire topic is never again mentioned, either by liberal politicians or their parrots in the "mainstream" media.

In September of 2007, Rush Limbaugh made a derogatory reference to "phony soldiers" during his daily radio broadcast. In context, Limbaugh was absolutely clear that he was discussing an ongoing controversy involving individuals who bogusly claimed to have witnessed or committed atrocities while deployed in Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-NV), perceived the situation as an opportunity to create controversy with which to discredit Limbaugh. So Reid found the nearest media microphone and denounced Limbaugh for ostensibly denigrating any soldier who opposed the Iraq War as being a "phony soldier." Believing he had the momentum of public opinion on his side, Reid then drafted a letter to Limbaugh's radio syndicator, signed by forty one of his Senate colleagues (all Democrats of course) demanding that Limbaugh be censured.

Rather than play along with the ruse, Limbaugh obtained the letter, auctioned it off on E-Bay, and donated the $2.1 million proceeds from it (which he matched with an out-of-pocket donation) to the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. In the wake of this audacious turnabout, it was Senator Reid who had to essentially do a mea culpa and publicly offer an insipid and insincere tribute to Limbaugh for his philanthropy.

Sadly, too many Beltway Republicans simply cannot grasp the lesson of this episode, or the countless others like it. Instead, whenever attacked, they are nearly reflexive in their efforts to back-peddle and grovel their way into the good graces of their accusers. Consequently, if the current pattern remains unchanged, few Republican agenda items will ever succeed, since all of them will assuredly be mischaracterized by the leftist media and the Democrat Party (to the degree that any distinction between the two groups exists). Whether in minority or majority status, the typical Republican reaction to such criticism shortly degenerates into little more than the advocacy of something similar, but presumably less costly, than that demanded by the Democrats. And even then, Republicans and their proposals are excoriated for "mean spiritedness" and callous indifference to the little guy.

How much of the nation's current mess could have been avoided, had the Republican Party merely been honest and objective, and denounced the premises of the liberal agenda? Certainly, far too much of the liberal expansion of government, both in its cost and its ominous reach, was enabled by an "opposition" party that was neither conservative, nor possessing the necessary courage to actively oppose anything the Democrats want to do.

The latest slow softball pitch that the Republicans could be hitting out of the park (They only lack the willingness to swing the bat) is the erupting controversy over voter identification laws. The simple, incontestable fact is that proper voter identification is the only means by which elections can be conducted honestly and objectively. And it is for this reason alone that the political left abhors the entire concept.

Attorney General Eric Holder is aggressively working to undermine any and all laws across the nation that might infringe on the ability of ACORN style organizations to stuff the ballot boxes on behalf of their leftist/statist candidates. Holder defended his actions with an August 22 allegation that a North Carolina law requiring proper identification "was adopted for the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group." It is almost comically ironic that Holder feigns such deference to voting rights for these selected groups, having essentially given his blessing to his cohorts in the "New Black Panthers" who blatantly engaged in real voter intimidation and vote suppression in Philadelphia in 2008.

Holder is likewise suing the state of Texas over its implementation of voter identification laws. Displaying complete disdain for the recent Supreme Court decision that removed state elections from federal jurisdiction, he proffered the notion that it might be wrongly interpreted, invoking the deliberately incendiary phrase "open season" for states to "pursue measures to suppress voting rights." Exhibiting complete contempt for every honest American, Holder likened the requirement for mere legal validation of a voter's identity at the polling place to vigilantism.

In reality, voter identification laws only infringe on the ability to cheat by those who intend to cast multiple ballots, or who do not meet the qualifications to vote in a particular district. Regardless of how eloquently they rationalize it, Democrats who oppose voter ID support vote fraud. Intellectually honest Republicans that believe in the American ideal would simply say so as many times as liberals attempt to portray them as something sinister. Eventually, the left would be forced to defend its duplicity, at which point its artificial firestorm would collapse. Unfortunately, few among the current crop of "Republicans" in public office seem capable of grasping the simple yet nearly infallible success of dealing with leftist tactics in this manner.

Worse yet, by their own complicity in other outright frauds currently being perpetrated against the American people, Republicans thoroughly undermine their own credibility on those rare occasions when they try to stave off liberal attacks on the fabric of the nation. How can the Republican Party credibly make the case that the integrity of the nation and the Constitution is of any consequence when so many of its members refuse to confront the devastating influx of tens of millions of illegal aliens from Mexico? Here again, the only issue of significance is border security. And anyone who is truly concerned about the quality of life in this country for all of its citizens will singularly focus on securing the border.

Those who make border security secondary, under any pretense, are actually making it irrelevant. Whether for votes or cheap labor, they pursue a course of traitorous pragmatism. All other discussion can and should wait until border security is achieved. Case closed. Yet the mere mention of setting this common sense goal immediately elicits hysterical but tediously predictable accusations of racism against those who would keep America American.

America's problems are far from irreparable. However, those who couch their discussion in evasive and inflammatory terms, in order to suppress honest and open debate, prove by their very words that their only concern is a perpetuation of the duplicity that has wreaked so much damage to the nation we love.



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

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


1 September, 2013

Does a lack of money make you less intelligent? Financial worries reduce measured IQ (problem-solving ability)

This story has been getting a lot of press -- mainly because there is very little that has any permanent impact on the IQ you are born with. The point to note however is that the effect below is temporary, and the direction is down, not up.

It is precisely because psychologists have long been aware of the potential negative effect of extraneous factors on test performance that they do their best to exclude all distractions during test-taking, with testing normally being done under formal examination conditions. So the authors below have to a degree rediscovered the wheel. That any task will be performed poorly if your mind is elsewhere is no surprise.

The interesting finding, though, is that money worries have a negative effect only when they are very salient. Test performance is not affected under normal conditions where such matters are in the background.

That does confirm something I have myself noticed in many years of observing poor people: They worry too little. Their poor circumstances rarely seem to motivate them to efforts at bettering those circumstances. They tend to be happy living from day to day. They often seem happier than many middle-class people. That they have nothing in the bank is just accepted as normal and of no real concern.

The superficial message in the article is that giving the poor more money will make them smarter but there is no evidence for that and the findings actually contradict it. What is in fact shown is that the problem solving ability of the poor is temporarily reduced when they are preoccupied by other things: Quite unsurprising. It has no implications for their basic underlying problem-solving abilities.

In normal IQ testing, the tester makes every effort NOT to distract the testees, unlike the deliberately distracting procedure reported below.

The journal article is Poverty Impedes Cognitive Function

The size of your pay packet dictates more than just your holiday choice or the size of your car - it also influences your intelligence. Financial worries tax the brain of those on low incomes, reducing their IQ by up to 13 points, scientists have found.

As a result, those with limited means are more likely to make bad decisions, such as taking on too much debt, which perpetuate their financial woes.

But researchers discovered when low-income individuals had their financial burdens removed, their intelligence returned to the same levels as higher earners. The findings suggests that far from low intellect resulting in reduced pay, it is our financial woes that render us less clever.

‘Our results suggest that when you’re poor, money is not the only thing in short supply. Cognitive capacity is also stretched thin,’ said Harvard economist Sendhil Mullainathan.

‘That’s not to say that poor people are less intelligent than others. What we show is that the same person experiencing poverty suffers a cognitive deficit as opposed to when they’re not experiencing poverty.

‘It’s also wrong to suggest that someone’s cognitive capacity has gotten smaller because they’re poor. In fact, what happens is that your effective capacity gets smaller, because you have all these other things on your mind, you have less mind to give to everything else.’ He said individuals with financial worries are like a computer that has slowed down because it is carrying out more than one function.

‘It’s not that the computer is slow, it’s that it’s doing something else, so it seems slow to you. I think that’s the heart of what we’re trying to say,’ he added.

In the study, published in the journal Science, the team from US and British universities carried out a series of experiments in a US shopping mall.

Researchers selected 400 people at random and divided them into a ‘poor’ or ‘rich’ group based on their income, before subjecting them intelligence testing.

Prior to the experiment, half of the participants were asked to think about how they would pay for $1,500 of urgent repairs on their car if it had broken down. The aim was to get participants to focus on their own financial worries.

The study found poor participants performed much worse in the IQ test if they first considered their economic circumstances, but the better off were unaffected.

However, the group that was not primed to think about their finances scored similarly in the intelligence tests irrespective of their income.

‘For the poor, because these monetary concerns are just below the surface, the question brings them to the top,’ said Professor Mullainathan. ‘The result was, for that group, the gap between the rich and the poor goes up, in both IQ and impulse control. There was no gap in the other group, but ask them anything that makes them think about money and you see this result.’

In a second set of tests, the scientists travelled to rural India, where sugar cane farmers are paid the majority of their income once a year.

They found they performed significantly better at intelligence tests in the month after being paid - the equivalent of 10 IQ points - than just before, when their savings had dwindled.

‘The month after the harvest, they’re pretty rich, but the month before - when the money has run out - they’re pretty poor,’ Professor Mullainathan said. ‘What we did is look at the same people the month before and the month after the harvest, and what we see is that IQ goes up, cognitive control, or errors, goes way down, and response times go way down.’



France's second Dreyfus case

Moral corruption runs deep in France

The supposed death of 12 year old Mohammed Al Dura on September 30, 2000, captured in the famous video that showed him clinging to his father in terror at the Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip as Israeli soldiers shot them both, has become the enduring image of the Second Intifada launched by Arafat--which was in part justified by that image in the world's media.

First in line are the Arabs who staged the fake atrocity and the Arab cameraman working for France 2 who took the video and vouched for its accuracy. It's hard to get too worked up about them--this is what Arabs do. It's up to those to whom they feed this material to be wary and if they are taken in, to correct their mistake as soon as they discover it--and fire those who mislead them.

Much more serious is the behavior of Charles Enderlin, the "respected" journalist who was bureau chief for France 2 in Israel, and that of France 2 itself, one of the three stations constituting publicly owned France Television, meaning that the government bears ultimate responsibility for what it broadcasts. Born in France, Enderlin moved to Israel at the age of 22, served in the Israeli army, later taking Israeli citizenship. He is one of those quondam Israelis whose attachment to Israel is supposedly attested by the vigor of his criticism of it. (His 2003 book Shattered Dreams blamed Israel for Oslo's failure.) Enderlin, who provided the dramatic narration for the video clip, may have been initially taken in by his cameraman--Enderlin was in Ramallah, not on the scene--but soon enough had to realize he was dealing with phony footage and dug in, misrepresenting the footage and clinging to the story.

The struggle to bring out the truth has become identified with the name of Philippe Karsenty who has been engaged in a court battle over the story for the last nine years. But it should be remembered that in 2005 Nidra Poller wrote an article about the case in Commentary which didn't even mention Karsenty, yet was already able to document major holes in the story. Poller herself had not then seen the France 2 cameraman's raw rushes, but she had seen the outtakes of Reuters and AP cameramen who had been filming at the same place at the same time.

But instead of acknowledging error, France 2 circled the wagons. Indeed, in the name of "French honor," the entire French media and political establishment circled the wagons. While the al Dura case is customarily referred to by its critics as a blood libel, the parallels to the Dreyfus case are equally compelling. Then it was French military honor, now French media honor that was at stake. The parallel to the second trial of Dreyfus, five years after the first, is especially striking. By that time it took the most determined willful blindness not to know that Dreyfus had been blamed for the crimes of Esterhazy, yet Dreyfus was again condemned. This time, with Israel in the dock, French behavior is in some ways even worse. At least in the Dreyfus case the French intellectual and political class split, with large numbers rallying around Dreyfus. In the al Dura case, the establishment has rallied so solidly behind Enderlin that most of the small minority of Frenchmen well-informed enough to be familiar with the controversy relegate it to a few "nutcases."

The reaction to the 2008 court decision in Karsenty's favor is instructive. The Paris Court of Appeal--which to France 2's dismay had demanded to see the original raw footage--ruled that Karsenty was within his rights to call the al Dura video a hoax, overturning a 2006 decision that had found him guilty of defaming the network and Enderlin. The footage was key. The only shot in it relating to the al Dura tale that had not been aired showed the boy, after being pronounced dead, lifting his head, looking around, moving his leg and shielding his eyes from the sun. Even without the footage, the video's absurdities were obvious--supposedly blasted with high velocity bullets, the bodies of father and son showed no trace of blood. (It should be noted that the supposed "hard" evidence of al Dura's death, the body of a boy brought that day to Shifa Hospital in Gaza, was "soft" to put it mildly. One doctor at the hospital said he was brought in at eleven in the morning, another at one in the afternoon. The al Dura incident occurred at 3 p.m. Moreover photos showed this was clearly a different boy.)

As for the French government, clearly to signify support for the al Dura story, in 2009 Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner awarded Enderlin France's highest award, the Legion of Honor.

The most recent court decision, earlier this year, has gone against Karsenty. France 2 appealed the 2008 decision to the Supreme Court which ruled the Paris Court of Appeals should not have demanded to see the raw rushes. To get at the truth was apparently not the sort of thing the Supreme Court thought a judge was supposed to do. Nor was truth a defense. The Supreme Court sent the case back to be heard by a new panel of judges where Karsenty (without benefit of the footage) would not only have to show Enderlin and France 2 had perpetrated fraud but also that he had the evidence to prove it when he first denounced the video (i.e. before he had seen the raw footage which made the fraud incontrovertible). In the ensuing trial, the Avocate Generale, an independent figure in the French judicial system, reminded the judges that the truth of the al Dura story was not the issue. Mr. Bumble's remark in Oliver Twist, "The law is a ass" is tailor made for French libel rules. And indeed the new panel found Karsenty lacked sufficient evidence for his charge of fraud at the time he first made it and so was guilty of defamation. The court fined him 8000 euros ($14,000).

No one reads the Paris court's (absurd) justification for its decision. What matters is that France 2 and Enderlin can claim vindication since Karsenty was found guilty of defamation. Karsenty plans to appeal, and the case can go on indefinitely, bouncing yo-yo like from court to court as did Jarndyce versus Jarndyce in Bleak House, a case that had gone on for so many generations Dickens tells us, that no man alive knew what it meant.




Wal-Mart to include same-sex partners in company benefits: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) will now allow workers’ same-sex partners to participate in its company health benefits, bringing policies at the largest private employer in the U.S. in line with most of the nation’s top businesses. Full-time associates’ spouses and domestic partners will be eligible for coverage in medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness and accident plans, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company said in a postcard to employees this week that was provided to Bloomberg."

Obama, the Great Defunder: "Obama has announced that he will defund the entire government rather than sign a bill that does not contain funding for ObamaCare. Senator Harry Reid has said he will not let the U.S. Senate pass a continuing resolution that does not contain funding for the program that he rammed through despite the opposition of the majority of Americans."

Little to celebrate this Laborless Day: "5.3 million. That is the net increase in population of those aged 16 to 64 from January 2009 to present -- data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the month of July. Guess how many of them found jobs. Go on. I dare you. 720,000. The rest of them are not even in the labor force — that is, looking for work. Those not participating in the labor force aged 16 to 64 has increased by more than 5 million since Barack Obama took office."


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

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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


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

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.


Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines the Left

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state -- capitalism frees them.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were. Freedom needs a soldier

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out


The Bible is an Israeli book

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"

Index page for this site


"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International" blog.


"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Of Interest


"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
Western Heart
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
The Kogarah Madhouse (St George Bank)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues

There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)

Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page (Backup here).
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)

Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following: