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31 October, 2010

Barack loses his cool: Angry Obama yells BACK at hecklers... as new poll shows his own party isn't sure he should be President in 2012

The pressure is on Barack Obama - and it is starting to show. The famously-cool President lost his temper in Connecticut today after hecklers interrupted a speech he was giving at a rally.

Astonished attendees watched as Mr Obama interrupted his own speech as the hecklers - believed to be activists seeking more global Aids funding - began chanting at him.

'Excuse me, excuse me,' he said repeatedly, trying to speak over the hecklers. When they kept chanting, he fell silent for several seconds, looking visibly angry and raising one hand in frustration as the crowd began to boo around him.

'Let me just say this,' he said, addressing the hecklers. 'You've been appearing at every rally we've been doing. 'We're funding global Aids,' he continued defensively. 'And the other [Republican] side is not. 'So I don't know why you think this is a useful strategy to take,' he finished, jabbing his finger angrily in the direction of the hecklers.

The crowds boos turned to cheers as Mr Obama - who was in the state campaigning for Democrat Richard Blumenthal - spoke.

'So, what we would suggest,' he added, 'I think it would make a lot more sense for you guys to go to the folks who aren't interested in funding global Aids and shout at that rally. Because we're trying to focus on figuring out how to finance the things that you want financed.'

Then he turned to another group of hecklers on his other side, adding: 'You guys same thing.' As more chants filled the rally, he said: 'Alright, you guys have made your point, now let's go.'

Fighting to regain the momentum of the rally, he held his hands up saying: 'Everybody - we're alright. 'Come on guys,' he said.

He then fell silent again, watching with pursed lips as the crowd booed the hecklers once more. The President waited nearly 20 seconds for the noise to stop, then attempted again to continue with his speech.

But he was forced to wait in silence for another 20 seconds before finally saying: 'Hey! Listen up everybody!'

The same group has popped up at other Obama campaign events this election, including a rally in Boston two weeks ago.

Mr Obama finally regained control of the rally and continued with his speech. But the unexpected loss of control was in stark contrast to the power he held over similar audiences during his 2008 presidential campaign.

With the November 2 mid-term elections just days away, Mr Obama's Democratic party is facing heavy losses. The President himself is dealing with a devastating loss in popularity. Democratic voters are closely divided over whether he should be challenged within the party for a second term in 2012, an Associated Press-Knowledge Networks Poll finds.

That glum assessment carries over into the nation at large, which is similarly divided over whether Mr Obama should be a one-term president.

A real Democratic challenge to Mr Obama seems unlikely at this stage and his re-election bid is a long way off. But the findings underscore how disenchanted his party has grown heading into the congressional elections Tuesday.

The AP-KN poll has tracked a group of people and their views since the beginning of the 2008 presidential campaign. Among all 2008 voters, 51 per cent say he deserves to be defeated in November 2012 while 47 per cent support his re-election - essentially a tie. Among Democrats, 47 per cent say Obama should be challenged for the 2012 nomination and 51 per cent say he should not be opposed.

Those favouring a contest include most who backed Hillary Rodham Clinton's unsuccessful faceoff against Mr Obama for the 2008 nomination. The poll did not ask if Democrats would support particular challengers.

Political operatives and polling experts caution that Mr Obama's poll standings say more about people's frustrations today with the economy and other conditions than they do about his re-election prospects.

With the next presidential election two years away - an eon in politics - the public's view of Mr Obama could easily improve if the economy revives or if he outmaneuvers Republicans in Congress or in the presidential campaign.

'Democrats currently disappointed with Obama will likely be less disappointed if he spends the next two years fighting a GOP Congress' should Republicans do well on Election Day, said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor and polling analyst.

Even so, the poll - and today's heckling - illustrates how Mr Obama's reputation has frayed since 2008. It suggests lingering bad feelings from Democrats' bitter primary fight, when he and Mrs Clinton - now his Secretary of State - roughly split the popular vote.

Political professionals of both parties said the findings are a warning for the president, whose formal re-election effort is expected to begin stirring next year. 'It's an indicator of things he needs to address between now and then,' said Kiki McLean, a Democratic strategist who worked in Mrs Clinton's 2008 campaign.

The White House declined comment on the results.

'Nobody wants to work with this guy,' said Steven Fagin, 45, of Cincinnati. A Democrat and 2008 Obama voter, he cited deep divisions between Democrats and Republicans. 'We're never going to get anything done.'

The survey found that those likeliest to oppose Mr Obama's re-election include men, older people, those without college degrees and whites. Those groups mostly supported his 2008 Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Three in four Democrats want Mr Obama re-elected while nearly 9 in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents lean slightly against Obama, 46 per cent to 36 per cent.

Democrats saying Mr Obama should face a primary challenge tend to be less educated, less liberal and likelier to have been 2008 Clinton backers.

Democratic activists say there are no signs of a serious primary challenge to Mr Obama, though some speculate an effort could come from liberals who think he's drifted too far to the centre.



Obama the Thinker?

Barack Obama is a pragmatist, James Kloppenberg tells the New York Times. No, he doesn't mean Obama is practical-minded; no one thinks that anymore. In fact, Kloppenberg, a Harvard historian, disparages the "vulgar pragmatism" of Bill Clinton while praising Obama's "philosophical pragmatism":
It is a philosophy that grew up after Darwin published his theory of evolution and the Civil War reached its bloody end. More and more people were coming to believe that chance rather than providence guided human affairs, and that dogged certainty led to violence.

Pragmatism maintains that people are constantly devising and updating ideas to navigate the world in which they live; it embraces open-minded experimentation and continuing debate. "It is a philosophy for skeptics, not true believers," Mr. Kloppenberg said.

Kloppenberg has a new book coming out, "Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes and the American Political Tradition." According to the Times, Kloppenberg "sees Mr. Obama as a kind of philosopher president," a "true intellectual." Such philosophers are a "rare breed": the Adamses, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Wilson and now Obama.

"Imagine the Republicans driving the economy into a ditch," the philosopher president said the other day. "And it's a deep ditch. It's a big ditch. And somehow they walked away from the accident, and we put on our boots and we rappelled down into the ditch--me and Jack and Sheldon and Jim and Patrick. We've been pushing, pushing, trying to get that car out of the ditch. And meanwhile, the Republicans are standing there, sipping on a Slurpee." John Dewey had nothing on this guy!

If the president does not seem to be the intellectual heavyweight Kloppenberg makes him out to be, the Harvard historian has an explanation: Obama is a sort of secret-agent philosopher. "He would have had to deny every word," Kloppenberg tells the Times, which helpfully explains that "intellectual" is "a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites."

When Sarah Palin called Obama a "professor," some professors accused her of racism. What she really meant, they claimed, was "uppity." Kloppenberg's similar characterization, however, draws a quite different response:
Those who heard Mr. Kloppenberg present his argument at a conference on intellectual history at the City University of New York's Graduate Center responded with prolonged applause. "The way he traced Obama's intellectual influences was fascinating for us, given that Obama's academic background seems so similar to ours," said Andrew Hartman, a historian at Illinois State University who helped organize the conference.

One assumes that Andrew Hartman is a serious scholar, although one doesn't know for sure because one has never heard of him. Barack Obama, by contrast, is a scholarly dilettante, a professional politician who has moonlighted as a university instructor.

Yet Hartman's remark about Obama's "academic background" is revealing. Professors imagine Obama is one of them because he shares their attitudes: their politically correct opinions, their condescending view of ordinary Americans, their belief in their own authority as an intellectual elite. He is the ideal product of the homogeneous world of contemporary academia. In his importance, they see a reflection of their self-importance.

Kloppenberg's thesis reminds us of another elaborate attempt at explaining Obama: Dinesh D'Souza's "The Roots of Obama's Rage." D'Souza, like Kloppenberg, imputes to Obama a coherent philosophy, in D'Souza's case "anticolonialism." It is a needlessly elaborate explanation for an unremarkable set of facts.

Occam's razor suggests that Obama is a mere conformist--someone who absorbed every left-wing platitude he encountered in college and never seems to have seriously questioned any of them. Kloppenberg characterizes Obama as a skeptic, not a true believer. We're not sure he has an active enough mind to be either one.



The 'big dog' of campaign spending

by Jeff Jacoby

WHAT SPECIAL INTEREST is spending the most money to influence the 2010 election? The answer isn't the US Chamber of Commerce, notwithstanding President Obama's recent attacks on the Chamber's campaign contributions. Nor is it the Karl Rove-backed network of pro-Republican campaign organizations, including American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, that have also been assailed by the White House and the focus of critical media attention.

In reality, the biggest outside spender is the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which is pumping almost $88 million into TV commercials, phone banks, and mailings to promote Democratic candidates.

"We're spending big," AFSCME President Gerald McEntee boasted to The Wall Street Journal. "And we're damn happy it's big. And our members are damn happy it's big -- it's their money."

AFSCME isn't the only public-sector union "spending big" to influence the vote on Nov. 2. So is the National Education Association (NEA) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), respectively the nation's largest and fastest-growing unions. Together, the three government-employee unions will have spent nearly $172 million campaigning for Democrats in the course of this election cycle. That outstrips by more than $30 million what the Chamber of Commerce and the Rove network combined are pouring into the 2010 campaign.

I have no objection to close media scrutiny when business-linked organizations spend heavily on campaign ads. But it should be a far bigger story when public-employee unions do so. Indeed, it should be serious cause for concern.

"It's their money!" the president of AFSCME declares, and the heads of the NEA and SEIU would presumably agree, but where does "their money" come from? From satisfied customers paying for goods and services they voluntarily purchased? From profits earned by building better mousetraps, designing safer cars, serving tastier meals, developing cleaner fuels? From investing prudently in the marketplace? From risking their savings to launch a new company -- or to keep a going concern competitive?

Of course not. Every dollar the government pays its employees is a dollar the government taxes away from somebody else. As it is, public employees generally make more in salary and benefits than employees in the private economy: For Americans working in state and local government jobs, total compensation last year averaged $39.66 per hour -- 45 percent more than the private sector average of $27.42. (For federal employees, the advantage is even greater.) Which means that AFSCME and the other public-sector unions are using $172 million that came from taxpayers to elect politicians who will take even more money from taxpayers, in order to further expand the public sector, multiply the number of government employees, and increase their pay and perks.

Campaign contributions from public-sector unions, National Review editor Rich Lowry writes, drive "a perpetual feedback loop of large-scale patronage." Not only don't the unions deny it, they trumpet it. "We're the big dog," brags Larry Scanlon, the head of AFSCME's political operations. "The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics."

Unlike labor unions in the private sector, government labor unions can reward politicians who give them what they want and punish those who don't. The United Auto Workers has no say in hiring or firing the president of the Ford Motor Company, but public-sector unions like AFSCME and the NEA can use the political process to help elect the "management" that will have to negotiate with them. The unions flex their political muscle to push not only for ever-more-lavish wages and benefits (including the exorbitant pensions and health plans that are devouring government budgets), but also for more government hiring and bigger government programs.

The cost of government has thus soared in tandem with the growth in public-sector unions -- and those unions make no bones about their reliance on politics to enlarge their wealth and power. "We elect our bosses, so we've got to elect politicians who support us and hold those politicians accountable," AFSCME's website proclaims. "Our jobs, wages, and working conditions are directly linked to politics." That is exactly the problem.

Public-sector unionism has been unhealthy for American democracy. The power to "elect our bosses" has turned government employment into a rigged game -- rigged in favor of ravenous government growth and against the private-sector taxpayers who pay for it. AFSCME may be "damn happy" at the impact it has on US elections. But the rest of us ought to be alarmed.



It Can Happen in the USA today: Government really can be cut -- case studies from Canada, New Zealand, and the United States

In an era of frightful budgets and frightened politicians, cutting government may seem like a flatly impossible task. But a look around the world—and at our own recent economic history—turns up a few inspirational examples of knife work that not only trimmed back budget deficits but created the conditions for unprecedented prosperity.

New Zealand, Canada, and the postwar United States all managed to slash the state on a grand scale. Governments shed responsibility for forests, railways, radio spectrum, and more while relaxing labor markets, slimming the welfare state, and ending price controls. Far from damaging economies or increasing unemployment, these reductions in the size and scope of government boosted GDP, improved services, and created jobs.

Government cutters faced opposition along the way, from skeptical Keynesians to Kiwi bureaucrats. But they also found unlikely allies, with left-wing parties playing major roles in the Canadian and New Zealand examples.

Much more HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


30 October, 2010

Liberals at War With Liberty

David Limbaugh

Why were liberals were so insanely paranoid about the alleged nefarious activities of President George W. Bush? Projection, anyone? They were mortified at Bush's alleged encroachment on our individual liberties, but now that they're in control, we see where liberty ranks on their list of priorities.

We've always known that the term "liberal," in modern parlance, is an oxymoron. Today's liberals are the exact opposite of the classical liberals of yesteryear, who actually believed in limited government and free markets.

Liberals have been seducing Americans out of their liberties for decades with false promises of security. Prior to Obama, we were on a slow march toward statism, but now we are on a rapid gallop.

That's mostly what next week's congressional elections will be about. Ordinary Americans are horrified and outraged that Obama and his enablers in Congress are fundamentally transforming America from a beacon of liberty to a bankrupt socialist state. They are outraged that this elite bunch of officious intermeddlers are waging all-out war against our social compact. Americans want America back.

This nation was founded as a constitutional republic, with the people electing representatives to serve on their behalf and tend to the proper functions of government but ultimately retaining sovereignty.

Most Americans are sophisticated enough to understand that we don't have a pure democracy and that we can't conduct government by daily polls or plebiscites. But they also don't expect that their wishes will be ridiculed, summarily rejected and spat upon by a sneering, disdainful autocracy.

President Obama and his henchmen are in the process of undermining the social compact in a number of ways. They are acting outside their constitutional authority, in defiance of the rule of law, to achieve political ends they -- not the public -- desire. They are ignoring the express will of the people and treating them like ill-informed rubes whose opinions aren't worthy of serious consideration, only phony placation. They are implementing a policy agenda that is substantively depriving us of our liberties across the board.

It's not for shock value that conservatives accuse Obama's band of being socialists. It's because there appears to be no limit to their appetite for gobbling up power and swallowing our individual liberties.

It's not just about power, either. They are imbued with a disturbing degree of moral superiority. They believe they have the right -- even the duty -- to tell us how we ought to live our lives because they know better than we do what is good for us. And they talk to us about Christian scolds!

This attitude underlies their views, from the seemingly least significant to the most pressing issues. Their czars and administrative dictators tell us that they are going to coerce us out of our cars and onto biking trails and walkways. They are giving people's hard-earned money away to other people to keep those other people in houses they can't afford, only to result in those others being unable to pay their mortgages and still losing their homes.

They are re-expanding the welfare state, increasing people's dependency on government, even though welfare reform was producing dramatically positive results while weaning people off the government teat. It's not results that matter; it's only the intermeddlers' professed good intentions. But how can good intentions any longer be fairly attributed to them, when the results of their policies are so uniformly disastrous, from the war on poverty to welfare to Social Security to, now, health care? And yes, I meant to include Social Security, because in its existing form, it is a complete hoax -- entirely unfunded because its revenues have been hijacked from the beginning by immoral, irresponsible politicians unwilling to make government live within its means. These same politicians still refuse to reform it toward solvency, preferring fear and demagoguery to the hard truth.

People are very anxious about the depressed economy, to be sure, but they are outraged at Obama and Congress' deliberately bankrupt spending in the fraudulent name of repairing the economy; they are incensed at this immoral larceny against them and future generations of Americans to satisfy professor Obama's quixotic experiment in socialist economic theories. And they are mortified that these reckless knuckleheads are wrecking the best health care system in the world under false pretenses -- from promising more choice and coverage, when there will be less of both, to reduced costs, when costs are already beginning to explode.

America, its founding principles, its Constitution, its robust liberty tradition and its strength are being stolen out from under us by a man who has no appreciation for America's greatness and who has contempt for ordinary Americans (we're "enemies"), whom he considers beneath him and unworthy of their sovereign prerogative to preserve this nation.

The people have had enough. Consequently, absent unimaginable, comprehensive voter fraud next week, we're going to see an unprecedented housecleaning.



Standing Tall: The Rise and Resilience of Conservative Women

Michelle Malkin

My military friends have a favorite saying: "If you're not catching flak, you're not over the target." This campaign season, conservative women in politics have caught more flak than WWII Lancaster bombers over Berlin. Despite daily assaults from the Democratic machine, liberal media and Hollyweird -- not to mention the stray fraggings from Beltway GOP elites -- the ladies of the right have maintained their dignity, grace and wit. Voters will remember in November.

When "comedian" and "The View" co-host Joy Behar lambasted GOP Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle this week as a "b*tch" who would be "going to h*ll" for using images of illegal alien gang members in a campaign ad, Angle responded by sending a lovely bouquet of flowers and a good-humored note: "Joy, Raised $150,000 online yesterday. Thanks for your help. Sincerely, Sharron Angle."

Outgunned in the comedy department, Behar sputtered nonsensically and with bitter, clingy vulgarity: "I would like to point out that those flowers were picked by illegal immigrants and they're not voting for you, b*tch." Illegal aliens are not supposed to vote at all, Miss B. But why let such pesky details get in the way of a foul-mouthed daytime TV diatribe?

Just a week earlier, Behar delivered a hysterical rant against GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, accusing the mother of five and foster mother of 23 of being "against children" for opposing the expansion of federal health care entitlements for middle-class families and children (the SCHIP program) and for opposing the costly Obama takeover of health care. Behar merely parrots the demagoguery of Democratic leaders in Washington, who have ducked behind kiddie human shields to avoid substantive debate about the dire consequences of their policies.

As a result of the Obamacare mandates, of course, insurers have canceled child-only plans across the country. And there are plenty of compassionate reasons for opposing SCHIP expansion beyond its original mandate to serve the truly working poor. Behar called me a "selfish b*tch" three years ago over the same issue. Why is it "against children" and "selfish" to challenge the wisdom of redistributing money away from taxpayers of lesser means who are responsible enough to buy insurance before a catastrophic event -- and then using their tax dollars to subsidize more well-off families who didn't have the foresight or priorities to purchase insurance with their own money?

But never mind those pesky details. Behar persisted in smearing Bachmann as "anti-children, anti-children." Facts be damned.

Distortions on "The Spew" are bad enough. But the "mainstream" media's complicity in spreading false narratives about GOP women is an affront to the First Amendment. When Republican Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell challenged Democratic opponent Chris Coons in a constitutional debate last week to name the five freedoms in that First Amendment, he blanked out after freedom of religion. Instead of reporting on the flub, the Washington Post and Associated Press misleadingly reported that O'Donnell had questioned whether the establishment and free exercise clauses were in the First Amendment. What she actually said to Coons during the debate was: "So you're telling me that the separation of church and state, the phrase 'separation of church and state,' is in the First Amendment?" It is not, of course. But never mind those pesky details.

In one of the most despicable last-minute campaign hits, gossip website Gawker -- run by Internet smear machine operator Nick Denton -- paid for and published on Thursday an anonymous tell-all from a man purporting to have had a "one-night stand" with O'Donnell. This misogynistic trash can't be verified, and the author admits that the sensationally titled "one-night stand" did not actually include sex. The sole purpose and intent of such checkbook journalism: Humiliation.

Pundits and late-night TV pranksters have ridiculed O'Donnell for exposing liberal bias against conservative female candidates. But these same smug mockers have spent the past two years deriding Republican vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, her children, her body, her accent and her brain. They snickered at reports of Democratic California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown's campaign calling GOP challenger Meg Whitman a "wh*re." And they shrugged off "The View's" "b*tch" sessions as shtick.

The conservative women-bashers can laugh all they want. On November 2, success will be our best revenge.



The Scott Brown Precedent and Israel

Caroline Glick

On Tuesday, US voters are set to repudiate US President Barack Obama's agenda for their country. Unfortunately, based on his behavior in the face of a similar repudiation last January, it is safe to assume that Obama will not abandon his course.

Last year, in an attempt to block Obama's plan to nationalize healthcare, Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to the Senate. Brown was elected because he pledged to block Obamacare in the U.S. Senate.

Rather than heed the voters' message and abandon his plans, Obama abandoned the voters. Instead of accepting his defeat, Obama changed the rules of the game and bypassed the Senate.

So it is safe to assume that for the next two years, Obama will do everything he can to bypass the Congress and govern by executive orders and regulations. Although much can be done in this fashion, Congress's control of the purse strings will check his domestic agenda.

In matters of foreign policy however, Obama will be less burdened by - but not immune - to Congressional oversight. We can therefore expect him to devote far more energy to foreign affairs in the next two years than he devoted in the last two years.

This bodes ill for Israel. Since entering office, Obama has shown that his primary foreign policy goal is to remake the US's relationship with the Muslim world. Obama has also repeatedly demonstrated that compelling Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and empowering international institutions that seek to delegitimize Israel are his preferred means of advancing this goal....

The one good thing about the challenge Obama presents to Israel is that it is a clear cut challenge. The Scott Brown precedent coupled with Obama's track record on Israel demonstrate that Obama will not modify his anti-Israel agenda to align with political realities at home, and there is nothing that Israel can do that will neutralize Obama's hostility.

By the same token, the massive support Israel enjoys among the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives is a significant resource. True, the Republicans will not enjoy the same power to check presidential power in foreign affairs as they will have in domestic policy. But their control over the House of Representatives will enable them to shape public perceptions of international affairs and mitigate some administration pressure on Israel by opening up new outlets for discourse and defunding administration initiatives.

Against this backdrop, Israel must craft policies that maximize its advantage on Capitol Hill and minimize its vulnerability to the White House. Specifically, Israel should adopt three basic policy lines.

First, Israel should request that US military assistance to the IDF be appropriated as part of the Defense Department's budget instead of the State Department's foreign aid budget where it is now allocated.

This change is important for two reasons. First, US military assistance to Israel is not welfare. Like US military assistance to South Korea, which is part of the Pentagon's budget, US military assistance to Israel is a normal aspect of routine relations between the US and its strategic allies. Israel is one of the US's most important strategic allies and it should be treated like the US's other allies are treated and not placed in the same basket as impoverished states in Africa.

Second, this move is supported by the Republicans. Rep. Eric Cantor, who will likely be elected Republican Majority Leader has already stated his interest in moving military assistance to Israel to the Pentagon budget. The Republicans wish to move aid to Israel to the Pentagon's budget because that assistance is the most popular item on the US foreign aid budget. Not wishing to harm Israel, Republicans have been forced to approve the foreign aid budget despite the fact that it includes aid to countries like Sudan and Yemen which they do not wish to support.

When the government announces its request, it should make clear that in light of Israel's economic prosperity, Israel intends to end its receipt of military assistance from the US within five years. Given the Republicans' commitment to fiscal responsibility, this is a politically sensible move. More importantly, it is a strategically critical move. Obama's hostility demonstrates clearly that Israel must not be dependent on US resupply of military platforms in time of war.

The second policy direction Israel must adopt involves stepping up its efforts to discredit and check the Palestinian political war against it. Today the Palestinians are escalating their bid to delegitimize Israel by expanding their offensive against Israel in international organizations like the UN and the International Criminal Court and by expanding their operations in states like Britain that are hostile to Israel.

Israel must move aggressively to discredit all groups and individuals that participate in these actions and cooperate with its allies who share its aim of weakening them. For instance, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who is expected to be elected Chairwoman of the House Foreign Relations Committee has been seeking to curtail US funding to UN organizations like UNRWA whose leaders support Hamas and whose organizational goal is Israel's destruction.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his ministers must lead the charge discrediting groups like UNRWRA, the ICC, and the UN Human Rights Council. Since the Obama administration seeks to empower all of these organizations, at a minimum, such an Israeli policy will embolden Obama's political opponents to block his policies by curtailing US funding of these bodies.

The Palestinians' threats to declare independence and define Israeli communities as illegal are clear attempts on their part to shape the post-peace process international landscape. Given their diplomatic strength and Israel's diplomatic weakness, it is reasonable for the Palestinians to act as they are.

But two can play this game. Israel is not without options. These options are rooted in its military control on the ground, Netanyahu's political strength at home and from popular support for Israel in the US.

Israel should prepare its own unilateral actions aimed at shaping the post-Oslo international agenda. It should implement these actions the moment the Palestinians carry through on their threats. For instance, the day the UN Security Council votes on a resolution to declare Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and Israeli neighborhoods in Jerusalem illegal, Israel should announce it is applying Israeli law to either all of Judea and Samaria, or to the large Israeli population centers and to the Jordan Valley.

If properly timed and orchestrated, such a move by Israel could fundamentally reshape the currently international discourse on the Middle East in Israel's favor. Certainly it will empower Israel's allies in the US and throughout the world to rally to its side....


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


29 October, 2010

Leftists are not nice people

Comment from Australia by Mirko Bagaric -- sparked by an episode in which a Leftist threw his shoes at John Howard (Former conservative Prime Minister of Australia) while Howard was appearing on a TV show hosted by Australia's public broadcaster (the ABC).

Police charges could of course have been levelled at the thrower but Howard just laughed it off, with his customary good nature. I understand that the thrower even got his shoes back. The shoes did not hit Howard as the thrower was said to "throw like a girl". There is a comment on the episode by an Australian cartoonist here -- JR

Look left, look right, then watch for the shoe from the left. John Howard was entitled to throw his shoes with gusto at the leftist fanatic Q & A shoe-thrower. The fact Howard laughed off the bitter, violent stunt underlies the moral gulf between most conservatives and the hypocritical Left, who self-select when it comes to occupying seats at the hopelessly biased ABC studios.

Without knowing it, I've been doing a wide-ranging social experiment on this exact issue during the past few years. It turns out that the supposedly warm and fuzzy Left is anything but that. Intoxicated by self-righteous irrelevance it has developed an addiction to anger pills and suffers from a hyperventilation disorder.

Before I disclose my data nailing the Left, first a little bit about how I acquired it. I regularly make wide-ranging comments that conflict with policies of the Left and Right. I'm apolitical; the policies of Labor and Liberal are so similar to make the debate almost irrelevant. Most of my writing is informed by one underlying principle. It's called utilitarianism. It is the theory that when you are faced with a moral or political choice you should make the decision that will maximise human flourishing, where each person's interest counts equally.

The Left doesn't like me because I'm a fan of tough counter-terrorism laws and harsher sentences for sex and violent offenders. I also oppose euthanasia, abortion and dispute the desperate need for a reduction in greenhouse gases. I often upset the Right because I push for gay marriages, animal rights, no tax for the poor and mega taxes for the rich, multiculturalism and tolerance towards Muslim values.

So what is the conclusive evidence I have that shows the Left has mutated into a hysterical, hypocritical - albeit well-intentioned - bunch? It comes in the form of thousands of abusive emails, an endless array of insulting (albeit sometimes witty and amusing) grossly misinformed blog comments, demands to my employers to sack me for saying what I think and even the occasional demonstration by some time-rich, agenda-poor anti-moralisers who are defeated by the practical ramifications of the concept of free speech.

This is nearly the sum total of responses to my comments in the past couple of years. The striking aspect of this is that nearly all of the besmirching and attempts to stereotype and censure me have come from the supposedly tolerant, libertarian Left, even though the Right has just as much reason to be jacked off at me.

What about the Right? I was raised to think that it was raised to be mean. But even this building block of social discourse has disintegrated. The Right doesn't have any more smarts than its opponents but certainly is nicer. It rarely throws hissy fits and seems to have a deficient vocabulary when it comes to name calling. Some members even show embryonic signs of a sense of humour. That's not to say that they always fail to live up to expectations. The anger meter on my email occasionally goes into overdrive when I write a piece suggesting that Muslims are being vilified in Australia. Still, on numbers alone this is negligible compared with the extremist torrent from the Left.

So why is it that the Left has become much of what it despises? Well, that's easy. History teaches us that rebellions without causes can be nothing other than character-destroying. The Left has fought a good fight. The right to life, liberty, property, equal access to high-quality health care, education and the professions; they're all now an entrenched part of the Australian landscape. Its job is pretty much done - at home. There's no scope for acquiring a sense of genuine purpose pursuing the current leftist agenda in the form of promoting anti-Americanism and salvaging the reputation of convicted terrorists.

Life can be nothing other than miserable for people with a warped sense of moral priorities and who spend their spare time pursuing meaningless causes. That's why the Left has mutated into such an embittered and angry tribe. Its only redemption is to reconnect with its historical roots and start fighting worthwhile causes that have some prospect of enhancing human flourishing.



Genetic defect identified in Leftists

My heading above is tendentious but so are the interpretations offered in the article following these introductory comments.

I have been pointing out for years that genetics largely determines politics -- on the basis of twin study evidence. And James Fowler, co-author of the academic article summarized below, has previously confirmed in 2007 how powerful is the genetic effect on politics revealed in twin studies.

But the mechanism behind the relationship has remained conjectural. The evidence below, however, suggests that there is a gullibility or suggestibility gene -- so people with that gene who also mix a lot with young people tend to adopt the politics of the young. Because they have yet to learn how complex the world really is, young people do tend Left -- the Left being the home of simplistic ideas

The full academic article can be read here or here. The title of the article is "Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology". Note that this is a study of young adults only so whether the effect lasts into later life remains, again, conjectural. Given the normal movement from Left to Right that most people undergo as they age, the effect of whom you associate with in your youth could well be a transient one

The article also identifies the gene concerned as leading to novelty seeking and my research has shown that Leftists tend to be sensation-seekers. So change for change's sake would seem to be part of what drives Leftism -- JR

Researchers have for the first time identified a gene that they say can influence political outlook.

Past studies had found that political views have a genetic component, but hadn't pointed out actual genes involved. The new research from the University of California and Harvard University indicates that a variant of a gene called DRD4 makes people more likely to be liberal, if they also had many friends as tenenagers.

DRD4 codes for the production of molecular structures in the brain that facilitates transmission of the chemical dopamine among brain cells. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or a brain signaling chemical.

Appearing in the current edition of The Journal of Politics, the research focused on 2,000 subjects from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a federally funded U.S. project that surveyed health in relation to a range of behaviors. By matching genetic information with maps of the subjects' social networks, the researchers found that people with a specific variant of DRD4 were more likely to be liberal as adults, but only if they had an active social life in adolescence.

Dopamine is a messenger chemical affecting processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain. DRD4 codes for the production of a receptor, or molecular gateway, that regulates dopamine transmission.

Previous research has identified a connection between a variant of DRD4 and novelty-seeking behavior. This behavior has previously been associated with personality traits related to political liberalism, the investigators noted.

Lead researcher James H. Fowler of University of California, San Diego and colleagues hypothesized that people with the noveltyseeking gene variant would be more interested in learning about their friends' points of view. Thus, they might be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, which could foster a liberal viewpoint.

It's "the crucial interaction of two factors the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence that is associated with being more liberal," the investigators wrote, adding that this held true regardless of ethnicity, culture, sex or age.

Fowler said he hopes "more scholars will begin to explore the potential interaction of biology and environment." He added that he would like to see scientists try to replicate the findings "in different populations and age groups."



Brass Oldies

Thomas Sowell

Classic songs from years past are sometimes referred to as "golden oldies." There are political fallacies that have been around for a long time as well. These might be called brass oldies. It certainly takes a lot of brass to keep repeating fallacies that were refuted long ago.

One of these brass oldies is a phrase that has been a perennial favorite of the left, "tax cuts for the rich." How long ago was this refuted? More than 80 years ago, the "tax cuts for the rich" argument was refuted, both in theory and in practice, by Andrew Mellon, who was Secretary of the Treasury in the 1920s.

When Mellon took office, there was a large national debt, the economy was stagnating, and tax rates were high, though the tax revenues were still not enough to cover government expenditures. What was Mellon's prescription for getting out of this mess? A series of major cuts in the tax rates!

Then as now, there were people who failed to make the distinction between tax rates and tax revenues. Mellon said, "It seems difficult for some to understand that high rates of taxation do not necessarily mean large revenue for the Government, and that more revenue may often be obtained by lower rates."

How can that be? Because taxpayers change their behavior according to what the tax rates are. When one of the Rockefellers died, Mellon discovered that his estate included $44 million in tax-exempt bonds, compared to $7 million in Standard Oil securities, even though Standard Oil was the source of the Rockefeller fortune.

For the country as a whole, the amount of money tied up in tax-exempt securities was estimated to be three times as large as the federal government's expenditures and more than half as large as the national debt.

In short, huge amounts of money were not being invested in productive capacity, such as factories or power plants, but was instead being made available for local political boondoggles, because this money was put into tax-exempt state and local bonds.

When tax rates are reduced, investors have incentives to take their money out of tax shelters and put it into the private economy, creating higher returns for themselves and more production in the economy. Andrew Mellon understood this then, even though many in politics and the media seem not to understand it now.

Mellon was able to persuade Congress to lower the tax rates by large amounts. The percentage by which tax rates were lowered was greater at the lower income levels, but the total amount of money saved by taxpayers was of course greater on the part of people with higher incomes, who were paying much higher tax rates on those incomes.

Between 1921 and 1929, tax rates in the top brackets were cut from 73 percent to 24 percent. In other words, these were what the left likes to call "tax cuts for the rich."

What happened to federal revenues from income taxes over this same span of time? Income tax revenues rose by more than 30 percent. What happened to the economy? Jobs increased, output rose, the unemployment rate fell and incomes rose. Because economic activity increased, the government received more income tax revenues. In short, these were tax cuts for the economy, even if the left likes to call them "tax cuts for the rich."

This was not the only time that things like this happened, nor was Andrew Mellon the only one who advocated tax rate cuts in order to increase tax revenues. John Maynard Keynes pointed out in 1933 that lowering the tax rates can increase tax revenues, if the tax rates are so high as to discourage economic activity.

President John F. Kennedy made the same argument in the 1960s -- and tax revenues increased after the tax rates were cut during his administration. The same thing happened under Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. And it happened again under George W. Bush, whose tax rate cuts are scheduled to expire next January.

The rich actually paid more total taxes, and a higher percentage of all taxes, after the Bush tax rate cuts, because their incomes were rising with the rising economy. Do the people who keep repeating the catch phrase, "tax cuts for the rich" not know this? Or are they depending on your not knowing it?



Voter Fraud Threatens Election Integrity

Nevada is a state ripe with the possibility of voter fraud for many reasons. First, the state allows early voting, which in itself is not a problem, as described on current Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller’s website.

Nevada’s design of early voting can become a problem because its state law does not require proof of citizenship when at the polling place. Because no form of ID is required at the polls, it could be plausible for a voter to stop at many different polling places throughout the days of early voting, use a fake name and address, and vote as many times as he or she would like. Under this design an illegal immigrant could also cast a single or multiple votes.

As ironic as it sounds, when Nevada Republican Secretary of State candidate Robert Lauer pushed for state legislation that would have required voters to show a government-issued picture ID at the polls to keep voter fraud at bay, it was never adopted by the state.

Why? Maybe Miller and Sen. Reid saw some advantages to the way the current system is designed as it could possibly tip elections in their favor.

Miller is now the one in control of the voting machines throughout Nevada, which considering what happened in Clark County, obviously have problems. Not only is the machine software 7 years old, according to Lauer, but Miller will not let anybody other than a Voting Machine Technician, a government employee who is a member of the notorious Service Employees International Union, get close to the machines.

Therefore, all the voting machines in Clark County are under the control of Miller and SEIU. This alone should shake the confidence voters in Nevada have in their own system.

As Bill Wilson says, “if there is nothing wrong with the system, it would seem logical that the Nevada Secretary of State would not mind law enforcement ensuring ballot integrity. However, given his historic opposition to making certain that only legally registered voters vote, this simple proposal may be too logical for him to accept.”


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


28 October, 2010

ACORN’s October Surprise

Like a zombie in a horror movie, ACORN is alive! Even worse, it’s still in the business of registering Mickey Mouse and dead people to vote—and the person running its get-out-the-vote operation is under indictment for felony voter registration fraud.

But first, some background. The radical group staged an elaborate prank on April Fool’s Day by pretending to die. That’s when chief organizer Bertha Lewis said ACORN would dissolve its national structure. But the group still exists and continues to send out direct mail solicitations for funds.

Disturbingly, Project Vote, ACORN’s scandal-plagued voter registration and mobilization division, remains open for business. Project Vote has been part of the ACORN family since at least 1992 when Barack Obama ran a successful voter drive in Illinois.

Although legally separate entities, in practice the two are the same, as the congressional testimony of former ACORN/Project Vote employee Anita MonCrief can attest. They share office space, employees, and budgets. Project Vote continues to operate out of ACORN’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Even worse, its voter drive is being run by Amy Busefink, an ACORN employee under indictment in Nevada for violating election laws. It might be understandable for an employer not to fire an employee until she is actually convicted of a crime, but this is ridiculous. Busefink should not be running a voter drive.

ACORN and Project Vote did collect more than one million voter registration applications in 2008, but 400,000 applications “were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions,” the New York Times reported.

In May 2009, Nevada Atty. Gen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and Secretary of State Ross Miller, both Democrats, made public charges against two senior ACORN employees—Busefink, ACORN’s deputy regional director at the time, and Christopher Edwards, then ACORN’s Las Vegas field director. Both were implicated in a conspiracy in which they and ACORN as a corporate entity were charged. Edwards pleaded guilty and has turned state’s evidence. The trial of ACORN and Busefink is scheduled to begin on November 26.

The state’s charges list 26 felony counts of voter fraud and 13 of providing unlawful extra compensation to those registering voters, a practice forbidden under Nevada law because it incentivizes fraud. Canvassers were allegedly paid between $8 and $9 an hour and based on a quota of 20 voters per shift.

Project Vote is working with eight groups on voter drives. One is Pennsylvania Neighborhoods for Social Justice (PNSJ), a “new” group operating out of ACORN’s offices in Philadelphia. Longtime ACORN national board member Carol Hemingway is on the board of PNSJ and its sister nonprofit, Pennsylvania Communities Organizing for Change (PCOC).

Although ACORN closed many of its offices, Lewis has been working with a skeleton staff. Congressional investigators say she is consolidating power and hoarding assets. They estimate ACORN has $20 million in cash and that its affiliates hold another $10 million.

ACORN plans to resurface under a new name soon, according to John Atlas, author of Seeds of Change, a book sympathetic to ACORN. ACORN chapters in at least 13 states and the District of Columbia changed their names and obtained separate nonprofit status.



How ACORN Survives -- and Thrives

The Obama administration is stonewalling efforts on two fronts to investigate the still-operating ACORN and uncover what aid administration officials offered the radical advocacy group infamous for its thug tactics and election fraud.

The Obama administration is sitting on Capital Research Center's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that seeks correspondence between Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and ACORN. HUD rules state that FOIA requests must be answered within 45 days, but at this writing our request has been pending for just over seven months.

The request was filed because Donovan is a longtime ACORN collaborator. He worked closely with ACORN for five years when he was New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's housing development commissioner.

"Perhaps no administration official has had more interaction with Acorn than" Donovan, the New York Times reported. ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis admitted as much. "We grew to respect him, and he grew to respect us."

Ever since hidden-camera videos surfaced last year showing ACORN employees helping undercover conservative activists with financial and tax planning for a brothel for pedophiles, Donovan has remained silent about his relationship with ACORN. It's unclear what Donovan is hiding.

And if you thought conservatives were the only ones urging the Obama administration to conduct a proper federal racketeering investigation of ACORN, you'd be wrong.

The whistleblowers of the left-leaning "ACORN 8" group are learning the hard way that the Obama Department of Justice is just as adept at stonewalling as Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Longtime ACORN benefactor Nadler is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties who refused to initiate a probe even when confronted with powerful evidence of ACORN's wrongdoing. (To make matters worse, in a breathtaking conflict-of-interest Nadler devised a novel legal strategy ACORN used to defend itself.)

ACORN 8 is a group that broke away from ACORN in 2008. It is headed by Marcel Reid, a former member of ACORN's national board. She was expelled from ACORN after demanding to see financial documentation related to a million-dollar embezzlement perpetrated by the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. The brother, Dale Rathke, blew his ill-gotten gains on spending sprees at Neiman Marcus, limousine rentals, and other accoutrements of the Mercedes Marxist set. Big brother Wade and other high-ranking ACORN officials covered up the theft for eight years until it was discovered two years ago.

"I was attracted to the mission of ACORN to help people, to alleviate poverty," Reid said previously. "We asked to see the books because the promissory note indicated a theft had occurred. They played games with us."



Leftist cartoonist can see no faults in Obama

"There are none so blind as those who will not see"

From an interview with Gary Trudeau in Slate:

Slate: Who's the hardest politician to satirize, and why?

Trudeau: Believe it or not, Obama's very tough for business. The contradictory characterizations of him as fascist or socialist only serve to confirm the truth—he's a raging moderate. And satirists don't do well with moderates, especially thoughtful ones. In addition, Obama rarely makes gaffes and has no salient physical or temperamental features. And sinking popularity isn't a critique.


Rats deserting the ship

"Nancy Pelosi said Monday that 'we haven't really gotten the credit for what we have done,' and the Speaker is right. However, it appears that her party will get that credit on November 2, which is why so many Democrats are now jumping the liberal ship, at least symbolically, to save their seats. ...

Mississippi Democrat Gene Taylor ... [said] that he won't support Mrs. Pelosi for Speaker, another revelation considering his vote for her in 2009. 'I'm very disappointed in how she's veered to the left,' Mr. Taylor said, as if Mrs. Pelosi's ideological predispositions were ever hidden.

Mr. Taylor joins a growing list of Democrats who voted for Mrs. Pelosi in 2009 but now profess to be shocked by her left turn. They include Idaho's Walt Minnick, Pennsylvania's Jason Altmire, Alabama's Bobby Bright and Texas's Chet Edwards, endangered incumbents all.

Brett Carter, who is hoping to replace Tennessee Democrat Barton Gordon, has gone even further and requested that Mrs. Pelosi not even run again for the Speakership. 'Voters in my district believe that you do not represent their values, and my opposition has little to offer apart from critiquing your leadership,' Mr. Carter wrote in a September letter. ...

Over in the Senate, the prize for distancing himself from his party goes to West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, who ran the famous TV ad featuring him literally putting a bullet through the 'cap and trade bill.' Apparently that wasn't politically far enough away from the Washington Democrats he hopes to join, so Mr. Manchin declared on Fox News Sunday that he would have voted against ObamaCare too. ...

Remind us again why these folks are running as Democrats?"



Voting fraud continues

Suspicious voting-machine malfunctions and cheating candidates are the stuff of banana republics, not America. With Democrats about to suffer historic losses, is our election's integrity in question?

'It can't happen here," most Americans would say about the chances of voting one way and seeing your votes recorded the opposite. But that's what happened in early voting in North Carolina's unfortunately named Craven County last week.

Voter Sam Laughinghouse of New Bern found that "an electronic voting machine completed his straight-party ticket for the opposite of what he intended," the New Bern Sun Journal reported.

Laughinghouse "pushed the button to vote Republican in all races, but the voting machine screen displayed a ballot with all Democrats checked," the local paper reported. "He cleared the screen and tried again with the same result."

Election personnel eventually straightened it out, but clearly a less observant Republican voter would have inadvertently voted for every Democrat on his ballot. Chuck Tyson, chairman of the Craven County Republican Party, told the Sun Journal he "got two or three calls" from voters experiencing the same problem and is not satisfied with state election officials' efforts to fix it.

In Boulder City, Nev., meanwhile, where voters use computer screens, another disturbing episode was reported by Fox News. When voter Joyce Ferrara and her husband went to vote for Republican Sharron Angle, they — and several others, according to Ferrara — found that Democratic incumbent Harry Reid's name was already checked. The county registrar's explanation: The high-tech voting screens are sensitive.

The Nevada case is especially disturbing because the seat of the most powerful Democrat in the Senate is at stake.




My Tea Party: "The Tea Parties are just one of a number of historically pivotal developments (including the Internet, conservative talk radio, and perhaps even on-demand publishing) that became necessary to get over, under, around, and through the Great Wall of the Northeastern Liberal Establishment and its numberless, faceless hordes of duly appointed gatekeepers. In that sense, the Tea Parties are exactly what the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left always aspired to be and never really were.”

Charity and generosity that aren’t: "In a recent stump speech urging people to keep Democrats in power, President Obama told his audience that America is a country based in large measure on the principle that ‘we are all our brothers’ keepers.’ This is not true, but even if it were and even if that idea were itself a good one, President Obama’s political philosophy has nothing to do with it. What the president and those who share his politics believe in is the coercive welfare state, not in charity or generosity.”

Obamacare feeds insurance oligarchs: "Like all regulations declaredly subduing Big Business predominance over consumer’s lives, the new laws synthesize ‘public’ and ‘private’ — both of which are ultimately meaningless in our system — boosting an already corporatist economy for health services. As we might have foreseen, the politicians’ solution nurtures a condition whereby smaller ‘carriers will collapse under the new mandates and higher overhead.’ So in the face of everything the President said about ‘not accept[ing] the status quo as a solution’ in health care, ‘Obamacare’ delivered for Big Insurance, a cartel that loathes competition and welcomes impenetrable regulation.”

The madness of King Jon: "The history of the present chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Jon Leibowitz, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of absolute tyranny over the people of the United States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Government kills businesses: "The Institute for Justice released a fun video today revealing the trevails of ‘Chuck’ — a poor sucker who wants to start a small business. The video makes a compelling case for how hard it is to start a business in America today. My favorite part is when ‘Chuck’ goes thru the maze of trying to get a street vendor’s permit in the city of Miami. … This video should be required watching for every government official who is getting ready to pass more regulations. ESPECIALLY those who are getting ready to pass more regulations and say that they also want to ‘create jobs.’ When will they learn that the best way to ‘create jobs’ is to LEAVE US ALONE?”

A revolution in sovereignty: "At the end of the 19th century, Nietzsche famously announced that God is dead, which was never a pronouncement of his atheism (though he was one), but more of a statement about the dissapearing authority of the ’spiritual.’ Because of a moral vacuum left by this waning authority, he prophesized that in the next century men would project onto the state a spiritual life they fooled themselves into thinking science had explained away. The terms would be different, but the emotional resonators would remain the same, only at terrifying scale. And that disgruntled German was right. All too right. Nowadays it is by no means an exaggeration to say we live under the Church of Unlimited Government.”

France Returns to Normal after Senate Pension Change: "Strike season in France appears to have ended with a whimper. The French Senate today finalized a vote on pension reform, a college students’ strike barely materialized, and workers at five of France’s 12 oil refineries voted to start work again. After a month of protests, which created excitement and temporarily immobilized parts of the country, union leaders appeared largely unified on a deal to call off the walkouts in exchange for further debate on unemployment aspects of pension reform.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


27 October, 2010

"Openness", Obama-style

Don't ever expect Leftist talk to be matched by their actions

Officials at the Treasury Department’s Office of Financial Stability contracted with a small consulting firm that has given nearly $25,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005 (and no money to Republicans) to hire “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Analysts to support the Disclosure Services, Privacy and Treasury Records.” The firm is currently advertising a job opening for a FOIA analyst with experience in the “Use of FOIA/PA exemptions to withhold information from release to the public” (emphasis mine, and if that link goes down, The Examiner has kept a copy for its records).

UPDATE: Phacil has changed their job description on their website (without making a note), however here is a link to another job description for the same job that still uses the above as a qualification. They also have not yet returned calls to The Examiner. The side by side comparison of the old and modified versions are at the bottom of this post.

This means that the entire OFS, which is tasked with overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is trying to hire people who will withhold information from release to the public.

In fact, according to the website of the staffing company, Phacil (pronounced Fa-SEAL), co-founders Rafael Collado and Sascha Mornell were “thanked by President Obama,” and “commended at the White House during National Small Business Week for being selected the SBA New Jersey State Small Business Persons of the Year.” The contract is listed under service contracts of the Office of Financial Stability in a recent report from the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Collado and Mornell are among the top donors at the firm. Mornell has given $12,600 over the years, while Collado has given $6,700. Another donor, Robert Cottingham, listed Phacil as his employer, stating his position as vice president of government affairs.

That Treasury outsourced its mechanism for transparency to a firm with such partisan ties casts new light on a report from Bloomberg News in which Treasury officials have repeatedly obstructed reporters’ requests for information.



Liberal "ideas" boil down to coercion and more coercion

Here’s a letter to the New York Times Book Review from economist Don Boudreaux

A theme that runs with approval throughout Jonathan Alter’s review of recent books on modern “liberalism” is that “liberals,” in contrast to their mindless Cro-Magnon opposites, overflow with ideas (“The State of Liberalism,” Oct. 24).

Indeed they do. But these ideas are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives. These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else’s contracts, social relations, diets, habits, and even moral sentiments.

Put differently, modern “liberalism’s” ideas are about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas – each one individually chosen, practiced, assessed, and modified in light of what F.A. Hayek called “the particular circumstances of time and place” – with a relatively paltry set of ‘Big Ideas’ that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced not by the natural give, take, and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people but, rather, by guns wielded by those whose overriding ‘idea’ is among the most simple-minded and antediluvian notions in history, namely, that those with the power of the sword are anointed to lord it over the rest of us.




Herbert London

You have undoubtedly heard of existentialism, a philosophical position based on personal choice without the benefit of normative judgment. Well I reject it since driving through a red light is hazardous to your health.

However, I am a resistentialist, an eponymous condition in which adherents categorically reject the fatuities of modern life. Let me cite several examples.

Automobile manufacturers produce a car with 300 horse power that can easily achieve speeds of 120 miles per hour so that the car can remain stalled on the Long Island Expressway during rush hour.

Art is often described as post-modern, a school that has flash but no pan. However, if modern is new, how can you be post new? In fact, at what point does new go post?

Texting is the communications channel of the young. But from what I can discern it is an addiction to banality since the text hasn’t any substance and the language is puerile shorthand, e.g. RUOK?

The IPod is one of those devices that permits cultural toxins such as rap music to enter the brain without filter. It inflicts a form of Parkinson’s disease on its adherents who find it very difficult to stand still.

These examples are the symptoms of modernity that resistentialism oppose. Fortunately personal liberty suggests you don’t have to drive a car with a turbo engine or admire Michael Graves’ architecture or use a handheld device to communicate or put any electronic wiring in your ears. But it is hard to avoid the conditions of modernity since they are osmotic, in the cultural air surrounding us.

There aren’t many triumphal moments for the resistentialist, but the few he does experience are memorable. I recall with satisfaction my resistance to the plasma screen TV. After all, I noted, is it really so different from the conventional color TV? “Well,” said the salesman “yes it is different and it will change the nature of viewing.” I wasn’t about to change my viewing patterns and would certainly not do so for $2500. So I resisted. A year later this same television set sold for $2000 and despite entreaties from my family, I remained firmly opposed. By the third year the price was $1200 and I conceded, but at least I had the satisfaction of knowing my resistance saved $1300.



The Meltdown: A brief history lesson

1977: Jimmy Carter (D) signs the Community Reinvestment Act, guaranteeing homes loans to low-income families.

1999: Bill Clinton (D) puts the CRA on steroids by pushing Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac (F&F) to increase the number of sub-prime loans (owning a home is now a 'right'.)

1999 (September): New York Times publishes an article, 'Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending', which warned of the coming crisis due to lax lending policies of the Clinton (D) administration.

2003: White House calls Fannie and Freddie a "systemic risk". The Bush (R) administration pushes Congress to enact new regulations.

2003: Barney Frank (D-CN) says F&F are "not in a crisis" and bashes Republicans for crying wolf and calls F&F "Financially Sound" Democrats block Republican sponsored regulation legislation.

2005: Fed Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan voices warning over F&F accounting "We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk"

2005: Sen Charles Schumer (D-NY) says "I think F & F over the years have done an incredibly good job and are an intrinsic part of making America the best-housed people in the world."

2006: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) again calls for reform of the regulatory structure that governs F&F.

2006: Democrats again block reform legislation.

2008: Housing market collapses: Democrats blame the Republicans.

Obviously the Republicans aren't free of guilt concerning the cause of this crisis because they didn't try hard enough to prevent it and in some cases allowed it to happen. But as can plainly be seen the Democrats hold the lion's share of blame for the economic meltdown we're currently enjoying.

I received the above by email but it seems pretty right -- JR


Some news summaries from Richard Viguerie

Why NPR must go: Pat Buchanan writes that the issue of terminating federal funding for PBS, NPR and the CPB will be an early test to determine whether the GOP is serious about having learned its lesson from the days of Big Government “conservatism,” arguing that these taxpayer supported entities are ripe for elimination. Buchanan says the firing of Juan Williams helped highlight the need to cut funding, but the main reason for eliminating the money is the simple fact that the government shouldn’t be in the news and entertainment business in the first place.

The voter fraud perpetrators are at it again! Michelle Malkin highlights a pervasive problem throughout the United States, namely rampant voter fraud perpetrated by various leftwing groups that are determined to fix the elections using any means possible – including through largely unaccountable absentee and early voter schemes. Malkin provides the evidence from different parts of the country and underscores the need for Americans to elect state secretaries of state who will enforce the law in determining legal voter registrations.

Good news for the GOP and great news for conservatives from the Battleground poll: Bruce Walker examines the results of the most recent Battleground poll and argues that it bodes very well for Republican candidates in the upcoming elections, and for conservatives in general. Walker says the Battleground poll has been the most consistent over the course of the years, and there’s no reason to doubt that America is truly a conservative-leaning country and that people will vote that way next Tuesday when they go to the polls.

Fed-up Americans: Don’t stop with kicking out incumbents, fire the judges too! Connservatives all across the country are working hard to toss out liberal incumbent congressman, state legislators and governors that don’t listen to the People, and in Iowa, they’re getting the opportunity to “fire” Justices on the state Supreme Court who have proven to be equally contemptuous of tradition and the will of the majority. The Iowa Supreme Court recently overturned the state’s Defense of Marriage Act in order to allow homosexuals to “marry,” and three of those jurists are now on the ballot. Fire the judges too!

President Obama pushes the myth that fat cats favor the GOP: Timothy Carney examines myth (as espoused by President Obama) versus reality (actual figures from the Center for Responsive Politics) in who donates money to candidates, arguing the real numbers would surprise people who only rely on the mainstream media to feed them the “news.” Carney debunks the notion that Republicans are the main beneficiaries of Wall Street contributions (as well as lobbyists and other various special interests), a fantasy that is perpetuated by lazy and biased “journalists” who should be reporting the facts.

Latinos are rejecting Obama’s socialist policies and are going conservative: Hispanic conservative Chris Salcedo states it plainly: President Obama’s greatest accomplishment may be the awakening of the conservative movement in the Latino community. Salcedo cites polls that show Latino support for President Obama’s policies has dropped significantly in this year alone as the traditionally conservative Hispanic culture realizes that liberal socialistic policies are not in line with what they believe. As a result, Salcedo argues, a major shift could be taking place in the country’s fastest growing demographic group.




WikiLeaks leaks all over the anti-war cause: "Is WikiLeaks just a curnning front for the American military-industrial complex? First its latest document dump showed that Lancet exaggerated by 600 per cent when it published its notorious paper claiming the liberation of iraq cost the lives of 655,000 Iraqis. Now it’s confirmed that Saddam Hussein did indeed have weapons of mass destruction - and the experts to resume production once the US backed down: "By late 2003, even the Bush White House’s staunchest defenders were starting to give up on the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But WikiLeaks’ newly-released Iraq war documents reveal that for years afterward, U.S. troops continued to find chemical weapons labs, encounter insurgent specialists in toxins and uncover weapons of mass destruction".

Protect deployed parents’ rights: "Divorced or separated military parents often lose custody of their children — and sometimes permanently forfeit any meaningful role in their lives — simply because they have served their country. Many married parents deploy overseas, never suspecting that their parenthood essentially ended the day they left home. The divorce rate in the Armed Forces has skyrocketed during the long deployments necessitated by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Obama’s imaginary tax cuts: "How many times have you heard the president and the congressional Democrats say Americans who make less than $200,000 a year have not had, and will not have, any of their taxes increased? Unfortunately, it is not true, and it is likely to become a whole lot worse. The 111th Congress has already enacted $352 billion in net tax increases and may, in the upcoming lame-duck session, enact the largest tax increases in history, which will hit every man, woman and child — as well as every business in America.”

To fix the economy, let bad banks die: "Two years ago, many of the nation’s largest banks should have failed — because their business model failed. That business model was willful incompetence. Back then, banks, including Countrywide Financial, now part of Bank of America, showcased this incompetence in helping homeowners borrow money they could never repay. Today, thanks to Washington’s bailouts, the bad banks are still alive. So is their disastrous business model.”

Ethiopia shows the damage that aid can do: "HRW have shown in chilling detail how aid money given to the Ethiopian government has been used to coerce people into supporting the regime. Aid-funded education programmes are turned into government ideology reeducation camps; projects aimed at feeding the country’s poor are used to deprive the regime’s opponents of food; and other aid money is channelled to fund ‘retraining’ of judges and teachers. In short, Western aid money is being used by the Ethiopian government to create a totalitarian regime.”

Animal rights fanatics in New Zealand ban kosher meat: "New Zealand recently became the first country in the world to outlaw kosher slaughter since the Nazis enacted similar legislation in Europe over 70 years ago. New Zealand Jews may soon be the only Jews in the world who can no longer eat chicken. Your children or grandchildren may never experience a Passover with chicken soup and matzah balls, or ask the meaning of the lamb shank on your family’s Seder plate. "Some kosher meat (but not chicken) may be able to be imported, for a limited period. It is likely however that if we lose the right to practise shechita, then the ability to import kosher meat will soon follow."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


26 October, 2010

Always get it in writing -- on paper

The foreclosure crisis has highlighted again a major flaw of our modern economy: the fragility of ownership and property rights in the Internet age. Quite apart from the possibility of an EMP field blanking out everybody’s servers, the sheer complexity of computer-managed structures such as securitization can make them very difficult if not impossible to unravel. At some point, we will all pay a major price for this flaw.

Securitization was always going to involve these kinds of problems. The idea that you can take a simple instrument like a home mortgage and dice up payments from it in hundreds of different directions, with mortgages being securitized and re-securitized, worked all right in the investment banks’ computers, but would never have worked on paper! Naturally, with sloppiness all round and a fair admixture of fraud, together with a lot of expensive lawyers available, the result has been an unholy mess. Even without fraud in the computer systems themselves, the passage of time, as not only the original deals but the original deal management systems become forgotten, will ensure that ownership rights become untraceable. For a substantial percentage – perhaps 5%, perhaps 10% -- of the mortgages written between 2002 and 2007, this process will result in the property rights, in both the mortgage and the underlying house, becoming unenforceable because the evidence for them does not exist in unambiguous form.

While securitization has given rise to the most immediate problems, there are other areas in which property rights have been rendered more uncertain by computerization. Dematerialized bonds and stocks, the great back-office fad of the 1980s and 1990s, mean that investors are now completely dependent on the record-keeping capabilities of New Jersey computer servers. Banks, investment companies and credit card companies increasingly badger their customers to go “paperless” thus leaving themselves with no tangible record of their assets and liabilities.

The dangers of this are obvious. The science fiction threat of an “EMP” nuclear attack is far greater now than it was in the early days of the Internet around 1995-96, although electronic equipment was already as vulnerable then as it is now. Back then, banks still sent paper statements and transactions in general generated a blizzard of paper, even though the Internet was rapidly becoming a popular means of communication. Hence an EMP destruction of the 1995-6 Internet would have left us with written records of almost all significant transactions. That is far from being the case today. Far from having improved our defenses against EMP we have made ourselves infinitely more vulnerable. Like holders of California subprime mortgages with inadequate documentation, our property rights have been sharply diminished.

Ownership rights were not particularly solid in the ancient world; there was always the risk that someone with more clout or simply a bigger band of thugs would dispossess you. Outside Song Dynasty China, the first attempt at a society with solid ownership rights occurred in the reign of England’s Henry VII. He established the rule of law, even applying it to the baronage and setting up a system of Justices of the Peace to enforce prohibitions against random thuggery. His Tudor and early Stuart successors violated property rights frequently, but after the Restoration the protection of property rights increased rapidly – an increase that coincided with Britain’s economic take-off and to some extent caused it.

The high point of property rights in Britain came under the great Tory governments of 1783-1830. By that time, the legal system worked well, under the benign guidance for most of the period of Lord Chancellor Eldon. With a sound monetary system, property rights could thereby be preserved over astonishingly long periods. In Anthony Trollope’s first Barchester novel “The Warden,” published in 1855 the plot revolves around a bequest for Hiram’s Hospital that had been made in 1434. By the time of the novel, roughly the late 1840s, the bequest has increased in value, providing an excellent income for the hospital’s warden, Septimus Harding.

The gradual erosion of property rights after 1830 is however illustrated by the novel’s central struggle to update the terms of the bequest more in line with the money values and moral principles of the Whig 19th Century, depriving Harding of most of his income. Harding and his supporters the Bishop of Barchester and Archdeacon Grantly base their case on the values of their pre-1830 youth; in the Whig world of two decades later they are eventually defeated. However the protection and expansion of the Hiram’s Hospital property rights for 400 years is a notable example of the stability of both money values and society as a whole that emerged in the centuries following John Hiram’s death.

Thus in Trollope’s world, 400-year old documents kept in strong boxes by family solicitors (or, in that case, those of the Diocese of Barchester) were still rock-solid evidence for the disposition of substantial sums of money. Those property rights had already begun breaking down in 1855 and were sadly further eroded by the 20th century tendencies of governments toward expropriation, ruinous taxation and currency debasement. The virtualization of records has now taken that unhappy process a massive stage further.

One has only to think of the chances of making a successful claim in the year 2410 based on today’s computerized records to realize how far property rights have sunk. Computer databases are updated every 2-3 years and after a few “generations” of such updates become unusable. Even ten years ago, the massive panic over the Y2K problem, based on inadequate programs that were at that stage only 20-30 years old, shows how quickly data stored in virtual form can be rendered inaccessible. In addition, there’s the destructibility of the computers themselves, which has become a far worse problem with the new migration of data to cell-phones and tablets. (Desktops were equally likely to be smashed when you dropped them, but they were much less likely to be dropped, since they were not considered “portable.”)

If John Hiram’s will were made today therefore, and kept in virtual form, it would become a major data recovery problem by 2030 and entirely unavailable by 2050 or so. (Bizarrely destructive monetary policies might well also make his legacy valueless in that time!) Within a tenth of the period for which the original Hiram’s will was preserved by the Diocese of Barchester’s solicitors, and the value of his property preserved by good management aided by mostly sound monetary policies, the property of a new John Hiram would have been decimated, and the evidence for its existence destroyed.

This problem will get worse not better. Its ramifications will become exponentially more obvious as the virtualization revolution ages, and only concerted action, nowhere currently in view, can remove it.



A Mass Nervous Breakdown of the Left

The left can be mean, vicious, and deceitful. I've recently concluded, however, that the left is having, before our eyes, a mass nervous breakdown at the prospects of its collapse, exacerbated by the lost prospect of being on the verge of something really big. They thought they had won. Now, they're seeing it all crumble in a mountain of unsustainable debt, a loss of freedom, and an awakening of voter awareness of who's and what's at fault.

I first came to the conclusion that the left had crossed a sanity threshold to the point that its arguments were hurting its cause when President Obama and the patsy chorus on the left began attacking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other very American entities, without proof, of using foreign money on political ads.

The president himself had taken contributions of questionable origin. The left raises money from multinational sources the same way as those they accuse, but the left probably has a problem twice as incriminating. That angle of attack was a tactical error that sane, strategically thinking people would not make. It's irrational.

There have been many other instances -- too many to mention in this piece -- but I don't recall ever seeing the like of the disproportionate, unhinged attacks on Christine O'Donnell for her statements addressing the Establishment Clause in her Widener Law School debate with Chris Coons.

The left couldn't possibly want that one Delaware Senate seat enough to match their vitriol.

It's important to understand the context in which the Establishment Clause issue was addressed at the debate. Chris Coons said that only evolution must be taught in schools, and that intelligent design is prohibited from being discussed, even as a dissenting footnote to the conclusion that man was not created by God (who, then, consistent with Marxist doctrine, cannot be the source of our rights).

As I and others have pointed out, Ms. O'Donnell was right about the Establishment Clause. The mere debate, though, unravels many on the left.

Our president, for example, has stubbornly and repeatedly removed reference to "the Creator" from his quotations of the Declaration of Independence. That omission does little to motivate his base, enough of whom still believe God is the source of our rights, but it is a frontal attack on our most fundamental American principle -- that we are endowed with rights by God -- and is therefore an affront to most Americans' sense of being and security.

The omission is an irrational act, like the false, vitriolic representations of Christine O'Donnell's Establishment Clause comments. Those attacks on our fundamental, existential notions of who we are have already begun to unleash a torrent of thoughtful articles, blogs, and discussions about the bastardization of the Establishment Clause and, concomitantly, why control by the federal Department of Education should be replaced by state and local controls.

If nothing else, eliminating the Department of Education, which has been with us only since 1980 and is neither essential nor necessarily constitutional, would result in many billions of dollars saved for the states and localities. There is no constitutional question about fifty state departments of education, and once people understand how much money is spent and wasted by the U.S. Department of Education, and by states complying with its mandates, wiser heads will prevail.

Also, the national debate that will evolve will expose how the separation of church and state doctrine has become an excuse by which the left actually under-educates our children and is used to impede real First Amendment freedoms.

Religion, education, and even science, properly and thoughtfully addressed, are not only compatible, but often are inextricably linked. That's rational. Those who say religion may not be addressed in schools have an agenda, but that agenda is collapsing. And there are enough people on the left who understand correctly that the separation of church and state doctrine was not intended to remove discussion of religion, for religion's good or for its misuse, from the public square or within schools.

Would, for example, it be permissible for the federal government to ban the teaching of how religion has played a role in America's history, that religion played a role in the art of Michaelangelo, or that religion played a central role in the motivations and science of Galileo ("I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use")?

Would such teachings violate the separation of church and state? Or would the absence of such teachings deprive students of real knowledge?

The media, by showing a consuming, irrational rage over one relatively inconsequential race, has opened Pandora's box. They have made a larger debate front and center. The Tea Parties and new, fresh candidates will challenge notions and assumptions that have not been challenged enough in decades by go-along Republicans.

The left will laugh and mock those attempts. That's good. That's what got them into trouble in the first place. They're too crazed to understand that.

In fact, many people never experienced personally the savage, disingenuous, doctrinaire political media attacks until they became active in the Tea Parties. A sane person on the left would understand that what the left is doing is actually fulfilling Christine O'Donnell's "I'm you" ad. Sane-thinking people don't do things intentionally that hurt their own cause.



Comparing Jews to Nazis Meets NPR's 'Editorial Standards and Practices'

"[Juan Williams'] remarks were inconsistent with our editorial standards and practices, and undermined his credibility as a news analyst with NPR." - Statement issued by NPR

Remember what National Public Radio did to its foreign editor Loren Jenkins last year after he said, "Israel has used Gaza as a bombing target practice"?

They did nothing to him, for he was simply espousing the reckless anti-Israel hyperbole that is business-as-usual for NPR. Addressing an audience at an Aspen public radio event, Jenkins also said that Israel "created the biggest ghetto we've ever known" and is therefore responsible for the likelihood that Gazans "are all going to be turned into Palestinian terrorists because they have nothing else to do."

Andrea Levin of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), who reported on Jenkins' inflammatory falsehoods, also recounted his history of equating Jews with Nazis and softening the image of Palestinian terrorists:

That Jenkins, who clearly harbors prejudicial views about Israel, remains ensconced at NPR with influence over what is broadcast about the Middle East should be a worry to those who care about decent and factual coverage of the region.

An earlier CAMERA study of NPR bias found its editors and reporters working on behalf of organizations that vilify the Jewish state:

... Significantly, Jenkins has regularly appeared at events sponsored by the stridently anti-Israel American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee (ADC), and [reporter] Kate Seelye was for a number of years beginning in the late 1980's the ADC's Manager of Media Relations.

Not surprisingly, the report found, "[e]ntirely one-sided programs were commonplace, whether devoted to assailing Ariel Sharon as a 'war criminal,' to characterizing Israel as a 'Jim Crow' nation which should be done away with in its 'apartheid' form, or to blaming Israel for excessive violence, anti-American riots in Arab capitals and erosion of a supposed Arab commitment to peace."

Perhaps nothing reveals NPR's true colors more dramatically than their hiring of Hamas enthusiast Ali Abunimah (perhaps best-known as an early ally of President Obama on Mideast issues) as a commentator -- and their promise in 1998 to blacklist terrorism expert Steven Emerson when Abunimah demanded it.

Jeff Jacoby noted that Steven Emerson had achieved the status of "the nation's foremost expert on Islamic terrorism" when Abunimah set out to have him silenced.




The fallacy of TARP profits: "In the end, we were right. The entire Wall Street bailout has cost taxpayers billions while not improving the economy in the slightest. It surely has not improved the housing market or the job market — the unemployment rate stands at a high 9.6 percent. In fact, a Congressional Oversight Panel report says that ‘there is very little evidence to suggest that (TARP) led small banks to increase lending.’”

Insurance lessons from Alabama: "While Alabama certainly has some ambiguous laws and archaic regulations, the federal government ought to take a lesson from Alabama when it comes to property insurance. In an effort to keep the state’s insurer of last resort solvent (meaning it will have enough money to pay the claims people are likely to file), Bob Groves, manager of the state-run insurer, announced that they will no longer issue policies for homes built over or standing in water.”

One more reason why Britain really does not need the European Union: "Idly browsing, as I do, I came across this fascinating little post about the cost of transport. As a decent approximation, getting 30 tonnes of anything from anywhere to anywere now costs around $5,000. If, and only if, you’re on the container routes (either sea or rail). Which means that, again to a reasonable level of approximation, distance is no longer really a concern in trade matters. … It simply isn’t true any more that geography determines the costs of trade: thus geography shouldn’t be an influence upon trade policies.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


25 October, 2010

Barack Obama echoes anti-Americanism of Europe in calling voters stupid

Obama and his fellow Democrats are mocking Republicans and the Tea Party as stupid. But they could be the ones who look foolish on election day

So what is the closing argument of Barack Obama's Democrats before next Tuesday's midterm elections? The President is no longer the self-proclaimed "hope-monger" of 2008, who vaingloriously declared that his vanquishing Hillary Clinton marked "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal".

He has stopped patting voters on the back for choosing, by voting for him, to listen not to their doubts or fears but to their "greatest hopes and highest aspirations". Instead, he is berating Americans (most of whom now do not believe he deserves a second term) for not being able to "think clearly" because they're "scared".

Having failed to change Washington or, as he promised that night in St Paul, Minnesota in June 2008, to provide "good jobs to the jobless" (unemployment was 7.7 per cent when he took office and is 9.6 per cent now), Obama is changing tack. Boiled down, the new Obama message to Americans is: you're too stupid to overcome your fears.

To be fair, it's not entirely new. During the 2008 campaign, Obama was caught on tape at a San Francisco fund-raiser saying it was not surprising that voters facing economic hardship "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them".

At a fund-raiser in Massachusetts this month, Obama spoke of Democrats having "facts and science and argument" on their side. As opposed, presumably, to the lies, superstition and prejudice that Republicans rely on.

This year, Democrats have embraced with gusto the notion that Republicans, and by extension anyone thinking of voting for them, are dimwits. Their mirth over the likes of Tea Party figures like Christine O'Donnell, the former anti-masturbation activist who once she had "dabbled" in witchcraft and is now a no-hoper Senate candidate in Delaware, seems to know no bounds.

The most chortling of all about the populist Tea Party and its anti-tax, anti-government uprising against the Republican establishment can be found on the shows of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the edgy liberal satirists on Comedy Central. Mocking Republican candidates last week, Stewart declared the midterm elections as "the best chance ever for a bowl of fresh fruit" to be elected.

Three days before the elections, Stewart will hold a "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington on the same day as Colbert, who adopts the character of a Right-wing talk show host, leads a "March to Keep Fear Alive". The thinly-disguised message: Republicans are crazies who trade on fear.

In choosing California and Massachusetts, two of the most liberal states in the union, to demean ordinary Americans during election campaigns, Obama did not display a whole lot of his much-vaunted intelligence. But Obama's decision to plug Stewart's rally approvingly and appear on his show three days beforehand is even more foolish.

In the 1990s, Democrats managed to get away from their image as "eggheads" in the 1950s or "pointy-headed liberals" in the 1970s. Bill Clinton spoke like a Good Ol' Boy from the Deep South, ate junk food and enjoyed trashy women. He was clever, but he did not look down on people.

Obama, by contrast, has become a parody of the Ivy League liberal smugly content with his own intellectual superiority and pitying the poor idiots who disagree with him. It is an approach that shares much with the default anti-Americanism of British and European elites, who love to mock the United States as a country full of gun-toting, bible-clutching morons.

David Cameron [Centrist British PM] has made nods to this sniffy condescension, speaking of the Sarah Palin phenomenon as being "hard for us to understand" (how about giving it a go, Dave?) and describing American conservatism, inaccurately, as moving in a "very culture war direction". This might be part of the reason why he seems to have hit it off with Obama.

The problem for Obama and the Democrats is that belittling the Tea Party movement, which is taking hold of much of Middle America, merely fuels the popular sense that the party in power is out of touch. It also highlights the reluctance of Obama and the Democrats to discuss the Wall Street bail-out, economic stimulus and health care bills because they know they are not vote winners.

Joining the Europeans in mocking ordinary Americans for their supposed idiocy may play well at big-dollar fund-raisers. In adopting this as a political strategy, however, the Democrats could be the ones who end up looking stupid.



A problem with socialism

by Roderick T. Beaman

Like many others, I flirted for a while with socialism when I was in high school. I think many have. It seemed sensible on paper but then I saw how the world really worked.

William Buckley once responded to a high school student who had written that he thought Buckley was horribly wrong and that John Kenneth Galbraith was correct about economics. Buckley responded that the high school student was at the perfect age to appreciate John Kenneth Galbraith; another perfect putdown by the Enfant Terrible.

During the 1960s, there were many variants of this saying; if you’re not part of the solution, at least don’t be part of the problem. As I grew up, I saw more and more that government was the problem.

The 1964 election had promised to be one of the most interesting in history until the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Barry Goldwater was considered the favorite of rank and file Republicans to be nominated to face Kennedy in his reelection bid.

Kennedy’s assassination elevated the loathsome Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency and he immediately embarked upon the imposition of his Great Society that was so broad and so deep that we are still absorbing its effects, 41 years after he left office. The election instead became a referendum on the sentiments for a dead man’s agenda. Johnson swamped Goldwater, taking 44 states with Goldwater winning six.

Enter the Monday morning quarterbacking. The New York Times, which had been endorsing Democrats for years, began telling Republicans what they did wrong. It anointed Cong. John V. Lindsay for Mayor the following year. He was the Moses who would lead the GOP out of the Goldwater wilderness.

Lindsay was Yale educated, handsome and from New York City’s fabled Silk Stocking District of Manhattan’s East Side. He was also as reliably liberal as any liberal Democrat, voting for just about every New Frontier and Great Society program. Lindsay had never seen a taxpayer’s dollar that he didn’t want to spend.

Lindsay was elected beating Buckley, the Conservative Party nominee, the only time he ever ran for office, and Democrat Abraham Beame. The spending began.

Lindsay was greeted in 1966 with a 12-day subway strike under the Transit Worker’s Union leader Mike Quill, who’d had a deep and long association with the Communist Party of the USA. (In an interesting sidelight, Quill’s communist roots were never mentioned by the various media during the strike. I never knew about it until years after. Why am I not surprised by that?) He’d broken with them in 1948 but there could be no doubt that his orientation was socialist. He extracted a generous contract from the Lindsay Administration and died three days later. The contract, and concessions to others, left the city teetering.

Lindsay responded with (drum roll, please), you guessed it, a tax increase in the form of the City’s first income tax. It went into effect in September 1966.

At that time, I was working as an electrician’s helper in Local Union #3 in the city. We were contracted to a 6-hour workday but almost everyone was working seven hours a day. For paid holidays, we received the contract pay for just six hours, not the usual seven we worked.

One day we were asked to work overtime one hour and most of us jumped at the opportunity for some extra pay. That pay week though, encompassed the Labor Day weekend and the one hour of overtime just balanced the 6-hour holiday pay and brought us up to our usual 35 hours pay week. That week, the city’s income tax also went into effect so we netted less than what we had been.

One fellow worker said that if he had known that, he wouldn’t have grabbed the extra hour of overtime and just accepted the smaller paycheck. The take home lesson is that this is an example of how people react within a system. It is all so very predictable and our governmentalist politicians, (fascist, progressive, liberal and socialist) rarely take into account how people will react within a system.

Rhode Island has, as many states have had, a long tradition of vanity license plates. The car owner pays some extra fees and has some special combination of letters to spell something or his initials, etc. It raises some extra revenue for the state treasury and is a harmless venture for the driver.

When Bruce Sundlun, a Democrat, became governor in 1991, the state was facing a revenue shortfall. Together with the solidly Democratic legislature (in Rhode Island, that’s redundant), they decided to double the fees for vanity plates. They assumed that the revenue would increase markedly, possibly double. Instead, people who had held particular plates for years, even decades, simply decided they weren’t worth it and turned them in for regular plates. My wife and I did it for each of our plates and four or five other people and couples we knew did the same. While I don’t know the exact figures, I am sure that the actual revenue realized was far less than what had been predicted just from the experience and I am sure the many people at the State House never even considered the possibility that a lot of people would simply turn in their plates.

I am also befuddled by politicians, of all stripes, who rail against ‘price gouging’ during emergencies. Of course, any serious student of economics knows that there is no such thing as price gouging. Either the marketplace sustains a price or it doesn’t. As many far wiser minds than mine have noted, the price mechanism represents an opportunity for signals of needs or excesses to be passed through the market to others for problems to be corrected.

During the recent spate of hurricanes to hit Florida, Attorney General Bill McCollum has been out there in front of the cameras (for any politician that’s almost redundant) was out there, thundering, about various businesses price gouging. It certainly appeals to voters (is anything a politician does, not geared to voters?) but it doesn’t stand up to examination.

In storms, floods and other natural disasters, one of the first things to be needed is water. Oh yes, it may impress as unseemly for a merchant to jack up his price for water after a storm but it does provide an important signal for the need for more. If someone has a truck with few other resources to otherwise drive to, say Tennessee, to bring back a truckload, would not the possibility of earning some money to do it, afford him the wherewithal? I think this is an intelligent question but few politicians can answer intelligent questions.

The merchant or businessman has several choices in such a matter. He can simply close his shop or refuse to sell the item in question or he can sell them at the regular price and soon be exhausted of them. In any case, he is left with no resources to correct it and in the first two cases, no need whatsoever is met.

The ultimate example of governmental stupidity (I apologize here for any redundancy) is the rent control situation in New York City. It was first enacted nationally in 1943 by (are you really surprised by this?) Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was considered an emergency at the time (what government action isn’t?) and has been in effect ever since.

The force of logic shows that price controls on anything leads to shortages or distortions in the market. Rent control has been shown to lead to a two-tiered system of rents. The simplest thing would be to terminate the program but political pressures from people who have stayed in their sub-market priced residences for decades will lead a march on City Hall to protest any such attempts. The controls are part of many systemic reasons why there is a huge dearth of medium priced apartments The Big Apple. There is a great need but socialism or governmentalism gets in the way of a solution.

So there we see government getting in the way or its ventures not living up to expectations. It’s the limit of politics and government as Buckley said in his campaign. People will react in ways that are simply not anticipated but nevertheless are very predictable. They will always move in the direction of their own perceived self-interest. The problem is they may not move in what the state’s perceived self-interest. They may decide not to work or to turn in their license plates rather than pay the extra price, they may simply withdraw from participation.

And what is the state’s ultimate weapon against the people when they act in their own self-interest rather than the state’s? Why penalties. Imprisonment. And ultimately, execution.




The mystery of FDR unraveled: "For seventy-plus years, the case of Franklin Delano Roosevelt has vexed people of a libertarian bent. His policies, extending war socialism based on Mussolini’s economic structure, expanded the American State to an unthinkable extent, and prolonged the Great Depression through the horrific World War II. Normalcy did not return until after his wartime controls were repealed and the budget was cut. Lasting economic recovery began in 1948. And the guy that made all that happen is a hero? His picture is on the (depreciated) dime.”

The real reason for FDR’s popularity: "All presidents worry about their popularity. They try to bolster it through impassioned rhetoric, free stuff for influential voting blocs, new programs that cost billions, dramatic photo ops, and of course wars to unite the country behind their valiant leadership. In most all cases, they choose means of gaining popularity that come at the expense of liberty.”

ME: City considers letting non-citizens vote: "Like his neighbors, Claude Rwaganje pays taxes on his income and taxes on his cars. His children have gone to Portland’s public schools. He’s interested in the workings of Maine’s largest city, which he has called home for 13 years. There’s one vital difference, though: Rwaganje isn’t a U.S. citizen and isn’t allowed to vote on those taxes or on school issues. That may soon change. Portland, Maine, residents will vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to give legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections, joining places like San Francisco and Chicago that have already loosened the rules or are considering it. Non-citizens hold down jobs, pay taxes, own businesses, volunteer in the community and serve in the military, and it’s only fair they be allowed to vote, Rwaganje said.”

Mountain roads, take me home: "A natural camaraderie exists among people who work for a living and don’t have much. I didn’t exactly work, but I had grown up around people who did, and knew how to fit in. It wasn’t surprising that they offered to share their vodka with a stranger. Talk to anyone who has hitchhiked extensively. He will tell you that the likelihood that a car will stop is inversely proportional to the price of the car. People who have needed help are inclined to provide help.”

A better way than the VA?: "If you listen to Democratic campaign ads in Colorado, Nevada, or Delaware, among other places, you will discover yet another perfidious plot by evil Republicans — they want to ‘privatize the VA.’ Which makes one respond, ‘This is a horrible thing because … why?’”

How much air superiority does a man need?: "The chatter is skittering on the sheen of the Obama and Israel-approved Saudi purchase of 84 old and technically degraded F-15s. As this sale promotes the MIC and is agreeable to AIPAC, Congressional approval of this proposed sale is moot. In terms of military capability shifts, as Jeff Huber at Antiwar.com explains, is it much ado about not much. The sale simply enhances Saudi Arabia’s capability to do what we ourselves do with our F-15s, primarily argue amongst ourselves about which old man is going to take a joy ride. Expensive fun counts for plenty, if you are a servant of the state.”

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


24 October, 2010

Mao's Great Famine‏

An email from a Western correspondent living in China who was once himself a Maoist

Well I've been reading again -- this time going over old familiar territory using new, unbelievable sources: Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe as reported in national, provincial and city archives in China.

Can it be possible? - Author Frank Dikotter, China historian in HK, claims a new law allows such access and basically confirms the details of what we knew generally back in the 70's. Whereas we used transcripts of mainland radio broadcasts and reports of mainland newspapers and magazines, refugee accounts and documents smuggled out, he got access to official documents which, while they have shortcomings, add a degree of authenticity and first person, including the words of major players as reported in provincial reports of meetings in Beijing. No-one comes out well, even those who were persecuted for their honesty, as they were usually enthusiastic supporters before they saw for themselves the degree of horror in the countryside.

Their disillusionment was they thought officials at the lower levels, people were better than they! -- e.g unrealistic grain seizure quotas were increased at every level before they got to central level. They were often met by starving villagers to death -- i.e. The Chairman's delusional and venal behaviour was reflected at all levels of the party with any villager questioning the quotas being branded a bourgois conservative, anti-party element and often beaten to death.

I guess this marks the beginning of a whole new genre of revisionist scholarship bound to embarrass Professor Barme and the New Sinologists who appear to insist we should draw a line under 1978 and ignore anything before it!

As for me it only underscores the inadequacy of my mea culpa. And what of those who still cry Shihuizhuyi hao! (Socialism is great!)? Are present-day officials any better? Only a matter of degree perhaps.

One typical line from the good Chairman. "It is necessary for half of the people to die so the other half can eat their fill!" The legendary Zhou making endless calls to local cadres in 1959 demanding they fulfil their quotas despite knowledge of the famine.

The official policy of exporting grain to one and all, often free, to demonstrate the superiority of Chinese Communism. Liu Shaoqi giving the GLF his enthusiastic support. The enormous loss of state stored grain due to neglect, insects, rot, theft and corrpuption extending up to 80% in some places. Deng Xiaoping insisting quotas be collected ruthlessly "As in war". Its all very depressing reading.


Obamacare Reality Bites: And HHS waivers

The Obama-inspired overhaul of medical insurance has just started to kick in, and already reality, in the form of economic law, is biting back. Companies are canceling or threatening to cancel coverage because the new terms of doing business make business as usual uneconomical. For example, some insurance companies announced they would no long write child-only policies. The new rules say that beginning now, no insurer can refuse coverage to an already-ill child and that the premiums can’t be higher than those charged for well children. (In a few years the “antidiscrimination” rule will apply to adults.)

Anyone with a smidgen of economic knowledge – heck, how about just some common sense? – would know that this cannot work. How can you run an insurance company when parents can wait until their children are seriously ill to buy coverage — and then the insurer can’t set the premium according to the expected medical services. That’s not insurance. It’s welfare filtered through business.

Well, now, when the companies announced they would stop writing those policies, the Department of Health and Human Services relented and waived the rule (at least for a while).

A pattern emerges. Companies claim they can’t live with a particular Obamacare mandate, and HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius issues a waiver. When McDonald’s and other companies said that their limited mini-med policies would become prohibitively expensive if the government enforced its no-benefit-cap rule, Sebelius granted a waiver. She is now considering a request for a waiver of the rule mandating no less than an 80-85 percent medical loss ratio on mini-med polices. That’s the percentage of revenues paid in benefits rather than administrative costs. Companies with a high workforce turnover say insurance administrative costs are naturally higher than with a stable workforce and thus the mandated medical loss ratio is impractical. (It’s been pointed out that the medical loss ratio was not intended as a measure of efficiency.)

At issue here is not the details of the more than two thousand pages of law. It’s the discretionary power the government has acquired because of it. A one-size-fits-all law was written by Congress. During the debate over the legislation many of us warned that such an approach would defy the laws of economics and would therefore have undesirable unintended consequences. We said, for example, that price caps which ignore real market conditions would cause producers to exit the market, leaving people without services they want.

So Secretary Sebelius is busy granting waivers. On one level this is good: The direct consequences of Obamacare will be less severe than they would have been. But at another level this is not good at all. Obamacare has increased the amount of discretionary power bureaucrats have over our lives. Whatever standard HHS uses in judging waiver requests will be arbitrary. How big does a hardship have to be before a request gets a favorable ruling? Will a company’s CEO have to be careful about criticizing the Obama administration – even on nonmedical issues – for fear that a future waiver request might be turned down? Bureaucrats are human too. (Sebelius has warned insurers not to publicly blame premium increases on Obamacare mandates.)...

Finally, we readily describe the negative effects of this law as “unintended consequences.” I’d like to suggest that they may not be so unintended. It is hard to believe that some of the higher-ups did not realize that price controls and similar restrictions would push insurers out of the market. I would not be surprised to learn that this was widely anticipated and that the ruling elite intended to exploit problem to amass even more power over medical insurance. One need not be a conspiracy aficionado to think this. One need only understand purposive human action.



The Lies of ObamaCare

Yet more evidence is emerging that Obamacare is a lie, a complete fraud perpetrated on the American people. Prior to congressional enactment of the legislation, Barack Obama promised in his State of the Union Address that it would “reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses.”

Now we know that’s a lie. Not only are insurance companies already warning of higher premiums because of Obamacare, now the Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing to sue Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan because, get this, premiums are too low.

Specifically, because the insurer negotiates with hospitals and other health care providers for the lowest possible rates for its customers, Obama’s DOJ is arguing that that is increasing the costs for everyone else. Never mind that Blue Cross covers 2.4 million people in Michigan, or about 27.7 percent of those with insurance in the state.

Those 2.4 million people just are not paying enough, according to Obama.

So, they will wind up paying more for their health care if the Administration’s lawsuit succeeds. Why? Because if Blue Cross’ contracts with hospitals and other health care providers are deemed invalid, it will not result in others getting the same rates as Blue Cross had. It will mean that Blue Cross customers will pay as much as everyone else.

Further, it will set a precedent that no company can negotiate for a lower rate. This puts the lie to Obamacare. The intention never was to lower rates for the insured. It was to drive up the costs to force individuals off of private health insurance — and into government’s waiting arms.

Obamacare always was a road to government control. That’s why it includes an individual mandate to purchase insurance starting in 2014, and that’s why its own regulators admit the bill will force up to 69 percent of enrollees off of their employer-provided plans. How else to get folks to incrementally be forced into a single-payer system?

The whole purpose Obamacare, therefore, is to drive up costs, creating a health care affordability crisis in the nation. In the mean time, the Administration accuses companies of “price-gouging”.

It’s already started. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has warned insurers not to inform enrollees that premium hikes are a direct result of Obamacare: “[S]everal health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act… [T]here will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Sebelius wrote in a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans.

Sebelius has the answer. She writes, “Later this fall, we will issue a regulation that will require state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases filed by health insurers, with the justification for increases posted publicly for consumers and employers.” Never mind that insurance carriers are already required to notify enrollees of hikes in premiums, how dare insurers tell their customers the real reason for the hikes?

Sebelius promises to “keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.” The implication? If you are an insurer, and you speak out against Obamacare, they will shut you down...

The Obama Administration is taking great pains to force health care costs up to compel the American people onto government-run health care. Meanwhile, they are regulating blame for those premium hikes to private insurers.

All of this is proof that Obamacare was a lie from the very beginning. The Administration does not care about lower costs, because they don’t even care about the costs. What they want is control.



Close to a trillion down the drain

What if I told you that the Chairman and CEO of IBM, Samuel J. Palmisano, approached President Obama and members of his administration before the healthcare bill debates with a plan that would reduce healthcare expenditures by $900 billion? Given the Obama Administration’s adamancy that the United States of America simply had to make healthcare (read: health insurance) affordable for even the most dedicated welfare recipient, one would think he would have leaned forward in his chair, cupped his ear and said, “Tell me more!”

And what if I told you that the cost to the federal government for this program was nothing, zip, nada, zilch?

And, what if I told you that, in the end and after two meetings, President Obama and his team, instead of embracing a program that was proven to save money and one that was projected to save almost one trillion dollars – a private sector program costing the taxpayers nothing, zip, nada, zilch – said, “Thanks but no thanks” and then embarked on passing one of the most despised pieces of legislation in US history?

Well, it’s all true. Samuel J. Palmisano, the Chairman of the Board and CEO for IBM, said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview that he offered to provide the Obama Administration with a program that would curb healthcare claims fraud and abuse by almost one trillion dollars but the Obama White House turned the offer down.

Mr. Palmisano is quoted as saying during a taping of The Wall Street Journal's Viewpoints program on September 14, 2010: "We could have improved the quality and reduced the cost of the healthcare system by $900 billion...I said we would do it for free to prove that it works. They turned us down."

A second meeting between Mr. Palmisano and the Obama Administration took place two weeks later, with no change in the Obama Administration's stance. A call placed to IBM on October 8, 2010, by FOX News confirmed, via a spokesperson, that Mr. Palmisano stands by his statement.

Speaking with FOX News' Stuart Varney, Mort Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief of US News & World Report, said: "It's a little bit puzzling because I think there is a huge amount of both fraud and inefficiency that American business is a lot more comfortable with and more effective in trying to reduce. And this is certainly true because the IBM people have studied this very carefully. And when Palmisano went to the White House and made that proposal, it was based upon a lot of work and it was not accepted. And it's really puzzling...These are very, very responsible people. They don't have a political ax to grind. They are very familiar with the subject; they understand exactly what the issues are."

Given the fact that Mr. Obama’s own Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services actuary debunked the claim that health insurance costs would diminish over the next decade and given that the budget deficits for 2010 and 2011 are in the $1.2 trillion–$1.4 trillion ballpark, the question begs to be asked: Why would Mr. Obama balk at a sure-thing savings of almost $1 trillion?

CMS actuaries also say that Medicare cuts mandated by the law are unrealistic and unsustainable. An April 22, 2010, CMS report about the financial and coverage effects of selected provisions of the new law estimates that about 15 percent of hospitals and other healthcare providers could lose money treating Medicare beneficiaries as a result of the proposed cuts.

And the Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the deficit for the 2010 budget year, which ended Sept. 30, will total $1.29 trillion. The Obama administration has projected that the deficit for the 2011 budget year, which began on Oct. 1, will climb to $1.4 trillion and that over the next decade, it will total $8.47 trillion.

So, again, I ask you, with the main issue being the economy, including the audacious spending habits of elected officials in Washington DC, why would Mr. Obama and his team balk at facilitating not only the saving of almost $1 trillion in healthcare expenditures, but the opportunity to affect an issue victory in the 2010 midterm election cycle?

Mr. Zuckerman concluded: "When you are in a situation where this country is facing a huge deficit and where anybody who knows anything at all about the healthcare system knows how much waste, fraud and abuse is involved in that system...not to take this offer up, frankly, does not make sense."

Mr. Zuckerman is correct, but only to a point. It doesn’t make sense if Mr. Obama is trying to reduce waste and fraud, and make health insurance affordable for all Americans. It does make sense if those were never the goals in the first place.

As I wrote in an article titled, Cloward, Piven & Obamacare: “...the goal of the Progressives is to crash the system; to overwhelm the system to such an extent that it fails. It is at this moment of failure that Progressives believe they can enter the situation as the “knight in shining armor.” It is at this particular moment of vulnerability that Progressives believe the American public will acquiesce to the false choice of “something is better than nothing”; to a government-run universal healthcare plan to rescue the devastated American healthcare system, a system Progressives themselves threw into chaos, courtesy of their ridiculous health insurance reform law."

It is one thing to be – as a good many elected officials in Washington DC are – arrogant, self-absorbed spendthrifts, so detached from the actualities of what Americans require and want from their government. It is quite another to willfully abuse the system – and the American people – in an attempt to bring about an ideological “change” – a “fundamental transformation” – of the very system of government that has made the United States the most prosperous nation in the history of the Western Civilization and the last best hope for freedom and liberty for all in the world.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


23 October, 2010

Why Obama Doesn’t Seem to Relate emotionally

Unlike most people, he exhibits little or no moral sense

Tibor R. Machan

Most of the time when I hear about how President Obama lacks the emotional disposition that most Americans would like to see him demonstrate, I am disinclined to make much of the point. What I want from someone in the role of the presidency is good thinking and not sensitivity.

Nonetheless I have been paying a bit more attention to this criticism of the President because as I have been following his efforts to bolster the chances of Democrats to remain in power in Washington, DC, I have noticed that there is something amiss with how he comes over emotionally.

As a start, Mr. Obama is always glib, as if nothing on earth could phase him, as if it is all old hat to him, he is way ahead of everyone. This comes through, for instance, in his repeated dismissal of anything that members of the Tea Party complain about.

And that’s just the beginning. One related steady emotional theme in the president’s talks is the effort to be accommodating toward critics and enemies of America. Indeed, the very idea that Mr. Obama would identify anyone as an enemy of the United States of America seems off base. This is because it looks like he is mostly interested in building bridges between us and them, however barbaric they may be.

Mr. Obama is one of those American intellectuals who appears to be stopped from criticizing anyone abroad because, well, this country has had slavery and segregation and poverty so how could it justify being critical of anyone? It shows a spirit of perpetual self-criticism and mea culpa, attitudes that appear to dominate the president’s conscience (and we are here talking about appearances).

There is no black and white for the man –no one, not even a vicious terrorist and a leader of a country in which women are systematically and barbarically oppressed, justifies for him any sort of firm moral condemnation. Like those ever-permissive parents who always have an excuse for what their offspring are doing, no matter how mischievous or outright evil it manages to be, for Mr. Obama those who attack America, actually attack innocents everywhere, just could not be all bad, unworthy of understanding.

This mentality of turning the other cheek, no matter what, appears to underlie the widespread distrust people have of Mr. Obama’s emotional makeup. Emotions, although they are ultimately unreliable guidelines to action, are pretty good clues to what system of values someone has internalized. If one has to force oneself disapprove of or condemn vicious conduct and people and it doesn’t arise naturally, people who do have a sense of just how bad some others can be will become suspicious.

President Obama and his cheerleaders must realize that eloquence is no substitute for emotional balance, for being in tune emotionally with what those deserve who comport themselves villainously. Being well spoken is not enough. One must also have a sense of what needs to be said, have substance to communicate, a sense of justice, if you will.

Or perhaps Mr. Obama just despises being disliked by people, even by vicious rulers abroad. But that, too, reveals his emotional priorities. Mr. Obama needs to open himself up to the possibility that some people should really be hated, that they are evil and not merely misguided, sick, or deranged.

Human life is distinctive in the world precisely because human beings have a moral nature and they can act irresponsibly, morally deplorably, contemptibly, as well as admirably, demonstrating moral excellence.

And while that idea has always had its detractors, the moral skeptics, they simply cannot sustain their denial that people are moral agents and capable of doing vile things for which they ought to be condemned. They do not deserve sympathy but contempt.

And this is evident from the fact that the one exception to the skeptics’ ambivalence about morality is their own utter contempt for those who do take morality seriously. They tend to be dismissed, even derided, as fundamentalists or moralizers, which is clearly and paradoxically something (morally?) contemptible to the skeptics!

Moral skeptics usually are hoisted on their own petard. Their amoral stance isn’t philosophically sustainable because human beings are indeed moral beings, unlike the rest the members of the living world. And one result of having a moral nature and admitting to it is that one will openly cope with moral evil as well as moral excellence. If one denies this, as it seems President Obama does when it comes to America’s enemies, it will eventually stand in the way of reaching out to ordinary people.


NOTE: In extreme forms, lack of a moral sense is psychopathy. Obama's glacial calm is also normal in psychopaths. See here and here -- JR


Assault on Palin, DeMint and Other Conservatives Often Rooted In Lies or Distortions

The long knives have been out for Sarah Palin since her emergence on the national stage just over two years ago. Katie Couric infamously mocked Sarah Palin and her family on tape even while the Republican Convention was still going on… long before her “objective” interview with her. But that was just the beginning.

Recently there was this silly effort by leftists to make fun of Palin for admonishing activists not to “party like it’s 1773″ yet. Not just random bloggers, mind you, but that paragon of fairness and balance from PBS, Gwen Ifill, lept at the opportunity to make fun of Palin for getting a date wrong. The problem, of course, was that Palin was correctly referring to the year of the Boston Tea Party. Ooops.

But then today, we see that Jonathan Martin with Politico has put out a piece trying to make the case that Palin is a “Diva.” In the article, he writes “[a]ccording to a source familiar with the situation, she backed out of planned interviews with conservative talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Mark Levin the morning she was scheduled to talk to them.” Again, there’s at least one problem… that is, Mark Levin says that this is an outright lie. On Facebook, Mark says, “Sarah Palin never backed out of any interview with me. Period. And John Martin, the reporter, never contacted me to ask me directly. I insist on a retraction. ” Sarah Palin has her faults, but it sure makes one wonder how accurate this piece is when at least part of it is a flat out lie.

But that’s not the only example today. Jim DeMint was on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News last night. During the interview, the Senator made some comments about the state of the Republican Party - pointing out, essentially, that he “doesn’t want to watch the Republican Party betray the trust of the American people again.” Amen. But, what does RealClearPolitics put up as the headline?

They wrote, “DeMint threatens to leave GOP if agenda is not limited government.” Jim DeMint did not “threaten” to leave the GOP. He said he doesn’t want to be a part of a Republican Party that is like that - and that this is not what Republicans are about across America.

This is only the beginning, of course. Senator DeMint will find himself as the ever-increasing focal point of criticism, by the press and, perhaps more, by Washington establishment insiders who feel threatened by anyone willing to stand up to their big-spending, back-scratching, Senate “club” ways. Senator DeMint dares to suggest that the old guard needs to change or go home. He dares to criticize pork-barrel spending and the corrupt appropriators who continue to do it. And most of all, he dares to fight against an establishment built around perpetuating itself rather than liberty, by backing candidates who are willing to challenge that establishment.



While the media continues to attack Christine O’Donnell, liberal buffoons are given a pass

Let's look at a quality Democrat candidate: Alvin Greene

Jim DeMint started the recession. Perhaps I should repeat. Jim DeMint started the recession. Didn't hear me? Jim DeMint started the recession. Are you ready for me to say something else... ANYTHING else? I'm sure that's how MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell felt as he was interviewing Democrat Senate candidate Al Green. While the media continue to attack Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, Green is coasting under the radar. Let's take a look at the man who is running against South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. Oh, and remember... Jim DeMint started the recession...

The media are having a field day with Christine O'Donnell. They somehow feel it's relevant to focus on comments O'Donnell made when she was in high school. But take a look at Al Green. This man won 59& of the vote in South Carolina without running any campaign ads. One has to wonder what South Carolina Democrats were thinking...

Ok... let's think about this. This man is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Does that give anyone pause? Wait there's more. In Connecticut, Democrat Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal has been hammered, because he couldn't answer the question, "How do you create a job?" Guess what? Al Green knows how to create jobs... the Al Green action figure:

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here, but I just don't even know where to begin. The media are pulling no punches regarding O'Donnell, but they ignore Green. Typical, but their outright support for Democrat candidates is getting more blatant by the day. Another point... the electorate gets what it deserves. More people voted for Green, and he won. Ok, one final note... Jim DeMint started the recession.



ObamaCare looks like being a bonanza for employers but a huge slug on the taxpayer

By way of example, the Tennessee State government could reduce costs by over $146 million using the legislated mechanics of health reform to transfer coverage to the federal government -- So says Phil Bredesen, Democrat governor of Tennessee, below

One of the principles of game theory is that you should view the game through your opponent's eyes, not just your own.

This past spring, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (President Obama's health reform) created a system of extensive federal subsidies for the purchase of health insurance through new organizations called "exchanges." The details of these subsidies were painstakingly worked out by members of my own political party to reflect their values: They decided who was to benefit from the subsidies and what was to be purchased with them. They paid a lot of attention to their own strategies, but what I believe they failed to consider properly were the possible strategies of others.

Our federal deficit is already at unsustainable levels, and most Americans understand that we can ill afford another entitlement program that adds substantially to it. But our recent health reform has created a situation where there are strong economic incentives for employers to drop health coverage altogether. The consequence will be to drive many more people than projected—and with them, much greater cost—into the reform's federally subsidized system. This will happen because the subsidies that become available to people purchasing insurance through exchanges are extraordinarily attractive.

In 2014, when these exchanges come into operation, a typical family of four with an annual income of $90,000 and a 45-year-old policy holder qualifies for a federal subsidy of 40% of their health-insurance cost. For that same family with an income of $50,000 (close to the median family income in America), the subsidy is 76% of the cost.

One implication of the magnitude of these subsidies seems clear: For a person starting a business in 2014, it will be logical and responsible simply to plan from the outset never to offer health benefits. Employees, thanks to the exchanges, can easily purchase excellent, fairly priced insurance, without pre-existing condition limitations, through the exchanges. As it grows, the business can avoid a great deal of cost because the federal government will now pay much of what the business would have incurred for its share of health insurance. The small business tax credits included in health reform are limited and short-term, and the eventual penalty for not providing coverage, of $2,000 per employee, is still far less than the cost of insurance it replaces.

For an entrepreneur wanting a lean, employee-oriented company, it's a natural position to take: "We don't provide company housing, we don't provide company cars, we don't provide company insurance. Our approach is to put your compensation in your paycheck and let you decide how to spend it."

But while health reform may alter the landscape for small business in unexpected ways, it also opens the door to what is a potentially far larger effect on the Treasury.

The authors of health reform primarily targeted the uninsured and those now buying expensive individual policies. But there's a very large third group that can also enter and that may have been grossly underestimated: the 170 million Americans who currently have employer-sponsored group insurance. Because of the magnitude of the new subsidies created by Congress, the economics become compelling for many employers to simply drop coverage and help their employees obtain replacement coverage through an exchange.

Let's do a thought experiment. We'll use my own state of Tennessee and our state employees for our data. The year is 2014 and the Affordable Care Act is now in full operation. We're a large employer, with about 40,000 direct employees who participate in our health plan. In our thought experiment, let's exit the health-benefits business this year and help our employees use an exchange to purchase their own.

First of all, we need to keep our employees financially whole. With our current plan, they contribute 20% of the total cost of their health insurance, and that contribution in 2014 will total about $86 million. If all these employees now buy their insurance through an exchange, that personal share will increase by another $38 million. We'll adjust our employees' compensation in some rough fashion so that no employee is paying more for insurance as a result of our action. Taking into account the new taxes that would be incurred, the change in employee eligibility for subsidies, and allowing for inefficiency in how we distribute this new compensation, we'll triple our budget for this to $114 million.

Now that we've protected our employees, we'll also have to pay a federal penalty of $2,000 for each employee because we no longer offer health insurance; that's another $86 million. The total state cost is now about $200 million.

But if we keep our existing insurance plan, our cost will be $346 million. We can reduce our annual costs by over $146 million using the legislated mechanics of health reform to transfer them to the federal government.

That's just for our core employees. We also have 30,000 retirees under the age of 65, 128,000 employees in our local school systems, and 110,000 employees in local government, all of which presents strategies even more economically attractive than the thought experiment we just performed. Local governments will find eliminating all coverage particularly attractive, as many of them are small and will thus incur minor or no penalties; many have health plans that will not meet the minimum benefit threshold, and so they'll see a substantial and unavoidable increase in cost if they continue providing benefits under the new federal rules.

Our thought experiment shows how the economics of dropping existing coverage is about to become very attractive to many employers, both public and private. By 2014, there will be a mini-industry of consultants knocking on employers' doors to explain the new opportunity. And in the years after 2014, the economics just keep getting better.

The consequence of these generous subsidies will be that America's health reform may well drive many more people than projected out of employer-sponsored insurance and into the heavily subsidized federal system. Perhaps this is a miscalculation by the Congress, perhaps not. One principle of game theory is to think like your opponent; another is that there's always a larger game.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


22 October, 2010

Fools Rush in Where Europe Rushes Out

Jonah Goldberg

As of this writing, France is paralyzed. By the time you read this, it might be in flames. In Britain, where politics is more polite but the problems are perhaps just as dire, the government is proposing budget cuts on a scale not seen for nearly a century. In Greece, well, the less said about Greece the better.

All of these countries -- and many more -- are going through painful retrenchments because they spent too much money, made too many promises and expected too little from their own citizens. The era of European austerity is upon us, because the Europeans -- or at least those in charge -- understand the mess they've made of their economies.

This should present a real problem for Barack Obama and the vast (though shrinking) chorus of experts, editorialists and activists who support his agenda. In broad terms, all of the policies Obama and the Democrats have pushed are the sorts of policies the British, the French and other Europeans had for years, even decades.

As far as I am aware, no one has asked President Obama a simple question: If your philosophy is so great, how come the countries that have embraced it for generations are so much poorer than us?

Nor have they asked: If guaranteed health care for everyone will make us so much more "competitive," how come we've been doing so much better than our "competitors" who already have socialized medicine, high tax rates and lavish pensions?

Nor has the president been queried about the incongruity of saying his policies have laid a "new foundation" for economic growth and job creation when the countries he's trying to emulate are trying to dismantle the very same foundations in order to survive.

If you want evidence for all this, you don't need to look to Europe. You need only look to America. We've had the weakest recovery from a recession in memory. In Gerald Ford's first year as president, the country rebounded at a rate of 6.2 percent. Under Reagan it was 7.7 percent. Even Clinton's recovery rate was over 4 percent from 1993 to 1994 (and grew from there). Obama's recovery has not only been anemic and sputtering at around 3 percent, it hasn't made a dent in the unemployment rate because employers have no confidence that we'll have reliable growth or that Obama isn't waiting to bring the hammer down with more Euro-style policies and taxes.

Obama supporters will respond that he has, in fact, "created" jobs, but just not enough to climb out of the massive hole created by the financial crisis and former President Bush's evil policies. The White House insists that it's not remotely responsible for the 3.2 millions jobs (2.9 million in the private sector) that have disappeared on Obama's watch, but is completely responsible for every single new job that has been created or "saved" since then.

But consider this about the relatively few new net jobs the economy has created under Obama. As my National Review colleague Rich Lowry recently noted, half of all the new net jobs created in the United States (from August 2009 to August 2010) were created in Texas. According to White House logic, Obama must simply love Texas, since he's the one creating all of those jobs. You have to wonder what he has against New York or California -- you know, the states that actually share Obama's economic vision and are descending into an economic abyss as we speak. Why reward low-tax, pro-growth Texas with all of these jobs?



Democrats call Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and others stupid

As usual, it shows that abuse and arrogance is all that they've got

The 2010 election has devolved in its closing days into a battle – familiar in American history and high school alike – over who’s stupid, and who’s a snob.

Palin “has made ignorance fashionable,” the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd wrote Wednesday, comparing the Alaska Governor’s intellect – unfavorably – to Marilyn Monroe’s.

Rachel Maddow occupied her MSNBC show Tuesday night mocking a series of Republican figures, laughing through a clip of O’Donnell’s attempt to explain that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution, a point that drew nothing but ridicule on the left and in the British press. “The crowd is laughing at you,” she said as O’Donnell appeared on-screen.

Republicans say this strategy will work about as well this year as it did when used against Ronald Reagan.

But the Democrats are just getting started. Their laughter will be noisiest in a rally on the Mall on the eve of the midterm election, led by two comedians who have reveled in mocking the resurgent conservative grassroots. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have tapped into the Democratic Party’s ironic, scornful mood.

In doing so, they’ve also brought to light some of the party’s most self-destructive tendencies, the elitism and condescension that Bill Clinton sought to purge in the 1990s, when he matched a progressive agenda with the persona of a likeable “Bubba” to win two terms. Not many Democrats could pull it off. Charges of elitism dogged John Kerry in 2004 and resurfaced against Barack Obama at his lowest points in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2008, when he was recorded saying that small town people “cling” to their faith and their guns.

And President Obama himself has given his blessing to the election-eve irony-fest on the Mall, planning to appear on Stewart’s show in advance of the rally and plugging it in a recent appearance in Ohio, suggesting that Stewart’s point was to rally a silent, “sane” majority.

“There is a tendency now in the Democratic Party not only to disagree with, but to belittle political opponents,” said former Clinton pollster Doug Schoen, who accused Obama of “blaming the voters.” He called the posture “counterproductive,” and indeed, the Democrats have provoked the almost automatic backlash.

“These are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president,” former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote of a recent Obama comment about how voters were responding to Republicans out of fear. Gerson interpreted it as saying that Republicans had lapsed into reliance on their “lizard brains” while Democrats used their higher faculties.



The New Republican Right

By Dick Morris

A fundamental change is gripping the Republican grass roots as they animate the GOP surge to a major victory in the 2010 elections. No longer do evangelical or social issues dominate the Republican ground troops. Now economic and fiscal issues prevail. The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians.

There is still a litmus test for admission to the Republican Party. But no longer is it dominated by abortion, guns and gays. Now, keeping the economy free of government regulation, reducing taxation and curbing spending are the chemicals that turn the paper pink.

It is one of the fundamental planks in the Tea Party platform that the movement does not concern itself with social issues. At the Tea Parties, evangelical pro-lifers rub shoulders happily with gay libertarians. They are united by their anger at Obama's economic policies, fear of his deficits and horror at his looming tax increases. Obama's agenda has effectively removed the blocks that stopped tens of millions of social moderates from joining the GOP.

As a byproduct of this sea change in the Republican Party, GOP grassroots activists are no longer just concentrated in the South. They are spread all throughout the nation, as prominent in Ohio as in Alabama, in New York as in Georgia, in California as in Nevada.

The Tea Party's focus on fiscal and economic issues finds deep resonance among voters of all stripes, united as they are in economic hardship and disappointed as they all are by Obama's economic program. This antipathy to federal policies is paving the way for vast Republican inroads in normally solid Democratic turf like New York state, Massachusetts, California and Washington state.

This preference for economic and fiscal questions over social issues is not a top-down decision of the Tea Party leadership. There really is no Tea Party leadership. Those who conduct its affairs are mere coordinators of local groups where the real power lies. The entire affair is a grass roots-dominated movement.

The determination to focus on fiscal and economic issues, to the exclusion of social questions, wells up from below as individual members vent their concerns over ObamaCare, stimulus spending and cap-and-trade legislation. It is around opposition to Obama's agenda, not Roe v. Wade, that the movement is organized. It is a new day on the Republican right.



Congress has destroyed free check accounts

“Free checking as we know it is ending,” says the lead paragraph of a widely-read and tweeted story this week from the Associated Press. Noting Bank of America’s announced monthly charge of $8.50 for most checking accounts, the article reports that “almost all of the largest U.S. banks are either already making free checking much more difficult to get or expected to do so soon, with fees on even basic banking services.”

And other reports have noted the possible demise of free checking at many regional banks as well. Daniel Indiviglio blogs for The Atlantic that “free checking will soon be something only economic historians talk about.”

But the tide of economic history doesn’t necessarily have to turn this way. As noted in both The Atlantic and AP, the primary reason for free checking going by the wayside is not market forces, but new regulations from Washington.

The main culprits in free checking’s demise are the Federal Reserve’s rules that severely restrict banks from charging overdraft fees when customers make debit card purchases that exceed the balance of their checking accounts and the amendment from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) putting price controls on the interchange fees merchants pay to banks and credit unions to process debit cards. On Tuesday, as noted in the AP story, Bank of America took a $10.4 billion charge against earnings from projected loss of revenue due to the Durbin amendment.

The rules were sold as “protecting” the majority of consumers, but in reality they shifted costs to responsible middle-class consumers from irresponsible consumers who didn’t keep track of their checking accounts. Some of the nation’s biggest retailers also used bank-bashing rhetoric to get their share of corporate welfare at consumers’ expense. As The Atlantic’s Indiviglio writes, “At this point, banks are forbidden from squeezing as many fees out of bad customers and have less freedom to charge merchants. So their only alternative is to demand more money from their good customers.”

I propose that, as one of its first orders of business when it convenes next January, Congress enact “The Free Checking Restoration Act of 2011″ that would remove these cumbersome rules and will almost certainly result in competitive banks and credit unions offering traditional free checking to once again attract customers. The bill would get rid of the Fed’s overdraft rule and the Durbin amendment that puts price controls on merchant interchange fees....

At CEI, our mission is to make good policy good politics, and under current circumstances, promising voters the return of free checking accounts suddenly fits this bill. Since the promise some 80 years ago of ”a chicken in every pot,” political “freebies” have been a mainstay of modern campaigns.

Fiscal conservatives and libertarians usually look askance at these promises since most of the time they involve either spending a sum of money to bring the ”free” good to certain member of the population or mandating that businesses spend to provide this good, and the cost will have to be made up somewhere. But in this instance, Congress would not have to spend or mandate to provide this free good.

Rather, all it would have to do is remove misguided rules that were pushed through thoughtlessly in the Obama administration’s rush to regulate.




The US economy needs to rob people of their savings? (That's what inflation is): "John Maynard Keynes claimed that people will develop an irrational ‘liquidity preference,’ hoarding money while waiting for interest rates to rise. The modern apostle of the liquidity trap is Paul Krugman, who says the only way out is for the government to spend and inflate, which then will dislodge the hoarded cash, as people spend in anticipation of rising prices. One would hope that the supposed ‘great minds’ at the Fed and in academic economics would better understand inflation and its destructiveness, but that is not to be.”

Fannie, Freddie could hook US taxpayers with $363 billion tab: "U.S. taxpayers could be stuck with a tab more than double its current size for subsidized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a government regulator said Thursday. If housing prices drop through 2013, the bailed-out lenders will need another $215 billion to stay afloat, for a total bill of $363 billion. Some $148 billion has been spent so far to keep them in the black during the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

France: Riot police sent in to break oil blockade: "Teams of riot police carried out dawn raids to free France’s oil depots Wednesday as industry said the strikes against pension reforms were costing businesses up to $160 million per day. Under orders from President Nicolas Sarkozy, riot police in black body armour broke blockades around three depots in western France overnight, as fuel shortages left a third of France’s filling stations without gasoline. … All 12 of France’s oil refineries are still blocked but police have cleared access to 21 oil depots since Friday, and the government has insisted that fuel shortages will end within five days.”

Two US air marshals flee Brazil after being charged with assault: "Two U.S. air marshals who arrested the wife of a Brazilian judge on a flight to Rio de Janeiro — and were themselves arrested and had their passports confiscated by Brazilian authorities — fled the country using alternate travel documents rather than face what they believed to be trumped-up charges, sources said. The incident has impacted air marshal operations on flights to Brazil, officials said, and air marshals contacted by CNN said the case raises questions about Brazil’s willingness to support future law enforcement actions by U.S. officials on international flights.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


21 October, 2010

Covetous Democrats

"Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Goods."

The Democrats' philosophy can be summed up in this single precept -- covet what thy richer neighbors have. Democrats believe in a zero-sum game. For their entire philosophy of scarcity to function and breed class warfare, they must promote the idea that the world has a finite amount of wealth and that if John has more, it's not because he worked for it. It's because he somehow stole it from someone else. We'll call him Sam.

Government doesn't produce anything of value in the marketplace. It contracts with private concerns to build, grow, manufacture, or otherwise provide them. This includes important matters like defense. Therefore, in order to implement their plan, government's agents must first take from others.

The Democrats need many people on their side to support this, so class warfare ensues. It is easy enough to blame the "rich" for everything. They have it all. Fostering envy and coveting something that belongs to someone else is the oldest trick in the book, and it never works out well. Ask Eve.

The "rich" are a great target because they can bear greater burdens and seldom fire back until it's too late. But it's not a perfect socialist world, and even taxing the rich won't pay for everything the less fortunate want. With fewer than 2.3 million "rich" in the U.S. who qualify as millionaires, those who do not qualify can't afford to be so picky, so they must expand what being "wealthy" means.

In a Human Events article, "Obama's Biggest Lies," Donald Lambro illustrates this clearly: "According to Forbes magazine, there were only 469 billionaires in the U.S. and 2.2 million whose net worth was at least $1 million (this includes home values). But the higher taxes will fall on millions more small business employers who earn over $200,000 and who provide most of the jobs in our country."

European socialist models depend upon wealth redistribution, which follows this idea of scarcity. There is only so much wealth or property to go around, so it must be "managed" if we're to be "fair" to everyone, and of course, only the elite left is wise enough to know how to fairly manage these assets for everyone's benefit.

This certainly seems to be how it worked out in the (former) Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba. It seems to be equally true in Greece and France. Great Britain and Germany have been so impressed with socialism's results that they are turning en masse from its principles.

Liberals love to ignore the obvious. If this absurd idea of wealth scarcity were true, the world would have run out of money thousands of years ago. There would be no point to creating a new product or innovation because there would be no market for it, no reward, and no profit to be made.

A fair opportunity is not the same thing as a fair outcome.

It is counterintuitive for a people whose business is business to subscribe to a philosophy that declares private salaries and profits "excessive," since it is the private investor and shareholder who took the risk in the first place and who hire the very workers who now demand a piece of the pie. Few share in the risk, yet all should share in the reward. Certainly sounds "fair" to me.

When the top 50% pay over 95% of all taxes and the bottom 50% pays less than 5%, something is very wrong. Liberals put forward a zero-sum philosophy but are burning up the money presses 24/7. What's wrong with this picture?

Jesus said the poor will be with us always.

A nirvana "Star Trek" world without money, without sickness, and without envy ignores reality. Yet not only do the Left pretend this is possible, but they sell the idea by using envy and government checks like candy from their pocket. They sell this idea to those in need, taking power in exchange for promises they cannot possibly keep. They have merely shifted the burden, first to "the rich," and then always expanding according to ever-increasing needs to the entire producing half of the country. This is not fairness. This is lust for power. This is the face of tyranny in disguise.



In Obamacare Wonderland: Courts reject key defense for the individual mandate

Legal arguments for Obamacare's individual mandate fail the "Alice in Wonder- land" test and the duck test. In two court challenges to the law in the past 11 days and a court hearing today on a third, the Obama administration's legal position is fading faster than the Cheshire Cat.

Democrats took some solace from the first case, a challenge in Michigan, because Judge George C. Steeh ultimately ruled in favor of Obamacare. Yet even though that Clinton-appointed judge refused to declare the mandate unconstitutional, he undercut the administration's key argument that the penalty for failing to buy insurance is a "tax," and that the mandate it enforces is allowable within the broad taxing power provided by the Constitution. "The provisions of the Health Care Reform Act at issue here, for the most part, have nothing to do with the assessment or collection of taxes," Judge Steeh ruled.

This is so important that the federal district judge in Florida, in Thursday's preliminary ruling in the second case, spent 22 pages analyzing it. If the fine is a penalty rather than a tax, Congress' power is far less extensive. Judge Roger Vinson noted Congress repeatedly called the fine a "penalty," explicitly changing its description from a "tax" that earlier versions of the bill assessed by name. Citing Alice's admonition to Humpty Dumpty that words can't "mean so many different things" as Humpty intended, Judge Vinson concluded, "Congress should not be permitted to secure and cast politically difficult votes on controversial legislation by deliberately calling something one thing ... [only to] argue in court that Congress really meant something else entirely."

Judge Vinson explained that no matter what Congress called it, the assessment was designed to act as a punishment, not a revenue measure. Hence, it's not a tax. His 22-page analysis is an exposition of the logic that if something is called a duck, acts like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck - and the same goes for a penalty.

The tax issue is vital because it's the Obama administration's fallback position if it loses on the first and biggest dispute, which is whether Congress has the power under the Commerce Clause not only to regulate commerce, but to force individuals to engage in specific commerce. "At this stage in the litigation, this is not even a close call," Judge Vinson stated. "The power [claimed by the administration] is simply without prior precedent."

Judge Henry E. Hudson in Virginia reached the same conclusion in a preliminary ruling in the third case against Obamacare. He wrote that the mandate doesn't regulate commerce, as the Constitution allows, but instead regulates "a virtual state of repose - or idleness - the converse of activity." Judge Hudson hears oral arguments in that case today. He ought to deliver another strong blow against Obamacare so that not even the king's horses can put the law together again.



Top 10 ways government kills jobs in America

Our politicians all seem to agree on at least one thing: There will be no recovery unless America gets back to work.

But that’s often where the agreement ends. Once you move on to discuss how to get America back to work, opinions begin to diverge.

In general, the worst thing for job creation is a poor entrepreneurial climate. Such a climate is brought on by the large fiscal debt, unpredictable health care costs, and a generally anti-business and pro-regulation approach by government.

In the run-up to the midterm elections, all of us should be thinking about “climate change”—about the best ways to create jobs in our nation. We’ll hear lots of talk about recovery and stimulus, about fairness and equity, the future and change.

As we listen to the rhetoric, remember the reality. These are the Top job killers in America.

1. Uncertainty and business: What you don’t know can (and does) hurt you. Businesses plan around rules. And they are unlikely to invest if they can’t be reasonably sure about what the rules will be. When things are uncertain, businesses hold back cash to protect themselves—and this kills jobs. My colleague Allan Meltzer has made this point in two recent WSJ op-eds: “High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth,” he declares in one. “The most important restriction on investment today is not tight monetary policy, but uncertainty about administration policy,” he argues in the other.

2. Uncertainty and the consumer: Uncertainty isn’t just bad for companies—it’s bad for consumers, too. If I think government policy may provoke a double dip in the economy and my job is on the line, there’s no way I’m going out to buy a new car. For that matter, even the possibility of a huge gas tax would make me less likely to make a car purchase decision. All this kills jobs.

3. High corporate taxes: Americans are shocked to learn that we have some of the highest corporate taxes in the world. In fact, Japan is the only developed country with a higher corporate tax rate than the United States. Whether we like it or not, the corporate tax is a tax on jobs. It makes it more expensive for firms to function, which costs jobs. But even worse, it drives companies to find more tax-friendly environments in other countries.

4. Unhealthy health insurance costs: The high health insurance costs associated with hiring new workers hits small businesses particularly hard, according to AEI economist Aparna Mathur. Government health mandates specify exactly what kinds of coverage have to be included in insurance policies. This makes increasing headcount a costly exercise, and so kills jobs. One major CEO told me recently that his hiring was stunted by the new mandate to cover workers’ kids up to age 26.

5. The threat of unionization: In a global economy, it’s fairly simple for a lot of firms to avoid unionization: They can move overseas and take their jobs with them. Policies that favor unions make this decision more attractive.

6. Inability to hire and fire: In Europe, government regulations and employment protection laws reduce the flexibility of firms to downsize their operations when they need to. They also discourage those same firms from upsizing their operations when they would otherwise do so, and are thus a job killer. This is why Spain has a 20% unemployment rate (and about 40% among workers under 25). Restrictions on firing are a job killer.

7. Trade restrictions: Free trade favors consumers everywhere, and benefits workers in industries where America has a comparative advantage. Tariffs and other barriers benefit industries that are already in decline. This is why economists always tell us that over the long run, trade barriers and slow modernization are a net job killer.

8. Credit: Poor credit access especially hurts new and young firms that are eager to expand their operations. The new Consumer Financial Protection Agency could make matters worse by expanding burdensome regulation of these financial markets, killing jobs in the process.

9. Increasing unemployment insurance: Everyone wants to ease the burden on the unemployed, so it is tempting to extend unemployment insurance, as our government has recently—today, to as much as 73 additional weeks. Unfortunately, this kills jobs and economic recovery. Harvard economist Robert Barro estimates that if unemployment insurance had not been expanded, the unemployment rate would now be 6.8% rather than 9.5%.

10. Encouraging frivolous lawsuits: This increases the costs of doing business in America, with one study estimating that we waste as much as $900 billion a year on excessive tort litigation—that’s 6.5 percent of GNP or $12,000 annually for a family of four. As a result, company capital that could be used for expansion and job creation goes to the trial lawyers instead. And like so many anti-business measures, such litigation drives up costs for consumers, which reduces demand and kills jobs even more.



Some miscellaneous notes:

Horror stories about Britain's socialized medicine system are more or less routine on my EYE ON BRITAIN blog but the story leading yesterday's posts I found particularly disturbing. It will certainly horrify anyone with libertarian views. You have no right to go to hell in your own way in Britain. On AUSTRALIAN POLITICS today there are also two stories about failures of socialized medicine in Australia.

I have recently added a few things to my sidebar here. My comments on monarchy might evoke a few responses from some American readers.

As regular readers here will be aware, in addition to my political blogs which I update daily, I have two irregularly updated blogs which I put up mainly for my own amusement -- my Personal blog and Paralipomena . I gather that some readers here do occasionally look at them so I thought I might note that I have added a bit to both in recent times.



A brain-dead Obama appointee at work: "An HIV-positive prisoner (Anthony Pitre) is transferred to a prison where all inmates are required to do hard labor. He doesn’t like hard labor and so, in protest, he refuses to take his HIV meds. As a result, he’s less fit for hard labor. But prison officials say: “Too bad, you still have to do hard labor like everyone else.” Pitre then sues the prison for “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Constitution. The magistrate judge dismisses the claim as “patently frivolous.” The federal district court agrees. The Fifth Circuit agrees. Eight Supreme Court justices refuse to hear the case — with Justice Sotomayor dissenting. In a four-page dissent (highly unusual for a routine denial of certiorari), Sotomayor argues that Pitre had demonstrated that prison officials acted with “deliberate indifference” in violation of the Eighth Amendment" [Cruel and unusual punishment]

Federal appeals court reinstates “don’t ask, don’t tell”: "A federal appeals court Wednesday reinstated ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ the military’s policy forbidding openly gay troops from serving. A three-judge panel granted the Justice Department’s emergency request to allow the policy to remain on the books so that the appeals court could have more time to fully consider the issues presented.”

Pilot refuses full-body scan, patdown: "A pilot who refused to submit to a full-body scan or the alternative pat down going through airport security said the procedures violate his rights. … [Michael] Roberts said TSA security measures are ineffective, and cited concerns for his rights and privacy in refusing the procedures. ‘I was trying to avoid this assault on my person, and I’m not willing to have images of my nude body produced for some stranger in another room to look at either,’ Roberts told CNN. The TSA said in a statement that ’security [sic] is not optional’ and any person who refuses security screening is not allowed to fly.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


20 October, 2010

Obama's nativist tactics may backfire, given his record of sending jobs overseas

Obama has made the baseless claim that the Chamber of Commerce is spending foreign money on political campaigns. This claim was widely disseminated to the general public through a hysterical ad campaign by the Democratic National Committee accusing the Chamber of Commerce of "stealing our democracy" and featuring an "ominous shot of Chinese currency," suggesting that Chinese people are trying to take over America. Not only was this claim false, but stoking nativism may backfire on Obama politically, since liberal interest groups that back Obama, like unions, receive large amounts of foreign money, and Obama himself has used regulations and subsidies to ship American jobs overseas.

As one writer notes in the Washington Post, "Labor unions are spending millions to tar Republican candidates -- and they take in far more foreign cash than the Chamber." "The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is spending lavishly to elect Democrats. . . takes in nearly $9.2 million per year from foreign nationals, compared to the mere "$100,000," none of it used for political campaigns, that the Chamber "receives from its affiliates abroad" -- less than 1/20th of 1 percent of the Chamber's budget. Moreover, most foreign PAC money is going to Democrats, not Republicans.

And Obama's policies have shipped American jobs overseas. 79 percent of the green-jobs funding contained in the $800 billion stimulus package went to foreign firms, aggravating the nation's trade deficit. Meanwhile, the Administration has paid $150 million a year to Brazilian cotton farmers, and supported a cap-and-trade global warming bill that would drive hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas. (Although Obama and other backers of this “cap-and-trade” concept claim it will cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may perversely increase them by driving industry abroad to countries with fewer environmental regulations, resulting in dirtier air, and damage to forests and water supplies). Stoking anti-foreign sentiment may further increase public outrage over administration policies that help foreigners at the expense of Americans -- like its backdoor bailouts of foreign banks, and the $6 billion Obama spent on bailing out socialist Greece.

Obama's attacks on foreign money may also remind Americans of Obama's own 2008 receipt of foreign campaign contributions, which resulted from his campaign's deliberate disabling of computer software that would have thwarted such contributions, as the Wall Street Journal's John Fund and others have pointed out: "As the Washington Post reported, the Obama campaign had turned off its Address Verification System, or AVS, at its Web site. That program should have stopped contributions coming in from citizens of foreign countries -- a violation of federal law. Clearly, the Obama campaign's decision to abandon filters had consequences -- the campaign was forced to refund $33,000 to two Palestinian brothers in the Gaza Strip."

SOURCE (See the original for links)


The Statist, Ruling Class's New Hero -- Bill Buckley?

It's always amusing when the Left try to tell conservatives how to be conservative

By Richard A. Viguerie

It's easy to use the deceased to claim support for one's positions. The dead aren't around to deny, rebut, and refute false or misleading statements.

William F. Buckley, Jr., intellectual giant and "maker" of the conservative movement, has of late become a crutch for statists and ruling-class elites to denigrate the Tea Parties and the surge of the constitutional, small-government conservative movement.

Liberals trying to smear the Tea Party cause and constitutional, small-government conservative candidates by referring to Buckley are, however, attempting to rewrite history to suit their own agendas and ideology.

For example, E.J. Dionne writes in Monday's Washington Post, "[W]hereas responsible conservatives such as William F. Buckley Jr. denounced the [John] Birchers and the rest of the lunatic fringe back then, Republicans this time are riding the radical wave."

Steve Benen of the liberal Washington Monthly recently shed crocodile tears in a post entitled, "Where have you gone, William F. Buckley, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you," claiming that "the conservative movement appears to have gone berserk." Benen laid charges of "an unprecedented mainstreaming of once fringe far-right ideas."

In my appearance on CNN's Parker Spitzer show last week, co-host Kathleen Parker tried that gambit with me. Here's a part from the exchange reported by Newsbusters of the Media Research Center:

PARKER: First of all, you started in 1961, here in New York City, with William F. Buckley, and I'm wondering if you think that today's Republican Party is William F. Buckley's party?

VIGUERIE: The Republican Party is not the party that Bill Buckley would want today, but it's moving in that direction.

What was left on CNN's editing room floor was my longer explanation of how Bill Buckley spent the better part of sixty years working against the Kathleen Parkers in the Republican Party.

From his book, God and Man at Yale, through opposing Dwight Eisenhower and Nelson Rockefeller, reluctantly supporting Richard Nixon, and helping co-found the Conservative Party of New York because the NY GOP had been captured by liberal Republicans to running for New York City mayor against big-government Republican John Lindsay, Buckley was tirelessly consistent in his opposition to big-government Republicans.

Buckley was for freedom over statism, and he often found members of the Republican Party offering no real alternative to statism. Buckley even was a sometime critic of Ronald Reagan.

Buckley was many things, but two of his most underappreciated qualities were that he was a populist and a constitutionalist. He once famously said, "I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University."

Any large movement has its share of miscreants, and Buckley did spend about one or two percent of his time ostracizing certain people on the right whose outrageous comments distracted from the mission of the conservative movement.

If the liberal intelligentsia were honest brokers, they could spend most of their time berating the extremists, kooks, and flakes on the left, beginning within the Democratic Congressional Caucus or the Obama White House and working outward to many of the left-wing coalitions, organizations, and even media members who are their support network.

Why, for example, are E.J. Dionne and other liberals silent about House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers' October 2010 appearance before a meeting of the Democratic Socialists of America, a Marxist organization, or the Communist Party's participation in and support for the October 2 One Nation rally, including this post at Barack Obama's Organizing for America website by the National Chairman of the Communist Party USA?

And where were the so-called "reasonable" liberals when other liberals protested Bill Buckley's speeches on college campuses, when liberal Gore Vidal called him a "crypto-Nazi," or when, more contemporarily, another liberal wrote, "Bill Buckley, sniveling racist, dies."

The maturing but still nascent, populist-driven Tea Party and the resurgence of the constitutional small-government conservative movement are very much consistent with Buckley's views. Marxists, Dionne, Benen, Parker, and other statist, ruling-class elites would prefer Republicans who offer little resistance to them. However, they cannot, try as they may, credibly paint the free-market, deficit-reduction, constitutional principles of the Tea Party or the everyday Americans rising in protest as radically fringe.

In my last conversation with Buckley twenty months before he died, he told me that George W. Bush was conservative, but not a conservative. Buckley would have assuredly been driven to his chastising and majestically acerbic pen by the revelation after his death that Bush himself denigrated the conservative movement while in the White House.

I wish he were around to see this movement, especially emerging out of the disastrous past decade of big-government Republicanism, and to refute the statists and ruling class members who have misused his name for their own ideological purposes.

And since they are engaging in speculative talk, allow me to do the same: If Bill Buckley were alive today, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Gadsden flag flying on his yacht.

For those who want to learn more about what Bill Buckley really thought and did, read Buckley himself, such as God and Man at Yale and Up from Liberalism. Also, I highly recommend Lee Edwards' new magnificent biography of Buckley, The Maker of the Movement.



Troops Will Vote With Their Feet

The last word regarding the proposed repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military homosexual exclusion law won’t come from the President, Congress, or the courts. The all-volunteer military will have the last word if the homosexual law is repealed; that is, many will vote with their feet to the nation’s peril.

The confluence of efforts by the three branches of government to lift the homosexual ban is unprecedented but so is their failure to consider unfettered service member voices. Ignoring their views potentially places the nation at risk if our volunteers who are already overstretched by nine years of war decide that lifting the homosexual ban is the last straw and then leave. And lifting the ban could also keep qualified candidates with a proclivity to serve from enlisting but no one knows just how many are in either category.

What we do know is the pool of potential volunteers is shrinking with only 25% of the nation’s 17- to 24-year-olds eligible for military service and a fraction of that group demonstrate a proclivity to volunteer. That shrinking pool is drawn from a small segment of the population mostly opposed to open homosexuality in the military such as conservative and religious families with histories of military service.

This pool of eligible volunteers won’t be easily replaced by “eligible” homosexuals who as a category make up only a few percentage points of the total population and, in general, steer clear of military service. Yet gay activists and liberal apologists with no military service would have the American public believe homosexuals are anxious to fill the military’s ranks.

The President, Congress, and the courts disregard the unfettered opinions of our all-volunteer military at great risk, and if Obama and his allies succeed in lifting the ban they have no back-up pool of eligible recruits. That is why Congress had better listen to our troops and their chiefs or get ready to justify conscription for everyone’s sons and daughters.



Public-Sector Unions Choke Taxpayers

John Stossel

"I thought unions were great -- until at Chrysler, the union steward started screaming at me. Working at an unhurried pace, I'd exceeded 'production' for that job."

That comment, left on my blog by a viewer who watched my Fox Business Network show about unions, matches my experience. No one ordered me to slow down, but union rules and union culture at ABC and CBS slowed the work. Sometimes a camera crew took five minutes just to get out of the car.

Now unions conspire with politicians to rip off taxpayers.

Steve Melanga of the Manhattan Institute complains that politicians get union political support by granting government workers generous pensions and health benefits. After those politicians leave office, taxpayers are liable for trillions in unfunded promises.

"It's squeezing out all other spending," Melanga says. "Where are we going to get this $3 trillion dollars? ... When they're (government workers) allowed to retire at 58 and the rest of us are retiring at 60 and 67 -- and by the way we're living to 80 -- it's crazy. The public sector is the version of the European welfare state which, by the way, in Europe, they're actually rolling back."

Jakob wrote: "Are you really this stupid? Do you really want to lower American workers' standards to that of Honduras and China, where democratic unions do not exist? Would you like for us to go back to a time in America before we had unions? When children worked in factories for 14-hour days and health and safety standards simply did not exist?"

These are popular views. But they are wrong. Factories are safer because of free markets. Companies want better workers and must compete to get them. Free markets create wealth that permits parents to send their kids to schools instead of factories. Unions once helped to advance working conditions, but now union work rules mostly retard growth and progress.

Many workers understand that, and that's why only 8 percent of private-sector workers still belong to unions. In the private sector, wage and pension demands are tempered by competition. If one company pays too much, a competitor takes his business.

But governments are monopolies. They face no competition and get their money by force. So they can conspire with public-sector unions to milk taxpayers. That explains the fix we're in today. Something's got to give.




US military starting to accept homosexuals: "Openly gay recruits can now join the military as a result of a federal court ruling striking down the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law, but they are being warned that they can still be discharged if the ruling is overturned. Cynthia Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said the suspension of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is in response to the Sept. 9 decision of a central California federal judge that ruled the law implemented under President Clinton in 1993 was unconstitutional.”

The crime of living: "The new term ‘overcriminalization’ describes the last few decades’ legislative orgy of criminalizing trivial or harmless behavior. Under ‘zero tolerance’ the legal system has shifted ever closer to a vast police state. From 2000 to 2007 Congress added 452 new federal crimes to the 4,450 already in effect and the roughly 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. ‘Get tough’ punishments and innovative new crimes have brought career-making headlines to politicians, who encountered little resistance.”

Would you like a union with that, comrade?: "Workers at some of America’s fast food restaurants could be in for some interesting times soon. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is attempting to unionize several Jimmy John’s sandwich stores in the Minneapolis area. The IWW’s campaign against Jimmy John’s could be the start of organizing efforts at several other restaurant chains. (Today, only 1.3 percent of workers in the food service industry are union members.) This should concern not only restaurateurs, but also consumers and young workers.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


19 October, 2010

Liberals’ Disdain for Everyday Americans

Lloyd Marcus

I am continually amazed by the arrogance of liberals and how “little” they think of us. Fifteen years working at a TV station, a liberal propaganda factory, I am familiar with their snooty mindset. “The general public are unsophisticated yahoos.”

Interviewed on the O'Reilly Factor, ABC News' chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos was asked why Obama's approval rating was plummeting. Incredibly, Stephanopoulos gave every excuse under the sun for Obama's decline, completely ignoring the elephant in the living room which is: Obama has governed totally against the will of the people.

Apparently, the opinions and feelings of everyday Americans are irrelevant to Stephanopoulos. After all, what the heck does mainstream America know? As I said, I've worked in Stephanopolus' media world and know the mindset.

A little interesting side bar to prove my point that liberal media holds the general public in contempt. My career in television ended in 1993. The big “inside” joke of the liberal dominated broadcasting industry was the “Regis and Kathie Lee Show”. Libs thought their show was too wholesome and all American. Kathie Lee was particularly despised by them for being a Christian and too Miss Goody Two Shoes.

And yet, Regis and Kathie Lee were king and queen of morning programming; loved by the masses and hated by the liberal industry elites. Many producers attempted to dethrone Regis and Kathie Lee with so-called, “hipper” shows, only to have their “we think the general public are unsophisticated yahoos” butts kicked, big time, in the ratings.

Liberals in government treat us like idiots as well. In panic mode sensing their devastating defeat in November, the Obama administration, without evidence, accused republicans of accepting illegal foreign campaign funds. When asked to prove their serious accusation, the official Obama administration response was that the burden was on the republicans to prove they are not guilty. Folks, what kind of absurd nonsensical reasoning is that? Obama and company think we are idiots.

Liberals have a history of assuming the general public is gullible inferior idiots. Liberals run political ads filled with lies and throw false outrageous accusations expecting their stupid base to fall for it. In the battle to pass Obamacare, liberal democrat Alan Grayson actually said, “Republicans want you to die.”

I still remember the incident of a little black girl crying her eyes out in fear during the Bush presidential campaign. The self proclaimed paragons of truth and compassion, liberal democrats, told her if Bush won the election, she would be put back into slavery.

Hidden in Obamacare is a plethora of government controls epitomizing liberal's superior knowledge on how we should be forced to live our lives.

Liberal actress Jeannine Garofalo said black RNC Chairman Michael Steele “suffers with Stockholm Syndrome.” So, according to Ms Garofalo, blacks who do not hate or resent their country are ill. How unbelievably arrogant, racist and superior minded.

Speaking of Michael Steele, liberals are quick to call people racist. But, for some reason, they feel free to use racial epithets, racist cartoons and racist doctored photos to punish conservative blacks. Here (above) is a photo of Michael Steele doctored by a liberal blogger when Steele ran for Lt Governor of Maryland. The caption under the photo read, “Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house”.

Libs particularly “dis” minorities by always suggesting standards be lowered to “let us po inferior people of color” in. It would be absurd to think minorities could succeed based on merit; like white folks.

Bottom line, liberal attitudes are insulting, racist, arrogant and superior. I can not comprehend how any thinking person, especially a minority, could embrace the liberal's agenda as beneficial.



How new GOP Congress can repeal, replace Obamacare

If voters return Republicans to majorities in one or both Houses of Congress, their Job One will be to start the process of repealing Obamacare and replacing it with realistic health care reforms that make universal access possible at a reasonable cost without putting federal bureaucrats in charge of U.S. medicine. President Obama will surely veto even a simple repeal measure, but Republicans still should put an end to Obamacare's most damaging and least popular provisions by defunding them. The process will also force Obamacrats in Congress to cast multiple votes they would probably prefer to avoid, thus setting the stage for a titanic 2012 presidential election contest.

To that end, here are The Examiner's recommendations to GOP congressional leaders for how to approach this most vital issue. This page will feature our recommendations to the new Congress on other major issues throughout this week:

* Bureaucracy: Every year, Congress passes appropriations provisions that forbid the use of funds for certain purposes. Next year's spending bills should bar the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies from establishing the 159 boards, panels and programs in Obamacare. The Treasury appropriations bill should likewise remove all authority from the Internal Revenue Service for enforcing Obamacare's tax provisions.

* Stop medical lawsuit abuse: Trial lawyers kept medical tort reform out of Obamacare despite the fact such provisions could save at least $200 billion in unnecessary annual health care costs. Trial lawyers made sure Obamacare did include provisions encouraging state attorneys general to outsource litigation against health care providers to ambulance-chasing trial lawyers. The new Congress should put tort reform into health care reform and take the trial lawyers out of it.

* Abortion funding: Congress can and should also permanently bar Obamacare from ever using federal tax dollars to pay for abortions. Not using tax dollars to pay for abortions is one of the few measures on which opponents and defenders of the procedure agree, but more is required to make the ban effective than a meaningless presidential executive order.

* Burdens on small business: Congress should quickly challenge Obama to veto legislation repealing the Obamacare requirement that small businesses fill out and file 1099 Forms for every vendor with whom they have significant dealings.

* Wheelchair tax: Do Obamacrats really want to face a 2012 re-election campaign after voting to tax someone's wheelchair? We don't think so.

* Employer mandate: However it is ultimately replaced, the new health care reform to come should end the tax breaks that make employers the main source of health care insurance coverage. All Americans should have access to good health care insurance without worry they will be denied because of prior conditions. And they should be able to get their coverage from the provider they choose, wherever it is located.

* Individual mandate: Obamacare may be the first federal law in American history that requires every American to purchase a commercial product under penalty of law. If the Supreme Court has not already declared Obamacare's individual mandate unconstitutional, Congress should repeal it.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare must be done carefully and without undue haste. These recommendations are only the first steps, but they are the essential elements for all that follows.



How to get the economy right

The answer to our current economic malaise is so simple. It boils down to getting only two things kind of right. Not millions of things perfectly right. Two things kind of right! Is that too much to ask for? It's not, as we are led to believe, a very complex formula. It doesn't involve having the best and brightest economic minds surrounding the President carefully crafting complicated plans to be painstakingly executed and monitored day and night by the government's financial czars. It involves getting two things kind of right.

My friend, Nathan Lewis, who understands better than most how tax and monetary policy effect economic output puts it this way: The two and only two things you need for a vibrant, no, booming economy, are low tax rates and stable money. Get those two things right and you are off to the economic races. Get them wrong and you are, well, you are right where we are today, scraping along the bottom, not quite falling behind, but certainly not moving ahead.

Many will argue that a third component, rolling back unnecessary regulations, is required and while that may be true, in reality regulations are just a subset of the low tax proposition. After all, regulations are just additional costs imposed on business by various governments. In other words, they are taxes. Low tax rates will once again realign the incentive structure that has been undermined by the current policies of redistribution, and once again reward hard work.

If a low tax rate is the Burpees Big Boy seed of economic growth, stable money is the spring rain that makes the combination bear fruit. Economies that debase their currency find that attracting capital becomes increasingly difficult. The plummeting dollar tells investors the game is rigged.

Even if you can achieve the nominal returns you seek, at the end of the day you'll end up a loser, as the falling value of the dollar turns your real returns negative. Without capital, you are just a man leaning on a shovel in the field wishing you could persuade the folks at the bank that the tractor that would make your business boom really is a capital idea.



Democrats target GOP donors with hate campaigns

The White House attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn’t about “disclosure.” It’s about disarmament. While posing as campaign finance champions, the ultimate goal of the Democratic offensive is to intimidate conservative donors, chill political free speech and drain Republican coffers.

Chamber of Commerce official Bruce Josten tried to educate the public. “(W)e know what the purpose here is,” he told ABC News. “It’s to harass and intimidate.” Josten cited protests and threats against chamber members as retribution for ads the organization ran opposing the federal health care takeover.

But this isn’t the first time liberal bullyboys have targeted right-leaning contributors. Far from it.

In August 2008, a former Washington director of MoveOn.org — the smear merchant group that branded Gen. David Petraeus a traitor for overseeing the successful troop surge in Iraq — announced a brazen witch hunt against Republican donors. Left-wing political operative Tom Matzzie told The New York Times he would send “warning” letters to 10,000 top GOP givers “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” Matzzie bragged of “going for the jugular” and said the warning letter would be just the first step, “alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.”

Much more HERE



Rasmussen Predicts GOP Gain of 55 in House: "Nationally-recognized pollster Scott Rasmussen last night predicted that Republicans would gain 55 seats in races for the U.S. House of Representatives November 2—much more than the 39 needed for a Republican majority in the House for the first time since 2006. But the man whose Rasmussen Reports polling is watched carefully by politicians and frequently quoted by the punditocracy said that whether Republicans gain the ten seats they need to take control of the Senate is in question. “Republicans should have 48 seats [after the elections next month], Democrats 47, and five seats could slide either way,” said Rasmussen. He was referring to seats in five states in which the Senate race this year he considers too close to call: California, Illinois, Washington, West Virginia, and Nevada"

Health care plans, waivers, choice?: "President Obama promised in 2009, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was being debated, ‘If you like your health plan, you can keep it.’ Maybe not. You can’t keep your plan if your employer or your insurance company drops it. That’s where the waivers come in. Because the terms of the new law drive up insurers’ costs, premiums are becoming more expensive, and companies are considering whether to drop plans. The Obama administration decided to grant 30 waivers in September, presumably in part to avoid the embarrassing spectacle of the widespread disappearance of private plans less than a year after the new law was enacted and just before the midterm elections.”

SCOTUS rejects felons’ voting rights challenge: "Massachusetts prison inmates have lost a bid to regain their voting rights after claiming that a state referendum diluted black and Hispanic political clout because of the higher proportion of minorities in the commonwealth’s prison system. The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the case of three inmates who sued the Commonwealth of Massachusetts after a 2000 referendum stripped incarcerated felons of the right to vote. The inmates filed suit in federal court claiming the action violated the federal Voting Rights Act because it had a disparate impact on the political power of minority voters across Massachusetts.”

Taxpayers await annual AMT “patch”: "Of all the tax issues facing Congress when it returns for a lame duck session after the Nov. 2 midterm elections, the annual rite of patching the Alternative Minimum Tax will be the most urgent. Unlike the debate over the Bush tax cuts, which will affect taxpayers’ income in 2011, the AMT applies to 2010. And the delay in patching it is already causing problems and raising alarms for large numbers of middle-income taxpayers — as many as 25 million Americans, according to one expert — who could face a huge increase in their tax payments if Congress doesn’t act.”

From self-reliance to servitude: "We use a variety of yardsticks to judge whether our country is on the right track. Is inflation up? Has unemployment dropped? What’s the stock market doing today? Here’s another one: Are Americans, who have long prided themselves on their freedom and self-reliance, becoming more dependent on government, or less? It’s a yardstick we seldom check. But we should. Consider health care. Before the 1960s, Americans who didn’t get their insurance through work typically got it through civic organizations such as churches and social clubs. Now they’re more likely to get it through government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The result? Greater dependence on government.”

Reaganomics led to an economic turnaround: "When judging the results of successive U.S. governments, it is common to focus on the simple matter of who the president was. But this neglects the importance of Congress in all legislative matters. We can­not understand the actions or the results of an administration without examining both its intentions and the context in which it served. … It is common, for example, to note the increases in the federal budget deficit during the years of the Reagan administration. Shallow analysts look at this one statistic and dismiss ‘Reaganomics’ as a failure. They fail to note that the national debt had been trend­ing upward at an increasing rate dur­ing the ’70s, but peaked out during President Ronald Reagan’s first term. That began a 20-year downtrend in the rate of growth of the national debt.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


18 October, 2010

A small housekeeping note

ALL of my blogs are blocked from being viewed in China. I also have the distinction, however, that some of my blogs are blocked in some places in the USA and elsewhere -- on "hate speech" grounds (Translation: I sometimes write critically about Muslims and Islam). I tend to think that if my blogs are blocked both in China and in some of the more socialistic parts of America then I must be doing something right!

So to circumvent such bans, I have long done something quite easy: I put up "mirror" sites -- backup copies of my blogs hosted on various less-known webhosts (both free and paid) that tend to escape censorship. So if you cannot read my primary blogs, you can at least read copies.

All webhosts are rather erratic, however, and sometimes freeze up or blink out of existence with or without warning. To cope with THAT problem, I always put up my "mirrors" on TWO hosts. So if one host goes haywire, you can always access the copy of the blog on the second host.

A host that I have been using for a couple of years has however been giving a lot of trouble lately. It seems to be "frozen" (non-updatable) most of the time. I have been unable to do my usual daily updates there. I have therefore given up on that host and am posting the second of my "mirrors" on another host. An updated set of links to all my mirror sites can be found here or here (China readable).


ObamaCare: 47% Premium Hikes in Connecticut

Via Hot Air, comes this story in the Hartford Courant about how insurers in the nutmeg state are raising rates as much as 47 percent:
The states largest insurer has been approved to raise health premium rates by 41 percent to 47 percent for some of its policies sold to individual buyers, in the largest price hikes yet seen in Connecticut since the adoption of national health care reform.

For all of its individual market plans, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has received approval to raise rates by at least 19 percent including a range of 30 percent to 44 percent for the brand of plans in the individual market that was most popular in 2009, Century Preferred.

The reason for the increases is the new federal health reform mandates, according to Anthem and the state Department of Insurance, which is defending its approval against charges by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Those reforms took effect Sept. 23.

Wasn’t Obamacare specifically supposed to halt the steep cost increases in insurance plans? That was exactly what the president claimed the month before the health care bill passed:
People need to understand why we can’t back off on [health care reform], the president said. One of the major insurers in California just announced that in the individual market, they’re increasing their premiums by 39 percent. That’s a portrait of the future if we don’t do something now.

Well, the future is now and not only is the bill not slowing the rise in insurance costs, Obamacare is actually exacerbating the problem. But hey, its a good thing the president spent all that time getting the policy right.



Obama’s Job-Killing Regulations

With the prospect of a Republican majority in the House, and, possibly, the Senate, President Obama may continue his anti-business, job killing agenda by issuing intrusive, regulatory, executive orders. Americans should be concerned that federal agencies are drafting new regulatory edicts that will continue the Obama economic policy of stifling innovation and job creation, while rewarding union loyalists.

Taxpayers are growing increasingly worried by a government that is expanding too fast, becoming increasingly intrusive, and throttling the American job creation machine. But, Team Obama seems determined to ignore the stinging rebukes emanating from the nation’s voters.

Many Americans thought Henry Waxman’s Cap and Trade nightmare was dead. While Team Obama may no longer be able to push through another 2000+ page piece of job-destroying legislation, the Administration can use Executive Orders to implement many of the specifics of the legislation via changes in the regulatory policies.

Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued partial guidance to increase ethanol content in gasoline to 15% , even though ethanol’s supposed benefits have been solidly debunked. Studies by the EPA have shown that ethanol increases carbon emissions, drives up costs of corn and food products, hinders engine efficiency, and does little to make our nation more energy independent.

In short, the EPA’s ethanol policy is a ploy, designed to prop up a failed industry, with yet another multi-billion dollar bailout from taxpayers.

EPA quietly announced this decision that will result in huge increases in subsidies to the ethanol industry while forcing Americans to buy a product that they don’t want. Nor was there any acknowledgement within the Obama Administration that the unintended consequence of a 15% mandate on ethanol will almost certainly drive up food costs on everything from beef to cereal, to tortillas.

Higher food prices represent a new tax on all Americans as we are forced to pay more for corn-based food products, so that Obama can continue to subsidize the ethanol industry.

In another move that compounds the regulatory burdens, the EPA recently issued a strategic plan for the next five years (Fiscal Year 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan) that will cost over a trillion dollars to implement. The plan advances retaliatory mandates that allow President Obama to punish organizations that oppose his flawed policies and donate heavily to Republicans.

For example, on page 44, the EPA unveils its new plan to criminalize violations of the agency’s mandates and has targeted 4 industries --cement plants, coal-fired utilities, glass plants and animal feeding operations, all industries that have, traditionally, donated heavily to Republicans.

It is hard not to consider that the Obama Administration’s actions may be politically motivated, since Americans have seen the Democrat party using this same kind of demagoguery with Koch Industries and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, both which have chosen to support GOP candidates and Republican job-creation policies.

Nor is the EPA the only Federal Agency working hard to crank up a slew of new regulations which will soon sprout like crabgrass in the spring. Take for example the new rulings that will give the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) broad new powers to require all financial institutions, hedge funds, investment firms, banks to set up hiring quotas for minorities.

More troubling still is that, in the interests of “diversity” and “inclusion” Section 342 (p.166) of the new financial reform bill will give the federal government vast new powers to dictate a firms “management, employment, and business activities”.

Let’s be clear: a diverse workforce is a great asset to any company and many Wall Street firms would benefit from hiring more women and minorities. But should we give some young, inexperienced government bureaucrat, only recently out of his/her Oshkosh b’Gosh, the power to dictate “business activities” of our major financial firms and banks? That seems to be the path that Obama is now endorsing.

The GOP may win back the House and possibly even the Senate, but Republicans need to be savvy and vigilant. Rolling back Obama’s job-killing, costly legislation will not be the only challenge facing the 112th Congress. Ferreting out the many government agency executive orders that place punitive, costly requirements on businesses and carry criminal penalties if businesses don’t comply, will be a far harder task. Identifying these many, destructive requirements will be hard to do; rescinding them will be even harder.



By the Numbers: The Democrats' Deplorable Record

Here are a few of the eye-poppers:

9.6%: That’s the latest unemployment figure from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the African-American community, the number is 16.1% -- and for teens, it’s 26%. Given these figures, perhaps it’s understandable that many in President Obama’s base aren’t terribly enthusiastic about turning out to vote this year. Note that in 2004, when state senator Barack Obama mocked George W. Bush’s “jobless recovery,” unemployment was 5.8%.

$13 trillion: Our enormous national debt totals a whopping $44,000 for every man, woman and child in America.

$1.3 trillion / 9.9%: The deficit for the fiscal year ending last month was $1.3 trillion dollars, representing around 9.9% of GDP. Although the deficit ran $122 billion less than the record-breaking shortfall of the year before, don’t break out the champagne – the Obama administration projects that the deficit will climb to $1.4 trillion during FY 2011. What’s more, the FY 2009 deficit of $1.4 trillion was the first time the deficit ever exceeded $1 trillion – and the first time since World War II that it exceeded 10% of GDP.

$3.52 billion: This represents the net tax hikes on Americans enacted over the last two years. Americans for Tax Reform offset the tax cuts in the S-Chip program, the “stimulus,” ObamaCare, and small business legislation from the tax hikes contained in the same programs. The net outcome – the $3.52 billion increase – is why Democrats’ claims to have voted for tax cuts are disingenuous in the extreme.

75: The number of days until recession-weary Americans – all of us – are whacked by the largest tax increase in history. Those now in the 10% bracket will pay 15%, while the 25% bracket rises to 28%, the 28% bracket rises to 31%, the 33% bracket rises to 36%, and the 35% bracket goes up to 39.6%. Rates will also rise on savers and investors; capital gains will rise from 15% this year to 20% in 2011, while the dividend tax will rise from 15% this year to 39.6% in 2011. Also, Americans with children can bid a fond farewell to the dependent care tax credit – it’s being cut – and the child tax credit is being halved.

The numbers are frightening. And they are infuriating. After spending money faster than taxpayers can send it to them, Democrats have nothing to show for their efforts but higher unemployment, higher taxes and more debt. And still they’re raising taxes to take yet more of our money.



The land of the free again: Two wars but no conscription

In war as in life, what doesn't happen is often as significant as what does. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their setbacks, victories and casualties, have many things in common with past American wars. But there is one big thing missing this time: the draft.

Hendrik Hertzberg noted recently in The New Yorker magazine that "for the first time in a century, America is fighting a long war -- indeed, two long wars, each longer than our participation in both World Wars put together -- without conscription."

That change represents a sort of throwback to the early days of the republic. When President James Madison proposed conscription for the War of 1812, New Hampshire's Daniel Webster rose on the House floor in eloquent opposition.

"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or wickedness of government may engage it?" he demanded. That was the end of that idea, until the Civil War.

It's not just that no one wants to bring back the bitter divisions and organized resistance the draft produced in the 1960s. It's also that we have established the clear superiority of a military composed of men and women who choose to serve.

No one would imagine you could run a private business with employees who are forced to take jobs there against their will. Imagine the difficulty of motivating them. Yet we used to run the Army that way.

There is no doubt that the current wars have put exceptional burdens on the active duty force as well as reservists -- burdens far greater than they expected when they signed up. But future soldiers will have no illusions about what to expect, and they will adjust their choices to fit the new reality.

Thanks to the abolition of the draft, if Americans want to keep making such heavy demands on the military, they will have to pay generously enough to get people to enlist and re-enlist.

It was once a novel experiment: fielding a force to protect freedom without grossly violating freedom by dragooning young men to serve. But it's worked so well we've almost forgotten there's an alternative.




Good one!: "Eighteen Revolutionary Guards have been killed in a fire at an ammunitions store at one of the elite force's bases in western Iran, the state IRNA news agency has reported. "Eighteen members of the forces at the base were killed and 14 wounded" in Tuesday's explosion, IRNA quoted Guards commander Yadollah Bouali as saying. Mr Bouali said on Tuesday that the explosion hit when a fire spread to the munitions store at the base. The Revolutionary Guards have emerged as a powerful military and economic force in Iran in recent years, especially under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Guards were heavily involved in the government's crackdown on opposition protests"

Obama as FDR: The real deal about the New Deal: "The 67 million of us who voted for Obama two years ago did so for a variety of different reasons. Some cast their vote because he is a black man, some because of his eloquence, some because he opposed the Iraq War, some because of his policies benefitted the poor and middle classes, and some simply because he seemed the antithesis of George W. Bush. … The FDR that Time alluded to is the one that most of us know — the charming man who repaired the US economy, conquered the fascists, defended the rights of minorities, and had the support of just about everyone in the United States. The problem is, that FDR is the product of nostalgia. In reality (as is often the case with reality), things were a whole lot more complicated. In fact, FDR’s actual record raises criticisms very much akin to the posthype gripes about Obama.”

ObamaCare’s unseen costs: "On Tuesday, the White House decided to fight back against a tax-related rumor about the new health care law. Beginning in 2012, wrote Stephanie Cutter, the administration’s head of health care messaging, employers will have to provide information about the value of your health insurance benefits on your W-2. But, she said, despite rumors to the contrary, ‘you will absolutely not pay taxes on these benefits.’ … the Affordable Care Act will lead to the taxation of health care benefits. Starting in 2018, high-end health care plans will be subject to a 40 percent excise tax for any benefits that exceed $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family. Indeed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is chock full of tax hikes. And those taxes will cost more than you might think.”

Grabbing the third rail: "Those who accept the idea that entitlement reform is the third rail of American politics should have to grapple with the rise of Rep. Paul Ryan. In the past year, Ryan has drawn a lot of heat for his ambitious plan to confront our nation’s looming entitlement crisis. Democrats from President Obama on down have eviscerated his ‘Roadmap for America’s Future,’ arguing it would destroy Social Security and gut Medicare. Yet Ryan is expected to coast to victory, just as he has in every election since he first ran in favor of Social Security personal accounts twelve years ago. And his constituents aren’t reflexively Republican.”

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


17 October, 2010

Wal-Mart vs. The Morons

I won't vouch for all the numbers below but the general idea has a lot to be said for it -- JR

1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart Every hour of every day.

2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!

3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.

4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target +Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.

5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people, is the world's largest private employer, and most speak English.

6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the world.

7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger and Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only fifteen years.

8. During this same period, 31 big supermarket chains sought bankruptcy.

9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.

10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had five years ago.

11. This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at Wal-Mart stores. (Earth's population is approximately 6.5 Billion.)

12. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.

You may think that I am complaining, but I am really laying the ground work for suggesting that MAYBE we should hire the guys who run Wal-Mart to fix the economy. This should be read and understood by all Americans Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE!!

To President Obama and all 535 voting members of the Legislature, it is now official you are ALL corrupt morons:

a. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.

b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.
c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.

d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 45 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.

e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.

f. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.

g. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 32 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure.

You have FAILED in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats while overspending our tax dollars.



Anatomy of Petulance

Victor Davis Hanson

I was fascinated watching the recent Obama campaign stops, particularly the contrast with 2008. Gone are the faux columns and classical backdrops. There are no more vero possumus seals (now they fall off the podium). All pretense of “no more red states, no more blue states” nonpartisanship has long ago been dropped. Even the shrill, boilerplate evocation of “Bush-Cheney did it” sounds strained. The blatant divisive appeal to unions, young people, and “black folks” is now unapologetic.

Them versus Us is the new theme. Gone is the pretense of inclusivity. Even the fainting now seems rigged rather than spontaneous, the faux cadences forced and more Rev. Wrightish rather than inspired. The eyes of the crowd roll, and have lost their glazed zombie look of 2008. It all reminds me of the failed comeback tour of the proverbial fading rock star, the desperate promos for the sinking supposed blockbuster Hollywood movie, or perhaps something akin to Jerry Ford’s WIN buttons or the Carter desk thump.

So Unfair

The recent interviews with and analyses of the Obama administration — as it descends to a near 40% approval rating — by sympathetic liberal journalists reveal one common theme: a sort of petulance that the actual job of an administration proved so much more of a downer than the giddiness of the 2008 campaign. So unfair, so terribly unjust.

Apparently Team Obama’s disappointment is largely found in others (as is “they” and “them”), rather than this bunch’s own hubris and its invitation to nemesis. There seems to be absolutely no realization about three central truths to the implosion of this administration. And until they achieve self-reflection, they will have no comeback analogous to a Bill Clinton in 1995:

Flukes as Mandates

Obamites still seem to think their arrival signaled a genuine American move to the left, or at least Obama’s singular ability to take the country to the left, rather than a confluence of once in a century events that allowed the northern liberal Obama to do what Dukakis, Kerry, McGovern, and Mondale had not (e.g., the novelty of the first serious African-American candidacy, the anger over the Iraq war, the lackluster McCain campaign that seemed to want to lose nobly rather than win messily, the first orphaned election without incumbents since 1952, the September 15, 2008, panic and meltdown, and the stealth candidacy of Obama running as a centrist moderate).

There was no need right off the bat, in the midst of a recession, to nationalize health care, push cap and trade through the House, digest the student loan program, sell cash for clunkers, or celebrate mega-deficit stimulus borrowing. Unemployment was the key and was ignored, although a great deal of research had shown that targeted tax incentives and reassuring talk about a favorable business climate can accelerate recovery.

All this nonsense was a complete misreading of the election. The result is that in a few weeks Obama will destroy the careers of 50-70 House members and 8-11 senators who followed the tune of our mellifluous pied piper into the abyss. I suggest that he doesn’t care all that much (his post-office future is brighter than theirs) — both because of narcissist tendencies and a sober reflection that a Republican Congress in 2011-12 can be blamed for cutting the “needy” while Obama can take credit for the upturn that will surely follow once business grasps his socialist agenda is stalled.

Private Enterprise Is Run by Humans

This administration is absolutely clueless about the psychological element central to economic recovery. (Yes, yes, I know, some of you think it was a predetermined effort to wreck capitalism. I wrote about that for National Review for tomorrow.) Obama & Co. seem to think businesses and financial bodies are not human, and so don’t mind serial slurs (from the damnation of the Chamber of Commerce [real smart in a recession] to quips like “I do think at a certain point you have made enough money” as the first lady hits Costa del Sol). Yes, businesses are run by real people with feelings and sensory perception. They “get” the demonization of those who make over $250,000, the loose talk of VAT taxes, caps off income subject to payroll taxes, health care surcharge taxes, a return to the Clinton tax rates only on top incomes, higher capital gains taxes and new inheritances taxes.

Add all that to new health care and financial regulations, and the message is clear the American private sector is suspect rather than industrious and critical to our nation’s economic life. After Obama’s slurs against Fox, the Republican leadership, insurers, Wall Street, doctors, police, the people of Arizona, or opponents of the Ground Zero mosque, fairly or not, a lot of people conclude that he does not like them or what they do or what they represent. So trillions of dollars in capital are waiting on the sidelines until November and proof that the Obama agenda is stalled. Even the SEIU or Nancy Pelosi cannot change that fact.

Trumping Nixon

Then there is the constant petulance. The administration has proven itself vintage Nixonian in its enemy lists without Nixon’s foreign policy expertise. Collate all the dark forces like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Justice Roberts, Fox News, John Boehner, the Tea Party, the Chamber of Commerce, and Karl Rove. Then add those nefarious actors with Journolist, Robert Gibbs’s venomous buffoonery, and the president’s own attacks (e.g. “stupidly” acting police, racist Arizonans that deport kids on their way to ice cream, xenophobic Manhattanites) and we are right back to 1972-3, albeit with the hypocritical veneer of hope and change, no more red/blue state, and across the aisle brotherhood. Hypocrisy is a force multiplier to paranoia.

An Unimaginable Reckoning?

We are looking at a perfect storm in November. In theory, well less than 180 seats are absolutely safe. Millions of independents and conservative Democrats will vote by a straight pocketbook barometer: Obama turned a recession into a near depression in a way Reagan and Clinton did not. Millions of other naïve Republicans and moderates feel embarrassed that they voted for a European socialist and won’t ratify his agenda in November. A hard-core leftist base is petulant that Obama copied Bush’s anti-terrorism protocols and broke a lot of promises in the process; they will vote only if they happen to be driving by the polls on a Tuesday afternoon.

A few wealthy liberals are starting to do some basic arithmetic and, lo and behold, are discovering that they are on the wrong side of the new economic Mason-Dixon line of $250,000 and are suddenly counter-revolutionaries, and thus scheduled for a $20-40 thousand “contribution” in new income, capital gains, health care, and state income taxes to achieve “redistributive change.” (That monstrous Obama ’08 sign on the lawn, much less the fading Obama/Biden bumper sticker, does not count with the IRS.) They remind me of ‘reformers’ who thought throwing out Louis XVI would put them at the forefront of a reasoned revolution and now find themselves on the way to the guillotine, the sympathetic “rich” that Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety still didn’t like.

Even the base, unions, and minorities won’t all show up without Obama, their godhead, on the ballot. The final irony? The more Obama goes out on the campaign trail, slurs the Chamber or the new enemy of the week, and blatantly appeals to bloc voting from particular minority groups, the more unsympathetic to voters he becomes. (I don’t recall George W. Bush going after Keith Olbermann, Bob Shrum, MoveOn.org, or the AFL-CIO).



Why Pastors Punt on Political Issues

Doug Giles

The other day I was queuing up to speak at a conference about “Raising Righteous and Rowdy Kids in a Rank Day,” but because the last Tea Party I attended was so woefully deficient in pastors during these historic times I decided to switch my topic and put my crosshairs on the squishy, compromised pink flesh of the craven brethren.

Now, this screed is primarily for Christian pastors, but in the spirit of multicultural interfaith yumminess, leaders of other faiths may feel free to apply this message to themselves and send me hate mail as well. Except for the Muslims. This ain’t for ya’ll. We don’t want to tick you off, y’know … because of the whole “kaboom” thing.

Before I give you the master list of reasons why some ministers are limp biscuits, let me go on record as saying that a silent pastor in today’s paranormal climate is about as worthless as a pitch pipe is to Yoko Ono. Look, I don’t care how much the minister likes kitty cats, candy canes, or if he weeps at Celine Dion concerts. If he’s not a part of this crucial societal throw down—pointing out what’s putrid and cheering on what’s proper—then he’s Judas Iscariot in my estimation.

Now, given the upcoming 11/2 elections and that the culture-dividing issues are more obvious than Joan Rivers’ last lip implants, it is mind-boggling to me that many ministers are mute or side with parties, policies and principles that are antithetical to the Christian worldview.

So, why does a large segment of the clergy run from these mondo issues and duties? Herewith are my 10 reasons why pastors punt on political issues and thus aid and abet evil:

1. Fear of man: If you purport to be a man of God then your regard for God and His opinion must trump the trepidation of the creature God created from spit and mud. Pastor, don’t fear us; we’re weird and fickle weathervanes of what’s en vogue. You’ve got to lead us. Therefore, go to the mountain . . . get a fresh dose of holy terror and move into Moses mode and command us to be and do what is holy, just and good. The Howdy Doody approach doesn’t seem to be stemming the current flood of cultural phlegm.

2. Ignorance: Most people are not bold in areas in which they are ignorant . . . always excepting Keith Olbermann, of course. I know keeping up with the major pressing political and cultural issues is maddening for the Nancy Christian, but that’s life, brother, and if you want to be a voice in society and not just an echo, you have got to be in the know.

3. Division: I hate division. Hate it. Not all division but the current non-essential divisions in the church. Squabbling over the color of the carpet, who’ll play lead guitar next Sunday, who’ll fill Eddie Long’s spot at T. D.’s conference, or who the Whore of Babylon is (which I believe after this year’s VMAs it’s a toss-up between Lady Gaga and Chelsea Handler) is stupidity squared.

4. Last Days madness: Many ministers do not get involved in political issues because they believe that it just doesn’t matter because “the end has come” and Jehovah is about to run the credits on this failed earth flick. These defeatists believe that any war, the gulf oil spill, earthquakes, a warming globe, the success of a corrupt politician, and Jessica Simpson’s cleavage are “proof” that God is getting really ticked off and that His only recourse is to have Christ physically return like some celestial Ted Nugent and kick some major butt. Thus, any stab at a better tomorrow is simply an exercise in futility for the end of the world crew.

5. Sloth: Classically defined, sloth is lethargy stemming from a sense of hopelessness. Viewing our nation as an irreparable disaster in which our exhortations, prayers, votes and labors will not produce any temporal fruit leaves one with all the zeal of a dude who’s forced to kiss his sister (Angelina Jolie’s brother excluded, naturally). If you’re wondering why your flock is so apathetic, Señor Eeyore, ask yourself if you have stolen the earthly hope that their valiant efforts can actually prevail in time and not just in eternity.

6. They don’t want to lose their tax-exempt status: Many pastors have been cowed into inactivity by the threatened loss of their tax-exempt status if they say anything remotely political. This fear can make pastors who don’t—or won’t—get good legal advice about as politically active as Howard Hughes was during the flu season. The church may, among other things, register their members to vote, pass out voter guides, invite all candidates in a race to speak (even if only one of them shows up) and speak directly about specific issues. And by the way, in his personal capacity off the clock, the pastor can endorse and support (or oppose) whomever or whatever he wishes, just like any other citizen. Duh.

7. They bathe in paltry pietism: Pastors avoid politics and cultural issues because such concerns are “unspiritual”—and their focus is on the “spirit world.” Yes, to such imbalanced ministers, political affairs are seen as “temporal and carnal,” and because they trade in the “eternal and spiritual,” such “worldly” issues get all the attention of Larry the Cable Guy’s 8-Minute Abs DVD. I’m sure Saul Alinsky and his idol, Lucifer, are so proud. Thank God Calvin, Bonheoffer, Wilberforce and Booth didn’t believe that bunkum.

8. They have bought into the radical Muslim comparison: Pastors have muffled their political/cultural voices because they fear being lumped in with Islam by the politically correct thought police. The correlation made between Christians’ non-violent attempts at policy persuasion and al-Qaeda’s “silence! I kill you!” campaigns is nothing more than uncut, specious doo. Christian, please blow off the tongue-wagging blowhards who try to intimidate you into silence by making the ludicrous analogous leaps in equating the implementation of a gracious, biblical worldview with Sharia Law. Rock the Casbah.

9. They can’t say “no” to minutiae: Some ministers can’t get involved in studying or speaking out regarding pressing issues simply because of the ten tons of junk they are forced to field within their congregations. Many ministers are lucky if they get to study the Bible nowadays—much less anything else—because they’re spending time wet nursing a 30-year-old guy who can’t face life because he didn’t qualify on American Idol or consoling the 40-year-old lady who’s heartbroken that the recession has wiped out her funds for the weekly waxing of her undercarriage.

10. They likey the money: The creepy thing about a lot of ministers is their unwillingness to give political or cultural offense when offense is needed purely due to the fact that taking a biblical stand on an issue might cost them their mega-church (which means their Aspen summer home, their Bentley and their Gulfstream V). Oh well, what do you expect? Christ had His Judas, and Christendom has its money loving harlots.

If the ministers within the good old US of A would crucify the aforementioned then maybe . . . just maybe . . . we’d see their righteous influence cause our nation to take the needed sharp turn away from the progressives’ speedily approaching putrid pit. God help us.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


16 October, 2010

It is Congress that is exporting American jobs

Here’s a “shocker”: U.S. companies that operate overseas are keeping profits there and investing rather than repatriating the profits — because of punitive taxation. According to Frank Aquila at Bloomberg News, there may be as much as $1 trillion of U.S. profits overseas that are simply not being repatriated.

Why? Because it would mean a stiff tax on those businesses.

Recently, Congress severely limited the use of the Section 956 foreign income tax credit by U.S. companies that operate overseas as a part of a bill that included a $26.1 billion bailout to bankrupt states like New York and California. As a result, the U.S. is now simply missing out on foreign-generated capital flows back into the economy. This is a trend that will only grow worse unless the imbalance is restored.

U.S. companies are being incentivized to create jobs and expand operations overseas by our own punitive tax structure. This makes no sense. Through an anti-competitive tax environment, high labor costs, and inflated property values, the U.S. is driving investment and jobs into the arms of foreigners.

Aquila calls for a holiday on this tax, but why not eliminate it all together? Overseas companies are already taxed in the nations they do business in. The difference is that they are taxed at much lower rates than the U.S. where the corporate tax is 35 percent. Under the new law, companies cannot claim a tax credit for those overseas profits. So, they’re just not repatriating the profits.

This tax is literally killing capital flows back into the economy. If there’s really as much as $1 trillion in U.S. profits not being reinvested here, we’re committing economic suicide. If the tax were eliminated, the repatriated profits would more than make up for the trade deficit to China, which was $227 billion in 2009.

It is capital that could be used to create jobs here and increase the nation’s productive capacity. Foreign companies like Toyota have more of an incentive to build a factory in America than some U.S. companies do. Because Toyota is not taxed when it wants to invest in America. But an American company is — if its profits are coming from overseas.

What’s the sense of the nation exporting anything or expanding overseas if the profits are not reinvested here? China repatriates its earnings. Taxing foreign income is the equivalent of a business encouraging investors to put their money into competitors across the street.

So, while Congress and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are busy obsessing over the Chinese yuan’s fixed exchange rate, perhaps they should instead turn their attention to the globally uncompetitive situation the U.S. economy is in.

The House recently passed legislation that would make “undervalued” currencies be considered by the Department of Commerce as a subsidy under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. This will enable higher countervailing duties to be imposed on Chinese goods, making them more expensive for U.S. consumers to buy.

Of course, in principle there would be nothing to stop the Chinese’s own version of the Department of Commerce from defining the depreciating dollar as a subsidy under WTO rules, increasing the cost of U.S. goods overseas. Put another way, the U.S. can devalue its currency all it wants to boost exports — other nations are following suit, and the only impacts will not be on restoring the trade deficit or creating new jobs here, but on increasing inflation and the cost of living for average Americans.

Conversely, the U.S. could tell successful companies that operate abroad to repatriate their earnings here tax-free. And keep it that way. The only way to restore global imbalances is to create an attractive environment to move capital back into America and to produce things here.

The other part of that necessarily is to rein in regulatory burdens, high labor costs, land use restrictions, and environmental regulations that make it cost-prohibitive to invest here. If these constraints are not removed from the economy, the flight of capital overseas will continue. The U.S. needs to lower the cost of doing business here.

Congress limited the foreign income tax credit under the bogus justification that it would make U.S. multinational corporations pay their “fair share” of taxes. Instead, that money is staying overseas, creating jobs and investment there — as was predicted by critics. This is economic suicide. U.S. companies that operate overseas account for nearly half of all American exports, and employ 22 million Americans. Why is Congress encouraging them to shift more operations overseas?

Critical investment capital is being diverted abroad that could instead be devoted here at a time when the weak recovery is slowing down and unemployment remains high. The tax should be completely eliminated, and companies incentivized to use foreign profits to enhance the nation’s productive capacity: to build new factories here in the U.S., invest in research and development here, and create jobs here.



Democrats hurting business, economy

Democrats talk a good game about small business, but actions speak louder than words. Obama and the Democrats are pushing a tax increase that would hit 50 percent of small enterprise income and their massive health-care law saddles business with a flood of tax-filing paperwork for expenditures as low as $601.

Such government meddling in the economy and the threat of more have injected so much uncertainty into economic planning that businesses small and large are hesitant to invest until they get a clearer picture of the tax and regulatory environment. Democratic policies haven't reduced unemployment. Their stimulus did more to protect government jobs than lay the foundation for robust private-sector job creation.

It's no wonder that an alarmed business community is pushing back this election cycle, funneling campaign contributions to candidates and independent groups rallying around a pro-growth and jobs-creation agenda.

The White House response has been again to demonize its opponents. Obama accused the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of using foreign money to fund campaign activities -- a criminal act. The basis for this accusation? An unsubstantiated allegation on a left-wing blog. Recall how Democrats lambasted Republicans for taking their lead from Rush Limbaugh? Well, here's the president of the United States passing along an outrageous, unfounded bit of Internet character assassination.

An independent watchdog group, FactCheck.org, said there was "no evidence" backing this charge, as did several major media outlets not known for Republican leanings, such as the New York Times.

When challenged about the weakness of the accusation on the CBS program "Face the Nation," presidential adviser David Axelrod said, "Well, do you have any evidence it's not true?" In other words, the chamber is guilty of a crime until proved innocent. Thank you for your lesson on American civics, Mr. Axelrod. As the FactCheck organization notes, others such as the extreme left-wing group MoveOn.org have followed Axelrod's unscrupulous tactic.

The fact is that liberal and conservative, Democratic and Republican groups take money under rules that don't require them to reveal donors. Some, like the chamber and the big unions, do collect contributions from foreign sources but don't use them for U.S. electioneering.

The Democrats are raising this red herring in a desperate attempt to distract the voters from their failed economic policies, the 9.6 percent unemployment rate, slowing GDP growth and the vastly unpopular ObamaCare.



Liberals dislike constitutional government

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) was being pressed in a live TV debate, so he may be excused for blurting out the truth. Here’s a portion of what very liberal Mr. McGovern said:
"We have a lousy Supreme Court decision [in the Citizens United case] that has opened the floodgates, and so we have to deal within the realm of constitutionality. And a lot of the campaign finance bills that we have passed have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. I think the Constitution is wrong. I don’t think that money is the same thing as human beings."

What a stunning statement! There are several things to consider in this argument. For us as constitutional conservatives, it’s entirely acceptable to disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court. I say every day that Roe v. Wade was a terrible decision and should be corrected. The Kelo ruling set a dangerous precedent.

Congressman McGovern doesn’t take issue with the Supreme Court, however, he says the Constitution itself is wrong. Did Mr. McGovern take an oath to support the U.S. Constitution? Does he consider himself bound by his oath?

Sure, you can responsibly disagree with portions of the Constitution. Ronald Reagan, for example, disagreed with the two-term limit for President. He thought the Twenty-second Amendment had been a mistake. But Reagan dutifully left office after two terms. Reagan would have supported an amendment to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, but as long as it was in the Constitution, he felt bound to respect it.

In Congressman McGovern’s case, however, we see why liberals believe in a “living Constitution.” The living Constitution idea was characterized by Justice Scalia as a Magic Slate. You can write on it, get the interpretation you want, then lift up the plastic screen, and re-write your constitution, according to the passions of the moment.

I think Mr. McGovern is wrong in his analysis of the Citizens United ruling. The Supreme Court did not say that money was more important, or even the same thing, as human beings. It said nothing like that. What the Court did say is that you don’t lose your First Amendment rights because you express your ideas through a corporation, a union, or a non-profit organization.

In striking down major portions of the McCain-Feingold Act, the Supreme Court ruled that government cannot stop pro-life groups, for example, from highlighting the records of politicians like Jim McGovern before an election. By preventing pro-life citizens from drawing voters’ attention to how their elected representatives actually vote, this unwise and unconstitutional measure denied citizens their rights to communicate about political matters. That’s one of the main reasons for the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

Now that he mentions it, does Jim McGovern really think “money is [not] the same as human beings?” If so, maybe he’ll join Congressman Mike Pence’s (R-Ind.) drive to de-fund Planned Parenthood. That outfit gets billions in taxpayer funds and it kills 350,000 unborn children—undeniably human beings—every year.

It would be great to welcome Jim McGovern to the ranks of those of us who believe human lives are more important than money. I’m not cynical, but I must admit I have doubts that Mr. McGovern, should he win re-election next month, will put his fine words into practice when it comes to unborn children.

Now, we can see why “constitutional conservatism” is important. Without a firm reliance on the Constitution as our anchor, the entire ship of state is adrift. Under the current administration and the current Congress, our ship of state is headed for the rocks.



Obama’s Radical Past

And his connection to socialism isn’t all ancient history, either

On the afternoon of April 1, 1983, Barack Obama, then a senior at Columbia University, made his way into the Great Hall of Manhattan’s Cooper Union to attend a “Socialist Scholars Conference.” There Obama discovered his vocation as a community organizer, as well as a political program to guide him throughout his life.

The conference itself was not a secret, but it held a secret, for it was there that a demoralized and frustrated socialist movement largely set aside strategies of nationalization and turned increasingly to local organizing as a way around the Reagan presidency — and its own spotty reputation. In the early 1980s, America’s socialists discovered what Saul Alinsky had always known: “Community organizing” is a euphemism behind which advocates of a radical vision of America could advance their cause without the bothersome label “socialist” drawing adverse attention to their efforts.

A loose accusation of his being a socialist has trailed Obama for years, but without real evidence that he saw himself as part of this radical tradition. But the evidence exists, if not in plain sight then in the archives — for example, the archived files of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which include Obama’s name on a conference registration list. That, along with some misleading admissions in the president’s memoir, Dreams from My Father, makes it clear that Obama attended the 1983 and 1984 Socialist Scholars conferences, and quite possibly the 1985 conclave as well. A detailed account of these conferences (along with many other events from Obama’s radical past) and the evidence for Obama’s attendance at them can be found in my new book, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism.

The 1983 Cooper Union Conference, billed as a tribute to Marx, was precisely when Obama discovered his vocation for community organizing. Obama’s account of his turn to community organizing doesn’t add up. He portrays it as a mere impulse based on little actual knowledge. But that impulse saw Obama through two years of failed job searches. Clearly he had a deeper motivation. The evidence suggests he found it at the Socialist Scholars conferences, where he encountered the entrancing double idea that America could be transformed by a kind of undercover socialism, and that African Americans would be the key figures in advancing community organizing.

The 1983 conference took place in the shadow of Harold Washington’s first race for mayor of Chicago. Washington was not only Obama’s political idol, he was the darling of America’s socialists in the mid-1980s. Washington assembled a “rainbow” coalition of blacks, Hispanics, and left-leaning whites to overturn the power of Chicago’s centrist Democratic machine. Washington worked eagerly and openly with Chicago’s small but influential contingent of socialists, many of whom brought the community organizations and labor unions they led onto the Washington bandwagon.

America’s socialists saw the Harold Washington campaign as a model for their ultimate goal of pushing the Democrats to the left by polarizing the country along class lines. This socialist “realignment” strategy envisioned driving business interests out of a newly radicalized Democratic party. The loss was to be more than made up for through a newly energized coalition of poor and minority voters, led by minority politicians on the model of Harold Washington. The new coalitions would draw on the open or quiet direction of socialist community organizers, from whose ranks new Harold Washingtons would emerge. Groups like ACORN and Project Vote would swell the Democrats with poor and minority voters and, with the country divided by class, socialism would emerge as the natural ideology of the have-nots.

Figures pushing this broader strategy at the 1983 Socialist Scholars Conference included ACORN adviser Frances Fox Piven and organizing theorist Peter Dreier, now a professor at Occidental College and an adviser to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. That is to say, Obama’s connection to socialist ideologues didn’t end with his recruitment into the ranks of community organizers. It began there and blossomed into a quarter century of intricate relationships with both on-the-record and in-all-but-name socialists.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


15 October, 2010

Lagging U.S. life expectancy ranking blamed on health system

Blaming the U.S. health system is pure unsubstantiated speculation and they offer no evidence for it. It's just their theory. But what would we expect of a study that was paid for by the Commonwealth Fund? The Fund is led by Karen Davis, a nationally recognized progressive economist.

The fact that other nations have improved more quickly than the USA could simply mean that the US average is held back by the unhealthy lifestyles and resultant low life-expectancies of America's large black minority -- but such a possibility would be unthinkable to a "progressive" of course. The speculation concerned below -- JR

The United States is falling sharply behind in worldwide rankings of life expectancy, and shortcomings in the U.S. health care system may be to blame, scientists say.

Researchers studying the issue concluded that obesity, smoking, traffic accidents and homicide can't account for the drop" -- leading us to believe that failings in the U.S. health care system, such as costly specialized and fragmented care, are likely playing a large role," said Peter Muennig of Columbia University, lead author of the study.

In the research, which appears in the Oct. 7 online issue of the journal Health Affairs, Muennig and coauthor Sherry Glied of Columbia cite the growing lack of health insurance among Americans as a possible culprit.

The study looked at health spending, behavioral risk factors like obesity and smoking, and survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 in the U.S. and 12 other industrialized nations.

While the U.S. has achieved gains in 15-year survival rates decade by decade from 1975 to 2005, the researchers found that other countries enjoyed even greater gains. So the U.S. slipped in the ranking, even as per capita health care spending rose at more than twice the rate of the other countries.

Around 1950, the United States ranked 5th for life expectancy at birth for women and 10th for men among developed countries, according to research cited by Muennig and Glied. The most recent figures, from the CIA World Factbook, rank the United States 22nd among those same countries.

Muennig and Glied found similar trends in the 13 countries that they studied, though they only examined 15-year survival rates for people at age 45 and 65.

When they compared risk factors, they found very little difference in smoking habits between the U.S. and the comparison countries; in fact, U.S. smoking rates declined more quickly than most other countries.

And while people are more likely to be obese in the U.S. than elsewhere, this was also the case in 1975, when the U.S. was less far behind in life expectancy, the investigators noted. Moreover, they said, the percentage of obese people actually grew faster in most of the other countries between 1975 and 2005.

Homicide and traffic deaths, meanwhile, have accounted for a stable share of U.S. deaths over time, and can't explain the drop in life-expectancy ranking, the scientists said.

The most likely remaining explanation is flaws in the health care system, said Muennig and Glied, pointing to the role of unregulated fee=for-service payments and high reliance on specialty care amid skyrocketing costs.

"It was shocking to see the U.S. falling behind other countries even as costs soared ahead of them," said Muennig. "But what really surprised us was that all of the usual suspects -- smoking, obesity, traffic accidents, and homicidesare not the culprits."



NYT defence of Woody Wilson and the early 20th century "Progressives" gets a robust reply

An online discussion entitled “Hating Woodrow Wilson” hosted by The New York Times is being used by the Left as a way to attack and sully Fox News personality Glenn Beck who has been sharply critical of the former president and the progressive era in general. But it does offer a number of engaging nuggets that are worth reviewing.

Some of the liberal commentators make the point that Beck and company are too fixated on Wilson and do not take into proper account the progressive contributions of Teddy Roosevelt and others. The discussion does open some worthwhile historical considerations that serious thinkers on both sides of the political spectrum should peruse.

Michael Lind with the New America Foundation throws down the gauntlet with this dig at conservatives:
“Each faction on the right has had its own view of the past, with its own canon of heroes and its own list of villains. While many conservatives claim to be ‘constitutionalists,’ some states’ rights theorists argue that not only the Civil War but also the Founders’ Constitution of 1787 led to a tyrannical consolidation of power in the federal government. For decades highbrow cultural conservatives have accused the 18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau of wrecking Western civilization with his cult of the primitive.

For most conservatives, however, the fall of America from the paradise of small government to the hell of statism came with the New Deal and the Great Society. Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, one would think, would be more natural targets of the right than Woodrow Wilson. Perhaps someone should tell Glenn Beck.”

One of the most insightful, probing contributions in the exchange comes from George H. Nash, a historian and biographer, who explains how contemporary Tea Party activism directed against President Obama’s policies also connects with renewed antipathy toward Wilsonian progressives. He writes:
“In place of a regime of carefully limited government, the Progressives initiated one of potentially unlimited government guided by bureaucrats and experts increasingly insulated from popular consent. In place of the traditional understanding of our rights as natural and unalienable, the Progressives claimed that our rights were derived from government — the state — and could be created or abridged as the custodians of the state deemed expedient, in the light of modern conditions and the perceived imperatives of progress.

“Why is this view of Woodrow Wilson now agitating the American Right? The answer is simple: conservatives see in the Obama administration another great leap in the working out of an unconstrained, Wilsonian vision of government-from-above. And like Americans in 1776, conservatives are responding with the cry: Don’t tread on me!

“As the Tea Party movement attests, conservative Americans resent the royalization of American politics that has afflicted much of American liberalism for decades. They do not want to be ruled or ‘nudged’ by a government of their “betters.”

“Like America’s Founders, conservatives in 2010 prefer a government of and by, and not just for, the people.”

This is the kind of unfiltered, robust exchange that The Times should pursue.

SOURCE. No mention from the Left of Wilson's racism or TR's war-mongering, of course. For more history of the Fascistc "Progressives", see here -- JR


Capitalism Saved the Chilean Miners

The profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at the mine rescue site

It needs to be said. The rescue of the Chilean miners is a smashing victory for free-market capitalism. Amid the boundless human joy of the miners' liberation, it may seem churlish to make such a claim. It is churlish. These are churlish times, and the stakes are high.

In the United States, with 9.6% unemployment, a notably angry electorate will go to the polls shortly and dump one political party in favor of the other, on which no love is lost. The president of the U.S. is campaigning across the country making this statement at nearly every stop:
"The basic idea is that if we put our blind faith in the market and we let corporations do whatever they want and we leave everybody else to fend for themselves, then America somehow automatically is going to grow and prosper."

Uh, yeah. That's a caricature of the basic idea, but basically that's right. Ask the miners.

If those miners had been trapped a half-mile down like this 25 years ago anywhere on earth, they would be dead. What happened over the past 25 years that meant the difference between life and death for those men?

Short answer: the Center Rock drill bit. This is the miracle bit that drilled down to the trapped miners. Center Rock Inc. is a private company in Berlin, Pa. It has 74 employees. The drill's rig came from Schramm Inc. in West Chester, Pa. Seeing the disaster, Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, called the Chileans to offer his drill. Chile accepted. The miners are alive.

Longer answer: The Center Rock drill, heretofore not featured on websites like Engadget or Gizmodo, is in fact a piece of tough technology developed by a small company in it for the money, for profit. That's why they innovated down-the-hole hammer drilling. If they make money, they can do more innovation.

This profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at that Chilean mine. The high-strength cable winding around the big wheel atop that simple rig is from Germany. Japan supplied the super-flexible, fiber-optic communications cable that linked the miners to the world above.

A remarkable Sept. 30 story about all this by the Journal's Matt Moffett was a compendium of astonishing things that showed up in the Atacama Desert from the distant corners of capitalism.

Samsung of South Korea supplied a cellphone that has its own projector. Jeffrey Gabbay, the founder of Cupron Inc. in Richmond, Va., supplied socks made with copper fiber that consumed foot bacteria, and minimized odor and infection. Chile's health minister, Jaime Manalich, said, "I never realized that kind of thing actually existed."

That's right. In an open economy, you will never know what is out there on the leading developmental edge of this or that industry. But the reality behind the miracles is the same: Someone innovates something useful, makes money from it, and re-innovates, or someone else trumps their innovation. Most of the time, no one notices. All it does is create jobs, wealth and well-being. But without this system running in the background, without the year-over-year progress embedded in these capitalist innovations, those trapped miners would be dead.

Some will recoil at these triumphalist claims for free-market capitalism. Why make them now? Here's why. When a catastrophe like this occurs—others that come to mind are the BP well blowout, Hurricane Katrina, various disasters in China—a government has all its chips pushed to the center of the table. Chile succeeds (it rebuilt after the February earthquake with phenomenal speed). China flounders. Two American administrations left the public agog as they stumbled through the mess.

Still, what the political class understands is that all such disasters wash away eventually, and that life in a developed nation reverts to a tolerable norm. If the Obama administration refuses to complete free-trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, no big deal. It's only politics.

But that's not true. Getting a nation's economics right is more important than at any time since the end of World War II. Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil are pulling away from the rest of their hapless South American neighbors. China, India and others are simply copying or buying the West's accomplishments.

The U.S. has a government led by a mindset obsessed with 250K-a-year "millionaires" and given to mocking "our blind faith in the market." In a fast-moving world filled with nations intent on catching up with or passing us, this policy path is a waste of time.

The miners' rescue is a thrilling moment for Chile, an imprimatur on its rising status. But I'm thinking of that 74-person outfit in Berlin, Pa., whose high-tech drill bit opened the earth to free them. You know there are tens of thousands of stories like this in the U.S., as big as Google and small as Center Rock. I'm glad one of them helped save the Chileans. What's needed now is a new American economic model that lets our innovators rescue the rest of us.




FL: Judge rules ObamaCare challenge can continue: "In a blow to the Obama administration, a federal judge in Florida today issued a ruling allowing parts of a lawsuit by 20 states challenging the recently passed health care legislation to proceed. The two parts of the law that will proceed to trial are expansion of Medicaid and the individual mandate that requires qualifying individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014.”

All strung out on Koch: "So what’s all this scandal-mongering about libertarian billionaire business owners David and Charles Koch supporting libertarian causes? Republican billionaire business owners support Republican causes. Is that a scandal? Democrat billionaire business owners support Democrat causes. Is that a scandal? Yet because the Kochs advocate freedom (libertarianism) they’re reviled by the likes of CommonDreams, calling them ‘The Money Behind the Hate: The Kochtopus’ alongside the ‘Wanted for Climate Crimes’ poster on their website.”

“Nobody gets their kids back”: "The ‘Petition for Abuse/Neglect’ filed on behalf of Cheyenne Irish by New Hampshire’s Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) alleges that the baby, who was born on October 6, was ‘neglected’ by her mother on that very day in the hospital where the infant was born. What this means is that Stephanie Taylor’s act of ‘neglect’ was to give birth to her child, and that the only way she could have avoided that charge was to have Cheyenne killed in utero. Because Stephanie had neglected this supposed duty, the DCYF kidnapped Cheyenne a little more than 16 hours following her birth.”

Invisible victims: "Laws, policies and regulations based on over-caution and political correctness can kill. We need to make invisible victims, visible. … The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is charged with ensuring that drugs are safe and effective. Drugs must meet FDA approval before they can be marketed. FDA officials can make two kinds of errors. They can approve a drug that has unanticipated, dangerous side effects that might cause illness and death. … FDA officials have a bias toward erring on the side of over-caution. If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution, approving an unsafe drug, they are attacked by the media, patient groups and investigated by Congress. Their victims, sick and dead people, are highly visible. If FDA officials err on the side of over caution, keeping a safe and effective drug off the market, who’s to know? The victims are invisible.”

Mass pessimism in Obama's America: "Americans say they have weathered the worst of the longest recession in seven decades, even as they are pessimistic about prospects for their retirement years, according to a Bloomberg National Poll. "I see some hope, but not a lot," says poll respondent Brian Ridlon, 34, an out-of-work resident of Green Mountain, Arkansas, who wants to learn how to become a barber. "There are some avenues to improve yourself, but we need more." What optimism there is about the immediate future doesn't carry over to the longer term. Pluralities of those polled say they're not hopeful they will have enough money in retirement and expect they will have to keep working to make up the difference. More than 50 percent aren't confident or are just somewhat confident their children will have better lives than they have...

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


14 October, 2010

The Wrong Way To Think About Inequality

In the last month, a new paper from Michael Norton and Dan Ariely has drawn some attention to the issue of wealth inequality in America. The paper, called "Building a Better America -- One Wealth Quintile at a Time," finds that Americans underestimate the inequality of America's wealth distribution and express a preference for a more equal distribution. Indeed, while the top quintile of Americans hold about 84% of national balance sheet wealth, survey respondents believe the figure is just 59% and would prefer a figure of 32%. The authors use the paper to argue for more redistributive policies -- or rather, for the insertion of these public preferences into policy debates.

The paper has been widely discussed in the blogosphere (for example by Matt Yglesias on the left and Reihan Salam on the right.) I am unimpressed with the paper for a few reasons, and generally think we should be cautious about the idea that America needs sharply more wealth redistribution (especially to the radical degree that would be implied in the paper.) I do think that there are valid reasons to be concerned about distribution of resources, or to favor more egalitarian policies, but that they are not implied by this paper.

I have three key objections to the paper. First, in asking respondents to develop ideal wealth distributions, the authors told survey respondents to imagine they would be "randomly assigned" to one of the wealth quintiles -- implying that effort plays no role whatsoever in wealth accumulation. Second, there is little reason to believe that the public is good at evaluating ideal distributions of wealth -- as demonstrated by the impossibility of the preferred wealth distribution found in the paper. Third, the paper focuses on wealth distribution, when income distribution is a better metric for inequality.

The first objection undermines the authors' finding that Americans would prefer a highly equal distribution of wealth, where the top quintile's wealth holdings (32%) would outstrip the bottom quintile's (11%) by less than three-to-one. (In fact, the bottom two quintiles in America hold approximately zero net wealth.) In forming this ideal distribution, respondents were told they would be "randomly assigned to a place in the distribution... from the very richest to the very poorest."

Essentially, they were being told to discount the possibility that they would work to improve their lot in the distribution, if they so chose. They also were not advised that the economic policies required to achieve such an equal wealth distribution would shrink the economy overall. This question framing may have helped point respondents to endorse a wealth distribution that could not be produced by a set of policies observed in any country with a high degree of human development.

This leads to by second objection. I noted that respondents expressed a preference for a wealth distribution with 11% of wealth in the hands of the bottom quintile. In a section of the paper called "Americans Prefer Sweden," the authors note that over 90% of respondents prefer a wealth distribution modeled on Sweden's, including 11% of wealth for the bottom 20% of people, to that of the United States.

Except that Sweden's bottom quintile doesn't actually hold anywhere close to 11% of that country's wealth. If you notice footnote 2 of the paper, you'll see this comment: "We used Sweden's income rather than wealth distribution because it provided a clearer contrast to the equal and United States wealth distributions; while more equal than the United States' wealth distribution, Sweden's wealth distribution is still extremely top heavy."

That is, the authors took a completely different measure of inequality and presented it as a chart of wealth distribution by quintile -- the chart does not represent a wealth distribution actually observed in a country. In fact, it is unlikely that any advanced country has a wealth distribution with anywhere close to 11% of wealth held by the bottom quintile.

There is a reason that the bottom two quintiles of households have essentially no net worth, in countries all around the world: people with low incomes tend to consume their incomes rather than saving them. They do this partly because saving is a luxury relative to their consumption options, and partly because they expect higher incomes in later years and are smoothing consumption over their lifetimes. This is true even in countries with significantly lower income inequality than the United States, such as Germany.

Unlike income distributions, the World Bank doesn't produce international comparisons of wealth allocation. But the paper that Norton and Ariely cite for wealth distribution statistics has figures for a number of countries. Of the figures it contains, the highest wealth share for a bottom quintile in an advanced country is 2.1 percent, in Japan -- a far cry from 11 percent. (China's bottom quintile holds 2.8 percent of that country's wealth.)

Other advanced countries closely track the minus 0.1 percent figure in the United States, which means that bottom-quintile households have slightly more debt than assets: minus 0.2 percent in Germany, 0 percent in Australia. (There is something screwy with the figures for Denmark and Sweden, which show the least-wealthy household quintiles having sharply negative net wealth; that seems unlikely, and the source data are in a language I don't speak.)

A drop in income inequality would largely serve to increase consumption by poor households (a perfectly reasonable policy goal), not to increase their wealth. No plausible set of tax-and-transfer policies could produce the wealth distribution advocated in this paper. The only way you could get the bottom quintile's wealth share into double digits would be to force these households to save large shares of their income that they would prefer to consume.

For example, if we achieved Sweden's income distribution (the most equal among the world's advanced countries) we would also need to have equal saving rates in each quintile in order for the bottom quintile to hold 11 percent of wealth. This would not be desirable: low-income households get more utility from saving less and consuming more.

So, what should we make of the fact that 92 percent of study participants thought a wealth distribution with 11 percent in the hands of the bottom quintile looked better than the actual wealth distribution in the United States? I'd say the key takeaway is that members of the public are not good at looking at pie charts of wealth distribution and deciding which represents a good society. It's a bit like asking people what's the best mix of materials to use when making a jumbo jet -- how on earth should they know?

Finally, I think this study would have been a lot more interesting if it had asked about income distributions rather than wealth distributions. Net worth misses a lot of important but off-balance sheet assets and liabilities that we hold. One is human capital -- a recent graduate of medical school is likely to have a negative net worth but is not "poor" by any reasonable definition. Another important asset is the expectation of receiving future government benefits, including Social Security and Medicare. If these factors are included, America's wealth distribution becomes significantly less skewed.

And except for very rich people, the income statement is a far better predictor of living standard than the balance sheet. Think about a middle-class family of four with annual expenses of about $60,000 after taxes. In determining whether the family could meet those costs, would you first ask about family assets or family income? Over the next year, most people will rely much more on human capital than on balance sheet wealth to support themselves, which makes balance sheet measures a weak indicator of need.

There is an important discussion to be had about income inequality and the desirable level of progressivity in government policies. But this paper, which points toward an outcome that could only be achieved with extremely undesirable policies, does little to inform that debate.



ObamaCare blowback

By Jeff Jacoby

"WE HAVE to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last spring about her party’s 2,000-page health care overhaul. What she didn’t realize was that the more Americans find out about ObamaCare, the more they turn against it. Virtually from the day it was signed, a majority of Americans have favored repealing the massive law.

According to two polls released this past week — one a national survey by Rasmussen, the other a poll of key congressional districts for The Hill — they still do. So naturally congressional incumbents are touting their opposition to the health care law.

Representative Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania has a TV spot in which a woman says approvingly: “You saw him when he voted against health care.’’ Virginia congressman Glenn Nye plays up the way he “took on Congress . . . voting against the health care bill because it cost too much.’’ South Dakota’s Stephanie Herseth Sandlin makes the same point in a humorous commercial starring her 22-month-old toddler, Zachary. Ads with similar messages have been aired by US Representatives Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Walt Minnick of Idaho, and Bobby Bright of Alabama. Plenty of Republicans are playing up their vote against the unpopular law — but these are all Democrats who voted no.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. “When people better understand the Affordable Care Act, they’ll understand, I think, that this isn’t something being done to them but is something that’s really going to be valuable to them,’’ President Obama insisted last month. “The debate in Washington is over.’’

The debate is anything but over. As health insurers are forced to raise premiums in order to cover the cost of the new benefits required under ObamaCare, Americans are finding out just how “affordable’’ the Affordable Care Act really is. In recent weeks, Aetna, Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield, and other carriers have announced rate increases, attributing at least part of the higher charges to the richer benefits mandated by the new law — such as the elimination of lifetime coverage limits, “free’’ immunization for children, and the elimination of co-pays for mammograms and other preventive care. Presidents can promise to bend the cost curve, but the laws of supply and demand do not bow to presidential promises: More health care coverage costs more money — money that sooner or later comes out of consumers’ pockets.

Insurers are not responding to the new law and its expensive new mandates solely by raising premiums. Some are dropping out of insurance markets altogether.

Late last month, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care announced that it will stop providing Medicare Advantage insurance policies at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in New England to find some other way to pay for health benefits those policies covered. Harvard Pilgrim’s hand was forced, a company spokesman said, by the “cuts in Medicare . . . being used to fund national health care reform.’’

Another insurer pulling the plug is the Principal Financial Group, an Iowa-based company that currently insures 840,000 customers. “The company’s decision reflected its assessment of its ability to compete in the environment created by the new law,’’ reported the New York Times. “More insurers are likely to follow Principal’s lead.’’

Principal is a relatively small insurer, but even insurance giants are walking away from some segments of the business. UnitedHealth, Wellpoint, and Humana will no longer write individual child-only insurance policies, thanks to the new law’s requirement that such plans must also cover children who are seriously ill. Insurance companies are not charitable foundations; they cannot stay in business by insuring the health of people who are at a 100 percent risk of getting sick. As The Washington Post explained, “the pool of children insured by child-only plans would rapidly skew toward those with expensive medical bills, either bankrupting the plans or forcing insurers to make up their losses by substantially increasing premiums for all customers.’’

Meanwhile, 30 major corporations are still able to offer low-cost health insurance to their employees only because they have received one-year waivers of the new rules from the Department of Health and Human Services. What happens when those waivers expire is anybody’s guess. But this much is clear: If the law with its expensive mandates remains on the books, millions of Americans are going to lose the health care plans they have now — plans the president repeatedly promised they could keep. Which is why just about the only Democrats campaigning on ObamaCare today are the ones who voted against it.



There's a Reason Why They Call Him "Dick"

Ann Coulter

If the Bush administration ever treated terrorism suspects the way Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal treats law-abiding citizens and small businesses, even conservatives would have blanched.

This activist, interventionist Democrat -- like his identical, slightly less oily twin, Eliot Spitzer -- decided at age 5 he was going to be a U.S. senator and then the first Jewish president. And he doesn't care how many lives he has to destroy to get there.

Currently, Blumenthal is running for the U.S. Senate against Linda McMahon in Connecticut. He must be stopped.

Among Blumenthal's taxpayer-funded citizen-persecution projects was the one he waged against Gina Kolb, owner of Computer Plus Center in East Hartford. After selling $17.2 million worth of computers and servers to the state in 2001, Kolb found herself being sued by Blumenthal for $1.75 million for allegedly overcharging the state $500,000.

Publicity-whore Blumenthal sent out an accusatory press release about Kolb, saying: "No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the state without severe consequences." Soon thereafter, Kolb was arrested at her home on seven first-degree larceny charges, courtesy of Connecticut's crazily hyperactive attorney general.

A court dismissed all charges against Kolb and her company in 2008. But not before this female businesswoman had her company completely shattered by the pathologically ambitious attorney general.

I'm sorry, I know you need to be on television every single day, Dick, but that's not enough of a reason to destroy innocent citizens' lives, much less use taxpayer money to do so.

Kolb was far from the only innocent citizen persecuted by Blumenthal. The reason we know her story is that, instead of moving as far away from Connecticut as she could, Kolb turned around and sued the state for violating her constitutional rights.

The jury agreed, awarding her $18 million for Blumenthal's "pattern of conduct" that destroyed Kolb's business and impugned her integrity.




Barack Obama and the Chamber of Secrets: "So, who’s left to demonize? The Girl Scouts? Rotary Clubs maybe? We’re running out of devils to distract us. Then again, the Obama administration’s preposterous attack on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce does nothing to help Democrats and everything to reinforce the moderate voter’s perception that the president’s party has gone bonkers.”

Distributism: More than a middle way: "Distributism is often misconstrued as a ‘third way’ between capitalism and socialism, taking the best of both but modulating their excesses. This is incorrect. As Medaille shows, distributism is not so much — indeed not at all — a ‘third way’ between different approaches but a different road entirely. This is in part because capitalism and socialism are not themselves separate ways. Marx and Hayek both contended, for example, that should their views be adopted, the state would wither away. Instead, under either communist regimes or capitalist economics, the growth of the state has increased, and with it has come increased reliance on centralized power and a crushing debt burden.”

Obama admin. expected to appeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” ruling: "The Obama administration is expected to appeal as soon as Wednesday a federal judge’s ruling that halted the Defense Department from enforcing its policy that bars openly gay people from military service, according to senior administration officials familiar with the government’s plans. … sources familiar with the government’s plans expect a motion for an emergency stay to halt the injunction to be filed first with [U.S. District Court Judge Virginia] Philips as a matter of procedure. If she rejects it, as expected, the request for an emergency stay would accompany the formal appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


13 October, 2010

Look Who's Nativist Now

Democrat racism

Michelle Malkin

Oh, this is side-splitting: After exporting U.S. jobs, importing foreign debt and kowtowing to global thugs shamelessly over the past two years, the Obama administration is now playing the America First card. Democrats deserve a Guinness World Record award for their election-season cognitive dissonance.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, White House senior adviser David Axelrod and their mynah bird operatives across the country accused Republicans last week of benefiting from "money from foreign corporations" -- which liberals claim the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling into domestic political ads.

Democratic clown prince Al Franken is leading a Senate inquisition against the chamber. A Democratic National Committee ad lambasted the GOP for "Stealing Democracy," complete with piles of Asian currency. Endangered Democratic candidates across the country are dutifully parroting the line of attack, which originated with the Center for American Progress, funded by far-left billionaire George Soros.

It's beyond comical to watch the party that cries "RAAAACISM" whenever conservatives question their shady foreign funny money suddenly sounding the alarm over non-U.S. campaign cash. And it's beyond galling to hear Democrats fret about foreign intrigue while the foreign agent-in-chief has inextricably tied America's fate to the Chinese holders of our T-bills. Guess we're all "nativists" now, eh, Obama?

The chamber-bashing claims are so baseless that The New York Times concluded that "there is little evidence that what the chamber does in collecting overseas dues is improper or even unusual, according to both liberal and conservative election-law lawyers and campaign finance documents."

Liberal CBS journalist Bob Schieffer scoffed at Axelrod: "If the only charge three weeks into the election that the Democrats can make is that somehow this may or may not be foreign money coming into the campaign, is that the best you can do?"

The Associated Press and the Annenberg Public Policy Center's Factcheck.org also shredded the White House smear, and Democrats told the Los Angeles Times they were uneasy with the McCarthyite tactics.

GOP candidates should remind voters of all the shady foreign and mystery cash the Democrats and their deep-pocketed donors have pumped into the political system.

Convicted fraudster and former top Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu -- who ran several Hong Kong companies into the ground and built a massive Ponzi scheme with still-unidentified sources of income -- raised millions for the Democratic Party and its candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Obama.

Obama Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, a soft-on-China corporate lawyer, collected thousands of dollars from "monks" and "nuns" at a Buddhist temple while running for governor of Washington.

The Federal Election Commission imposed a record-setting $719,000 in fines against Democrats for the 1996 Chinagate campaign finance scandal.

And the Obama campaign itself solicited foreign donations on its website -- even cashing in a contribution from one Canadian donor who warned, "I am not a (sic) American citizen!"

Acknowledging the hypocrisy of the Team Obama assault on the Chamber of Commerce, one top Democratic staffer warned this week: "The White House may reap the whirlwind."

As well they should. While they gin up anti-GOP fear and hostility among blue-collar Americans worried about the economy, Team Obama has presided over job-killing policies that are driving companies overseas. The Obama drilling moratorium forced several American oil rigs to abandon the Gulf of Mexico. Radical environmental rules are strangling coal workers in West Virginia, where Democratic Senate candidate and Gov. Joe Manchin has filed suit against the Obama Environmental Protection Agency.

Wyoming GOP Sen. John Barrasso and Utah GOP Rep. Rob Bishop pointed out in a new report on the Democrats' War on Western Jobs that the White House green agenda is driving mining jobs overseas and increasing our reliance on foreign nations for metals and minerals that power our economy and are integral to national defense technology.

In another high dose of cognitive dissonance, Obama has been pushing solar panels and other green technology pet projects as a way to create jobs and promote energy independence -- while ignoring the fact that the rare earth metal market needed for such green technology is dominated by ... China. After years of environmental obstruction of the industry, Democrats are now rushing to re-open rare earth metal mines in the face of this national security threat. The last one shut down in 2002. It could take up to 15 years to get it back up and running again.

The inconvenient truth: American workers are reaping what the newly nativist left has sown.



More Leftist authoritarianism: “I don’t want drivers talking on phones”

From the Nanny-in-Chief on down, Big Brother reigns in Washington as every department from Health and Human Services to EPA to Transportation seek ways to tighten their grip on American choice.

A day after a federal court judge in Detroit ruled that forcing Americans to buy health insurance is constitutional, transportation secretary Ray LaHood let it be known that Detroit auto manufacturers might have to abandon in-car connectivity systems that they have spent millions developing. Nanny LaHood, reports the Automotive News, “believes motorists are distracted by any use of mobile phones while driving, including hands-free calls.”

Not content to enforce existing distracted-driver laws, LaHood has been building a case for a non-permissive standard where drivers must be mute, two-hands-on-the-steering-wheel autobots.

“I don’t want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they’re driving,” LaHood said this week calling for research on hands-free systems. Hands-free phone conversations are a “cognitive distraction,” he says. And eat your broccoli!

The potential restrictions have meant the auto industry has had to arm itself with more lobbyists to make their case for in-car communications systems. Ford’s SYNC and GM’s OnStar system, with about 5.7 million subscribers, are testing applications that would let users make audio updates to their Facebook pages and have messages from the social-media site read to them while driving. “I’m absolutely opposed to all of that,” said King LaHood.

What’s next? A ban on small children in cars? Tethers to force both hands on the wheel? No passengers in the front seat?



Freer Is Better

John Stossel

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom lowers the ranking of the United States to eighth out of 179 nations -- behind Canada! A year ago, it ranked sixth, ahead of Canada.

Don't say it's Barack Obama's fault. Half the data used in the index is from George W. Bush's final six months in office. This is a bipartisan problem.

For the past 16 years, the index has ranked the world's countries on the basis of their economic freedom -- or lack thereof. Ten criteria are used: freedoms related to business, trade, fiscal matters, monetary matters, investment, finance, labor, government spending, property rights and freedom from corruption.

The top 10 countries are: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, Denmark and Chile.

The bottom 10: Republic of Congo, Solomon Islands, Turkmenistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Venezuela, Burma, Eritrea, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea.

The index demonstrates what we libertarians have long said: Economic freedom leads to prosperity. Also, the best places to live and fastest-growing economies are among the freest, and vice versa. A society will be materially well off to the extent its people have the liberty to acquire property, start businesses, and trade in a secure legal and political environment.

Bill Beach, director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis, which compiles the index with The Wall Street Journal, says the index defines "economic freedom" to mean: "You can follow your dreams, express yourself, create a business, do whatever job you want. Government doesn't run labor markets, or plan what business you can open, or over-regulate you."

We asked Beech about the U.S. ranking. "For first time in 16 years, the United States fell from the 'totally free' to 'mostly free' group. That's a terrible development," he said. He fears that if this continues, productive people will leave the United States for freer pastures.

"The United States has been this magnet for three centuries. But today money and people can move quickly, and in less than a lifetime a great country can go by the wayside."

Why is the United States falling behind? "Our spending has been excessive. ... We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. (Government) takeovers of industries, subsidizing industries ... these are the kinds of moves that happen in Third World countries. ..."

Beach adds that the rule of law declined when the Obama administration declared some contracts to be null and void. For example, bondholders in the auto industry were forced to the back of the creditor line during bankruptcy. And there's more regulation of business, such as the Dodd-Frank law for the financial industry and the new credit-card law. But how could the United States place behind Canada? Isn't Canada practically a socialist country?

"Canada might do health care the wrong way," Beach said, "but by and large they do things the right way." Lately, Canada has lowered tax rates and reduced spending.



Earth to Obama

To be so completely disconnected from political reality and the investor class, the president must be from another planet

Larry Kudlow

Believe it or not, with jobs falling for four consecutive months and unemployment stubbornly high near 10 percent, President Obama is out on the campaign trail bashing businesses and promoting class warfare. Huh? Oh my gosh is he off message.

He’s slamming the Chamber of Commerce for allegedly using foreign money in campaign ads, even though there’s not one shred of evidence of this. Huh (again)? Is the Chamber really a big election-year issue? Is it causing high unemployment?

Of course, Obama never mentions the unions, including the SEIU and AFL-CIO, and all their foreign money from their big international affiliates. Instead, he extends his own cast of villains, attacking special interests, Wall Street banks, corporations, the oil industry, the insurance industry, credit-card companies, AIG, and ExxonMobil. ExxonMobil? What did they do? Oh, they’re an oil company. Phew. Kind of anti-business, wouldn’t you say?

Obama then blasts millionaires and billionaires, waging war on capital and investors, too. Next he talks about getting young people, African Americans, and union members to the polls. Even more division. Even more class warfare.

All this, of course, from the “post-partisan” president who was going to bring us all together for change.

But what’s truly incredible about Obama’s pre-election performance is how it totally misses the mark on the issues that really matter, like high unemployment, low growth, big-government spending, Obamacare, and tax hikes. That’s the stuff people are really talking about.




Billets and bullets for the troops but not ballots?: "It’s utterly amazing that our nation’s leadership is able to send our troops around the world and overnight have sleeping quarters (known in military parlance as ‘billets’) constructed to house them. It is equally amazing that the required arms (bullets) can be shipped with equally profound efficiency and timely deliverance to any spot determined by that same leadership, anywhere in the world. And yet, the same leadership fails to deliver election ballots to the very people who defend the right to vote for every other American. Is that a failure in leadership? [It's just the usual Leftist crookedness. The military is overwhelmingly conservative so must be stopped from voting]

How do we know what we know?: "While traveling back to America at the end of World War II, Vonnegut asked a friend what he had learned from his wartime experiences: ‘never to believe anything my government tells me,’ the friend answered. Because the state is grounded in such a network of lies, contradictions, deceptions, and conflicts, it is safe to say that political systems are inherently in conflict with reality, and must resort to intentional distortions of truth as a way of trying to appear coherent to a gullible public.”

Yes, Paul Krugman thinks Obama is a “small spender”: "Paul Krugman wrote a head-scratching column Sunday titled, ‘Hey, Small Spender.’ In the column, Krugman not only argues that President Obama’s stimulus package was too small, but he even claims that Obama and his administration did not create a bigger government. He asserts that people think Obama is a big spender as a result of ‘a disinformation campaign from the right.’”

Work choices, money, and status: "As the time horizon gets long, the effects of monetary incentives and status motives may be hard to disentangle. In the short run, you raise marginal tax rates, and few people reduce work effort, because the status of being ‘employed’ is much higher than the status of being a homebody. However, once a few people decide to become homebodies, the status of being a homebody goes up enough that many people choose not to work. So the long run effect of the higher marginal tax rate is much higher than anything you might have predicted, because it has affected cultural norms.”

Tariffs benefit few, at cost to all: "Protectionism still flourishes — even in our deeply integrated global economy and even though economists almost unanimously find it short-sighted — because there is an asymmetry of information between stakeholders, which produces an asymmetry of motivations. Protection seekers have a reasonably good idea of the windfall to expect if their proposals are implemented. A steel tariff of 20 per cent, for example, might enable domestic producers, through higher prices and greater market share, to increase profits by an aggregate $100 million a year. However, the typically larger costs associated with a steel tariff are borne by a mostly unwitting public, whose incentives to lobby against the tariffs are muted by the fact that those large costs are spread across millions of consumers.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


12 October, 2010

Why so many of us resent the "elites"

by Peggy Noonan

If you write a column, you get a lot of e-mail. Sometimes, especially in a political season, it's possible to discern from it certain emerging themes – the comeback of old convictions, for instance, or the rise of new concerns. Let me tell you something I'm hearing, in different ways and different words. The coming rebellion in the voting booth is not only about the economic impact of spending, debt and deficits on America's future. It's also to some degree about the feared impact of all those things on the character of the American people. There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. And that if we lose who we are, as Americans, we lose everything.

This is part of what's driving the sense of political urgency this year, especially within precincts of the Tea Party.

The most vivid illustration of the fear comes, actually, from another country, Greece, and is brilliantly limned by Michael Lewis in September's Vanity Fair. In "Beware Greeks Bearing Bonds," he outlines Greece's economic catastrophe. It is a bankrupt nation, its debt, or rather the amount of debt that has so far been unearthed and revealed, coming to "more than a quarter-million dollars for every working Greek." Over decades the Greeks turned their government "into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums" and gave "as many citizens as possible a whack at it." The average government job pays almost three times as much as the average private-sector job. The retirement age for "arduous" jobs, including hairdressers, radio announcers and musicians, is 55 for men and 50 for women. After that, a generous pension. The tax system has disintegrated. It is a welfare state with a cash economy.

Much of this is well known, though it is beautifully stated. But all of it, Mr. Lewis asserts, has badly damaged the Greek character. "It is simply assumed . . . that anyone who is working for the government is meant to be bribed. . . . Government officials are assumed to steal." Tax fraud is rampant. Everyone cheats. "It's become a cultural trait," a tax collector tells him.

Mr. Lewis: "The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. ... Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible."

Thus can great nations, great cultures, disintegrate, break into little pieces that no longer cohere into a whole.

And what I get from my mail is a kind of soft echo of this. America is not Greece and knows it's not Greece, but there is a growing sense – I should say fear – that the weighty, mighty, imposing American government itself, whether it meant to or not, has for years been contributing to American behaviors that are neither culturally helpful nor, as we now all say, sustainable: a growing sense of entitlement, of dependency, of resentment and distrust, and an increasing suspicion that everyone else is gaming the system. "I got mine, you get yours."

People, as we know, are imperfect. Governments, composed top to bottom of imperfect people wielding power, are very imperfect. There are, of course, a million examples, big and small, of how governments can damage the actual nature and character of the citizenry, and only because there was just a commercial on TV telling me to gamble will I mention the famous case of the state lotteries.

Give government the right to reap revenue from the public desire to gamble, and you'll soon have government doing something your humble local bookie never had the temerity to try: convince the people that gambling is a moral good. They promote it insistently on local television, undermining any remaining reserve among our citizens not to play the numbers, not to develop what can become an addiction. Our state government daily promotes what for 2,000 years was understood to be a vice. No bookie ever committed a crime that big.

Government not only can change the national character, it can bizarrely channel national energy. And this is another theme in my mailbox, the rebellion against what government increasingly forces us to become: a nation of accountants.

No matter what level of life in which you operate, you are likely overwhelmed by forms, by a blizzard of regulations, rules, new laws. This is not new, it's just always getting worse. Priests are forced to be accountants now, and army officers, and dentists. The single most onerous part of Obamacare is the tax change whereby spending $600 on goods or services will require a IRS 1099 form. Economists will tell you of the financial cost of this, but I would argue that Paperwork Nation is utterly at odds with the American character.

Because Americans weren't born to be accountants. It's not in our DNA! We're supposed to be building the Empire State Building. We were meant, to be romantic about it, and why not, to be a pioneer people, to push on, invent electricity, shoot the bear, bootleg the beer, write the novel, create, reform and modernize great industries. We weren't meant to be neat and tidy record keepers. We weren't meant to wear green eyeshades. We looked better in a coonskin cap!

There is, I think, a powerful rebellion against all this. It isn't a new rebellion – it was part of Goldwaterism, and Reaganism – but it's rising again.

For those who wonder why so many people have come to hate, or let me change it to profoundly dislike, "the elites," especially the political elite, here is one reason: It is because they have armies of accountants to do this work for them. Those in power institute the regulations and rules and then hire people to protect them from the burdens and demands of their legislation. There is no congressman passing tax law who doesn't have staffers in his office taking care of his own financial life and who will not, when he moves down the street into the lobbying firm, have an army of accountants to protect him there.

Washington is now to some degree the focus of the same sort of profound resentment that Hollywood liberals inspired when they really mattered, or seemed really powerful. For decades they made films that were not helpful to our culture or society, that were full of violence and sick imagery. But they often brought their own children up more or less protected from the effects of the culture they created. Private schools, nannies, therapists, tutors. They bought their way out of the cultural mayhem to which they'd contributed. Their children were fine. Yours were on their own.

This is part of why people dislike "the elites" and why "the elites," especially in Washington, must in turn be responsive, come awake, start to notice. People don't like it when they fear you are subtly, day by day, year by year, changing the personality and character of their nation. They think, "You are ruining our country and insulating yourselves from the ruin. We hate you." And this is understandable.



The Wealth Inequality Mirage

While most Americans are concerned about the country's high unemployment rate, a few elitists seek to use it as a pretext for their leveling agenda. Whether the country is prosperous or struggling to climb out of recession, as now, they complain about an economic inequality that they exaggerate.

These "levelers" care more about equal outcomes than equal opportunity. They misunderstand the dynamic of the American economy. Their "remedies" would do more harm than good.

Chief among them is Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton and now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. A few days ago, in a radio interview on National Public Radio, he said this:

"Unless we understand the relationship between the extraordinary concentration of income and wealth we have in this country and the failure of the economy to rebound, we are going to be destined for many, many years of high unemployment, anemic job recoveries and then periods of booms and busts that may even dwarf what we just had."

Mr. Reich is wrong. He and other levelers exaggerate economic inequality, eagerly, because they rely on pretax income, which omits the 97% of federal income taxes paid by the top half of income earners and the many "transfer payments," such as food stamps, housing assistance, Medicaid and Medicare. This exaggerated portrait of inequality undergirds the present effort by the Democrats to raise income tax rates for people with taxable incomes of $209,000 a year on joint returns and $171,000 a year on single returns.

A more meaningful measure of inequality comes from an examination of spending. On Wednesday the Labor Department presented 2009 data on consumer spending, based on income quintiles, or fifths. This analysis shows that economic inequality has not increased, contrary to what the levelers contend.

Differences in per-person spending from the lowest income fifth to the highest are not dramatically different from 20 years ago. These measures of spending show less inequality than do measures of income.

These data are important because the mirage of expanding income inequality is being touted by some Democrats as an excuse for tax increases on upper-income people, and to justify to Americans a European-style social contract of higher government spending and taxes.

That's the main battle between Republicans and Democrats in the November 2 congressional election. Republicans want to keep current tax rates to encourage businesses to expand and hire workers. Democrats want to raise taxes for the top two brackets, and point to rising income inequality as justification.

The Democrats say they would use the additional tax revenue to shrink the budget deficit, but inevitably some of that additional revenue would be spent on programs that redistribute income.

The Labor Department data, which are published every year, track spending by income group. Spending is vital because it determines our current standard of living and our confidence in the future. It shows how much purchasing power Americans have. The usual pretax measures of income, on which most inequality studies are based, don't show how much purchasing power some Americans have because they omit other benefits, and so don't provide an accurate measure of purchasing power inequality.

Further, income quintiles have different demographic characteristics, so comparisons of quintiles can be misleading. In 2009, households in the lowest fifth had an average of 1.7 people, and in half these households there were no earners. The highest fifth, however, had 3.1 persons per household, with 2.0 earners.

Household size at the bottom has been shrinking faster than at the top, adding to a false perception of inequality. Over the past 20 years, the size of households in the bottom quintile has declined by 5.6% and the middle quintile by 3.8%, whereas the size of the top-quintile household has been unchanged. This is due not only to the increased longevity of today's seniors, but also to the higher numbers of divorced couples and single-parent households.

Calculating spending on a per-person basis (these are my calculations, from the official data) produces comparable measures. The average annual spending for a household in the lowest quintile was $21,611, or $12,712 per person. In contrast, the average spending for a household in the top quintile was $94,244, or $30,401 per person.

On a per person basis, the new Labor Department numbers show that in 2009 households in the top fifth of the income distribution spent 2.4 times the amount spent by the bottom quintile. That, Professor Reich might note, was about the same as 20 years ago. The top quintile spent 1.8 times what the middle quintile spent per person. And that ratio has not been increasing.

On a per person basis, those in the bottom group spent 2.8% less in real terms in 2009 than in 2008 due to the recession. In contrast, those in the top quintile spent 0.6% more, and those in the middle quintile spent 0.7% more.

But compared with 1989, the big winners are the lowest-income group, which spent 9.1% more per person in constant dollars. In contrast, the highest group spent 2.6% more, and the middle group increased its spending by 1.1%.

Income and spending do not tell the whole story about how well Americans are doing. A higher percentage of low-income Americans own their homes free of mortgage debt than do upper-income Americans. Twenty-six percent of households in the lowest income group and 31% in the next-to-lowest group owned their homes debt- free in 2009, compared to 27% in the middle quintile and 18% in the top quintile. There are more seniors in the lower two quintiles, and many have paid off their homes.

Tens of millions of Americans are unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for work. They and their families simply want a chance to work, a hope that tomorrow will bring better employment prospects than today. The two major political parties have diametrically opposed policy prescriptions to appeal to Americans in search of a better tomorrow.

The choice is clear. One party offers lower taxes and less regulation as a means to allow businesses to expand and hire new workers and to make it easier for more Americans to start their own businesses. The other party seeks to punish those who have a job and doubly punish those who employ them.



Odds are on Supreme Court striking down healthcare reform

A top Republican said Friday that he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down key parts of the new healthcare reform law as unconstitutional. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the third-ranking House Republican, who serves as conference chairman, said he saw enough votes on the high court to strike a blow to President Obama's signature domestic initiative. "It's going to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court's going to decide whether or not the Constitution of the United States permits the government to order the American people to purchase goods or services, whether they want them or need them or not," Pence said Friday on WLS radio in Indiana.

The Indiana lawmaker, and potential 2012 presidential candidate, has been among the crowd of Republicans to question whether a central part of Democrats' healthcare reform bill is constitutional. The crux of their argument is that the individual mandate - the section of the law requiring individuals to have health insurance of some sort - violates the Constitution.

A federal judge in Michigan dismissed a major case on Thursday challenging the healthcare law's constitutionality on that grounding, though other lawsuits are still being litigated in other federal districts. If courts in different areas of the country end up issuing different rulings, it could heighten the chances that the Supreme Court would take the case.

If it gets to that point, Pence said, he could envision five of the court's member voting to rule the bill unconstitutional. "I rather like our chances when this thing gets to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "I think there could be a narrow majority on the court that recognizes that you cannot compel the American people to purchase health insurance just as a function of being an American citizen."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


11 October, 2010

Obama's Huge New Tax that will hit everyone

Pity the poor entrepreneur and small business owner in America now getting socked, with the mother of all taxes, by a government that has become either hostile, or indifferent, to understanding what it takes to build a business, grow a company and hire more workers. I'm not talking about new fees, but about a much greater confiscatory tax, imposed without any real debate or consideration--the confiscation of time.

Nearly every Obama administration initiative demands new, more complicated reporting and compliance filings on small businesses and entrepreneurs that are already overburdened with a mish-mash of reporting requirements that suck away an entrepreneur's time and energy. 2008 compliance costs for a small business, according to a recent SBA Report, was approximately $10,000 per employee. But, the Obama Administration has added new, and far more onerous, reporting demands that are likely to treble those costs to $30,000 per employee. Facing such huge, and hidden, costs of compliance, is there any wonder small businesses are not hiring as they have in the past?

Consider, for example, one of the new reporting requirements contained in Section 9006 of the disastrous Obama healthcare bill which requires all small companies to file 1099s for any purchase over $600, to include anything from office supplies to electricity to independent contractors. As a result, small businesses may need to hire a full-time compliance officer that does nothing but file these new forms and reports.

But that is just the start. For example, Section 1512 of the Recovery Act (ARRA) requires that a report with a minimum of 12 data points be submitted quarterly for each Recovery Act project over $25,000. A separate report has to be submitted if the business worked as a subcontractor on any ARRA project. This report is separate from and in addition to the mandatory, contractual reports submitted monthly to the government contracting officer on each project and, separate from and in addition to, the quarterly program reviews provided for agency leaders. Of course, if the business performs ARRA work at the State level, many of those states have additional reporting requirements for businesses who are working on federally funded stimulus projects within the state.

Small business already struggles because the federal government's reporting requirements are a moving target. Businesses must track the unusually frequent changes in government-issued guidance regarding reporting requirements. For example, since issuing the first reporting requirements for ARRA in February 2009, these requirements have changed nine times in the past 19 months, in March 2009, April 2009, June 2009, September 2009, November 2009, December 2009, April 2010, May 2010 and most recently in September 2010.

Each "update" to the reporting requirements issued by OMB is followed by an ancillary memo issued within each federal agency by each agency's Chief Acquisition Officer.

Businesses, especially small businesses, may spend large segments of the workday tracking reporting requirement changes. Businesses must do this because a clerical error, which could be interpreted by the oversight community as fraud, carries severe penalties, and the burden of proof of innocence falls on the business.

Taxes take many forms. More damaging, than canceling the Bush tax cuts, more damaging than the changing definition of who is considered "rich", more disturbing than Obama Administration's complete lack of understand of what it takes to grow a business and an economy, is the fact that time is money, so the new, burdensome and intrusive reporting requirements demanded by Obama's flawed policies puts a tax burden of time on all businesses.

Under the guise of "accountability" and the lure of "transparency", the Obama Administration continues to bombard businesses with additional, ill-thought reporting requirements. Few legislators and few members of the Obama Administration have ever experienced first-hand, the struggles of entrepreneurship--what Jerry McGuire calls "an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege," of trying to win a customer's business, be competitive and succeed. The Administration, clearly, does not understand or does not care about the true cost to business of their self-serving actions.

Peter Drucker, the management guru once said: "if you're meeting, you're not working". Perhaps the corollary is that when a business is "reporting", then they aren't really working either.

Make no mistake: well-reasoned reports aid in accountability and transparency and are essential to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely by the government. But this is not happening in the Obama Administration. The President Obama once promised he would not raise taxes on the middle class. Yet, fees, fines and mandatory purchases are "onerous, rigorous demands" which, according to Webster, qualify as taxes.

Obama has demanded the one commodity which is in limited supply, and which can never be reproduced once spent-time. Obama wastes our time--and that tax is the greatest of all.



President Obama's Tax Piracy

By Peter Ferrara

Starting on January 1, 2011, President Obama's economic recovery policy will begin the implementation of comprehensive, across the board, tax rate increases for every major federal tax. The full breathtaking scope of those tax increases, and how they will harm every family in America, is discussed in my latest work, President Obama's Tax Piracy, published as part of Encounter's Broadside series. That series now includes 17 publications by such outstanding authors as Steve Moore on economic policy, John Bolton on national defense and American sovereignty, Betsy McCaughey on Obamacare, Michael Ledeen on Obama's betrayal of Israel, Michael Mukasey on terrorism, Roy Spencer on "global warming," and John Fund on Obama's election fraud, all in the tradition of Thomas Paine's Common Sense pamphlets.

Among the bonehead increases that beckon to shove the economy back into recession is a nearly 20% increase in the top two income tax rates, counting the phase-out of deductions and exemptions. The top capital gains tax rate is scheduled to soar by nearly 60%, counting the application of Obamacare's new 3.8% tax on investment income. The tax rate on dividends is scheduled to nearly triple, from 15% to 43.4%, counting the new Obamacare tax as well. The Obamacare legislation also increased the Medicare HI payroll tax rate by 62% for the nation's employers and investors. On our current course, the death tax will rise from the grave next year with a 55% top rate.

At least that was the plan. But the Democrat Congress left town without ever making good on candidate Obama's pledge to the American people in 2008 to avoid any tax increase on those making less than $250,000 a year, by extending all of the Bush tax cuts for everyone below that income level. That means under current law federal income taxes will now increase next year for virtually every American. The bottom income tax rate of 10% will soar by 50% to 15%, and every other income tax rate will rise by a similar amount. The child tax credit will be slashed by 50% from $1,000 per child to $500 per child. The marriage penalty will also rise from the grave to tax more heavily those who are married rather than those who are just living together.

A family of four earning $50,000 per year will pay more than $2,100 in higher taxes. A single mom earning $36,000 per year will pay over $1,100 more in taxes.
Married senior citizens earning $40,000 per year will pay more than $1,400 in higher taxes.

If you have been listening to President Obama's rhetoric, you would be thinking how could failing to extend the Bush tax cuts result in all these tax increases on everybody, since Bush supposedly cut taxes only for the rich. That is why you should not be listening to President Obama's misleading, manipulative, deceptive rhetoric.

Baghdad Bob Economics

In case you have forgotten Baghdad Bob, he was the Saddam Hussein propaganda minister who called a press conference just before American forces entered Baghdad in 1991 to announce that those forces had been massacred in the desert by Saddam's military machine. With Saddam gone, Baghdad Bob now has a new gig. He is in charge of economic and tax policy propaganda for the Democrat party.

You can see the results of his work on national television all of the time. Joy Reid, Keith Boykin, and Christian Weller show up to argue that cutting tax rates for employers and investors causes recessions and economic calamity, such as the financial crisis. Indeed, President Obama is saying the same thing all the time with his rhetoric about "the failed policies of the past" that "got us into this mess."

That's not even Keynesian economics. Rather than John Maynard Keynes, or even Karl Marx, that economic "logic" follows more in the tradition of Jim Jones, and the Jonestown school of economic policy. Joy Reid adds to this body of work her "argument" that increasing real savings and investment for retirement would only cause another bubble in the markets. Reid was voted Netroots Blogger of the Year, which shows how much deep trouble our country is in as long the people identifying themselves as Progressives are anywhere near the levers of government power.

I explain in my Broadside publication how President Obama has consistently followed exactly the opposite of every plank of Reaganomics. As a consequence, we can rightly expect that America will now suffer exactly the opposite results, unless those economic policies are quickly overturned by new Congressional majorities.

In 1983, President Reagan's third year, his tax rate cuts became fully effective, and real GDP zoomed upward over the first 4 quarters of recovery by 7.7%. That recovery flowered into a generation-long, 25-year economic boom, interrupted only by two short, shallow recessions, following President Bush's budget deal increasing tax rates in 1990, and the 9/11 terror attack in 2001.

Art Laffer and Steve Moore have rightly called this Reagan boom "the greatest period of wealth creation in the history of the planet." Indeed, more wealth was created in America during this 25 year boom, from 1983 to 2007, than in all the prior 200 years of American history, from George Washington to Jimmy Carter, combined. That is why Steve Forbes has rightly called it an "economic Golden Age."

The mirror image opposite of this economic performance would be the natural, logical result of following the mirror image opposite of Reagan's economic program, including the counterproductive incentive effects of Obama's comprehensive federal tax rate increases, the costs and burdens of Obama's reregulation hitting next year, and the continued drain of private sector resources due to President Obama's supposedly stimulative spending increases and deficits. Laffer explains:

[W]hen the U.S. economy comes to 2011, the train's going to come off the tracks.. The tax boundary that will occur on January 1, 2011 tells me that GDP growth in 2010 will be some 6% to 8% higher than GDP growth in 2011. A year on year decline from trend of some 6% to 8% in GDP growth would represent a larger collapse than occurred in 2008 and early 2009.

We see signs of that already even in this year's economy, which, again just the opposite of Reagan's performance, should be the peak economic year in President Obama's reign of error. Economic growth is in a tailspin, falling from 5% in the fourth quarter of 2009, to 3.7% in the first quarter this year, to 1.6% in the second quarter. Unemployment is rising again, with the economy continuing to lose jobs every month. The stock market has been long stalled, mired 30% below its record highs over 14000 in the Dow. This weak economy couldn't be a worse time to raise Federal tax rates across the board. With President Obama's current economic policies, the probability of a renewed, double-dip recession is over 100%.



Food Stamp Nation

Pat Buchanan

"The lessons of history ... show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

These searing words about Depression-era welfare are from Franklin Roosevelt's 1935 State of the Union Address. FDR feared this self-reliant people might come to depend permanently upon government for the necessities of their daily lives. Like narcotics, such a dependency would destroy the fiber and spirit of the nation.

What brings his words to mind is news that 41.8 million Americans are on food stamps, and the White House estimates 43 million will soon be getting food stamps every month. A seventh of the nation cannot even feed itself.

If you would chart America's decline, this program is a good place to begin. As a harbinger of the Great Society to come, in early 1964, a Food Stamp Act was signed into law by LBJ appropriating $75 million for 350,000 individuals in 40 counties and three U.S. cities.

Yet, no one was starving. There had been no starvation since Jamestown, with such exceptions as the Donner Party caught in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846-47, who took to eating their dead.

The Food Stamp Act became law half a decade after J.K. Galbraith in his best-seller had declared 1950s America to be the world's great Affluent Society.

Yet, when Richard Nixon took office, 3 million Americans were receiving food stamps at a cost of $270 million. Then CBS ran a program featuring a premature baby near death, and told us it was an infant starving to death in rich America. The nation demanded action, and Nixon acted. By the time he left office in 1974, the food stamp program was feeding 16 million Americans at an annual cost of $4 billion.

Fast forward to 2009. The cost to taxpayers of the U.S. food stamp program hit $56 billion. The number of recipients and cost of the program exploded again last year.

Among the reasons is family disintegration. Forty percent of all children in America are now born out of wedlock. Among Hispanics, it is 51 percent. Among African-Americans, it is 71 percent. Food stamps are feeding children abandoned by their own fathers. Taxpayers are taking up the slack for America's deadbeat dads.




Allow citizens to sell kidneys: "Every year thousands of people die because they are unable to secure a healthy kidney replacement in time and thousands more are relegated to years of costly dialysis. The waiting time to receive a kidney transplant is around five years. The shortage is due to the fact that patients can only receive donated kidneys, either from the deceased or an extremely rare and charitable living individual. Because it is a crime to voluntarily trade one's organ for another's money we have a constant under-supply of kidneys."

Bureaucracy gone wild: "Unelected federal bureaucrats are forcing New York City to spend $27 million to replace their street signs. Our bureaucratic overlords maintain that streets signs must contain both upper and lower case letters, instead of just capital letters! Do you feel grateful that you're being protected from upper case streets signs? This dictatorial mandate comes from the Federal Highway Administration, and applies to every community in America, not just New York City. But don't blame this outrage on the busy-body Democrats. This isn't an Obama directive. The rule was actually promulgated back in 2003 - during the Bush Administration."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He is pretty cutting about Obama's Afghanistan/Pakistan policies.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


10 October, 2010

Yes, President Bush, America does miss you

Several months ago a huge billboard appeared near Wyoming, Minnesota, with a beaming photo of George W. Bush with the caption “Miss me yet?” The answer to that question is clearly yes, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, which shows the former president staging a remarkable political recovery despite having largely disappeared from public life since leaving office:

"By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago."

“Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush’s name while campaigning this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

This has to be one of the most extraordinary political comebacks in decades. And as this week’s Washington Post/ABC News poll showed, nearly 25 percent of Democrats now believe “a return to Bush’s policies would be good,” a staggeringly high figure. As The Post reports:

"Obama and the Democrats have argued that if Republicans were to gain control of Congress, they would return to the policies of President George W. Bush. Two-thirds of Democrats share that view and say it would be bad for the country. But almost a quarter of Democrats say a GOP-led Congress would take the country in a new and better direction or say a return to Bush’s policies would be good."

The CNN poll is of course deeply humiliating for the White House, especially coming just three and a half weeks before the November mid-terms. George W. Bush’s resurgence is in large part due to mounting opposition to the Obama’s presidency’s left-wing agenda, but it is also spurred by Obama’s image as an out of touch, aloof and elitist president, divorced from economic and political reality on the ground.

A lot of Americans frankly miss the down-to-earth and significantly warmer leadership style promoted by President Bush, as well as his unfailing sense of optimism and heart-felt pride in America on the world stage. You certainly won’t ever find Bush apologising for his country or extending the hand of friendship to her enemies.

And when Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” is published on November 9th, I’m in no doubt it will storm The New York Times’ bestseller list riding a new wave of nostalgia for his time in office. George W. Bush is back in fashion with a vengeance, in marked contrast to his increasingly unpopular successor in the White House.



Progressive Feudalism

By Thomas Lifson

The changes wrought on the American political economy by progressives have taken us in the unmistakable direction of feudalism. The morphological resemblance between the progressive version of America and the historic feudal regimes of Western Europe and Japan is obvious if one takes a few moments to consider the changes in the proper context.

Legal Equality

Feudalism assigned people to different classes based on birth and assigned different privileges and obligations to the classes. The noble classes were considered a different order of humanity from the commoners, and the two groups led separate lifestyles. In addition to huge economic disparities, the two groups had very different rights. If one was of noble birth in Japan, for instance, he could carry a sword. For commoners, unlawful possession of a sword was a capital crime.

In progressive America, two groups today have a parallel distinction. Birth, and birth alone,* determines whether one is a member of a designated victim class, entitled to preferences in college admissions, scholarships, and employment, factors which have a major formative influence on life prospects. Moreover, the ability to litigate as the victim of discrimination with the possibility of massive financial returns is enhanced. According to the testimony of two Department of Justice lawyers, membership in a designated victim class brings with it immunity from prosecution under Civil Rights statutes.

Personal Autonomy

Under feudalism, the ruling class had few limits on its power and regarded the commoner classes as under their tutelage, hopelessly incompetent to make important decisions on their own. Many spheres of life were devoid of personal autonomy. What one wore and where one worked was closely regulated, and in feudal England or France, one could discern whether a person was a peasant, a blacksmith, a merchant, or a noble instantaneously, merely by dress.

In contrast, the bourgeois revolution, which overthrew the European feudal order, gave birth to the radical Enlightenment notion that each person should be the master of his or her own destiny, fit to make the important decisions in life autonomously. What one wore or ate was up to the individual.

In progressive America, personal decisions such as what to eat are now regarded as the proper concern of our government masters. Foie gras was forbidden by the city of Chicago for two years, and if you want to have your restaurant food cooked in trans fats like butter, you ought to know that New York City has a say in the matter.

Common to the feudal and progressive regimes is a deep and abiding disdain for the classes needing regulation and guidance. It is not so much that they hate or despise the lesser beings over which they rule, as it is a sense of obligation to make the right decisions for them.

Sumptuary Laws

Feudal rulers reserved for themselves certain luxuries. In feudal Japan, silk was an extravagance reserved exclusively for the noble classes. Wealthy merchants sometimes purchased garments with silk linings but with humble cotton, wool, or linen outer surfaces, so as to enjoy the warmth and softness of silk while preserving their lives.

In progressive America, Nancy Pelosi regularly jets from Washington, D.C. to her home in San Francisco on a luxury Gulfstream private jet belonging to the Air Force when she isn't commandeering a larger C-32 executive transport, the military version of the Boeing 757. Meanwhile, corporate executives were forced to cancel orders for and sell executive jets during the financial crisis of 2008-9. While President Obama told corporations to not hold meetings in Las Vegas, federal agencies are free to have meetings there.


Under feudalism, officially recognized guilds enjoyed monopolies and special privileges, and in return, they offered financial and other support to the ruling class. In progressive America, powerful labor unions are allowed to force people to pay them dues in order to work in certain companies and public organizations. In return, these unions channel vast amounts of money in campaign donations to ruling class politicians at election time.

Moreover, unions can be insulated from the market consequences of their actions, as in the UAW members whose health care pension costs drove GM and Chrysler bankrupt but whose lavish benefits were preserved at taxpayer expense. Money spent under the stimulus bill has been channeled mostly to union members.


In European feudalism, clergy enjoyed special status as both advisers to rulers and justifiers of ruling class power. They were even called the First Estate, for they interpreted God's law, usually in a manner which maintained that the kings ruled by divine right.

In progressive America, a comparable role is played by lawyers and the courts, which enjoy vast powers and can command wealth that would be the envy of any bishop or cardinal in feudal France. Many of our most important decisions in progressive America are now taken away from the people's representatives in legislative bodies and decided by courts, themselves comprising members of the legal class.


Under feudal regimes, the rulers took as much as they could in taxes, up to the point where peasants began starving and tax revenues decreased. In progressive America, taxes have also trended in that direction.

The Bourgeoisie

Under feudalism, the bourgeois class were regarded as upstarts and a threat to the legitimate ruling class. They were despised, ridiculed, and regulated. In progressive America, President Obama sees profit as an optional feature of corporations, and the disdain, regulation, taxation, and liability which business owners must endure have never been worse. As with feudal rulers, the progressive ruling classes see the bourgeoisie as vulgar pretenders to their own exalted status and a threat to their own power.

Back to the Future?

If progressivism has its way, more and more of our lives will be regulated by government bureaucrats setting rules and regulations and licensing people to engage in even the most mundane tasks. It is quite accurate to say that the reforms won by the rising bourgeois class from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries, limiting and then ending feudalism, are in full retreat in progressive America.

It is time to rename progressives "regressives," a change I first proposed several years ago.



Shocking: Bigoted White Tea Party Woman Beats Petite Black Female Reporter

Doug Giles

I’m sorry, I got that wrong. Stupid me. I’m never going to make it in this business. It was actually a big black liberal woman who whaled on a petite white conservative female reporter last weekend.

Whew, thank God I corrected myself because we all know that if a hulking honky Tea Party mama with dragon nails had smacked down a svelte progressive black female reporter (and on film, no less) it would have caused a media firestorm that would have escalated into:

1. Daily front page coverage by the New York Times

2. Watts-like riots across the nation

3. Non-stop bit**ing from Al Sharpton

4. The end of the Tea Party as we know it

5. And a drunk Kanye would’ve surfaced on a quickly-cobbled, specious Hollywood telethon against racism sporting white Levolor shades and a red leather Michael Jackson jacket and somehow pin all this Tea Party violence on George W. Bush’s primal hatred for black people.

In case you missed it (and I’m sure you did) this past weekend it appears that liberal F-bomb droppin’ black women at “Unity” gatherings can beat the crap out of Caucasian girls without it making the evening news or hitting the blogosphere.

One Emily Miller, a senior editor for HumanEvents who previously served as the deputy press secretary at the State Department and also served as an associate producer at ABC News, got pummeled like a rebel stepchild on October 2nd by a black liberal chick at the “One Nation Working Together” (cough) rally in D.C.

Here’s Jason Mattera’s short synopsis of the violence that went down in D.C. at the ill-attended, union-stacked, Star Wars bar scene, jealous of Glenn Beck Socialist Soiree:

“The reporter, Emily Miller, who was videotaping Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was first hit from behind while she was taping Rangel in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Miss Miller is heard on the video saying, ‘Please don’t hit me.’ The protester proceeds to yell at the reporter, ‘Well get out of the way! What do you think this is? A--hole.’ The activist was attempting to meet Rangel herself. Miss Miller continued videotaping the event, when suddenly the same unhinged protester lunged at her, hit her on the arm, and yelled, ‘Don’t take my picture.’”

Again, this is all on video … as in crystal clear video. And I’ve heard nada from the networks. Crickets folks … crickets.

Yep, not only did the progressives trash the Mall and show up with their socialist signs (of which we’re condemned if we mentioned that they’re socialist) but one of their own also went postal on an innocent reporter—and the Blame Stream Media ignores this little nugget. How weird.



Heritage in Focus: Matt Spalding on American Exceptionalism

At an event in Florida last week, former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Marco Rubio told a crowd: "This race is not your traditional race. It is a referendum on our identity. This race forces us to answer a very simple question: Do we want our country to continue to be exceptional, or are we prepared for it to become just like everybody else?"

The debate on American exceptionalism has garnered widespread attention this season. It has been a Tea Party rallying cry and an object of liberals’ sneers. But what is American exceptionalism?

In this week’s Heritage in Focus podcast, Matthew Spalding explains that America is different because it is founded on self-evident principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and secured in the Constitution. These principles include the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to free speech and freedom of religion. America still holds this beacon of liberty among the nations of the world, even as Progressives deride such a claim as chauvinistic – a complaint they are free to make thanks to America’s unrivalled speech protections (to receive regular updates on Heritage podcasts, visit us on iTunes or subscribe to our RSS feed).

As President Obama replaces his national security advisor, proposes new plans to overhaul the economy, and tackles the implementation of his new health care laws, he too will be faced with questions of what the American republic is made of, and what makes it unique, a leader among nations.

In Europe, national economies are crushing entitlement burdens. America now faces the choice between free markets and public sector-driven redistributionist policies.

In China this week, government censors will undoubtedly rip the pages out of newspapers celebrating the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo. In America, the lively debate that fuels democracy is kept alive by freedom of speech for as long as its citizens recognize and protect that freedom.

And now, with rising threats from Iran, North Korea, and other enemies of democracy and freedom, President Obama should reflect on his own words, from his speech after accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in 2009:

"…the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms."

These are rousing words in defense of American exceptionalism on the international stage, words which President Obama has still failed to live up to, as The Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the Obama Doctrine shows. It is the spirit and defense of American exceptionalism that should animate voters and policymakers as our country enters a turbulent time of international conflict and domestic hardship.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


9 October, 2010

Conservative women making waves for the mid-terms

The pro-abortion EMILY's list does NOT have a lock on the female vote

Marsha Blackburn, a Republican congresswoman from Tennessee, throws cold water on EMILY's shrieks of horror. "Women voters are fired up for this year's election and will most definitely not be staying home on Nov. 2, and there are at least 146 good reasons for this. A record number of Republican women have sought federal office this year -- 129 GOP women in House races and 17 in Senate races. In 1994, another record-breaking year, 91 Republican women ran in the House and 13 in the Senate. How can EMILY's List say that the party is running women out when more and more women are running? This is the year of the strong conservative woman, but because those women are overwhelmingly pro-life, EMILY's List clearly doesn't see them as good enough."

Blackburn's colleague, Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, adds: "The type of women we are running -- political outsiders who are moms, small-business women, women who up until recently never thought of running for office but were inspired to run because of the dangerous course President Obama and Speaker Pelosi are taking America -- are threatening to the liberal special-interest groups who believe that to be a woman you must be a liberal and that conservative women candidates ... must not only be defeated, but also branded as somehow anti-woman. This is absurd."

Billie Tucker, a tea-party organizer from Florida, has no patience with Schriock's attempt to hold onto governing power: "It's not the number of women in Congress Ms. Schriock is really worried about. It's the number of women with Nancy Pelosi's behaviors that she wants to keep there." Stacy Mott, president of Smart Girl Politics, adds: "The next Congress is going to get this country back on track because brave women have had enough of Speaker Pelosi and President Obama's pandering, condescension and broken promises."

All of these women are people that EMILY's List exists to drown out. But they're being heard loud and clear. As Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, the closest thing the pro-life movement has to an organized response to EMILY, says: "EMILY's List has only dominated women's politics for so long because it discourages female voter turnout of what they consider the 'wrong kind of woman.' That dominance is clearly on the wane."

This election season points to a reality that hurts EMILY's List at its core. There is "enormous consensus" on the issue of abortion, Knights of Columbus head Carl Anderson argues in his upcoming book, "Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street, and the Media." Marist polling done for the Knights found that eight out of 10 Americans "favor restrictions that would limit abortion to the first three months of pregnancy at most." Additionally, he notes that "53 percent of Americans would limit abortion to cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a mother -- or would not allow it at all. Among women, the number is even higher -- 55 percent."

In this election, EMILY's List is playing to less than a quarter of Americans, according to the Knights' polling (which is consistent with CNN and other polling): the minority that wants abortion available throughout a woman's pregnancy. Republicans, for the most part -- even consistently pro-life ones -- seem to be playing to the real consensus as described by Anderson, while being true to their principles. If we can all agree on some restrictions, how about we start with prohibiting all federal funding of abortion? That's a far cry from overturning Roe v. Wade, but it's a start. And, by the way -- contrary to the scare tactics of EMILY's List -- a House Speaker Boehner wouldn't have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade even if he wanted to.

People are fed up with alarmist fear-mongering, because they are genuinely concerned about the future of their country. They know who they are, and they know that fear doesn't build a nation. They know how to keep those who are supposed to represent them accountable. EMILY's List doesn't speak for me; it speaks for fewer Americans every day. I understand why EMILY's List and the people who support it are spooked, but this year, voters will not be tricked.



Epic "Feminist" Hypocrisy (again)

By Carol Platt Liebau

The day after he (or a member of his staff) is caught on tape calling Meg Whitman a whore, Jerry Brown has announced the endorsement of the National Organization of Women (NOW).

You know, it's fashionable in feminist circles to sit around bemoaning the fact that few young women want to identify themselves as feminists.

Wanna know why? This kind of hypocrisy is the reason why. It's OK with NOW, supposedly an organization devoted to the equal and respectful treatment of women for Jerry Brown to call his opponent -- an accomplished woman, and more importantly, any woman -- a "whore." It's OK with NOW for Bill Clinton to engage in sexual harassment of an intern in The White House, and possibly worse in his pre-presidential days. It's OK with NOW to allow Sarah Palin to be denigrated in the cheapest, lowest and most sexist ways.

NOW has nothing to do with women's rights, or the proper treatment of women. They are simply shills for abortion and big government. They ought to admit it and take the word "Women" out of their name, because they no more stand for "women" in general than President Obama stands for small government and low taxes.

Women -- and men -- are on to NOW's racket. That's why their endorsement means nothing. They're just political hacks. What young woman in her right mind would want to be associated with such cheap political opportunism?



What public-sector unions have wrought

by Jeff Jacoby

ORGANIZED LABOR in the United States achieved a milestone in 2009 that once would have been unthinkable: for the first time, union members working in government jobs outnumbered those working in the private sector.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of unionized private employees fell last year to 7.4 million. That represented just 7.2 percent of the private-sector labor force, the lowest proportion in over a century. By contrast, union membership in the public sector topped 7.9 million, or 37.4 percent of all federal, state, and local government jobs. The share of government workers belonging to labor unions, in other words, is more than five times the unionized share of the private sector. Union membership in private industry peaked at 35.7 percent in 1953 and has dwindled ever since. In the public sector, unions surpassed that level years ago and show no sign of weakening.

The number of government employees at all levels surged from about 8.2 million in 1959 to 22.5 million in 2009. Historically, government work paid less than comparable employment in the private economy, but greater job security and good pensions compensated for the lower wages. No longer: now government workers tend to fare better than private-sector workers across the board—not only in job security and pensions but in wages and other benefits as well.

Supporters of government pension benefit increases routinely argue that public employees are underpaid compared to private-sector counterparts, so retirement benefits must be sweetened to compensate. However, recent surveys used by the City's [NYC] Department of Human Resources to benchmark compensation disclose that in nearly all job classifications the City pays more in wages and salaries than the other governmental agencies and more than most private-sector employers.

Nationwide, according to BLS data for 2009, state and local government employees were paid an average wage of $26.01 per hour, which was 34 percent higher than the average private-sector wage of $19.39 per hour. Even more lopsided was the public-sector advantage in fringe benefits, such as health and life insurance, paid vacations and sick leave, and—above all—retirement income.

With compensation so generous, it is not surprising that government employees are only one-third as likely to leave their jobs as workers in the private sector. The logical inference is drawn by Chris Edwards, a scholar at the Cato Institute: "[S]tate and local pay is higher than needed to attract qualified workers."

Yet when it comes to outearning Americans who labor in the private sector, state and local government employees are left in the dust by their counterparts at the federal level.

In 2008, the 1.9 million civilians employed by Uncle Sam were paid, on average, an annual salary of $79,197, according to the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis. The average private employee earned just $49,935. The difference between them came to more than $29,000 -- a disparity that has more than doubled since 2000. Add benefits to the mix and the federal advantage is even more striking.

In its budget narrative for 2011, the Obama administration acknowledges the premium in federal compensation but attributes it to the specialized skills and greater education of federal workers:
The federal government hires lawyers to tackle corruption, security professionals to monitor our borders, doctors to care for our injured veterans, and world-class scientists to combat deadly diseases such as cancer. Because of these vital needs, the Federal Government hires a relatively highly educated workforce, resulting in higher average pay. In 2009, full-time, year-round federal civilian employees earned on average 21 percent more than workers in the private sector.

In a similar vein, when Scott Brown, the newly elected senator from Massachusetts, called in February for a federal hiring and salary freeze "because... federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts," he was promptly taken to task by the 150,000-member National Treasury Employees Union. "Comparing salaries of federal employees and private sector employees is not an apples-to--apples comparison," the union's president admonished Brown in a letter. "The only appropriate way to make a fair pay comparison is to compare similar jobs with one another."

A few weeks later, USA Today published just such a comparison. Analyzing the salaries (not including benefits) paid in the 216 occupations with direct equivalents in both the federal and private-sector labor markets, it found a government premium in more than eight out of 10 categories. Registered nurses in the government's employ, for example, were paid an average of $74,460 a year, while those in the private sector earned an average of $63,780. Among librarians, the federal pay advantage was $12,826; among graphic designers, $24,255; among pest-control workers, $14,995. Overall, the paper concluded, "the typical federal worker is paid 20 percent more than a private-sector worker in the same occupation."

Even when taxpayers fall on hard times, the good life goes on for public employees. During the first year and a half of the current "Great Recession," the number of federal workers with salaries of $100,000 and up increased 46 percent. At the Defense Department, the number of civilian employees making $150,000 or more quintupled from 1,868 to 10,100; at Justice, the increase was nearly sevenfold.

The devastation wrought by the worst recession in two generations has not been evenly distributed. Between January 2008 and June 2010, the American private sector lost roughly 8 million jobs. Over the same period, the public sector workforce grew by 590,000.

IT IS NOT by happenstance that the growth in public-sector union jobs—from a trivial share of overall union membership 50 years ago to a majority today—has coincided with so vast an expansion of government and of its employees' pay and perquisites. As FDR had foreseen, there are crucial differences between collective bargaining in the public and private sectors. Labor unions negotiating on behalf of government employees enjoy at least four potent advantages, which they long ago learned to exploit.....

In many states, strikes by public employees are prohibited, and disputes that cannot be settled through collective bargaining are resolved through mandatory binding arbitration instead. Far from promoting compromise, however, binding arbitration undermines it. Unions have every incentive to bargain to impasse and then insist on arbitration, since they know that an arbitrator will almost never award public employees less than the government's final offer. That makes binding arbitration a can't-lose proposition for the unions and a certain loser for the taxpayers.

As a state senator in 1969, Coleman Young authored Michigan's mandatory-arbitration law. As mayor of Detroit years later, he came to deeply regret it. "We know that compulsory arbitration has been a failure," Young told National Journal in 1981. "Slowly, inexorably, compulsory arbitration destroys sensible fiscal management" and has "caused more damage to the public service in Detroit than the strikes [it was] designed to prevent."

It didn't take unions long to figure out that their members' votes, and the political donations funded in part with their members' dues, would yield tremendous leverage at the bargaining table. Consequently, for many public-sector unions, politics became a core function.

Time magazine, reporting in 1973 that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees was "teach[ing] local unionists how to organize political rallies, telethons, and letter-writing campaigns," quoted AFSCME's president, Jerry Wurf: "We're political as hell." That attitude is reflected on the AFSCME website, which boasts that candidates "all across the country, at every level of government" have learned to "pay attention to AFSCME's political muscle." The union is blunt about its reliance on politics to achieve its collective-bargaining aims. "We elect our bosses, so we've got to elect politicians who support us and hold those politicians accountable," AFSCME says. "Our jobs, wages, and working conditions are directly linked to politics."

For an even blunter expression of political hardball as played by the public-sector unions, turn to YouTube and watch the video labeled "SEIU Threat." At a budget hearing in the California legislature in 2009, an official of the Service Employees International Union, the nation's fastest-growing union, was recorded telling lawmakers to give the union what it wanted—or else. "We helped get you into office, and we got a good memory," she says evenly. "Come November, if you don't back our program, we'll get you out of office."

SEIU's memory—not to mention its clout and deep pockets—was clearly appreciated by the Obama administration. SEIU spent $67 million to elect Barack Obama and other Democrats in 2008. In the first nine months following Obama's inauguration, union president Andrew Stern visited the White House 22 times—more than any other visitor. Several top SEIU officials were appointed to posts in the new administration, including Patrick Gaspard, who became the White House political director, and Craig Becker, who was named to the National Labor Relations Board. "SEIU is on the field, it's in the White House, it's in the administration," gloated Stern—with reason—in a video to his members.

The unions' power to "elect our bosses" has thus turned public-sector collective bargaining into a rigged game -- rigged in favor of a privileged government elite and against the private taxpayers who pay its bills.

PUBLIC-SECTOR UNIONS will fight tooth and nail against any effort to rein in their outsize benefits, and with their immense political clout, they will not be easily defeated. But neither will it be easy to ignore the widening gulf between the public-union aristocracy—with its recession-proof jobs, automatic raises, early retirement, and spectacular pensions—and the scores of millions of Americans working in the private sector, whose standard of living is being eroded by high taxes, profligate government, and a shaky economy. In states where public-sector unions are dominant, such as California and New York, politicians will increasingly find themselves pressed to choose between the unions and a restive, indignant public.

Much more HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


8 October, 2010

On Winning

Oliver North

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- For reasons not altogether clear to me, only brief snippets of Fox News Channel's broadcasts are carried on the satellite signals available on U.S. military installations here in Afghanistan. That means that if I want to watch the news over here, it has to be one of the "major network" shows carried on the American Forces Network -- or the 24/7 broadcasts of CNN International and Al-Jazeera.

That's how thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines assigned to these bases learned that their commander in chief was holding "backyard conversations" in lieu of campaign rallies this election season. And that's where they heard him talk about how "difficult" the war in Afghanistan has become, how "challenging" and "uncertain" it is, and how the outcome cannot be "a sure thing."

Here's some news, Mr. Obama: All wars are "difficult" and "challenging." Most armed engagements are "uncertain" while they are happening. And few are ever "a sure thing" between start and finish. No one I have met here on this visit to these battlefields is prepared to hoist a "Mission Accomplished" banner. But the U.S., allied and Afghan National Security Forces personnel we have talked to on this "embed" overwhelmingly believe we are winning. Perhaps more importantly, it doesn't help the morale or motivation of our troops, our allies or the Afghan populace -- but it does encourage our adversaries -- when the president of the United States is consistently ambivalent about the prospects for victory in this war.

It should be expected in this day and age that the so-called "mainstream media" will prognosticate disaster at every turn. That's what happened during the campaign in Mesopotamia. The potentates of the press told us Iraq was on the brink of civil war and forecast an irreparable sectarian upheaval. They were blind to the Sunni "Awakening" in Anbar province during 2006. Then they ignored the spreading nationalist movement when it was embraced by the Shiite tribes along the Tigris River basin. And now they are wrong about prospects in Afghanistan. All the more reason for our nation's leader to sing a different tune and use his bully pulpit to extol what is being accomplished here in the shadow of the Hindu Kush.

Our Fox News' "War Stories" team once again has traveled the length and breadth of this country -- accompanying U.S., coalition and ANSF troops and police on operations in some of the most inhospitable, difficult and dangerous terrain on the planet. We have met, interviewed and gone on lengthy missions with them. We have seen them bloodied, bandaged and evacuated to hospitals -- and we have seen and documented the successes being won daily by Americans, Afghans and the troops and trainers from nearly four dozen allied nations. They are all volunteers to this fight. None of them would be in it -- not even the much-maligned Afghan soldiers and police -- if they didn't think they could win.

In the week since our second report, we have been in the field with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment and 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Helmand province. In places such as Now Zad and Marjah, where Marines once encountered only Taliban insurgents and hostility, they patrol the streets alongside Afghan police and soldiers -- and scores of children. We spent the better part of a day at the Afghan army and police noncommissioned officer academy, documenting how U.S. and International Security Assistance Force "mentoring" and "partnering" programs with Afghan units are paying off.

Little to none of this ever gets reported in the U.S. media. But the video of fuel trucks burning in Pakistan and allegations of U.S. military misfeasance or even malfeasance in an engagement gets replayed countless times on U.S. television broadcasts. Not even Al-Jazeera beats this drum harder or more often.

Thursday morning, we observed the ninth anniversary of the start of this war by accompanying a combined American, Afghan and ISAF special operations task force on a raid to take down a major opium transshipment point within sight of the Pakistani border. The operation netted more than 275 pounds of processed heroin, more than 150 pounds of morphine base, about 35 gallons of opium processing chemicals, about 45 pounds of hashish, weapons, ammunition and hand grenades. Taliban thugs relying on cash from this contraband were surely disappointed by the deafening explosion that destroyed the haul.

And here's the kicker: Two members of the raid force were women -- a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent partnered with an Afghan National Interdiction Unit female officer. That's a sign of progress in this war that couldn't be found just six months ago.

We shouldn't expect our media elites to mention such "trivial details." But it would be nice if our commander in chief would occasionally take note of these positive changes instead of constantly bemoaning how "difficult" this fight is for him.



Nobel literature prize goes to a conservative!

Peruvian writer and one-time presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa, a chronicler of human struggles against authoritarian power in Latin America, won the 2010 Nobel prize for literature on Thursday.

An outstanding member of the a generation of writers that led a resurgence in Latin American literature in the 1960s, Vargas Llosa was a champion of the left in his youth and later evolved into an outspoken conservative, a shift that infuriated much of Latin America's leftist intelligentsia.

"I hope they gave it to me more for my literary work and not my political opinions," the 74-year-old author said at a news conference in New York.

"I think Latin American literature deals with power and politics and this was inevitable. We in Latin America have not solved basic problems such as freedom," Vargas Llosa said.

"Literature is an expression of life and you can't eradicate politics from life," he added.

The Swedish Academy awarding the 10 million crown ($1.5 million) prize said Vargas Llosa had been chosen "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat."

The author of more than 30 novels, plays and essays, Vargas Llosa made his international breakthrough in the 1960s with "The Time of the Hero", a novel about cadets at a military academy. Many of his works are built on his experiences of life in Peru in the late 1940s and the 1950s.

In the 1970s, Vargas Llosa, a one-time supporter of the Cuban revolution, denounced Fidel Castro's communism, maddening many of his leftist literary colleagues like Garcia Marquez.



The Fabled Recovery

When the housing bubble popped in 2007 and financial mayhem ensued over the next two years, revenues to the federal and state governments dried up. This has produced untenable budget situations as states struggle to keep spending at pre-financial crisis levels. “Stimulus” has been justified in part to give the economy the juice it needs to restore growth, which in turn would promote higher revenues.

“We need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape,” said Barack Obama on January 2th, 2009.

The trouble is that it just has not happened.

The American people are still waiting for this fabled recovery. With growth slowing to 1.7 percent in the second quarter and unemployment remaining unacceptably high, the long-awaited recovery has now become an article of faith on the Left. It has become akin to the belief that the end times will come in our lifetimes.

A key indicator to look at over the past few years has been state budget deficits. In Illinois, reports Bloomberg News, the state faces yet another $15 billion deficit for fiscal year 2012. “The state’s financial condition ‘continues to deteriorate,’ [state comptroller Dan] Hynes said, citing 36 percent surge in fiscal 2010 bills to be paid from current-year revenue,” according to the report.

Despite the terrible numbers, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn “is committed to paying all” the bills from 2010. Cutting spending is apparently not on the menu.

In New York, next year’s deficit could be another $8.2 billion. California’s shortfall remains at $19 billion. Despite Governor Chris Christie’s herculean efforts in New Jersey to eliminate an $11 billion deficit and balance the budget, the state “is expected to face a similar gap next year,” according to the Daily Record.

So, nobody is expecting an immediate rebound, despite all of the Keynesian deficit-spending that was promised to turn the economy around. The first $150 billion “stimulus” in 2008, the $700 billion TARP, the failed foreclosure “prevention” and mortgage modification programs, and the second $816 billion “stimulus” in 2009 did not work.

The near-zero interest rates, and the Federal Reserve more than doubling the money supply and purchasing $1.25 trillion of mortgage-backed securities, the government seizures of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GM, and Chrysler, the $26.1 billion states bailout passed this year, and then the government takeovers of the health care and financial sectors have not worked either.

None of it has produced the fabled recovery.

All told, the federal government has contracted more than $4.6 trillion in new debt since 2007 under the congressional leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi — all to no avail. Housing prices are still slowly declining. New jobs are only being created at a snail’s pace and well below the rate of new entrants into the workforce. Exports and wages remain flat.

Meanwhile, the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are set to expire at year’s end, which will result in automatic tax increases across the board on all Americans, including critical job creators. Gold has spiraled up to $1,341 an ounce, signaling future inflation. Already food and other commodities are inching upward in prices. Medical costs are still on the way up.

Together with the new regulations from ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial takeover, higher prices and tax hikes will impose new, dramatic costs on American businesses, hamper economic growth, and leave Americans out of work.

The United States cannot compete in the global marketplace with these sorts of costs being imposed on jobs and wealth creation. With over 14.8 million Americans unemployed, virtually unchanged from a year ago, now is the time to begin rolling back these disastrous government policies that have critically damaged the economy.

Nobody believes the propaganda anymore. The American people are not holding out for the government “stimulus” to kick in. They’ve seen what it does and does not do, and they want a change. It didn’t work. The fabled recovery is nowhere to be found.




Obama as Roman emperor: Rise & fall of the propaganda master: "Two years ago, Democrats were clamoring to ride in on Barack Obama’s coattails. Proximity to the Obama persona was a prized political asset. Today, amid dim presidential polling numbers, anxious Democrats are keeping their distance. … To understand Obama’s fall, we must understand his rise; and to do that, we must look to ancient history. It was neither for his resume nor his policies that America fell in love with him. In fact, Obama’s policy priorities have turned out to be quite unpopular. It was instead by following the lead of Rome’s greatest emperors that Obama won (temporarily) America’s awe and devotion. This sort of ruler cult begins to crumble, of course, when the ruler is required to make decisions and take positions under unprecedented media scrutiny."

SCOTUS hears scientists’ challenge to background checks: "The Supreme Court confronted the range of personal questions a government employer may ask during a background check, in a case Tuesday raising individual privacy interests and national security concerns. Several justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, suggested by their questions that the federal government should be given wide latitude, particularly in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”

Even Cuba finally gets it: Capitalism works: "It follows the eclipse of similarly stultified economies in three other lands of lingering communist persuasion — China, Vietnam, and North Korea. All have either moved, or appear to be moving, to free, market-based economies while retaining a communist structure to continue harsh political control. Cuba may be no exception. It recently announced plans to dump hundreds of thousands of government workers into a suddenly ­authorized private sector. That doesn’t mean democracy is right around the corner. Though the brothers Castro, Fidel and Raul, may soon be passe, some Cuba-watchers expect their successor may be a tough, but as yet unidentified, general from the powerful military who will use the Communist Party structure to maintain authoritarian rule.”

Europe’s broken economies: "During September this year, much of Europe descended into mild chaos. Millions of Spaniards and French went on strike (following, of course, their return from six weeks vacation) against austerity measures introduced by their governments. Across the continent, there are deepening concerns about possible sovereign-debt defaults, stubbornly-high unemployment, Ireland’s renewed banking woes, and the resurgence of right-wing populist parties (often peddling left-wing economic ideas).”

Thousands of “stimulus” payments went to dead people, prisoners: "More than 89,000 stimulus payments of $250 each went to people who were either dead or in prison, a government investigator says in a new report. The payments, which were part of last year’s massive economic recovery package, were meant to increase consumer spending to help stimulate the economy.”

The economics of fire protection: "The cost structure implies natural monopoly. A two-part tariff is probably optimal. You charge a ‘membership fee’ to cover the $1 million in fixed costs and then charge a fire-fighting fee of $10,000 to put out each fire, paid by the owner who has the fire. Some customers might want insurance against having to pay the fire-fighting fee, in which case they would prefer to pay a higher ‘membership fee’ and a lower fire-fighting fee. Depending on the degree of moral hazard, the fire company might provide this insurance, perhaps even charging nothing for fighting the actual fire. The more members a fire company has, the lower the membership fee. Hence the tendency toward natural monopoly.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


7 October, 2010

The Left is All About Confusion

Despite their claims of superior intelligence and intellectual sophistication, liberals apparently suffer from an extreme math deficiency, given their misperception of crowd size. For example, the Left will tell us that the recent One Nation rally far outnumbered this summer’s Beck rally, despite much evidence to the contrary. In addition to crowd size, liberals seem to have a problem figuring out what proportion of the American population supports a given cause or agenda. Poll after poll demonstrate that, despite what liberals and their pet media tell us, most Americans do not agree with their views and positions on everything from the environment to illegal immigration to terrorism to government involvement in people’s lives. Given all of this liberal distortion of reality, one should not be surprised by yet one more nasty habit frequently exhibited by liberals.

A review of America’s rich history will powerfully demonstrate the recipe of this nation’s greatness. While this formula can be described in many forms, the most concise equation may be epitomized in one word…diversity. While liberals love to use this word as their mantra against intolerance, they are the ones who actually exhibit intolerance and constantly seek to inhibit diversity. This is yet another example of the Left’s ironic hypocrisy. Theirs is a pattern of accusing others of precisely that which they exhibit and twisting what has made America great into supposedly what holds America back.

The Right is all about highlighting and honoring America’s diversity. Conservatives accept that people are unique and look to turn this individuality into the ingredients for enhancing this nation’s greatness. Allowing people to use their unique skills and gifts to succeed and help others is central to the Right’s agenda. Encouraging and promoting each person’s special contributions and potential will necessarily result in people achieving diverse levels of success, but that is only natural and just. Philosophers like John Rawls, famed proponent of distributive justice, tell us that people have different needs and distinct potential, goals, and backgrounds. America, and the Right, has been all about promoting equality of opportunity if not necessarily result. If the Left will tell us that such opportunity equality is a myth that must be addressed, the Right may counter with the assertion that any deficiencies in that opportunity equality must be addressed, not by enforcing artificial uniformity, but by improving the process of the opportunity equality itself.

Stated differently, the Right tells us that some people are better cooks and others are better carpenters, resulting in diverse levels of cooking and carpentry where the resulting product reflects diverse and distinct skill levels. This diversity should be encouraged since it will not only reward those who excel, but will also encourage those who do not to either work harder or seek another path for their efforts. Perhaps some average cooks will become good cooks, some inferior cooks will try their hand at carpentry, and so on, but the net result will be that individuality, unique ability, and diverse potential will be both respected and promoted for the good of society.

The Left, on the other hand, denies that some people are better cooks or carpenters, or spends half its time whining about why this is so, probably blaming some injustice or America itself for the disparity. Rather than seeing this diversity as a rich and vibrant expression of individual uniqueness, the Left will condemn it as foul evidence of some massive conspiracy to thwart human beings. What results is a mess where bad cooks are given tons of free cooking classes, poor carpenters are allowed to build defective chairs to appease their ego, and the resulting distasteful meals and dangerous furniture are accepted as the necessary by-product of supporting people’s endeavors regardless of their natural inclination, determination, or qualification for those endeavors.

The Right relishes the difference in our people, and unashamedly seeks to use that difference to make America greater. The Left, on the other hand, is so disgusted and ashamed by those differences that it makes every effort to deny, conceal, or pretend that these differences do not exist by slapping quotas, reverse discrimination, and the race card on everything in sight. America’s greatness is that even Barack Obama can be elected because he convinced enough voters to support him, and that many of those very same voters can vote him out of office four years later, not because they suddenly realized that he was African-American, but because they have come to realize that he is not what they thought he was. The Right will embrace that right of the American people; but the Left will swiftly label it racism, intolerance, and hatred and condemn it.

America has always been that beacon on the hill, guiding and enlightening those who seek what can be done where freedom and human diversity is respected. The Right is not afraid of that light. The Left, on the other hand, has been all about covering that light with its phobias, agendas, hypocrisy, and twisted notions of reality and what the American people want. The upcoming elections and the larger one two years hence will be all about removing that shroud from America’s greatness. In its greatest moments, this country has been about pointing fingers upward in celebration and ambition rather than toward the American people in accusation or denial. It is ironic that those who pretend to be about tolerance and diversity are precisely the ones who seek to confuse and fuse America into some distorted, uniform, artificial One Nation which, by the way, seeks to be everything rather than Under God.



Politicians Exploit Economic Ignorance

One of President Obama's campaign promises was not to raise taxes on middle-class Americans. So here's my question: If there's a corporate tax increase either in the form of "cap and trade" or income tax, does it turn out to be a middle-class tax increase? Most people would say no but let's look at it.

There's a whole subject area in economics known as tax incidence -- namely, who bears the burden of a tax? The first thing that should be recognized is that the burden of a tax is not necessarily borne by the party upon whom it is levied. That is, for example, if a sales tax is levied on gasoline retailers, they don't bear the full burden of the tax. Part of it is shifted to customers in the form of higher gasoline prices.

Suppose your local politician tells you, as a homeowner, "I'm not going to raise taxes on you! I'm going to raise taxes on your land." You'd probably tell him that he's an idiot because land does not pay taxes; only people pay taxes. That means a tax on your land is a tax on you. You say, "Williams, that's pretty elementary, isn't it?" Not quite.

What about the politician who tells us that he's not going to raise taxes on the middle class; instead, he's going to raise corporate income taxes as means to get rich corporations to pay their rightful share of government? If a tax is levied on a corporation, and if it is to survive, it will have one of three responses, or some combination thereof. One response is to raise the price of its product, so who bears the burden? Another response is to lower dividends; again, who bears the burden? Yet another response is to lay off workers. In each case, it is people, not some legal fiction called a corporation, who bear the burden of the tax.

Because corporations have these responses to the imposition of a tax, they are merely government tax collectors. They collect money from people and send it to Washington. Therefore, you should tell that politician, who promises to tax corporations instead of you, that he's an idiot because corporations, like land, do not pay taxes. Only people pay taxes.

Here's another tax question, even though it doesn't sound like it. Which workers receive higher pay: those on a road construction project moving dirt with shovels and wheelbarrows or those moving dirt atop a giant earthmover? If you said the worker atop the earthmover, go to the head of the class. But why? It's not because he's unionized or that construction contractors have a fondness for earthmover operators. It's because the worker atop the earthmover is working with more capital, thereby making him more productive. Higher productivity means higher wages.

It's not rocket science to conclude that whatever lowers the cost of capital formation, such as lowering the cost of investing in earthmovers, enables contractors to purchase more of them. Workers will have more capital to work with and as a result enjoy higher wages. Policies that raise the cost of capital formation such as capital gains taxes, low depreciation allowances and corporate taxes, thereby reduce capital formation, and serve neither the interests of workers, investors nor consumers. It does serve the interests of politicians who get more resources to be able to buy votes.

You might wonder how congressmen can get away with taxes and other measures that reduce our prosperity potential. Part of the answer is ignorance and the anti-business climate promoted in academia and the news media. The more important reason is that prosperity foregone is invisible. In other words, we can never tell how much richer we would have been without today's level of congressional interference in our lives and therefore don't fight it as much as we should.



Conservatives, Forever on Trial

It's a topsy-turvy, upside-down political world out there for people who thought Barack Obama would be cruising at a 70 percent approval rating while crushing the Republicans like bugs. In fact, the opposite has happened. The Senate majority leader is in grave danger of involuntary retirement. Everyone in Washington concedes Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to bang the gavel in January.

So why in the world does the tone of news coverage suggest all kinds of political problems ... for conservatives, as if they were the collapsing majority in this campaign?

The media elites sound like they're resigned to the idea that a lot of Democrats are going to be unemployed in November. Their coverage seems designed now to stanch the bleeding, to devote their coverage to close races where they can bash conservative challengers in the hope of turning the tide there.

On the first Monday in October, ABC "Good Morning America" reporter Jonathan Karl was alarming the masses about Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller, insisting he was at war with history and the mainstream of politics. "In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Alaska's Joe Miller talked about rolling back the power of the federal government further than Republicans have talked about for more than 70 years."

"Should the federal government be requiring a minimum wage?" Karl asked. Miller said no, that should be left to the states. But really: Is there any chance that the Senate in 2011 will repeal a federal minimum wage? ABC doesn't really care. They're trying to scare voters about conservative positions. Karl continued: "Miller and other tea party candidates also favor eliminating the Department of Education. Some want to pull the U.S. out of the U.N." Horrors. Are these likely to happen (as much as this writer would like)? It doesn't matter. Halloween's coming early.

Karl proceeded to announce it was somehow newsworthy that ABC had a supposedly damaging audio clip of Sharron Angle saying she can arrange a meeting with top Senate Republicans when she comes to Washington. That is "news" only if the reporter assumes she's an extremist who's political poison to every other Republican she touches.

Over on CBS News, Jeff Greenfield flagrantly offered tips to the Democrats, including this advice: "Convince the voters that this election is a choice, with ads that argue the Republicans are just too extreme." This was followed by an actual campaign ad: "Sharron Angle, and she's just too extreme." National news stories and local negative ads go hand in hand.

You don't have to be a tea party candidate to have mud thrown in your face. On NBC, reporter Chuck Todd focused on how the California governor's race took a "nasty turn" when moderate Republican Meg Whitman blamed Jerry Brown for the allegation that she knowingly hired (or retained) an illegal-alien maid.

Like the other national reporters who jumped on this non-story with both feet, Todd couldn't find any time to note that the accuser's lawyer, Gloria Allred, has donated to liberal Democrats from Barbara Boxer to Hillary Clinton to Dennis Kucinich -- and Jerry Brown. National reporters couldn't mention that Allred pulled this same trick on Arnold Schwarzenegger when he ran for governor of California in 2003, when a stunt double accused the movie star of sexual harassment. Her lawsuit then was dismissed. But winning the lawsuit or even finding the truth wasn't the point; beating Republicans was the point.

The media somehow deem that Democrats (a) should not be identified as Democrats when they try to ruin a Republican, and that (b) no one should remind the public that this partisan ambulance has been chased before.

Then on Tuesday, the Unwelcome Wagon was yanked along again. ABC began "Good Morning America" with George Stephanopoulos asking, "Is the tea party losing traction? Our new poll says the answer may be yes, as the movement's most famous candidate releases this ad." All three network morning shows highlighted conservative Christine O'Donnell proclaiming in an ad, "I'm not a witch."

NBC's "Today" offered an interview with Carl Paladino, the surprise tea party winner in the New York governor's race. But it was only a setting for co-host Matt Lauer to assault Paladino as too brash a practitioner of "gutter politics," insisting he wouldn't be able to govern New York because they need a "bridge builder." (Do you recall Lauer ever asking uber-brash liberal Democrat Eliot Spitzer about being too harsh?)

The bias is so thick out there you can step in it. But it shouldn't be forgotten that all this biased sludge obscures the real picture of a wave election. When networks like NBC are mortified that a man they would typically ignore like Paladino might just deny Andrew Cuomo his daddy's mantle in New York, that means the polls are really, terribly bad out there for Democrats.




Whitman vs. Brown in CA: "In an election year, this is the time for an ‘October surprise’ — some sensational, and usually irrelevant, revelation to distract the voters from serious issues. This year, there are October surprises from coast to coast. There are a lot of incumbents who don’t want to discuss serious issues — especially their own track records.”

Mexican leader sends bill to disband local police: "Mexican President Felipe Calderon has sent lawmakers a proposal to abolish Mexico’s notoriously corrupt and ineffective municipal police forces. Under the initiative, each of Mexico’s 31 states would have just one police department under the command of the governor. Calderon raised the idea months ago and formally submitted it to the Senate on Wednesday.”

Afghans find tons of explosive devices transferred from Iran: "Authorities in southwestern Afghanistan have seized 19 tons of explosive devices that had been transferred across the border from Iran, police said. Nimruz Police Chief Abdul Jabar Purdel said a suspect was detained. Nimruz province, in Afghanistan’s southwestern corner, borders Iran and Pakistan.”

ObamaCare throwing in the towel already: "The federal government has decided to provide waivers to 30 companies and groups that will allow them to cap insurance costs, leaving almost a million workers exposed to catastrophic costs despite a new protection in the healthcare law. The companies and organizations, including McDonald’s Corp., will not be required to raise the minimum annual benefit included in low-cost health plans often used to cover part-time or low-wage employees. The Department of Health and Human Services, which provided a list of exemptions, said it granted waivers late last month so workers with such plans would not lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop their health insurance altogether.”

Congress can’t repeal economics: "It’s raining! I don’t like it! Why hasn’t Congress passed the Good Weather Act and the Everybody Happy Act? Sound dumb? Why is it any dumber than a law called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which promised to cover more for less money?”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


6 October, 2010

Huge exclusions for Gov’t-Run Health Care in AZ

But the one exclusion that is generating all the outrage is the refusal to transplant livers into carriers of Hep C. Hep C is of course the druggie's disease. As a former army man, I have no sympathy for self-inflicted injuries so I see no point in wasting rare organ donations on such people. Note that the virus universally recurs after transplantation. It is the many cutbacks on care for ordinary decent people that illustrate the dangers of government-run health insurance

Arizona's Medicaid agency will no longer cover some non-experimental organ transplants for its adult members, including liver transplants for patients with Hepatitis C, a move blasted as "a death sentence" by one patient advocacy group.

Medicaid is a federally subsidized, state-administered health-care program for low-income people. Some Medicaid benefits are mandated by the federal government, with states choosing to cover additional benefits.

The federal government spent $275.4 billion on Medicaid in fiscal 2010 and $451.1 billion on Medicare, for a total of $726.5 billion on these two government health-care programs, according to the Office of Management and Budget. By contrast, the federal government spent $692 billion on the U.S. Defense Department in fiscal 2010.

In a memo announcing a number of benefits changes for adults 21 and older, the state's Medicaid agency said it was responding to "significant fiscal challenges facing the State and substantial growth in the Medicaid population."

As of October 1, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System will no longer pay for liver transplants for patients with Hepatitis C; certain heart and bone marrow transplants; or lung and pancreas transplants.

In addition to eliminating most organ-transplant coverage, Arizona's Medicaid agency also is eliminating most dental care for adults as well as coverage of podiatrist services; insulin pumps; percussive vests; bone-anchored hearing aids; cochlear implants; orthotics; gastric bypass surgery; certain durable medical equipment; "well" medical checkups; some non-emergency medical transportation; microprocessor-controlled lower limbs and joints; and it is limiting outpatient physical therapy to 15 visits per contract year. (See list)

A group that advocates for viral hepatitis patients is outraged by the decision to "deprive" hepatitis C patients of liver-transplant coverage, calling the move "cruel" and "inhumane."



A large lurch to the Left among "Progressives"

A close look at the Saturday "One Nation" rally in Washington reveals something quite telling. It was a major gathering of the "progressive" left, highly billed, vigorously promoted. And it happened to include -- in fact, it warmly accepted -- the endorsement of Communist Party USA.

Expectedly, a bunch of the rally's endorsers carried the word "progress" or "progressive" in their title, from People’s Organization for Progress to Progressive Democrats of America. More still unhesitatingly describe themselves as progressive, from racial eugenicist Margaret Sanger's Planned Parenthood to Norman Lear's heirs at People for the American Way, plus the usual suspects from the "social justice" Religious Left. And then, too, there was CPUSA.

Why is this so remarkable? It's remarkable because historically, communist involvement at these rallies has been meticulously concealed, hidden from progressives, with the communists using the progressives as props -- as dupes. That the two sides here, on Saturday, happily accepted one another, proudly uniting, shows how far to the left progressives have moved, not to mention their unflagging confidence under the ascendancy of Obama-Pelosi-Reid.



The new black racism: "Polar Bear Hunting"

A trendy sport in our new post-racial America is called polar bear hunting:
What is 'polar bear hunting'?

It's a racist assault by blacks (mostly young men) on whites (mostly men of any age). Most often it involves more than one attacker on a lone victim, and usually from behind with no warning.

In the Champaign, Ill. area "the number of reports of beatings to white men in Champaign appear to be coming in quicker than police can even process them."

The most recent attack was this past Friday night on a lone man walking home after a high school football game.

One polar bear hunter denies there's anything racist about assaulting white people, and expresses concern that somebody could get hurt if Whitey pulls a gun.

Here's a list of national media reports on this alarming phenomenon:

There, that's all I could find after a quick search with Google News. The moral of the story can be summed up in two words: concealed carry.



Congress beats the trade-war drum

by Jeff Jacoby

THE POLICIES of the Chinese government make it possible for Americans to acquire a vast array of products at affordable prices. For that high crime and misdemeanor, the US House of Representatives voted last week to punish China.

The vote on H.R. 2378, which would authorize punitive tariffs on Chinese exports to the United States -- which includes everything from clothing, furniture, and toys to refrigerators, computers, and sporting goods -- was a lopsided 348 to 79. It was accompanied by equally unbalanced congressional rhetoric. "They cheat to steal our jobs," fumed Mike Rogers of Michigan, while California's Dana Rohrabacher denounced the Chinese as a "clique of gangsters."

From the Senate, where similar legislation is pending, came equally hostile words. "This suckers' game is never going to stop unless we call their bluff," seethed Charles Schumer of New York. There was trade-war drum-beating on the sidelines, too. The president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, cheered the "long-overdue" move against China's government, which he likened to "a schoolyard bully." Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times, hailed the vote as evidence that US policymakers would no longer be so "incredibly, infuriatingly passive in the face of China's bad behavior."

But what exactly is so awful about selling good stuff cheap to tens of millions of US consumers?

China's communist regime is no paragon of enlightened governance. It criminalizes dissent, represses religious and ethnic minorities, and severely restricts the civil rights and political liberties of its citizens. Particularly brutal have been its occupation of Tibet and its vicious treatment of those who follow Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual movement. There is no shortage of legitimate and urgent reasons to condemn Beijing's behavior. Keeping the price of Chinese exports low isn't one of them.

China is accused by its protectionist foes of deliberately undervaluing its currency, the yuan (or renminbi), relative to the US dollar. That makes Chinese goods less expensive in the international market than they otherwise would be. No doubt that puts some US exporters at a competitive disadvantage. But it also means far greater purchasing power for innumerable US consumers and businesses. Experts can debate whether there is something unwarranted or "predatory" about China's currency manipulation (which, as The New York Times points out, the World Trade Organization does not define as illegal). But there is no doubt whatever that its beneficiaries are legion, as a visit to any Wal-Mart or Target will confirm. Because it makes so many goods so affordable to so many people, China's currency policy has been called "the greatest anti-poverty program in America." And Congress wants to go to war to shut it down?

The protectionists claim that forcing China to revalue the yuan would boost US manufacturers, adding as many as a million new jobs to American payrolls. That too is debatable. Economist Mark Perry argues that it is the breathtaking increase in US manufacturing productivity, not the value of Chinese currency, that is largely responsible for the disappearance of so many manufacturing jobs in recent years. Contrary to popular view, manufacturing in America is alive and well. The United States is far and away the world's leading manufacturing power, but it takes fewer workers to produce more output than ever.

Not many firms welcome tough competition, so it isn't hard to understand why US exporters who compete directly with Chinese firms want to see Congress rig the trade by slapping punitive tariffs on imports made in China. Their concern is with their bottom line; they aren't thinking about the millions of American households that would be forced to contend with higher prices.

But that doesn't mean Congress has to do their bidding.

Suppose Chinese firms were able to undersell their US competitors not because of Beijing's currency policy, but thanks to a technological breakthrough that dramatically reduced Chinese manufacturing expenses. Or suppose Americans were flocking to buy made-in-China goods because Oprah Winfrey, Glenn Beck, Pastor Rick Warren, and Lady Gaga were all urging their followers to do so. Or because an eccentric billionaire was offering a 25 percent rebate on the purchase of anything imported from China. US firms might fume, but no one would expect Congress to "retaliate" on their behalf by slapping steep new taxes on Chinese products. Why should the bottom line be any different if consumers choose to "buy Chinese" because Beijing holds down the value of its currency?

Affordable imports are a godsend, not grounds for a trade war. It is distressing that so many members of Congress have trouble understanding that. Perhaps a return to private life would help them figure it out.




Tax hikes to drive a second collapse?: "Congress left Washington without addressing the massive tax hikes that will come at the end of the year as the tax-rate reductions of 2001 and 2003 expire. Absent action on Capitol Hill, those increases will take $4 trillion out of the economy over the next ten years — and even if the lower tax bracket reductions get extended, $700 billion of capital will get redirected from the private sector to Washington. How will that impact economic growth in the US? Peter Ferrara argues that it will create not just a double-dip recession, but a second economic collapse — one worse than what we experienced in 2008.

A free press means free from government control: "A free press is a foundation of a free society. For any university president to argue against it would seem unusual. When it’s also the head of the Columbia School of Journalism, then people on both left and the right have reason to scratch their heads in bewilderment. Bollinger has called for federal funding of the media in a piece with the terrifying headline: ‘Journalism Needs Government Help.’ He advocates for the creation of an ‘American World Service that can compete with the BBC and other global broadcasters.’ And he wants government to pay for it. This is not just a bad idea, it’s a dangerous one.”

Stimulus: Government snooping in your trash: "Somebody could be snooping in your trash … and you’re paying for it! In a growing number of cities across the U.S., local governments are placing computer chips in recycling bins to collect data on refuse disposal, and then fining residents who don’t participate in recycling efforts and forcing others into educational programs meant to instill respect for the environment. In at least one city, Dayton, Ohio, this invasion of your privacy is paid for by federal ‘Stimulus’ funds.”

Zernike’s stupid outrage: "In a news report on October 2nd, 2010, titled ‘Movement of the Moment Looks to Long-Ago Texts,’ New York Times reporter Kate Zernike tells us that books like Frederick Bastiat’s The Law, from 1850, and F. A Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom from 1944, are selling like hotcakes among Tea Party members. OMG! How awful. Next we will be told that some people are studying Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Hume, Smith, Locke, Marx and other authors of ‘long-ago’ texts in order to learn about political economy, ethics, social philosophy and such.”

We can’t afford the luxury of high-speed rail: "This past Tuesday, Amtrak proposed to spend more than $100 billion increasing the top speeds of trains in its Boston-to-Washington corridor from 150 to 220 miles per hour. In August, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood estimated that President Obama’s proposal to extend high-speed rail to other parts of the country will cost at least $500 billion. No one knows where this money will come from, but President Obama argues that we need to spend it because high-speed rail will have a ‘transformative effect’ on the American economy. In fact, all it will do is drag the economy down.”

Finance, TARP, and the Great Recession: "These days, we are hearing that TARP is ending, that it will cost less than expected, and that it worked. In an interview at the main event yesterday, Treasury Secretary Geithner says that by injecting capital into large banks, policy makers did something unpopular that would benefit the country. They took one for the team, so to speak. This may be the true narrative. But there are many unknowns.”

UK to overhaul welfare, child benefits: "Britain will cap payments to jobless families and scrap child benefits for high earners in a sweeping overhaul of the country’s welfare system, George Osborne, the Treasury chief, said yesterday. … Osborne said Britain’s coalition government would introduce a new welfare cap to make sure families in which both parents are unemployed do not receive more in benefits than an average family earns in wages. Osborne also announced parents who earn more than $70,000 per year will lose child benefit payments from 2013. Currently, all families are paid $32 a week for their eldest child and about $20 for other children.”

How to kill off a recovery: "One of the things which can be very difficult to get over to a certain type is this idea that fiscal or monetary stimulus are not the only things which can aid a recovery in a battered economy.It really isn’t that the State must do more: there is also the argument that in other areas the State must do less. For example, those streamers of red tape with which we festoon industry.”

If you like your health plan, you may lose it anyway: "Another major employer, 3M, has decided to ‘eventually stop offering its health insurance plan to retirees, citing the federal health overhaul as a factor.’ As Reason’s Peter Suderman notes, ‘despite the Obama administration’s repeated promises to the contrary, many people and employers will not, in fact, be able to stick with their current health care plans and arrangements.’”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


5 October, 2010

So you still think Obama has forgotten that he was raised as a Muslim?

Patrick Poole recently reported that a known Hamas operative and unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in U.S. history - Kifah Mustapha - was recently escorted into the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center and other secure government facilities, including the FBI's training center at Quantico, during a six-week "Citizen's Academy" hosted by the FBI as part of its "outreach" to the Muslim Community. The group was accompanied by reporter Ben Bradley of WLS-Chicago (ABC), who filed a report on the trip. Poole quoted Bradley:
Sheik Kifah Mustapha, who runs the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, asked some of the most pointed questions during the six week FBI Citizens' Academy and trip to Washington. He pushed agents to fully explain everything from the bureau's use of deadly force policy to racial and ethnic profiling. "I saw a very interesting side of what the FBI does and I wanted to know more," Sheik Mustapha explained after returning from D.C. He hopes the FBI's outreach runs deeper than positive public relations.
Poole drily commented: "Yes, I bet he wanted to know everything about the FBI's policies." Poole adds: "Curiously, Bradley's report on the Citizen's Academy fails to make note Mustapha's extensive terrorist ties and support for Hamas..."

Now comes Andrew McCarthy to explore "The trouble with Islamic outreach." Mustapha is McCarthy's Exhibit A. McCarthy updates Poole's report with this:
Mustapha's participation in the Citizen's Academy so soon after his identification as an unindicted co-conspirator has been a source of supreme embarrassment to the FBI. At first, outraged citizens who called the Bureau's Washington headquarters to complain were told that reports of Mustapha's inclusion in a sensitive-access FBI program were false -- and even that a picture showing Mustapha with other participants (see Pat Poole's Big Peace report) must have been photo-shopped. Alas, that story had a couple of holes: The class picture was an official Bureau photo and the class had been covered by a local ABC correspondent who remembered the sheikh quite well.

Thus came explanation number two: Yes, Mustapha was there, and yeah, maybe that means we took a Hamas supporter through a few top-secret locations, but don't look at us -- blame Chicago. Headquarters thus started referring irate callers to the Chicago field office, where {FBI Chicago flack] Mr. [Ross] Rice now labors through explanation number three: Sheikh Mustapha is our guy.

Come again? Rice dutifully explains that if the Feebs had really thought the unindicted Hamas coconspirator "was a security risk, we wouldn't have included him." But he was included because "he is a very influential leader of the Palestinian community here and imam of the largest mosque and was a welcome addition."

Hatem Abudayyeh is McCarthy's Exhibit B. Abudayyeh is at the center of the federal grand-jury investigation in Chicago that resulted in raids on several domiciles in the Twin Cities. One might guess that Abudayyeh has previously been the recipient of "outreach," and one would be right. Citing Josh Gerstein's report, McCarthy writes:

He's been through White House Muslim outreach. As Josh Gerstein explains, Abudayyeh was among a select group invited to the White House in April for a briefing by the Office of Public Engagement on what the Obama administration says involved issues of "concern" for the Arab American community.

Clearly, Abudayyeh is very concerned about such matters. That's why, for example, he strenuously objected in a 2006 interview to the American description of "Hamas, Hezbollah, and the other Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations as 'terrorists.'" Instead, "the real terrorists are the governments and military forces of the U.S. and Israel."

What is the trouble with "outreach"? Andy doesn't say exactly what it is in this column, but the trouble with it is staring us in the face.



A political climate change?

Blogger Dan Riehl disagrees below with columnist Peggy Noonan’s assertion that the political wave of 2010 represents two “tornados” hitting the parties simultaneously, instead arguing that the grassroots Tea Party movement is something much larger and more permanent than that – it’s a full-on “climate change.”

Peggy Noonan depicts what's happening in both parties as a twister, or tornado. While correct on the merits of her relatively limited argument, I believe she fails to see the entirety of the storm that's brewing. Most in what has been called the elitist, or ruling class, can't and won't see it, no matter how they strain their eyes, or spin their metaphors.
And part of what's driving it is what is driving the evolution of the Republican Party. The Internet changed everything. Everyone has facts now, knows who voted how and why. New thought leaders spring up and lead in new directions. Total transparency leads to party fracturing. Information dings unity. We are in new territory.

This isn't two tornadoes. It's the climate of American politics changing forevermore; unless, of course, Noonan believes the Internet is going to up and blow away one day. But rather than do that, it's only going to develop, expanding its reach and influence even more. Think of it as a hurricane, in certain respects.
Another tornado: The president's influential counselor, David Axelrod, attempted this week to insinuate into the election what Democrats used to deride as "wedge issues." In an interview he said abortion will "certainly be an issue," for Democrats. It will be raised "across the country."

Surely Noonan can recall the Reagan Revolution. How can one look at various GOP primaries this past year and not say one developed, but with no Reagan at the front. There were pundits, talk radio hosts and political figures who have nurtured, or flirted with it, Sarah Palin comes to mind. But it's a ground up, genuinely people-powered revolution for the most part. And it draws much of its energy from the Internet.

Time was it took a week, or more, to get 100 people to show up on a Boston street corner, or at a harbor, perhaps. Today, thousands, tens of thousands, or more can gather on the street corner of point and click at the drop of a hat, finding tools of political empowerment when they arrive.

While there can be no real predicting the future of American politics, there are at least some signs we are headed in the right, and center-Right, direction. While other forces were in play behind the scenes, being early adopters allowed the far Left to take control of the Democrat Party. They helped give Hillary Clinton the boot and elected a would be messiah. We all see how that's working out, as that movement is so out of step with the majority of Americans. But that's the Democrat Party's problem to solve, not mine.

Now, having mostly caught up, the so called silent majority of Americans we're always told are more conservative are showing up en masse and amassing technology-enabled political wisdom and power. What we should strive for is not a too far Right Republican Party that would repeat the mistakes of the far Left - but a center-Right GOP in step with the American public. And despite the media and ruling class trying to make them out as extremists, I think that is precisely what we're seeing on the horizon, or at a Tea Party, if you will.

If I'm correct and we're careful, as well as perhaps a bit lucky, this force of nature is neither hurricane, nor tornado. It is more an accurate reflection of the majority of the American electorate waking up to the fact that they have a stake in the future of America, even more so, perhaps, than any ruling class, or political party. The Internet now makes it possible for them to, not only play a role, but take their rightful seat at the head of the table.

Speaking for myself, I became involved in new media when I did because I realized it could democratize information and news flow. And as that became more democratic, and it is today, the politics of America would become more democratic, as well. Only time will tell, but I believe we're seeing the development of a new and profound and profoundly American majority, with its Reagan Democrats, libertarians and, of course, its conservatives like me, too.

We are finding our voices and citizen leaders not in the tree-tops, but down here in the grassroots. And some roots have a way of anchoring things so deeply they can survive hurricanes and even the occasional tornado. We'll see, but I say, long live a new once silent majority now finding its voice through the Internet. No passing storm, I hope, long may she roar above the fruited plain and eventually from sea to shining sea.



Blind Faith in Government

Blind faith in government’s policies is a more dangerous form of “fundamentalism” than any religion could dream up -- says Jack Hunter

At the moment, many are having fun mocking Republican Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s stated belief that evolution is a myth. O’Donnell’s view is shared by plenty of Christians, who seem to have formed their own consensus regardless of any data or logic that might contradict it. Whether one is sympathetic to O’Donnell’s view on evolution or not, it isn’t unfair to assume that it is born first of faith, not fact. Evolution is so contrary to her worldview that it threatens her world and challenges her views–therefore evolution must not, cannot, and shall not be true.

O’Donnell reminds me a lot of Barack Obama. She also reminds me of George W. Bush, his Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and those who continue to subscribe to the orthodoxies of both.

Federal stimulus has not worked, though you can’t tell this to its most faithful adherents. This nearly $800 billion package was intended to create jobs but has not made a dent in unemployment numbers, and a year-and-a-half after its passage a majority of the funds have not made their way to “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, as the president once promised. Writes Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman of federal stimulus, “As a way of expanding the economy, it’s a proven failure. But as a way of expanding government, it’s definitely a keeper.” Given the rest of the Democrats’ agenda, one might assume that expanding government was their goal from the beginning, but regardless Brother Obama still insists on the necessity of stimulus and does not take kindly to heretics. When faced with facts, O’Donnell will not even consider anyone who dares challenge her fundamentalist beliefs. Neither will Obama.

America’s interventionist foreign policy has not worked, though you can’t tell this to its most faithful adherents. The most glaring example of this failure is perhaps the Iraq War, which was launched after 9/11 to stop Saddam Hussein from using WMDs or aiding Islamic terrorists. None of this was true. Not even close. Hussein never had any weapons and al-Qaeda had never stepped foot in Iraq until we invaded it. O’Donnell has more proof that evolution is a myth than Bush now has that Saddam ever posed a threat, and yet Dubya, Cheney, and their neoconservative friends still stand by the absolute necessity of launching that war. Seven years to reflect has produced much regret for most Americans, most of whom have now evolved in their view of what really went down in Iraq. But similar to O’Donnell, the neocons do not believe in evolution, still worship at the altar of the War on Terror, and now enthusiastically break bread with Obama and his equally false Afghan denomination.

The War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure and yet maintaining the status quo on this subject has become an accepted, bipartisan religion. There is little no to evidence that marijuana does any more societal damage than alcohol and efforts to stop its use have been about as successful as Prohibition. When weighing the dollars spent, time wasted and lives damaged due to the War on Drugs against any damage done by actual drugs, it becomes clear that the cure has caused more harm than the supposed disease. The War on Drugs has been worse than just wrong–it’s stupid. Millions of Americans now readily recognize this and yet when a politician like Kentucky Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul dares to suggest that 10 to 20 years of prison for possession of marijuana may be too harsh, his Democrat opponent attacks Paul as somehow being pro-drug. Conservative guru the late William F. Buckley understood the failure of the War on Drugs, yet few Republican politicians will dare touch it. President Bill Clinton and Obama both admit to smoking pot and somehow went on to achieve great success, yet today likely wouldn’t publicly disagree with Paul’s Democratic opponent, who, laughably, calls marijuana a “gateway drug.” This is insanity, making the War on Drugs much like Scientology–it’s only a few decades old, a uniquely American invention and it continues to corrupt the minds of otherwise logical people who still refuse to consider its absurd premise.

Democrats now getting their jollies making fun of O’Donnell’s evolution comments or Republicans embarrassed by them might want to take a look at their own fundamentalism, where blanket support for federal stimulus, perpetual war, modern day prohibition and countless other senseless government programs have become little more than articles of faith. That there exists a party consensus, or sometimes even a bipartisan consensus, concerning these and many other status quo issues, doesn’t make them any more justified or true than a million Southern Baptists’ disbelief in evolution discounts all scientific evidence to the contrary. If anything, O’Donnell’s combined opposition to federal stimulus and her libertarian-leaning, states’ rights position on drug regulation, makes her far more sane than the majority of the political and media elites who now lampoon her religious fundamentalism as some sort of “danger.” The government fundamentalists in Washington, D.C. and their media worshippers pose far more danger-and certainly belong to a much larger church.




Centerpiece of Obamacare is not working: “It’s a centerpiece of President Obama’s healthcare remake, a lifeline available right now to vulnerable people whose medical problems have made them uninsurable. But the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan that started this summer isn’t living up to expectations. Enrollment lags in many parts of the country. People who could benefit may not be able to afford the premiums. Some state officials who run their own ‘high-risk pools’ have pointed out potential problems.”

CA: State Supreme Court upholds state employee furloughs: "The state Supreme Court upheld Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s furloughs of 200,000 state employees today, saying the Legislature had ratified his decision to order workers to take three days off each month without pay. A lower court had ruled that Schwarzenegger’s furlough orders in February and July 2009 violated state laws and union contracts that protected employee workweeks. That ruling, if upheld, could have entitled workers to more than $1 billion in back pay and interest.”

The stimulus to nowhere: "No one spends money like the federal government. This year, it will shovel out $3.7 trillion, which works out to $7 million a minute. So it may surprise you to find out the clearest lesson from the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus program: The government is not very good at spending money. On the contrary, it’s slow and clumsy. Nearly a third of the $787 billion package, signed into law in February 2009, was assigned to infrastructure projects — from fixing roads and building bridges to weatherizing buildings and upgrading electrical grids. The idea was to simultaneously improve our physical facilities while putting people back to work, which, in turn, would provide a badly needed surge of adrenaline to the overall economy. But it hasn’t quite worked out that way.”

Obama's new war on America's West: "The economic track record of the current administration and Congress is not a good one. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at nearly 10 percent, and many believe federal missteps prolonged the recession and are weakening the recovery. While things like ill-advised spending, Obamacare, and looming tax hikes are doing damage nationwide, a number of other federal measures have particularly burdened the American West, the region suffering with the highest unemployment rate in the country.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


4 October, 2010

Democrats, Union Workers, and Communists Rally Together in Washington

Unmotivated, Lethargic Astroturfers Trash the Nation’s Capital

The lines between the Democratic Party, labor unions, socialist and communist organizations, were blurred at the One Nation Working Together rally at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday. It was organized by One Nation Working Together, which is headed by the cream of the Democratic Party.

National Campaign Manager of One Nation Working Together, Leah Daughtry, was CEO and top organizer of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver Colorado where Barack Obama was nominated to be the parties candidate for president. Many of the top organizers have been Democratic candidates for office, or work for Obama for America.

The page on the National Education Association’s website inviting its members to travel to the rally quotes its president: “NEA is proud to be standing with our brothers and sisters in the labor and social justice movement …”

Much more HERE


Useful Idiots And Usual Suspects

Historian Paul Kengor clearly loves the research aspect of writing. His latest book bears witness to how digging for detail can yield not only clues to the past, but insights for the present. His recently released 600-page tome, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives For A Century, complete with more than 1,500 detailed supporting notes, is a case in point.

Dr. Kengor is a professor of political science at Grove City (Pennsylvania) College and the executive director its excellent Center for Vision and Values. His prolific pen has produced past bestsellers such as, The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. Now, with Dupes, he has written the most exhaustive and definitive account of Communism’s 20th century assault on America to date. It is a story that flows with virtual seamlessness into the defining conflict of the new century and millennium—the threat of Islamism. Though the ideologies are vastly different and even the methodologies used in propagation don’t always resemble each other, the Communist threat of the Cold War and before, as well as the current conflict with Islamism, have one clear and sad thing in common.

Our enemies have been aided and abetted by liberal dupes.

That’s right, the names and faces change over time, but the gullibility and culpability of the ever-present usual suspects of American liberalism continue to provide cover for our enemies, as was the case—now completely documented—from 1917 to 1989. In fact, Kengor makes it clear that our real enemy for nearly a century now has been the “anti-anti” mindset. First, it was “anti-anti-communism,” which is alive and well in college history departments across the country, now it is “anti-anti-Islamism,” which ignores an obviously concrete threat in favor of the nebulous mirage of “anti-Islamophobia.”



Capital Gains Taxation: Less Means More

A new study suggests a zero cap gains rate could create millions of jobs at a fraction of the cost of the spending stimulus

Congress is deliberating on what to do about the "Bush tax cuts"—the reductions in income, capital gains and dividend taxes legislated in 2001 and 2003—currently set to expire at the end of this year. The recession may officially be over, but what Washington does on tax policy still matters for an economy that's creating very few net new jobs and is stuck with an unacceptably high unemployment rate and record-high federal budget deficits of over 9% of GDP.

Capital gains taxation is one area in which lawmakers can help jump-start the economy. Capital gains tax rates for taxpayers in the top four income brackets are set to move higher in a few months. My new study, "Capital Gains Taxes and the Economy," published this week by the American Council for Capital Formation, shows that the net effect of lower capital gains taxation is a significant plus for U.S. macroeconomic performance.

The study simulated reductions and increases in capital gains taxes starting in 2011 and extending to 2016 to estimate the effects on economic growth, jobs and unemployment, inflation, savings, the financial markets and debt.

Here are a few of the relevant findings:

• Hiking capital gains tax rates would cause significant damage to the economy.

Raising the capital gains tax rate to 20%, 28% or 50% from the current 15% would reduce growth in real GDP, raise the unemployment rate and significantly reduce productivity. These losses to the economy outweigh any gains in tax receipts from the increase in the capital gains tax rate.

For example, at a 28% capital gains tax rate, economic growth declines 0.1 percentage points per annum and the economy loses about 600,000 jobs yearly. If the capital gains tax rate were increased to 50%, real GDP growth would decline by 0.3 percentage points per year, and there would be 1.6 million fewer jobs created per year. At a 20% capital gains rate compared with the current 15%, real economic growth falls by a little less than 0.1 percentage points per year and jobs decline about 231,000 a year. Smaller increases in the capital gains tax rate have smaller effects on the economy, but the effects are still negative.

• Lowering capital gains tax rates would help grow the economy and jobs.

My study found that when capital gains taxes are reduced to below 15%, the after-tax return on equity rises, stock prices increase, household wealth rises, consumption moves higher, and capital gains can be realized. Capital gains tax receipts to the government increase and household financial conditions improve to provide a healthier basis for future consumer spending.

My study also found that a reduction in the capital gains tax rate to 5% from 15% raises real GDP growth by 0.2 percentage points per year, lowers the unemployment rate by 0.2 percentage points per year, and increases nonfarm payroll jobs by 711,000 a year. Productivity growth improves 0.3 percentage points a year.

Taken to its logical conclusion, moving to a zero capital gains tax rate would have an even bigger effect, increasing growth in real GDP by over 0.2 percentage points per year and approximately 1.3 million additional jobs per year.

• Higher capital gains taxes will not substantially reduce the deficit.

The net impact on the federal budget deficit of a reduction in the capital gains tax rate to 0% is a decline in tax receipts of $23 billion per year after the positive effects of stronger economic growth on payroll, personal and corporate income taxes are taken into account. This is significantly less than the $30 billion per year static revenue loss estimate, which does not include feedback effects. A capital gains tax reduction to 0% produces new jobs at a cost of $18,000 per worker, far less than might occur from many other proposals.

The bottom line is that any capital gains tax increase is counterproductive to real economic growth. To the contrary, a reduction in the capital gains tax rate would be a pro-growth fiscal stimulus that creates new jobs and new businesses, funds entrepreneurship, reduces the unemployment rate, increases productivity, and in the long run brings in more payroll taxes. In the case of capital gains taxation, less means more.




The new elite: "Greenhut not only addresses the financial exposure we face from the unsustainable pension and health care benefits that our public employees are receiving, but describes how they are taking advantage of us in other ways. For example, several years ago unions argued that in order to protect their privacy, police and firefighters should not have their addresses available in the Department of Motor Vehicles database. Whether or not that makes sense, it has now been expanded to virtually every government worker in California. That amounts to over 1 million people, which is 1 out of every 22 California licensed drivers. If you get a photo-ticket for a questionable move at an intersection, you will likely have to pay a very hefty fine. But because their information is not in the DMV database, public employees and their families virtually never receive that same ticket. There are a myriad of other traffic violations they escape because of this exclusion, and it’s not just cops who are protected – it’s also the school janitor!

A day of reckoning for public pensions: "In 1967, Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate received a single word of advice for his future: ‘Plastics!’ If Hollywood were to remake that movie today, the updated scene would offer two words of counsel: ‘Government job!’ After all, a number of recent studies conclude that federal workers earn 20 to 30 percent more per hour than their private sector counterparts. And where local, state, and federal government workers really come out ahead isn’t just in pay; it’s in the benefits. Most private sector workers can only dream of getting the generous lifetime pension and health benefits typical of government service. These dream benefits are fast becoming a nightmare for taxpayers.”

Ex-workers get first class deals with Postal Service: "Who says you can’t go back? Apparently you can at the US Postal Service. Dozens of former top executives and hundreds of former employees have returned to the agency in recent years as private contractors, sometimes making double the salaries they made as full-time workers, according to one of three watchdog audits. The reports said the cash-strapped Postal Service is doing a poor job tracking its use of no-bid contracts, contributes more to worker health and life insurance benefits than other federal agencies, and should consider closing more of its regional offices to help address an expected $230 billion, 10-year budget gap. The Postal Service recently reported billions of dollars in losses because of declining mail volume.”

Media hearts Islam: "This weekend appears to mark a turning point in Islam’s war against America. This weekend, the lamestream media, via ABC News, officially declared its allegiance to Islam. On Friday night, Diane Sawyer and Bill Weir hosted a laughably shallow and juvenile (and one-sided) “special,” "Faith and Fear: Islam in America.” And today, the absurdly miscast and undertalented Christiaaaaane Amanpooooouuuuur ran an even worse “town hall“ show, “Holy War: Should Americans Fear Islam?”

Insurers get real: "Since January, the nation’s five largest insurers and the industry’s Washington-based lobbying arm have given three times more money to Republican lawmakers and political action committees than to Democrats. That is a marked change from 2009, when the industry largely split its political donations between the two parties, according to federal election filings. The largest insurers also are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobbyists with close ties to key Republican lawmakers who could be shaping health policy in January, records show.”

China: Wen Jiabao promises political reform: "Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, has promised that China will carry out political reform and acknowledged that the need for democracy and freedom in China is ‘irresistible.’ … The interview marks the third time in recent weeks that Mr Wen has raised the topic of political reform.”

Science kit makers battle feds over safety tests: "Federal regulators are hard at work making the world a safer place for kids — starting with the threat posed by ‘toxic paper clips.’ Never heard of a toxic paper clip? Neither have the manufacturers of science kits for classrooms across the country. But they’re now locked in a debate with federal officials, who just moved a step closer to requiring costly new safety tests on the components of those kits. The kit makers warn the requirements could end up mandating pointless tests on components ranging from paper clips to nails to rulers.”

Big dig problems never end: "After Sam Maurer’s 19-year-old son was killed in a gruesome crash into handrails in the Big Dig tunnels, Mauer vowed to come up with a fix for the so-called ginsu guardrails that have been involved in seven traffic deaths between 2005 and 2008. This spring, Maurer, a 59-year-old industrial engineer, commissioned graduate engineering students at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility in Nebraska to search for a repair to the guardrails. The students’ recently finished report urges a chain-link-style fence system that they say would help save the lives of motorcyclists and motorists. They estimated the cost at $873,000. It comes after stories in the Globe in February that pointed out possible design flaws in the handrails that might have contributed to the deaths.”

Company stops insuring titles in Chase foreclosures: "Amid growing concerns about the legal practices of mortgage lenders, Old Republic National Title Insurance told agents Friday it would stop insuring homes foreclosed by JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), The New York Times reported Saturday, citing a company memo. … When house foreclosures are done with faulty documentation, new owners could be vulnerable to ownership claims. Title insurers agreed to protect buyers against defects or errors in the title.”

The real Democratic whiners: "The way Democratic leaders tell it, their party’s current ‘enthusiasm gap’ comes from rank-and-file voters who are irrational and pessimistic complainers. ‘Democrats, just congenitally, tend to (see) the glass as half empty,’ President Obama said last month during a $30,000-a-plate fundraiser at the Connecticut home of a donor named (no joke) Rich Richman. Days later, Vice President Biden told a separate audience of donors that voters need ‘to stop whining.’ Apparently, the two believe that a mix of Marie Antoinette’s ‘let them eat cake’ motto and Phil Gramm’s ‘nation of whiners’ mantra will excite the Democratic base. Who knows? Maybe it’ll work. But probably not.”

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


3 October, 2010

The anti-authoritarianism element in the tea party movement has the establishment in jitters

So, using an old strategy, they try to paint the tea-partiers as psychological misfits -- without any proof, of course

I’m not a member of the Tea Party. For one thing, no coherent philosophy has emerged from its activities, which explains its grab-bag of positions, some good, some not so good. As a result, it’s not entirely clear what this collection of individuals fundamentally is for and against. Nevertheless, it is built around a concern that government and its “private sector” cronies wield an intolerable amount of power over our lives. They don’t like bank bailouts and health care bureaucracies, for example — so we can hope that it might evolve a consistent program in favor of voluntary association and against government intervention in our peaceful affairs.

It’s easy to point out flaws in the Tea Party. What is getting old quickly is the political elite’s criticism, which exhibits an intolerance and bad faith that it often attributes to the tea partiers. You don’t have to read too much of this criticism to see that the powers that be and their fawning admirers in the media and intelligentsia dislike one thing in particular: the movement’s apparent anti-authoritarianism. To be sure, at best it’s an imperfect anti-authoritarianism.

But let that go for now. What’s noteworthy is that the movement’s anti-authoritarian tone has establishment statists so upset. They seem really worried that this thing could get out of control. Any legitimate criticism they may make of the Tea Party movement is undermined by their abhorrence with anti-authoritarianism per se. They are anti-anti-authoritarian.

“What’s new and most distinctive about the Tea Party is its streak of anarchism — its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent style of self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns,” Jacob Weisberg writes in Slate. Note what’s first on Weisberg’s list.

“In this sense, you might think of the Tea Party as the Right’s version of the 1960s New Left. It’s an unorganized and unorganizable community of people coming together to assert their individualism and subvert the established order.”

I’m happy to see Weisberg acknowledge that the established order is not individualist. The political elite typically pretends the current system is free (“deregulated”) and individualistic in order to justify the expansion of power. Here’s a rare concession that it is not.

The “most extreme” faction in Weisberg’s eyes “would limit the federal government to the exercise of enumerated powers.” (So much for anarchism.) For him, limiting government power to a finite set of explicit responsibilities would be an intolerable setback. (Not that the Constitution actually does that.) Imagine how he would react to a movement determined to uproot the corporatist State.

Likewise, Mark Lilla, writing in the New York Review of Books, notes: "A new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes, nourished by the same libertarian impulses [!] that have unsettled American society for half a century now. Anarchistic [that word again] like the Sixties, selfish like the Eighties, contradicting neither, it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that".

Note the phrases “estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century” and “petulant individuals.” Tea Party critics must enjoy this sort of psychological profiling. Tea partiers are also frequently described as angry.

As a common-sense description, there’s nothing objectionable about that. Who wouldn’t be angry after being pushed around by big institutions over which one has no real control? But notice that advocates of the all-State never describe their allies as angry when they vote out their rivals for power. I suspect that “anger” is just another arrow in the psychologizers’ quiver, as if to say, “No need to listen to that guy’s complaint. He’s just angry.” Weisberg says tea partiers have “status anxiety.” Don’t you need a license to make such a diagnosis?

Lilla adds that “we need to see it [the Tea Party] as a manifestation of deeper social and even psychological changes that the country has undergone in the past half-century. Quite apart from the movement’s effect on the balance of party power, which should be short-lived, it has given us a new political type: the antipolitical Jacobin. The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing — and unwarranted — confidence in the self.” (As opposed to a warranted confidence in the ruling class.)

He cites polls that show a majority of Americans don’t expect the government to act in their interest. They feel they have no voice in the halls of power. “As the libertarian spirit drifted into American life, first from the left, then from the right, many began disinvesting in our political institutions and learning to work around them, as individuals.”

Oh horror! Nothing offends the power elite as much as disinvesting in our political institutions and learning to work around them, as individuals. Do they fear that regular people might discover they can manage nicely without them?

The proof for Lilla is all the home-schooling going on! “What’s remarkable is American parents’ confidence that they can do better themselves,” Lilla writes. Better, that is, than the experts who have delivered the “public education” system we suffer in myriad ways.

Lilla implies that these are atomistic individualists. But they’re not. They’re what I call “molecular,” or communitarian, individualists — that is, individuals cooperating with others to achieve what the politicians promise but can’t deliver.

Here, apparently, is the Tea Party’s greatest offense: it resents the elites who presume to run their lives. How dare these know-nothings resist our good intentions and earnest efforts?

As I’ve said, the folks who identify with the Tea Party are far from consistent about this. Some of the contradictions are stunning. Still, it’s revealing that their critics are so concerned that through the Tea Party, anti-authoritarianism, anti-elitism, and anti-corporatism appear to be on the rise.

The elitist critics can’t imagine a good reason for people distrusting big institutions that have wronged them. But whose problem is that? Is it really so hard to fathom why people would be angry at government and other institutions, such as banks and corporations, that derive what power they have from government? Only someone who finds power attractive would have a hard time understanding that.

Those who wish to run their own lives in mutual association with others have no trouble understanding it at all.



Progressive values are not American values

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, deputy White House spokesman Bill Burton said that Obama believes those media people who support "progressive values" provide an "invaluable service." OK. But what exactly are the "progressive values" the president believes are so important? Depends on who you talk with, but there is some consensus.

Above all, progressives believe that the federal government should have a mandate to impose "social justice." That means the country's resources should be shared to elevate conditions for the have-nots. Thus, high taxation to fund government-run entitlement programs are a must. And not only that. Progressives also believe that things like welfare should be granted with no strings attached. The poor must be provided with decent housing, food, health care and even spending money upon demand.

Progressives also embrace unfettered immigration and abortion. Few if any restrictions should be put on those controversial situations. Also, working Americans should be guaranteed a "fair" wage and generous benefits by the government.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, progressive values put peace above all. The far left generally believes that America is an aggressive bully that has exploited people all over the world for its own benefit.

It is hard to ascertain just how deeply Obama embraces the progressive vision, but he certainly has not refuted much of it. He is, however, running into big problems with the massive spending his administration has imposed on the nation. In fiscal year 2009, the Obama administration spent a record-breaking $3.52 trillion, racking up a breathtaking $1.4 trillion deficit. That kind of balance sheet cannot be sustained.

The truth is that most Americans couldn't care less about progressive values, as they are locked in on their financial futures. If the United States can't meet its fiscal obligations, every single one of us will suffer grievously. The folks are beginning to understand the danger of massive debt.

So Obama has a dilemma. While he is moving to the left on his social justice agenda, the voters are clearly not following. All the polls show that. We are a generous nation; most of us want people to have good lives. But there comes a time when theory bangs up against reality. And in order to secure a second term, Obama will have to get real.



Using Drones To Counter IEDs

A military task force tries a new method against bombers in Afghanistan

American commanders in Afghanistan are for the first time systematically using aerial drones to kill militants planting roadside bombs, the low-tech, low-cost weapon that has emerged as the biggest threat to U.S. and coalition forces throughout the country. The shift, the details of which have not been reported previously, represents a sharp escalation in the military's ongoing fight against improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which account for nearly 60 percent of coalition battle deaths in Afghanistan.

The push is being led by a new military unit called Task Force Falcon Strike. It began operating in southern Afghanistan late last year and expanded over the summer to eastern Afghanistan, a violent, insurgent-dominated area along the porous border with Pakistan.

In recent weeks, Falcon Strike drones have been targeting bomb-planters in the eastern provinces of Ghazni and Logar, according to a Defense official with knowledge of the group's activities. Between June 27 and July 7, Falcon Strike helped kill at least 26 militants burying IEDs in the two areas, while also reducing the number of roadside bombs there by 62 percent, the Defense official said.

Falcon Strike is working closely with Task Force ODIN, a once-secret Army unit that has been at the forefront of the military's fight against IEDs in both Iraq and Afghanistan. ODIN drones and aircraft killed hundreds of bomb-planters in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, the task force had been limited for years to what amounted to a pure surveillance mission. ODIN drones monitored key Afghan roads for signs of new bombs, but the robotic aircraft weren't being used to target individual militants.

That's all changing, according to senior military officials. Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, who heads the military's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, said in an interview that drones were now being used for "find, fix, finish" missions designed to kill bomb-planters or to help ground units track and arrest them.



Pastors For ObamaCare?

If the White House office of faith-based initiatives is going to be used as propaganda unit, it might as well be shut down


I was George W. Bush's director of faith-based initiatives. Imagine what would have happened had I proposed that he use that office to urge thousands of religious leaders to become "validators" of the Iraq War?

I can tell you two things that would have happened immediately. First, President Bush would have fired me—and rightly so—for trying to politicize his faith-based office. Second, the American media would have chased me into the foxhole Saddam Hussein had vacated.

Yet on Tuesday President Obama and his director of faith-based initiatives convened exactly such a meeting to try to control political damage from the unpopular health-care law. "Get out there and spread the word," Politico.com reported the president as saying on a conference call with leaders of faith-based and community groups. "I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what's now available to them."

Since then, there's been nary a peep from the press.

According to the White House website, the faith-based office exists "to more effectively serve Americans in need." I guess that now means Americans in need of Democratic talking points on health care. Do we really want taxpayer-funded bureaucrats mobilizing ministers to go out to all the neighborhoods and spread the good news of universal coverage?




Ruling centre-right wins Latvia election: "The embattled Baltic state of Latvia braced for talks on forming a new coalition government, after voters gave the ruling centre-right a mandate to pursue a draconian austerity drive. Near-complete results gave Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis's coalition 60.26 per cent of the vote, the national electoral commission said. The Moscow-tied left-wing opposition Harmony Centre scored 23.92 per cent."

UN suppressed report on rights violations in Afghanistan: "The United Nations buried a report into rights violations in Afghanistan between 1978 and 2001 that accused Soviets, Islamists and US forces of "atrocities", a Swiss newspaper said. The revelations emerged a day after the UN published a hotly contested report into crimes committed by armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic Congo at the end of the 1990s. A UN report "on crimes committed in Afghanistan between April 1978 and December 2001 was deliberately suppressed by the United Nations for political reasons", Le Temps said after obtaining a copy of the 300-page document."

German freedom and the enduring danger of socialism: "The wall was gone, but ‘no man’s land’ remained — a barren strip a hundred yards wide, across which East Germans who climbed the wall had to scramble before they reached West German soil, safety, and freedom. Many were shot before they got there. No one died trying to go the other way. The lesson was pretty clear to everyone other than western intellectuals, who needed to marshal all of their impressive intelligence to devise explanations of why the communist system was superior to the free economies of the West. Yet, in ringing contradiction to the apocalyptic claims of some, history did not end in 1990. The choice laid before societies — freedom or serfdom — remains.”

Stoned on righteousness: "The ‘war on drugs,’ like the war on terror, is a simplistic and brutally stupid solution imposed on a complex, multifaceted human problem, born out of the notion that you can take evil out of context and eradicate it with the firepower of righteousness. Science and the arts have long ago moved on to new realms of awareness, but we’re still playing politics the way we did in the 19th century — or the 12th or 1st — with the primary difference being that we have the capacity to do far more harm these days.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


2 October, 2010

Obama's aim is destruction

In Bob Woodward’s new book, President Obama is quoted as saying “We can absorb a terrorist attack.” Thus Woodward reveals in stark clarity Obama’s ambivalence and reluctance to prosecute a war against terrorists who organize against us, let alone the governments that give them safe harbor and support.

Regrettably, Obama has no such ambivalence about his war on the ambitious, the achievers, the job-creators, and the affluent. His entire presidency is about this as punishment, not pragmatism. He is not a fool; he knows the destruction he wreaks.

His health care reform is, as administration insiders have admitted, a scheme to re-distribution wealth -- as was his GM rescue, in which bondholders and stockholders were robbed in favor of union interests, and dealership-family business owners were callously “executed,” in a demonstration of his re-distributive power.

Examine every Obama initiative and you will find, at its core, re-distribution of wealth -- a fundamentally un-Christian concept (Thou Shalt Not Steal) and patently un-American. It is rooted in communism and socialism, not democracy. When merchandised not as the evil it is but as “economic justice,” it can be made temporarily popular with masses -- especially if they are having their own financial lives deliberately destroyed. That’s how to create not just the desire but desperate need for a seemingly benevolent dictator who will put a trans-fat free, salt-free chicken in every pot and an electric car in every garage. Gee, where have we heard this pitch before?

Carter’s toothy smile cannot hide his rank bitterness about being broadly viewed as a failure America said “good riddance” to rather than “thank you.” He’s angry at what he sees as the stubborn stupidity of the American public, too damn dumb to understand the superiority of his policies and his leadership.

President Obama displays the same arrogance and the same pique with the stupidity of the public. His administration has suggested the need for “re-education” of the majority of Americans who reject Obamacare -- although they haven’t mentioned rounding up people for incarceration in camps (a tactic of other regimes that share his philosophies).

At a town hall, when an articulate woman explains why she is “exhausted” with defending the hope ‘n change guy she voted for, Obama lectures her about credit card regulations. He shows his toothiest grin, just like Carter’s; both masking rage. Like Carter, he sees himself as a miraculously successful president getting no credit from ignorant masses for his legislative successes, for finally making sweeping health care reform (destruction and takeover) a reality – after all prior presidents failed, etc.

Obama can surely see his supporters disappearing. Michael Moore is now a vocal critic. Jon Stewart skewered him with clips of that CNBC town hall and a particularly pointed, vicious question. Chris Matthews begs him nightly to toss his teleprompter. His defenders in the media as well as those with Obama bumper-stickers not yet peeled off are, as that woman put it, exhausted. Administration figures have been slinking off, his media and far-left base is critical, and the overwhelming majority of voters – left, right, middle – have abandoned him.

What neither Carter or Obama grasp is that the American public does not score them based on percentage of agenda enacted but by the beneficial or destructive outcome of what they enact.



One Terrorist Attack That America Could not Absorb

Typical Obama ignorance: “We can absorb a terrorist attack"

Not so for commercial fossil facilities [coal-fired electricity generators]. They are not hardened and not well guarded. The most vulnerable structure, system or component for large scale coal plants is the main step up transformer – that component that handles electricity at 230 or 500 kV. They are one of a kind components, and no two are exactly alike. They are so huge and so heavy that they must be transported to the site via special designed rail cars intended only for them, and only about three of these exist in the U.S.

They are no longer fabricated in the U.S., much the same as other large scale steel fabrication. It’s manufacture has primarily gone overseas. These step up transformers must be ordered years in advance of their installation. Some utilities are part of a consortium to keep one of these transformers available for multiple coal units, hoping that more will not be needed at any one time. In industrial engineering terms, the warehouse min-max for these components is a fine line.

On any given day with the right timing, several well trained, dedicated, well armed fighters would be able to force their way on to utility property, fire missiles or lay explosives at the transformer, destroy it, and perhaps even go to the next given the security for coal plants. Next in line along the transmission system are other important transformers, not as important as the main step up transformers, but still important, that would also be vulnerable to attack. With the transmission system in chaos and completely isolated due to protective relaying, and with the coal units that supply the majority of the electricity to the nation incapable of providing that power for years due to the wait for step up transformers, whole cites, heavy industry, and homes and businesses would be left in the dark for a protracted period of time, all over the nation.

The economy would collapse, regardless of how much good will and positive hope there was among the ruling elite. The hard facts of life – America in the dark – would soon become apparent to everyone, and the economy wouldn’t be able to absorb it.

That’s only one of the many possibilities, and in order to avoid the charge of divulging too much detail to terrorists, I will stop here. But suffice it to say that if you give me weapons, ordnance, time and 300 or 400 dedicated fighters with a calendar and a watch, I could collapse the economy of America.

Where would these fighters come from? Recall that we have previously discussed two very good papers on Hezbollah and their activities in the Americas. They’re around, lying in wait for orders, and it’s best not to have them on our soil. It’s best to confront them away from the infrastructure that is proving itself to be so vulnerable to their malicious aims.



Karl Marx Wrote the Democrat Platform

Karl Marx had a 10-point program for transitioning from wealth and freedom to hand-to-mouth totalitarian hell:

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants [those who try to escape the country] and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.

Today's liberal is nothing more nor less than an incremental communist who operates by stealth.

If there are any of these you don't find easy to connect with what's going on under Obama, refer to Doug Ross for help.



Big penalty for criticizing Islam

Molly Norris is not as well known as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf or Pastor Terry Jones. But you should know who she is -- even though she is no more. It will take just a moment for me to explain.

In response to threats from militant Islamists, such custodians of Western culture as Comedy Central, Yale University Press and the Deutsche Oper have resorted to self-censorship. Ms. Norris, a cartoonist for the Seattle Weekly, was troubled by what she saw -- correctly, I think -- as the slow-motion surrender of freedom of expression, a fundamental right.

So she came up with an idea: “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” This may not have been a great idea -- few ideas are -- but the point she wanted to make was simple enough: Freedom implies the right to criticize and caricature. This freedom is now in jeopardy because a minority of Muslims believes the majority of non-Muslims can be easily intimidated. If we all stand up for freedom, Molly Norris thought, surely freedom’s enemies will back down.

What happened next: Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric -- once touted by The New York Times as a moderate but in fact an al-Qaeda commander who is currently hiding out in Yemen -- issued a fatwa calling for Ms. Norris to be murdered by any Muslim willing and able. She quickly retracted her proposal for a day of mass Mohammad-sketching but it was too late. As the Seattle Weekly cheerily informed its readers:
You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That's because there is no more Molly.

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, "going ghost": moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program -- except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. …

Norris views the situation with her customary sense of the world's complexity, and absurdity. When FBI agents, on a recent visit, instructed her to always keep watch for anyone following her, she joked, "Well, at least it'll keep me from being so self-involved!" … [W]e wish her the best.

In response: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who plans to build an Islamic center at the edge of Ground Zero, issued his own fatwa condemning al-Awlaki. “I am asking every Muslim in America to show solidarity with Molly!” he declared. President Obama, who championed the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom for Rauf, told reporters: “Freedom of speech also is guaranteed by the First Amendment and my administration intends to do whatever it takes to defend it.” Joe Klein at Time and Peter Beinart at the Daily Beast quickly launched a “Molly Norris Defense Fund,” collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from artists, journalists, novelists and Hollywood stars. The ACLU, Human Rights Watch and the U.N. swung into action.

The paragraph above is, of course, pure fantasy. The truth: The saga of Molly Norris has elicited hardly any notice from political leaders, elite journalists and celebrities. Nor has it stirred to action those who claim to represent America’s Islamic community. Nor have I seen anything from Human Rights Watch. The ACLU is actually defending al-Awlaki. At the UN, Muslim-majority countries are pushing to ban criticism of Islam under international law.

Where does this leave us? Significantly less free than we used to be. One may satirize, criticize and even demonize Christians and Jews. Such speech remains protected by America’s Constitution. But when it comes to Islam and the sensibilities of overly sensitive Muslims, Constitutional protections are no longer to be taken seriously. To even discuss these matters, as I am now doing, risks -- nay, ensures -- being castigated as an Islamophobe.

But the alternative is to watch Molly Norris “go ghost” and pretend that no historic changes are occurring. It is not just Molly but America and the West that are moving, changing, “essentially wiping away” our identity. Are we still the “home of the free and the brave”?

Like Molly, our political, media and cultural elites, along with self-proclaimed defenders of our rights and self-appointed leaders of America’s Muslim community, view the situation with their “customary sense of the world's complexity, and absurdity.” And, no doubt, they wish us well.



Home Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention: Another Boondoggle

Call it a paradox. The U.S. economy officially has been out of recession for 15 months. The stock market enjoyed a record-high September; durable goods orders are up; and consumer spending is growing. Yet homeowners continue to lose their properties at a frequency not seen since the Great Depression. And this is despite – and possibly to some extent, because of – an emergency federal program in place for the past year and a half designed to stave off foreclosures. Call it a consumer bailout. And don’t expect it to end soon.

This irony of this meltdown is that it’s been happening in the face of massive federal action to stave it off. Back in March 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department, at the strong urging of President Obama, FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair and other federal officials, unveiled a new $75 billion program called Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP. Two-thirds of the money would be drawn from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) authorization enacted by Congress the previous fall; the other third would come from collapsed secondary mortgage lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, each by that time a ward of the federal government. The White House envisioned helping as many as 3 to 4 million homeowners.

Despite its promise, the results have inspired little confidence. Since its launch in April 2009, HAMP’s touted win-win arrangement hasn’t produced too many winners this side of fast-buck artists. A progress report issued this August by the Treasury Department indicated that of the 1.3 million trial modifications approved, 616,000 had been cancelled. In other words, close to half of all participating homeowners had been unable – or unwilling – to make three consecutive timely payments even on highly favorable terms.

Despite aggressive homeownership promotion by Washington, the housing market remains in recession. Mortgage applications have reached their lowest point in more than a dozen years despite fixed-rate, 30-year mortgage interest rates now having dropped below 4.5 percent.

Housing, like the larger economy, goes through an inevitable boom-and-bust cycle. It’s now in bust mode. Artificial stimulants like the Home Affordable Modification Program merely ensure the next downturn will be more severe. Even if HAMP were succeeding on its own terms – that is, if it kept all participants in their homes and avoided defaults – it still would constitute a major wealth transfer. The program rests on the assumption that homeowners behind on their mortgage payments are entitled to a subsidy from homeowners either current on their payments or titleholders free and clear.

The ongoing mortgage industry rescue, whether focused on the supply or the demand side, reflects a lack of understanding of moral hazard. This is the idea that eliminating the consequences of risky behavior unwittingly encourages more of such behavior. The Home Affordable Modification Program is a prime example of why the never-ending quest for market “stability” is destabilizing over the long run. Minimizing business risk can be risky for a nation.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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


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


1 October, 2010

Some rambling comments on social networking sites and the great firewall of China

Way back in the distant days of about 5 years ago, the premier social networking site was MySpace. Since then Facebook has taken over and, rather oddly, MySpace has become the preserve of blacks. Market segmentation, they call it in the trade (I think). As a legacy of those ancient days I do have a small presence on Myspace so I get marriage proposals from African ladies about one a month.

I suspect that Africans like MySpace because it is simpler. I sympathize with that as Facebook is still something of a mystery to me. I have a presence on Facebook but I am not even sure whether I have two sites there or one. I seem to find different things there according to what email program I am using when I log on. But I only look at it when somebody asks to be my "friend", which happens about once a day on average. But I still don't really know what it is all about. If I want to see friends and family I put on a dinner for them. And they put on dinners for me too. My personal blog records such occasions. I have been using computers since 1967 but have obviously not kept abreast of all developments.

Anyway, when MySpace was king, Bill Gates decided to put up his own alternative to it -- called Spaces Live. I managed to make some sense of it so I established a presence there too. In particular, I used its blogging facility to put up a backup site for my personal blog.

And Spaces.live was such a pathetic thing that China didn't even bother blocking it. That suited me as I have a couple of friends in China who could use it to check out my personal blog once in a while.

Inevitably, however, Bill Gates has now pulled the plug on Spaces.live and migrated all its blogs to Wordpress. So the backup site for my personal blog is now here. Wordpress blogs are however blocked in China so I have also put up a special China-evading version of the blog here


The knowall party

The more ignorant you are, the more likely you are to think that you know it all

The bookish, twice-unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once sighed that if most thinking people supported him, it still wouldn't be enough in America because, "I need a majority."

For some reason, Democrats have chosen to follow the disastrous model of Stevenson and not that of feisty man-of-the-people Missourian Harry Truman -- though the former nearly wrecked the party and the latter got elected.

Former President Jimmy Carter likewise seems to feel that he's still too smart for us. Carter, who turns 86 on Friday, is hitting the news shows to explain why he remains America's "superior" ex-president -- and why more than 30 years ago he was so successful yet so underappreciated as our chief executive.

Most Americans instead remember a very different President Carter who finished his single term with 18 percent inflation, 18 percent interest rates, 11 percent unemployment, long gas lines, and a world in chaos from hostage-taking in Teheran and Soviet communist aggression in Afghanistan and Central America.

Now, John Kerry -- who failed to win the presidency in 2004 and recently tried to avoid state sales taxes on his new $7 million yacht -- is voicing similar frustrations about Americans' inability to fathom what their betters are trying to do for them. He is furious that an unsophisticated electorate might not return congressional Democratic majorities in 2010. Kerry laments that, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on." Instead it falls for "a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening."

In 2006, Kerry warned students that if they did poorly in school, they could "get stuck in Iraq." He apparently had forgotten that soldiers volunteer for military service, and are overwhelmingly high school graduates.

In the 2008 campaign, Michelle Obama at one point said of her husband's burden, "Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics."

That sense of intellectual superiority was channeled by Barack Obama himself when he later tried to explain why his message was not resonating with less astute rural Pennsylvanians: "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

During the recent Ground Zero mosque controversy, Obama returned to that Carter-Kerry-Obama sort of condescension. When asked about the overwhelming opposition to the mosque, the president felt again that the unthinking hoi polloi had given into their unfounded fears: "I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society."

The president often clears his throat with "Let me be perfectly clear" and "Make no mistake about it" -- as if we, his schoolchildren, have to be warned to pay attention to the all-knowing teacher at the front of the class.

Disappointed progressive pundits also resonate this angst over having to deal with childlike Americans. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson recently psychoanalyzed the falling support for the president by claiming that "The American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats."

Thomas Frank's best-selling 2004 book "What's the Matter With Kansas?" lamented that uninformed voters were easily tricked into voting against their "real" economic interests.

When America votes for a liberal candidate, it is redeemed by the left as intelligent -- and derided as dense when it does not. We were told not to worry that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner did not pay all his income taxes since we were lucky to have someone so well educated and experienced in high finance.

Note that few Democratic candidates are running on the health-care bill they passed, promising at the time that it would be appreciated by a suspicious American public. More federal borrowing and amnesty are still pushed under the euphemisms "stimulus" and "comprehensive immigration reform." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that the Tea Party was merely a synthetic Astroturf movement.

Professors and preachers may like such sermonizing, but for politicians it's a lousy way to get elected. Again, compare the relative fates of the patronizing Adlai Stevenson and the plain-speaking Harry Truman.

For many of today's liberals, the fact that the president has to deal with so many Neanderthal know-nothings explains why he can't, as promised, close Guantanamo, end "don't ask, don't tell," or do away with Bush-era renditions, tribunals wiretaps, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But current polls suggest that these clueless and unappreciative Americans apparently believe that an elite education does not ensure their officials can balance a budget, pay their own taxes or speak candidly. What an outrageous "How dare they!" thought.



Why Dems Are Going Down in November

Arnold Ahlert

Unless something totally unforeseen occurs, Democrats are poised to take a real beating in November. Their response to the impending disaster has run the gamut. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is in denial: "One thing I know for sure is that Democrats will retain their majority in the House of Representatives." Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is condescending: "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on, so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening." President Obama is angry: "It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election." Why is the electorate ready to kick Democrats to the curb? Here's why:

* An "unstimulated" economy. The original Mother of All Stimulus packages, $787 billion dollars, quickly grew to an astounding $865 billion. It wasn't enough. Congress pumped out another $26 billion in "supplemental" stimulus in August. The results? Unemployment in the private sector remains well above the eight percent Democrats promised, even as public sector workers who support Democrats were rewarded; our Democratically-controlled Congress has amassed more debt in the last four years than nearly the previous two hundred and thirty combined; the Keynesian economic model Democrats stand by is a colossal failure; the Summer of Recovery was a propaganda fiasco.

* The health care bill. The absolute epitome of ideological, public-be-damned arrogance. A horrendous compendium of bribes, exploding bureaucracy, runaway costs, written in secret and unread by those who passed it. It includes a mandate, likely un-Constitutional, forcing people to buy health insurance or pay a fine. The same administration which originally claimed the commerce clause of the Constitution made such a fine possible is now saying that the federal governments's "power to tax" justifies it. Irrelevant. 60% of Americans want this monstrosity repealed, ASAP.

* The federal lawsuit against the state of Arizona. Again, it's the arrogance, stupid. Despite all the hectoring from Democrats and the Obama administration about racist this, and xenophobic that, fair-minded Americans recognized four things: people have a right to protect their life and property, and if the federal government can't or won't do it, they have a right to do it themselves; the idea that anyone opposing the "rights" of illegal aliens is a bigot is nonsense on stilts; the ruling class in Washington, D.C. is holding genuine border control hostage to "comprehensive reform;" the glaring double-standard of suing Arizona for violating federal immigration statues, even as the feds turn a blind eye to hundreds of "sanctuary cities" with illegal protection directives unquestionably in conflict with federal law.

* The demonization of the Tea Party movement. Take your pick: teabaggers, racists, angry white men, fringe elements, bigots, Astro-turfers, etc. etc. Democrats and the media have tried every one, and every one has been a miserable failure for one overwhelmingly simple reason: decent Americans know they're decent, and getting insulted by Democrats running the country into the ground has only stiffened their resolve. Progressives want to demonize people who believe in smaller government, fiscal responsibility and a desire to return to Constitutional principles? Why not attack people who believe in guns, and religion too? Oh wait. The president already did that as well.

* A hopelessly compromised media. Air America tanked, CNN is tanking, and ABC, NBC and CBS news programs have been shedding viewers at historically unprecedented rates—even as Fox and the Wall Street Journal prosper. Americans don't mind people in the media expressing their opinions, as long as they're characterized as opinions, but they seethe when such opinions are portrayed as "hard news." They get even angrier when certain stories are "omitted" by those same organizations, especially when Americans recognize such omissions are calculated to protect the progressive agenda. I wonder if it occurs to either Democrats or their media water-carriers that a majority Americans may savor whacking both groups in November. Depressed looks on the faces of Nancy Pelosi and Katie Couric? In theater circles, that's known as a "two-fer."

* The Ground Zero mosque. Yet another reminder of the contempt progressives and their media enablers have for ordinary Americans who had the "temerity" to allow their feelings to be known. Despite every attempt to characterize these Americans as Islamo-phobic bigots, the public wasn't buying, again for one overwhelmingly simple reason: decent Americans once again demonstrated their decency by separating the legality of the project from the appropriateness of it.

* The complete disconnect between the First Family and ordinary Americans. The golfing, the soirees, and the high-priced vacations have created the perception that we are living through another "let them eat cake" moment in history. On Tuesday, the president called the public schools in Washington, D.C. a "'struggling' system that doesn't measure up to the needs of first daughters, Sasha and Malia." Those would be the same public schools Congressional Democrats tossed 3,300 low-income kids back into when they killed funding for vouchers that had freed those kids from D.C.'s educational ghetto. The First Lady is hectoring Americans to eat healthier. Perhaps more Americans would if they could afford to: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated in their Producer Price Index that the price of food increased 2.4% for March 2010. That's the biggest increase in almost 30 years.

* The war on terror. A politically correct contingency operation against unnamed insurgents with a specific draw-down date? Democrats once again prove that all the talk about Afghanistan being the "good war" was complete rubbish. They want out, and victory—along with the heroic efforts of our men and women in harm's way—be damned. Once again: has America ever fought another war where they knew the exact location of the enemy, had the ability to inflict possibly irreparable damage on them—and decided to split the difference instead? If you answered "Vietnam," another progressively-instigated catastrophe resulting in the deaths of fifty-eight thousand American soldiers and three million innocent Asians, go to the head of the class. And when is that civilian trial of the 9/11 perpetrators scheduled to begin?

* Czars and nationalization. The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats may bristle when Americans call them socialists, but the nationalization of banks, car and insurance companies, student loans and healthcare sure isn't free-market capitalism. Neither is wiping out oil jobs in Louisiana with a government-mandated ban on offshore drilling—after the feds completely bungled their role in cleaning up the spill which engendered it. Unelected czars who answer to no one but the president, along with out-of-control government agencies such as the EPA have made it clear to many Americans that this administration often considers Congress a completely unnecessary component of governance, especially if they don't kowtow to the president's agenda.

* "Unexceptional" America. Progressive contempt for the values and traditions which make this the greatest country on earth can no longer be disguised. An American president who "believe(s) in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism" has made it plain that this is not a great nation which needs tweaking, but a fundamentally flawed one needing a complete progressive make-over. Once one understands this basic premise, everything this administration and Democratically-controlled Congress does makes sense. All of it centers around the ridiculous premise that America owes the world an apology for any number of shortcomings, many of which can only be alleviated by government-mandated "social justice." That would be the same social justice which demanded—and still demands—that Americans manifestly unqualified to own homes be given mortgages, regardless.

Unknown to the majority of Americans, this precise mindset was part of the financial "reform" bill which also requires banks to lend a certain percentage of capital to minority-owned businesses, even if it means lowering their lending standards. Apparently progressives won't be satisfied with their odious social-engineering schemes until every sector of the American economy bears a striking resemblance to the housing sector. So far, Americans support financial reform because it's been framed as "Main Street versus "Wall Street." It's not. Like every other initiative undertaken by this Congress and this administration, it's the elevation of irresponsible and dishonest Americans over those willing to accept the consequences of their own behavior.

There you have it. Democratic control for four years in Congress, and two in the White House has been exactly what many predicted: an ideologically-driven disaster of epic proportions. For years, progressives obfuscated their true intentions, because even they knew most Americans couldn't stomach them. The elections of 2006 and 2008 changed everything. Progressives bought into their own hype, believing they had pulled off a multi-generational transformation of the American mindset. As a result, they showed Americans their true colors: unbridled arrogance, utter contempt for the average citizen's intellect, and a ham-fisted, never let a crisis go to waste determination to bend the electorate to their will, using government as a club.

That's why they're going down in November. And the most satisfying aspect of the whole scenario is this: despite every attempt they've made to blame anyone and everyone else for their problems, they brought it on themselves.


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


"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

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.

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

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

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists hate success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

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

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 black adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

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.

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