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

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

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30 September, 2010

A criminal Justice Dept.

While commentators have sought to downplay the scandal over DOJ’s dismissal of the New Black Panther party voter-intimidation case, even the liberal media is becoming too embarrassed not to take notice of this injustice. That owes to last week’s explosive testimony by Christopher Coates, a decorated veteran lawyer and supervisor in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Defying attorney general Eric Holder — and thus at great professional risk to himself — Coates testified before the Civil Rights Commission last week. It is now abundantly clear why Holder and his minions have been so keen on blocking Coates’s compliance with the commission’s lawful subpoenas.

In hair-raising testimony that named names, Coates described the Obama-Holder Justice Department’s policy of racially biased civil-rights enforcement. In so doing, he corroborated the prior account of his fellow whistleblower, J. Christian Adams , who resigned from the department in order to comply with a commission subpoena. (Holder’s subordinates stopped him from cooperating with the investigation while he was under their thumb.) Both Coates and Adams assert that they came forward because the Obama administration’s policy flagrantly violates civil-rights law and the Constitution. Both also said that public statements and testimony by high-ranking DOJ officials about the Panthers and DOJ policy case have been false.

The department dismissed the Panthers case despite the fact that the government had already won it, due to the defendants’ contemptuous default. The dismissal occurred despite the fact that career prosecutors judged the case to be exceedingly strong. Nevertheless, Holder’s top staffers have maintained for months that the rationale for the dismissal was a good-faith disagreement between low-ranking civil servants (i.e., career prosecutors) about the correct construction of the Voting Rights Act.

To the contrary, it is now clear from the testimony of Coates and Adams, as well as from documents DOJ was compelled to disclose in a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, that Obama political appointees were heavily involved in ordering the dismissal and that they were being lobbied by left-wing activist groups. Indeed, Obama political appointee Steven Rosenbaum, the deputy assistant attorney general who is nominally responsible for the decision to dismiss the case, is said to have admitted to Coates that he never even read the case team’s memorandum about the legal and factual support for taking legal action against the Panthers.

A chain of communications finally pried from DOJ by Judicial Watch links Rosenbaum with even higher ranking political appointees. These include deputy associate attorney general Sam Hirsch (a former Obama campaign operative who has pushed for the race-based Balkanization of Hawaii); Hirsch’s boss, Thomas Perez, the associate attorney general (DOJ’s No. 3 official); and David Ogden, who was deputy attorney general (the No. 2 post at Justice) when the front office, contrary to its repeated claims, was deliberating over the Panthers case. Also almost certainly in the loop is Holder himself. Besides the fact that the Panthers controversy inside his department was something he’d naturally have been interested in and briefed on, the Judicial Watch disclosures indicate that talking points about the Panthers dismissal were prepared for the attorney general at some unspecified point.

The dismissal of the Panthers case and the dissembling over it are damning, but they pale in importance when compared with evidence that DOJ hews to a policy of racially discriminatory enforcement of the civil-rights laws. In short, the policy holds that if the victims are white and the offenders are from minority groups, the department refuses to bring cases.

This is beyond outrageous. If there were evidence that a Republican-controlled Justice Department were engaged in the kind of abuses that appear to be going on here, the media would long ago have demanded a full accounting from the White House that proclaims itself “the most transparent administration in history.” Democrats would already be preparing impeachment hearings.

The Constitution guarantees all Americans equal protection under the law. The civil-rights laws, moreover, make it a crime for government officials to deprive “any person” — not any black or minority person, but any person, period — of “any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.” It is a grave violation of law for the Justice Department to practice racial discrimination in deciding which cases it will bring, to determine that Americans of one race or class are not entitled to the same protection as all Americans.

That’s not just politicization of the Justice Department. It is criminalization of the Justice Department. Under the Constitution, it is Congress’s obligation to stop it. The current Congress obviously won’t do its duty. Americans will strongly support congressional candidates who pledge to right that wrong.



A Warning to America from the Future

Sometimes it takes an outsider to put everything clearly into perspective. Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European Parliament, has a warning for America. Appearing on FOX News, Hannan asked Sean Hannity if he was familiar with the work of H.G. Wells’ Time Machine. Channeling the classic, Hannan said, “There’s a moment where a guy comes from the future, and he comes running out and he says, ‘Don’t do it! You’re making a terrible mistake. Don’t follow me!’ Well, think of me as that man.”

Hannan continued, warning all Americans, “I’ve been 11 years in the European Parliament, so I’ve seen it firsthand the kind of model towards which your current administration is taking you: European health care, European day care, European social security, European welfare, European unemployment, and believe me, you’re not going to like it.”

George Santayana once wrote that “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Unfortunately, it appears that Europe’s experiment in socialism has escaped the attention of policymakers in Washington. Hannan says that he hopes the Obama Administration “will look at the European model and learn from our mistakes.”

But he’s not hopeful. “The bits of Europe that are most obviously failing — the welfare system, the high spending — are the bits that you’re copying.” He’s right. ObamaCare. “Stimulus.” State bailouts. The centralization of the financial sector. Crippling entitlement obligations. High unemployment.

America is beginning to live through the European experience. And it’s not pretty. That’s why Hannan authored The New Road to Serfdom: A Letter of Warning to America, just released on September 28th. Inspired by F.A. Hayek’s classic, The Road to Serfdom, Hannan is hoping to catch the American people’s attention — before it is too late.

Speaking on Hannity, the author diagnoses the basic problem facing Western civilization: “We are deeply indebted… We have both been pursuing the option of trying to inflate away our debt. And that matters more than almost anything else.”

Hannan is spot on. The nation’s $13.4 trillion debt, coupled with efforts to print money to pay it off, threatens to bury the future prosperity of all Americans. The annual sale of treasuries represents a tremendous misallocation of resources away from other productive sectors of the economy. Instead of investing in new businesses and creating jobs, over $1 trillion is being put into government debt every year.

Making matters worse, the U.S. is on the wrong side of the debt curve. Whereas Keynesian thinkers believe that deficit-spending can help a nation during a time of recession, it appears the U.S. has reached the limits of that principle. A recent study by Carmen M. Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth S. Rogoff of Harvard University found that “median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower.”

That’s important because the 90 percent threshold of debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is exactly where the current U.S. national debt is. As noted the House Ways & Means Committee Republicans, “the total debt for Fiscal Year 2010 will reach $13.6 trillion, or 93.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product.” By 2012, the International Monetary Fund reports the U.S. national debt will reach 100 percent of the GDP.

But it’s even worse than that. Not only is public debt crowding out the private sector, it threatens to increase the cost of government in just a few short years. Moody’s has warned that when interest owed reaches 18 to 20 percent of revenue, the nation would be in line for a credit downgrade. We’re pretty much there, and will reach that range by 2018. According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest owed on the debt will rise from $244 billion in 2011 to $755 billion in 2018.

Hannan is concerned about these trends, and worries about its global implications. “The U.S. isn’t just a nation unlike any other, it is the embodiment of an ideal. We’re all involved in the success of America. And if we see the U.S. becoming poorer, less democratic, less free, then that’s everybody’s problem.”

He’s right. Hannan has seen firsthand what too much spending has done to nations like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. The impact has been devastating. And still U.S. politicians have said almost nothing about the same thing happening here, nor have they presented any plan to prevent it from occurring.

What will the implications be for liberty around the world should the U.S. fail to meet its financial obligations? The consequences could be devastating unless action is taken now.

Hopefully, Hannan’s warning will be heard by the American people, who will in turn demand leaders of both political parties to address the unbridled expansion of government into every facet of life — before it’s too late. As Hannan warned all Americans, “Until you get sanity and order back to your public finances, everything else is secondary.”



Tea-Party Movement Gathers Strength

The tea party has emerged as a potent force in American politics and a center of gravity within the Republican Party, with a large majority of Republicans showing an affinity for the movement that has repeatedly bucked the GOP leadership this year, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.

In the survey, 71% of Republicans described themselves as tea-party supporters, saying they had a favorable image of the movement or hoped tea- party candidates would do well in the Nov. 2 elections.

Already, the tea-party movement has helped to oust a number of incumbents and candidates backed by party leaders in this year's GOP primaries amid complaints that they lacked commitment to small-government principles. The poll findings suggest that the rising influence of the movement, with its push to cut spending and oppose the Democratic agenda, will drive the GOP to become more conservative and less willing to seek common ground on policy.

"These are essentially conservative Republicans who are very ticked-off people," said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart.

The poll found that tea-party supporters make up one-third of the voters most likely to cast ballots in November's midterm elections. This showed the movement "isn't a small little segment, but it is a huge part of what's driving 2010," Mr. Hart said.

The GOP now holds a three-point edge, 46% to 43%, when likely voters are asked which party they would prefer to control Congress. That is down from a nine-point Republican lead a month ago.

Still, Republicans retain major advantages, including a fired-up base. Two-thirds of GOP voters say they are intensely interested in the election, compared with about half of Democrats, suggesting that Republican voters are more likely to turn out at the polls.

The tea party is a major driver of the so-called enthusiasm gap, with three-quarters of supporters saying they are intensely interested in the election.

President Barack Obama's ratings remain low, with 46% of Americans approving of his job performance. Half of Americans have a negative view of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, compared with 22% taking a positive view.

The findings show how the tea-party movement has grown over the past two years from a loose confederation of activist groups into a marquee brand within the GOP that has upended a number of primaries in recent months.

The survey showed that tea-party supporters are interested in protesting "business as usual" in Washington. The most popular issue motivating them is cutting government spending and debt, followed by reducing the size of government.




Report: Marriage rate at new low: "The recession seems to be socking Americans in the heart as well as the wallet: Marriages have hit an all-time low while pleas for food stamps have reached a record high and the gap between rich and poor has grown to its widest ever. The long recession technically ended in mid-2009, economists say, but US Census data released yesterday show the painful, lingering effects. The annual survey covers all of last year, when unemployment skyrocketed to 10 percent, and the jobless rate is still a stubbornly high 9.6 percent. The figures also show that Americans on average have been spending 36 fewer minutes in the office per week and are stuck in traffic a bit less. But that is hardly good news, either. The reason is largely that people have lost jobs or are scraping by with part-time work.”

GOP pledge beats Democrats’ delays: "The House Republicans’ ‘Pledge to America’ calls for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for all; a rollback of government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels; ’strict budget caps;’ an end to the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the rest of the Obama stimulus package. What’s not to like? Having been asked what they would do differently if they ran the House, the Republicans came up with an answer. Meanwhile, the Democrats run the House, but they are not acting as if they are in charge. They haven’t passed a budget. They’re putting off a vote to extend all or some of the Bush tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 election. They’re acting like lame ducks before they become lame ducks. They can’t seem to get much of anything done, except deflect attention from their fecklessness to gaps in the GOP pledge.”

Viva Colombia!: "When Juan Manuel Santos came into office as Colombia’s president and emphasized economic issues over the fight against terrorist guerrillas, he was suspected of going soft on those he had combated as minister of defense under the previous administration. Little did his critics know that he was planning the ‘coup de grace’ against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The devastating Sept. 22 attack on FARC headquarters in Colombia’s central Meta province all but signifies the end of the five-decade-old conflict.”

Time as a price: "Canadian emergency rooms are infamous for their long wait times. A recent study has shown that in most of them the average wait time exceeds 6 hours and sometimes reaches up to 23 hours. While some call for action in reducing these extremely high figures by increasing the supply of healthcare services, others try to present the situation as, in principle, an unavoidable fact of life. Both of these arguments are missing the target.”

Absurd prosecution in Florida: "A Miami federal prosecutor was arrested Sunday afternoon at a local bar after a young girl and her mother accused him of being indecent when he went swimming in his boxers at the establishment’s pool overlooking the Miami River and downtown. Sean Cronin, 35, was charged with two misdemeanors — lewd and lascivious exhibition and nonviolent obstruction of justice — by a Miami police officer as he tried to leave Finnegan’s River, 401 SW Third Ave., according to an arrest affidavit. Cronin, a Boston native who was watching the New England Patriots game on the big-screen TV at the outdoor bar, decided to go swimming in his boxer shorts. The girl and her mother were at the pool.”

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 September, 2010

Gordon Gekko on Greed: Is it really good?

Oliver Stone has made of sequel of sorts to his 1987 movie Wall Street. In the original the central character, Gordon Gekko, famously says, “Greed … is good.” He seems to have meant that wealth-creation and innovation are founded on “greed,” something that, understood in a certain way, many readers of The Freeman might agree with. But it’s important to realize that he was only partly right.

First, greed or, better, self interest, certainly does in a sense drive material progress and so on, but only if and to the extent that social institutions, the “rules of the game,” are truly consistent with the free market – that is, private property, free exchange, and the rule of law.

But not everything that looks like a free market is a free market. If the economic system departs from the rules of the free market, self-interest tends not to promote the general welfare at all. For instance, private property is violated every time special interests use government to seek a bailout or protection against competition...

Those who tend to use the phrase “unfettered self-interest” or “unbridled capitalism” seem to have in mind a situation in which there is no locus of restraint whatever, either within the agent or outside the agent. Of course, the complete absence of restraint in this sense would result in the Hobbesian “war of everyone against everyone,” precisely the picture of modern finance that Oliver Stone paints in his movies.

In this rather naïve view the agent is free to pursue her self-interest wherever she finds it, even when it means acting opportunistically and dishonestly – so long as she observes or appears to observe the external rules and regulations. Thus the hotshot Wall Street operator takes advantage of any opportunity she chances on, even if it violates the norms of honesty and conventions of fair play, since these don’t really exist in her internal moral world. They believe that “greed is good” even when the rules of the game violate the rule of law, for example, by spreading the cost of risky investments among taxpayers (e.g., Fannie Mae) and concentrating the benefits on a few big players (e.g., Goldman Sachs)....

But the mature view recognizes that honesty, fair play, and trust are all important elements of the free market. Without these, private property, free exchange, and the rule of law may still be observed under the watchful eye of external authorities, but they would not flourish, and neither would material prosperity and wealth-creation take place on the scale and consistency that we’ve seen since the rebirth of the liberal idea in modern times.

Moreover, this view recognizes that when profits and losses, the good and the bad, redound to those responsible for making the decisions that produce them, market participants tend to grow more responsible and make better decisions. That is what the free market does: It makes us more responsible by making us more responsible. As a result, just those kinds of internal restraints against opportunism that grease the wheels of the market process emerge over time: the norms of trust and the conventions of reciprocity and fair play.



Who are the entrepreneurs?

Without an understanding of the American entrepreneur, there is widespread ignorance of our distinctiveness as a nation, our ingenuity, our liberty, our basic decency, or our prosperity.

By way of example, one of the most commonly-held misperceptions is that entrepreneurs are motivated by greed. That is a myth. Most entrepreneurs are motivated by a passion to solve seemingly intractable human problems, or meet deeply felt human needs. Some of our multinational corporations were started by people who believed that the average person should have soap, shoes, a roof over their heads, affordable food, fruit in the middle of the winter, the ability to communicate with far away loved ones, and more recently computers and other access to information.

Those passions are what drive the entrepreneur, and carry him or her through the risks, setbacks, and outright failures along the way. Entrepreneurs tinker with ideas, and they take the risks associated with pursuing those ideas. If they fail, they lose. If they succeed, we all win – with new or better products and services. And yes, the entrepreneur has the potential for phenomenal financial success. But that success is directly tied not only to the efficacy of the entrepreneur’s solution, but also to the ability to grow the enterprise around that solution -- it is growth that creates the jobs and investment opportunities that enable others to profit from the entrepreneur’s success.

Some weeks ago, I saw this reflected in an episode of The History Channel’s series, “America: The Story of Us.” Entitled “Boom,” this episode traced (among other things) the Hamill brothers’ novel use of a rotary drill in oil derricks, Henry Ford’s inspiration to mass-produce cars that were reliable and affordable for the average American, and William Mulholland’s system of aqueducts and dams that provided water for a newly burgeoning Los Angeles. This is the story of America: ingenuity, engineering, and entrepreneurship in the face of seemingly intractable problems.



A double double standard for blacks

Blacks get all-forgiving treatment but conservative blacks get especially hateful treatment

Walter E. Williams

Christine O'Donnell, U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware, has faced considerable criticism and news media attention about her youthful association with witchcraft. Have we seen similar news media attention given to other politicians who have made bizarre remarks that border on gross stupidity -- possibly lunacy?

During a congressional Armed Services hearing in March, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., expressed concern that stationing 8,000 Marines and their equipment on Guam, our Pacific territory, could cause the island "to become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize." Such a remark is grossly stupid but the liberal press didn't give it anywhere near the amount of attention and derision that they gave Christine O'Donnell.

On the campaign trail in March 2008, then-presidential candidate Obama told his Beaverton, Ore., audience, "Over the last 15 months, we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in 57 states? I think one left to go." Whether Obama misspoke or not, that's a grossly stupid remark, but white liberals among the intellectual elite and the liberal news media all but ignored it. Of course, when former Vice President Dan Quayle misspelled "potatoe," they pounced upon it and had a field day.

So what might explain the liberals giving Hank Johnson and Obama a pass whilst playing up the perceived shortcomings of Christine O'Donnell and Dan Quayle? The answer might be as simple as just looking at the colors involved. O'Donnell and Quayle are white and Johnson and Obama are black. That means the white liberal vision comes into play where to openly oppose, criticize and ridicule blacks is racist... The white liberal vision holds one set of standards to which white people are obliged and another that's lower for blacks. I don't believe that white liberals are racists in the sense that Klansmen and neo-Nazis are; however, their paternalistic and demeaning attitudes toward blacks are far more debilitating.

There needs to be a bit of elaboration of the statement that to openly oppose, criticize and ridicule a black is racist. If the black in question is a conservative, possibly Republican, then any sort of criticism and treatment is acceptable. This was seen in the criticism and ridicule of Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" cartoon featured President Bush referring to Secretary Rice as "brown sugar." Pat Oliphant showed her as a parrot with big lips and Ted Rall's cartoon had Miss Rice proclaiming herself Bush's "House nigga." Don Wright's cartoon depicted Justice Thomas as Justice Scalia's lawn jockey. These cartoons were carried in major newspapers nationwide. Ask yourself what would happen to a nationally syndicated cartoonist, and the newspaper that carried it, depicting President Obama as a wide-eyed, fat-lipped monkey.

Racial double standards are nothing new. It has been the currency on jobs and college campuses where there is an acceptance of behavior by blacks that would be condemned if done by whites. Often misguided white liberal professors, in the name of making up for injustices of the past, give black students grades they didn't earn. Being 74 years old, I have frequently told people that I'm glad that I received just about all of my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people. That means I was obliged to live up to higher standards.

More blacks need to be bold and challenge the demeaning attitudes of white liberals. During the early years of the Reagan administration, I had a number of press conferences in response to a book or article that I had written. At several of them, I invited the reporters to treat me like a white person -- just ask hard questions.



What Is a Narcissist To Do?

With news of President Obama's plan to swarm the heartland this week to re-energize his base, one wonders whether he's finally heard the message that mainstream America is repulsed by his agenda. Is his direct appeal to "the young and minority voters" an admission that he's beyond electoral redemption with the rest?

Well, a new George Washington University Battleground poll indicates that only 38 percent of Americans believe he deserves to be re-elected. His personal approval rating is higher -- mystifyingly -- but that is doubtlessly small comfort to Democratic congressmen, whose political fortunes are on the line in just five weeks.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the midterm elections will be nationalized like never before (including 1994), and the primary issue at play in these so-called "local" elections will be the president's agenda, just as it was with the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. The Republicans were smart to introduce their "pledge" notwithstanding its flaws, but even without it, the congressional elections would have been nationalized.

The Washington Post reports that Obama is focusing his efforts on his "surge" voters -- "the roughly 15 million Americans who voted for the first time in 2008" -- because the polls are "showing independent voters swinging toward Republicans in Wisconsin and the nation's other battlegrounds."

But even Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, acknowledges that though many of these voters still strongly approve of the president, "a lot of them aren't showing enough predilection to vote."

Then again, what else can Obama do? He has lost credibility with mainstream Americans, and his record is an unmitigated disaster. He has no persuasive excuses for his policy failures, as the blaming Bush strategy lost its luster months ago. Not that he isn't going to continue trying to persuade adults to ignore their lying eyes, but for now, at least, he's out to recapture the magic with those voters he excited into participatory politics.

But how will he sell them this time? Plouffe says Obama intends to remind students of all the hard work they put into his 2008 campaign and warn them that if they don't stay engaged, all their hard work together could be jeopardized.

But hard work to what end? Has he ever bothered defining what he is trying to accomplish, beyond the platitudinous "hope and change"? Hope and change from what, to what?

Of course, we adults know darn well what he's trying to accomplish: the transformational change of the greatest nation in the history of mankind. That is, uprooting America's founding ideals and replacing them with his Utopian vision, which even he does not understand.

But when he approaches his fellow idealists this time, he will be on different footing. He can no longer credibly portray himself as an outsider looking to change the status quo. He is largely responsible for the status quo, which, by the way, is anything but static. The "quo" is dynamic and is heading straight into the gutter, with our federal government 1 1/2 steps through the bankruptcy door, nationalized medicine merely a heartbeat away, our national security going south and a chief executive and commander in chief determined to continue on the same perilous path.

What specifics will he tell young people and minorities to motivate them to stay engaged? Reportedly, he will "tout his administration's record on issues important to young people." Does that mean he will tell the young that if they continue to support his agenda by electing his shameless enablers in Congress, they can expect America to stay in a severe recession for another decade because "it took us 10 years to get into this mess"? He might as well say, "Stay the course and be guaranteed you won't have a job when you graduate, but at least you'll be thwarting those evil Republicans."

Will he tell minorities he has personally enhanced race relations in this nation, when he has clearly fanned the flames of racial tension? That he has improved their plight, when he has, for example, single-handedly reversed welfare reform, which had measurably reduced, among other things, black child poverty and illegitimacy?

Don't forget that a major part of his appeal to the young and minorities was his promise of a new era, a new type of politics, a different atmosphere in America. But he has given us the most partisan and divisive administration in recent memory. How can going back to the well with yet more empty rhetoric help him when he has completed a two-year record directly contradicting his promises?

Say what you will, but Obama has no other play in his playbook than to make these elections about himself and his agenda, when that is the exact opposite of what his party needs. But what is a lonely narcissist to do?




Big Labor, Not Tea Party, Is Workers' Worst Enemy: "SEIU Local 1199's Upstate Pension Fund has plunged from 115 percent funded in 1999 to 75 percent funded, and its Greater New York Pension Fund was funded at only 58 percent of its future obligations as of 2007, according to Hudson Institute analyst Diana Furchtgott-Roth. The union fat cats blame Wall Street. But while the pensions of SEIU workers nationwide are in "endangered status," the pensions of SEIU top brass have been protected and remain fully funded."

Study: Car accidents rose after states banned texting: "Laws banning texting while driving actually may prompt a slight increase in road crashes, research suggests. The findings, to be unveiled today at a national meeting of traffic-safety professionals, come amid a heightened national debate over distracted driving. ‘Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all,’ says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, whose research arm studied the effectiveness of the laws. Thirty states and the District of Columbia ban texting while driving. Arizona does not have a ban, though Phoenix does. The assertion that those efforts are futile will be a major issue at this week’s annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association.” [Maybe texting made people drive more slowly]

Canadian court strikes down prostitution laws: "An Ontario court tossed out key provisions of Canada’s anti-prostitution laws on Tuesday, saying they did more harm than good, following a constitutional challenge by three sex-trade workers. Prostitution is not itself illegal in Canada, but nearly every activity associated with it is, such as communicating for the purposes of prostitution, living off its avails or operating a common bawdy house.”

Using government to weed out competitors: "In states throughout the country, beverage distributors are stepping into the political ring and in every case the opponent is the same: competition. Since prohibition, distributors have had the U.S. government in their corner, forcing beverage producers to go through them in order to get their products onto shelves. It almost makes sense then that distributors’ response to the threat of new competitors entering the market is not to offer better services, but to lobby the government to try and keep them out.”

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 September, 2010

A small anecdote and some reflections on race and culture

I originally wrote this post for my personal blog but it seemed to fit here too

A few days ago I went in to a private hospital to get my hearing tested and a hearing-aid prescribed. I've already got one plastic eye lens so a computerized ear comes next! That's aging for you.

Greenslopes private hospital does however have one of those murderous automated car-parks. You have to deal with a machine to get in and out. And it is not easy. I got so frazzled trying to get the machine to let me out that I left all the documentation from the audiologist on top of the machine concerned and ended up driving home without it.

It was only when I got home that I realized that I did not have my receipt etc. So what did I do? One thing I was NOT going to do was negotiate that accursed car-park machine again. So I just thought to myself that some kind person would find my documentation and take it to the audiologists -- who would return it to me. And that is exactly what happened. I received it in the mail today.

Now isn't that nice to live in a largeish city and still get treated with village courtesy? But it is no coincidence. I find that my fellow Anglo/European-Australians are generally like that: Good kind people.

And that largely happens because Australia is still blindingly white. You would have to go to Eastern Europe to find a whiter country. Now that does of course sound racially bigoted but it is in fact mainstream sociology. Robert Putnam in particular is known for his studies of racial homogeneity. Sociologists are almost universally Left-leaning and Putnam is too -- but he was man enough to publish his findings (after some hesitation) even though they did not suit him ideologically.

What he found was that people who live in racially mixed neighbourhoods (he is American so that means neighbourhoods with a lot of blacks or Hispanics in addition to whites) were much more likely to keep to themselves. They stayed home at night a lot more, for instance. Racial admixture killed community feeling, to put it bluntly.

Fortunately Australia has largely escaped that. Until recently our population had ancestry that was almost exclusively from Europe or the British Isles. And regardless of whether your origins were Lithuanian, Irish, Italian, German or English, we all saw one another as simply Australian. Ancestry made no difference in most cases.

In more recent years, however, Australia HAS acquired a significant "minority": East Asians, mostly Han Chinese -- now about 10% of our population. But the Han are admirable people. They are in general quiet, peaceful, patient, intelligent, hard-working people who strive to get on well with everybody. So they fit in very well and do nothing to cause anyone to stay home at night. So even though they have disrupted Australia's racial homogeneity, they have, if anything, enhanced its social harmony.

So it was no accident that some kind person returned my papers. It is what happens in a society where people are in general kind to one another because they can identify with one another and sympathize with one another.

But all silver linings have a dark cloud and Australia has recently acquired one of those too. Australia has in recent years accepted a considerable number of African "refugees" and they already figure prominently in crime. Sad that they may destroy the remarkable and valuable harmony that Australia still has.

Mind you, Australia's native blacks -- Aborigines -- are not bad people. They often live in appalling squalor but they mostly keep to themselves and are undoubtedly one of the most polite populations on earth. They also have an excellent sense of humour and some perceptual abilities that are quite eerie at times. But alcohol is their great downfall. The lady in my life -- Anne -- knows them particularly well and has great affection for them -- something that I understand.

They are actually extraordinarily sociable people -- which is why it is so effective when they "sing" transgressors among them. The transgressor dies of grief.

Much to learn of human diversity. And shrieks of "racism" when it is discussed come only from fools or the ill-intentioned.


A remarkable book (Free download)

A 19th century Orwell

This book is a remarkable discovery, as fresh today as when it was first translated in 1893. It is a novel of life under socialism by Eugene Richter, a German liberal of the 19th century.

Prophetic is not quite the word for this book. Richter saw with chilling clarity what would happen under socialistic control. The economy would be smashed. Families would be destroyed. The population would grow poorer by the day. The state would be unleashed to crush political dissent and lock everyone into a national prison. None of the ideals would be achieved.

The novel's narrative voice, however, is blinded by ideological loyalty to the cause. As he describes the calamity, he justifies it all in the name of progress, equality, and fairness to all. The reader, then, experiences the horrors of the events and then also the horrors of the intellectual twists and turns that some people will undertake to keep the disaster happening as long as possible.

To remember that this was written before any country actually experienced the total state is astonishing, page by page. The tone of the narrative is chillingly light and detached. Meanwhile, the events taking place make the blood run cold. The novel not only fulfills Mises's own predictions of life under socialism; it anticipates them long before any country embraced socialism as a system.



Why Obama and the Democrats hate gold

Thomas Sowell

One of the many slick tricks of the Obama administration was to insert a provision in the massive Obamacare legislation regulating people who sell gold. This had nothing to do with medical care but everything to do with sneaking in an extension of the government's power over gold, in a bill too big for most people to read.

Gold has long been a source of frustration for politicians who want to extend their power over the economy. First of all, the gold standard cramped their style because there is only so much money you can print when every dollar bill can be turned in to the government, to be exchanged for the equivalent amount of gold.

When the amount of money the government can print is limited by how much gold the government has, politicians cannot pay off a massive national debt by just printing more money and repaying the owners of government bonds with dollars that are cheaper than the dollars with which the bonds were bought. In other words, politicians cannot cheat people as easily.

That was just one of the ways that the gold standard cramped politicians' style-- and just one of the reasons they got rid of it. One of Franklin D. Roosevelt's first acts as president was to take the United States off the gold standard in 1933.

But, even with the gold standard gone, the ability of private individuals to buy gold reduces the ability of the government to steal the value of their money by printing more money.

Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes. A hundred dollar bill would buy less in 1998 than a $20 bill would buy in the 1960s. This means that anyone who kept his money in a safe over those years would have lost 80 percent of its value, because no safe can keep your money safe from politicians who control the printing presses.

That is why some people buy gold when they lose confidence in the government's managing of its money. Usually that is when inflation is either under way or looming on the horizon. When many people start transferring their wealth from dollars into gold, that restricts the ability of politicians to steal from them through inflation.

Even though there is currently very little inflation, purchases of gold have nevertheless skyrocketed. Ordinarily, most gold is bought for producing jewelry or for various industrial purposes, more so than as an investment. But, at times within the past two years, most gold has been bought by investors.

What that suggests is that increasing numbers of people don't trust this administration's economic policies, especially their huge and growing deficits, which add up to a record-breaking national debt.

When a national debt reaches an unsustainable amount, there is always a temptation to pay it off with inflated dollars. There is the same temptation when the Social Security system starts paying out more money to baby boom retirees than it is taking in from current workers.

Whether gold is a good investment for individuals, and whether the gold standard is the right system for a country, are much more complicated questions than can be answered here. But what is clear is that the Obama administration sees people's freedom to buy and sell gold as something that can limit what the government can do.

Indeed, freedom in general cramps the government's style. Those on the left may not be against freedom in general. But, at every turn, they find the freedoms granted by the Constitution of the United States hampering the left's agenda of imposing their superior wisdom and virtue on the rest of us.

The desire to restrain or control the buying and selling of gold is just one of the many signs of the inherent conflict between the freedom of the individual and the left's attempts to control our lives.

Sneaking a provision on gold purchases and sales into massive legislation that is supposedly about medical care is just one of the many cynical tricks used to circumvent the public's right to know how they are being governed. The Constitution begins, "We the people" but, to the left, both the people and the Constitution are just things to circumvent in order to carry out their agenda.



American liberalism as a religion

Dennis Prager

For many non-leftist Democrats, it is emotionally impossible to vote Republican. I can illustrate this best with a personal example that I often use in speeches to Jewish audiences.

I was raised both as an Orthodox Jew and a liberal Democrat. In my early 20s, not wanting to practice religious laws solely out of habit or fear, I experimented with religious non-observance.

I remember well the one time this yeshiva graduate ate ham. It was emotionally difficult. I also well remember the first time this lifelong Democrat voted Republican. And it, too, was difficult. In fact, it was actually more emotionally difficult to vote Republican than to eat the ham.

Now, how could that be? How could it possibly have been more emotionally trying for a lifelong Democrat to vote Republican than for a lifelong observant Jew to eat ham? Isn't religion a far deeper conviction than politics?

The question implies the answer. Liberalism and leftism are religions. While I felt I would be sinning against God when I tasted ham, I was certain I was sinning against both God and man were I to vote Republican.

That is how liberals, not to mention leftists, think: It is a grievous sin to vote Republican (unless the Republican is a liberal). One is abandoning their faith, values, community and very identity.

But it is more than that. What keeps most non-leftists voting Democrat (and calling themselves liberal) has been the spectacularly effective saturation of virtually all media and all educational institutions with the message that the right is mean spirited and dangerous.

One of the first books I ever owned -- in high school -- was titled "Danger on the Right." Throughout the world, people are fed the message "Danger on the Right" -- and virtually never "Danger on the Left," despite the left's far bloodier and more totalitarian record.

The majority of people who vote Democratic do not have left-wing values. Only 20 percent of Americans even consider themselves liberal. But vast numbers of people with views that are not leftist have been effectively brainwashed (one cannot come up with a more accurate word) into fearing the right when the threats to their liberty, as well as to America's standing in the world, its exceptionalism and its economic future all emanate from the left.

That is why nearly all Democratic and leftist reactions to conservatives and Republicans are to avoid argument (remember, on the issues the left has few supporters) and smear them as SIXHIRB, my acronym for "Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Islamophobic, Racist, Bigoted." It is almost impossible to come up with the name of a leading conservative whom the dominant media have not dismissed as one or more of SIXHIRB -- and usually as a buffoon as well.

This obviously serves the left and the Democratic Party in many ways. But the most important is to keep non-leftists in fear of anyone who opposes the left. In effect, the left says, and has been saying for a hundred years, "You may not agree with us, but our opponents are evil."

The Democratic appeal to black voters provides an excellent example. In nearly half a century, the left has done nothing for black America. Leftists have ruined the cities they govern and most of the public schools they control. But they have mastered one thing -- the ability to paint their opponents as racist opponents of blacks. So, blacks, many of whom have conservative values -- from opposing same-sex marriage to supporting school vouchers -- vote almost universally for the left.

The same holds true of most American Jews. Most live profoundly conservative lives but vote left. Why? Overwhelmingly because they believe there is "Danger on the Right." It doesn't matter how anti-Israel the left is and how pro-Israel the right is, or that liberal Time magazine has a mendacious cover story on "Why Israel Doesn't Care about Peace," while every major conservative periodical is passionately protective of Israel. For most Jews, voting Republican is a far greater sin, emotionally, morally and socially than eating ham.

That is why virtually every liberal columnist at The New York Times has described political opposition to Barack Obama as racist. The left cannot win on arguments. It must demonize its opponents. From Stalin calling Trotsky a Fascist to Frank Rich labeling the tea parties as mimicking the Nazis' Kristallnacht, this has been the favored leftist method of achieving power. And that is why it remains so hard for most Democrats to vote what they believe and vote Republican -- a lifetime of demonization has worked.




IDF kills two attempting to fire rockets at Israel: "Two Palestinian terrorists were killed in an IDF attack on the Gaza Strip on Monday night according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit and Hamas-run television. In a joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) and IDF operation, an IDF drone located the two Palestinians preparing to fire rockets into Israel territory from a location in the central Gaza Strip.”

Sick economy: "If you create anything of value in the United States, you’ll be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The government will tax your business, and you, and the people you engage to work for you.”

Empty promises: "Let us suppose that Congress did something really silly. Say it passed a law promising everyone a free annual trip to visit the moon. Surely even the densest reporter would have the presence of mind to ask, ‘How are you going to get 300 million people to the moon and back?’ Yet Congress did something almost that silly last spring. It promised almost everyone in the country access to a whole slew of preventive services with no copay or deductible.”

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

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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)


27 September, 2010

But Obama IS a Socialist

Liberals supporters of Barack Obama become really upset when people call him a socialist. They say that such an accusation is so outrageous that it falls within the category of “extreme” or “fringe.”

Let’s see. Consider the following four countries: Cuba, China, North Korea, and Vietnam. Wouldn’t everyone concede that all four of those countries have socialist systems?

Let’s list some of the key programs and policies that are common to all four of those socialist countries:

1. Government provided retirement pay to senior citizens (i.e., Social Security).
2. Government provided health care (i.e., Medicare and Medicaid).
3. Government-provided, mandatory education to people’s children (i.e., public schooling).
4. Government-provided unemployment compensation.
5. Government-provided welfare payments.
6. Government central planning of monetary affairs (i.e., a Federal Reserve).
7. Government management of the economy.
8. Government-issued licenses for occupations and professions.
9. Government central planning over immigration affairs.
10. Government control over trade.
11. Government equalization of wealth among the citizenry.
12. Government-mandated wage rates.
13. Government control over prices.
14. Government-provided subsidies.

Now, which of those key programs and policies in those four socialist countries does Barack Obama disagree with?

Answer: None. He supports them all. If a person embraces the key programs and policies of socialist countries, why doesn’t that make him a socialist?



Spiritual con-men

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" (Matthew 7:9). No father would but some "pastors" do.

During the 1990s, “seeker-friendly” churches began popping up everywhere. Most were non-denominational churches looking to reach those who fell between the cracks and divides that separate many of our traditional denominations. These seeker-friendly churches did well for a time. The fact that many are now struggling to pay the bills has less to do with the changing economy than it does with the changing culture.

It’s no surprise that these churches did well in the 1990s. The economy was strong and people gave charitably. The same can be said of the first seven years of the Bush administration. Many seeker-friendly churches were able to break ground with new buildings, which seated thousands of congregants. They were able to fill these big buildings with scoreboard-sized video monitors and all the latest video and computer technology. They even served gourmet coffee.

But things began to change in 2008. The economy tanked and the churches had to cut back. They hoped the next election would bring change. But hope was not enough. Men cannot always bring about that kind of change. And only God can bring about lasting change.

But the one thing that has started to change in the mega-church is the message. What once was a slightly watered-down seeker-friendly version of the Gospel is now a slightly Gospel-flavored bucket of water. And it’s not enough to quench the thirst of the masses.

As one who has traveled to twenty-two states this year I’ve had an opportunity to hear pastors in several of these mega-churches. And I’ve heard some very interesting things. Some examples follow:

1. “We encourage you to sign up for one of our Bible study classes. We don’t say we have all the answers. We may not have any of the answers that you might have. We just want to start a conversation.” Oddly enough, the church where I heard this little gem doesn’t even call itself emergent. Of course, Don Miller claims he’s not emergent but I’m not buying that jazz.

2. “This church doesn’t focus on doctrine. We focus on hope.” Well, that explains why the pastor rode up to the stage on a motorcycle. By giving a sermon standing in front of a Harley Davidson, instead of a cross, he can avoid that unpleasant doctrinal stuff about sin and redemption. Pass the Starbucks. This is going to be a good one!

3. “If Christianity is to survive in the 21st Century, everything about it must change.” You can’t be serious with this one, can you? Does that mean I should cast the first stone? Can I cast it at the idiot in the pulpit? Wait, there is no pulpit. And no cross. Never mind.

4. “There’s nothing wrong with diversity. Everyone needs diversity.” But what about people who say they don’t need diversity? Are we in danger of excluding them from the conversation?

If today’s mega-churches are anything they are diverse. They typically have large numbers of traditional Christians as well as large numbers of seekers who may not have been raised in any particular faith tradition. But these days, many mega-churches are beginning to show preference for the latter – despite their emphasis on equality and inclusion. And this may prove to be their downfall.

By watering down their message to be even more seeker-friendly, today’s mega-churches are not going to achieve their crass objective: To avoid offending people in order to keep their numbers up (read: Keep the money flowing) and eventually pay their mortgage down.

Instead, their gains with seekers and the easily offended will be offset by their losses among those who are farther along in their walks and, hence, more traditional in their beliefs. This is consequential because the traditionalist, not the liberal Christian or the seeker, is always the first one to open his wallet.

Our cultural is in rapid decline as we enter the Obama/post-Christian phase of American history. People are in search of bold and fearless pastors who will take a stand against evil in blunt and uncompromising - not coded and esoteric - language. In the end, pastors who refuse to mold the Gospel to accommodate the spiritual needs of the seeker or the financial needs of the church will be the last ones standing.

I predict that many of the mega-churches of today will be the shopping malls of tomorrow. When it is time to foreclose and go packing someone is going to have some heavy equipment to move. At least no one will have to pick up their cross.



Who Are the Realists and Who Are the Ideologues?

The banter continues about the Republican Party being pushed to the right by “ideologues.”

Working Americans interest in politics is motivated by how to make our lives better. They don’t care about how one set of intellectuals or pundits think the world should be against some other set of ideas of ideology. They care about the facts. How the world really is and acting accordingly.

Two principles often labeled as “right wing ideology” are that as a society we are better off with limited government and individual freedom and that as individuals we are better off being married. Is this wishful thinking of ideologues or is this reality?

Two publications just out provide factual substantiation backing up both these principles.

Economic Freedom of the World, now in its 16th edition, is an annual index published co-operatively by 70 think tanks from around the world. This team has developed measures of economic freedom and then correlates these measures with economic performance in every country in the world.

What, according to this publication, is economic freedom? The core principles are “personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.”

They look at five areas to measure if these conditions exist. Size of government (expenditures, taxes, and government enterprises), legal structure and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade, and regulation of credit, labor, and business.

The result of the analysis – using the measures of economic freedom and looking at 141 nations around the world to examine the correlation between economic freedom and prosperity - leads to a clear conclusion. More economic freedom correlates with more prosperity and higher quality of life.

Breaking down 141 nations into four quartiles, running from the least free quarter to the most free, shows the following: The highest quartile – the most free - has an average per capita income two and half times higher that than the average of the second quartile, four and half times higher than the third quartile, and nine and a half times higher than the least free quartile.

Average life expectancy in the most economically free nations is seven years higher than the second quartile, eleven years higher than the third, and twenty years higher than in the poorest.

The Index also shows that nations that are more economically free are more likely to be politically free – they have more political rights and civil liberties – than those not economically free. And individuals in the most economically free nations report the highest levels of “life satisfaction.”

How about marriage?

A new paper published by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation examines data in our own country and shows with clarity that the more likely a household is headed by a married couple the less likely that household will be poor.

Thirty six percent of children living in households headed by a single mother are poor. Six percent of children living in households headed by married parents are poor.

Among black families, 38% of single parent households are poor compared to 13% of households with married parents. Among white households, 22% of single parent household are poor compared to 3% of households with married parents.

As Rector notes, when President Johnson announced the War on Poverty in 1964, 93% of babies born in our country were born to married parents. Today 59% of babies born in the United States have married mothers.

If you accept my definition of ideologue, that it’s someone wedded to a set of ideas, independent of facts, who are the ideologues?

We have overwhelming factual evidence that the more economic freedom individuals have in a country, the more likely that nation will be prosperous, with a high quality of life. We also have overwhelming evidence showing that the more likely a family is headed by a single parent, the more likely that household will be poor.

Looking from the other side, we have overwhelming evidence that government spending does not reduce poverty nor does big government create prosperity. So who are the ideologues and who are the realists?




An heretical church: "The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the Anglican Church has "no problem" with homosexuals being bishops but he was not "positive" about them having relationships. While recognising that he was simplifying the Church's position, Dr Williams said in an interview: "There's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop. It's about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe." Asked what was wrong with a homosexual bishop having a partner, he said: "I think because the scriptural and traditional approach to this doesn't give much ground for being positive about it." He said the issue remained a particularly divisive one: "The Church at the moment doesn't quite know what to make of it."

Pastors defy IRS on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”: "Nearly 100 pastors across the country took part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday today, an in-your-face challenge to what the government says can and cannot be said in church. The pastors, along with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit Alliance Defense Fund, planned today’s event as a reaction to a law stating that churches are not allowed to support politicians from the pulpit, according to the ADF. The growing trend is a challenge to the IRS from the churches, and may jeopardize their all-important tax-exempt status. But some pastors and church leaders said they are willing to defy the law to defend their right to freedom of speech.”

The tax hazards of a US passport: "I asked her if she was still filing U.S. tax returns. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘I left the United States when I was a child. Why would I have to file tax returns there when I’ve never worked there or even lived there since childhood?’ I patiently explained that the United States requires its citizens to pay tax on their worldwide income, no matter where they live. I also told her that she possibly faced a long prison sentence for not disclosing each year the existence of all bank accounts she held outside the United States with an aggregate value exceeding $10,000. And I mentioned that while she could make an appointment to give up her U.S. passport at a local U.S. consulate, she would continue to be subject to these taxes and criminal sanctions for all past years.”

Boom time in the public sector: "What recession? Government workers are probably wondering what all the fuss is about. The private sector has lost 2.5 million jobs since the Obama administration’s stimulus bill was passed, while the public sector — federal, state, and local government combined — has added 416,000 jobs over the same period. Although 85 percent of Americans work for private employers, the administration’s own Recovery Act database admits that four out of five jobs ‘created or saved’ were in government. Likewise, average pay has risen in the federal, state, and local government, while private sector wages have fallen. More jobs, better security, and rising wages — it’s boom time in the public sector.”

Ayn Rand foresaw Obamacare: "If you doubt the prescience of Ayn Rand, turn to page 744 to read about a doctor who no longer practices his profession. When asked why, he replies “I quit when medicine was placed under State control many years ago. Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I would not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun.” If you don’t think vast numbers of doctors feel this way, you have not spoken to any. If ObamaCare goes into effect as passed in 2010, you will soon see droves of doctors living by this creed, and the medical care that most Americans receive will come at the hands of graduates from schools in Indonesia, Mexico, and India because America will not be able to replace the retired doctors quickly enough."

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)


26 September, 2010

Unsubstantiated drivel from the Jug Man

"Krug" is German/Yiddish for "Jug"

We read:
"Anger is sweeping America. True, this white-hot rage is a minority phenomenon, not something that characterizes most of our fellow citizens. But the angry minority is angry indeed, consisting of people who feel that things to which they are entitled are being taken away. And they’re out for revenge.

No, I’m not talking about the Tea Partiers. I’m talking about the rich.

These are terrible times for many people in this country. Poverty, especially acute poverty, has soared in the economic slump; millions of people have lost their homes. Young people can’t find jobs; laid-off 50-somethings fear that they’ll never work again.

Yet if you want to find real political rage — the kind of rage that makes people compare President Obama to Hitler, or accuse him of treason — you won’t find it among these suffering Americans. You’ll find it instead among the very privileged, people who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs, their homes, or their health insurance, but who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.

Well, it certainly sounds like Krugman himself is angry. And he is a wealthy man himself. So is he simply projecting his feelings onto others in his tax bracket? It seems likely. He offers no proof -- nada -- that the rich in general are angry or that they are behind the very widespread dissatisfaction with Obama and the Obamacrats in Congress. Does Krugman think the rich pay the tea partiers to rally? Who knows? One commenter responded to his tirade by labelling him as the Left-wing equivalent of a birther. I think that is unfair to birthers. Birthers have at least some grounds for their claims. Krugman has none -- or none that he offers anyway.

And as far as I know, it is much more likely that the rich are not much perturbed by the impending tax increases. Many rich people (Bill Gates and Warren Buffet being the best-known examples) give away voluntarily substantial amounts of money anyhow -- and the rich who are more protective of their assets have plenty of loopholes (put there by Congress) that their tax accountants can use for tax avoidance purposes. It's middle income earners (mostly small business people) who are most likely to be thrown into difficulty by tax increases.

Keith Burgess Jackson also has some advice for the Jug Man.


"Red Ed" becomes leader of the British Labour Party

What Labour MPs were calling the doomsday scenario has happened. David Miliband won amongst Labour MPs and party members but a massive union vote delivered the leadership for his brother Ed. Opponents are already asking what legitimacy a party leader has who lost among both his own MPs and party members.

But this campaign has shown that Ed Miliband is a formidable opponent. He was by far the most natural politician of the five candidates. He has the communication skills that a modern politician so desperately needs.

The Ed Miliband campaign first became convinced that they were going to win when Lord Mandelson started attacking Ed. They believed Mandelson’s intervention showed that the party establishment was rattled and that the insurgent had the momentum.

This fight with the leading representative of the party’s old guard might have presaged Ed’s victory, but it also hints at the trouble to come. Many in the Labour Party fear they have elected someone who can win an internal leadership election but not a General Election. They worry that the reason Neil Kinnock has backed Ed Miliband so vigorously is that he sees him as his political heir.

At the start of this contest, David Miliband had the money and the big- name backing. The Chancellor and the Home Secretary from the last Government were both behind him and his campaign was being run by the man who had co-ordinated Labour’s General Election efforts. But Ed always had something that David didn’t have: an understanding of how to make the party love him.

The attacks on Ed Miliband from the Blairite old guard have been so strident because they fear what he represents – the end of the New Labour project. They are right. He heralds a distinct move to the Left.

Ed Miliband is not a politician searching for the centre ground. Instead, he is an ideological Left-winger. He wants higher taxes, more spending and more regulation.

During his leadership campaign, he made, according to the Tories, £28 billion worth of spending commitments at a time when Britain urgently needs spending cuts to deal with its unsustainable deficit.

The Tories have long wanted Ed Miliband to win. When I asked a Cabinet minister recently which Miliband he’d prefer to take on, he danced a little jig of joy as he said Ed. The Tories can’t believe that Labour have elected a candidate who wants to move the party on from the strategy that won it three Election victories.

Already, the Tories are planning to push him constantly to say what he would do about the deficit. In the words of one Tory involved in the preparations for dealing with the new Labour leader, ‘the deficit is the one thing that they can’t deal with’.



Barack Obama: the Great Unravelling of a One-Term President?

The White House threw open its doors to Bob Woodward but the unflattering portrait could not have come at a worse time for Barack Obama, argues Toby Harnden

A president has no more solemn duty than that of being commander-in-chief. And judging from the evidence presented by Woodward, Barack Obama's view of that role is at best disquieting. Nearly 100,000 American troops are now committed to Afghanistan but Obama's principal war aim is to withdraw and his main preoccupation is how the conflict plays domestically, particularly within his own Democratic party.

"This needs to be a plan about how we're going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan," Obama says at one stage. At another he declares that "everything we're doing has to be focused on how we're going to get to the point where we can reduce our footprint".

Obama comes across as viewing his generals with thinly-disguised hostility, while at the same time acquiescing to their proposals for the escalation of the Afghan war he so wants to avoid. His arbitrary drawdown of July 2012 was a signal to the Taliban to hang on because American commitment to success was lukewarm and time-limited.

The description of Obama staffers glorying in the firing of General Stanley McChrystal because they believed it boosted the president's macho credentials (it did the opposite) brings shame on the administration. Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the coverage of it is that the White House is so delusional it seems to think their man has come out of it rather well. In fact, Woodward's book will further damage Obama and could not have come at a worse time.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll finds him at an all-time low of 42 per cent approval, against 54 per cent who disapprove.

Obama has even lost Shepard Fairey, the man who created the iconic red and blue "Hope" poster of Obama's visage. Those who elected Obama, he said this week, feel cheated. "They wanted somebody who was going to fight against the status quo and I don't think that Obama has done that."

The president can't stop blaming George W Bush for anything that goes wrong but it will be the current rather than the former president who Democrats will take to task after November.

Obama scarcely helped himself this week when he responded in a CNBC "town hall" event to a black woman who said she was "exhausted of defending you" by prefacing his answer with "as I said before" – code for "you're clearly too dumb to have understood me the first time".

David Axelrod, the most civilised of Obama's closest aides, has been tasked to make nice with liberals and encourage the media to get back behind the man who was their candidate in 2008. The result? Not much doing. When he announced his desire to "enlist" liberal bloggers for the midterms, one tore into him, accusing the White House of engaging in "hippie bashing".

Reporters were not impressed by Axelrod's demand in a Washington Post opinion piece that the press needed to investigate Republicans. These days, the White House press corps is feeling unloved by Obama's inner circle and a tad embarrassed about 2008.

In the meantime, Obama's Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are either running away as fast as they can from the president or curling up in the fetal position by postponing a congressional vote on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts – a move that makes them look both weak and cowardly.

For the first time, and despite the fact that no credible Republican candidate for 2012 has yet emerged, Obama is looking like a one-term president while one-party rule in Washington is in its death throes.

When Woodward writes his book about what is happening now, he could do worse than call it The Great Unravelling.



Silencing the churches

Hard to see how it fits the 1st Amendment

It was a voice vote that silenced the voice of the church for generations. In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was in the middle of a particularly bruising re-election battle. Two nonprofit groups had been especially troublesome to the senator, vocally opposing his candidacy.

So, on a hot summer day in Washington, D.C., Johnson slipped an amendment into the IRS 501(c)(3) code that governs nonprofit organizations in order to restrict their speech -- including the speech of churches. Johnson’s amendment stated that nonprofits could not “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing and distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office.” The penalty for such “participation?” Revocation of their tax-exempt status.

Without debate, the Senate held a quick voice vote on the amendment. As the chamber filled with a chorus of “Ayes,” the church became infected with an instant case of laryngitis, thanks to the Senator from Texas.

Before the Johnson Amendment, churches had a strong and vibrant voice in our political and cultural discourse. Their speech was not muzzled, and the church played an important role in speaking out and shaping public opinion on issues such as slavery, women’s rights, child labor, and civil rights.

However, since the passage of the amendment, the IRS has steadfastly maintained that any speech by churches about candidates for government office, including sermons from the pulpit, can result in the loss of tax exemption. Even though the IRS has never revoked the tax-exempt status of any church that has violated the amendment, it has had a chilling effect on the free speech of pastors across the nation.

It’s now time to ask the question: Who decides what the church can and cannot say? Should it be the government? Or should it be the church?

The Alliance Defense Fund looked into the history of the Johnson Amendment and came to the conclusion that the church, and not the government, should determine whether or not it should support a political candidate or speak out on an important moral issue.

ADF concluded that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring the government to excessively and pervasively monitor the speech of churches to ensure they are not in violation of the amendment. It violates the Free Speech clause of the same amendment since it requires the government to discriminate against speech based solely on its content and makes a tax exemption conditional on speech. Finally, it violates the Free Exercise Clause because it substantially burdens a church’s free exercise of religion.

ADF is not arguing that churches should act like political action committees, or that pastors should routinely endorse or oppose candidates. What they are saying is that while many pastors and other church leaders may choose not—for various reasons—to talk about political issues from the pulpit, that should be their decision, not the IRS’s.

I agree with ADF. Decisions about what is preached from the pulpit of a church should not belong to the government but to the individual pastor and church itself. That is why I support Pulpit Freedom Sunday, to be observed on Sept. 26, in which pastors across America will take a courageous stand and boldly challenge the IRS’s restrictions on their freedom of speech when it comes to political candidates and issues. If the IRS threatens their tax-exempt status, ADF attorneys will file lawsuits on these pastors’ behalf with the hope that they will eventually lead to the Johnson Amendment being declared unconstitutional. ADF believes that if these cases ever come to trial, this will be the likely result.

Many Christians have an understandable fear of the overuse of litigation. But that does not prevent Christians from making appropriate use of litigation when warranted. The approach ADF is using is simply the only realistic way to have an unconstitutional IRS rule removed from the books when the IRS won’t do it on its own. Far from being a rash project put together by people eager to engage in litigation, this approach has been painstakingly thought out. It is the wisest and most effective course—indeed, the only one that has promise.

So take the occasion this week on Pulpit Freedom Sunday to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy and resolve never to weaken, never to be intimidated, and never to back down. As those of us who signed the Manhattan Declaration have affirmed, “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's.”


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 September, 2010

Poverty does not make you happy

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich

‘Money can’t buy me love,’ the Beatles once told us. Now economists like Jeffrey D. Sachs argue that money can’t buy you happiness, either.

In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s The Australian, the Columbia University professor recommended a closer look at the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The Bhutanese attitude towards development and their government’s focus on happiness should inspire the West, he wrote.

Indeed, Bhutan is always held up by as the shining example in the quest to make the world a happier place. In the 1970s, the Bhutanese king decided that his subjects should strive to increase Gross National Happiness, not GDP. Ever since, this has been the country’s guiding principle. It is this principle that Sachs now recommends to more developed nations.

There is nothing wrong with happiness, of course. In fact, it was the Americans and not the Bhutanese who first declared the pursuit of happiness a national goal. But it’s nevertheless a bit odd to present Bhutan as the role model for global happiness and well-being.

Have the Bhutanese really reached a special stage of enlightenment the rest of the world should follow? There is reason for doubt if you believe reports in the country’s press. Not long ago, the Bhutan Times came to this harsh assessment:

"To the world beyond its borders, Bhutan is a sort of a fabled country. Happiness is the mantra of development here that has tickled the imagination of economists and social engineers near and far. Closer home, a microscopic view of things reveals that all is not so well. In the recent years, an overriding numbers of drug and substance abuse and an alarming suicide rate have been reported in the country, an indication that the pursuit of happiness is still a delusional journey for some."

Perhaps the Bhutanese are not so happy after all because they are poor. According to the country’s National Statistics Office, 23.2% of the total population are living below the poverty line of Nu 1,096 (approximately $25) a month.

Or maybe they are unhappy about their press freedom, which was ranked as one of the worst in the world in the 2009 ‘Freedom of the Press’ survey. That is, of course, only relevant insofar as they can read because Bhutanese literacy is below the South and West Asian average.

None of these figures featured in Professor Sachs’ rose-tinted survey of Bhutan. Such ignorance is a bliss that only Western tourists can afford. Maybe money can’t buy you happiness, but at least it can buy you a return ticket to Bhutan.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated Sept. 24. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


A Nation of Peasants?

Victor Davis Hanson

Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft. They must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy rather than admiration of success reigns.

In contrast, Western civilization began with a very different ancient Greek idea of an autonomous citizen, not an indentured serf or subsistence peasant. The small, independent landowner -- if left to his own talents and if his success was protected by, and from, government -- would create new sources of wealth for everyone. The resulting greater bounty for the poor soon trumped their old jealousy of the better off.

Citizens of ancient Greece and Italy soon proved more prosperous and free than either the tribal folk to the north and west, or the imperial subjects to the south and east. The success of later Western civilization in general, and America in particular, is testament to this legacy of the freedom of the individual in the widest political and economic sense

We seem to be forgetting that lately -- though Mao Zedong's redistributive failures in China, or present-day bankrupt Greece, should warn us about what happens when government tries to enforce an equality of result rather than of opportunity.

Even after the failure of statism at the end of the Cold War, the disasters of socialism in Venezuela and Cuba, and the recent financial meltdowns in the European Union, for some reason America is returning to a peasant mentality of a limited good that redistributes wealth rather than creates it. Candidate Obama's "spread the wealth" slip to Joe the Plumber simply was upgraded to President Obama's "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

The more his administration castigates insurers, businesses and doctors; raises taxes on the upper income brackets; and creates more regulations, the more those who create wealth are sitting out, neither hiring nor lending. The result is that traditional self-interested profit-makers are locking up trillions of dollars in unspent cash rather than using it to take risks and either lose money due to new red tape or see much of their profit largely confiscated through higher taxes.

No wonder that in such a climate of fear and suspicion, unemployment remains near 10 percent. Deficits chronically exceed $1 trillion per annum. And now the poverty rate has hit a historic high. We are all getting poorer in hopes that a few don't get richer.

The public is seldom told that 1 percent of taxpayers already pay 40 percent of the income taxes collected, while 40 percent of income earners are exempt from federal income tax -- or that present entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are financially unsustainable. Instead, they hear more often that those who managed to scheme to make above $250,000 per year have obligations to the rest of us to give back about 60 percent of what they earn in higher health care and income taxes -- together with payroll and rising state income taxes, and along with increased capital gains and inheritance taxes.

That limited-good mind-set expects that businesses will agree that they now make enough money and so have no need to pursue any more profits at the expense of others. Therefore, they will gladly still hire the unemployed and buy new equipment -- as they pay higher health care or income taxes to a government that knows far better how to redistribute their income to the more needy or deserving.

This peasant approach to commerce also assumes that businesses either cannot understand administration signals or can do nothing about them. So who cares that in the Chrysler bankruptcy settlement, quite arbitrarily the government put the unions in front of the legally entitled lenders?

Health insurers should not mind that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just warned them to keep their profits down and their mouths shut -- or face exclusion from health care markets.

I suppose that no corporation should worry that the government arbitrarily announced -- without benefit a law or court ruling -- that it wanted BP to put up $20 billion in cleanup costs for the Gulf spill.

What optimistic Americans used to call a rising tide that lifts all boats is now once again derided as trickle-down economics. In other words, a newly peasant-minded America is willing to become collectively poorer so that some will not become wealthier.

The present economy suggests that it is surely getting its wish.



Democrat jobs cost the taxpayer a heap

They're making a bundle inside the Beltway, while across the country it takes $2 million to create a pothole-filling job. Never has Washington spent so much to get so little real work.

When the Democrats are in charge, the rich just get richer. Wait — isn't that what we're supposed to say about Republicans? Not so when federal stimulus funds are being spent.

Washington has taken trickle-down economics to a whole new level of inefficiency. Those closest — literally — to the seat of federal power get the most. By the time the funds make their long journey to paychecks for people doing productive work, there's not a whole lot left.

Take the example, revealed this past week, of how $111 million in stimulus money has so far funded a paltry 55 public-works jobs in Los Angeles. City Controller Wendy Gruel says two municipal departments, Public Works and Transportation, plan eventually to create or retain 264 jobs with that money, but the contracting process is so slow that most of the money is still waiting to be spent.

So the price tag per job is $2 million at this point. Even if the city departments meet their target of 264, it will drop to only $420,000. This is still several times what workers will actually get paid.

So where does all the money go in cases such as this? In part it goes to the capital costs and profit of the contractors. But much of it also gets absorbed into the normal process of government contracting, in which public employees are paid to ensure (ideally) that the taxpayers are getting the most for their money and aren't being cheated by favoritism.

Of course, bureaucrats typically feel no need to rush things along. They don't get paid any less if a street gets repaved a few months late.

L.A. may be worse than most at getting people to work, but its low return on stimulus spending is certainly not unique. Even projects touted by the Obama administration have this problem.

Vice President Joe Biden on Friday cited one in which the New York City Department of Transportation is spending $175 million to renovate bridges and a parking lot, putting all of 120 people to work. That's $1.46 million per job. Another job on Biden's list, a highway project in Ohio, has created 300 jobs and costs $138 million — $460,000 per worker.



Regime Uncertainty: Reports Keep Coming In

Each summer, Wall Street strategist Byron Wien convenes a meeting of high rollers to discuss the outlook for investment. This year’s meeting brought together fifty individuals, including more than ten billionaires. Their expectations, as reported by CNBC, are gloomy:
“They saw the United States in a long-term slow growth environment with the near-term risk of recession quite real,” said Wien, in a commentary to Blackstone clients. “The Obama administration was viewed as hostile to business and that discouraged both hiring and investment. Companies and entrepreneurs were reluctant to add workers because they didn’t know what their healthcare costs or taxes were going to be.”

Add this report to the many similar ones to which my colleagues and I have called attention over the past two years.

Of course, for mainstream macroeconomists, such evidence means nothing. In fact, they hold it in complete contempt because (1) their formal mathematical models do not have a variable called “regime uncertainty,” and (2) even if they could be persuaded to take this factor into account, the canned data on which they rely—the product of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, for the most part—do not supply them with an “official” data set for their analysis. What you can’t measure, according to their “scientific” credo, does not exist. Their de facto motto (of which I have more than once been on the receiving end) is: you’ve got no formal model; you’ve got nothing.

In my study of regime uncertainty over the past fifteen years, I have given weight to three independent forms of evidence: (

1) specific legislative, executive, judicial, and regulatory actions the government is taking, the ideology embraced by major government actors and advisors, and, in light of basic economic logic, what investors might reasonably infer about the future security of their private property rights from the government’s actions and the ideology of its leading figures;

(2) direct testimony by investors themselves, as well as relevant opinion surveys of businessmen, when available; and

(3) changes in risk premiums demanded by investors in the corporate bond markets, as shown by changes in the slope of yield curves. During the past two years, my scrutiny of these types of evidence has persuaded me that regime uncertainty has arisen and that this uncertainty probably accounts, at least in part, for the very low level at which long-term private investment has settled, with only relatively small recovery since it hit its most recent trough.

Again, however, full disclosure obliges me to warn the reader that the acknowledged experts in macroeconomics—those who work in this area at MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Chicago, Yale, Princeton, and the other esteemed universities—are to my knowledge unanimous in their disregard of the idea that regime uncertainty might be contributing to the prolongation of the present recession (or might have contributed to the prolongation of the Great Depression, as I argued in my 1997 paper).

So, if you prefer to go with the experts, you should disregard my argument and my evidence and make your bets on the basis of what the experts say. You might wish to consider, however, that these are the same experts who, virtually to a man, failed to predict the present recession (and most of the preceding ones, as well)


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 September, 2010

Cutbacks in Britain!

British Conservatives set an example for America

One hundred and seventy-seven taxpayer-funded bodies are to be abolished under Coalition plans seen by The Daily Telegraph.

A further 94 are still under threat of being scrapped, four will be privatised and 129 will be merged, according to a Cabinet Office list compiled this week, while 350 other bodies have won a reprieve.

The list discloses for the first time the extent of David Cameron’s plans for the “bonfire of the quangos”, designed to save the taxpayer billions of pounds. Thousands of jobs will go as part of the reforms.

The biggest cuts concern the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with more than 50 bodies to be abolished, and the Department of Health, where about 30 bodies will be cut or have their functions transferred back to the department. These include the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Health Protection Agency and the Commission for Rural Communities.

As already announced, the Audit Commission and UK Film Council will be scrapped along with eight regional development agencies, the list shows. The Commission for Integrated Transport, the School Food Trust and the Sustainable Development Commission are to be abolished.

The BBC World Service, the British Council and the Environment Agency are among the 94 publicly funded bodies whose fate has yet to be decided.



Some things the mass media "forgot" to tell you

By Oliver North, in Afghanistan

On Sept. 18, the Afghan people went to the polls to elect a new national parliament. It was similar to the kind of legislative election we will hold in less than six weeks -- with the same portent for political change. Yet most U.S. media coverage of Afghanistan's experiment in representative government focused on insurgent attacks aimed at disrupting the vote. Newspaper and television reports claimed "low voter interest" and highlighted "Taliban attacks aimed at reducing turnout." But, as we learned once we arrived here, those stories were simply wrong.

There were insurgent attacks -- but one-third fewer than during last year's presidential elections. According to international observers, fewer than 1 percent of polling stations had any violence at all. And those same monitors reported voter turnout -- an estimated 3.6 million, or about 40 percent of those eligible -- was actually higher than it was in the 2009 election.

Set aside for a moment that most Afghan voters had to ignore the risk of violence, walk to their local polling stations and wait in long lines -- and that turnout was higher than it is in most of our "off-year" elections. Ask instead how those who reported this story managed to get it so wrong. The answer, of course, is that there is an agenda in many of our media. Those who "shape the news" have a predisposition for the negative and make a conscious choice to ignore "good news" that contradicts their bias.

Therefore, "news" from here tends to spotlight corruption in the Karzai government, the tribulations caused by pervasive opium production and American military losses. Reports datelined "Kabul" and stories filed from Kandahar and Herat frequently cite the ineffectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces. Yet when Gen. David Petraeus commended the ANSF after the recent elections for "safeguarding a weapon with greater potential than any other: the people's right to vote," he was all but ignored.

Thank goodness few of the warriors we are covering here in Afghanistan are even aware of the intrigues swirling in Washington or the negative news so fascinating to our media elites. The troops here are too busy fighting America's real enemies.



America In Decline

Early in his administration, President Reagan confidently asserted that "America's best days lie ahead." At the time it was true, but noted economist Thomas Sowell thinks it's no longer the case.

In his new book, "Dismantling America," Sowell argues that this nation is becoming one that many Americans no longer recognize as the country they grew up in or expected to pass on to their children and grandchildren. Rather, like Rome, America may be entering a prolonged period of decline.

Sowell sat down with IBD recently to discuss the political, social and economic forces that are leading to this decline and what, if anything, can reverse it.

IBD: What are the markers of national decline? What characteristics are different from a few decades ago that if they don't improve will lead to this country falling apart?

Sowell: One of the most serious current signs is the governing style of this administration, which is to impose as many things as possible on the public from the top down, without even letting them know what's going on.

Huge bills that fundamentally change the way the economy op erates have been rushed through Congress without hearings, without debate, and so fast that not even the members of Congress have a chance to read them. That's circumventing the notion of a constitutional government, and that's really at the heart of what the country is. The only analogy I can think of from history is when the Norman conquerors of England published their laws in French for an English-speaking nation. The utter arrogance — you're not even to know what the laws are until it is too late.

Reckless spending is another. The deficit and the national debt, as a percentage of GNP, is higher now than it was during any time except World War II. Moreover, once World War II was over we stopped the spending and started paying off the existing debt. We're going in exactly the opposite direction.

Of course, the one that trumps them all is on the international scene. That's where Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons. I'm just staggered at how little attention is being paid to that compared to frivolous things. If a nation with a record of sponsoring international terrorism gets nuclear weapons, that changes everything and it changes it forever.

Someday historians may wonder what were we thinking about when you look at the imbalance of power between the U.S. and Iran, and we sat there with folded hands and watched this happen, going through just enough motions at the United Nations to lull the public to sleep. That, I think, is the biggest threat.

Much more HERE


Socialized America

If this weren’t so sad it would be funny: full-page ads in The New Yorker urge businesses to re-locate to Canada. The ads offer the lowest corporate taxes on job-creating businesses in the G-7, the lowest government debt (2.7 percent of GDP target for 2011), and “a dynamic free-market environment.”

The United States of Obama cannot, I’m sorry to say, counter such advertisement. Now even Cuba is shedding government jobs and extricating itself from government ownership of business in grudging admission its ideology is a practical failure. Meanwhile, our president wages war against private enterprise, seeks dominion over entire industries, and moves toward unprecedented micro-managerial dictating to small businesses of almost every stripe. It took the Castro brothers a nearly interminable time to face their reality.

Fortunately, we still have real elections here. But it’s going to be awhile before we can again advertise the United States as offering a dynamic, free market, pro-business, pro-success environment.



GOP Pledge Is a Step in the Right Direction

You can read the pledge in full here. Caution: There's a lot of it

The Republicans' "Pledge to America" is an encouraging step on the road back to recapturing America. It's not enough for Republicans merely to stop Obama's disastrously destructive agenda in its tracks. This pledge is their acknowledgment that they have heard the grass roots, too -- that they are not exempt from scrutiny or accountability merely because they are the anti-Obamas.

Rep. Paul Ryan conceded as much in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos when he said that the Republicans have lost their way in the past and that with this pledge, they are embracing bold steps to get this nation back on track.

That said, Ryan made clear that Republicans are not trying to reinvent the wheel. Rather, he said, "We are here trying to reclaim our country by rededicating ourselves to those timeless principles that made us exceptional." The pledge, he said, contains the basic building blocks to get us back on the right track.

Precisely correct. This is not rocket science. It's a matter of rolling back government, radically reducing spending, ensuring that taxes are not so high that they smother economic growth, repealing and replacing Obamacare, bolstering our national defense and embracing traditional values.

These are not complicated ideas, and they don't need to be. We just want to restore government to its intended role under the Constitution. These timeless principles -- not some gimmicky ideas designed by faux conservatives to appeal to "moderates" -- are what allowed America to be exceptional.

With their pledge, Republicans are reclaiming their commitment to the idea that Americans, unshackled by an oppressive government, are what made America great, not a proactive, intrusive government. This stands in sharp contrast to Obama's Democrats, who can no longer credibly deny they are the party of nearly unlimited government.




Obama makes Carter look good: "Liberals downgrade the Carter presidency as one short on transformative visions: It brought no New Deals, no New Frontiers. Instead, at its best, the Carter legacy was one of workaday reforms that made significant improvements in American life: cheaper travel and cheaper goods for the middle class. Ironically enough, the president you’d never want to have a beer with brought you better beer — and much else besides.”

The disgrace of the ruling class: "We now have confirmation that Barack Obama truly loves poor people. Because he is creating so many of them. The Census Bureau reports that America suffers with more people in poverty now than ever before in its history of reporting on poverty — 44 million. That’s up nearly 4 million in the last year alone, with the poverty rate shooting up to 14.3%. One in seven Americans now suffers in poverty.”

US Senate Republicans block campaign censorship bill again: "Republicans in the US Senate blocked for a second time Thursday a bill to toughen campaign finance rules, in a setback to President Barack Obama in the middle of a heated electoral season. Senators failed to muster the 60-vote supermajority required under Senate rules to end debate, with the roll call just short at 59 to 39. Obama had been pressing for the measure that would force special interest groups to disclose their donors when purchasing political ads.”

The pain begins: "Starting today parents will be able to keep their children on the parents’ insurance plan through age 25. But that doesn’t come for free. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that doing so will cost an estimated $3,380 a year per child. And since employers are balking at picking up the added cost, the parents themselves will have to foot the bill. Similarly, as of today, insurers can no longer impose lifetime or annual limits on benefits or refuse coverage to children with preexisting conditions. One can argue that these new rules are the best way to deal with thorny issues — but no one can claim that insurers will do these things out of the goodness of their hearts.”

The opportunity in Haiti: "Over the last 60 years the West has provided Haiti with massive foreign aid to build infrastructure, stimulate private investment and promote good governance. But Haiti has been the graveyard of every sort of notion about how wealthy countries can help poor countries. And now some Western development experts are actually saying that this disaster is really an opportunity; a clean slate and so a chance to ‘get it right.’ But what is the ‘it’ we are going to get right? What haven’t we tried?”

The perils of “reaching across the aisle”: "According to a poll published yesterday by the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans admire political leaders who, rather than making compromises, ’stick to their positions,’ a result that arguably suggests a general desire for consistency and for principles. Though it isn’t at all clear what kinds of principles citizens suppose their nominal representatives ought to aspire to, it at least seems to be the case that the dissolute glad-handing euphemized as ‘compromise’ in the Beltway has grown repulsive to many if not most Americans.”

The decivilizing effects of government: "Ah for the days when the socialists believed in material progress! That is no longer the case. Now they propose poverty and advocate government regulations to bring it about — and expect us to be grateful for it. Whereas socialism could not actually work to bring about greater productivity, it can do what the ‘postmaterialist’ socialists desire. Socialistic means can work to bring about lower standards of living.”

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 September, 2010

The incomparable Pat Condell on the Ground Zero mosque


A good statement of conservative thinking

Australia recently held a federal election in which a small majority of conservative candidates were elected to the lower house. Two of those conservative candidates were however independent conservatives who decided for their own reasons to betray their electorates and join up with the major Leftist party (The Labor Party) and a solitary Green party member to form a government.

The conservative leader, Tony Abbott, is however only mildly perturbed by all that as he foresees the chaotic government that will result. He knows that the new government will blot its copybook so badly that he will be in at the next election (due in 3 years at the latest) for at least a couple of terms. So he recently summarized what he and his party stand for. I think it is a good statement of current conservative thinking in general:

The government thinks it can win the next election by lowering expectations but voters won't be satisfied by spin. During the coming term, they'll expect real tax reform to ease the burden on families and small businesses, serious job creation in viable industries, significant progress on long-term environmental problems such as water, a more assured future for regional towns and overdue infrastructure improvements in outer suburbs. Political management skills won't save the government if it can't address these problems.

For our part, though naturally disappointed, the Coalition accepts the election result as the outcome of a system of government that we profoundly respect. We rededicate ourselves to the task of opposition and are determined to be even more effective in the coming parliament than we were in the last one. Where the government delivers for the Australian people, we will give credit where it's due. Where it fails, we will be unrelenting in holding it to account, because that's what people expect of an opposition.

We are determined to be the party of ideas and of policy innovation against a government that's trapped by its alliance with the Greens and in a fiscal straitjacket because it's incapable of cutting its own spending.

Unlike Labor, the Coalition's instinct is not to see bigger government and more public spending as the answer to every problem. Government's job is to empower individuals and communities, not just to take on more responsibilities itself.

An opposition that's only a couple of by-elections or two independents' change of heart away from government has to be more than just a critic.

The Coalition took strong policies of its own to the election and will outline more in the months ahead. Almost the first task of government is to respect taxpayers' funds; hence our determination is to return to surplus by the high road of reducing wasteful spending rather than the low road of imposing new taxes.

We want direct action to improve the environment rather than new taxes dressed up as environmental benefits. We support community control of schools and hospitals. Above all, we want to foster an opportunity society rather than a welfare state by providing incentives to seniors and young people to move off welfare, and a fair dinkum [genuine] paid parental leave scheme to help families and to keep mothers in the workforce, if that's their choice.



Obamacare laws wipe out health insurance for children only

Major health insurance companies in California and other states have decided to stop selling policies for children rather than comply with a new federal healthcare law that bars them from rejecting youngsters with preexisting medical conditions.

Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna Inc. and others will halt new child-only policies in California, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut and elsewhere as early as Thursday when provisions of the nation's new healthcare law take effect, including a requirement that insurers cover children under age 19 regardless of their health histories.

The action will apply only to new coverage sought for children and not to existing child-only plans, family policies or insurance provided to youngsters through their parents' employers. An estimated 80,000 California children currently without insurance — and as many as 500,000 nationwide — would be affected, according to experts.

Insurers said they were acting because the new federal requirement could create huge and unexpected costs for covering children. They said the rule might prompt parents to buy policies only after their kids became sick, producing a glut of ill youngsters to insure. As a result, they said, many companies would flee the marketplace, leaving behind a handful to shoulder a huge financial burden.

The insurers said they now sell relatively few child-only policies, and thus the changes will have a small effect on families.

"Unfortunately, this has created an un-level competitive environment," Anthem Blue Cross, California's largest for-profit insurer, said in a statement declaring its intention to "suspend the sale of child-only policies" on Thursday, six months after the healthcare overhaul was signed.

The change has angered lawmakers, regulators and healthcare advocates, who say it will force more families to enroll in already strained public insurance programs such as Medi-Cal for the poor in California.



The Delphi Disaster: An Economic Horror Story Obama Won't Tell

The White House believes it can win back depressed and economically stressed voters by turning President Obama into the storyteller-in-chief again. But victims of Obama's Chicago politics don't want to hear any more of his own well-worn tales of struggle and sacrifice. They've got their own tragedies to tell -- heart-wrenching dramas of personal and financial suffering at the very hands of Obama.

Consider the real-life horror story of 20,000 white-collar workers at Delphi, a leading auto parts company spun off from GM a decade ago. As Washington rushed to nationalize the U.S. auto industry with $80 billion in taxpayer "rescue" funds and avoid contested court termination proceedings, the White House auto team schemed with Big Labor bosses to preserve UAW members' costly pension funds by shafting their nonunion counterparts. In addition, the nonunion pensioners lost all of their health and life insurance benefits.

The abused workers -- most from hard-hit northeast Ohio, Michigan and neighboring states -- had devoted decades of their lives as secretaries, technicians, engineers and sales employees at Delphi/GM. Some workers have watched up to 70 percent of their pensions vanish.

John Berent of Marblehead, Ohio, lost one-third of his pension: "I worked as a salaried employee for GM (30 years) and Delphi (10 years). After 40 years of dedicated service, I was forced to retire. Then Delphi terminated my health care, life insurance, vision, dental, then terminated the pension plan. Everything I worked 40 years for was wiped out."

Kelly Fabrizio of Franksville, Wis., saw her pension reduced by 55 percent after working 30 years at Delphi/GM: "I am truly scared for my future. Every day I wake up, shake my head and say out loud -- This Is Not How It Was Supposed To Be."

Roger Hoke of Columbus, Mich., and his wife were both longtime Delphi workers. His pension shrunk by more than 40 percent: "After 33 years with GM and another 10 with Delphi, what did I do wrong to deserve such a fate?"

Paul Dobosz of the Delphi Salaried Retiree Association recounts how they got screwed: "The Auto Task Force knew that the only thing standing in the way of GM getting what they wanted out of Delphi was the already frozen pension obligations." They hatched a plan to dump those pensions on the federally run Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, while at the same time "devising a clever way to make the UAW pensions whole using GM and TARP money to accomplish it. The scheme was documented in sworn depositions (that) revealed ... that some groups of workers were more 'politically sensitive' and would be afforded special treatment (i.e. subsidy using TARP money) while others less politically worthy would be left out."

In other words: Obama's team of auto-crats -- stocked with Big Labor-friendly appointees and self-admitted know-nothings about the car industry -- decided to "cherry pick" (one Obama official's own words) which obligations the new Government Motors company would assume and which they would abandon based on their own political whims and fealty. Due process and equal treatment of union and nonunion workers be damned. Administration officials assert that the Delphi workers' pension fund was underfunded, but two separate actuarial analyses undercut the claim.

The Delphi workers sued the feds and will have a day in court on Sept. 24. They are not asking for a bailout. They are simply asking for fair treatment under the rule of law. Delphi supporters also point out that the very scheme used to "top up" the union workers' pensions with taxpayer subsidies was challenged by the federal government and ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in the 1990s.

A separate investigation by TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky, announced last week, will also probe "whether political considerations played a role in favoring hourly over salaried retirees." It shouldn't take long to unearth the facts. Obama's own former auto czar Steve Rattner admitted in his new memoir that "attacking the union's sacred cow" could "jeopardize" the auto bailout deal.

While Obama conducts his worker empathy tour at staged town halls and rallies across the country, his Treasury Department continues to stonewall and refuses to answer questions about the Delphi disaster. But many workers left out in the cold know the truth: Lip-biting, yarn-spinning Obama doesn't feel their pain. He caused it.




I have put up a fair bit lately on my Paralipomena blog -- including one of the great scenes from British TV comedy. But you may have to "get" British humour to see how utterly mad it is

Obama: US changing battle plan on poverty: "Addressing a global conference on poverty, President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States is changing its approach to development and will use diplomacy, trade, investment and other policies to help poorer countries instead of just giving them money. ‘Put simply, the United States is changing the way we do business,’ Obama said as he announced the administration’s new development policy in a speech at the outset of a three-day visit to the United Nations.” [The mid-terms seem to be freaking Obama into occasional flashes of sense]

CIA Afghan paramilitary force hunts militants: "A U.S. official in Washington confirmed reports that the CIA is running an all-Afghan paramilitary group in Afghanistan that has been hunting al-Qaida, Taliban, and other militant targets for the agency. A security professional in Kabul familiar with the operation said the 3,000-strong force was set up in 2002 to capture targets for CIA interrogation. A former U.S. intelligence official said members of the covert Afghan force are used for surveillance and long-range reconnaissance and some have trained at CIA facilities in the United States.”

FL: Appeals court strikes down homosexual adoption ban: "A Florida appeals court Wednesday struck down a state law barring gay men and lesbians from adoption on the basis of equal protection under law. The Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a trial court ruling that Florida’s explicit ban was unconstitutional, noting that the state’s adoption law required officials to assess potential adoptive parents in ‘the best interests of the child.’”

Federal make-work jobs betray teenagers: "Politicians now pretend that government spending can solve any and all ills. Sloshing out federal funds for local summer job programs exemplifies this delusion. Uncle Sam first began bank-rolling summer jobs for urban teens in 1964. It was decided that government should hire any low-income teen who couldn’t find a job on his own.”

Government is America's growth industry: "Everywhere one looks there is building going on in Washington DC. No vacancies and for rent signs appear on each block the way they do in every other city. The trains going to and from are full at every hour of the day including the 2 am arrival in New York, and all the restaurants are bustling with activity. Scaffolds and cranes seem to surround all the monuments, executive buildings, and lobbying areas. They said that 25% of all the world’s cranes were being used in Dubai 3 years ago, but now they must all have moved to D. C. But this boom can be predicted to last.”

Public employes vs. the public will: "The word is out. It is now mainstream opinion that public employee salaries, benefits, and pensions are crippling state governments from coast to coast. When a group of comedians performed a ‘2010 Public Employee of the Year Awards’ sketch — wherein lumpen freeloaders compete at Harrah’s in Atlantic City for the title of ‘Surliest and Least Cooperative State Employee’ and so on — the performers were not the after-dinner entertainment at FreedomFest but the Not Ready For Prime Time venerables of Saturday Night Live. The sketch died. The rage lives on.”

Hooray, the recession is over!: "Some days, it’s embarrassing to be a professional economist. On Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially declared that our recession had ended — 15 months ago. Yes, that’s right, just as more and more analysts are worried about the economy imploding again, the NBER announces that the recession ended back in June 2009. The whole episode underscores the crudity of mainstream economics.”

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 September, 2010

Can the Tea Partiers push back the tide of ever expanding government?

As Frederick Hayek and the great Austrian economists taught us, socialism in all forms -- be it the "International Socialism" of the Communists of the "National Socialism" of the Nazi Party -- is an attempt to extend politics into the economic realm. In order to create perfect equality or end class divisions or establish the 1000-year Reich or whatever the reformers are promising, it is necessary to take control of economic activity and once that happens, human freedom ends. After all, what has any radical reform movement been except a demand that says, "Give all power to the government and then give me control of the government." As Hayek wrote in one of the most significant sentences of the 20th century, "The person who advocates government planning of the economy always assumes that it is his plan that will be put into effect."

What we have been witnessing in this country, then, is a slow but steady erosion of individual freedom through the gradual centralization of everything in Washington. This has not been achieved by one big blow, like the Russian Revolution, but is the cumulative effect of a thousand little movements, each intent on achieving its own piece of "reform" by demanding that decision-making be centralized in order to accomplish their agenda. Each faction soon discovers that by bringing their small and perhaps even unpopular effort to the Capital, they can attain the greatest amount of leverage with the smallest amount of resources.

Look at the environmental movement. Environmentalism has always been an issue whose support is a mile wide but an inch deep. Everyone is in favor of clean air, clean water and protecting mother earth, but if it comes to paying an extra 50 cents for gasoline or buying a toilet that has to flush twice to do its job, support quickly evaporates. Therefore government mandates are necessary. I recall reading a book written in the early stages of environmentalism where the author was counseling his fellow nature lovers on how to grow their effort. "When we think of implementing an environmental agenda, our thoughts turn to government regulation," the writer said. "And when we think of government regulation, our thoughts naturally turn to Washington." No point in trying to persuade your fellow citizens. Just get down to Washington and start making law.

Ralph Nader was the first person of his generation to perceive this. When Nader started out in the early 1960s, the common career path for an ambitious young lawyer who wanted to enter politics was to go back to his hometown, start a legal practice, make a name for himself and run for town council around age 28. If things went well you could move up to the state legislature at 32 and run for Congress by 35. Then you could go to Washington and start influencing national policy.

Nader perceived that all this was unnecessary. All you needed was a law degree and a small office near the Capitol. Start poring over the Congressional Record. Target some small bureaucratic agency, broadcast the news that their lack of oversight was creating a "crisis" and you're on your way. The more you prove the agency isn't doing its job, the bigger it grows. And the bigger it has to grow, the easier target it becomes. Bring a lawsuit and pretty soon you may be running the agency yourself through court orders.

This has been America's history over the last half century. Failing to muster enough support at the grassroots level, thousands of political reform movements have found the best way to advance their agenda is to centralize decision-making in Washington and then concentrate their small but dedicated resources on dictating policy to the rest of the country.

So here, at last, is Tucker's Law: "The less support a group has for its agenda in the general population, the more intent it will be on centralizing authority so that its limited leverage will have the largest impact."

Where does the Tea Party fit into this? Very simple. The Tea Party is made up of people who have no special interests but only a general interest in moving decision-making out of Washington so they can go back to living normal lives. They are the antithesis of all the hundreds and thousands of special interests that have migrated to Washington over the past half-century. Their only interest is not to be bothered by Washington and not to have federal bureaucrats interfering with their lives.

All the Tea Party people I have ever met have been ordinary people who are already successful at something else. These are not people you usually meet in politics. What you almost always encounter are political junkies, hooked on elections, wedded to policy-wonking or crusading for their particular vision of the world. Tea Party activists are just the opposite. They already have careers as insurance agents, software engineers, furniture salesmen or small business owners. They never had any concern for politics -- or time for it -- until they realized Washington was taking nearly half their income and using it to drive the country toward national bankruptcy. That's when they decided to get involved.

All the statistics bear this out. Tea Party members are more successful than the general run of the population. They are more educated and have more income. They have very little political experience and no interest in expanding the government. They are "anti-politicians." This reverses a long tradition in American history going back to the early days of the Republic when Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, "In America there are so many ways of making a living that a man doesn't usually enter politics until he has failed at everything else."

Can such a movement succeed? Sadly, the career path of such reform efforts is drearily familiar. Time and time again, reformers from both parties have won election by preaching the virtues of small government, only to resume their place at the table and begin carving out their same portion. This has happened over and over.

Yet this time it feels different. The Tea Party is steeped in the traditions of the Founding Fathers and the American Revolution. One of the most powerful myths of that era was of George Washington as Cincinnatus, the Roman farmer who abandoned his fields to lead a successful defense of his country, then renounced his authority and returned to his plow only sixteen days later.

Can Tea Partiers save the Republic from bankruptcy and then return to their fields to resume their regular occupations? If they do the job right, they will find their ordinary lives waiting for them when they get back.



The Politics of Resentment

By Thomas Sowell

Few things have captured in microcosm what has gone so painfully wrong, where racial issues are concerned, like the recent election for mayor of Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, under whom the murder rate has gone down and the school children's test scores have gone up, was resoundingly defeated for re-election.

Nor was Mayor Fenty simply a passive beneficiary of the rising test scores and falling murder rates. He appointed Michelle Rhee as head of the school system and backed her as she fought the teachers' union and fired large numbers of ineffective teachers-- something considered impossible in most cities across the country.

Mayor Fenty also appointed the city's chief of police, Cathy Lanier, who has cracked down on hoodlumism, as well as crime. Either one of these achievements would made mayors local heroes in most other cities. Why then was he clobbered in the election?

One key fact tells much of the story: Mayor Fenty received more than 70 percent of the white vote in Washington. His opponent received more than 80 percent of the black vote.

Both men are black. But the head of the school system that he appointed is Asian and the chief of police is a white woman. More than that, most of the teachers who were fired were black. There were also bitter complaints that black contractors did not get as many of the contracts for doing business with the city as they expected.

In short, the mayor appointed the best people he could find, instead of running a racial patronage system, as a black mayor of a city with a black majority is apparently expected to. He also didn't spend as much time schmoozing with the folks as was expected. So what if he gave their children a better education and gave everybody a lower likelihood of being murdered?

The mayor's faults were political faults. He did his job, produced results and thought that this should be enough to get him re-elected. He refused to do polls and focus groups, and he ignored what his political advisers were warning him about.

No doubt Mayor Fenty is now a sadder and wiser man politically. While that may help him if he wants to pursue a political career, Adrian Fenty's career is not nearly as important as what his story tells us about the racial atmosphere in this country.

How did we reach the point where a city is so polarized that an overwhelming majority of the white vote goes to one candidate and the overwhelming majority of the black vote goes to the opposing candidate? How did we reach the point where black voters put racial patronage and racial symbolism above the education of their children and the safety of everyone?

There are many reasons but the trend is ominous. One key factor was the creation, back in the 1960s, of a whole government-supported industry of race hustling.

President Lyndon Johnson's "war on poverty"-- a war that we have lost, by the way-- bankrolled all kinds of local "leaders" and organizations with the taxpayers' money, in the name of community "participation" in shaping the policies of government. These "leaders" and community activists have had every reason to hype racial resentments and to make issues "us" against "them."

One of the largely untold stories of our time has been the story of how ACORN, Jesse Jackson and other community activists have been able to transfer billions of dollars from banks to their own organizations' causes, with the aid of the federal government, exemplified by the Community Reinvestment Act and its sequels.

Racial anger and racial resentments are the fuel that keeps this lucrative racket going. How surprised should anyone be that community activist groups have used mau-mau disruptions in banks and harassed both business and government officials in their homes?

Lyndon Johnson once said that it is not hard to do the right thing. What is hard is knowing what is right. We can give him credit for good intentions, so long as we remember what road is paved with good intentions.




Obama: Skepticism of government 'healthy': "Democratic leaders have repeatedly tried to cast "tea party" candidates as extremists, but President Obama on Monday said the movement exhibits some of the "healthy skepticism about government" that led to the American Revolution and that is now part of "our DNA." "I think there's also a noble tradition in the Republican and Democratic parties of saying that government should - should pay its way; that it shouldn't get so big that we're leaving debt to the next generation," Mr. Obama told a crowd gathered at the Newseum in Washington for a televised "Investing In America" town-hall meeting. "All those things, I think, are healthy." [He can talk the talk but can he walk the walk?]

GOP Senators filibuster repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”: "A Republican-led filibuster on Tuesday blocked efforts to repeal the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on gays in the military, shelving an Obama administration priority at least until after the November election. The measure repealing the military policy banning gays from serving openly was part of the 2011 Defense authorization bill.”

Top economic adviser to leave White House: "President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, plans to leave the White House at the end of the year, a move that comes as the administration struggles to show an anxious public it’s making progress on the economy. While administration officials Tuesday quickly sought to paint the announcement as an expected development, Summers’ departure shakes up an economic team that has been under fire for its handling of the recovery.”

Yemen launches fierce offensive against al Qaeda: "Yemen has launched a wide-scale offensive against al Qaeda in the country’s southeastern province, a government official said Tuesday. The Yemeni government ‘dispatched forces backed by heavy weaponry, jets and choppers to surround a mountainous area,’ said the official, who asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.”

IL: Jackson hit with new allegations about US Senate bid: "U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s long-held desire to become mayor of Chicago ran smack into the controversy over his last hot pursuit of a political prize when he was forced Tuesday again to deny allegations that he sought to buy a U.S. Senate seat. Adding to the troubles are revelations that a longtime political supporter told federal investigators he paid to fly a female ’social acquaintance’ of Jackson’s to Chicago at the congressman’s request.”

GOP moves to strip RINO of Energy post: "Senate Republicans on Tuesday moved to strip Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski of her post as top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, further punishing her as she mounts a write-in bid to try to hold onto her seat. Murkowski already has stepped down from her leadership role in the GOP caucus and could lose her Energy Committee position as soon as Wednesday if the 41-member Republican caucus votes to remove her in a secret ballot.”

SCOTUS clears way for execution : "The U.S. Supreme Court refused Tuesday to block the execution of a woman convicted of two hired killings, clearing the way for the state’s first execution of a woman in nearly a century. Teresa Lewis, 41, is scheduled to die by injection Thursday for providing sex and money to two men to kill her husband and stepson in October 2002 so she could collect on a quarter-million dollar insurance pay out.”

Judge to rule on lesbian’s return to US Air Force: "A lawyer for a decorated flight nurse discharged for being gay urged a federal judge Tuesday to reinstate her to the Air Force Reserve, and the judge indicated he might have no other choice. U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton said he would issue a ruling Friday in the closely watched case of former Maj. Margaret Witt. As her trial closed, he expressed strong doubts about government arguments seeking to have her dismissal upheld.”

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 September, 2010

Union thuggery lives on

On September 8th, the SEIU launched a “strike” against Sodexo on the campus of George Mason University, a public university in Northern Virginia. Oddly, Sodexo does not recognize the SEIU Local 32BJ that organized the “strike”. Sodexo is a private food services provider that was contracted by George Mason University to provide cafeteria and food services for students. The SEIU has been trying to draw attention to tough anti-union laws and attempted to use George Mason University as a pawn in their fight to overturn collective bargaining laws.

Virginia has some of the toughest public-sector union collective bargaining laws in the nation. So strong are the laws in Virginia that it is a crime for a public official to enter in to a collective bargaining agreement with a union. Thus, unions are extremely weak in Virginia.

There are several issues regarding the “strike” that broke out at GMU. First, the “strike” resulted in several university food operations being shut down affecting services that students had paid for up front at the beginning of the fall semester. The SEIU proved that they cared less about the money that students had spent for these services and instead sparked near revolution on campus through chants such as “No justice, no peace!”

Second, the SEIU organizers admitted that they had bussed in strikers from other universities around the country. Union thugs were brought on to the GMU campus from Ohio State, Georgia Tech and other various universities.

Third, and by far the most troubling, was the support that was lent to the event by State Senator Dave Marsden, a Democrat whose district is in Northern Virginia. Marsden went so far as to attend a “speakout” held on campus by the SEIU on the second day of the strike. We contacted Marsden for comment but he did not return our call.

For years, the SEIU has been funneling millions of dollars in legislative races to overturn the tough collective bargaining laws. Marsden is one such official in Virginia that the SEIU has been attempting to persuade through donations. Clearly, those investments have paid off as Marsden has sided with the unions when he endorsed their “strike” at GMU, and it is likely that the SEIU will be able to count upon Marsden to aid and abet any SEIU operations when they try to overturn those laws.

According to an interested parent, “If Dave Marsden had one ounce of honor he would return the SEIU money and defend the students and their parents against the ruthless power grabs by the union.” Several people affected by the situation expressed concerns about the “strike” and the meaning of the protests. The SEIU thugs that were allowed to roam around campus posed a danger to students — as they have an extensive track record of violence.

Just as troubling, the SEIU may have illegally used public-sector property at Mason to attempt to organize inside of Sodexo. Which begs the question, why did Mason allow the SEIU to run wild across the campus for the better part of a week? If any other group were to come on campus to recruit folks they would need explicit permission from the university. We have been unable to ascertain the reasons that the SEIU was allowed this privilege.

The SEIU appears to have packed up and moved on from their “strike” theatrics at Mason for the time being. But they are pulling these antics in other states attempting to influence the government officials that keep the union out of the public sector. The SEIU might just be coming to a university near you. So be on the lookout for the purple shirt brigade.



The German Miracle: A reminder

Earlier this summer George Soros and some leading Keynesian economists criticized what they regarded as Germany's overly strict fiscal discipline. Yet Germany's real output expanded at a robust 9% annual rate in the second quarter, while the U.S. economy grew at an anemic 1.6% rate. So is Germany now a role model for how to recover?

In a June op-ed, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble justified his government's decision to cut spending, citing "aversion to deficits and inflationary fears, which have their roots in German history in the past century." He was presumably making a reference to the destructive hyperinflation of the 1920s.

Yet Mr. Schäuble might have cited another relevant episode from his nation's history. Sixty-two years ago Germany became a role model for recovery from a very different crisis. In the aftermath of World War II, Germany's cities, factories and railroads lay in ruins. Severe shortages of food, fuel, water and housing posed challenges to sheer survival.

Unfortunately, occupation policy makers actually perpetuated the shortages by retaining the price controls the Nazi government had imposed before and during the war. Consumers and businessmen battled against the bureaucratic regime of controls and rationing in what the German economist Ludwig Erhard described as Der Papierkrieg — the paper war. Black markets were pervasive.

Germany's new Social Democratic Party wanted to continue the controls and rationing, and some American advisers agreed, particularly John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith, an official of the U.S. State Department overseeing economic policy for occupied Germany and Japan, had been the U.S. price-control czar from 1941-1943; he completely dismissed the idea of reviving the German economy through decontrol.

Fortunately for ordinary Germans, Erhard — who became director of the economic administration for the U.K.-U.S. occupation Bizone in April 1948 — thought otherwise. A currency reform that he helped to design was slated to replace the feeble old Reichsmark with the new Deutsche mark in all three Western zones on June 20. Without approval from the Allied military command, Erhard used the occasion to issue a sweeping decree abolishing most of the price controls and rationing directives. He later told friends that the American commander, Gen. Lucius Clay, phoned him when he heard about the decree and said: "Professor Erhard, my advisers tell me that you are making a big mistake." Erhard replied, "So my advisers also tell me."

It was not a big mistake. In the following weeks Erhard removed most of the Bizone's remaining price controls, wage controls, allocation edicts and rationing directives. The effects of decontrol were dramatic.

The shortages ended, black markets disappeared, and Germany's recovery began. Buying and selling with Deutsche marks replaced barter. Observers remarked that almost overnight the factories began to belch smoke, delivery trucks crowded the streets, and the noise of construction crews clattered throughout the cities.

The remarkable success of the reforms made them irreversible. A few months later the French zone followed suit. The Allied authorities went on to lower tax rates substantially.

Between June and December of 1948, industrial production in the three Western zones increased by an astounding 50%. In May 1949 the three zones were merged to form the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly called West Germany, while East Germany remained under Soviet domination as the German Democratic Republic.

Growth continued under the market-friendly policies of the new West German government. Erhard became the Minister of Economic Affairs, serving under Chancellor Konrad Adenauer from 1949 to 1963. The West German economy not only left East Germany's in the dust, it outgrew France's and the United Kingdom's despite receiving much less Marshall Plan aid. This was the era of the Wirtschaftswunder or "economic miracle."

Between 1950 and 1960 the West German economy's real output more than doubled, growing for a decade at a compound annual rate of nearly 8% per year. Econometricians who have tried to parse the various factors contributing to this remarkable record found that not all of it can be attributed to a growing labor force and investment flows, or to "catching up" from a low initial level of output. A large chunk of the period's growth is explained by superior economic policy.

Erhard succeeded Adenauer in 1963 and served as chancellor for three years. His electoral success was an endorsement of the policies that had unleashed the Wirtschaftswunder.

Erhard drew his ideas from free-market economists centered at the University of Freiburg, particularly Walter Eucken, who developed a classical liberal philosophy known as Ordoliberalism (named after ORDO, the academic journal where the economists published their ideas). Interest in Ordoliberal ideas waned in Germany after 1963, eclipsed by interest in Keynesian economics. The welfare state grew. The economy became clogged with interest-group policies. Not coincidentally, economic growth also waned. From 1960 to 1973 growth was about half as great as it had been in the 1950s, and during the period from 1973 to 1989 it was halved again to only 2% per year.

Interest in Ordoliberalism began to revive among academics in the 1970s and 1980s, and it continues to have an institutional presence in Freiburg at the university and at the Walter Eucken Institute. Greater interest among politicians might be the best thing for reviving German economic growth over the long term.

If Mr. Schäuble is sincere when he says that, by comparison with U.S. policy makers, "we take the longer view and are, therefore, more preoccupied with the implications of excessive deficits and the dangers of high inflation," he can find a useful model in the policies of his predecessor 60 years ago.



The Death of Medical Privacy

By Arie Friedman, MD

As I have read through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA, aka ObamaCare), I have been repeatedly struck by the disregard the law has for patient privacy. Time and time again, the PPACA authorizes the federal government to obtain information about patients directly from their health care providers. A particularly vivid example is Section 4302, "Understanding Health Disparities: Data Collection and Analysis." Section 4302 literally opens up almost every medical record in this country for government review and data collection. Let's go through the section with an eye towards patient privacy issues:

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary shall ensure that, by not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this title, any federally conducted or supported health care or public health program, activity or survey (including Current Population Surveys and American Community Surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census) collects and reports, to the extent practicable--

(A) data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status for applicants, recipients, or participants;

(D) any other demographic data as deemed appropriate by the Secretary regarding health disparities.

There is no pussyfooting around in this first portion of Section 4302. Within two years, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will be obtaining extensive health and demographic data about every patient who participates in federally supported programs or who interacts with a public health department. This would encompass every single patient who participates in Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or the Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). It is also a good bet that data will be obtained from the Veterans' Administration, government employees' health insurance programs, and patients receiving medical care at local Boards of Health. Lastly, I suspect that various regulatory mechanisms will empower state and local Public Health Departments to collect this data on everyone.

It is worth noting that the description of data to be collected is quite broad. Aside from the laundry list of information to be collected, paragraph (D) authorizes the Secretary of HHS to obtain any additional information whatsoever if it fulfills the purpose of investigating health "disparities." Nowhere in this section is there an actual definition of "health disparities." As a result, one can begin to get a picture of the limitlessness of this mandate.

Much more HERE



Bad news for Airbus: "The pilots of a Qantas jet involved in two terrifying nosedives that caused more than 100 injuries have joined a lawsuit against aircraft manufacturers Airbus. The night flight between Singapore and Perth, QF72, was forced to make an emergency landing at Learmonth after a defect in the Airbus A330s autopilot mechanism caused two sudden drops in altitude. Passengers and crew were thrown from their seats against the cabin ceiling. Nine crew and 106 passengers and crew were injured, and the plane's captain was so traumatised by the experience he has been unable to fly since. The plane's captain told investigators that the A330s computer put the plane into an unexpected steep dive twice, then refused to let him take over the controls."

The case for a “Repeal Amendment”: "In its next session beginning in January, the legislature of Virginia will consider proposing a constitutional ‘Repeal Amendment.’ The Repeal Amendment would give two-thirds of the states the power to repeal any federal law or regulation. Its text is simple: ‘Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.’”

Electronic cigarettes: Who is the FDA working for?: "About the time a friend was putting together an ‘electronic cigarette’ package to send me, the US Food and Drug Administration was mailing letters to several manufacturers/sellers of e-cigs, informing them that the regulatory hammer is about to come down. I’m dismayed, but hardly surprised, to learn that the US government, the tobacco companies and their ‘non-profit’ anti-smoking counterparts are conspiring to keep me (and millions of other Americans) on tobacco. Smoking, and pretending to oppose it, are big moneymakers for the political class.”

In defence of speculation in food: "The anger of the mob, the righteous indignation of the ignorant, is being stirred up again. You can hardly open a copy of the Guardian or Independent but someone is lecturing you on the evil of speculation in foodstuffs. How dare these people trade in futures, commodities, when there are hungry people in the world? Surely there are some things which it is too important to have markets in? Well, as Mr. Venning always said, the correct answer to any question which begins ‘Surely’ is ‘No.’ And the reason for the no in this case is that speculation in foodstuffs stops people from starving.”

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 September, 2010

Some non-partisan background on Sarah Palin

I'm not even sure that I can be classified as a "Palin fan", but I am kind of an observer. An old school buddy of mine has worked within the Alaska legislature for the last twenty years or so. He's a registered Democrat and has worked on projects that allowed him to cross paths with her going back when she was a city commissioner, as the mayor, and as the governor.

He told me that the picture painted of her as a mindless ideologue is about 180 degrees off base. He said that over the years, he'd probably dealt with her a couple of dozen times and that her input and/or decisions were always supported by law and not by personal beliefs.

The thing he told me about her that really peaked my interest of her was her ability to process information and then to quickly forge a plan with the information she was given. He said she was a living, breathing CPM chart. He said he had seen her on multiple occasions on a variety of subjects instantly absorb input from others and then respond with cogent solutions to problems. He said if you put her in a room with a bunch of people, the chances would be great that she'd be the smartest one in the room.

He told me that when he saw her debacle with Katie Couric, his first thought was, "who is that Sarah Palin imposter?" He said that was not the Sarah Palin he had worked with for years. He was sure that the interview was highly edited. It came out later that there was almost six hours of the interview that people didn't see.

He told me that if I really wanted to get a feel of who she is and how she dealt with powerful people, I should read the book, "Sarah Takes On Big Oil". It was released in October, 2008 and written by two of the state's top oil & gas editors. The lady they described had no fear to stand toe-to-toe with heavyweights and leave them slinking away with their tales between their legs. She told them that she was the advocate of the citizens of Alaska and there would be no deal making that would adversely affect them. The big boys at Exxon-Mobile and BP folded like a cheap suit.

One other thing he told me that still amazes him was how she managed to get people to work together. According to him, she could take two people with opposing opinions, sit down with them, listen to them, offer her solutions, and both guys would leave happy and not feeling that they had compromised their position at all.

He laughed at the "she doesn't read" meme. He said it is well known in the capitol that she was a voracious reader. She truly did read most of the national mags and newspapers, mostly on line, as well as a dozen or so energy trade magazines. According to him, there were stories about how she would take home stacks of papers and reports to prepare for a next-morning meeting and it was as if every word of those reports were stamped into her brain when she sat down at the meeting.

He told me not to be fooled by her syntax or her colloquialisms because they were not a fair barometer of her smarts. He said if people would just listen and not try to read between the lines, she was easy to understand. He said he'd love to see her and Obama in a debate about energy or even healthcare. He said she'd clean his clock. He even said that if she were given a day or two to prepare for a debate on foreign affairs, his money would still be on her.

He said she was the epitome of a leader. She assembled her staff, listened to their advice, allowed opposing ideas to be heard, and then acted accordingly. As a manager, she advocated making a plan based on the best info available, budgeting the plan, working the plan, measuring results, and quickly adjusting the plan if it was determined it wasn't working as expected. She believed in the First Law of Holes.

He thought her biggest struggles in the 2008 campaign were the product of trying to endorse McCain's positions on issues. She was able to voice her dissenting opinion on ANWR because her views were known, but on everything else she was expected to toe the McCain line. He said that she lacked the ability to shovel crap and sell it as perfume.

He reminded me that anyone who denies the accuracy of her "death panel" metaphor should go back and read her exact words, both her initial FB post and her rebuttal of Obama's attack on her words. He said "read what she wrote, not what someone wrote or said what she wrote". Her words in those posts have already been proven to be true.

He said that "divisive" is not a word that should be used to describe her. He said that was just a simple use of Alinsky's rule #13. He said, "look at all the issues. Her position is in line with the majority on virtually all of them".

He told me she wasn't perfect, but if I read something or heard something that was negative, I should check it out a little closer. He shared a lot more, but I'm afraid I've already rambled on for too long.

Should she run in 2012? I really don't know. Would I vote for her? It depends who she's running against. Will she drive the agenda if she doesn't run? Yes, for a long time.



Trouble in Welfare-State Paradise: France, Sweden and Cuba

Welfare states are unstable, and tend either to give way to free market reforms and liberalization, to collapse under their own weight, or to fall down the slippery slope of interventionism and degenerate into authoritarian regimes.

For as long as I can recall, and certainly for decades before I was born, the American left had a romantic attachment to the welfare states of the rest of the world. Unsatisfied with America’s own burgeoning 20th-century entitlement systems, left-liberals would point to the more domestically interventionist governments abroad as examples showing that some form of social democracy, or even outright socialism, was preferable to the United States’s alleged free market. In these more civilized countries, so goes the progressive narrative, health care and jobs are provided by the government, no one has to pay personally for anything that’s really important — a “safety net” would prevent people from growing old without financial support or getting sick without the comfort of subsidized health care.

This narrative typically neglects America’s own history with welfare, which demonstrates that the market and voluntary community will produce a far better, more humane, efficient and reliable, safety net than anything we can expect from the state. Instead, we were supposed to look to places like France or Sweden as inspiration of what government could do here in America. We should even look to Cuba, where something akin to mild communism was allegedly working well.

Well, in France, the government is on the brink of raising the retirement age to 62, much to the impassioned cries from the French left. Much as in the case of America’s own socialist retirement program, the accounting never adds up as promised. Idealists protest this effective cut in government benefits, but such cuts cannot be avoided forever. Meanwhile, another news story illustrates the fact that welfare states, even admired and civilized ones such as France, tend to have a police state side.

The issues are connected, as a government that cares for all cradle to grave, a state that acts as a parent, must also exercise control over its subjects, and show a great interest in who is coming into the country or leaving, and what they are doing with their lives and bodies. So France is in hot water for its round ups and deportation of Gypsies. The nation’s leaders understandably resent the comparisons to the Nazis being thrown around. The Nazis did, in fact, go much further in their brutality. And they also went further in their welfare statism and economic regulation—a truth often forgotten.

As an aside, anti-immigration voices in the U.S. often point out that most other countries have even more severe border controls and immigration policies than are found in the United States. But do we want to be more like France, either in immigration policy or welfare policy? It is revealing that in American history, the further we have moved from free markets and limited government, the more anti-immigration scapegoating has been manifested in actual crackdowns.

We used to have more open immigration and less welfare. The more America becomes a full-blown welfare state, the more pressure there is for America to resemble the rest of the welfare states in their exclusion of immigrants. There is a logic here for the left to consider: If you champion the human rights of immigrants, rethink your devotion to the inherently nationalistic welfare state. If we go the route of France in terms of entitlements, increased social tension and worse nativism will be on their way.

Looking over to Sweden, we see this left-liberal utopia on the verge of major privatization plans. Their system, too, is unsustainable as it is. And their welfarism has also bred police state approaches to immigration, drugs and other social issues.

The very far-right anti-immigration party has been gaining ground, and it looks like the center-right coalition will have a firm grasp of the state after the elections next week. The greens and social democrats are teeming up with former communists to try to maintain power. But the center-right, which has been running the government and whose tax cuts and reform approach to welfare have been associated with improvements for the economy, looks like a shoo-in. As the AP puts it:
Swedish politics used to be like a long marriage with brief spells of infidelity.

Voters always returned to the long-governing Social Democrats – guardians of the Nordic country’s high-tax welfare state – after short-lived flirts with center-right coalitions.

That love story, it appears, may be coming to an end as Sweden heads into national elections Sept. 19.

Update: The conservative coalition fell just short of an overall majority and the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats gained an unprecedented 20 seats, making them the kingmakers. The socialists lost big-time -- JR

But what about Cuba? The more daring progressives have always pointed to this purported example of even something resembling communism working. Well, although he has apparently retracted his statement somewhat, Castro himself admitted publicly that the Cuban model is a failure. He has also apologized for his regime’s unspeakably brutal treatment of gays. This raises another point for the left to consider. The regime they have long defended as enlightened and progressive had some of the most notoriously cruel policies toward gays—but this is often shrugged off as irrelevant to the question of Cuba’s political economy. If George W. Bush had been 1/10 as criminal in enforcing policies against gays, it would have been held up as a prime example of the inhumanity behind his entire alleged ideology of compassionate conservatism. If an American conservative were as bad on homosexual rights as Castro was, he would not be embraced by practically any leftist, no matter what else he stood for. But the Cuban regime has long gotten a pass, because of its free health care system.

We must remember that it is big governments—almost always with the bought support of the people through welfare-state handouts—that segregate, crack down, round up, deport, torture, mass murder and exterminate. It is not usually small governments that do these things. Just as with every socialist state in the modern era, Cuba’s welfarism and its police statism are inextricably linked.

But there is hope for Cuba, that it will liberalize and its socialism will give way to something more humane and economically manageable. Castro seems to be speaking out of both sides of his mouth, but you don’t have to take his word for anything. Actions speak louder than a dictator’s utterances. Cuba is cutting one million public sector jobs—a significant and clear reduction in the size of government, especially considering the nation’s entire population of about eleven million.

The age of the modern entitlement state appears to be in a transition period—and maybe, let’s hope, its final stage. It looks like most of the welfare states around the world are changing, either giving way to rightwing politics, for better and worse, liberalizing voluntarily, or otherwise demonstrating the unsustainability of their current forms. Sweden is no longer a social democratic model. France is turning toward conservatism. Cuba is slashing government. Moreover, there have been welfare riots and strikes throughout much of Europe. And of course China, while still nominally communist, has been liberalizing radically ever since the Mao years—providing the world with perhaps the most inspiring modern example of a nation moving from enslavement under the total state toward freedom, and particularly when we consider how many people’s lives are at stake.

But one country is not moving toward liberalization and free markets, and that is the United States. While the world’s socialist and welfare states are retreating from the politics of entitlement, the U.S. is still on its century-long course in that dismal direction. Last year, Putin famously warned Obama not to travel down the road of socialism, which had brought so much misery to the Russian people. And it’s not just Democrats getting such embarrassing warnings. After the 2008 financial bailouts, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez backhandedly called President George W. Bush his “comrade” who was “to the left of me now.”

Let us hope things turn around sooner rather than later. The U.S. welfare state will give way eventually, but it will be none too pretty should the collapse of the U.S. entitlement state be delayed much longer.




Russia signs $3.7 billion deal for 50 Boeing 737s: "A Russian state-owned company said Friday it will pay $3.7 billion for 50 new Boeing 737 Next Generation airliners that will then be leased to the national carrier Aeroflot. Russian Technologies, which manages the government’s stakes in a dozen regional airlines, said in a statement that the deal includes an option to buy a further 35 jetliners.”

Old theory of Keynesian stimulus comes up against hard new facts: "The Republican alternative to more fiscal stimulus says [Dana] Milbank, is for government to ‘do nothing, and let the human misery continue.’ Any doubts about the efficacy of fiscal stimulus, he argues, were discredited by the remarkable discovery that recessions still happen: ‘Economists offering alternatives to Keynes devised mathematical models showing how markets would behave efficiently. But those ideas collapsed along with everything else in 2008.’ This is ignorant nonsense. Efficiency never meant markets can’t be surprised and crash. Besides, academic criticism of fiscal stimulus is mainly based on fact, not theory.”

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)


19 September, 2010

An inspiring and famous poem you are unlikely to have encountered at school

Why? Because it is patriotic, though in an understated British way. It is about the attitudes that built the British empire. It points out the transferability of attitudes learnt in elite private school sport (in this case cricket) to the wider world. The allusion to a Gatling (an early machine gun) probably places it in the days of the Boer war. In one word, it is about doggedness or "sticking to it" in the face of difficulty: Never give up. I hope some readers like the poem as much as I do. It is at least a glimpse into another world

Vitai Lampada

("They Pass On The Torch of Life")

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

By Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)


Rise and Fall of the Fourth Amendment

Turning to the Fourth Amendment itself, we read: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

This sounds pretty good, doesn't it? And solid, like it might actually mean something. Alas, no such utopian state of affairs actually obtains. It is possible of course that my elementary school teachers just plain lied to us when they spun golden tales about American freedoms.

Yet surely there is more to it. But if so, what doom befell the Fourth Amendment? We might try looking at various eventful periods when governments-state and federal-felt unusually strong needs to arrest, search, and seize, such as the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I, Prohibition (see Lacey, in works consulted below), World War II, the Cold War, and (naturally) the war on drugs. It seems, however, that long-running negligence, evasion, and misinterpretation have done more harm to the Fourth Amendment than have various short-run authoritarian panics. Central to this slow but continuous process was the rise of modern policing in the nineteenth century, creating a new institution not foreseen in American constitutions (state or federal) and therefore largely incompatible with them and unaddressed by them (see Roots).

Gradualism and crisis, always headed the same way, have yielded a constitutional trail of tears catalogued in American state and federal case law. The U.S. Supreme Court hardly noticed the Fourth Amendment until the twentieth century. In the Prohibition-era case Carroll v. U.S. (1925), the Court sanctioned searches of private automobiles on the rather forced analogy of ships at sea. (The next time cops pull you over and search your car, you may blame Chief Justice William Howard Taft.) But the amendment's core meaning survived awhile longer in areas where it was thought to have always applied.

Meanwhile, emboldened by the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court undertook to supervise state police practices from the late 1940s on; it would decide if the states were following the Fourth and other amendments. This new project annoyed the states but did little enough for the public. Examining federal search practices in U.S. v. Rabinowitz (1950), the Court declared the word "unreasonable" the key to the Fourth Amendment. Henceforth the Court would philosophize on the "reasonableness" of searches ("in the circumstances") and periodically announce our ever-waxing-and-waning rights on the accordion model of civil liberties. Warrants pretty much disappeared.

We have been saddled with this unsatisfactory outcome ever since. The subjectivity of judicial balancing acts, along with fluctuating judicial moods, has made the Court's understanding of "reasonable" rather less stable than that of the Oxford English Dictionary. The war on drugs has rendered the Court (particularly "conservative" justices) unsympathetic to complaints about searches. The upshot is that the Fourth Amendment is now mostly just another empty marker at which American politicians, bureaucrats, and ideologues can wave when praising the precious freedoms that supposedly cause Americans to be hated.

In constructing the above account, I have relied heavily on the work of Thomas Y. Davies, professor of law at the University of Tennessee. (The rhetoric is mine.) In essays running from 1999 to 2007 Davies painstakingly reconstructed the late eighteenth-century context of the Fourth Amendment, accounted for its later reinterpretation, and thus described its effective demise. ...
With common-law rules in view, Davies sees the whole point of the Fourth Amendment as control of warrants to be achieved by defining them strictly. In the common-law environment of the late eighteenth century, warrantless searches-or arrests-were rare and subject to strict conditions. Thus confined, these few warrantless actions hardly threatened public liberty. Let us see why.

First of all, no one-constable or freeman-could arrest or search someone merely for looking "suspicious." Accusers (public or private) had to have a case before applying for any kind of warrant. To have a case, an actual crime had to have been committed already. An accusation also had to include sworn testimony of one or more witnesses asserting direct, personal knowledge supporting the belief that a named defendant had done the deed. Strung-out informants selling hearsay "evidence" about crimes that might occur in the future were not consulted, although hearsay could be admitted to establish background facts. Judicial action-indictment, issue of warrants-rested on the kinds of evidence described above. Arrest warrants did not normally issue for misdemeanors. The defendant remained at large but would be wise to attend his trial. A search warrant gave permission to look only for the specific things named.

Further, a defendant never appeared as a witness, but could, with or without counsel, impeach the evidence against him and cross-examine witnesses. Accordingly, the rule against self-accusation (self-incrimination) did not protect a defendant's trial rights, but meant instead that his diary, calendar, papers, and effects-as extensions of himself-were not subject to general ransacking and fishing expeditions. The other side had to make its case without such modern conveniences. Only Parliament claimed to be able to license fishing expeditions (such as the "general warrants" that so nettled colonial Americans) and mainly in the narrow areas of "treason," customs, and revenue. (The last two items came under admiralty law with its civil [Roman] law rules.) The Fourth Amendment sought to limit the ability of Congress to play such games.

There was a short list of warrantless arrests and searches allowed under common law. An officer or freeman who saw a misdemeanor underway in his presence (affray or breach of the peace) could make an arrest. Someone traveling at night could be detained overnight to account for himself. In "hot pursuit" of a fleeing felon who had committed an actual crime, an officer or freeman could "break" (into) a house. Here again is the combination of actual crime and personal knowledge. There were a few other complications, but they and the above-mentioned practices were rooted in common sense and had definite boundaries.

Under common-law rules arrests were few and far between. In a system based on enforcement by private parties (freemen), or by constables with few additional powers, defendants could sue for "personal trespass" anyone who brought a bad prosecution. Logically enough, a right to resist false arrest also existed. (Nowadays the concept of false arrest is nearly dead and resistance is not generally recommended.) Damages for bad prosecutions were a useful incentive for keeping peace officers and private prosecutors reasonably careful. Tightly drawn warrants, where required, actually protected officers from resistance or suit.

Since arrests were few and generally followed indictment-and that on real evidence-defendants not formally accused were seldom detained. Hence modern dilemmas involving interrogation seldom arose. Asking questions was a judicial function carried out at trial. Constables, who were considered judicial (not executive) officers, had little discretionary authority and few occasions for third-degree Q&A sessions in the back room. And of course common law had no plea bargaining, that ubiquitous, contemporary solution of "overworked" courts that Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton refer to as a form of torture.

The framers' quest to establish certain common-law rights largely failed. The disjunction between the clauses of the Fourth Amendment encouraged the leap to a "reasonableness" standard. In fact, as Davies shows, the words "unreasonable searches and seizures" were Revolutionary-era rhetoric condemning British general warrants of the 1760s and 1770s as without reason (outside of reason) and therefore illegal and unconstitutional; they were not meant to license future judicial speculation. The core ideas of the Fourth Amendment were better expressed in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 and the Ohio Constitution of 1802. Davies speculates that James Madison's innovative phrase, "probable cause," was meant to allow a little leeway for customs and revenue enforcement, which already enjoyed partial exemption from common-law rules. (A warehouse, for example, did not enjoy the same immunities from search and seizure as a private dwelling.) Still, even Madison's slightly weakened version meant something, although "probable cause" (taken by itself) had a big future as a means of reducing restrictions on power to a nullity.

Most arrests and searches today are without warrant, and getting a formal warrant is fairly easy. Concrete, sworn personal knowledge has yielded to vague ("reasonable") suspicion or whimsy as a "standard." Once we enjoyed rules that provided for concrete privacy. By the 1960s privacy seemed so imperiled that the Supreme Court with its usual jobbery was driven to invent an artificial "right of privacy" just to restore some balance.

More here


Recovery Summer Needs Life Support

Rich Galen

A day after the national press corps proclaimed the death of the Republican party because Christine O'Donnell won the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Delaware, some really awful numbers came out showing why the geniuses in the Obama White House have got this all wrong.

As a reminder, the Senate race in Delaware is for a seat currently held by a Democrat. In a CNN interview Wednesday afternoon I was asked if O'Donnell's nomination meant the GOP would not control the Senate next year. I looked directly into the camera and said: If, six months ago, I had told you that after the November elections the GOP would have 49 seats in the U.S. Senate you would have told the cameraman to stop the tape and you would have had me escorted out of the bureau.

This past summer had been billed as "Recovery Summer" by the Obama White House. Unfortunately for them:

- the unemployment rate has been stuck in the mid-nine-percent range, - the Dow Jones average has been stuck in the mid-10-thousand range, and

- the trade deficit (according to the AP yesterday afternoon) "grew to $123.3 billion in the April-to-June period, a 12.9 percent increase from the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday."

In addition to the terrible trade deficit numbers yesterday, the Obama Administration had to announce that the poverty rate had reached historic levels. According to Reuters: "The U.S. Census Bureau said 43.6 million people, or one in seven Americans, lived in poverty last year, up from 39.8 million in 2008." And USA Today's take was: "The number of people in poverty reached its highest level in 51 years."

Obama has successfully steered the economy in reverse to the point that he has equaled the poverty level not seen since the last years of the Eisenhower Administration. If that is true, then the poverty level in the U.S. is worse than it was when Lyndon Johnson declared his "war on poverty." If it weren't for the artificial effects of extending unemployment benefits and a bonus to Social Security recipients, the numbers would be even worse.

Nicely played, Mr. Obama! Well done. But wait! There's more! Also yesterday, the Obama Administration was forced to announce the first numbers following the enormous success of his highly touted health care legislation. According to AOL.com:

"The percentage of people with private coverage, 63.9 percent, is the lowest since 1987, the first year the bureau collected health insurance data. The percentage covered by government programs, 30.6 percent, is the highest since record-keeping began. "The number of children without health insurance remained at 7.5 million, or 10 percent of those under 18."

Private health care … lowest in 23 years. Government health care … highest ever. One out of ten children without health insurance. Reporter Andrea Stone wrote in her AOL piece:

The delayed benefits, combined with rising insurance rates and the president's back-tracking on how fast his plan would bring down costs, have caused widespread skepticism amid a majority of Americans who deride the law as 'Obamacare.'"

Hello, Tea Party? We are just outside six weeks from the mid-term elections. The national press corps is in an ears-back panic looking for ways to show that Republicans have overplayed their hand.

Even the most liberal of the liberal press - the NY Times and CBS News - in their current poll, have Obama's job approval at 45-47. That is not among likely voters. That isn't even among registered voters. That is among adults - typically the most Obama-favorable construct.

Finally, if you are looking for an antidote to the "Republicans are in really trouble now, boy" stories how about this one: Jimmy Carter - arguably the worst President in history - not just American history but all of history, everywhere - is going to be on 60 Minutes this Sunday saying, according to the Associated Press: "Americans could have had comprehensive health care coverage decades ago if Sen. Edward M. Kennedy hadn't blocked a plan Carter had proposed."

Whoa! Check, please. A former Democratic President dissing a Kennedy? How can this be? Won't Democrats have to choose sides? Isn't this evidence of the Democrats in disarray? Nah.

Although, when it comes to the failure of the "Recovery Summer" it looks like it's time for a voter intervention.


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 September, 2010

Leftist scientists want to have their cake and eat it too

Researchers raise concerns over the "commercialization" of medical innovation but ignore its huge costs. Without patent protection NO new drugs could be brought to market -- as it costs around half a billion dollars to get FDA approval for a new drug.

The article below does not concern drugs but the same principle applies. Most medical innovations are expensive and without cost recovery they would not happen

The original article is from the BMJ, which is a Leftist rag

The increasing commercialisation of science is restricting access to vital scientific knowledge and delaying the progress of science, claim researchers in the British Medical Journal today.

Varuni de Silva and Raveen Hanwella from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka argue that copyrighting or patenting medical scales, tests, techniques and genetic material, limits the level of public benefit from scientific discovery.

For example, they found that many commonly used rating scales are under copyright and researchers have to pay for their use.

Some genetic tests also carry patents, which prevent other laboratories from doing the test for a lesser cost. Earlier this year, a New York court ruled that patents held by Myriad Genetics for the diagnosis of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (linked to breast and ovarian cancer) were unconstitutional and invalid.

Extreme commercialisation of science can also lead to patents on medical procedures and techniques, say the authors. However, the American Medical Association recently concluded that it is unethical for physicians to seek, secure or enforce patents on medical procedures.

The scientific community is reacting to the increasing commercialisation of science, they add. For example, all genome sequences generated by the human genome project have been deposited into a public database freely accessible by anyone, while organisations such as the National Institute of Health and Wellcome Trust insist on open access to publication resulting from research funded by them.

The fundamental philosophy of Western science is sharing knowledge and, while patenting is a useful tool for protecting investments in industry, "we need to rethink its role in science," they write.

They conclude: "Although those who consider science as a commodity are willing to invest in research and development, much medical research is still carried out by non-profit organisations using public money. It is only right that such knowledge is freely shared. This is possible because academic scientists still consider the prestige of discovery more important than monetary reward."



Religious Freedom a bellwether for other freedoms

All constitutional protections are eroded if the plain intent of the 1st amendment can be so widely ignored

In America, the sunrise on tomorrow is only as sure as the state of our Constitution… and today, that state is shakier than it’s been in a long, long time.

Perhaps no element of that Constitution is more endangered than the First Amendment protections of religious liberty. That cornerstone of our nation’s freedom—the dream that brought the Pilgrims and so many of the other early settlers to our Atlantic shores—is now under direct, daily assault coast to coast.

From California courtrooms to the legislative halls of Massachusetts, our First Freedom is denounced as an impediment to those who would reinvent marriage into something it’s never been, and never can be. On university campuses, it’s all but outlawed as administrative officials segregate Christian students and their activities.

In public schools, religious freedom is ignored as educators work diligently to immerse our children in an aggressively secular world view. In hospitals and clinics and pharmacies across the country, it’s a freedom often denied to those whose religious faith prohibits their participation in abortion.

For far too many Americans, their awareness of the danger is as flimsy as their knowledge of the Constitution. For most, that understanding is limited to muddled memories from high school civics classes and a carefully orchestrated falsehood fabricated years ago by the American Civil Liberties Union and pummeled relentlessly into the public consciousness ever since: “separation of church and state.”

That so-called separation, and the growing legal assault it foments against people of faith, are both so far, far removed from any intention of those who hammered out our extraordinary, unprecedented Constitution that hot Philadelphia summer of so long ago.

Religious freedom is the thread by which hangs not only the document we commemorate today, Constitution Day, but the future of the nation to which that document gave birth. In our willingness to defend that freedom—through our decisions, through our votes, through our prayers—lies the answer to the ever-new mystery of that image carved on Washington’s chair.

Is it morning in America? Or is a great darkness descending?



The Money of Fools

By Thomas Sowell

Seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes said that words are wise men's counters, but they are the money of fools. That is as painfully true today as it was four centuries ago. Using words as vehicles to try to convey your meaning is very different from taking words so literally that the words use you and confuse you.

Take the simple phrase "rent control." If you take these words literally-- as if they were money in the bank-- you get a complete distortion of reality.

New York is the city with the oldest and strongest rent control laws in the nation. San Francisco is second. But if you look at cities with the highest average rents, New York is first and San Francisco is second. Obviously, "rent control" laws do not control rent.

If you check out the facts, instead of relying on words, you will discover that "gun control" laws do not control guns, the government's "stimulus" spending does not stimulate the economy and that many "compassionate" policies inflict cruel results, such as the destruction of the black family.

Do you know how many millions of people died in the war "to make the world safe for democracy"-- a war that led to autocratic dynasties being replaced by totalitarian dictatorships that slaughtered far more of their own people than the dynasties had?

Warm, fuzzy words and phrases have an enormous advantage in politics. None has had such a long run of political success as "social justice." The idea cannot be refuted because it has no specific meaning. Fighting it would be like trying to punch the fog. No wonder "social justice" has been such a political success for more than a century-- and counting.

While the term has no defined meaning, it has emotionally powerful connotations. There is a strong sense that it is simply not right-- that it is unjust-- that some people are so much better off than others.

Justification, even as the term is used in printing and carpentry, means aligning one thing with another. But what is the standard to which we think incomes or other benefits should be aligned?

Is the person who has spent years in school goofing off, acting up or fighting-- squandering the tens of thousands of dollars that the taxpayers have spent on his education-- supposed to end up with his income aligned with that of the person who spent those same years studying to acquire knowledge and skills that would later be valuable to himself and to society at large?

Some advocates of "social justice" would argue that what is fundamentally unjust is that one person is born into circumstances that make that person's chances in life radically different from the chances that others have-- through no fault of one and through no merit of the others. Maybe the person who wasted educational opportunities and developed self-destructive behavior would have turned out differently if born into a different home or a different community.

That would of course be more just. But now we are no longer talking about "social" justice, unless we believe that it is all society's fault that different families and communities have different values and priorities-- and that society can "solve" that "problem."

Nor can poverty or poor education explain such differences. There are individuals who were raised by parents who were both poor and poorly educated, but who pushed their children to get the education that the parents themselves never had. Many individuals and groups would not be where they are today without that.

All kinds of chance encounters-- with particular people, information or circumstances-- have marked turning points in many individual's lives, whether toward fulfillment or ruin. None of these things is equal or can be made equal. If this is an injustice, it is not a "social" injustice because it is beyond the power of society.

You can talk or act as if society is both omniscient and omnipotent. But, to do so would be to let words become what Thomas Hobbes called them, "the money of fools."



Public Sector Workers Are the New Privileged Elite Class

Outrageous public pay, pensions, and inherent corruption are enraging private sector America

We really are two Americas, but not those captured in the stereotypical populist class warfare speeches that dramatize the gulf between the rich and the poor. Instead there is a new division in America that affronts a sense of fairness. That division is between the workers in the private sector and the workers in the public sectors. No guesses which is the more protected. A new study by the Mayo Research Institute, based in Louisiana, demonstrates that there is a striking differential in the impact of the recession. In 2009, the study found, "private-sector workers were nearly three times more likely to be jobless than public-sector workers."

Political tension is bound to grow when private sector jobs disappear faster but at the same time private sector compensation is being squeezed much more than that of the public sector. The rate of compensation for a generation of public service employees has gone up much faster than the personal income of the people who pay for these workers. The gap has widened dramatically between private sector workers at all levels of remuneration as compared to employees in federal, state, and local governments.

Once there was a time when government work offered lower salaries than comparable jobs in the private sector, a difference for which the public sector compensated by providing more security and somewhat better benefits. No longer. These days, government employees are better off in almost every area: pay, benefits, time off, and security, on top of working fewer hours. They can thrive even in a down economy. It is tantamount to a wealth transfer from the citizens to the people who serve in government. Millions of public workers have become a kind of privileged new class—a new elite, who live better than their private sector counterparts. Public servants have become the public's masters. No wonder the public is upset.

Of course public service workers should receive a fair level of pay and decent retirement and other benefits. What is galling, though, is when they routinely find ways to beef up their superior pay so as to turbocharge their pensions (typically based on a percentage of salary), while many of those in the private sector lack viable pension programs at all. This will stick future generations of Americans with higher taxes to meet these public service pension obligations and bring about reduced public services. Nice work if you can get it!

More troubling still is the inherent political corruption. Elected officials tend to be accommodating when confronted by powerful constituencies like the public service unions that agitate for plush benefits and often provide (or deny) a steady flow of cash to election campaign funds. You have a dynamic conflict of interest when the self-interest of the legislators is to appease the public service unions with pledges that won't come due until the lawmakers have left office.

Their successors will have to cope with the inherited debt burden—and ultimately the nation's taxpayers are stuck with the bill at the federal, state, and local levels.

Behold the consequences: less money for social services, libraries, road improvements, education, and other public service programs, i.e., the whole basis of the initial arguments for more public sector pay! States and localities don't have the federal government's ability to print money, and they have a much more limited capacity to borrow. The result, according to the Pew Center on the States, is that they face underfunded benefit and pension obligations that exceed $1 trillion.

That estimate was before the stock market drop in the last couple of years. Liabilities for debts for these entities have increased from an estimated 12 percent of GDP in 1980 to an estimated 22 percent this year, approaching $2.5 trillion.




The rise of lil’ Kim in N. Korea: "The best way to understand North Korea is to think of it not as a traditional nation-state, but as a nuclear-armed organized crime family, albeit one that will soon find itself in need of a new boss.”

Two L.A. agencies get $111 million in stimulus funds but have created only 55 jobs: "Two Los Angeles departments have received $111 million in federal stimulus funds yet have created only 55 jobs so far, according to a pair of reports issued Thursday by City Controller Wendy Greuel. The reports conclude that the agencies, Public Works and Transportation, moved too slowly in spending the federal money, in part because of the time it takes to secure approval of government contracts. The two agencies plan to create or retain a combined 264 jobs once all the money is spent, according to the reports. With unemployment above 12%, city officials should move more urgently to cut red tape and spend the money, Greuel said."

A spectre is haunting Britain: "The corpse of Brownism still haunts the political debate. The 50p tax rate will stay, not because of any tangible benefit it brings, but because of ‘fairness’. Taxes will have to rise to plug the deficit, not cut to ensure growth and greater tax takes in time. Free school milk is to remain despite having no discernable health benefits because of the long shadow that Thatcher has cast over the Conservative party.”

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 September, 2010

Islam is what you make it?

There is a recent article in the NYT by Robert Wright, who seems knowledgeable about religion and philosophy. In it he points out that there are "good" and "bad" bits in both the Bible and the Koran. And it is undoubtedly true that the early Hebrews were stoning homosexuals to death long before Mohammed recommended it.

But the article is a typical bit of oversimplified Leftist theorizing that ignores the facts. It is true that what your holy book says is not a terribly good guide to how you will behave and it is true that you could construct a Koranic religion that was peaceful and benevolent to all.

But the real-life Islam tends to follow the "bad" bits of the Koran rather than the "good" bits and that is the essence of the problem. Actually existing Islam is aggressive, intolerant and hostile to Western civilization. And all Mr Wright's theorizing won't make that go away.

But I guess that Mr Wright thinks George Bush blew up the twin towers -- JR.


America is in deep trouble

A bloated and overpaid public sector and a government that proliferates taxes and regulations on business rather than reducing them brings its inevitable consequences.

India slashed its regulations on business in the mid 90s and has never looked back -- and the effect of China's liberation of its businessmen is legendary -- so it can be done. Sad that America has to look to India and China for a way out of stagnation, though

At the State government level, however, there are models that could be emulated by the Feds. New Jersey and South Australia come to mind as examples

In February, the board of commissioners of Ohio's Ashtabula County faced a scene familiar to local governments across America: a budget shortfall. They began to cut spending and reduced the sheriff's budget by 20 per cent. A law enforcement agency staff that only a few years ago numbered 112, and had subsequently been pared down to 70, was cut again to 49 people and just one squad car for a county of 1,900 sq. km along the shore of Lake Erie. The sheriff's department adapted. "We have no patrol units. There is no one on the streets. We respond to only crimes in progress. We don't respond to property crimes," deputy sheriff Ron Fenton told Maclean's. The county once had a "very proactive" detective division in narcotics. Now, there is no detective division. "We are down to one evidence officer and he just runs the evidence room in case someone wants to claim property," said Fenton. "People are getting property stolen, their houses broken into, and there is no one investigating. We are basically just writing up a report for the insurance company."

If a county without police seems like a weird throwback to an earlier, frontier-like moment in American history, it is not the only one. "Back to the Stone Age" is the name of a seminar organized in March by civil engineers at Indiana's Purdue University for local county supervisors interested in saving money by breaking up paved roads and turning them back to gravel. While only some paved roads in the state have been broken up, "There are a substantial number of conversations going on," John Habermann, who manages a program at Purdue that helps local governments take care of infrastructure, told Maclean's. "We presented a lot of talking points so that the county supervisors can talk logically back to elected officials when the question is posed," he said. The state of Michigan had similar conversations. It has converted at least 50 miles of paved road to gravel in the last few years.

Welcome to the ground level of America's economic crisis. The U.S. unemployment rate is 9.5 per cent. One in 10 homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments. Home sales are at record lows. While the economy has been growing for several quarters, the growth is anemic-only 1.6 per cent in the second quarter of this year-and producing few new jobs.

Cincinnati, Ohio, is cutting back on trash collection and snow removal and filling fewer potholes.

The city of Dallas is not picking up litter in public parks. Flint, Mich., laid off 23 of 88 firefighters and closed two fire stations. In some places it's almost literally the dark ages: the city of Shelton in Washington state decided to follow the example of numerous other localities and last week turned off 114 of its 860 street lights. Others have axed bus service and cut back on library hours. Class sizes are being increased and teachers are being laid off. School districts around the country are cutting the school day or the school week or the school year-effectively furloughing students. The National Association of Counties estimates that local governments will eliminate roughly half a million employees in the next fiscal year, with public safety, public works, public health, social services, and parks and recreation hardest hit by the cutbacks. A July survey by the association of counties, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors of 270 local governments found that 63 per cent of localities are cutting back on public safety and 60 per cent are cutting public works.

Jacqueline Byers, director of research for the counties association, said many local governments have yet to confront the full impact of the real estate crisis on government revenues because they do tax assessments only every third year. A fundamental transformation is under way. "When we come out of this recession we're going to see government functioning very differently," says Byers. "We are seeing more public-private partnership than we ever had for things like recreation and parks. We are seeing some of them privatize libraries. They lease the library to a private corporation that employs the workers who don't carry retirement or health benefits." Or they could wind up like Hood River County, Ore., which in August closed its three libraries altogether.

Some governments are looking for creative ways to replace plummeting property and sales tax revenues. Facing a US$1-billion budget shortfall, Montgomery County in Maryland appealed for corporate sponsors to step up and adopt porta-potties in its public parks. In the end, the privies were saved by a combination of park employees taking early retirement, a few private sponsorships, and a negotiated discount from the supplier, Don's Johns. Meanwhile, Montgomery County's school system, banking on its reputation for high standards and test scores, took the unusual step of selling its curriculum to a private textbook publisher, Pearson, for US$2.3 million and royalties of up to three per cent on sales. As part of the deal, county classrooms can be used as "showrooms"-which critics said effectively turns students and teachers into salesmen for a corporation. But the superintendent, Jerry Weast, told the Washington Post, "I tend to look at this from the perspective that we are broke."

These cuts in infrastructure and education are more than just a temporary belt-tightening in response to a recession. They threaten long-term damage to American's economic foundation-a foundation that has long been eroding. When the eight-lane Interstate 35 bridge collapsed in Minneapolis in 2009, killing 13 people and injuring 145, the American Society of Civil Engineers warned that the infrastructure deficit of aging postwar highways and bridges amounted to US$1.6 trillion. More than a quarter of America's bridges were rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Steam pipes have exploded in New York City and the levees failed in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, prolonged rates of high unemployment are taking a toll on families today, and will for years to come. Studies have shown that the longer a person is unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a job-partly because skills deteriorate, and partly because employers become suspicious of why someone hasn't worked for a year. "The United States is expanding its underclass of a whole group of individuals who will become less employable, less integrated, more subject to criminal and other deviant behaviour-and probably become part of the larger problem of structural poverty in America as well," says Sherle Shenninger, director of the economic growth program at the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

But the problem isn't simply a product of the current recession or the 2008 financial crisis. It is now well understood that for years Americans lived beyond their means on borrowed money.

The real estate bubble enabled many homeowners to borrow against inflated house prices, giving families the feeling that their wealth was increasing. It was all a mirage. Low interest rates and easy credit allowed consumers to spend enthusiastically, masking the fact that the standard of living and incomes were stagnating, and public and private investment was lagging.

Over the past decade, private sector job growth was sluggish. Combined with recession job losses, there are now only as many private sector jobs as there were in early 1999, a decade ago, while the population continues to grow. And incomes stagnated for a full decade-the longest such period since the U.S. Census Bureau has been keeping track of household income.

Clyde Prestowitz, a former Reagan administration trade official and president of the Economic Strategy Institute, says the scope of the problem came into focus for him one day last year when he read, in the same newspaper, that China was launching a new 240-mile-an-hour high-speed train, and then an article about city leaders in Pittsburgh considering a tax on university tuitions in order to fund the municipal employees' retirement pension plan. "I thought, the Chinese are building world-record trains and we're taxing kids who go to school!" says Prestowitz. "We've been in decline for quite some time-we haven't recognized it and have been fooling ourselves. But we've gotten to the point it's hard to not see."



Americans today starting to wise up to the liberal agenda

Walter E. Williams

Charles Krauthammer, in his Washington Post column (Aug. 27), said, "Liberalism under siege is an ugly sight indeed," pointing out that overwhelming majorities of Americans have repudiated liberal agenda items such as Obamacare, Obama's stimulus, building an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero, redefinition of marriage to include same-sex marriage, lax immigration law enforcement and vast expansion of federal power that includes unprecedented debt and deficits.

While America's liberal elite have not reached the depths of tyrants such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler, they share a common vision and, as such, differ only in degree but not kind. Both denounce free markets and voluntary exchange. They are for control and coercion by the state. They believe they have superior wisdom to the masses and they have been ordained to forcibly impose that wisdom on the rest of us. They, like any other tyrant, have what they see as good reasons for restricting the freedom of others.

Their agenda calls for the elimination or attenuation of the market. Why? Free markets imply voluntary exchange. Tyrants do not trust that people behaving voluntarily will do what the tyrants think they should do. Therefore, they seek to replace the market with economic planning control and regulation.

Why liberalism has become an ugly sight, as Krauthammer claims, is because more and more Americans have wised up to their agenda.




Trouble in welfare state paradise: "The age of the modern entitlement state appears to be in a transition period — and maybe, let’s hope, its final stage. It looks like most of the welfare states around the world are changing, either giving way to rightwing politics, for better and worse, liberalizing voluntarily, or otherwise demonstrating the unsustainability of their current forms. Sweden is no longer a social democratic model. France is turning toward conservatism. Cuba is slashing government.”

Housing regulator cites doubts over federal role: "The federal regulator of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac raised concerns on Tuesday about the Obama administration's approach toward housing, questioning whether the government should continue to play a significant role in helping borrowers get home loans.... "Recently there has been a growing call for some form of explicit federal insurance to be a part of the housing finance system of the future," DeMarco says in prepared testimony, scheduled to be delivered before the House Financial Services Committee. "The potential costs and risks associated with such a framework have not yet been fully explored."

Those who live in glass houses ...: "If you read this weekend's New York Times' hit job on would-be Speaker John Boehner and his 'lobbyist friends,' you might think, as the reporter clearly thinks, that John Boehner is cozier with lobbyists than most powerful politicians are. But did you know: · Nancy Pelosi has raised almost twice as much money from lobbyists this election as Boehner has? · At least 18 House Democrats have raised more lobbyist cash this election than Boehner has. · Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid have pocketed more lobbyist cash in the past 18 months than Boehner has raised in the past 6 elections, combined?"

Stimulus roundup: "Most people doubt Congress’ ability to spend money wisely. The stimulus has given them some proof: $800,000 for an African genital-washing program. $700,000 to create computer software that can tell jokes. $40,000 for ten trash bins.”

“A nation of dodos”: "On the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, pompous anchorman Ted Baxter once ran for the Minneapolis City Council. After his not-unexpected drubbing, he gave a concession speech in which he proclaimed, ‘The voters have spoken, and if that’s what they want — the hell with them.’ With a Democratic electoral debacle looking more and more likely this fall, Democrats and their apologists in the mainstream media appear ready to steal a page from the Baxter playbook.”

How the establishment wins: "The Tea Parties did not want to pick a fight with the Republican establishment to begin with — Tea Party Express, for example, has spent its contributors’ dollars targeting outright liberals like Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle. It has not taken aim at John Boehner or called for Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn to step aside from their leadership positions. The Tea Parties have tried to play nice, but they now find themselves earning the ire of Karl Rove and other Republican bigwigs. The establishment doesn’t care whether a liberal Republican or a Tea Party Republican gets the nomination in a deep red state like Alaska, but nominating an almost certainly unelectable candidate like O’Donnell in a blue state threatens what Rove and company really care about: returning themselves to power.”

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 September, 2010

Obstacle to Deficit Cutting: A Nation on Entitlements

Efforts to tame America's ballooning budget deficit could soon confront a daunting reality: Nearly half of all Americans live in a household in which someone receives government benefits, more than at any time in history.

At the same time, the fraction of American households not paying federal income taxes has also grown—to an estimated 45% in 2010, from 39% five years ago, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

A little more than half don't earn enough to be taxed; the rest take so many credits and deductions they don't owe anything. Most still get hit with Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes, but 13% of all U.S. households pay neither federal income nor payroll taxes.

"We have a very large share of the American population that is getting checks from the government," says Keith Hennessey, an economic adviser to President George W. Bush and now a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, "and an increasingly smaller portion of the population that's paying for it."

The dimensions of the budget hole were underscored Monday, when the Treasury reported that the government ran a $1.26 trillion deficit for the first 11 months of the fiscal year, on pace to be the second-biggest on record.

Yet even as Americans express concern over the deficit in opinion polls, many oppose benefit cuts, particularly with the economy on an uneven footing. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted late last month found 61% of voters were "enthusiastic" or "comfortable" with congressional candidates who support cutting federal spending in general. But 56% expressed the same enthusiasm for candidates who voted to extend unemployment benefits.

As recently as the early 1980s, about 30% of Americans lived in households in which an individual was receiving Social Security, subsidized housing, jobless benefits or other government-provided benefits. By the third quarter of 2008, 44% were, according to the most recent Census Bureau data.

That number has undoubtedly gone up, as the recession has hammered incomes. Some 41.3 million people were on food stamps as of June 2010, for instance, up 45% from June 2008. With unemployment high and federal jobless benefits now available for up to 99 weeks, 9.7 million unemployed workers were receiving checks in late August 2010, more than twice as many as the 4.2 million in August 2008.

Still more Americans—19 million by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office—will get federal aid to buy health insurance when legislation passed this year is implemented.

Cutting spending on these "entitlements" is widely seen as an inevitable ingredient in any credible deficit-reduction program. Yet despite occasional bouts of belt-tightening in Washington and bursts of discussion about restraining big government, the trend toward more Americans receiving government benefits of one sort or another has continued for more than 70 years—and shows no sign of abating.

An aging population is adding to the ranks of Americans receiving government benefits, and will continue to do so as more of the large baby-boom generation, those born between 1946 and 1964, become eligible. Today, an estimated 47.4 million people are enrolled in Medicare, up 38% from 1990. By 2030, the number is projected to be 80.4 million.

Still, Europe does offer examples that change is possible. Germany slashed benefits for the long-term unemployed in 2004, a step that analysts credit with prompting more Germans to get jobs as well as improving the country's budget balance. Cuts to entitlements are politically possible, says Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies, a nonpartisan think tank in Brussels, "but societies need some time to get used to the idea."

Payments to individuals—a budget category that includes all federal benefit programs plus retirement benefits for federal workers—will cost $2.4 trillion this year, up 79%, adjusted for inflation, from a decade earlier when the economy was stronger. That represents 64.3% of all federal outlays, the highest percentage in the 70 years the government has been measuring it. The figure was 46.7% in 1990 and 26.2% in 1960.



GOP establishment rejects tea party candidate who won DE Senate primary

Which could make her a winner!

It was an amazing bit of television. Almost instant followed by an amazing bit of scoop. Mere minutes after Fox News had reported the victory of conservative activist Christine O'Donnell over Establishment Congressman Mike Castle in the Delaware GOP U.S. Senate primary, former Bush Deputy Chief of Staff and Fox News consultant Karl Rove was in place on Sean Hannity's TV show to analyze. Or…well…something.

What on earth was Rove thinking? He was bitter, angry, cutting, demeaning, mean-spirited…and those were the nice things he had to say about O'Donnell.

I have no idea what Karl Rove was thinking when he sat down in front of the Fox cameras to speak with Hannity. But I know this.

All by himself Karl Rove has just given Christine O'Donnell a huge leg up on this election. In seconds he has made her look like what Americans absolutely love -- the underdog who has been unmercifully unfairly treated by the powerful and well-to-do.

And now, Carl Cameron of Fox News is reporting the National Republican Senatorial Committee will not be helping the official nominee of the Delaware Republican Party for the United States Senate in her Senate campaign.

So, in other words, having helped the losing incumbent Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, the losing incumbent Robert Bennett in Utah, swallowed hard at the victories of Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky, the NRSC will not be helping O'Donnell because she beat the pants off a liberal Establishment Republican Congressman?

If this is true, there is but one question: Is the Republican Establishment suicidal?



More on GOP stupidity when tea-party candidate won DE primary

“Let’s go balls to the wall for Christine O’Donnell,” Rush Limbaugh implored listeners on his show today, but Rush knows that his listeners are the choir to which he is preaching. It’s the party establishment and the center-right commentariat that needs to hear the message, and in that vein, Rush took on Karl Rove on today’s show.

Rush demanded to know why Rove and other establishment figures want to make Christine O’Donnell’s character the issue, when it’s the character of the current administration and Democratic leadership in Congress that should get the focus. Instead of issuing self-fulfilling prophecies of doom, shouldn’t the Republican establishment start fighting for wins in Delaware? The Right Scoop got the video:

Matt Lewis joins the fray in warning Republicans about the impact of snubbing O’Donnell:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Castle — who withheld his endorsement of the winner — were wrong to behave as they did. Though an NRSC spokesman issued a terse congratulations to O’Donnell, word quickly leaked that the NRSC would not fund her general election race. This was a silly thing to do. Fortunately — and wisely — NRSC Chairman John Cornyn on Wednesday morning agreed to donate $42,000 toward O’Donnell’s campaign and to evaluate future funding at a later date. This was smart damage control, but to many conservatives, the damage had already been done.

Moreover, the GOP has not just offended O’Donnell but has gone out of its way to offend her Tea Party supporters across the nation — folks who were already highly skeptical of the party establishment.

Similarly, Castle’s decision to withhold his endorsement was unchivalrous, and the fact that his staff continues to throw stones, referring to O’Donnell as a “con artist,” is inexcusable.

It’s not just inexcusable, it’s inexplicable. It’s as if everyone forgot why we have primaries in the first place. This has been a gut-check moment for Republican leadership, and with a few exceptions, they have failed it.



Retirement Fund Trillions Lure Government Grabbers

Is the government making plans to confiscate your retirement money? The Obama administration is certainly exploring the idea.

This question no longer seems far-fetched when the group-thinkers in Washington unabashedly promote a doctrine of wealth redistribution and central planning. These Keynesian socialists know they will need vast new sources of revenues to fund their relentless spending binges to "transform" this nation. A logical next step would be to legitimize the confiscation of private retirement assets -- an idea that was contemplated in the recent past by the Clinton administration.

According to the Investment Company Institute, there was $7.835 trillion in IRA, 401K, 457, and 403b accounts in 2009. That is certainly too large a sum to be ignored by the big spending social engineers in Washington. Bureaucrats and politicians have been hard at work formulating a social justice excuse to legislate an historic seizure of private assets. This would not be the first time the statists extorted wealth from U.S. citizens on a massive scale.

The public shakedown always employs a two-step tactic to repeatedly dupe the malleable electorate. First, the statists fabricate and incessantly excoriate a contrived crisis of social injustice that is victimizing helpless and unknowing Americans. Next, they "craft" -- a term Pelosi uses again and again -- insidious legislation disguised as a necessary and compassionate solution that makes participation and universal funding compulsory by force of the law.

It is a simple and effective strategy that continues to trip up even the staunchest conservatives, who ultimately succumb to the throng of propagandized constituents demanding protection from the newly revealed threat. Patrick Heller warns:
Expect to see terms such as "retirement income protection" thrown around. It is highly likely that such a program would be implemented in steps to help overcome public opposition. The US government plan is to eventually take ownership of all assets in IRAs and 401K accounts and replace them with US government "Treasury Retirement Bonds." In the October 2008 hearings, it was proposed that these bonds pay a 3% interest rate. Another major change is that, upon retirement, the individual's retirement account would be converted into an annuity. Once the individual is deceased, the individual's heirs would not inherit anything.

Has personal responsibility and self-reliance been transformed into a perceived disadvantage? Our benevolent government seems to think so.

In February, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), in collaboration with the Department of Treasury, announced a "request for information" to study the Lifetime Income Options for Retirement Plans and asked "for ideas on how to help reduce the chances that workers will run out of funds during their retirement years."

This request signals the "starting point" for launching yet another spurious social justice crusade by these two agencies. The fictional victims and the offending policy have been manufactured and publicized, and now it is time to fire up the propaganda machine and work on a new, expansive social engineering plot.




Fidel Castro and American statism: "Cuba’s president Fidel Castro is surely making American liberals extremely nervous. Mugged by reality, Castro is moving his country in a direction away from socialism, at the very same time that American liberals are trying their best to move the United States further in the direction of socialism. Castro has a much firmer grip on reality than American liberals.”

Tricks against trade: "Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch is up to its tricks against trade again. Noted for its past expertise in destroying the Seattle WTO negotiations, the group is now taking a new stance against free trade agreements (FTAs), though not by their usual rhetoric that they cost jobs and a ‘race to the bottom.’ Their new approach is that FTAs actually lower exports. The group just published a ’study’ purportedly showing that exports to countries that have free trade agreements with the U.S. showed less export growth than did exports to countries that don’t have FTAs.”

What if this were Bush?: "It goes without saying that if Bush had presided over a phony end to the Iraq war, expanded the Afghanistan war, extended its reach into Pakistan, solidified the state secrets doctrine and claimed in no uncertain terms the right to assassinate American citizens without due process, the left would be up in arms. The partisan hypocrisy concerning war-related issues is clear.”

Tools for liberty-loving radicals too? "Conservatives today often denounce Alinsky as the demonic wellhead of the modern Left, a claim that’s easier to make when you don’t know much about Alinsky’s actual ideas and activities. (I have even seen efforts to link the man to Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Marxist who plays a mysteriously large role in several contemporary conspiracy theories.) It doesn’t help that Barack Obama started his political career as a community organizer in Chicago, where he supposedly drew deeply from Alinsky’s social vision. Alinsky’s 1971 book Rules for Radicals has been studied closely by conservatives convinced that they’ve found the White House’s secret playbook. Smarter folks on the right, such as the Tea Party champions at FreedomWorks, have been reading Rules for Radicals as well, not to decode Obama’s occult intentions but in hopes of adapting Alinsky’s tactics to the fight for freer markets.”

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 September, 2010

More Hate Crime Hypocrisy

It's almost always blacks and Hispanics doing the crimes but twisted logic and biased reporting are used to protect blacks and accuse whites

Two recent strings of racial attacks—one black on white in Des Moines Iowa, the other black on Hispanic in Staten Island, New York—elicited very different reactions from both law enforcement and the mainstream media.

Since April, Staten Island law enforcement filed 11 “bias related” crimes committed against Mexicans, 10 of which were perpetrated by blacks. The Los Angeles Times gave an example on August 18 where, “a Mexican teen-ager was robbed by a young black man armed with a knife who used racial slurs.”

The real culprit to the liberals in New York are not the thugs who committed the crime, but conservative opponents of illegal immigration. The Times continues, Jacob Massaquoi, a leader in Staten Island's African immigrant community, said tensions had grown along with anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, something they blame on Arizona's crackdown on undocumented residents and conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. "Their rhetoric is very personal, very inflammatory," Massaquoi said.

Massaquoi is just echoing Barack Obama who said in 2008 that "A certain segment has basically been feeding a kind of xenophobia. There's a reason why hate crimes against Hispanic people doubled last year. If you have people like Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh ginning things up, it's not surprising that would happen." Obama’s numbers, by the way are fabricated. In fact, the rate of hate crimes against Hispanics went down between 2007 and 2008.

Numbers aside, Obama and the LA Times cannot honestly believe that African Americans who are told by many of their leaders that Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck hate blacks are influenced by these shows.

When most people think of hate crimes, they think of a Klansman or a skinhead beating up a minority. Yet in Los Angeles County, 78% of Hispanic on black and 52% of black on Hispanic hate crimes are considered “gang related.”

I doubt that the Crips are tuned in to Rush Limbagh on their car radio while they commit a drive-by shooting against MS-13. What about the Hispanic on white and Hispanic on black hate crimes? The federal government does not report them! While the FBI’s hate crime reporting sheet includes Hispancs as a victim group, they do not include Hispanics as offenders, and categorize virtually all of them as white. In Los Angeles, where local police count Latinos as perpetrators, they make up 69% of all anti-black hate crimes. These are counted as white on black hate crimes by the FBI.

Thus, if the MS-13 retaliated against the Crips and yelled a racial slur in the process, this would be reported as a white on black hate crime. Sure enough, the same people who blame attacks by blacks against Hispanics on opposition to illegal immigration are blaming the supposed rash of “hate crimes” against blacks on criticism of Obama.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a “watchdog” group that paints mainstream conservatives and the Ku Klux Klan with the same “hate group” brush, anti-black hate crimes are “the result of a racist backlash to the election of America’s first African-American president.” The FBI’s website states they forged a partnership with the SPLC to “establish rapport, share information, address concerns, and cooperate in solving problems.” When Whites are the victim of race based crimes, the media and police often try to downplay any racial aspect, and silence those who notice.

In August at the Iowa State Fair, groups of blacks attacked white fairgoers and police. According to the police report, "On-duty officers at the fairgrounds advise there was a group of 30 to 40 individuals roaming the fairgrounds openly calling it 'beat whitey night.' "

These were not just minor scuffles. One white fairgoer had two broken eye sockets. Yet many of these thugs were only given citations and released on the spot.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that these attacks were based on anti-white bigotry, Lt. Joe Gonzalez told reporters, “We don't want to jump to conclusions. It is not the standpoint of the police department right now to say that it's racially motivated."

Black on white mob attacks like this are becoming more common. “Flash mobs” where groups of teenagers text each other’s cell phones to coordinate attacks are occurring across the country.

On March 24, The New York Times reported that, “Most of the teenagers who have taken part in [flash mobs] are black and from poor neighborhoods. Most of the areas hit have been predominantly white business districts. In the flash mob on Saturday, groups of teenagers were chanting ‘black boys’ and ‘burn the city,’ bystanders said.”

Neither the flash mobs nor the attacks on whites in Iowa are being prosecuted as hate crimes. Instead of punishing the criminals, Iowa police are punishing their own for suggesting the obvious. After the attacks in Iowa, then Des Moines police spokeswoman Sgt. Laurie Lavato said “it’s very possible it has racial overtones.” Last week, Sgt. Lavorato was reassigned to the Traffic Division. Why? According to Des Moines Police Chief Susan Bradshaw, "I had some real concerns with us making that leap and making a remark like that publicly. That's a huge statement that, quite frankly, can provoke emotions on both sides of the issue.”

In Orwellian America, it is a “leap” to say it is possible that blacks yelling “beat whitey” might have racial overtones.

This twisted logic comes straight from the Obama administration. Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that hate crimes were only meant for “protected groups” meaning “people who are African-American, Hispanic, people who are Jewish, people who are gay people.” Whatever happened to equal protection under the law?

It’s being thrown out for the purpose of silencing and demonizing white conservatives in the name of tolerance and diversity.



Radical Islamism challenges notions of freedom

By Michael Nazir-Ali (A Pakistan-born former bishop of the Church of England)

IT is often thought the main threat of radical Islamism to the West and, indeed, the world, is terrorism. It is also said to be the isolation of Muslim communities, which allows extremists to recruit people to their cause.

Such views are not mistaken but they confuse effects with causes. What the world has to recognise is that we are not simply dealing with faith, but with a political, social and economic ideology. Radical Islamism is a worldview. Its nearest parallel, despite many differences, is Marxism.

Radical Islamists claim their all-encompassing program for society is rooted in fundamental Islamic sources. They reject the interpretations of Koran and sharia law offered by reformist or moderate Muslims. We must, of course, respect the faith of ordinary Muslims, but the ideology has to be met in a different way.

It is basic to Western societies that there should be one law for all. This idea emerged from the Judaeo-Christian tradition that all humans are made in God's image. It has been mediated by the Enlightenment, which emphasised not only dignity but also liberty.

The radical Islamist vision is absolutist. It applies to every area of human life, including politics, business and, above all, law itself. Recent demands by British and some Australian Muslim leaders for the recognition of aspects of sharia law should be seen in this light. Western clergy and jurists who advocate such demands fail to recognise that acknowledging aspects of sharia in public law will lead to a greater involvement with Islamic law.

A few years ago some Canadian Muslim women campaigned against the proposal to introduce Islamic law to settle family issues in Ontario. Their instincts were right. Islamic law is not just an intellectual legal tradition; it exists in highly prescriptive codes of law called fiqh. These codes differ from one another but would all be incompatible with the assumption of equality in Western law.

Muslim scholars recognise the three great inequalities of their legal tradition: between men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims, slave and free. In the case of family law, for example, there is inequality between men and women in marriage, and in provisions for divorce, custody of children, laws of admissible evidence and inheritance.

In Britain two years ago, when the then lord chief justice was arguing for recognition of some aspects of Islamic family law, the British Law Lords were ruling that a woman should not be deported to her own country because under sharia law there she would be deprived of the custody of her child. The Law Lords saw this as a violation of her basic rights.

While many predominantly Muslim countries have signed international covenants on fundamental rights, some have entered codicils declaring their adherence to these covenants must be in conformity with sharia law. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, representing the world's Muslim countries, has issued the Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. This differs from the international declarations in a number of respects, not least in the absence of a provision corresponding to Article 18 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, providing for freedom of expression, belief and change of belief.

In a number of Muslim countries apostasy from Islam is punishable. In some, the punishment is death. In Pakistan, the so-called blasphemy law prescribes a death sentence for insulting the prophet of Islam. Muslim commentators admit that internationally recognised commitments to personal freedoms are difficult to reconcile with sharia law.

Although punishments for apostasy and blasphemy cannot be implemented in non-Muslim countries, they do contribute to attitudes that have consequences in these contexts as well. Such attitudes have resulted in harassment and persecution of those who have given up their belief or changed their faith, even in the West. They have led to demands for laws against defamation of religion, which would effectively restrict freedom of expression.

While we should all be committed to civility in public discussion, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights already provides protection from incitement to religious hatred, which leads to discrimination, hostility or violence. To go beyond this has implications for free speech.

Muslims, like anyone else, should be free to practise and propagate their faith. They are free also to contribute to public debate. The principle of one law for all, however, cannot be compromised. Freedom of expression and the right to change one's belief must be maintained. So must easy access to the courts and police.




The "mystery" of falling crime rates: "For the third straight year, violent crime has declined in all categories while gun sales climbed, gun ownership expanded and more citizens are carrying firearms for personal protection; proof positive that gun prohibitionists have been consistently and undeniably wrong, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today. "What the data tells us is exactly the opposite of what the gun ban lobby has predicted for several years," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "Their dire predictions that America's streets would run red have been shown up as a fraudulent sales pitch for public disarmament... even property crimes are down, according to this year's report."

GAO: Iraq government wants billions, sits on billions in surplus: "Back in 2003 as the invasion of Iraq was getting underway, Paul Wolfowitz famously told Congress that ‘We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.’ Last month … a House subcommittee stamped its approval on President Barack Obama’s controversial request for $2 billion in 2011 to arm and train Iraq’s military. … On top of [that], the proposed State Department budget allocates an additional $2.5 billion to step up its operations in Iraq. … But now comes word from independent US Government auditors that the presumption may be false: Iraq’s government is not broke at all.”

Privatizing the British postal service: "Two years ago Ofcom deputy head Richard Hooper reported on the Royal Mail. It was an inefficient, outdated fish in a declining pool of letters business, he concluded, and it needed an injection of private cash and partnership with a private carrier to give it the cash and expertise to survive before EU rules open the whole market up to competition. Now, another report and a change of government later, it looks as if this might actually happen.”

New Medicare chief speaks out against rationing: "The nation’s health system can’t be transformed by rationing medical care, President Barack Obama’s new Medicare chief said Monday in his first major speech. Dr. Donald Berwick’s appointment earlier this summer without Senate confirmation was contentious because some Republicans accused him of being willing to deny care to save on costs.”

California’s union war: "Voting began Monday in one of the most disputed union elections in recent years. The contest pits the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) against the upstart National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which was created last year by former officials of a SEIU affiliate in Oakland, California. Tens of thousands of workers will vote between now and October 4 on which union, if any, will represent them. At stake are 44,000 members and an estimated $40 million in annual dues.”

The Great Food Truck Lobbying Race: "The City of Emeryville, California, is looking for individuals to serve on its new `Food Truck Taskforce' - a bureaucratic reaction to the increased competition local `brick and mortar' restaurants face from mobile kitchens. Local worker Catherine Hicks tweeted, `restaurants are whining that trucks are more popular at lunch!' But the city sees this shift in lunching habits as a political problem requiring a political solution."

Lawsuits could be stake in heart of Obamacare: "A showdown looms in Florida when 20 states and a national small-business organization will argue before a federal judge that President Barack Obama's sweeping health care reform should be overturned as unconstitutional. In a hearing set for Tuesday, 20 state attorneys general were seeking to have Obamacare struck down before it goes into effect. They will be joined by lawyers for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a nonprofit small-business organization. The legal challenges to Obamacare's unprecedented intrusion are well-founded. Ultimately, they may be more likely to prevail than even the mounting political dissatisfaction."

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 September, 2010

The Size of Government and the Choice This Fall

In polls, Americans overwhelmingly prefer small government and low taxes to the alternative. Yet they've been given big government, one program at a time


As we move into this election season, Americans are being asked to choose between candidates and political parties. But the true decision we will be making—now and in the years to come—is this: Do we still want our traditional American free enterprise system, or do we prefer a European-style social democracy? This is a choice between free markets and managed capitalism; between limited government and an ever-expanding state; between rewarding entrepreneurs and equalizing economic rewards.

We must decide. Or must we? In response to what each of us has written in the preceding months, we have heard again and again that the choice we pose is too stark. New York Times columnist David Brooks (no relation) finds our approach too Manichaean, and the Schumpeter columnist in The Economist objected that, "You can have a big state with a well-functioning free market."

Data support the proposition that Americans like generous government programs and don't want to lose them. So while 70% of Americans told pollsters at the Pew Research Center in 2009 they agreed that "people are better off in a free market economy, even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time," large majorities favor keeping our social insurance programs intact. This leads conventional thinkers to claim that a welfare state is what we truly want, regardless of whether or not we mouth platitudes about "freedom" and "entrepreneurship."

But these claims miss the point. What we must choose is our aspiration, not whether we want to zero out the state. Nobody wants to privatize the Army or take away Grandma's Social Security check. Even Friedrich Hayek in his famous book, "The Road to Serfdom," reminded us that the state has legitimate—and critical—functions, from rectifying market failures to securing some minimum standard of living.

However, finding the right level of government for Americans is simply impossible unless we decide which ideal we prefer: a free enterprise society with a solid but limited safety net, or a cradle-to-grave, redistributive welfare state. Most Americans believe in assisting those temporarily down on their luck and those who cannot help themselves, as well as a public-private system of pensions for a secure retirement. But a clear majority believes that income redistribution and government care should be the exception and not the rule.

This is made abundantly clear in surveys such as the one conducted by the Ayers-McHenry polling firm in 2009, which asked a large group of Americans, "Overall, would you prefer larger government with more services and higher taxes, or smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes?" To this question, 21% favored the former, while 69% preferred the latter.

Unfortunately, many political leaders from both parties in recent years have purposively obscured the fundamental choice we must make by focusing on individual spending issues and programs while ignoring the big picture of America's free enterprise culture. In this way, redistribution and statism always win out over limited government and private markets.

Why not lift the safety net a few rungs higher up the income ladder? Go ahead, slap a little tariff on some Chinese goods in the name of protecting a favored industry. More generous pensions for teachers? Hey, it's only a few million tax dollars—and think of the kids, after all.

Individually, these things might sound fine. Multiply them and add them all up, though, and you have a system that most Americans manifestly oppose—one that creates a crushing burden of debt and teaches our children and grandchildren that government is the solution to all our problems. Seventy percent of us want stronger free enterprise, but the other 30% keep moving us closer toward an unacceptably statist America—one acceptable government program at a time.

This process has led to a visceral type of dissatisfaction with the current direction of our country. The president's job approval has fallen almost linearly since he took office (standing today at 45%, according to Gallup; 41%, according to Rasmussen) despite the fact that his policies are precisely what he promised when he handily won the 2008 election. Rasmussen finds that only 29% believe we are headed in the right direction as a nation and two-thirds say they are angry about current policies of the federal government. Majorities believe that "big government" poses the greatest threat to our country, according to Gallup.

Millions of Americans instinctively look to our leaders for a defense of our culture of free enterprise. Instead, we get more and more publicly funded gewgaws and shiny government novelties to distract us. For example, the administration stills touts the success of programs such as "Cash for Clunkers" in handing out borrowed money to citizens while propping up a favored industry. Yet Rasmussen found 54% of Americans opposed the program (only 35% favored it). Plenty of people may have availed themselves of that notorious boondoggle, but a large majority understand we were basically just asking our children (who will have to pay the $3 billion back) to buy us new cars—and that's not right.

More and more Americans are catching on to the scam. Every day, more see that the road to serfdom in America does not involve a knock in the night or a jack-booted thug. It starts with smooth-talking politicians offering seemingly innocuous compromises, and an opportunistic leadership that chooses not to stand up for America's enduring principles of freedom and entrepreneurship.

As this reality dawns, and the implications become clear to millions of Americans, we believe we can see the brightest future in decades. But we must choose it.



Lincoln's war

How come every other civilized country abolished slavery WITHOUT a civil war?

The truth of the matter is that the Civil War was absolutely not fought over slavery. To understand how this is so, there are two pieces of evidence to consider. The first is the situation of high protective tariffs. In this pre-16th Amendment America, the federal government was funded solely through user fees, land sales, and tariffs. The southern economy, being largely agricultural, was highly dependent upon importing manufactured goods. This situation was something that all 13 original colonies shared, but as the new Republic developed, and the Industrial Revolution took off, the North, being less suited to agriculture, became a manufacturing powerhouse. The South then had a choice to make in importing its needed goods: continue to purchase goods from the British and French predominantly (as they had done since the colonial days) or purchase from the new northern manufacturers.

In order to strongly coerce the South into doing business with the North exclusively, the federal government erected very high protective tariffs and limitations against imports. What this did was make it too expensive for the South to import goods from England or France, even if those goods were preferable, and created a monopoly in which the northern manufacturers received the majority of the South’s business. This situation is evidenced by the Nullification Crisis of 1832, in which South Carolina nullified the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832, with their near 50% average duty. The stalemate forced the hand of the federal government to lower the average rate to between 15 and 20% with the Tariff of 1833. This dispute was temporarily quieted, but not for long.

The Morill Tariff passed into law March 1861 was the final straw on the back of the South. Economist Thomas J. DiLorezo writes in a Mises.org article that the Morill Tariff increased the average tax rate from around 15% to 37.5%, while also greatly expanding the imports subject to it. The South rightly perceived that the forced tariff at the hands of the federal government, dominated by northern interests, was a tyranny upon their right to free trade.

When SC seceded from the Union, followed by ten other states, the federal government had a very grave problem on its hands. Without the forced market of the South, the federal government’s tax revenues would plummet. The federal government was entirely dependent upon the tariff that was paid exclusively by southern imports. The federal government had two options: force the South to stay in the Union, and thereby keep the tax revenue, or watch the South freely trade with other nations, and eventually run out of money. The choice was clear for Abraham Lincoln. The Union was to be preserved above all costs.

Lincoln’s own words prove that for him, this was never about human rights, but about preservation of the Union. In his infamous August 1862 letter to NY Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln betrayed his true intentions for waging war:
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.

Further evidence of this is seen in the Joint Resolution on the War issued by Congress in 1861. “Resolved: . . . That this war is not being prosecuted upon our part in any spirit of oppression[...], nor purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states, but to[...] preserve the Union”.

The federal government was not interested in freeing the slaves. They were only interested in keeping the South attached to the North and the tariff revenue that union provided. Let the true historical record show that the Civil War was not fought over slavery.

Secondly, as mentioned above, Lincoln was not motivated out of the concern for human rights in deciding what course to take. Even with his famed Emancipation Proclamation, the notion of him being a “Second Moses” is greatly exaggerated. If one looks at the Emancipation closely, you’ll discover a problem: “[...]all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free [...]”.

The document is clear that the states “in rebellion” would have their slaves freed. However, if you were a slave in Delaware, Kentucky, Marlyand, or Missouri, slave-holding states that did not secede from the Union, you were not emancipated at all. In fact, for the first time in US history, slavery was actually officially recognized on the federal level. The Emancipation Proclamation drew the lines of slavery inclusively around the slaves in the border states, through an executive order. Great Emancipator? Hardly.

The last point to be addressed will show how Lincoln wrote the blueprint for the excess in government and tyranny that has become hallmarks of the American political system, and of the presidency in general. So much of the angst in our country today is over the intrusion of the federal government into our personal lives. We are touched by government everyday in more ways than we can imagine. In no particular order, I will just list off some of the actions of President Lincoln that put us on the slippery slope to where we are today.

1. Violation of Article 4 Section 4 that compelled the federal government to protect the states from invasion. Here the federal government was the invasion force.

2. Arrest and detainment without trial of the Maryland Legislature to prevent a vote on secession.

3. Conversely, supporting the secession of WV from VA, and recognizing the reorganized government of Virginia as legitimate despite the fact that it was not popularly elected.

4. Suspension of habeus corpus. Imprisonment and detainment of thousands of dissidents, including newspaper editors and even Congressman Clement Vallandigham of Ohio.

5. Established the first direct income tax in 1862.

Much of what Lincoln did during the course of the Civil War was repeated and expanded in later years. As historian James G. Randall notes in his book Constitutional Problems under Lincoln, “it would not be easy to state what Lincoln conceived to be the limit of his powers.” Perhaps a more appropriate moniker for Lincoln would be the “Great Tyrant”.

The federal government greatly increased its powers over the states and the citizens as a direct result of the war. Where the South was devastated by its effects, the federal government emerged stronger and more haughty than ever. As a condition of allowing the states back into the Union (that they created in the first place) the state constitutions of the former Confederacy were forced to be rewritten, in order to specifically outlaw secession (proof that secession was not illegal in 1861). The federal government had waged a war to gain power, control, and revenue, and it made sure that this power gained would be permanent.

The veneration of corrupt men as demigods in the secular, civil religion of American history is not only inaccurate, but it is nefarious and shameful. The point of this article isn’t to be provocative, or to just flame-throw. I am not anti-American, or pro-slavery, or anything else one might try to read into my words. I am, however, very deeply interested in truth. Truth will only be achieved by erasing mythos out of American history. Literature has plenty of fictional heroes, the stuff of legend. An American history textbook should have no such characters.




Cuba: Regime to eliminate 500,000 state jobs, spur private sector: "Cuba will let more than 500,000 state employees go by next March and try to move most to non-state jobs in the biggest shift to the private sector since the 1960s, the official Cuban labor federation said Monday. … The statement said eventually more than a million jobs would be cut … More than 85 percent of the Cuban labor force, or over 5 million people, worked for the state at the close of 2009, according to the government.”

Obama will sell advanced arms to fundamentalist Muslims: "The Obama administration is preparing to notify Congress of plans to sell $60 billion of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, according to a U.S. defense official. … The proposed package includes 84 newly manufactured F-15/SA fighter aircraft; 70 upgraded aircraft, 70 Apache helicopters, 72 Black Hawk helicopters, and 36 AH-6 Little Bird helicopters. A number of bombs and missiles also are in the deal, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition, a satellite-guided bomb, as well as a laser-guided Hellfire missile variant and some advanced targeting technology.”

US Senate Republicans say they’ll block tax increase: "President Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes on wealthier people while preserving cuts for everyone else appears increasingly likely to founder before Election Day. Senate GOP leaders declared on Monday that Republicans are, to a person, opposed to legislation that would extend only middle-class tax relief — which Obama has repeatedly promised to deliver — if Democrats follow through on plans to let tax rates rise for the wealthiest Americans.”

There is a big 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)


13 September, 2010

What makes Obama tick?

Like all modern-day Leftists, he hates America -- but for somewhat different reasons

By Dinesh D'Souza

A good way to discern what motivates Obama is to ask a simple question: What is his dream? Is it the American dream? Is it Martin Luther King's dream? Or something else?

We don't have to speculate because the President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father's dream. Notice that his title is not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams; he is writing about the dreams he received from his father.

So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anticolonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen to study in America and then to shape his country's future.

I know a great deal about anticolonialism, because I am a native of Mumbai, India. I am part of the first Indian generation to be born after my country's independence from the British. Anticolonialism was the rallying cry of Third World politics for much of the second half of the 20th century. To most Americans, however, anticolonialism is an unfamiliar idea, so let me explain it.

Anticolonialism is the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and South America. As one of Obama's acknowledged intellectual influences, Frantz Fanon, wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, "The well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races."

Anticolonialists hold that even when countries secure political independence they remain economically dependent on their former captors. This dependence is called neocolonialism, a term defined by the African statesman Kwame Nkrumah (1909--72) in his book Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, writes that poor countries may be nominally free, but they continue to be manipulated from abroad by powerful corporate and plutocratic elites. These forces of neocolonialism oppress not only Third World people but also citizens in their own countries. Obviously the solution is to resist and overthrow the oppressors. This was the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. and many in his generation, including many of my own relatives in India.

Obama Sr. was an economist, and in 1965 he published an important article in the East Africa Journal called "Problems Facing Our Socialism." Obama Sr. wasn't a doctrinaire socialist; rather, he saw state appropriation of wealth as a necessary means to achieve the anticolonial objective of taking resources away from the foreign looters and restoring them to the people of Africa. For Obama Sr. this was an issue of national autonomy. "Is it the African who owns this country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of growth in this country?"

As he put it, "We need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now." The senior Obama proposed that the state confiscate private land and raise taxes with no upper limit. In fact, he insisted that "theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed."

Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well, has never mentioned his father's article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no reporting on a document that seems directly relevant to what the junior Obama is doing in the White House.

While the senior Obama called for Africa to free itself from the neocolonial influence of Europe and specifically Britain, he knew when he came to America in 1959 that the global balance of power was shifting. Even then, he recognized what has become a new tenet of anticolonialist ideology: Today's neocolonial leader is not Europe but America. As the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said--who was one of Obama's teachers at Columbia University--wrote in Culture and Imperialism, "The United States has replaced the earlier great empires and is the dominant outside force."

From the anticolonial perspective, American imperialism is on a rampage. For a while, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union, but since the end of the Cold War, America has been the sole superpower. Moreover, 9/11 provided the occasion for America to invade and occupy two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, and also to seek political and economic domination in the same way the French and the British empires once did. So in the anticolonial view, America is now the rogue elephant that subjugates and tramples the people of the world.

It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.

For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anticolonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.

Why support oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America? Obama believes that the West uses a disproportionate share of the world's energy resources, so he wants neocolonial America to have less and the former colonized countries to have more. More broadly, his proposal for carbon taxes has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer or colder; it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce, America's carbon consumption. Both as a U.S. Senator and in his speech, as President, to the United Nations, Obama has proposed that the West massively subsidize energy production in the developing world.

Rejecting the socialist formula, Obama has shown no intention to nationalize the investment banks or the health sector. Rather, he seeks to decolonize these institutions, and this means bringing them under the government's leash. That's why Obama retains the right to refuse bailout paybacks--so that he can maintain his control.

For Obama, health insurance companies on their own are oppressive racketeers, but once they submitted to federal oversight he was happy to do business with them. He even promised them expanded business as a result of his law forcing every American to buy health insurance.

If Obama shares his father's anticolonial crusade, that would explain why he wants people who are already paying close to 50% of their income in overall taxes to pay even more. The anticolonialist believes that since the rich have prospered at the expense of others, their wealth doesn't really belong to them; therefore whatever can be extracted from them is automatically just. Recall what Obama Sr. said in his 1965 paper: There is no tax rate too high, and even a 100% rate is justified under certain circumstances.

Obama supports the Ground Zero mosque because to him 9/11 is the event that unleashed the American bogey and pushed us into Iraq and Afghanistan. He views some of the Muslims who are fighting against America abroad as resisters of U.S. imperialism. Certainly that is the way the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi portrayed himself at his trial. Obama's perception of him as an anticolonial resister would explain why he gave tacit approval for this murderer of hundreds of Americans to be released from captivity.

In his own writings Obama stresses the centrality of his father not only to his beliefs and values but to his very identity. He calls his memoir "the record of a personal, interior journey--a boy's search for his father and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black American." And again, "It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself."

Much more HERE


The background to 9/11: Left-inspired American spinelessness

In contrast to Pearl Harbor, the assault on the World Trade Center was hardly a “sneak attack” that American intelligence agencies had little idea was coming. Its Twin Towers had already been bombed eight years earlier, and by the same enemy. The terrorists themselves were already familiar to government operatives, their aggressions frequent enough that several commissions had been appointed to investigate. Each had reached the same conclusion. It was not a matter of whether the United States was going to be the target of a major terrorist assault; it was a matter of when.

In fact, the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks had first engaged U.S. troops as early as 1993 when the Clinton Administration deployed U.S. military forces to Somalia. Their purpose was humanitarian: to feed the starving citizens of this Muslim land. But, America’s goodwill ambassadors were ambushed by al-Qaeda forces. In a 15-hour battle in Mogadishu, 18 Americans were killed and 80 wounded. One dead U.S. soldier was dragged through the streets in an act calculated to humiliate his comrades and his country. The Americans’ offense was not that they had brought food to the hungry. Their crime was who they were—”unbelievers,” emissaries of “the Great Satan,” in the political religion of the enemy they now faced.

The defeat in Mogadishu was a blow not only to American charity, but to American power and American prestige. Nonetheless, under the leadership of America’s then commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton, there was no military response to the humiliation. The greatest superpower the world had ever seen did nothing. It accepted defeat.

On February 26, 1993, eight months prior to the Mogadishu attack, al-Qaeda terrorists had struck the World Trade Center for the first time. Their truck bomb made a crater six stories deep, killed six people and injured more than a thousand. The planners’ intention had been to cause one tower to topple the other and kill tens of thousands of innocent people. It was not only the first major terrorist act ever to take place on U.S. soil, but—in the judgment of a definitive account of the event—”the most ambitious terrorist attack ever attempted, anywhere, ever.”

Six Palestinian and Egyptian conspirators responsible for the attack were tried in civil courts and got life sentences like common criminals, but its mastermind escaped. He was identified as Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, an Iraqi Intelligence agent. This was a clear indication to authorities that the atrocity was no mere criminal event, and that it involved more than individual terrorists; it involved hostile terrorist states.

Yet, once again, the Clinton Administration’s response was to absorb the injury and accept defeat. The president did not even visit the bomb crater or tend to the victims. Instead, America’s commander-in-chief warned against “over-reaction.” In doing so, he telegraphed a clear message to his nation’s enemies: We are unsure of purpose and unsteady of hand; we are self-indulgent and soft; we will not take risks to defend ourselves; we are vulnerable.

The al-Qaeda terrorists were listening. In a 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden told ABC News reporter John Miller: “We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia. We are ready for all occasions. We rely on Allah.”




Netanyahu toughens up: "Israel's Prime minister touched a raw nerve with the Palestinians last night by demanding they recognise Israel as a Jewish state - something they have long rejected. Benjamin Netanyahu insists such recognition must be the foundation for peace and that he regrets that the Palestinians have not yet agreed. "The foundation of the state of Israel is that it is the nation-state of the Jewish people," Mr Netanyahu said at the start of the Israeli Cabinet's weekly meeting. "That is the real basis of the end of demands from the state of Israel and the end of the conflict between the two peoples." Mr Netanyahu has made recognition of Israel's Jewish character a central demand, suggesting the Palestinians' failure to do so means they have not come to terms with Israel's existence."

Creative destruction: "Who is Greg Ip? I hadn’t heard of him, and began reading his WSJ Op Ed expecting another tedious diatribe, but the economics editor of the Economist surprises me with new insights. First he reminds us how the silly American media worried about a rising Japan in the 80’s. … He argues that Japan grew faster in the 80’s because it was catching up. … Now both countries fear stagnation. Ip’s wise solution? More creative destruction.”

Obama aides cheat on taxes: “Forty-one aides to President Obama owe $831,000 in back taxes. Meanwhile, as noted earlier, unpaid taxes have risen 37 percent among Capitol Hill staff, to $9.3 million. Taxes, it seems, are only for the little people, not their liberal overlords. Even the Treasury secretary, who oversees the IRS, has cheated on his taxes.”

Shielding “professionals” from competition: "What Sturm wants, of course, is the federal government to intervene in the dying newspaper market and save it from Internet-based competition. This is why the Federal Trade Commission has been holding b.s. ‘workshops’ on this subject. A shield law is an important step towards cartelizing journalism under federal control. Once you have a shield law, you have to define what a journalist is and is not. This becomes a judicial (and regulatory) question that requires input from all sorts of lawyers, academics, and other ‘experts.’ The process alone will exclude the blogger (*cough*) who simply wants to bring greater transparency to the state and its harmful interventions.”

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 September, 2010

Geert Wilders Warns America at 9/11 Remembrance Rally

And he didn't need a teleprompter

Dutch Parliamentarian and freedom fighter, Geert Wilders, gave an outstanding speech. “No place on earth had a more multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-lingual workforce than New York’s proud towers.

That is exactly why they were targeted. They constituted an insult to those who hold that there can be no peaceful cooperation among people and nations without submission to Sharia; to those who wish to impose the legal system of Islam on the rest of us.

But New York and Sharia are incompatible. New York stands for freedom, openness and tolerance. New York’s Mayor recently said that New York is “rooted in Dutch tolerance.

Those are true words. New York is not intolerant. How can it be? New York is open to the world. Suppose New York were intolerant. Suppose it only allowed people of one persuasion within its walls. Then it would not be New York, it would be New Mecca, a city without freedom.”



Three Realizations from 9/11

The events of 9/11 were a trauma for America, but as in all traumas, there is much to be learned. Some of this is practical, e.g., prohibiting box-cutters on airplanes, but others lessons are more complex. Let me offer three such realizations.

First, we now know that millions of people, mainly zealous Muslims both here and abroad passionately hate America. This is not the garden variety anti-Americanism, for example, European contempt for our crass popular culture. Nor is this aversion just “a dispute.” Those who merely disagree do not become suicide bombers and kill themselves to make their point.

It is boiling, mind-clouding hatred of everything about us: majority rule democracy, religious tolerance, cultural pluralism (e.g., homosexuality, women’s rights), separation of church and state, protected free speech and a free press, ample personal liberty, a passion for economic achievement and everything that defines who we are.

Indeed, loathing even applies to rationality, intellectual debate, science—in short, they hate “the West.” This obsessive abhorrence has existed for decades perhaps longer, but until 9/11 we hardly noticed it and Many Americans still cannot grasp its scope and intensity.

Second, this detestation seems incorrigible. It will not vanish if America’s Middle East policy shifts nor if we shower Afghanistan will billions in foreign aid. Nor will anger cool if Americans make nicy-nice to Muslims at home. Pandering by inviting Imams of dubious backgrounds to the White House to celebrate the end of Ramadan or talking tough is irrelevant.

It is almost as if hatred is genetically hard-wired so any action, regardless of motive or outcome “proves” America’s evil. Again, as with the hatred itself, Americans, an overwhelmingly kind and pragmatic people, have real trouble understanding this rage —surely, we hope, there must be something we can do to abate this anti-American, anti-West fury. Apparently not, however.

Third, since 9/11 our historical repertory of responses has proven useless and we continue to be befuddled. Bombing the Taliban into the Stone Age is pointless when they already live in pre-modern villages. As mentioned, all the economic and humanitarian generosity counts for naught. We intervened in Bosnia to save Muslim lives, withdrew our military from Saudi Arabia so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities, even sent US troops to rescue Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, but nothing mattered. Have Saudi princes re-directed their charitable giving to the USO as a sign of gratitude?

To speculate just a bit, when it comes to winning friends abroad, we seem stuck in the Europe of between 1944 and the early 50’s. Here America was the heroic (and appreciated) savior from Nazi rule and impending starvation, and young Parisian girls rushed out to kiss the liberating GI’s. Those newsreels have left an indelible impression on our collective mind. No doubt, many Americans still don’t fathom why so many Iraqis violently turned on us after we freed them from Saddam Hussein’s bloody dictatorship. Muslim women rushing up to GI’s are now assumed to be suicide bombers.

But of all this befuddlement, none outshines our self-induced paralysis. Nine years afterward we are still confused, squabbling over the most elementary facts and it seems endless. Thanks to our PC infected brains, we want to fight “a war” without offending the enemy.

How many Americans know the difference between al-Qaida and the Taliban? We are even perplexed about the enemy’s name—are they Islamic terrorists or just plain “terrorists”? How about generic sounding “militants,” “extremists,” or, as in Iraq, “insurgents”? What about Islamofacism? Or even “perverted Islam”? Where does the ethnic label “Arab” fit when many terrorists are not Arabs, do not speak Arabic and may even loathe Arabs? And what drives their passion—Islam in general? Is the culprit just Wahhabism? Or, conceivably, do the attacks reflect only personal grievances and frustrations cloaked in a religion?

We are even unsure of whether dozens of similar incidents are linked or just perpetrated by “lone wolves” who coincidently share certain religious beliefs about killing innocent Americans. Indeed, a few public officials disdain the whole idea of “a war on terror” and insist that everything can be handled as if these were humdrum criminal acts. Recall WW II when Admiral Bull Halsey explained his strategy as “killing Japs, killing more Japs and pretty soon they lose the will to fight.”

These recognitions—hatred, intractability and our confusion--do not arrive with simple prescriptions for improvement; solutions must be extracted. There is a place for complexity and nuance but not when fighting a war. Clearly, at least in my view, acting wisely on these lessons requires a leadership to articulate the problem, honestly explain why past solutions have failed, and perhaps most of all, stop trying to assuage our enemies in the futile hope that yet one more appeasement will bring victory.



Americans are finally beginning to open their eyes to the reality of a hostile Islam

Once again we remember and honor those who perished in the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. And we stand eternally grateful before those who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe from further attacks and other dangers.

But something new and extraordinary commingles with commemoration on this ninth anniversary of the attacks. One senses a heightened public understanding of Islam, and in particular its dark – theocratic and jihadist – side. Add to that deep fear that our appeasement-minded political and opinion leaders are causing us to lose the war against Islamic radicals who attack us in the name of their religion and against those in our midst who practice “stealth jihad.”

Andrew McCarthy, author of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, views this epiphany as a “tectonic shift” dramatically triggered by the planned construction of a mega-mosque next to the sacred precinct of Ground Zero. How apt this locus, the former site of the World Trade Center, “the inevitable fault line between Islam and the West.”

Most Americans reject the building of this mosque on grounds that its existence would stand as a cruel and monumental insult to those who died on 9/11. They believe that Islamic radicals would trumpet it as a symbol of their victory over us and, indeed, many triumphal mosques have been built on the revered sites of conquered peoples throughout Islamic history.

Americans are also concerned that this mosque would serve as a stronghold for political Islam and Islamic hegemony in New York City. Ground Zero mosque imam Feisal Abdul Rauf openly promotes Islamic Sharia law, a system that denies our basic cherished freedoms and the equality of rights for all people before the law.

Americans in droves now reject both the erection of this mosque and the elites’ accommodation to Islamism. They have begun to grasp that, doctrinally, “moderate Islam” does not exist, although, as McCarthy states, “there are millions of Muslims who are moderate people” as well as “dedicated Muslims working to transform their faith into something that is institutionally moderate.”

For twenty years Americans have been slaughtered by Islamists, spilled blood and treasure for Islamic peoples, and accepted the building of thousands of mosques, even though, McCarthy explains, they have been used to violent ends against us. All the while, we have been labeled as intolerant victimizers.

On 9/11/10 many Americans are indicating they have had enough. Signs of passionate resistance abound. The prospect of a Ground Zero mosque (combined with the fact that in the Age of Obama, as Caroline Glick notes, they are repelled by rejection of the American creed and seek to reclaim what they feel to be their birthright) have awakened this nation to radical Islam and an array of other present dangers.

Daniel Pipes conveys this bracingly: "The energetic push-back of recent months … now feels like a movement … those who reject Islamism and all its works now constitute a majority and are on the march …"

Once this lesson is learned, the new energy brings the defeat of Islamism dimly into sight.



9/11 With My Son

Bruce Kesler

On 9/11, I awoke, turned on the computer, saw something bad had happened in New York, turned on the TV in the living room, and sat there from 6AM to 9PM Pacific. My then 1 ½ year old son was toddling around. Several times I hugged him and cried, for America, for New Yorkers, for the battles that I was sure lay ahead, and for my son’s future in that world.

My son has a Hebrew name, shield of Joshua, and an English name, non-labeling, as he, his younger brother and my wife visit my mother-in-law in Dusseldorf, Germany for a month each summer. We don’t want the boys targeted by the increased number of open anti-Semites in Europe, especially the radical Arab youth who prowl the streets. Some of the wonderful counselors at the summer camp my sons go to in Dusseldorf are Muslim. My sons are warned to keep their religion to themselves, not knowing who might be infected with hate. The synagogue in Dusseldorf is well-secured and under constant police protection.

Back home, in suburban San Diego, my sons don’t have that fear. But, since 9/11 there is a locked gate and a guard at the Jewish preschool my sons attended, and guards around our synagogue. The fear is spreading in the US, as is the Leftist-Muslim alliance to delegitimize Israel and to stir hate. We have Muslim friends, who are not radical, and appreciate being in the US. And, 64% of Arabs in the US are Christian, who know persecution for not being Muslim. Unfortunately, their voices, though subdued, are drowned out by those with bigger mouths and designs.

Last Memorial Day, we went to Petco for a Padres game. At the end was a stirring salute to the US military. On the way home, my now 10-year old son, knowing I served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, quietly asked me what I felt. I told him, simply, that sometimes we have to fight, not because we want to, only after trying not to, to do good and to survive.

To my surprise, a few weeks ago, my son came into my office and told me he was watching a four-part, two-hour, documentary about 9/11 on Youtube. Since 9/11, I’ve not watched such films, trying to avoid the pain and fear I felt in 2001. Neither had my son watched any, or been taught about it in school.

I watched the documentary, very factual and matter-of-fact, with my son. After, I asked my son what he was feeling. He said, “I’m glad the US has people who will fight so another 9/11 or worse doesn’t happen again.” Religion is about doing good, not feeling good.



Victory over Evil

When a nation loses its way and gives up on its own destiny, exchanging the birthright of its own exceptionalism for the porridge of self-amusement—it takes a collision with an unthinkable evil to remind it of its place in the world. Too many Americans had accepted the postmodern view of the world, one in which there was neither good nor evil, just a variety of opinions and viewpoints. That postmodern world seemed more comfortable with its welcoming non-judgmentalism and its disbelief in destiny. It was a world that did not ask anything of us, except to occasionally pretend that we care.

9/11 changed that. It tore down the sky and opened a gaping hole in the self-centered arrogance that had been the legacy of the 90’s, best exemplified by its champion, the morally ambiguous William Jefferson Clinton. It reminded us that we cannot just be satisfied with bread and circuses. That the world does not exist for our amusement. And that all views and beliefs are not created equal. That despite the ironic detachment of pop culture, there was a right and a wrong. And that despite the retreat from faith in a higher being, to a faith in our own technocratic castles in the sky, there was such a thing as good and evil. And not that we had forgotten that we were meant to be the good-- evil had come to pay a call on us.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, and even long before then, many Americans had ceased to believe that there was an evil out there. Only different views, governments and cultures. But in defeating one evil, a power vacuum had opened in which an old dormant evil could thrive again. And so it shall always be.

We had come to think of the “good life” as a natural and inevitable outcome of our own gifts and talents. But it requires more than that. It requires that we stand ready to resist those who would destroy it. On 9/11 we met our opposite, the mirror image of what we had allowed ourselves to become. Fanatics with a murderous faith, confronting a country that had come too close to forgetting its own. Destroyers attacking a civilization of builders. Barbarians besieging the gate of a civilization that had forgotten the sacrifices which had built their cities, and the price paid to raise up their walls.

9/11 interrupted the culture of passivity with a warning and a challenge. Either we would defy and defeat evil anew, or it would consume us whole, as it had done to so many cultures and countries around the world. Our “good life” could not be seen as an unchallenged gift, but an inheritance we would have to fight for over and over again. There is horror in that, but there is also greatness. Because men and women are not uplifted by wallowing in comfort and plenty, but by testing their bodies and souls against challenges, and prevailing over them.


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 September, 2010


Of the innocent victims of a primitive and barbaric religion


A Conservative Movie Initiative

The midterm elections this fall will feature young people born in 1992 – in other words, four years after Ronald Reagan left office. What do they know about this man?

It’s quite likely that many of them have been told of Reagan’s firm resolve to win the Cold War. But it’s also likely they haven’t learned about the Reagan budget policies that led to a historic economic recovery. Instead, liberal revisionists are working overtime to assign to the Gipper’s tax cut policies the blame for deficits on his watch. Given the disastrous performance of Barack Obama, it’s time to give this man a serious look once again.

Young Hollywood director and producer Ray Griggs has made a breezy and yet substantive documentary titled “I Want Your Money” that can educate young voters on the differences between Reaganomics and Obamanomics. Some might say that Griggs is trying to become the conservative Michael Moore, but that would be unfair, since Moore’s documentaries often depart from the classification of “nonfiction.” When Moore claims health care is better in Cuba than America, or that Iraq before the Iraq was a placid kite-flying paradise under Saddam Hussein, serious filmmakers run from him.

Griggs is talking about a real, gripping American disaster: our trillion-dollar deficits under Obama and the ever-increasing weight of the national debt. Conservatives in this film are appalled by the loose spending of George W. Bush and Congress over the last decade, and correctly so. But they know Obama is making those deficit years look like a nursery-school exercise in overspending. What’s emerging now is Tea Party anger, of conservatives who’ve been pushed too hard for too long.

“I Want Your Money” is stuffed with weighty conservative experts – Steve Moore, Steve Forbes, Newt Gingrich, Ed Meese, Ken Blackwell, and more. But perhaps the most affecting visuals are the old clips of Ronald Reagan, speaking so clearly about the perils of liberal profligacy. There is Reagan at the convention in Dallas in 1984 joking “We could say they spend money like drunken sailors, but that would be unfair to drunken sailors...because the sailors are spending their own money.”

It also has a “BS meter” which goes berserk when Speaker Nancy Pelosi claims that the Democrats will pass the Obama agenda, including ObamaCare, with “no new deficit spending.”

The film not only discusses green-eyeshade budgeting, but the larger philosophical debate between capitalism and socialism. In an animated segment, the Reagan character lectures “Obama” about what kind of productivity you would get in a classroom if everyone was awarded the same grade, no matter how serious the effort: a dramatically reduced work effort from the productive people, while the lazy students would forever be lazy.

It exposes a real contrast between presidents. As experts point out in the film, Ronald Reagan used clarity to teach you about the real world. Barack Obama uses eloquence to hide what he’s doing, because if his real agenda became clear, as it did with ObamaCare, it would be opposed by the majority.

Griggs found a very nice film clip of the late Nobel Prize-winning capitalist economist Milton Friedman speaking to a dark-haired Phil Donahue in 1979. Donahue proclaimed that capitalism was all about greed. Why, Friedman wondered, was it that political self-interest was so much nobler than economic self-interest? A voter born in 1992 has probably never witnessed Milton Friedman’s television work, especially his “Free to Choose” documentary series (also in those paper-stuffed things called books). This kind of exposure could cause a rediscovery, just like this year’s new interest in Friedrich Hayek’s book “Road to Serfdom.”

So how will this film get into theaters, since it’s not one of those left-wing documentaries? A national effort is being organized by Motive Entertainment, the company that promoted the grassroots campaigns for “The Passion of the Christ” and the first “Chronicles of Narnia” movie. In mid-September, they’ll begin organizing private screenings to celebrate Constitution Day on September 17. From there, organizers will prepare for an October 15 theatrical launch in more than 500 theaters from coast to coast.

But this campaign to show box-office appeal won’t be successful without the same grass-roots energy that mobilized the Tea Party protests. The movie trailer on YouTube has more than two million page views. If everyone who watched the trailer would turn out for the whole movie, then theater owners would have no choice but to take notice.

Perhaps, then, Americans will laugh when news anchors (like CNN’s Rick Sanchez) try to describe Obama’s campaign speeches as “Reaganesque.” We can’t even find a Republican who has fully earned that grand adjective, and it certainly doesn’t fit the socialist blather of the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.



Afghanistan presents no impossible military challenge, its so-called ‘history’ notwithstanding


In the lexicon of the Left, the adjective “unconquerable” has now attached itself to the noun “Afghanistan” just as indelibly as the adjective “illegal” once attached itself to the noun “war in Iraq.” The New York Times, NPR, the Huffington Post, and the BBC, let alone the wilder shores of the liberal blogosphere, all take it for granted that Afghanistan has always been “the graveyard of empires” — thereby more or less openly encouraging us to draw the inevitable conclusion that the present struggle against the Taliban is unwinnable. Yet the truth could not be more different; rather than the graveyard of empires, Afghanistan has historically been their revolving door.

For as Thomas Barfield of Boston University, author of Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, points out: “For 2,500 years [Afghanistan] was always part of somebody’s empire, beginning with the Persian Empire in the fifth century b.c.”

The reason that Alexander stayed in Afghanistan so briefly was that there was so little to keep him there, in terms of wealth or produce; he went to Afghanistan to pass through into India. Afghanistan had already been conquered by the Median and Persian Empires beforehand, and afterwards it was conquered by the Seleucids, the Indo-Greeks, the Turks, and the Mongols. The country was quiet for most of the reigns of the Abbasid Dynasty and its successors between 749 and 1258. When Genghis Khan attacked it in 1219, he exterminated every human being in Herat and Balkh, turning Afghanistan back into an agrarian society. Mongol conqueror Tamerlane treated it scarcely better. The Moghuls held Afghanistan peaceably during the reign of Akbar the Great, and for well over a century afterwards.

Hardly any of these empires bothered to try to impose centralized direct power; all devolved a good deal of provincial autonomy as the tribal and geographical nature of the country demanded in the period before modern communications and the helicopter gunship. Yet it was they who ruled, and the fact that the first recognizably Afghan sovereign state was not established until 1747, by Ahmad Shah Durrani, illustrates that the idea of sturdy Afghan independence is a myth.

Nor is Islamic fundamentalism a historically deep-seated phenomenon in Afghanistan. NATO is often accused by the Left of trying to impose Western values on the Afghans, but it was King Amanullah who instituted Kemalist modernization — such as monogamy, Western clothing, and the abolition of the veil — back in 1928. The only people seeking to impose a foreign culture on Afghans are the Taliban.

One of the more recent historical examples of Afghans’ supposed ability to fend off colonial powers, the country’s struggle with the British Empire, deserves close scrutiny. For all the undoubted disaster of Britain’s First Afghan War, the popular version of events is faulty in several important respects. It is true that 16,500 people died in the horrific Retreat from Kabul, but fewer than a quarter of them were soldiers, and only one brigade was British.

The moronic major-general William George Keith Elphinstone evacuated Kabul in midwinter, on Jan. 6, 1842, and the freezing weather destroyed the column as much as the Afghans did; one Englishwoman recalled frostbite so severe that “men took off their boots and their whole feet with them.” Wading through two feet of snow and fast-flowing, freezing rivers killed many more than jezail bullets did, and despite Lady Butler’s painting of assistant surgeon William Brydon entering Jalalabad alone on his pony, in fact several hundred — possibly over a thousand — survived the retreat and were rescued by the punitive expedition that recaptured Kabul by September 1842. Early in 1843, the governor-general, Lord Ellenborough, sent Sir Charles Napier to capture Sind, and thereafter Afghanistan stayed quiet for 30 years.

Sir Jasper Nicolls, the commander-in-chief of India, listed the reasons for the defeat at the time as: “1. not having a safe base of operations, 2. the freezing climate, 3. the lack of cattle, and 4. placing our magazines and treasure in indefensible places.” The lessons NATO needs to learn from the Kabul catastrophe of 1842 are therefore precisely nil, for none of these are applicable in Afghanistan today, where NATO has not lost a single man from frostbite, has not lost a significant engagement against the Taliban, and does not fight with a baggage train of civilians four times its number. Lack of cattle isn’t so important nowadays, either.

The Second Afghan War, which was actually won by Maj. Gen. Sir Frederick Roberts (no relation) at the battle of Kandahar in August 1880, holds similarly few lessons for us today. The major problems in 1878 were the maintenance of lines of communication over the passes and the intimidation of people in the occupied towns. NATO’s lines of communication are not being harried today, and anyhow air power has transformed that as well as the battlefield.

After 1880, in the words of Richard Shannon’s book The Crisis of Imperialism, “Afghan resistance was subdued and Afghanistan was reduced to the status virtually of a British protectorate” until it was given its independence in 1919.



How ObamaCare Guts Medicare

The president's pledge that 'If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it' clearly does not apply to America's seniors

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has attacked Senate Republican candidates for wanting "to end Medicare as we know it." And in Nevada's hotly contested Senate race, Majority Leader Harry Reid is attacking Republican Sharron Angle, saying she wants to "gut" Medicare. But Mr. Reid has already gutted it. He and his colleagues did so by passing ObamaCare.

In his analysis accompanying the recently released Annual Report of the Medicare Board of Trustees, Richard Foster, Medicare's chief actuary, noted that Medicare payment rates for doctors and hospitals serving seniors will be cut by 30% over the next three years. Under the policies of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by 2019 Medicare payment rates will be lower than under Medicaid. Mr. Foster notes that by the end of the 75-year projection period in the Annual Medicare Trustees Report, Medicare payment rates will be one-third of what will be paid by private insurance, and only half of what is paid by Medicaid.

Altogether, ObamaCare cuts $818 billion from Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) from 2014-2023, the first 10 years of its full implementation, and $3.2 trillion over the first 20 years, 2014-2033. Adding in ObamaCare cuts for Medicare Part B (physicians fees and other services) brings the total cut to $1.05 trillion over the first 10 years and $4.95 trillion over the first 20 years.

These draconian cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers that serve America's seniors were the basis for the Congressional Budget Office's official "score"—repeatedly cited by the president—that the health-reform legislation would actually reduce the federal deficit. But Mr. Obama never disclosed how that deficit reduction would actually be achieved.

There will be additional cuts under ObamaCare to Medicare Advantage, the private option to Medicare that close to one-fourth of all seniors have chosen for their coverage under the program because it gives them a better deal. Mr. Foster estimates that 50% of all seniors with Medicare Advantage will lose their plan because of these cuts. Mr. Obama's pledge that "If you like your health plan, you will be able to keep it" clearly does not apply to America's seniors.

Moreover, there will be additional cuts to Medicare adopted by bureaucrats at the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board. ObamaCare empowers this board to close Medicare financing gaps by adopting further Medicare cuts that would become effective without any congressional action. Mr. Foster reports that "The Secretary of HHS is required to implement the Board's recommendations unless the statutory process is overridden by new legislation."

The drastic reductions in Medicare reimbursements under ObamaCare will create havoc and chaos in health care for seniors. Many doctors, surgeons and specialists providing critical care to the elderly—such as surgery for hip and knee replacements, sophisticated diagnostics through MRIs and CT scans, and even treatment for cancer and heart disease—will cease serving Medicare patients. If the government is not going to pay, then seniors are not going to get the health services, treatment and care they expect.




City Council Meetings to Begin with Muslim Prayers: "In the wake of the battle over a mosque at Ground Zero, a move by the Hartford City Council is sure to have its critics. The Council announced Tuesday that it has invited local imams to perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of the Council meetings in September. Though meetings don't regularly begin with any form of prayer, an email from the Common Council called it "an act of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Missouri’s licensing boards: Killing jobs every day: "Decades ago, only doctors, lawyers, and accountants were required to get a license from the state before they could lawfully practice their professions. Over time, however, clever people in other lines of work realized that they could use the state government insulate themselves from competition by establishing licensing requirements and other regulatory barriers. The established interests in that profession would, of course, be ‘grandfathered’ in and so would not have to obtain the schooling or pass the examinations that would be required for those wishing to compete with them.”

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 September, 2010

Yearning for rites, ritual and group membership in the world of the individual

I have long argued (See particularly the subhead "Conservatives and emotion") that there is a human need for connectedness both with a group (which can be as broad as a nation) and with the past (which can be a family past or a national past). And conservatives easily satisfy that instinctive need with, for instance, concentration on the family and love of their country and its traditions.

Leftists, however, in their hatred of their own society, are largely cut off from such satisfactions -- hence their extremism and irrationality when they find something or someone whom they feel they can identify with -- from Adolf Hitler to Barack Obama, from Nazism to the many other forms of extreme Leftism (including Communism, Trotskyism etc.)

Interesting to see similar thinking below in a Westernized Australian Muslim. The examples of ritual and custom that he gives focus on Australia but similar American customs and rituals come easily to mind: Thanksgiving, 4th of July etc.

By Tanveer Ahmed

Life in our secular and material world often lacks ritual. From praying in a house of worship to participating in a family dinner, time-honoured rites have become less common. The demands of efficiency do not care for such intangible worth.

Ramadan, the holy month of fasting when Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset, is ending. It is believed the first verses of the Koran were revealed during this period, and its end is signalled by the sighting of the new moon.

My family is not religious, but it is a practice we like to perform. It binds us to our ancestral past and connects us to a cultural group. Almost all cultures have some tradition of fasting. Whether it is Catholics avoiding meat on Fridays, the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur, or Native American tribes fasting to stimulate ecstatic experiences: fasting is ubiquitous.

In modern times fasting has become more associated with political protest than religion. Gandhi is perhaps its most famous proponent, but more recently in Australia, asylum seekers have become the torch bearers. Tamils protesting at the maltreatment of their brethren in Sri Lanka are the latest examples.

As a psychiatrist, myths and their associated rituals often form the backdrop to many problems I see.

A growing group of my patients fall in the category of what is called borderline personality disorder, an illness where patients cannot calibrate their emotions and often engage in damaging behaviours like self-mutilation or food deprivation. They can suffer visions and a loss of boundaries. They usually present in their adolescence.

An American study in 2008 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found the prevalence was much higher than was previously thought, at around 6 per cent.

Many of these damaging behaviours are similar to rites of passage in more traditional cultures, suggesting the disorder may be related to the failure of Western, liberal culture to provide context and myth for meaningful phases in development. Their symptoms may actually be attempts at self healing gone astray in a culture bereft of an integrative spiritual and ritualistic context.

Individual narratives have their parallels in societies and communities. Anthropologists have long had a chicken and egg argument about the relationship between myths and ritual.

Anzac Day is an example. There have been record turnouts in recent years to dawn services in venues such as Martin Place, especially among young people. A new generation of Australians have embraced the Anzac legend as their most powerful myth of nationhood, and with it has come the ritual of attending the dawn service. It has helped fill a need in a post-religious society that no longer delivers ancient certainties to young people in search of spiritual nourishment.

Our most recent election could also be construed as a grand ritual built on a myth. Modern democracies hinge on the idea of representation, of one person standing for a much larger group of people, making the decisions "they" might expect to make had they been consulted. This mysterious link between representative and represented is established and renewed in ritual form; through elections.

An anthropologist at Sydney University, Stephen Juan, argues the yearning for ritual and group membership has never been greater, especially in a society becoming more fragmented and atomised. He points to a host of trends such as rave parties, the growth in events like outdoor concerts and the rise of radical religious movements such as Hillsong or Islamic extremism as part of the same pattern.

Juan has observed that even consumer rituals such as buying presents or shopping for oneself are examples of rituals of the least nourishing kind. "When in doubt, we go and buy. It makes us feel empowered, that we are deserving of love, albeit for an instant."

But even consumer rituals can have value when used to create social bonds and nourish interpersonal relationships, a fact marketers have long exploited, often resulting in people putting consumption ahead of the social bonds the act of shopping is meant to strengthen. And yet consuming more only increases our yearning for those bonds.



Even America's liberal elites concede that Obama's Presidency is crumbling
Democrats in Congress are no longer asking themselves whether this is going to be a bad election year for them and their party. They are asking whether it is going to be a disaster. The GOP pushed deep into Democratic-held territory over the summer, to the point where the party is well within range of picking up the 39 seats it would need to take control of the House. Overall, as many as 80 House seats could be at risk, and fewer than a dozen of these are held by Republicans.

Political handicappers now say it is conceivable that the Republicans could also win the 10 seats they need to take back the Senate. Not since 1930 has the House changed hands without the Senate following suit.

Is this a piece from National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal or Fox News.com, all major conservative news outlets in the United States? No. It’s a direct quote from yesterday’s Washington Post, usually viewed by conservatives as a flagship of the liberal establishment inside the Beltway. The fact The Post is reporting that not only could Republicans sweep the House of Representatives this November, but may even take the Senate as well, is a reflection of just how far the mainstream, overwhelmingly left-of-centre US media has moved in the last month towards acknowledging the scale of the crisis facing the White House.

To its credit, The Washington Post has generally been ahead of the curve compared to its main competitors such as The New York Times in reporting President Obama’s travails, but its striking front page coverage of the “Democrats’ plight” and talk of a possible GOP Senate win (regarded as fantasy just a fortnight ago) was a bold step for a publication that is probably read in every office of the Obama administration.

The Post also ran another headline yesterday on its front page – “Republicans making gains ahead of midterm elections” – which would undoubtedly have sent a shudder through the White House. It carried a new poll commissioned jointly with ABC News, which showed public faith in Barack Obama’s leadership has fallen to an all-time low, with just 46 percent approval. The Washington Post-ABC News survey revealed high levels of public unease with President Obama’s handling of the economy, with 57 percent of Americans disapproving, and 58 percent critical of his handling of the deficit.

For most of the year, America’s political and media elites, including the Obama team itself, have touted the notion of an economic recovery (which never materialised), significantly underestimated the rise of the Tea Party movement, and questioned the notion that conservatism was sweeping America.

It is only now hitting home just how close Washington is to experiencing a political revolution in November that will fundamentally change the political landscape on Capitol Hill, with huge implications for the Obama presidency. What was once a perspective confined largely to Fox News, online conservative news sites, or talk radio is now gaining ground in the liberal US print media as well – historic change is coming to America, though not quite the version promised by Barack Obama.



The Constitution Trumps Islamic Law

When reading stories about that formerly obscure Florida preacher who wants to mark the ninth anniversary of 9/11 by burning a stack of Qurans, bear in mind that the only law he breaks in doing so is Islamic law. With this in mind, it should become clear that the extraordinary global campaign against this stunt is yet another concerted effort, aided by an army's worth of useful fools, to bring our constitutional republic into conformance with Islamic law.

Islam demands "respect" with an intensity and strategic purpose well beyond other beliefs. (Still) don't believe me? For indelible culture contrast, imagine the worldwide body count in reaction to a hypothetical NEA-funded project entitled "Piss Mohammed," or the absence of a worldwide body count in reaction to the Army's actual decision to discard and burn a bunch of Bibles on a U.S. base in Afghanistan last year for fear of offending Muslims in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan -- a land where Christian converts (Abdul Rahman) and promoters of (minimal) women's rights (Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh) must flee with their lives, by the way.

What Islam is demanding, then, is a separate speech code for itself. This demand is manifested at the highest diplomatic levels in a strategic campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Islamic bloc of 57 nations that functions in the international arena as an Islamic supra-state. The OIC has long been maneuvering to bring international law into conformance with Islamic law by prohibiting "defamation of religions" -- namely Islam -- at the United Nations.

This same demand also manifests itself in the society-level assumption that Islam should somehow exist in a state of exaltation that no Western society grants any belief system, or any God.

That narrative, or rationale, tells us that burning a Quran causes murder and mayhem, putting our troops, our citizens, our cities and our interests at increased risk. In this narrative, the actual bad actors are absolved of both volition and blame. Similarly, drawing cartoons of Muhammad (Kurt Westergaard, Lars Vilks) -- or not drawing cartoons of Muhammad ("South Park") -- sermonizing about violence within Islam (the Pope), and critiquing Islam (Geert Wilders' "Fitna") are increasingly viewed as unacceptably "insensitive" and "disrespectful" provocations in Western society, regardless of their free-speech protections.

This is rank capitulation to dhimmitude, the non-Islamic state of deference to Islamic law, and it is now being repeated in the misdirected Western offensive against the Florida preacher -- an effort that should be turned into an unapologetic defense of his constitutional rights. Repeat after me: The Constitution trumps Islamic law.



Pataki: ObamaCare Individual Mandate "Patently Unconstitutional"

State lawsuits that argue against the constitutionality of ObamaCare under the Commerce Clause have considerable merit and could potentially come before the U.S. Supreme Court former New York Gov. George Pataki told reporters Wednesday during a question and answer period at The National Press Club.

In response to a question from The American Spectator that asked whether or not the state suits could potentially reach The Supreme Court, Pataki responded “Yes, I do.” But he also said that opponents should not rely on the judiciary alone and work toward the election of a new Congress more responsive to public sentiment.

“I think that there are legitimate constitutional issues when the federal government is imposing new burdens on the states, new burdens that they have to increase their Medicaid eligibility break when the states pay a significant part of that without providing any funding,” he observed.

Pataki continued, “I think there are some serious constitutional issues particularly when you are telling someone who just doesn’t want to be a part of the system that you’re going to get health care coverage acceptable to a Washington bureaucrat or we’re going to fine you.




US Marines storm pirate-held cargo ship: "US Marine commandos stormed a pirate-held cargo ship off the Somalia coast, reclaiming control and taking nine prisoners without firing a shot in the first such boarding ride by the international antipiracy flotilla, according to the US Navy. The mission — using small craft to reach the deck of German-owned vessel as the crew huddled in a safe room below — ranks among the most dramatic high seas confrontations with pirates by the task force created to protect shipping lanes off lawless Somalia. The crew managed to kill the engines before taking refuge in an panic room-style chamber, leaving the ship adrift and the pirates so frustrated they started damaging equipment after hijacking the vessel on Wednesday"

Switzerland: Shelter for newly separated husbands opens: "A trickle of newly separated Swiss fathers looking for shelter and help after marital breakdown have been finding a warm bed and a sympathetic ear from a pilot project on the shores of Lake Zurich. Unique in Switzerland, the project has seen the numbers of applications to stay in the house increasing every week. ‘80 percent of the time it is the wife asking for a divorce and the children stay in the family home while the father leaves with his suitcases and becomes more vulnerable,’ Cabalzar told Reuters.”

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 September, 2010

Our Waning Obama Worship: We Americans know not what we do

A touch of sarcasm from Victor Davis Hanson

In just 20 months, President Obama’s polls have crashed. From near 70 percent approval, they have fallen to well below 50 percent. Over 70 percent of the public disapproves of the Democratically controlled Congress. Hundreds of thousands of angry voters flocked to hear Glenn Beck & Co. on the Washington Mall. Indeed, things have gotten so bad that the cherubic Mormon Beck might outdraw Barack Obama himself on any given Sunday.

All this was not supposed to be — and it has evoked a lot of anger. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson thunders, “The American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.”

You see, hoi polloi want “easy solutions” — like trying to close an open border, cut federal spending, and balance the budget. Instead, they should be manning up to pay more for gas, more in taxes, and more for entitlements for more to come across the border.

Worse still, the uninformed voter cannot seem to appreciate the brilliance of Barack Obama, who has deigned to suffer on our behalf, in offering only unpopular but necessary solutions. Obama has tried his best to prepare an immature nation for amnesty, borrowing at record levels, cap and trade, and additional trillions of national debt — the castor oil that the obese and now constipated public for some reason just won’t swallow.

Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution chimes in with the thought that Neanderthal Americans can’t really distinguish between cause and effect. So in clueless fashion, they blame big deficits, big spending, and high unemployment on Obama, when what they’re really afraid of is the “browning of America.” In other words, we remain a nation of primitives resisting the future. “Successful black and brown professionals have had to learn to be comfortable in a sea of white faces, but most white Americans have not experienced the reverse. And many are not eager to have that experience. While some prognosticators were naïve enough to believe that Obama’s election signaled the beginning of a post-racial era, it prompted something altogether different: a backlash against the browning of America.”

Vanity Fair just ran yet another hit piece on the now-worn subject of the ogre Sarah Palin. Uppity Sarah, you see, is still on her hind legs — even after the 2008 swat from the Katie Couric set, the jogging-suit photos, and the true-story revelations from the philosopher Levi Johnston.

Worse still, Sarah is no longer quite the white-trash yokel with the snowmobiling husband and pregnant teenage daughter that so appealed to Cynthia Tucker’s backlash America. Instead, Palin has had the gall to have devolved into a fake yokel, with Michelle Obama–like fashion pretensions. So Vanity Fair shocks us with the dirt that the now-clothes-hungry former mayor of Wasilla is making some money speaking. She is not the sandwich-making mom of five that she used to be. And she doesn’t really do the moose-and-fish thing any more.

Still, in reading Vanity Fair’s bill of particulars, we wonder, “Compared to what?” Is Ms. Palin making any more money than the aggregate $100 million collected by good ol’ boy Bill Clinton — as he jetted his way around the globe between 2001 and 2009, offering his “aw shucks” global initiatives to any creepy foreign thug who would pony up the near-million-dollar fee? Are the now-orphaned Palin children missing their careerist mother more than, say, the Obama children missed their absentee father huckstering on the campaign trail for two years in 2007–2008? And is Ms. Palin really less of a game-eating shooter than the duck-hunting camouflaged John Kerry was in 2004?

The New York Times is just as let down with the volatile American mob that has stormed out in the middle of the sermon on the mount — after once so bravely thronging to the “god” who assured us that he would stop the flooding and cool the planet. Vero possumus indeed.

Americans, and even liberal New Yorkers, poll over 70 percent opposed to the so-called Ground Zero mosque — even after our president gave a courageous standing-ovation pep talk to a group of anguished Muslims at a White House Ramadan dinner. “New Yorkers,” the Times scoffed, “like other Americans, have a way to go.” My god, you would have thought that we had given a discount to moveon.org to run a slanderous “General Betray Us” ad, as an American general came back from the front to Washington to save a war.

The president himself is grieved by these polls and the Beck-led protests. Indeed, he derides it all as the “silly season.” He does not mean “silly” as in Michelle Obama’s Marbella–to–Martha’s Vineyard odyssey, or his own mini-recession summits on the golf links. Instead, like Robinson and Tucker, he is bewildered that millions don’t appreciate that our godhead is “making decisions that are not necessarily good for the nightly news and not good for the next election, but for the next generations.” I suppose here the president means that he is on schedule to add more debt than all previous presidents combined — just the sort of bravery that the “next generations” who will pay for it will appreciate.

In the case of Obama worship, the tone is always set at the top. So we are back to 2008, when candidate Obama likewise attributed any rejection to the inability of yokel America to appreciate his inspired leadership — “it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In short, a frustrated America has let the liberal elite down. And it is all the more disheartening when you think that just two years ago we proved sort of redeemable by electing Barack Obama — amid the hysteria following the financial panic of September 2008, the lackluster campaign of John McCain, Obama’s own faux-centrist veneer, the glow of electing America’s first African-American president, and the first orphaned election since 1952 when no incumbent of either party was running.

Apparently the liberal elite did not consider that perfect storm of events that elected a northern liberal in a way that had been impossible with George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and John Kerry. Instead, they really believed that Obama’s election was proof that at last America had shed its odious -isms and -ologies. America was now ready for an updated FDR New Deal — as if, after seven decades, America had never tasted Social Security, unemployment and disability insurance, a 40-hour work week, and trillions in unfunded pensions and entitlements. In this “never let a crisis go to waste” teachable moment, the cognitive elite was convinced that America had at last crossed the liberal threshold and so evolved from the passé equality of opportunity to the promised equality of result.

But now a grouchy elite and a petulant president see that they were sorely mistaken about us, and Mr. Obama’s election was more flukish than predestined. Americans were given government takeovers of business, multi-trillion-dollar deficits, promised higher taxes, a path to socialized medicine, and an end to building the odious border fence — with, to top it all off, accusations from the likes of Van Jones and Eric Holder, apologies and bows abroad, and the beer summit. And yet the rustic ingrates are rejecting both the benefactor and his munificence.

Forgive us, Barack Obama, for we know not what we do.



Tea Partiers give an answer to decades of Leftist slanders about conservatives

It will come as news to no one that conservatism has long had a PR problem. The political question of 2010 is this: do America's voters finally "get" conservatism?

For a half-century or more, conservatism's public image has covered a vast spectrum ranging from the Neanderthals on one end to Genghis Khan on the other. Conservatism has been depicted as the political doctrine of Klansmen, inbred backwoodsmen, paranoids, and religious fanatics. (Timothy McVeigh, an atheist and anarchist, is almost always characterized as a "right-wing Christian.. I know of no case where this assertion has been corrected.)

Joe McCarthy (a former New Deal liberal) added an unsavory element of power abuse, Richard Nixon (who governed as a leftist exceeded only by Barack Obama) a dank aura of personality disorder. Derived from all this was the implication, long hard-pedaled by the left, that no decent or moral person would have anything to do with such types, much less vote for them or offer moral or political support. This slur has proven effective for decades. It has acquired the status of an axiom, demanding no proof or evidence, reinforced by casual references and asides from all corners of American culture -- music, films, novels, news and commentary, and political rhetoric. It remains in force today, as the treatment of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin clearly reveal....

Leftist influence on media and education also put them in a position to debase the conservative image. "Extremist" became the term of choice. Conservative fascination with Europe enabled the left to tar conservatives with the fascist brush. A concerted effort was made in the 1961-64 period to associate the new conservatism with wild-eyed fringe types. News reports from monopoly wire services and Big Three networks featured bizarre and often fake stories about "right-wing" paramilitary groups such as the Minutemen (no relation to the current organization) and the Rangers drilling in the backwoods, spiced with conspiracy theories concerning U.S. military coup plans. All quite familiar from our vantage point, but a novelty at the time.

The American public perhaps only half-bought into all this, but they were deluged with it constantly by an unchallenged national media operating from ultraliberal New York City. On the smoke/fire principle, many thought better than to associate with such "extremists" even though the "extreme" positions were no different from those of the average American. The conservative "extremist" label was one of liberalism's most brilliant ploys, one that was to pay them enormous dividends over the ensuing half-century.

Conservatives could not shake the "extremist" label or overcome the "fascist" accusation. "Racist" soon joined the lexicon with the belated recognition of the civil rights movement by the Democrats. With such a public image, any crime was plausible -- and the left didn't hesitate to throw every possible innuendo. Many of them stuck.

As a result, the American public, though voting conservative and supporting conservative policies, could not be persuaded to openly march under the conservative banner. Such hesitation is easily understood -- who would happily accept the labels of "fascist" or "racist"? That, in large part, is how it remained until the turn of the century....

The watershed has arrived with the Tea Parties. Triggered by a single cable news broadcast, nurtured by the net and talk radio, the Tea Parties brought out tens of thousands of Americans previously uninvolved in politics, many of whom would have denied any conscious connection to conservatism. They were by no means movement conservatives, of either the Northeast or cowboy variety, but instead average Americans who saw their cherished traditions placed under threat by a runaway central government -- which plainly renders them purer conservatives than any given faction. (It's a disturbing but undeniable fact that many of the conservative East-Coast elite, such as David Brooks and Kathleen Parker, have been dismissive of the Tea Parties, to put it mildly.)

The left, working through the media, opened the customary cans of invective and innuendo on the Tea Parties, attempting to paint them with the long-established labels of "racist" and "extremist." This time, it didn't stick. Was it the waning power of the legacy media, a new maturity within the public mind, or simply the fact that most of these new activists were ordinary, everyday people? Whatever the case, the tried-and-true "extremist" shtick failed. The Tea Parties were able to operate effectively free of the "extremist" myth. For the first time in living memory, a conservative movement was allowed to establish itself through its own actions and rhetoric.

The year 2010 is likely to be a banner year for the conservative impulse in American life. The Tea Parties have already pushed aside several go-along-to-get-along Republican hacks (which in itself repudiates accusations of partisanship). The sweep of corrupt and ideologized Democrats promises to be an order of magnitude larger. But the 2010 election may well turn into no more than another good election season if we don't take advantage of the disarray in the left's messaging system.

We need to look farther and deeper than a single election. We need to bury the calumnies against conservatism that have given the left the advantage for a half-century and longer. To remove the weapon of slander from leftist hands. Elite conservatives failed to attempt this for decade upon decade. The time has arrived to see that it gets done. We must move to change the culture, to establish once and for all the truth that conservatism is a core element of American life, that it is no oddity, no perversion, no dead end. That the modernist political debate is over, with the failure of leftist progressivism manifest and undeniable, and that the game must now be played on American terms.

We will have no better opportunity than this. That most American of political phenomena, the Tea Parties, has established once and for all that conservatism is American and that America is a conservative nation. If we can build upon this, our road will be a lot smoother than it has been.

More here



Castro: Cuban model “doesn’t even work for us any more”: "Cuban revolutionary icon Fidel Castro has joked [sic] that the ‘Cuban model doesn’t even work for us any more,’ the Atlantic magazine reported Wednesday. … Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Council on Foreign Relations who was present at the meeting was quoted as saying Castro ‘wasn’t rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgement that under ‘the Cuban model’ the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country.’”

Entrepreneurs under attack: "Every day, federal, state and local governments stifle small businesses to privilege well-connected incumbent companies. It’s a system of protectionism for influential insiders who don’t want competition. Every locality has its share of business moguls who are cozy with politicians. Together, they use the power of government to keep competition down and prices high.”

Will infrastructure repairs cut unemployment?: "Whenever the economy is in recession, lots of people claim we can ‘put America back to work by rebuilding the infrastructure.’ So I am not surprised that President Obama has decided to continue the ‘infrastructure’ mantra in his latest economic plan. … The $50 billion in ‘front-loaded’ spending likely means Obama will direct money quickly to those states and congressional districts where the Democratic incumbents are in trouble.”

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 September, 2010

Why the Right Fears Transforming America -- and the Left Seeks It

A good basic statement from Dennis Prager below

The giveaway regarding presidential candidate Barack Obama's plans for America was his repeated use of the words "fundamentally transform." Some of us instinctively reacted negatively -- in fact, with horror -- at the thought of fundamentally transforming America. The "us" are conservatives.

One unbridgeable divide between left and right is how each views alternatives to present-day America. Those on the left imagine an ideal society that has never existed, and therefore seek to "fundamentally transform" America. When liberals imagine an America fundamentally transformed, they envision it becoming a nearly utopian society in which there is no greed, no racism, no sexism, no inequality, no poverty and ultimately no unhappiness.

Conservatives, on the other hand, look around at other societies and history and are certain that if America were fundamentally transformed, it would become just like those other societies. America would become a society of far less liberty, of ethically and morally inferior citizens and of much more unhappiness. And cruelty would increase exponentially around the world.

Conservatives believe that America is an aberration in human history; that, with all the problems that a society made up of flawed human beings will inevitably have, America has been and remains a uniquely decent society. Therefore, conservatives worry that fundamentally transforming America -- making America less exceptional -- will mean that America gets much worse.

Liberals worry over the opposite possibility -- that America will remain more or less as it is. Two famous statements encapsulate the operative liberal worldview.

The first was attributed to Robert F. Kennedy by his brother Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were, and ask, 'Why not?'"

The other is one of the most popular songs of the last 50 years, John Lennon's "Imagine":
"Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today.

"Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too, Imagine all the people, living life in peace.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.

"Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world.

"You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one."

Regarding the Kennedy quote, a conservative would respond something like this:

We conservatives look at America and ask, how did something so decent, so different from other societies, ever get created and last over 200 years? Of course, we always seek to improve it. But more than anything else, we seek to preserve it and its core values. We do not "dream of things that never were." We dream the same dream as our American forefathers did -- to maintain a society committed to the values of E Pluribus Unum, Liberty and In God We Trust. As for utopian dreams, we believe they are more likely to result in nightmares -- horrors that would engulf America and the world if America were to be transformed.

To Lennon's song, a conservative would respond:

Lennon's utopia is our dystopia. A world without God to give people some certitude that all their suffering is not meaningless is a nightmare. A world without religion means a world without any systematic way of ennobling people. A world without countries is a world without the United States of America, and it is a world governed by the morally imbecilic United Nations, where mass murderers sit on its "human rights" councils. A world without heaven or hell is a world without any ultimate justice, where torturers and their victims have identical fates -- oblivion. A world without possessions is a world in which some enormous state possesses everything, and the individual is reduced to the status of a serf.

Liberals frequently criticize conservatives for fearing change. That is not correct. We fear transforming that which is already good. The moral record of humanity does not fill us with optimism about "fundamentally transforming" something as rare as America. Evil is normal. America is not.



Political Fables

Thomas Sowell

President Barack Obama boldly proclaims, "The buck stops here!" But, whenever his policies are criticized, he acts as if the buck stopped with George W. Bush.

The party line that we are likely to be hearing from now until the November elections is that Obama "inherited" the big federal budget deficits and that he has to "clean up the mess" left in the economy by the Republicans. This may convince those who want to be convinced, but it will not stand up under scrutiny.

No President of the United States can create either a budget deficit or a budget surplus. All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and all taxes are voted into law by Congress.

Democrats controlled both houses of Congress before Barack Obama became president. The deficit he inherited was created by the Congressional Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who did absolutely nothing to oppose the runaway spending. He was one of the biggest of the big spenders.

The last time the federal government had a budget surplus, Bill Clinton was president, so it was called "the Clinton surplus." But Republicans controlled the House of Representatives, where all spending bills originate, for the first time in 40 years. It was also the first budget surplus in more than a quarter of a century.

The only direct power that any president has that can affect deficits and surpluses is the power to veto spending bills. President Bush did not veto enough spending bills but Senator Obama and his fellow Democrats in control of Congress were the ones who passed the spending bills.

Today, with Barack Obama in the White House, allied with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in charge in Congress, the national debt is a bigger share of the national output than it has been in more than half a century. And its share is projected to continue going up for years to come, becoming larger than national output in 2012.

Having created this scary situation, President Obama now says, "Don't give in to fear. Let's reach for hope." The voters reached for hope when they elected Obama. The fear comes from what he has done since taking office.

Another political fable is that the current economic downturn is due to not enough government regulation of the housing and financial markets. But it was precisely the government regulators, under pressure from politicians, who forced banks and other lending institutions to lower their standards for making mortgage loans. These risky loans, and the defaults that followed, were what set off a chain reaction of massive financial losses that brought down the whole economy.

Was this due to George W. Bush and the Republicans? Only partly. Most of those who pushed the lowering of mortgage lending standards were Democrats-- notably Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, though too many Republicans went along.

When President Bush said in 2004 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be reined in, 76 members of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the contrary. These included Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel.

More here


Obama is pulling down the shades on union financial disclosure

Should a union officer be able to keep his full compensation from the union treasury secret from the members? Should a union officer be able to accept personal payments from businesses the union has dealings with and then keep such dealings confidential?

Most would think the answer to these questions is an obvious “no.” Union management does not agree and they are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars from their members’ dues to prevent any such reporting and disclosure.

The reason I know this is that I spent eight years at the U.S. Department of Labor attempting to get unions to comply with such reporting requirements and they fought us every step on the way. With the arrival of President Obama, all such requirements are being rolled back or the Labor Department is refusing to enforce them until such a time as they can be rolled back.

More here



NY: Unarmed orthodox Jews patrol neighborhoods: "On Thursday night in Brooklyn, a suspect was chased and quickly surrounded by a group of patrolmen in blue uniform jackets who ordered him to halt. The man, David Flores, 33, who witnesses say was fondling himself in front of children in a Hasidic section of Brooklyn known as Borough Park, was about to be caught by the men in blue. He began shooting at the men, all unarmed, with a .22-caliber handgun, the authorities said, hitting and wounding four before being tackled. Although these streets are in the jurisdiction of the New York Police Department — the 66th Precinct — these patrolmen were not police officers. In fact, two were bakers, one was a dry cleaner and the fourth sells insurance.”

Troops don't believe Uncle Sam: "Uncle Sam wants to give free, no-strings-attached money to about 145,000 troops involuntarily kept on duty after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but is having trouble persuading them that it’s not a gimmick. Last October, Congress approved retroactive bonus pay for military personnel who were forced to remain on duty beyond their original discharge date, a controversial policy known as ’stop-loss.’ Lawmakers approved back pay of $500 for each month of involuntary service; the average lump sum due is between $3,500 and $3,800. To get the cash, an application must be submitted by Oct. 21; only about a third of those eligible have handed in paperwork.”

Legal bid to halt snooping U.S. airport staff: "Civil rights lawyers are suing the US Government to stop authorities from snooping in the laptops, mobile phones and cameras of international travellers without probable cause. The lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Brooklyn against the Department of Homeland Security as well as US customs and immigration authorities. The government did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of the National Press Photographers Association, criminal defense lawyers and the student: Pascal Abidor, a 26-year-old French-American citizen whose laptop computer was confiscated at the Canadian border." [The searches are a blatant breach of the 4th amendment]

'More than half think Barack Obama is doing a bad job on the economy': "More than half of Americans believe Barack Obama is doing a bad job on the economy, according to a new poll, marking the first time the majority has voiced their disapproval. Some 57 per cent of Americans disapprove of Mr Obama's overall handling of the economy, while his job approval rating is also at a low, with 52 per cent saying he is not doing well. However there is some hope for the Democrats as only 32 per cent think Republican economic plans would work, although voters would favour a Republican candidate over a Democrat by 53 per cent to 40 per cent, according to the poll by ABC and The Washington Post."

OH: Bary granted US residency: "A runaway who said her father threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity from Islam has been granted permanent residency in the United States, her lawyer told CNN on Tuesday. Rifqa Bary, 18, who was an undocumented immigrant until recently, left her family in Columbus, Ohio, in July 2009 and took refuge in the home of a minister in Orlando, Florida. The girl was later moved into foster care after she said in an affidavit that her Muslim father had threatened her after finding out about her conversion. Her father denies the allegation.”

“Stimulus” snake oil: "A year after the US economy stopped falling, we are still mired in ‘the worst labor-market crisis since the Great Depression,’ writes Laura Tyson in The New York Times. Voicing the consensus of the left-liberal economic establishment — she’s reportedly a leading candidate to head up President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers — Tyson argues that the US unemployment rate, still stuck at 9.6 percent, is reason to try ‘a second fiscal stimulus’ to raise ‘aggregate demand.’ She’s wrong in a number of illuminating ways.”

The precedent for the NYC mosque: "Muslim followers of Shariah law have long built mosques on the most cherished and sacred sites of the peoples they have conquered – on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, at Constantinople’s St. Sophia Basilica (now Istanbul), and in Cordoba, Spain, the capital of the occupying Moors’ Islamic kingdom. Many Hindu and Buddhist temples also were destroyed in Asia and now lay underneath prominent mosques. These are the “facts on the ground” of Islamic conquest and religious supercessionism."

Here we go again: "Innumerable arguments and research have been produced showing that government stimulus is useless. Despite what President Obama and his cheerleaders in the academy, like Princeton’s Paul Krugman, seem to believe (or at least say), there is no evidence that government stimuli do anything to restore market activities. Such policies merely take funds from the right pocket and put it into the left while most often the transfer entails wasting a lot of resources so the net effect is widespread economic loss.”

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 September, 2010

Shana Tova to my Jewish readers

For non-Jewish readers, Rosh Hashanah is the main Jewish "New Year". It begins this year at sunset September 8. "Shana Tova" is a wish for the recipient to have a good new year.


Why Islamic Moderates Are So Scarce

As past statements of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf continue to surface, many Americans have concluded that the would-be builder of a mosque at Ground Zero is lying when he calls himself a “moderate” representative of his faith. The more disturbing possibility, however, is that he’s telling the truth — that Rauf is indeed the voice of mainstream Islam.

One indication is the resounding silence from the rest of the Islamic community. If that community were truly moderate — as we in the West understand the term — one might expect it to distance itself from a man who blames the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks, says we have more innocent blood on our hands than al-Qaeda, and refuses to disown the genocidal agenda of Hamas.

A few brave Muslim individuals have indeed come out against the mosque, but they are exceptions. Where are the large numbers of Muslims who find Rauf’s statements offensive? Where are their organizations and institutions? Why aren’t they weighing in to repudiate Rauf and his apparent aims?

It’s a common problem. Each time some new offense is perpetrated in the name of Islam — whether it’s the latest suicide bombing in a public square or a woman’s being beaten and mutilated by her own family — it is mostly Western leaders and the press who voice their disapproval. The more one looks for the larger Muslim community to denounce the violence, the more “moderate Islam” seems to vanish like a mirage in the desert.

Why this is so — what happened to moderate Islam and what sort of hope we may have for it in the future — is the subject of Robert Reilly’s brilliant and groundbreaking new book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind. Reilly is a veteran of the Reagan White House, director of the Voice of America under George W. Bush, a board member of the Middle East Media Research Institute, and a frequent contributor to numerous national publications. He has made a deep dive into Muslim thought and history to discover the sources of the present Islamic condition.

The result is anything but dry. Closing is a page-turner that reads almost like an intellectual detective novel. It is among those few brave books on Islam — others would include Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and Andrew McCarthy’s recent The Grand Jihad — that should be read by anyone who wants to understand one of the most fundamental causes of conflict in the 21st century.

Reilly does in fact locate the elusive moderate Islam — back in the 8th and 9th centuries, when the rationalist Mu’tazilites dominated Islamic thought under Caliph al-Ma’mun. The period is often referred to as the “golden age of Islam,” when that civilization produced some of its highest achievements in philosophy and science. It didn’t last. In 849, the second year of the reign of Caliph Ja’afar al-Mutawakkil, the Mu’tazilites were overthrown. Holding Mu’tazilite beliefs became a crime punishable by death, and the decidedly anti-rationalist Ash’arites soon came to dominate the faith, as they would continue to do, in one form or another, through the modern era.

What makes Closing so compelling is Reilly’s ability to tie seemingly arcane questions of Islamic theology to many of the characteristics of Islamic civilization that we in the West find so hard to fathom. Fundamentally, Ash’arism was a rejection of “natural law” and reason in favor of an all-powerful God of pure will and power. The idea of an ordered universe that behaves according to certain ordained laws — whether moral or physical — would have been understood by the Mu’tazilites. For the Ash’arites, this was blasphemy, an outrage against God’s omnipotence.

In the language of philosophy, this way of looking at the world is known, somewhat confusingly, as “voluntarism.” To quote Reilly, it “holds that God is the primary cause of everything and there are no secondary causes. There is no causal mediation. Therefore, what may seem to be ‘natural laws,’ such as the laws of gravity, physics, etc. are really nothing more than God’s customs or habits, which He is at complete liberty to break or change at any moment.”

While Christianity recognizes the possibility of miracles, when God intervenes to supersede natural law, in Islam every nanosecond is the functional equivalent of a miracle, the result of God’s divine act. Thus there is no law of gravity, only God’s will, determining moment by moment that the apple will fall from the tree. Neither is there any morality, no objective good and evil as we in the West would see it, only the arbitrary decrees of an all-powerful God. There is no “truth that is written in our hearts,” only the truths that are written in the Koran, which could just as well be otherwise if such were the whim of God. As Ibn Hazm pronounced in the 11th century, “He judges as He pleases, and whatever He judges is just. . . . If God the Exalted had informed us that He would punish us for the acts of others . . . all that would have been right and just.”

The problem, one might say, is obvious. In science, the repudiation of natural law meant the explicit denial of cause and effect. No wonder that the rise of the Ash'arites coincided with the decline of a once-vibrant Islamic intellectual culture after the 13th century. And no wonder that societies that exalt the power and arbitrary will of God to the exclusion of reason can hardly understand, let alone embrace, modern democratic institutions, which are founded, as our Declaration of Independence makes clear, in the self-evident and enduring truths of natural law.

Nor can we be surprised that such cultures endorse institutionalized domestic violence or rampant terrorism and the murder of innocents. As hard as it is for the secular Left to accept, Western culture is founded on and steeped in the Judeo-Christian assumption that our innate understanding of what is right is a direct reflection of God’s goodness and justice as reflected in His universal law, to which even He adheres. We make a mistake when we assume other cultures are necessarily speaking the same moral language.

Is there a possibility that Islam can find its way back to the root philosophies of its golden age? There are those within Islam who want to, but — like the voices raised in opposition to the mosque — they are lonely, even threatened, outposts within their faith. One thing Reilly’s account makes clear: Only when we move beyond the common platitudes of our contemporary political discussion and begin to deal with Islam as it really is — rather than the fiction that it is the equivalent of our Western culture dressed up in a burqa — will we be able to help make progress in that direction.



Yes, we do need government: Just not as much of it as many seem to think

No, I've not read Tony's maunderings and no, I'm not going to. However, there is one interesting little story that's emerged:
The former Prime Minister describes how he supported pension reforms proposed by Adair Turner but these were opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time. Lord Turner recommended raising the State pension age and restoring some linkage with earnings – both changes now planned by the Coalition Government – but Mr Brown was thought to be against these reforms. Now we know just how much so.

Mr Blair’s book ‘A Journey’ says: “We had been having a huge set-to about Adair Turner’s pension proposals. John Hutton (the pensions secretary) and I both thought them right but Gordon disagreed.

“He was in a venomous mood and I can truthfully say it was the ugliest meeting we had ever had…the temperature which was already below freezing point went Arctic.”

Mr Blair goes on to relate how Mr Brown threatened to call for an inquiry into allegations that wealthy friends of the Prime Minister had gained seats in the House of Lords after making donations to the Labour Party. Mr Blair claims Mr Brown said he would expose what became known as the ‘cash for honours’ scandal unless Lord Turner’s proposals were dropped.

Government is needed because there really are some collective action problems that cannot be solved without the existence of government (sorry anarchists!). But that does not mean that all of the problems of the world are amenable to government action and that we thus require a government so large as to try and solve all such problems.

For, as we can see, those who actually make up government do not in fact attempt to solve those problems. They're far too much like the rest of us fallible human beings, willing to snit and scrabble for short term advantage for themselves while ignoring the large scale and long term problems.

No, I don't say this was unique to Brown: James Buchanan received the Nobel for pointing out that all politicians, all bureaucrats, are susceptible to exactly the same urges. They are, after all, just people and people everywhere react to incentives.

All of which leads us to he conclusion that while we do require government to solve those problems that only government can solve we really don't want them doing anything at all other than what only government can do. For the rest of it we'll make our own mistakes thanks very much.



The AMA and central planning

Physicians of the Florida Medical Association recently sent a message on health care reform to America and the AMA: The FMA has "no confidence" in "the ability of the AMA leadership to effectively protect the Profession of Medicine in America". AMA leadership aided politicians with dark of night votes -- overcoming bipartisan opposition of a bill that had been rejected by the America people. The AMA provided political cover for a government and corporate takeover of medicine that breaks the trust between patients and doctors -- a betrayal of the finest medical care in the history of the world. Americans cannot trust the AMA leadership on health care at this time.

This expansion of power over patients by bureaucrats and corporate accountants is a threat to the lives of Americans. Technocrats are creating a rationing system in America to deny care to people who need it most -- and who paid for it. The AMA endorsed a bill creating panels that are deciding that cancer drugs decreasing suffering at end of life are "too expensive". Committees are coercing doctors to withhold antibiotics at 24 hours after surgery despite proof that this increases infection rates. Panels force doctors to inappropriately give beta blockers to some heart attack patients resulting in shock and accidental death. Arrogant and untouchable elitists are deciding what medical care patients receive -- not patients with doctors as their trusted advisor.

This is an example of a system that has failed throughout history: Central economic planning. Political committees decide the cost and availability of goods and services. Price controls and rationing are imposed, leading to shortages in physicians, medicines, and surgeries that have given Americans the best cancer survival, shortest waiting times and most patient satisfaction. The AMA endorsed a plan without tort reform that allows nurses and pharmacists to practice medicine. It also expands 16 million people into a failed Medicaid system where patients must go to the ER for care and bankrupts our country for our children. The future of waiting lines, rationing, lower quality and bankruptcy are writ large in its proto-type: Romney care in Massachusetts. Like Obamacare, doctors are put on a budget and punished if they spend a penny more on their patients. Medicare and other patients that would seek to escape from this system will lose all the benefits that they earned through a lifetime of payroll theft.

The original proposal at the FMA was to withdraw our delegation to the AMA -- a separate organization. But one doesn't withdraw Congressmen from Washington and the FMA now seeks to have the AMA once again stand up for the medical profession as a trusted servant of the patient -- not a servant of the state or insurance companies. FMA physicians echoed the sentiment of so many Americans today: we have "no confidence" in the ability of elite politicians to preserve medical freedom for our patients.

In an Op. Ed. In the Florida Times-Union, Brian Klepper and David Kibbe attacked me and the FMA as representing the "Old Guard" and fighting against "progressive" change embraced by AMA leadership. The hailed the ability of people like them (who don't practice medicine) to use computers to micromanage medical care and complain that doctors make money by caring for patients - even as these members of the elite special interest culture work as high priced medical industry consultants. Kibbe sold two health information technology companies and now stands to profit from government mandated computer records. Computer records that are more like Big Brother watching to make sure your doctor is "efficiently" saving money for state-run insurance. Big Brother medicine will actively penalize doctors if they don't ration care. No patient can trust their doctor in such a system.

As a member of the "old guard" that puts patients first and bureaucrats and insurance companies last, I am proud to lead the way to send a clear message to the AMA leadership: start standing up for patients. Like most doctors, I see the AMA leadership as betraying American medicine. I am working to repeal government run medicine and replace it with the great FMA plan that puts patients in charge, lowers costs, and increases quality so the best days of medicine will be ahead of us, and not behind us.




Petraeus: Quran burning will endanger American lives: "The US commander of the Afghan war has warned that troops’ lives will be endangered if a Florida evangelical church goes ahead with a planned burning of the Koran on Saturday’s 9/11 anniversary. General David Petraeus said the planned torching of Islam’s holy book would be a propaganda coup for the Taliban in Afghanistan and stoke anti-US sentiment across the Muslim world. The Dove World Outreach Center at Gainesville, Florida says it will burn copies of the Koran on this weekend’s ninth anniversary of the September 11 airborne attacks in protest at what it calls ‘the evil of Islam.’”

Taliban threaten to attack Afghan polling stations: "The Taliban vowed Sunday to attack polling places in Sept. 18 parliamentary elections, warning Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote. Meanwhile, two coalition troops, one British and one from the Republic of Georgia, were killed in fighting in the turbulent south, while a political rival of President Hamid Karzai questioned his approach to pending talks with rebels who might be persuaded to abandon the insurgency.”

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 September, 2010

Muslims and Hispanic illegals: Can we judge the present by the past?

I originally wrote the comments below for my IMMIGRATION WATCH blog but I think they have a place here too -- JR

It is generally true that the past is the best guide to the future that we have but that is not to say that it is always a good guide. Does anybody seriously think that (say) America of 100 years ago is the same as the America of today?

Yet by far the commonest argument coming from the Left about immigration in general and about Muslim immigrants in particular is precisely that America of today IS just like the America of 100 years ago. You can read the latest such article in the NYT (by Kristof). It is an argument so hackneyed by now that he could almost have written it in his sleep. Maybe he did.

The argument is that the Irish, Italians and others who came to America in the 19th century were viewed with grave suspicion by many and suffered from discrimination but in the end blended in seamlessly with Americans of other ancestries: The melting pot.

From that Kristoff and others conclude that Muslims will eventually "melt" into a homogeneous American population also. And perhaps many will. But there are two crucial difference that will at least greatly hinder full integration:

1). In the 19th and most of the 20th century, immigrants were EXPECTED to assimilate whereas these days multiculturalism reigns and the very word "assimilate" is almost an obscenity to the Left.

2). The Italians, Irish and Poles came from CHRISTIAN backgrounds so had a considerable degree of common culture with Americans originating from earlier waves of immigration. More to the point they did not come from a culture that DESPISES Christian and post-Christian civilization, whereas Muslims do.

It is a basic imperative of Islam to attack and if possible conquer other civilizations -- and they have been doing it more or less continuously ever since the conquests led by Mohammed himself. They were even attacking Christian targets at the time of America's War of Independence and President Jefferson sent warships to combat them.

So the wave of Muslim immigrants is a wave of people whose basic teachings are hostile to America. That has never happened before and therefore makes comparisons with previous immigrant waves invalid.

The controversy over the "Ground Zero" mosque in NYC has of course brought to the fore the question of how Americans should react to Muslims in their midst. I myself, as an Australian living in the happy obscurity of a small Australian city most people have never even heard of, have no dog in that fight. I think the response to the mosque proposal is for New Yorkers and New Yorkers alone to judge. But I don't think it is unreasonable for New Yorkers to be hostile to anything Muslim given the hostility of Islam to the West.

But Muslims are still a very small immigrant group in America and the long-standing argument about immigration to America is about Latino illegals, not Muslims. And here we see the same argument from the Left: People who arrived legally from Europe a century or so ago eventually assimilated so people who arrive illegally from Mexico (etc.) will also eventually assimilate. And no doubt many will and in fact many have already done so.

But arriving legally and arriving illegally are two very different things and Europe is also very different from Latin America. Europe is the fountainhead of modern civilization whereas Latin America is a civilizational backwater (to put it kindly). So once again there are large differences between earlier arrivals and recent ones that create considerable potential for outcomes different from what we have seen in the past.

And the omens for Hispanic illegals assimilating are not good. The children of Irish, Polish, Italian (etc.) legal immigrants became indistinguishable from other Americans but that is not so with the Hispanics. That Hispanics have a notably higher crime-rate than non-Hispanic whites is concern enough but their children are even worse, even more prone to criminality. As well as black gang-bangers America now has a proliferation of Hispanic gang bangers. Far from assimilating into the mainstream, the children of the illegals have moved even further away from it.

So once again the complexities of reality upset the simplistic theories of the Left. Neither in the case of Muslims nor in the case of Hispanic illegals can we expect the universal assimilation of the past. Permanently hostile subgroups are instead to be expected. Americans are right to be concerned about that.


More democracy needed

Yes, a divide exists. There are two Americas. Those who believe in the “wisdom of crowds” and those who believe in the wisdom of Washington elites. It is a much more meaningful dichotomy to examine than the two parties.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen seems to understand this best. His Rasmussen Reports polling company constantly asks questions the establishment polling outfits don’t. For one, he breaks down his poll respondents into the “Political Class” and “Mainstream Americans.”

Now, I’m not certain the three-question test he uses to separate folks into these groups is the absolute best way to do so, but one doesn’t have to buy into Rasmussen’s specific criteria to see that his general conception is an interesting prism through which to view politics.

Last month, by Rasmussen’s criteria, 67 percent of people in the “Political Class” said the country is headed in the right direction, while 84 percent of so-called Mainstream Americans said we’re headed the wrong way. Other Rasmussen surveys show similar massive chasms between the views of the Political Class and Mainstream Americans.

On Friday, Rasmussen Reports released polling showing that 71 percent of Americans support requiring a national vote to approve any changes in Social Security passed by Congress. When it comes to raising taxes 61 percent of us want a tax hike approved by Congress to go to a national vote to be approved or rejected by the people, with 33 in opposition.

A national vote? Those who believe “representative government” to be a device to get the unwashed masses arms-length or further from deciding any issue of governance will bemoan such a vote as unworkable and dangerous. Those who believe representative government is all about the people actually being represented will have no dilemma with allowing the people to represent themselves at the ballot box.

On the issue of a national vote there is again a stark difference of opinion between the Political Class, who oppose a public vote on changes to Social Security (60%) or on raising taxes (73%), and Mainstream Americans, who support a vote on entitlement changes (78%) and tax increases (72%).

Rasmussen Reports is ahead of the game in another way, too. He’s been tracking the key political question of all: Does our government have the consent of the governed?

The answer in July was that 23 percent of us feel the government has that consent; 62 percent believe it does not. That’s actually an improvement from February, when only 21 percent felt the government possessed public consent.

Obviously, we don’t trust our government. Just as obviously, we shouldn’t. Our government must earn our trust. Politicians can start this process by trusting the wisdom and common sense of the people.

Last January, I suggested a three-issue commitment all candidates worthy of support should have no difficulty embracing: support for term limits, ballot initiative and referendum, and transparency. Political leaders capable of representing Mainstream Americans must (1) agree to hold power only temporarily, with a departure date certain, (2) serve us by establishing a process where “We the People” get to vote and trump the political elite, and (3) provide the public the information necessary to judge the decisions made by government.

We want our rulers to become our servants. It’s history’s rarest achievement.



The developing Obama depression

This week President Obama took to the White House press corps and by extension to the nation to claim that the nation saw job growth of 67,000 jobs in August. Even if this number was real it would be a pitifully tiny percent of the 14,885,000 who are both on unemployment (1 in 10 Americans) as well as those 23,768,000 who are underemployed (working but not earning enough for basic needs - 1 in 5 families).

The bigger problem for the president however is that the number isn't real. The fact is the nation saw 114,000 people added to the unemployment lines in August and the net jobs lost for the month sat at 54,000. In all the "summer of recovery"--as both President Obama and Vice President Biden pronounced it--saw 238,000 more jobs disappear.

Telling the nation that his plans have taken the economy in the right direction, and implying that the nation is seeing a recovery in the area of employment is either willfully dishonest, or painfully, even treacherously naive. At the rate of this "recovery" another 317,333 workers could be sitting on the sidelines before the end of the year.

Additionally we are now on track to see the single largest collection of tax increases ever proposed take the Obama economy even further into the tank. In less than 120 days President Obama's plan to add a collective 18.6% to the federal tax burden will continue the economic downward spiral into record breaking depression-era territory. And remember he repeatedly said--on the campaign trail--that he should be elected expressly to prevent the nation's economy from complete deterioration.

Instead unemployment that was growing in the transition from Bush to Obama has exploded to double what it was under Bush. Even worse this means that while 14,885,000 Americans are claiming unemployment assistance, some 23,768,000 families are presently struggling through work that they have but are unable to meet their basic needs.

And about the time we are belting out Auld Lang Syne this holiday season, President Obama will raise all five income levels of tax categories between 3-5%.

Ironically the President will be raising the rate on the category that is home to seventy-five percent of all small businesses in America by the largest increase. I call it ironic because it is the small business community in America that hires 2 out of every 3 new workers in America. Eventually it all adds up.

The president is not pushed on this issue by the press. The president's team pretends that these realities do not exist. The president himself is willing to perpetuate the false notion that the stimulus package set up a "recovery summer" that in truth ended up in greater pain than it began with.

None of this takes into effect the additional costs that will be incurred by taxpayers when the full implementation of President Obama's control of one-sixth of the economy through the manipulation of how we receive health care benefits kicks in. And not that it has great likelihood of passing this year, but if by some miracle it did, the Obama tax penalties that would be incurred by every citizen in the nation under the proposed "Cap & Trade" legislation would add even greater misery to the growing pile.

All of these pending tax increases will be put into effect against well more than 95% of American tax-payers. Speaking of which that certainly contradicts his most famous campaign line.

In 1929 Irving Fisher observed that a number of trends led to the worst depression of our nation's history. How many of these fit in today's scenario:

Debt liquidation and distress selling; Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid off; A fall in the level of asset prices; A still greater fall in the net worths of business, precipitating bankruptcies; A fall in profits; A reduction in output, in trade and in employment; Pessimism and loss of confidence; Hoarding of money; A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest rates.

President Obama is ignoring and misrepresenting the rate of growth (or lack thereof) in the job numbers, and his economic team has laid the groundwork for the harshest attack on small businesses and every family in America that pays taxes effective January 1, 2011.

By every indicator this pundit can see, we are poised for tragedy



The Modern Left and Islam are both forms of political nihilism

It is the thesis of this commentary that both socialism and Islam are forms of political nihilism, and that both contend that the life of the individual has no intrinsic meaning or value outside of their systems. One ascribes meaning to the individual as a unit of society and its servant, and no more than that. The other ascribes meaning to the individual as a debtor to and servant of a supreme being, and no more than that.

What are the commonalities of secular statism (or socialism) and Islam? What premises do they share? What are their shared ends? Are those ends similar or dissimilar or radically divergent? The ends are demonstrably dissimilar and divergent. What unites them?

The chief commonality between socialism and Islam is the deep-seated hatred -- and I would say is the fundamental motive of both socialism and Islam, its desiderative essence -- of the West, specifically of capitalism, of individual rights, and of freedom of speech. And particularly of America.

What is it about those three hallmarks of Western culture that arouses the shared animosity? They are the requirements of an independent, unobstructed, free-to-act, selfish, value-driven, and life-affirming man. They are the descriptive attributes that cannot be permitted in a totalitarian society. They are diametrically opposite of what secular statism and Islam require to function. They are the unified, integrated nemesis of collectivism. They do not describe the “ideal” man in either ideology. Such a man must be eradicated, destroyed. And once destroyed, such a man in either system cannot be permitted to come into existence.

Much more HERE

There is a big 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)


5 September, 2010

The Revolutionary Mind: Nothing must stand in the way of utopia

Below are some excerpts from Olavo de Carvalho, a respected conservative philosopher and historian from Brazil. He says that for the Leftist, everything hangs on a vision of a future utopia -- and he points out where that leads and how. He writes at great length to make his points, however, so what I have offered below is a sort of Reader's Digest condensed version of his argument. Even so, the piece is rather long but the perspective he offers is I think well worth reading

* There are certain aspects of reality that revolutionaries, to a greater or lesser degree, perceive in a different manner, not only from that which mankind perceived before, but also from that which the ordinary people not involved in the revolutionary movement continue to perceive even today. The first of these aspects refers to the perception of time.

What I am saying is that all revolutionaries, all members of the revolutionary movement, from the fourteenth century until now, have had a perception of time that is different from that of common people, and of the rest of mankind.

This means that if human history, the ensemble of human happening, has been leading towards a privileged moment at which a new perfect society will emerge - a society where all human dramas and all human suffering will be overcome, and where stabilization of human order will take place - if everything converges to this end - so this end, being the objective of human history, is also the foundation for its explanation... So, in the revolutionary perspective, the advent of the perfect society is the objective and hence the reason for being of all prior history. Hence, a radical inversion of the sense of time can be observed

[To most people] the past is irreversible and the future is contingent. And the present is a certainty, but is a movable certainty, which is constantly vanishing before us. This is the normal experience of time: the normal, traditional, and universal experience of time. To a revolutionary, on the contrary, that which is certain is the future, and this certainty is what drives him. Now, the meaning of everything that has happened, and of everything that is happening, comes to depend on that future.

* A second inversion is the moral inversion. Why? Because it is supposed that this future to be accomplished represents justice and good. However, it cannot be accomplished by means of justice and good. It has to be accomplished through the usual political and military means, i.e., by employing every necessary cruel, malign, and violent means.

The idea of bringing about the future good through a deep immersion in evil that, carried to the extreme, will transfigure the situation and transform it into good in the future is also an idea inherent in the structure of the revolutionary movement. However, this ends up having much deeper consequences than one could imagine at first sight. This is because the good which is imagined in the future is defined according to a moral criterion inherited from the religious traditions, from Christianity.

The perfect society exists in order to bring about that ideal of justice, of love for one's neighbor, etc., which is found in the Bible. Nonetheless, it will not be produced through these means, but rather through war, violence, cruelty, dictatorship, etc. Thus mankind becomes divided into two types of people. The inhabitants of the future, who will live in a world of justice, love, charity, etc., and will usually practice those virtues, because they will be disseminated in the social environment. Everyone will be good. And people who, in the present day, living within the still corrupted and malign world, are fighting in order to create the future world. These people are revolutionaries.

Now, the people of the future are passive beneficiaries of the advent of a world that they did not help to create. This future will be the revolutionaries' work. Revolutionaries from all generations have always considered themselves better than other human beings. As Che Guevara said: "We are the first rank of mankind."

Within the revolutionary literature, there is an immense bibliography of self-glorification of the revolutionary as a superior human type. And particularly Che Guevara wrote eloquent pages of self-glorification. Now, if revolutionaries are superior types, they are still more superior to those who will benefit from their actions. A revolutionary is a person who sacrifices himself and others in order to create a better world. He does this through cruelty, violence, stealth, lying, and whatever it takes. In the future, no one will be obliged to do any of this because everyone will live in a just society. Everyone will be good. But if the revolutionary is the superior type, this means that the evil, sin, crime, violence, and lying that he commits today are morally superior to the general virtues of the inhabitants of the future.

The revolutionary moral inversion reaches its purest expression, I suppose, in a statement by Che Guevara. When asked why so many people had to be killed in order that a better society could be created, Che Guevara answered: "We have to make this sacrifice." (As though he was being sacrificed.) This means that he was the sacrificial victim and not his victims. The man who kills becomes the victim. This structure, this argument, this twist of language has been universally adopted in the revolutionary discourse.

The violence of revolution is always attributed to those who resist revolution and not to those who practice the violence. The idea is: "We are going to kill you because you are obliging us to do so. Since you do not accept our commands, we have to kill you. And you are evil because you do not want the marvelous future, so we will kill you. Therefore the guilt for killing you does not lie with me, but with you."

Thus, this reasoning is characteristic of the revolutionary inversion. This structure is permanently present in all revolutionary discourse throughout the centuries. In other words: "The guilt for our actions always lies with the others. And we are superior people when we cheat, kill, lie, etc. We are the first rank of mankind. Therefore we are also superior to those who will be beneficiaries of the future, and who will be able to live a life of virtue thanks to our sins."

* Automatically, along with this inversion, there also exists the inversion of logic between truth and error, truth and falsehood.

However, in the revolutionary perspective, the truth is not in the world of experience because the meaning of experience is mutable at each moment. That which has just happened may acquire a new and completely different meaning as the revolutionary movement develops the next day. So, what is the criterion of truth? The criterion of truth is the final revelation of the meaning of the whole process. The truth only appears at the end of the process. And what is the truth? The truth is the just society that the revolutionary movement has created. This is the sole truth. All the rest is a mixture of truth and falsehood whose meaning will be elucidated only at the end.

This means that the normal relations between factual premises and hypothetical conclusions are inverted. The hypothetical conclusion becomes the premise for judging the premises. And this is another structure of thought that is also present in every revolutionary discourse throughout time.

This structure can be observed in the theoreticians of the French Revolution, in the philosophes who laid the groundwork for the French Revolution, like Diderot and Voltaire. It is present in Marx, in Lenin, in the World Social Forum, in Emir Sader, it is present uniformly throughout this gang. What they understand by truth is the future revelation of the meaning of history. The meaning of history is the revolution and the creation of the just society. All the rest was nothing but preparation, disguise, and twilight.

* These are only three inversions. I do not know whether you have already realized it, but there is a fourth one, which is implied in the moral inversion, and that is the inversion between subject and object. If in the act of killing an enemy of the revolution, it is the revolutionary who is the sacrificial victim, then automatically, the victim who was taken to the execution wall becomes the executioner. Hence the subject of the action becomes the object and the object becomes the subject. And this is also present in all revolutionary discourse, independently of the huge ideological, political, strategic, and cultural variations that exist within the revolutionary movement.

It is important to highlight that wherever you see the idea of a just society in the future justifying malign actions in the present, there lurks the revolutionary mentality. The ideological contents matter little because they are only occasional and local variations in relation to this constant structure. For instance, if someone thinks that the future society is the elimination of the bourgeoisie, that all bourgeois must be killed, he is a revolutionary. But if he thinks that the bourgeoisie is not the problem, but the rather Jews, and all the Jews have to be killed, he is doing exactly the same thing. The reasoning is exactly the same.

And the structure of the argument will be the same as well, because the Nazis never considered themselves executioners of the Jews, but rather victims. Particularly Himmler, who was in charge of the concentration camps, wept every time he sent a convoy of Jews to a concentration camp, thinking: "Look at the cruelty that these knaves oblige us to commit. We could do without this, but they compel us to do it."

This is exactly how the communists think, and how Che Guevara thought. This means that the revolutionary mentality is this structure of perception, and not the content, because the content may vary indefinitely. The same political movement changes its talk each week. There is no ideological stability. For instance, until the First World War, the communist movement was internationalist and the radical enemy of all nationalism.

Later on, it becomes the greatest promoter of nationalisms in the Third World because they will be used as weapons against the colonial powers. But how can a movement be nationalist and anti-nationalist at the same time? The revolutionary movement can, because the content of the discourse is changeable.

Revolution means precisely a complete turn, a complete inversion. Therefore, the inversion of the perception of the world is the basis for the revolutionary movement in all of its versions. Precisely because of that, the revolutionary movement was capable of flooding the universe with an epidemic of psychotic mendacity over time, above everything that all liars, past and present, would ever be able to accomplish.

There is nothing that can check a revolutionary in his impetus to invert the perceived reality, to say things exactly to the contrary to how they really took place. And curiously, this is what gives the revolutionary discourse much of its attractiveness. Because its attractiveness is not an ideological one, and neither is it an idealistic one. Its attractiveness is very similar to that of drugs, to that of a hallucinogenic proposal. That is to say: one adhere to it not because of a conscious motivation or idealism, as people imagine, and by the way, the idea that youth is idealist is part of the revolutionary movement's ideology.

The revolutionary does this not out of idealistic motivation but because of a psychotic attraction to inverting reality. And the denial of the structure of reality would be an act superior to the creation of reality. It is the famous "No" uttered by Satan. "I do not accept reality as it is. It is not that I do not accept this social organization or that specific situation. No. I do not accept reality. I do not accept existence."

As soon as one has said that, one becomes imbued with a feeling of greatness, of aggrandizement, which is really satanic. Now imagine when this chance is given to any poor intellectual devil, to any intellectually damaged person, like Emir Sader. As soon as one has adhered to this denial, one feels aggrandized. And if this sense of aggrandizement also comes with a license to commit every sin, as with Che Guevara, and even so to be sanctified because of this then, it is absolutely irresistible.

However, it is clearly a psychotic hallucination. Schelling talked about spiritual disease, and this is also an expression used by Eric Voegelin. At the beginning, I thought this was so, but nowadays I see that it is a psychic disease in the strict sense. It is psychopathology in the strict sense, and it is a collective psychopathology. That is why Pope John Paul II was quite right in classifying our age as the age of collective madness. It is not only a disease of the spirit, it is a disease of the psyche. It is a disorder of the perception of time, the perception of reality, the perception of the relations between subject and object, of the relations between truth and error, etc. And it is precisely because it is a disorder, because it is something sick, that it spreads so fast and formidably.



Beware of the Obama tax increases

Listening to the Democrats this summer, you're unlikely to hear about an impending tax increase. In an effort to sanitize their historically irresponsible decision to raise tax rates in the midst of a struggling economy, President Obama and the congressional majority say they are merely "allowing the Bush tax cuts" to expire.

American businesses are sitting on top of a record $2 trillion in cash — money that could be spent hiring more workers, funding new projects or paying out dividends to investors. But right now these dollars remain stuck on the sidelines.

Already grappling with weak demand for goods and services, businesses of all sizes have five main costs and expenses that impact their bottom lines. Thanks to the agenda in Washington, all are going up, turning the White House's much-touted "Recovery Summer" into the "Summer of Uncertainty." Here's a look:

•Taxes will jump next year on everything from ordinary income, capital gains, dividends and estates. And with our national debt soaring, the prospect of even more tax increases in the future seems more likely.

•Health-care costs are growing as a result of Obamacare's mandates and inflationary impact on premiums.

•Energy costs remain in limbo as leading Democrats, led by Sen. John Kerry, float the idea of passing cap-and-trade during the lame-duck session of Congress.

•Credit is becoming more expensive and is increasingly out of reach for most small businesses, partly because the 2,300-plus page financial regulatory bill encourages banks to horde their capital rather than lend it.

•Labor costs also threaten to climb higher as labor unions dig in their heels and gear up for another push to pass card check.

During last night's Oval Office address, President Obama vowed that America would "nurture the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs." But if government doesn't stop penalizing hard work and discouraging risk taking, there won't be any entrepreneurs left.

In this environment, it's understandable why businesses — which have pared their expenses by laying off over 2 million workers since Congress passed the stimulus in February 2009 — would be reluctant to start hiring again. Hence the disappointing 71,000 jobs created by the private sector last month — a figure too small to keep up with the growth of the workforce, let alone take a bite out of the 9.5% unemployment rate.

No matter how much money President Obama borrows and spends, our economy simply will not recover until small, medium and large businesses have the confidence to put Americans back to work.


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 September, 2010

The authoritarian nature of the political Left never changes

Sorry, but I can't allow Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' statement that "we have a lot of re-education to do" slip by without comment. It's amusing when avowed leftists don't even recognize the Marxist buzzwords they're sputtering.

Sebelius is attributing the public's vehement opposition to Obamacare to "misinformation given on a 24/7 basis. ... Unfortunately," she said, "there still is a great deal of confusion about what is in (the Obamacare law) and what isn't." She is especially peeved about the vulnerability of seniors, who "have been a target of a lot of the misinformation." (The target of Obama's misinformation, perhaps.)

The most remarkable thing is that Sebelius didn't actually use the term "re-education" accidentally or out of school. Perhaps unwittingly, she's quite comfortable using a term long associated with tyrannical regimes. As one of Obama's chief lieutenants, she obviously believes this administration knows better than the public what is good for them.

Indeed, one of the ongoing ironies of liberalism is that it holds itself out as open-minded, democratic and representative of the common man, when it is more comfortable dictating to and indoctrinating the masses. Just look at our universities alone if you need quick, verifiable proof. But let's consider a few other examples of this administration's employing that mindset.

When an audience member at a forum at the Kennedy School of Government told Obama adviser and close confidant Valerie Jarrett that Obama's ideas are too complex to be digested by the unwashed, she didn't protest. The participant affectionately proposed that the White House express its ideas in an easier-to-comprehend form, such as printing simple booklets -- I assume replete with large print and colorful pictures.

Unflinching, Jarrett agreed it was a jolly idea. "Everyone understood hope and change," she said (NO, THEY DIDN'T), because "they were simple. ... Part of our challenge is to find a very simple way of communicating. ... When I first got here, people kept talking about 'cloture' and 'reconciliation' and 'people don't know what that's talking about.'" Then, the kicker, "There's nobody more self-critical than President Obama. Part of the burden of being so bright is that he sees his error immediately." How lonely it must be for these people at their perch high above the masses.

Then there's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who, in gloating that he is part of a "transformational administration," intends to "coerce people out of their cars." Does it bother him that he's basically using government to dictate to people how they should behave? Are you kidding? When asked about such unseemly government intrusion, he cavalierly replied, "About everything we do around here is government intrusion in people's lives." He continued, "I think we can change people's behavior."

Then there is the president himself. After his policy agenda was soundly repudiated with the victory of Scott Brown in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race, instead of showing contrition or promising to modify Obamacare to more closely align with the people's will, he became further entrenched. He said, "I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed." He also said he just hadn't talked enough about his plan, which left me wondering where "Saturday Night Live's" writers were.

With this administration, what we're seeing is not just an arrogant contempt for the cognitive ability and will of the American people but also a cynical determination to manipulate its will through indoctrination, selective suppression of speech, and trickery.

Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, wrote a Harvard Law Review article advocating "cognitive infiltration," which amounts to the government's use of phony websites and 501(c)(3) groups to masquerade as independent supporters of government policies and trolling opposing websites to pepper them with pro-administration posts. In this way, the government can manipulate public opinion surreptitiously, all for the greater societal good, as defined by Obama/Sunstein liberals. Even certain fellow liberal journalists have described this suggestion as "truly pernicious."

And let's not forget recent Obama Supreme Court appointee Elena Kagan's advocating the government's "unskewing" of speech that she and her fellow liberals believe harmful, i.e., conservative speech.

I truly hope people understand that Kathleen Sebelius' comment was neither offhanded nor out of line with the administration's MO; it was right in line with the administration's Orwellian approach to top-down, autocratic governance.



Low-grade abuse of Sarah Palin offends even some liberal feminists

Yesterday, Vanity Fair released yet another long hatchet job piece about Sarah Palin. But what this piece has generated — well, besides incredulity that a magazine of Vanity Fair’s caliber would run a character assassination piece almost entirely based on anonymous sources — is a bipartisan backlash. Not against Palin, but against Vanity Fair.

Politico’s Ben Smith has already debunked two of the stories told in the piece. Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, tweeted that she was “annoyed by [Palin] being called to task things normal for any male pol. Like using cute kids as props.” Later, in response to Roger Ebert’s approving tweet, Jeffery sarcastically tweeted back: “Also bumming me out: That @ebertchicago would think Palin profile is ‘devastating.’ Uh, yeah, to journalistic standards.”

Fellow Mother Jones editor Monika Bauerlein was also annoyed, tweeting, “‘Sarah, these aides say, seemed comforted by having the children around, and she seemed lonely when they were gone.’ Truly a monster.”

And, via Ben Smith, former John Edwards aide and feminist/progressive blogger Melissa McEwan wrote:
"Gross’ article, however, amounts to very little but “Sarah Palin is the worst because she’s in politics…and is A WOMAN.”

Sure, it’s covert sexism. Gross doesn’t talk about her boobs or use identifiable misogynist epithets to describe her, but it’s sexism nevertheless, as the (frequently dislikable) habits of many major politicians, of both parties, are used to build the case that Palin is remarkably awful. But there is nothing particularly remarkable about a politician who requires family members get permission to grant interviews. Nor about a politician who ambitiously trades favors and ruthlessly gets people fired who cross [him]. Nor about a politician who acts like an entitled a**.

What makes this article the worst thing I’ve read all day is the fact that most of what’s in it is the sort of s*** that is considered (rightly or wrongly) the mundane business of doing politics, and yet is somehow ZOMG SHOCKING when done by Sarah Palin. …

I will continue to defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because I endorse her or her politics, but because that’s how feminism works. But I’d prefer not to be obliged in the first place.

For those who weren’t satisfied by 10,000-plus word screed against Palin, VF also published an online-only bonus article going over (again!) how much the McCain campaign spent on clothes for the Palin family. But when you’ve got even Meghan McCain — who’s admitted to being “conflicted” over what she thinks about Palin — taking Palin’s side on the wardrobe malfunction, that says something about how way overblown the hysteria is. From Jay Newton-Small, blogging for Time about McCain’s new book:
But McCain also sympathizes with the wardrobe debacle. “That’s what it costs to outfit seven or eight people in designer clothes,” McCain wrote. “Other candidates had spent just as much, or more, but kept those kinds of expenses under wraps – sunk into promotion and advertising costs. What surprised me was that our campaign couldn’t do the same.”

The debate over Palin’s policies and role in the Republican party will no doubt continue. But when you’ve got liberal feminists defending her, it’s clear that the level of vitriol toward her is long past acceptable boundaries.

UPDATE: Over at Slate, blogger David Weigel just posted an e-mail from Shannyn Moore (described by VF as “a green-eyed blonde who, like Palin, was once an Alaska beauty queen, albeit a few stripes more self-aware,”) regretting that she trusted the piece’s writer, Michael Joseph Gross.

In the e-mail directed to Gross, Moore wrote that his depiction of her thoughts was “so completely wrong, and put me in such a completely inaccurate and unfavorable light.” She concluded with a harsh reprimand: “Shame on you. You’re not a writer … you’re a climber.”



Some very recent history

Most Americans welcomed the announcement that US-led combat operations in Iraq were over, and that the last combat unit was to be sent home. Last night, when President Obama addressed the nation via live television, he obviously counted on the short memories of the American people in his attempt to garner credit.

At the same time, officials at the public-interest group Move America Forward congratulated these brave troops and greeted them as heroes. They also also called on the Obama Administration to do the right thing, and give credit where it is due.

"He [Obama] should thank George W. Bush for enabling victory in Iraq, in addition to the troops who and won the war, despite Obama's opposition to the successful war strategy," stated a press release from the group.

"In 2007, the War on Terror was raging worse than ever in Iraq, the outlook for the American public was grim, and too many of our precious troops were hurt or being killed in battle. Politicians on the left began piling on their attacks on both President Bush and the mission, putting their own political gain ahead of the lives of our troops," their statement said.

In his re-election campaign, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is hoping Nevada voters forget that he personally surrendered to the terrorists and gave a huge morale boost and symbolic victory to the enemy when he said, "I believe this war is lost. The surge is not accomplishing anything."

Then-Senator Barack Obama himself predicted that the surge would not help in Iraq. “In fact, I think it will do the opposite” he said, predicting that our troops would make matters worse! Later he would say "The surge is not working" and believed our efforts in Iraq would fail.

Officials at Move America Forward are doing what the lap-dancing news media won't do: Point to the politicians -- like Harry Reid -- who hope Americans forget their foolish statements, as they now join President Obama in taking credit for the victory that was made possible through the sheer determination of President George W. Bush, along with the courage and dedication of our brave troops who called him Commander-in-Chief.

What has become clear is that politicians stand ready to denounce the troops the moment things get tough, and then rush in to claim victory after the shooting stops and the battle is won.

"I recall Senator Dick Durbin calling our troops 'stormtroopers' and terrorist detention centers 'gulags.' And Senator John Kerry accused our military of terrorizing women and children in the dark of night. But I'm not expecting Katie Couric and the rest of the Obama water-carriers to remind Americans of this outrageous duplicity," said former intelligence officer and police detective Mike Snopes.

"Now our great Lecturer-in-Chief Obama is trying to claim victory for a mission he actively opposed, and many in his administration now have attempted to take credit for victory in Iraq," added officials from Move America Forward.

What is angering many is Americans is Vice President Joe Biden calling the outcome of the Iraq war “one of the great achievements of this administration.” trying to argue that Obama and his administration deserve more credit than President Bush or even the troops who fought the war!

Yet when Bush was making the hard decisions to stay the course in Iraq, it was Biden who said "The whole notion that the surge is working is fantasy."

The truth is that if Obama and Biden had been in charge, America would have already lost the Iraq war, and suffered dearly the consequences.




I rarely post to my Scripture blog these days but I have just put up a study of Ecclesiastes 10:2 which might be of some interest. It asks whether the text is an endorsement of the political Right.

U.S. Economy Lost 54,000 Jobs in August; Unemployment Rate Rises to 9.6%: "Job losses continued to mount in the U.S. economy last month, though at a more modest pace than expected, putting further pressure on policy makers to take action to spur growth and employment. A separate report indicated the U.S. nonmanufacturing sector expanded at a much slower pace last month. The U.S. economy shed jobs for a third straight month, losing 54,000 non-farm jobs, but the losses were half as bad as expected. The unemployment rate rose to 9.6%."

The Revolt of the Bourgeois: "The much-analyzed speeches at the Glenn Beck Lincoln Memorial rally weren't as notable as what the estimated 300,000 attendees did: follow instructions, listen quietly to hours of speeches, and throw out their trash. Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society."

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 September, 2010

The left wins… rhetorically

The article by Melanie Phillips excerpted below gets it pretty right but doesn't quite get back to the basics. There is a very clear reason why Leftist oratory tends to sound good: Sounding good is all that the Leftist aims for. His own personal self interest is all that he really cares about so if the policies he advocates sound good now, but lead to ruin and destruction in the future, he shows a psychopathic disregard for such future consequences; While the poor old conservative is left in the position of pointing out all the negatives

Both Obama and Hitler are prize examples of sounding good to their chosen audiences. Hitler's oratory and eloquence led Germans down a path that killed millions of them (and others) whereas Obama so far has simply signed a law that will eventually make healthcare more costly and less available to most Americans -- but the lack of caution about the future is the same --JR

Someone I met recently posed what I thought was an interesting question.

Like me, he had read and admired the moving interview in last Sunday’s Observer with the Israeli novelist David Grossman, whose son Uri was killed when his IDF tank was hit by a rocket in the final hours of the aborted war with Hizbollah in 2006.

Grossman, whose new novel apparently owes much to that terrible experience, talked simply and poignantly about its effect on him. One does not have to agree with his politics to be touched by his refusal to give in to despair and even to find ways to grow from such a tragedy.

My acquaintance, however, asked why it was that the most articulate voices tended to be found on the left. Why was there no equivalent to the soaring voice of David Grossman on the right?

One possible reason is that the left and the intelligentsia are more or less synonymous: or as the left so offensively puts it, that the ‘right’ — ie everyone who is not the left — is stupid.

On that basis, the left seems to have a monopoly of eloquence simply because of its dominance of the chattering classes.

But there may be another reason. I think it boils down to a matter of perception; and perception, as so often, is influenced by ideology.

What, after all, does eloquence do? It moves us. It provokes an emotional identification and sympathy with the speaker or author. Today’s left privileges emotion over reason, in direct contrast to the non- or anti-left which champions objectivity over subjectivity. And emotion and eloquence go together.

Prose that gives expression to personal grief or yearning for peace is thus almost inevitably bound to soar far more eloquently than stolid attempts to present objective factual evidence and arguments for law and morality against their antithesis.



Simplistic pacifism won't help Afghans

Andrew Riddle (a retired soldier in the Australian Regular Army and a political moderate) points out what a Nazi-like regime the Taliban were and how they have not gone away

As I sat through another politics lecture the other day, I felt a slow rage building inside me. "Counter-insurgency," this particular lecturer declared, "is all about winning hearts and minds. We've heard all this before – in Vietnam!"

It's always easy to oppose war. War is awful. Awful, however, is not the same as simple. Simple is what the anti-war movement wants; it wants the war to be about American imperialism and stealing Third World resources, crowded with war crimes and founded on lies. It wants Afghanistan, in short, to be Iraq.

But Afghanistan is not Iraq, and never was. Long-forgotten is that terrible period of hand-wringing concern over the horrific abuses of the late '90s. Back then, we were all shocked by the brutality of the new jihadist rulers of Afghanistan. When the Taliban took almost complete control of Afghanistan in 1996, it massacred surrendered enemies and the minority Hazaras, stripped women of education and healthcare, and publicly executed civilians for a vast array of crimes, real and imagined.

The Revolutionary Association of the Woman of Afghanistan went to great lengths to smuggle out footage of these atrocities, while Physicians for Human Rights said in their 1998 report, "no other regime in the world has methodically and violently forced half of its population into virtual house arrest, prohibiting them on pain of physical punishment from showing their faces, seeking medical care without a male escort, or attending school".

The Taliban were one of the most horrific regimes in recent history. They were worth overthrowing, and they are worth fighting.

There were serious mistakes in Afghanistan, the most important of which was abandoning it in favour of the Iraq war. While the half-baked neo-conservative adventure in Mesopotamia unfolded, the scattered Taliban reformed, the fragile new government faltered and fell into corruption and vice, and the initial respect in the region for America's white-hot rage was replaced with contempt. Most discouraging, however, was watching Afghanistan's role in the antiwar narrative gradually expand from an afterthought to the main event.

Certainly the case for Afghanistan has been done no favours by the right-wing commentariat. "Clash of civilisations" rhetoric about "global Islamofascism" and sound-bite arguments about "safe havens for terror" serve to tarnish all support for the Afghanistan campaign.

Sadly, however, just because an argument is made by priggish partisans does not necessarily make it wrong. Afghanistan really was a safe haven for terrorists; it was used to build a global network of anti-American jihadists, which resulted in the most devastating terrorist attack in history.

We should fear terrorism, not least because of the consequences for democracy. After 2001, Western governments explored torture, indefinite detention without trial, and "extraordinary rendition", and any questioning or opposition was coloured as collaboration and appeasement. We had almost leapt head-first into the trap al-Qaeda had created. And as Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen fall into chaotic lawlessness, it could happen again.

Opponents of the Afghanistan war suffer from a most acute form of confirmation bias. Every soldier or civilian killed, every misdirected bomb, becomes yet more indisputable, conclusive proof that the military effort is an atrocity. Hair-splitting arguments, such as the distinction between al-Qaeda and the Taliban (because the two were merely very closely interwoven, rather than identical), become mantras supposedly proving poor faith, and the big picture vanishes.

War is an incredibly complex business, and the war in Afghanistan one of the most complex. Brilliant men like Stanley McChrystal and David Kilcullen spend their entire lives seeking to understand it, yet every armchair chardonnay-swiller thinks they know better.

Perhaps the Afghanistan campaign is not worthy of unqualified support. Indeed, the tenacious culture of Pashtun resistance may make a staged withdrawal the best possible solution. Military strategists are already gearing their efforts towards salvaging the best result from a truncated mission, in the knowledge that public tolerance for the war is draining away.

However, with the break in the bipartisan grip on power, and more than half of the electorate now opposing our contribution to Afghanistan, it's important to take the debate seriously, rather than choosing the feel-good option of simplistic pacifism. All I ask is that, before adopting a position, people seriously consider the moral, political, and historical implications of abandoning Afghanistan.

The decision to leave 38 million Afghans to sort it out themselves should not be easy or simple. It seems that at some point it's going to happen, but when it does it should not be done lightly.



The Dragon & the Elephant: Five myths about China versus India

By Dr John Lee

Myth 1: China’s authoritarian system sacrifices rights for social order

In fact, there is far more chaos and unrest in China than there is in India. According to the latest available official figures, there were 124,000 instances of ‘mass unrest’ (defined as 15 or more people protesting against officials) in 2008 in China. India has fewer than 5,000 such instances. Beijing spends more on ‘internal security,’ which does not include the normal police forces, than it does on the People’s Liberation Army.

Myth 2: India enjoys more freedom but at the price of economic inequality

In fact, using the commonly accepted standard of the GINI coefficient, China’s score is around 0.55–0.60, while India’s is around 0.33–0.36 (‘0’ is perfect income equality and ‘1’ is perfect income inequality. This makes China the most unequal society in all of Asia and the trend is worsening.

Myth 3: Given China’s spectacular rise, its private sector multinationals are due to dominate Asia, and then the world

True, there are 34 Chinese companies in the Fortune 500 list – all state-controlled except for one – compared to India’s eight. Size is one thing. But by ‘return on assets’ (to measure profitability) and ‘number of patents filed’ (to assess innovation), Indian firms do significantly better. Tellingly, the Indian firms spend about 5% of revenues on R&D on average while Chinese firms spend about 1% of revenue.

Myth 4: China is leaving India behind in the urbanisation stakes

China is definitely ahead of India: about 48% versus 35%. But the rate of urbanisation in India is actually neck-and-neck with China at about 1.5% per year.

Myth 5: China and India are making Western models of political-economy obsolete

There is a saying in both countries about their own respective developmental approach: Western knowhow with Chinese/Indian essence. But even Beijing and New Delhi admit that they are still speculating what this actually means. China and India are still outside the world’s top 100 for GDP per capita. The jury is well and truly still out on this one.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated Sept. 3. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


"Openness" about political donations may serve to entrench power -- by inhibiting donations to out-of-power parties

The comment below by Andrew Norton refers to the Australian situation but the principle is the same in any democracy

With the Greens and independent MPs both pushing political donations reform, this looks like one certain outcome of an inconclusive election.

There are many proposals for change, but most observers support more disclosure of political donations. A $1,000 threshold for donations disclosure is commonly suggested, including in the Green-Labor pact signed this week. Under the current system, donations below $11,500 need not be disclosed.

It is widely assumed that more disclosure increases the integrity of the political process. But it is not at all clear that this is the case.

If we assume that politicians are inclined to favour their financial supporters, it follows that they will also be inclined to disfavour the financial supporters of their opponents, by denying them access to ministers, appointments to government bodies, funding for their associations, and contracts with government agencies.

Disfavouring is much easier to hide than overt favours. Whether there is a donations trail or not, favours are usually easily detected. We know who receives government appointments, and which organisations benefit from government grants and contracts. But silently overlooked people, requests and applications generate no public evidence.

What donations disclosure does is give governments a convenient list of people who support their opponents. The disclosure regime doesn’t just apply to political parties but also non-government organisations that comment on political matters. So spending just $1,000 opposing the government on only one issue could put your name on a ‘do not assist’ list.

If we had a small government that confined itself to a few core services, this may not matter much. But when we have a big government that spends more than a third of national income, and which cannot resist meddling in almost every activity, it creates real risks. So many people need to interact with government that numerous potential political donors may be deterred by the fear of future political disfavour.

The secret ballot was a great Australian democratic innovation, designed to let people express their views free of political intimidation. We should reject any law that gives the federal government more scope to inhibit its opponents.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated Sept. 3. Enquiries to cis@cis.org.au. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


Tony Blair speaks highly of GWB in his memoirs

I have always had a similar view of GWB so it is rather pleasing to have it confirmed by someone who came to know him well -- JR

Former U.S. President George W. Bush was a "true idealist" who displayed "genuine integrity and political courage," former British prime minister Tony Blair reveals in his memoirs.

Detailing the close professional and personal relationship which developed between the two leaders in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S. and during the build-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Blair writes that Bush was "very smart" while having "immense simplicity in how he saw the world."

"Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership... he sincerely believed in spreading freedom and democracy," he writes in "A Journey;" which hit book stores in the UK on Wednesday....

Blair said the key to Bush's political success was his "appeal as a normal guy." "You might not agree with him, but if you're a voter, you would never think you would be uncomfortable or feel inadequate if you met him socially; you would think he'd be nice and easy with you," he writes.

Bush had also displayed the most integrity of almost anyone he had met in politics, Blair says. "I was asked recently which of the political leaders I had met had most integrity. I listed George near the top. He had genuine integrity and as much political courage as any leader I ever met," he writes.


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 September, 2010

Crimes Against Liberty

“Generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal,” and that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” That, of course, was Barack Obama upon securing his party’s nomination for president.

It didn’t take generations but only a couple of years for a majority of Americans to begin to realize that instead of messianic healing, Barack Obama is inflicting unprecedented injuries on America and the liberties of its citizens. Now there is a book that documents this alarming news in a very comprehensive yet readable way. My friend David Limbaugh’s Crimes Against Liberty is the one book all Americans should read before November.

Before you dismiss Crimes Against Liberty because it is written by a Limbaugh (after all, you’re not a bigot, right?), realize that people can present evidence objectively even if they personally are not neutral. First, neutral people rarely have the interest or expertise to write books!

But more importantly, you can’t dismiss what Limbaugh says simply because he might have a conservative agenda. That’s a fallacy that cuts both ways—you’d have to dismiss everything Obama says because he has a liberal agenda. The truth is, everyone has an agenda. The issue is not the agenda, but the evidence one presents!

Like the good attorney he is, Limbaugh presents a wealth of irrefutable evidence for his thesis quoting several liberals along the way. His meticulously researched indictment of Barack Obama and his Administration lays out fact after fact that will educate even political junkies who mistakenly thought they knew it all. I follow politics closely, but I didn’t know the extent to which those currently in power are dismantling our liberties and security until I read this book.

More here


Tea partiers swinging the GOP towards greater conservatism?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's apparent defeat in Alaska's Republican primary isn't just a defeat for the Republican establishment and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which -- in keeping with standard practice -- backed her renomination.

The Alaska result is above all a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As with the primary defeat of Utah's Bob Bennett in the spring, challenger Joe Miller's likely win replaces a close McConnell confidant with an unaccommodating conservative.

McConnell, since becoming minority leader in 2007, has built his own "kitchen Cabinet," consisting of two or three official "counsels" -- senators, handpicked by him, who attend GOP leadership meetings along with the elected party leadership. Both Bennett and Murkowski are in this inner circle. And both lost their primaries this year to conservatives running against Washington.

Murkowski was one of McConnell's rising stars. He tapped her for his inner circle in her first term, and she also got a spot on the Appropriations Committee. The darling of Alaska's former senior senator, Ted Stevens, Murkowski rocketed through the ranks. This year, she was elected secretary of the Senate Republican Conference, one of the top six leadership roles. After Stevens lost re-election in 2008, McConnell took her under his wing. "Lisa is the new powerhouse in Alaska," he told Roll Call. "She will fill the vacuum left by Ted."

And her Senate record resembled Stevens' -- while she had a long climb to match the porking prowess of Stevens, her $704 million in earmarks over the past three fiscal years puts her in the same league as the biggest earmarkers. She has a moderate voting record, but she isn't at the left end of the GOP. Ultimately, she is a loyal Republican who isn't terribly ideological. This was the profile for McConnell's "counsels."

But Joe Miller, the former judge and Army veteran who appears to have beaten her in the primary, pending counting of all absentee ballots, is of a different stripe. Miller is not merely conservative, he's unyielding, supremely self-confident, and self-reliant. He will come to Washington seeing the whole town and its customs -- quite possibly including collegiality and tradition of the Senate -- as the enemy.

It's the same story in the Utah Senate seat.

Bennett, like Murkowski, is an ideal McConnell lieutenant because he is ideologically flexible -- neither a staunch conservative nor one of the party's card-carrying moderates like Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. A profile of Bennett in the Capitol Hill publication the Hill said Bennett was respected for "his persuasive levelheadedness and his lack of a personal political agenda." The profile described his role as McConnell's first mate: "Bennett usually seconded McConnell's opinion in Republican leadership meetings and was often dispatched to cajole balky Republican senators into taking tough votes."

Bennett's replacement -- former gubernatorial aide Mike Lee -- promises to be something beyond just a "balky Republican senator." Lee's stump speech sounds like a lecture on the Constitution, and how nearly everything Washington does is outside of its legitimate authority. He takes pretty seriously the oath of office to defend the Constitution, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him filibuster a harmless Republican measure that isn't explicitly authorized by Article I, Section 8.

So on one level, trading Bennett for Lee is trading a senator with a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 84 percent for one who will be above 98 percent. But more importantly for Capitol Hill dynamics, it's trading a quintessential team player for an inflexible conservative stalwart. Put Miller and Lee in the same chamber, and the legislative calendar could back up worse than the Washington Beltway at rush hour. One Republican operative, comparing these future senators with the upper chamber's current gadflies, said Lee and Miller will make Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn look like lapdogs.

If Miller and Lee set the tone of the incoming freshman class, that could ensure that Colorado's Ken Buck, Nevada's Sharron Angle, and Kentucky's Rand Paul -- if they win -- never fully assimilate to the Old Boys (and Girls) Club.

Beyond the job difficulties these freshmen could cause for McConnell, this year's Tea Party uprising has left McConnell looking politically weak. His two consiglieres, Murkowski and Bennett, lost primaries, as did Trey Grayson in McConnell's home state of Kentucky. McConnell had groomed Grayson to replace retiring curmudgeon Jim Bunning.

McConnell's office says the leader isn't worried -- a larger minority (or possibly a majority) will inevitably mean a tougher lot to wrangle. He'd rather have an unruly 48 seats than a well-behaved 41 seats. We'll see what McConnell says once DeMint has two to five senators to his right.



Securing America's interests, and Iraq’s

For now, we have transformed Iraq from a hostile, terrorist-supporting dictatorship destabilizing the region into a ramshackle democracy that is an ally in the war on terror. To get Iraq to this point, in January 2007 President Bush had to order tens of thousands of additional troops into a failing war, in the teeth of gale-force opposition from the political establishment, public opinion, and the balance of the military brass. To capitalize on the opportunity we have bought in Iraq with blood and treasure, President Obama has to do something much easier: resist a strategically witless urge to turn his back on Iraq as being merely the site of “Bush’s war.”

The president’s Oval Office address wasn’t confidence-inducing. Appropriately, he saluted the troops for “completing every mission they were given in Iraq,” and he promised Iraqis they will “have a strong partner in the United States.” But he spoke particularly forcefully of removing 100,000 troops from Iraq, closing or transferring hundreds of bases, and moving millions of pieces of equipment out of the country — indices of ending a war, not necessarily winning it. He talked up the growing capabilities of the Iraqis, but in the spirit of declaring victory — or, more precisely, the end of combat operations — and coming home. He exhorted us to “turn the page,” before arguing that we must honor the troops by uniting around his domestic agenda.

In its failure to credit explicitly Bush’s surge for turning around the war, the speech was graceless; in its cursory treatment of Iraq, it lacked strategic vision; and in its attempt to hijack the troops for Obama’s domestic priorities (“we must tackle . . . challenges at home with as much energy and grit, and sense of common purpose, as our men and women in uniform”), it was shameless. Altogether a poor performance.

Forging a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq needn’t take exorbitant resources, or anything like what we’ve had to devote to the war to get it to this point. Absent a disastrous deterioration of conditions on the ground, we should over time be able to do it with less than we spend annually in aid to Pakistan ($1.5 billion), and with fewer troops than we keep in Germany (54,000) or Japan (36,000). There’s no need to stint on it for the sake of wind power, as President Obama vaguely implied last night.



Moonbat Professor Calls for Forced Sterilization

Sounds like something straight out of the 1920s and 30s

After Germans got carried away applying progressive ideology to the Jewish Question, the movement has backed away from eugenics, limiting its genocidal proclivities to the aggressive promotion of abortion. But to this day, if you scratch a liberal (as progressives now call themselves), you will often find a Nazi. For example, Professor David Marsland wants to save the children by preventing them from existing:
Marsland, Emeritus Scholar of Sociology and Health Sciences at Brunel University, London and Professorial Research Fellow in Sociology at the University of Buckingham, told the BBC that "permanent sterilization" is the solution to child neglect and abuse.

"Children are abused or grossly neglected by a very small minority of inadequate parents." Such parents, he said, are not distinguished by "disadvantage, poverty or exploitation," he said, but by "a number or moral and mental inadequacies" caused by "serious mental defect," "chronic mental illness" and drug addiction and alcoholism.

"Short of lifetime incarceration," he said, the solution is "permanent sterilization."

As for the tiresome topic of basic rights:
He dismissed possible objections based on human rights, saying that "Rights is a grossly overused and fundamentally incoherent concept … Neither philosophers nor political activists can agree on the nature of human rights or on their extent."

To put it more succinctly, "To hell with human rights."

Marsland's views are not exactly novel among the liberal elite.
Brian Clowes, director of research for Human Life International, told LifeSiteNews that in his view Professor Marsland is just one more in a long line of eugenicists who want to solve human problems by erasing the humans who have them. Clowes compared Marsland to Lothrop Stoddard and Margaret Sanger, prominent early 20th century eugenicists who promoted contraception and sterilization for blacks, Catholics, the poor and the mentally ill and disabled whom they classified as "human weeds."

Sanger maintains a prominent role in the liberal pantheon to this day. Shrillary Clinton is the proud recent recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award. Elsewhere in our progressive government, Obama's Science Czar John Holdren has advocated coercive sterilization.

Marland rests his case against the sanctity of human life with an argument beloved by environmentalists, averring that "there are too many people anyway."

As their sneering contempt for life and liberty makes obvious, what they have been doing to our economy is only the beginning of the evil liberals will inflict if they are not dislodged from power.




Food Prices Are Actually Rising, It's Just That Retailers Haven't Passed It On...: "Despite rising input costs . . . meat remains a promotional category. We believe that, despite increasing meat procurement costs, food retailers have more/less continued to follow an offensive pricing strategy. Said differently, most are not opting to pass 100% of inflationary price increases forward to customers."

Lincoln's war: "If antebellum northerners had consistently and sincerely welcomed blacks to the northern states and protected them from pursuit, that the slave states could have been “drained” of slaves and a horrible war could have been avoided. I think this didn’t happen because northerners were racists and authority-worshippers, and had other reasons to conquer the south. Slavery (though not oppression) died in the Civil War, and that was a good thing as far as it went. What was not so good was the death of the idea of peaceful secession. Divorce, after all, can and does prevent murder."

Bad acid and weird boobs: "For anyone unfamiliar with Burning Man, it’s a weeklong event dedicated to self-expression, community reliance and sexual contact under the guise of spirituality. I know this because I went last year for the first and last time. I went seeking a utopian enclave of open-minded and accepting brothers and sisters, I followed rumors of a culture rising from the desert clay and supporting itself for seven days on nothing but love, understanding, and a little pharmaceutically induced introspection. Instead I found misguided, fat men in tie-died t-shirts with exposed genitals caked in dust. Suffice it to say, Burning Man let me down.”

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 September, 2010

The Party of Know-Nothings

"Ideas may be cut loose from experience in two senses: either they have no roots in experience, or they are not submitted to the test of experience. Either way, they are free to be foolish." So wrote Jeane Kirkpatrick in the Introduction to her landmark book, Dictatorships and Double Standards (New York, 1982, p. 10).

Kirkpatrick's statement applies perfectly to the band of naïve idealists now in change of our government. The youthful dreamers guiding the Obama administration have almost no private-sector experience. Like Obama himself, the Cabinet and host of czars who direct policy have spent their lives in politics or academia, be it as Democratic political consultants, professors, nonprofit directors, or community organizers.

Lack of real-world experience may actually be the primary criterion for employment in the Obama White House. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, for example, has no work experience outside government. He joined the Department of Treasury in 1988, three years after graduating from college and traveling about Asia, and he has continued in government service ever since. Lawrence Summers, Geithner's invisible twin on the economic team, has no more experience than Geithner. His entire work experience can be summed up in a few words: professor, World Bank advisor, government employee. Even more limited is the experience of Cass Sunstein, regulatory czar and close friend of the president. His résumé can be inscribed on a postage stamp: professor, 1981 to present.

Then there are the hardcore politicos whose relation to the private sector is not just distant, but hostile. Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of Staff, worked on the Illinois U.S. senate campaign of Paul Simon even before completing his university education. From there he moved to the Daley mayoral campaign in 1989 and the Clinton White House in 1993.

For his part, David Axelrod, Obama's closest political advisor, has spent his entire career in the world of Democratic politics. Beginning as a political writer for the Chicago Tribune, he soon established himself as an independent consultant, serving on the campaigns of such leftist luminaries as John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer, as well as on the U.S. Senate and presidential campaigns of Barack Obama. No one in Obama's inner circle has less experience or appreciation of the private sector than Axelrod.

Another key figure is Obama's long-time adviser, Valerie Jarrett. Ms. Jarrett (who, by the way, was born in Iran and from childhood spoke Persian as a first language) spent most of her career in Chicago politics before following Obama to the White House. She has become wealthy by consulting with government clients and maneuvering the politicized world of Chicago real estate development.

From Geithner to Jarrett, all of Obama's advisors have one thing in common: they have devoted their lives to the expansion of government. They believe -- quite "passionately," as Axelrod has put it -- that government is the solution to America's problems. Their political DNA is deeply antagonistic to the free market and to the assumption that monetary incentives spur productivity and growth. Professors and politicos, they know nothing of how to manage a business, and they certainly know nothing of how to balance a budget.

Most ordinary human beings know a great deal more than Obama's circle of advisors. They understand that it is the private sector, not government, that produces goods and services. Instinctively, they know there's something wrong with the idea that government "creates" jobs. They understand that subsidies for biofuel start-ups and failing banks are wasteful and wrong, and they know that more subsidy is only throwing good money after bad.

They also know that government revenue comes out of somebody's pocket. Only those who have spent their entire lives in government service or in academe don't understand this. The trillion dollars in stimulus of which Obama is so proud -- he still claims it created or saved millions of jobs even as the Labor Department reports that four million jobs disappeared since the stimulus was signed -- was confiscated from the paychecks of working Americans. It was spent to expand welfare payments to those who do not work, to preserve the jobs of inefficient unionized workers, and to fund favored projects of Democratic political contributors.

Americans who have to work for a living understand that Obama's stimulus spending is political payola on an epic scale. They also understand that it is capitalism that produces wealth and that the profit motive is the key to wealth creation.

Without the opportunity to earn a profit -- to be paid for their labor and rewarded for their investment -- workers would not work, and investors would not invest. For this reason, a society that disdains capitalism will soon find its standard of living faltering. Fewer goods will be produced, supply will be constrained, and prices will rise. With prices rising, goods will become less affordable, and less will be purchased. The result is a vicious cycle of declining production and rising prices.

What I am describing is the classic state of affairs within all socialist economies. Goods become scarce, and so, as government attempts to equalize supply, they are rationed. Since rationed goods are by definition sold at below-market prices, more and more goods find their way to the black market, where they are sold to the highest bidder. Instead of creating equality, socialism always produces a two-tiered system. On the black market, for those who can afford them, goods are plentiful. For the rest of the population, they are scarce.

It is this two-tiered system toward which we are heading. In only twenty months, Obama has succeeded in shifting one hundred million Americans into greater dependency on government. One hundred million Americans now receive unemployment benefits, expanded welfare payments and child credits, food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid, and (soon enough) ObamaCare. In essence, they are the recipients of rationed goods within a state-run economy. Over time, they will become less well-off as wealth continues to be sapped from the private sector and the production of goods is curtailed. They will be serving life sentences in the prison of socialism.

For the political elite, of course, no such prison exists. Once it becomes apparent that the economy is not coming back, those who have engineered the miracle of Obamanomics -- long-term unemployment rates of 17%, stagnant growth, and crushing deficits -- will obtain new political appointments, move on to lucrative consulting jobs, or simply return to their tenured university positions. Comfortable and well-fed, they will continue to prosper even as they have learned nothing from the failure of their policies.

As for the rest of us, we will pay for their lack of experience.



'Clunkers' was a classic government folly

by Jeff Jacoby

IN THE MARKET for a used car? Good luck finding a bargain: The price of "pre-owned" vehicles has climbed considerably over the past year. According to Edmunds.com, a website for car-buyers, a 3-year-old automobile today will set you back, on average, close to $20,000 -- a spike of more than 10 percent since last summer. For some popular models, the increase has been much steeper. In July, a used Cadillac Escalade was going for around $35,000, or nearly 36 percent over last July's price.

Why are used-car prices rocketing? Part of the answer is that demand is up: With unemployment high and the economy uncertain, some car-buyers who might otherwise be looking for a new truck or SUV are instead shopping for a used vehicle as a way to save money.

But an even bigger part of the answer is that the supply of used cars is far lower than it would be if your Uncle Sam hadn't decided last year to destroy hundreds of thousands of perfectly good automobiles as part of its hare-brained Car Allowance Rebate System -- or, as most of us called it, Cash for Clunkers. That was the program under which the government paid consumers up to $4,500 when they traded in an old car and bought a new one with better gas mileage. The traded-in cars -- which had to be in drivable condition to qualify for the rebate -- were then demolished: Dealers were required to chemically wreck each car's engine, and send the car to be crushed or shredded.

Congress and the Obama administration trumpeted Cash for Clunkers as a triumph -- the president pronounced it "successful beyond anybody's imagination." Which it was, if you define success as getting people to take "free" money to make a purchase most of them are going to make anyway, while simultaneously wiping out productive assets that could provide value to many other consumers for years to come. By any rational standard, however, this program was sheer folly.

No great insight was needed to realize that Cash for Clunkers would work a hardship on people unable to afford a new car. "All this program did for them," I wrote last August, "was guarantee that used cars will become more expensive. Poorer drivers will be penalized to subsidize new cars for wealthier drivers." Alec Gutierrez, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, predicted that used-car prices would surge by up to 10 percent. "It's going to drive prices up on some of the most affordable vehicles we have on the road," he told USA Today. In short, Washington spent nearly $3 billion to raise the price of mobility for drivers on a budget.

To be sure, Cash for Clunkers gave a powerful jolt to car sales in July and August of 2009. But it did so mostly by delaying sales that would otherwise have occurred in April, May, and June, or by accelerating those that would have taken place in September, October, or later. "Influencing the timing of consumers' durable purchases is easy," Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl commented a few days ago in a blog post looking back at the program. "Creating new purchases is not." Of the 700,000 cars purchased during the clunkers frenzy, the estimated net increase in sales was only 125,000. Each incremental sale thus ended up costing the taxpayers a profligate $24,000.

Even on environmental grounds, Cash for Clunkers was an exorbitant dud. Researchers at the University of California-Davis calculated that the reduction of carbon dioxide attributable to the program (under best-case assumptions) cost at least $237 per ton. That is more than 10 times the going rate on the international market, where carbon emissions credits currently cost about $20 per ton.

Using Department of Transportation figures, meanwhile, the Associated Press calculated that replacing low-mpg "clunkers" with new cars getting higher mileage would reduce CO2 emissions by around 700,000 tons a year -- less than Americans emit in a single hour. Likewise, the projected reduction in gasoline use amounted to about as much as Americans go through in 4½ hours. (And that's only if you assume -- contrary to historical experience -- that fuel consumption decreases when fuel efficiency rises.)

When all is said and done, Cash for Clunkers was a deplorable exercise in budgetary wastefulness, asset destruction, environmental irrelevance, and economic idiocy. Other than that, it was a screaming success.



Obama's Stimulus Fails across the board

June, July and August were supposed to be the months. Democrats clinging to re-election hopes just knew that between the artificial job gains from Census Department hiring, the impact of their almost $900 billion in “stimulus” spending, and the tens of billions spent in other programs, that the economy would be roaring, people would be working, and the path to November would be made easier. Their so-called “Recovery Summer” was going to save the day.

Now, as we approach Labor Day, the results are in. Big Government has failed. Gross Domestic Product, which is the standard measure of economic growth in the country, was revised downward in the second quarter of the year from 2.4% to an estimated 1.6% as private sector employers are opting against expansion in favor of a cautious course.

It’s no wonder. Companies are staring in the face of a basic cost of business increases anticipated in 2011 due to the passage of the health care law.

Unemployment remains at 9.5 percent, with 45 percent of the unemployed having been out of work for 27 weeks or more. To put these numbers in real terms, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 6.6 million Americans or the entire population of Indiana have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

Americans for Limited Government’s Adam Bitely has been tracking state by state “Recovery Summer” data releasing a daily report on a different state with California, Nevada, Colorado, Florida and Delaware being already covered. South Carolina and Ohio are slated to covered this week before Labor Day.

The startling results show the economy in virtual free fall over the past 18 months, as Obama, Pelosi and Reid have opted for propping up state and local government spending instead of engaging in private sector job creation measures.




US stocks have worst August since 2001: "The US stock market ended its worst August since 2001 with meagre gains overnight after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed officials' increasing concern about the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 4.99 points (0.05 per cent) at 10,014.72 when markets settled, after teetering below the 10,000 point threshold in the final hours of trading. The broader S&P 500 index gained 0.41 point (0.04 per cent) at 1049.33, while the tech-rich Nasdaq composite index shed 5.94 points (0.28 per cent) to 2114.03, plunging below the flatline after making modest gains.".... But the week's most tensely-awaited economic data will be Friday's employment report, with most analysts forecasting non-farm payrolls to fall by 118,000 in August and unemployment to edge up to 9.6 per cent.

Official sexual assaults courtesy of Obama's TSA: "US officials are using "invasive and aggressive" searches for those who refuse to go through their controversial full body "naked" X-ray scanners. The “front-of-the-hand, slide-down technique” amounts to an indecent assault in any other context and shows an alarming disregard for privacy by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), civil libertarians say... While the TSA says it has received “very few” formal complaints about the new search techniques, Mr Vines called for a halt to the procedure until they could reveal why it was needed. “The actions of the US TSA would amount to indecent assault if performed by anyone else in the community," he said."

Modern-day “capital strike” : "Pundits have been speculating for months that the United States is undergoing a ‘capital strike’ of the sort that occurred during the Great Depression — that is, frightened and confused by government policies and the (often contradictory) directions in which they tug the economy, investors are sitting on their money rather than putting it into new and existing ventures that might generate jobs and prosperity. That speculation appears to be firming up into reality, as new reports indicate both disenchantment with the Big O among his well-heeled backers and (likely related) widespread unwillingness to invest in the U.S. economy.”

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)


"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