Saturday, May 17, 2008

Why Israel is the world's happiest country

Excerpt below from a very original article by "Spengler" ("Spengler" keeps his identity hidden but he sounds like a very elderly German Jewish survivor of Hitler's holocaust. His pseudonym appears to be an allusion to Oswald Spengler's "The Decline of the West" ("Der Untergang des Abendlandes"). The present "Spengler" also sees great weakness in Western civilization)

Envy surrounds no country on Earth like the state of Israel, and with good reason: by objective measures, Israel is the happiest nation on Earth at the 60th anniversary of its founding. It is one of the wealthiest, freest and best-educated; and it enjoys a higher life expectancy than Germany or the Netherlands. But most remarkable is that Israelis appear to love life and hate death more than any other nation. If history is made not by rational design but by the demands of the human heart, as I argued last week , the light heart of the Israelis in face of continuous danger is a singularity worthy of a closer look.

Can it be a coincidence that this most ancient of nations [1], and the only nation persuaded that it was summoned into history for God's service, consists of individuals who appear to love life more than any other people? As a simple index of life-preference, I plot the fertility rate versus the suicide rate of 35 industrial countries, that is, the proportion of people who choose to create new life against the proportion who choose to destroy their own. Israel stands alone, positioned in the upper-left-hand-quadrant, or life-loving, portion of the chart [2]. Those who believe in Israel's divine election might see a special grace reflected in its love of life.

In a world given over to morbidity, the state of Israel still teaches the world love of life, not in the trivial sense of joie de vivre, but rather as a solemn celebration of life. In another location, I argued, "It's easy for the Jews to talk about delighting in life. They are quite sure that they are eternal, while other peoples tremble at the prospect impending extinction. It is not their individual lives that the Jews find so pleasant, but rather the notion of a covenantal life that proceeds uninterrupted through the generations." Still, it is remarkable to observe by what wide a margin the Israelis win the global happiness sweepstakes.

Nations go extinct, I have argued in the past, because the individuals who comprise these nations choose collectively to die out. Once freedom replaces the fixed habits of traditional society, people who do not like their own lives do not trouble to have children. Not the sword of conquerors, but the indigestible sourdough of everyday life threatens the life of the nations, now dying out at a rate without precedent in recorded history.

Israel is surrounded by neighbors willing to kill themselves in order to destroy it. "As much as you love life, we love death," Muslim clerics teach; the same formula is found in a Palestinian textbook for second graders. Apart from the fact that the Arabs are among the least free, least educated, and (apart from the oil states) poorest peoples in the world, they also are the unhappiest, even in their wealthiest kingdoms.

The contrast of Israeli happiness and Arab despondency is what makes peace an elusive goal in the region. It cannot be attributed to material conditions of life. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia ranks 171st on an international quality of life index, below Rwanda. Israel is tied with Singapore on this index, although it should be observed that Israel ranks a runaway first on my life-preference index, whereas Singapore comes in dead last.

Even less can we blame unhappiness on experience, for no nation has suffered more than the Jews in living memory, nor has a better excuse to be miserable. Arabs did not invent suicide attacks, but they have produced a population pool willing to die in order to inflict damage greater than any in history. One cannot help but conclude that Muslim clerics do not exaggerate when they express contempt for life.

Israel's love of life, moreover, is more than an ethnic characteristic. Those who know Jewish life through the eccentric lens of Jewish-American novelists such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, or the films of Woody Allen, imagine the Jews to be an angst-ridden race of neurotics. Secular Jews in America are no more fertile than their Gentile peers, and by all indications quite as miserable.

For one thing, Israelis are far more religious than American Jews. Two-thirds of Israelis believe in God, although only a quarter observe their religion strictly. Even Israelis averse to religion evince a different kind of secularism than we find in the secular West. They speak the language of the Bible and undergo 12 years of Bible studies in state elementary and secondary schools.

Faith in God's enduring love for a people that believes it was summoned for his purposes out of a slave rabble must be part of the explanation. The most religious Israelis make the most babies. Ultra-Orthodox families produce nine children on average. That should be no surprise, for people of faith are more fertile than secular people, as I showed in a statistical comparison across countries.

Traditional and modern societies have radically different population profiles, for traditional women have little choice but to spend their lives pregnant in traditional society. In the modern world, where fertility reflects choice rather than compulsion, the choice to raise children expresses love of life. The high birthrate in Arab countries still bound by tradition does not stand comparison to Israeli fertility, by far the highest in the modern world.

The faith of Israelis is unique. Jews sailed to Palestine as an act of faith, to build a state against enormous odds and in the face of hostile encirclement, joking, "You don't have to be crazy to be a Zionist, but it helps." In 1903 Theodor Herzl, the Zionist movement's secular founder, secured British support for a Jewish state in Uganda, but his movement shouted him down, for nothing short of the return to Zion of Biblical prophecy would requite it. In place of a modern language the Jewish settlers revived Hebrew, a liturgical language only since the 4th century BC, in a feat of linguistic volition without precedent. It may be that faith burns brighter in Israel because Israel was founded by a leap of faith.

Two old Jewish jokes illustrate the Israeli frame of mind.

Two elderly Jewish ladies are sitting on a park bench in St Petersburg, Florida. "Mrs Levy," asks the first, "what do you hear from your son Isaac in Detroit?" "It's just awful," Mrs Levy replies. "His wife died a year ago and left him with two little girls. Now he's lost his job as an accountant with an auto-parts company, and his health insurance will lapse in a few weeks. With the real estate market the way it is, he can't even sell his house. And the baby has come down with leukemia and needs expensive treatment. He's beside himself, and doesn't know what to do. But does he write a beautiful Hebrew letter - it's a pleasure to read."

There are layers to this joke, but the relevant one here is that bad news is softened if written in the language of the Bible, which to Jews always conveys hope.

The second joke involves the American businessman who emigrated to Israel shortly after its founding. On his arrival, he orders a telephone, and waits for weeks without a response. At length he applies in person to the telephone company, and is shown into the office of an official who explains that there is a two-year waiting list, and no way to jump the queue. "Do you mean there is no hope?," the American asks. "It is forbidden for a Jew to say there is no hope!," thunders the official. "No chance, maybe." Hope transcends probability......

If the Israelis are the happiest country on Earth, as the numbers indicate, it seems possible that they will do what is required to keep their country, despite the odds against them. I do not know whether they will succeed. If Israel fails, however, the rest of the world will lose a unique gauge of the human capacity for happiness as well as faith. I cannot conceive of a sadder event.

More here


Is there any hope for McCain?

McCain is behaving like a wild mustang, untamed and unbridled, which gives support to his claim of maverick status. Republicans are being told to toe the line and be loyal Republicans. Often mentioned is an admonishment not to speak evil of fellow Republicans. But enough is enough! I am concerned about the liberal-light leanings of the Republican Party at a time when liberals are attempting to emasculate the Republican Party. Republicans leaders seems not to realize what is happening. Three safe Republican seats have already been lost to Democrats who sounded more Republican than the Republicans they defeated.

Although I cringe at the thought of an Obama presidency and the unwelcome and disastrous changes that would be ushered in, how can I be sure about John McCain? I am told that he would be good on taxes, appointing judges, and the war on terror, but if McCain faces a Democratic Congress could these issues have a happy ending for Republicans?

Sadly McCain has hammered another nail in a coffin that is already pierced with all manner of doubt and distrust with his courtship of West Coast swing voters on Monday, May 13. His was a call to action on global warming and an indictment of the Bush Administration's failed policies to combat global warming. His proposal to develop a cap-and-trade system designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in his belief that CO2 is behind global warming, would ultimately destroy this nation's free market system and capitalism, raise the cost of energy, destroy smoke- stack industries, and rob us of our liberties -- all in the name of phony science.

McCain's surrender to the extreme environmentalists, when he must surely know that a large chunk of his party's conservative base remains skeptical about the science of climate change, puts him in tandem with both Hillary and Obama. Even so, McCain's radical proposals of May 12 are being ripped by environmentalists as not going far enough, as just a beginning.

What are Republicans to do in November? Our goose seems to be cooked whichever way we turn given McCain's embrace of a liberal approach to something that does not even exist and would not make a bit of difference even if the fixes were put in place.

Sadly the absence of conservative leadership over many years has caused this frustrating dilemma for many Republicans. McCain has no overall set of beliefs of philosophy that can be embraced by his party faithful. Can John McCain be tamed and brought back into the fold of Republicanism or has John McCain and the Republican Party tacked so far to the liberal left in a belief that doing so will win elections, that Republican values and doctrine have been cast aside?

I am willing to give John McCain a chance. It is up to John McCain to prove to Republicans like me that he would be a responsible leader. That he knows what must be done to keep this nation secure and economically vital, while at the same time preserving our individual freedoms. McCain is counting on the fact that we have nowhere else to go, so we can lump it. Perhaps you might say that McCain cannot count on everyone who dislikes Obama or Clinton to bother to vote for him; they might just stay home and let God sort it out. Certainly, conservatives will be reluctant to put their time and money into electing him. At best, he will get our vote -- maybe.



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 or here or here


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)


Friday, May 16, 2008


14 people were wounded Wednesday evening, including a mother and her three-year-old daughter, when a Grad rocket fired from Gaza hit the Hutzot Shopping Center in Ashkelon. The rocket ripped through the roof of the mall, causing a large chunk of the roof to collapse in a huge pile of rubble and twisted metal. Four windows were blown out of the side of the building. The top floor of the building, which bore the brunt of the attack, is where offices and clinics are located.

A hospital official said a woman and her young daughter were seriously wounded, along with another child. Another woman was seriously wounded, and several other people were lightly wounded, said the official, Leah Malul of Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.

MDA said 14 people were wounded - three seriously, two moderately and nine slightly, adding that all the casualties had been evacuated from the site of the attack, including four people who were briefly trapped under the rubble.

( Arab terrorists in Gaza fired two Grad Katyusha missiles at southern Ashkelon late Wednesday afternoon, and one rocket scored a direct hit on a children's medical clinic inside a shopping center. Parts of the building collapsed, trapping four people for a half-hour. Many ambulances rushed to the scene.



Obama's Peace Partner, HAMAS: 'We will persecute the Zionists'

I guess all free men and lovers of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (aka non-believers) are on this guys hit list. What galls me is this is who Carter legitimized (and who Obama failed to denounce) and further, these are the same savages that Obamacide wants to have "talks" with. Hmmm, what will they talk about gas or ovens?
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said Wednesday that a Palestinian state will be established on all of the land of Palestine and not only on parts of it, and that it will include "Jaffa, Lod and Haifa." Zahar also reiterated Hamas' unwillingness to recognize the State of Israel and said that the group "will continue to persecute the Zionists wherever they are, after we prove that the Zionist army can be defeated - contrary to what was believed in the past, that it is impossible to beat the Zionists."

This is what the "Palis" voted for.
Speaking in the Gaza Strip, he went on to affirm Palestinian right of return, claiming that the "right of return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is closer than ever." "After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them. we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists," he continued.



More Pali lies

Palestinians are teaching their children on this Nakba (which is still my joy, incidentally) that the Israeli city of Tel Aviv belongs to them, that they used to live in "Tel al-Rabi" long before the dastardly Zionists showed up.

To absolutely nobody's surprise, we discover that this "tragic" history is a propagandistic invention, and has no basis whatsoever in that little thing we like to call "reality." Carl in Jerusalem has the full story, but here's the kicker:
Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 as a Jewish city. The city next to it - Yafo - which has now been incorporated into Tel Aviv, was a mostly Arab city at the time, but has a rich Jewish history (see, for example, the Book of Jonah). In any event, Tel Aviv was not and has never been an Arab or 'Palestinian' city. But the 'Palestinian' jihadis are teaching their children that they will return to it anyway and murder any Jew who stands in their way. There never was a city called Tel Al-Rabi.

Once again, we have conclusive proof that the "Nakba" celebrations are nothing more than anti-Israeli propaganda.



Brookes News Update

The 2000 recession can tell us a lot about today's US economy: If you really want to know in which direction the US economy seems is heading then you need to read the Austrian explanation of the boom-bust cycle. The last recession fitted Austrian analysis brilliantly. And we turn to that recession for illumination of the current state of the economy
It is nonsense that only CEOs need fear Obama's tax assault: Obama is selling economic snake-oil. He's telling Americans that the way to promote prosperity is to burden the economy with even heavier taxes. So far his spending agenda exceeds $307 billion a year. Taxing 'fat cats' won't be enough. He will have to extract the money from millions of middle-class taxpayers
Hillary Clinton's nuclear option: Most pundits are telling Senator Hillary Clinton that it's all over but the shouting. The math is against her. But it is also against Obama. Neither candidate can earn the needed majority in the remaining primaries. The decision will be made by the Democrats' superdelegates who are free to change their allegiance at any time
Two recent success in WOT you didn't hear about in the media: The corrupt mainstream media are up to their old tricks. They are refusing to report recent successes against terrorists in Iraq. In doing so they are lying by omission, once again revealing their hatred of President Bush and their desire for a terrorist victory
The American left's dangerous illusions: Have you ever wondered why so many people see higher taxes and more government as the solution to every problem, despite the empirical evidence that more government reduces economic efficiency and growth, plus diminishes our liberties?


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 or here or here


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)


Thursday, May 15, 2008

This is Why the Left Must Lose in November

We need to keep the liars out

Post below recycled from Ace. See the original for links

I've been taking some flak from commenters for insisting that McCain must win in November. As I've said before, it's not because McCain is going to make a great president or achieve much for Republicans. It's because the alternative is so very much worse. That's what crossed my mind when I saw the following. What follows is the type of thinking that you will see in the White House should the Democrats win in November. WARNING: it is a concentrated example of the half-truths, distortions, and outright lies that passes for foreign policy discussion on the Left. And if you're anything like me, it's really going to make you mad.
So let's recap the scene: the US military and its Iraqi "allies" are laying siege to a sprawling neighborhood in Baghdad housing roughly 2.5 million Iraqis, launching air strikes, artillery attacks, tank shells and other assorted ordnance, shutting down hospitals and bombing others, cutting off the supply of food and walling off entire sectors of the embattled region, causing a refugee crisis by their actions - and now actually pursuing a policy with the intent of creating a larger refugee crisis!

Witness the liar's casual blend of truth and falsity, used to imply malicious intent that doesn't exist. It's true that U.S. and Iraqi forces are fighting to take and keep control of portions of Sadr City and that one hospital was shut down and another damaged in a bombing. It is also true that the U.S. is building a concrete barrier through the city.

It is absolutely false that the hospital was bombed intentionally--as the liar implies--or that the U.S. has cut off food to the city. In fact, the article he links to (which we will, for now, assume is accurate) notes that the U.S. military is distributing food and medical supplies. This is curiously omitted from the liar's post, given how concerned he is about the residents of Sadr City. According to the article, the Red Crescent estimates that only 6% of the city's population have experienced food, water, or medical shortages during the weeks of fighting. More than that, it also notes that the "refugee crisis" which he blames on the U.S. and Iraqi forces hasn't actually materialized.

It is also manifestly untrue that the intent of the U.S./Iraqi operation is to create a "larger refugee crisis." In fact, the idea is to put an end to mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone, U.S. military bases, and civilian areas which are coming out of parts of Sadr City. Confusion about the difference between purposeful goals and regrettable, unintended, but unavoidable consequences is not unusual on the Left. The twisted morality that disregards intent makes claims of moral equivalence so much easier. The liar's most pernicious distortion comes next:
For what reason: because a majority of residents in these regions support a political movement, and militia, that oppose our presence. Can't have that. Because we have to keep 150,000 troops in Iraq to safeguard the Iraqi people. After all, whose gonna set up the tents in the refugee catch basins we so magnanimously helped set up to receive the overflow from our relentless assault on political movements that would make it harder for us to stay in Iraq. To safeguard the Iraqi people.

He thinks that the U.S. is targeting Sadr City merely because a "political movement, a militia" that opposes the U.S. hides in its slums. He makes no mention of the roadside, car, and market bombings, and rocket and mortar attacks that the Mahdi Army has committed. He ignores the Mahdi Army's attacks on Sunni mosques and attempts to "cleanse" a portion of the city of Sunni Arabs. Conveniently forgotten is journalist Steven Vincent who was killed almost certainly by members of that "political movement."

This distortion, wherein the Left imputes political animus to the U.S. government, is shameful, dreadful stuff. It is a mild flavor of conspiracy theory. The obvious purpose--American and Iraqi authorities want the Madhi Army to stop killing people--is disregarded in favor of a dubious, but oh-so-satisfyingly nefarious one: the Americans and their Iraqi stooges are "relentlessly attacking political groups." Another Leftist recently in the news, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, would no doubt agree. He's also fond of malicious government conspiracies.

This is the type of person you are inviting to enter the center ring when you say "we can wait 'til 2012." Democratic voters, Democratic thinkers, Obama's staff and advisers--these are the people you are flirting with when you say "McCain will do so much damage to the Republican Party." Consider for a minute how much damage these people will do to the United States. This is why the Left must lose in November. I'm not asking you to vote for John McCain. I'm asking you to vote against having a Leftist in the White House.



A few words about the email I get: I do get a LOT of email. Most of it is positive but even when it is critical I am pleased to get it. I do learn from informed criticism and am delighted when I do. The contrast in quality between email I get from conservatives and Leftists is great, however. Reasoned email from Leftists is rare. Leftist email and Leftist comments posted on my blogs consist generally of unreferenced assertions. They seem to think that I must take their word for what they say. Evidence is unnecessary! Comments of that kind left on my blogs I simply delete, of course.

A word of apology however: I DO read all the emails I receive and I reply to lots of them. But I just do not have time to reply to all. Please therefore do not take umbrage if I fail to reply. It just means that I am pushed for time. Since I post daily to 15 blogs, you may understand that! Recommendations for articles that I should look at I often do not reply to. I often accept the recommendation and put the article up somewhere. That seems to me to be a good reply.



More on high fuel prices: "With oil prices closing above $125 a barrel of oil on Friday, angry politicians are blaming the higher prices on everything from speculators to greedy oil companies. Last week some Democratic Senators demanded "urgent action . . . to adequately investigate whether speculators are driving up prices." Democrats are proposing to protect the American people from "greedy oil traders who manipulate the market." ... Putting aside the fact that having politicians blame oil companies is a bit hypocritical - U.S. oil companies have paid more than three times in taxes to the government than they have earned in profits over the last 25 years - higher taxes on profits will reduce production and increase prices. A higher tax on profits will mean fewer investments in producing oil and that in turn will mean less production in the future. Ironically, Democrats won the 2006 elections and took control of both the House and the Senate by promising they would reduce gas prices. Yet, with regular gas now selling above $3.67 a gallon, Americans can only longingly remember the average prices of about $2.20 a gallon that Democrats were complaining about in early November 2006. The Democrats' bigger sin is that they seem to have no understanding of how markets work.

The Recession of 2008 That Wasn't? "More bad news for the Recession Hysteria Pimps. The professionals whose income depends on accurate economic forecasts, as recently as 5/8/2008, continue to forecast economic growth in every quarter of 2008. Remember, The Conference Board has been in the business of providing accurate economic forecasts for "over 90 years". The Conference Board predicted 0.4% GDP growth for Q1 of 2008. And, the advance number, 0.6%, beat their forecast. I'm betting their forecast for the rest of the year will be equally accurate. But, nobody in the media wants to allow anybody at The Conference Board to talk about their forecast. Why? Because it's "off script". It won't sell as much advertising and it won't advance the political agenda of those in the media."

With Deepest Condolences To the AP Economics Desk: "According to the Philadelphia Fed, economists are climbing down off the recession ledge (that minority of economists who thought we were on the brink of recession are, anyway). The so-called "Anxious Index" now indicates less than 28% of economists surveyed believe the economy will slip into recession next quarter. Having peaked at 43% this cycle, the AI failed to reach even its lowest of recession-era peaks observed over the last 40 years."


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 or here or here


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)


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In defense of 'Big Oil'

With gas prices topping four dollars a gallon in some regions of the country, now may not be the best time to say something positive about "big oil," but here goes anyway. Where is it written that the cost for a product or service should be frozen in place and in time, never to rise again, or to rise at a pace commensurate with our incomes? People who think this way know little to nothing about supply and demand and less than nothing about the profit motive. That's because at least three generations have been raised on the notion of entitlement, and when one feels entitled to something, one believes someone else should pay.

Senate Democrats last week sought to ingratiate themselves with voters, while doing nothing to produce more energy, with a familiar attack on "big oil." They want to repeal $17 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies over 10 years and on top of that impose a windfall profit tax on companies that don't invest in new energy sources. This is political expediency at its worst.

Peter Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron, told me it's a myth that oil companies are not investing in new energy sources. He says last year alone, Chevron spent $20 billion exploring new sources of energy.

Robertson said President Bush's trip this week to Saudi Arabia is "highly embarrassing" because he is "calling on the Saudis to produce more oil when we are not doing it ourselves." The last refinery built in America was in 1976. Tighter government regulations are the main reason. That's how unserious we are about our energy "crisis." Robertson said there would be plenty of oil available to the United States if the oil companies were allowed to get it: "Eighty-five percent of offshore oil is off-limits." Responding to objections to offshore drilling by environmentalists and their allies in Congress, Robertson noted that some of the strongest pro-environment nations in Europe -- he mentions Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom -- lease offshore locations for oil exploration. The technology has become so good, he said, that during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, "one thousand offshore wells were destroyed (in the Gulf of Mexico), but not one leaked." Australia, he said, has allowed offshore drilling for 40 years without any environmental damage.

More here



Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass says: "The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's politics were born in Chicago. Yet [Barack Obama] is presented to the nation as not truly being of this place, as if he floats just above the political corruption here, uninfected, untouched by the stain of it or by any sin of commission or omission.... My argument is not with him -- but with the national political media pack that refuses to look closely at what Chicago is.... Why is Obama allowed to campaign as a reformer, virtually unchallenged by the media, though he's a product of Chicago politics and has never condemned the wholesale political corruption in his home town the way he condemns those darn Washington lobbyists"

Air Combat by Remote Control: "The sniper never knew what hit him. The Marines patrolling the street below were taking fire, but did not have a clear shot at the third-story window that the sniper was shooting from. They were pinned down and called for reinforcements. Help came from a Predator drone circling the skies 20 miles away. As the unmanned plane closed in, the infrared camera underneath its nose picked up the muzzle flashes from the window. The sniper was still firing when the Predator's 100-pound Hellfire missile came through the window and eliminated the threat. The airman who fired that missile was 8,000 miles away, here at Creech Air Force Base, home of the 432nd air wing. The 432nd officially "stood up," in the jargon of the Air Force, on May 1, 2007. One year later, two dozen of its drones patrol the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan every hour of every day."

Socialists decide not to destroy Britain's finance industry after all: "The Treasury has succumbed to sustained pressure from big business and agreed to water down controversial proposals to change the UK corporate tax regime. Several big multinational British companies had said that they were prepared to move their headquarters from the UK amid concerns that the Treasury was preparing to tax the profits they derived overseas. A Treasury spokesman confirmed yesterday that the department had drawn up a new set of tax plans after extensive consulation with UK companies. The move will be seen as another embarrassing government climbdown. The spokesman said that new proposals would be put out to consultation in mid-June, with a view to introducing legislative changes next year. Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, threatened to move the advertising giant offshore, following a lead set by Shire, the pharmaceuticals business, and United Business Media, the publishing group. Other companies looking at moving their headquarters outside the UK for tax reasons include Aberdeen Asset Management, the fund manager, and Brit Insurance and Chaucer, the Lloyd's of London insurers. Smith & Nephew, the medical equipment firm, and Old Mutual, the insurance and fund management group, have both refused to rule out a departure.... Treasury sources said that the Government would move ahead with legislation only if it had secured the broad agreement of business and would not rule out abandoning the proposals."

NYT grudgingly notes improvements in Iraq: "Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old. In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias. Just as in Baghdad, Iraqi and Western officials emphasize that the gains here are "fragile," like the newly planted roadside saplings that fail to conceal mounds of garbage and pools of foul-smelling water in the historic port city's slums. ... Among the many uncertainties are whether the government, criticized for incompetence at the start of the operation, can maintain the high level of troops here. But in interviews across Basra, residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives. "The circle of fear is broken," said Shaker, owner of a floating restaurant on Basra's famed Corniche promenade, who, although optimistic, was still afraid to give his full name, as were many of those interviewed."

If only these guys had been government clerks: "A highly sensitive internal report into the state of the British Army has revealed that many soldiers are living in poverty. Some are so poor that they are unable to eat and are forced to rely on emergency food voucher schemes set up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Some of Britain's most senior military figures reacted angrily yesterday to the revelations in the report, criticising the Government's treatment of its fighting forces. The disturbing findings outlined in the briefing team report written for Sir Richard Dannatt, the Chief of the General Staff, include an admission that many junior officers are being forced to leave the Army because they simply cannot afford to stay on. Pressure from an undermanned army is "having a serious impact on retention in infantry battalions", with nearly half of all soldiers unable to take all their annual leave as they try to cover the gaps". [But there's always plenty of money for more clerks and bureaucrats]

Obama Once Again Wearing Flag Pin, Star Count Unclear: "Well, that didn't take long. Just 24 hours after the Obama-edition 57-star flag pins went on sale, the candidate himself is found sporting a patriotic lapel pin voluntarily for the first time in months. It's hard to tell from the resolution of the photo, but I think it's safe to assume it's one of ours."


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 or here or here


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)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Some facts in search of a moral

My personal life is uneventful -- which is how I like it. So it's only occasionally that I find something worth noting on my personal blog. Something I noted there recently, however, sparked a train of thought. I noted how many Presbyterians there are in Korea: about 20% of the South Korean population, if I remember rightly. Yet Korea was never one of the many British colonies. India, on the other hand, was dominated by the British for centuries yet Christianity of any kind is rare there. Most Indian Christians in fact have mixed ancestry -- Anglo-Indians.

And then there is Fiji. The British presence in Fiji happened with a large degree of consent from the native Fijians -- via their traditional chiefs. Queen Victoria was simply recognized as the chief of chiefs. And Fijians to this day recognize Queen Elizabeth as their queen. And there are so many Fijians in the British army that their has been talk of putting a cap on their numbers. So what religion are the Fijians? They are almost all Methodists, and Methodists of the old school at that.

I am sure there is a moral there but I am not certain of exactly what it is yet.

And then there is another old British/Australian custom that probably prevails in America too: A sort of defiant custom. I think the most amusing example occurs in David Niven's autobiography. When he was about to graduate from Sandhurst, he was asked what regiment he would like to join. He put down: "Anything but the HLI". The Highland Light Infantry wear trews (tartan trousers) and Niven did not like that image at all. He was of course immediately posted to the HLI.

Another example of it occurred when the father of a friend of mine inadvertedly spoke with some satisfaction of his expense account. He was of course immediately told that he had to take us to dinner at a good restaurant on it -- which he was in fact glad to do, though it clearly was not an example of a work expense.

So is there an underlying principle or moral there too? I suspect that there is. An attack on hubris, maybe?


Newsweek: Republicans Are Successful Because They Scare Voters

Post below recycled from Gateway Pundit

The media onslaught against the Republicans and John McCain is officially on its way. Today's Newsweek article combines both the media's deep hatred of Republicans and love for Messiah in one piece:

While Clinton veered between playing Queen Elizabeth I and Norma Rae, Obama and his team chugged along with a superior 50-state campaign strategy, racking up the delegates. If the candidate seemed weary and peevish or a little slow to respond at times, he never lost his cool. But the real test is yet to come. The Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968, when Richard Nixon built a Silent Majority out of lower- and middle-class folks frightened or disturbed by hippies and student radicals and blacks rioting in the inner cities. The 2008 race may turn on which party will win the lower- and middle-class whites in industrial and border states-the Democrats' base from the New Deal to the 1960s, but "Reagan Democrats" in most presidential elections since then. It is a sure bet that the GOP will try to paint Obama as "the other"-as a haughty black intellectual who has Muslim roots (Obama is a Christian) and hangs around with America-haters.
Here's some news for Newsweek: Republicans don't have to "paint" anything-- Obama's done a fine job all by himself.

(Top left clockwise) Barack and Michelle Obama and radical Leftist anti-Israel Professor Edward Said at a May 1998 Arab community event in Chicago at which Edward Said gave the keynote speech. (Bill Baar's West Side), Former PLO operative and close friend of the Obama's Rashid Khalidi, Barack Obama and his racist minister Jeremiah Wright, and terrorist friend William Ayers.

To think that Republicans have to do more than lift a brush to paint Obama as "the other" guy who likes hanging around with America-haters is ridiculous. The truth speak for itself. STACLU provides of few examples of Democratic scare tactics that are more recent than 1968.



There is a great tribute to West Virginia here. It sounds like a place that I would like.

Not history alone: "Israel's fundamental right to exist doesn't derive from UN votes, or promises in the Bible, or its own Declaration of Independence. For ultimately, the right of statehood accrues only to those who can fashion and sustain a nation. "Why does the United States belong to Americans?" Yale's David Gelernter wrote in 2002. "Because we built it. We conceived the idea and put it into practice bit by bit." For the same reason, the land of Israel belongs to Israelis: "Because Israelis conceived and built it -- and what you create is yours. If you want a homeland, you must create one. You drain swamps, lay out farms, build houses, schools, roads, hospitals. . . . "That's how America got its homeland. And that is why Israel belongs to the Israelis."

Marines squeeze Taliban supply routes : "US Marines supported by British troops in Afghanistan now command three key locations south of the town of Garmsir, in Helmand province, putting pressure on the main supply routes of the Taleban for arms, opium and reinforcements. For the first time since the Nato campaign expanded to the south in 2006 the Taleban stranglehold in this part of Helmand - stretching from the Pakistan border to Garmsir - has been weakened. Crucial vantage points are now held by 1,200 US Marines from 24 Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU) and 200 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 Scots) battle group. Lieutenant-Colonel Robin Matthews, the chief British spokesman for Task Force Helmand, said that the US men were guided by British troops as they moved at night "over extraordinarily difficult terrain . . . to launch their assault".


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 or here or here


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)


Monday, May 12, 2008


Israel's 60th anniversary has produced some wonderful essays in honour of that heroic people but the most down to earth was in my view written by Prof. Barry Rubin -- a man who has converted his love of Israel into an unceasing verbal war against all those in the media who misrepresent Israel. I reproduce an excerpt below. The whole thing, of course, is a must-read for all of us who support Israel

As part of the sixtieth anniversary celebration, Israelis are choosing their national bird but they have long since picked the national sport: self-criticism. The great Israeli humorist Ephraim Kishon described his own arrival in the country shortly after independence by joking that as the ship approached the coast it became very hot and we began criticizing the government over the weather. Daily Israel, every conceivable failing (real or imagined) is relentlessly dissected. The negative is usually highlighted, though afterward people feel optimistic at having been able to vent their pessimism. One day walking down the street I ran into a friend.

"How's everything?" he asked. "Great," I answered. "How can you say that!" he exclaimed. "Don't you read the newspapers?" This characteristic has a positive effect, by inspiring a ceaseless effort to make things better. In dictatorships and places ruled by extremist ideologies, the stifling of this process has been one of the main reasons for their failings.

I know our society could have been, and could be today, far better. Don't get me started on the teacher's strike or the low calibre of politicians. The president and prime minister have rightly both faced charges of malfeasance. One cannot help but think that if so much effort didn't have to go into self-defence, the country would be within shouting distance of utopia.

Still, when annual quality of life polls are taken, the positive scores from Israelis are into the 90th percentile. Moreover, although Israel faces very real threats, its security situation is better than the great majority of those sixty years. While there is full, formal peace with only Egypt and Jordan, most Arab states-except for Syria-have in practice made the material, as opposed to verbal, pursuit of the conflict, a low priority.

It's true that the old comradeship of decades ago has declined, as have the institutions created to build the state. As in other countries, privatization has replaced statism. I can remember when a telephone installation took a month. Now it takes a day. Television stations have gone from a single choice to dozens. The national airport has been upgraded from a place barely fit for a small provincial town to a large, thoroughly modern complex. This tiny state of now seven million people is a world leader in science, medicine, and hi-tech among other things, yet still has some of the globe's best-tasting fruit and vegetables as well as internationally exported flowers.

And nothing more symbolizes Israeli daily life than the driver behind you setting off his horn to beat the speed of light from the changing traffic signal. Yet civility, too, is creeping in gradually. With all of its problems-at times because of its problems-it is a great place to live.

Oh yes we are human beings, a fact that often seems forgotten in the hate-filled propaganda that pervades too many institutions, the slanderous misrepresentation of latest fact and longer-term history which is heard far too much. A friend told me today that he was seriously informed on an international television broadcast that former prime minister Ariel Sharon drank a glass of Palestinian blood every day.

It's often explained that criticism of Israel is not antisemitism as such but increasingly the extreme, crazed attacks precisely duplicate that hateful standpoint. More important is this: historic antisemitism's claims and assumptions have simply been adapted to Israel; the word "Zionism" simply substituted for "Judaism" and "Israel" for "Jews." We are the only people in the world continually called on to apologize because we survived, even after 85 percent of European Jews were murdered and about 90 percent of Middle Eastern Jews were expelled or had to flee the countries where they were born.

In contrast to the false accusations, we will be delighted to agree, cooperate, and celebrate the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state willing to live in peace alongside Israel. Unfortunately, that prospect seems distant. Equally unfortunately, that movement's Islamist and much of its nationalist leadership prefers to continue the conflict-and intensify their own, and our, people's suffering--rather than accept anything less than Israel, in the words of Iran's president, being wiped off the map.

A thousand years ago, Chasdai Ibn Shaprut wrote from Spain: "Dishonoured and humiliated by our dispersion, we have to listen in silence to those who say: `every nation has its own land and you alone possess not even the shadow of a country on this earth.'" But if there really was a place, Shaprut said, "where harassed Israel can rule itself, where it is subject to nobody.I would not hesitate to forsake all honours, resign my high office.and travel over mountains and plains, over land and water," to reach it. Well, now it exists and will keep on doing so, very probably long after seemingly more established states or at least societies vanish in its neighborhood or elsewhere.

Nahum Lenkin, one of my few relatives who escaped with his life from wartime Poland, wrote how his parents there often "went without food" to pay for the town's Zionist school where he and others could be prepared "to one day go as pioneers to Eretz Israel." Virtually all that town's survivors, and their children, live in Israel.

More here



Bush set to veto $300 billion farm bill: "Administration officials have dashed hopes among farm-state lawmakers from both parties that President Bush will sign a nearly $300 billion farm bill that they finished Thursday. The veto warning sets up an effort by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joined by many farm-state Republicans, to override a veto and defend government payments to farmers earning record incomes even as food prices soar. Administration officials said the bill, which would set U.S. food policy for the next five years, is loaded with budget gimmicks that disguise a $20 billion increase in spending. "At a time of record farm income, Congress decided to further increase farm subsidy rates, qualify more people for taxpayer support, and move programs toward more government control," Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said. Schafer dismissed lawmakers, including Republicans, pushing to override the veto. "The same people stand up and say they're against corporate welfare and tax cuts for the rich," he said. "I have visited face to face with our president and he was direct and plain. The president will veto this bill."

Big business likes big government: "Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, is struggling to attract money from some of the same industries that helped bankroll President George W. Bush's record-setting fundraising. Employees from the securities, construction, pharmaceutical and energy industries, who accounted for about a tenth of Bush's money in 2004, are turned off by his record and giving more to his Democratic rivals, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. ``A significant percentage of your base Republican support, whether financial or otherwise, are not fans of McCain because of various things he's done or said or sponsored,'' said Republican consultant Eddie Mahe, who is supporting the Arizona senator. ``Many of them don't see Mr. McCain as being a lot better'' than the Democrats."

Big victory for the Iraq government: "Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. In return, Sadr's Mahdi Army supporters won the Iraqi government's agreement not to arrest Mahdi Army members without warrants, unless they were in possession of "medium and heavy weaponry." The agreement would end six weeks of fighting in the vast Shiite Muslim area that's home to more than 2 million residents and would mark the first time that the area would be under government control since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003"


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 or here or here


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)


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain

Deep within our subconscious, all of us harbor biases that we consciously abhor. And the worst part is: we act on them

The heading and subheading above are from a recent article in that well-known Greenie publication, "Scientific American". I also reproduce the first part of the article concerned below. The article seems to be aimed towards making us less prejudiced towards outgroups. But the article exists in a reality vacuum. It totally ignores realities such as the incredibly high rate of violent crime among blacks and also ignores most of the research on impression-formation and stereotyping. It is largely a rehash of some well-known work by Banerji and Richeson that I have commented on some time ago.

The "amazing" thing that the researchers found was that whites (and some blacks) are more wary of blacks than they are of whites -- no matter how you measure or detect that. Such a finding would, however, surely surprise only a psychologist. If blacks REALLY ARE more dangerous to others, it is merely psychological good function to be more wary of them than of others. And I don't think even Leftists attempt to deny the high rate of black crime. So to call such perfectly proper wariness in people "bigotry" is itself bigoted. Bigotry is judging people according to a fixed and wrong set of preconceptions and it seems to me that that is exactly how psychologists are judging others when they refer to perfectly normal and adaptive behaviour as bigotry.

The one thing that the research literature on stereotyping shows most clearly is that the "stereotypes" people have in their heads are not usually (Except, perhaps in the case of psychologists) rigid or imprisoning but are highly flexible and responsive to the realities that people encounter (See for instance here and here). That fact fully explains all the behaviour that the psychologists described below view as "bigotry". If blacks change, the perceptions and expectations of them will change -- but I am not holding my breath.

Fortunately, the same literature tells us that once we get to know a particular person as an individual, the importance of the stereotype recedes rapidly -- so that the particular person will then in general be treated as we find him/her, regardless of any expectations we have about the group to which he/she belongs. A rather amusing example of that which I once came across was a white neo-Nazi whose best friend was a very dark-skinned Bengali. And there was another guy who could not stand "Chinks" (East Asians) but who was happily married to one. And Wilhelm Marr, the man who in 1879 invented the term "antisemitism" (he thought it was a good thing), was actually married to a Jewish lady! Psychologists have traditionally seen such behaviour as perverse but a good knowledge of the impression-formation research would have told them that it is normal.
"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life," Jesse Jackson once told an audience, "than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery-then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

Jackson's remark illustrates a basic fact of our social existence, one that even a committed black civil-rights leader cannot escape: ideas that we may not endorse-for example, that a black stranger might harm us but a white one probably would not-can nonetheless lodge themselves in our minds and, without our permission or awareness, color our perceptions, expectations and judgments.

Using a variety of sophisticated methods, psychologists have established that people unwittingly hold an astounding assortment of stereotypical beliefs and attitudes about social groups: black and white, female and male, elderly and young, gay and straight, fat and thin. Although these implicit biases inhabit us all, we vary in the particulars, depending on our own group membership, our conscious desire to avoid bias and the contours of our everyday environments. For instance, about two thirds of whites have an implicit preference for whites over blacks, whereas blacks show no average preference for one race over the other.

Such bias is far more prevalent than the more overt, or explicit, prejudice that we associate with, say, the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis. That is emphatically not to say that explicit prejudice and discrimination have evaporated nor that they are of lesser importance than implicit bias. According to a 2005 federal report, almost 200,000 hate crimes-84 percent of them violent-occur in the U.S. every year.

The persistence of explicit bias in contemporary culture has led some critics to maintain that implicit bias is of secondary concern. But hundreds of studies of implicit bias show that its effects can be equally insidious. Most social psychologists believe that certain scenarios can automatically activate implicit stereotypes and attitudes, which then can affect our perceptions, judgments and behavior. "The data on that are incontrovertible," concludes psychologist Russell H. Fazio of Ohio State University.

Now researchers are probing deeper. They want to know: Where exactly do such biases come from? How much do they influence our outward behavior? And if stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes are burned into our psyches, can learning more about them help to tell each of us how to override them?



Tax revolt in Britain: "Gordon Brown must stop his crippling tax rises or face an election hammering, Cabinet ministers have warned him. They told the beleaguered Prime Minister that millions of decent, hard-working families have been stretched to breaking point by Labour's punishing policies. Warning that the country will revolt against any further drain on dwindling family finances, they used an extraordinary Cabinet meeting to tell the Prime Minister that voters have "reached the limit" of their endurance for his relentless hikes in income tax, fuel duty and council tax. Even Chancellor Alistair Darling is understood to be counselling that Middle Britain cannot take any more financial punishment. And in the first signs of a Cabinet revolt, ministers demanded a halt to any new taxes."

Germany: Court says Muslim girl can't skip swimming: "A Muslim girl in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia cannot skip co-ed swimming lessons because of religious prohibitions against wearing formfitting clothing, a German court ruled on Wednesday. The administrative court in Dusseldorf ruled that the state's responsibility to educate the girl outweighed the potential infringement on her religious freedom. The 12-year-old girl's parents sued her school in the northern German city of Remscheid after the school refused to allow the girl to skip swimming class. Citing religious reasons, the parents said they did not want their daughter to participate because her body would not be covered. The ruling means the girl must participate in swimming lessons starting next week, Sabine Ernst of the Alexander von Humboldt School told German news agency DDP. Ernst declined to state what the consequences could be if the girl declines to attend." [Nil!]

FBI targets Internet Archive, loses: "The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced Wednesday morning. On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a controversial National Security Letter on the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library's registered users, asking for the user's name, address and activity on the site. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet Archive's lawyers, fought the NSL, challenging its constitutionality in a December 14 complaint to a federal court in San Francisco. The FBI agreed on April 21 to withdraw the letter and unseal the court case, making some of the documents available to the public."

An old-fashioned Christian family rich in children: "It's a happy Mother's Day for an Arkansas woman - she's pregnant with her 18th child. Michelle Duggar, 41, is due on New Year's Day, and the latest addition will join seven sisters and 10 brothers. There are two sets of twins. The Duggars' oldest child, Josh, is 20, and the youngest, Jennifer, is nine months old. The fast-growing family lives in Tontitown in northwest Arkansas in a 7,000-square-foot home. All the children - whose names start with the letter J - are home-schooled... Duggar said she's six weeks along and the pregnancy is going well. She and her husband, Jim Bob Duggar, said they'll keep having children as long as God wills it. "The success in a family is first off, a love for God, and secondly, treating each other like you want to be treated," Jim Bob Duggar said. "Our goal is for each one of our children to be best friends, and everybody working together to serve each other makes that happen."


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 or here or here


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)