Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hate By Any Other Name

The LA Times covers the mass protests against the passage of Proposition 8, which amends the California constitution and clarifies that marriage is restricted to one man and one woman. Set aside the fact that African Americans were the most overwhelmingly pro-Prop 8 voters, or that some may have supported the measure simply because they were offended at gay marriage being imposed through a one-vote margin by California Supreme Court judicial fiat.

What's worth noting is that since the proposition passed, some of its opponents have behaved in a way that would be universally condemned if, say, conservatives had behaved in the same manner about Obama's victory. Most appalling, here is video of a cross being ripped out of an elderly woman's hand and being trampled upon.

Just asking: Where is the ACLU, and where are all the hate crimes advocates? Surely if a Christian had stomped on a symbol of gay pride, there would be you-know-what to pay. What makes it all right for gay activists to stamp on the most sacred symbol of the Christian faith?

It strikes me that different standards of behavior are expected from Americans depending on their political persuasion. Acts that would be characterized as unacceptable and hateful if employed by conservatives are treated as an acceptable expression of legitimate grievance when committed by the left.



Hank Paulson, Naked Emperor

The urgent necessity of a few weeks ago is now useless, we hear

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson finally confirmed what lonely bailout opponents tried to tell the American public all along: The man doesn't know what the hell he's doing.

Paulson held a bazooka to taxpayers' heads. He groveled on his knees in front of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He lured leaders from both political parties into linking arms in a panicked Chicken Little line dance for the beleaguered mortgage industry. Paulson demanded an unprecedented $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for the good of the country. For the health of the housing market. For the survival of the economy. No time for deliberation. No time to review the failures of such interventionist approaches around the world. Now, now, now!

And now? The pulled-out-of-the-posterior "$700 billion" price tag has ballooned into the trillions. The "mortgage industry rescue" has expanded to banks, insurance companies, automakers, credit card companies and possibly the entire national volume of consumer lending. Oh, and that vaunted "TARP" component, Paulson admitted this week, is nothing but a four-letter word that rhymes with TRAP.

In September, Paulson offered his lofty pledge: "The ultimate taxpayer protection will be the stability this troubled asset relief program provides to our financial system, even as it will involve a significant investment of taxpayer dollars. I am convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative -- a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets unable to fund economic expansion."

Two months later, Paulson's conviction melted faster than microwaved butter. "Our assessment at this time is that this is not the most effective way to use TARP funds," he sheepishly told the nation Wednesday.....

Wielding his enormous authority, Paulson is desperately throwing our money at banks in a futile attempt to convince them to lend. Instead, those banks are either hoarding the cash or acquiring more assets. In other words: Paulson is helping the banks that were "too big to fail" grow even bigger with taxpayer backing. Swell.

Hank Paulson is not to be trusted. I repeat: This is the man who proclaimed the subprime crisis "largely contained" in April 2007; "near the bottom" in May 2007; and "largely contained" again in August 2007. This is the man who pledged that he had "no interest in bailing out lenders or property speculators" in October 2007 and couldn't "think of any situation where the backdrop of the global economy was as healthy as it is today."

This is the man who patted himself on the back for refusing to "put taxpayer money on the line" to rescue Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15 -- and then turned around the next day and engineered the $85 billion taxpayer-funded bailout of AIG. This is the man who vowed he had "no plans to insert money" into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- and then turned around and committed $200 billion in capital and credit lines to those corrupt, bloated, crumbling institutions.

Emperor Paulson's bipartisan courtiers in Congress berated anyone who dared challenge his wisdom. Minority Leader John Boehner sniffed: "This is no time for ideological purity." Well, ideological pollution begat this mess. It's time for a fiscal-conservative counterinsurgency to disrobe and disarm the charlatans before they do more harm.

More here


Brookes News Update

Obama's New Deal v. the US economy: Just as I predicted, the US economy is in another recession. And what does Team Obama intend to do about it? The same things that Roosevelt did. And informed people know just how well that worked. The man will be an economic disaster if he implements his economic program
Why Keynes is not the answer to the financial crisis: We find it extraordinary to suggest that Keynes' ideas are now coming back to save the world. Keynesian ideas have never left the rooms of government and central bank decision makers. The essence of the thinking of the most influential economists was and still is Keynesian
Recession is already here - and has been for months: The economy started to slide into recession months ago. Yet the economic commentariat is still blaming the financial crisis. So what really happened and how is it to be dealt with?
Obama's wheelbarrow economics: Obama's primitive economics. The Messiah is seriously considering creating millions of new jobs by destroying capital, despite the fact that it is capital that raises real wages. That anyone about to occupy the Oval Office should give this garbage more than a moment's thought should beggar belief
The tide is finally turning against global warming cultists: All over the western world, the penny is dropping. People are coming to realise that "global warming" is a phony crisis. More slowly they are learning that the misguided policies being promoted to change future climate will create real crises in energy and food supplies and costs
Obama to shut down talkback radio? The right To remain silent: Obama's thugocracy is already moving to destroy conservative talkback radio. No doubt they will have the full support of America's viciously corrupt 'mainstream media', not to mention a horde of leftwing foreign 'journalists'
Miracles of the Obamaic faith: What Obama says does not make sense. His speeches, when not totally devoid of content, unceremoniously contradict themselves - and that is exactly why they work so well. Their content has no importance at all


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, November 14, 2008

Conservatives have a better sense of humour

The article below starts out with the claim -- popular among Leftist psychologists -- that conservatives are dogmatic and rigid and less flexible and less open to new ideas. There was never any good evidence for that, just some methodologically very weak research among college students. See here and here, for instance. It is a very common finding that conservatives are happier though. Whining is basic to Leftism. It is interesting that the findings below seem to have been based on an adult sample. The findings should therefore be more generalizable than the findings from college students -- whom psychologists normally study

In strict accordance with experimental protocol, we begin by asking you to rate, on a scale of 1 (not funny at all) to 9 (hilarious) the following three attempts at humor:

A) Jake is about to chip onto the green at his local golf course when a long funeral procession passes by. He stops in midswing, doffs his cap, closes his eyes and bows in prayer. His playing companion is deeply impressed. "That's the most thoughtful and touching thing I've ever seen," he says. Jake replies, "Yeah, well, we were married 35 years."

B) I think there should be something in science called the "reindeer effect." I don't know what it would be, but I think it'd be good to hear someone say, "Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect."

C) If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I'd say Flippy, wouldn't you? You'd be wrong, though. It's Hambone.

Those were some of the jokes rated by nearly 300 people in Boston in a recent study. (You can rate some of the others at TierneyLab, The researchers picked out a variety of jokes - good, bad, conventional, absurdist - to look for differences in reactions between self-described liberals and conservatives.

They expected conservatives to like traditional jokes, like the one about the golfing widower, that reinforce racial and gender stereotypes. And because liberals had previously been reported to be more flexible and open to new ideas, the researchers expected them to get a bigger laugh out of unconventional humor, like Jack Handey's "Deep Thoughts" about the reindeer effect and Hambone.

Indeed, the conservatives did rate the traditional golf and marriage jokes as significantly funnier than the liberals did. But they also gave higher ratings to the absurdist "Deep Thoughts." In fact, they enjoyed all kinds of humor more.

"I was surprised," said Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke University, who collaborated on the study with Elisabeth Malin, a student at Mount Holyoke College. "Conservatives are supposed to be more rigid and less sophisticated, but they liked even the more complex humor."

Do conservatives have more fun? Should liberals start describing themselves as humor-challenged? To investigate these questions, we need to delve into the science of humor (not a funny enterprise), starting with two basic kinds of humor identified in the 1980s by Willibald Ruch, a psychologist who now teaches at the University of Zurich.

The first category is incongruity-resolution humor, or INC-RES in humor jargon. It covers traditional jokes and cartoons in which the incongruity of the punch line (the husband who misses his wife's funeral) can be resolved by other information (he's playing golf). You can clearly get the joke, and it often reinforces stereotypes (the golf-obsessed husband).

Dr. Ruch and other researchers reported that this humor, with its orderly structure and reinforcement of stereotypes, appealed most to conservatives who shunned ambiguity and complicated new ideas, and who were more repressed and conformist than liberals.

The second category, nonsense humor, covers many "Far Side" cartoons, Monty Python sketches and "Deep Thoughts." The punch line's incongruity isn't neatly resolved - you're left to enjoy the ambiguity and absurdity of the reindeer effect or Hambone's affection for dolphins. This humor was reported to appeal to liberals because of their "openness to ideas" and their tendency to "seek new experiences."

But then why didn't the liberals in the Boston experiment like the nonsense humor of "Deep Thoughts" as much as the conservatives did? One possible explanation is that conservatives' rigidity mattered less than another aspect of their personality. Rod Martin, the author of "The Psychology of Humor," said the results of the Boston study might reflect another trait that has been shown to correlate with a taste for jokes: cheerfulness.

"Conservatives tend to be happier than liberals in general," said Dr. Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario. "A conservative outlook rationalizes social inequality, accepting the world as it is, and making it less of a threat to one's well-being, whereas a liberal outlook leads to dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and a sense that things need to change before one can be really happy."

Another possible explanation is that conservatives, or at least the ones in Boston, really aren't the stiffs they're made out to be by social scientists. When these scientists analyze conservatives, they can sound like Victorians describing headhunters in Borneo. They try to be objective, but it's an alien culture.

The studies hailing liberals' nonconformity and "openness to ideas" have been done by social scientists working in a culture that's remarkably homogenous politically. Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one on social science and humanities faculties, according to studies by Daniel Klein, an economist at George Mason University. If you're a professor who truly "seeks new experiences," try going into a faculty club today and passing out McCain-Palin buttons.

Could it be that the image of conservatives as humorless, dogmatic neurotics is based more on political bias than sound social science? Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who reviews the evidence of cognitive differences in his 2005 book, "Expert Political Judgment," said that while there were valid differences, "liberals and conservatives are roughly equally closed-minded in dealing with dissonant real-world evidence."

So perhaps conservatives don't have a monopoly on humorless dogmatism. Maybe the stereotype of the dour, rigid conservative has more to do with social scientists' groupthink and wariness of outsiders - which, come to think of it, resembles the herding behavior of certain hoofed animals. Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.




PayGo is now PayWent: "As Congress gears up to pass another spending "stimulus" bill, there's one political silver lining: Democrats are being forced to abandon the pretense of fiscal conservatism known as "pay as you go" budgeting. Late last week the leader of the House Blue Dog Coalition, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper, announced that with Barack Obama about to enter the White House, "I'm not sure the old rules are relevant anymore." Why not? Because, Mr. Cooper said, "It would be unfair to the new President to put him in a budget straitjacket." Democrats ran on "paygo" in 2006, promising to offset any new spending increases or tax cuts with comparable tax increases or spending cuts. Once in charge on Capitol Hill they quickly made exceptions, waiving paygo no fewer than 12 times to accommodate some $398 billion in new deficit spending -- not that the press corps bothered to notice. That didn't stop Majority Leader Steny Hoyer from announcing in May that "We're absolutely committed to paygo. Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] is committed to paygo. I'm very committed to paygo. Our caucus is committed to paygo." Yet now Mr. Cooper is delivering official last rites, as the Washington spending machinery powers up in earnest. Paygo was always a big con"

The next Palin run is beginning: "As she seeks to recover politically from her failed election bid on Senator John McCain's ticket, the big question for Gov. Sarah Palin has been whether her backers would remain enthusiastic over the long run. As it turns out, over the past few days, about 1,000 people have donated tens of thousands of dollars to Our Country Deserves Better, a political action committee that is planning a pro-Palin advertisement later this month. "We thought it would be appropriate to have the thank-you ad run around Thanksgiving," said Joe Wiezbicki, the PAC's coordinator. The group expects to shoot on Monday and raise "a couple hundred thousand dollars" to buy airtime nationally."

Anti-science appointment to the EPA? "But what is no laughing matter is the lack of reason and the total disregard for science in what may be the imminent appointment of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to head the EPA. I keep seeing his name bandied about among lists of potential cabinet members, but he must be barred in the name of science and reason. In short, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has proved himself little better than Jenny McCarthy, that detestable mouthpiece of the anti-vaccine crowd who has directly contributed to declining health among children, has deluded countless parents, and has supported dubious, unscientific methods. This would be a disaster and an appointment anything but reality-based. You can read much, much more from Steven Novella at NeuroLogica Blog or from David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine, or from the many, many science bloggers and skeptics who have blogged in opposition. Notable among these is Orac who goes into very great depth on Kennedy and why he's such a terrible choice"

So General Motors is struggling. How come nobody is saying much about one of the major reasons? : "Unbelievably, at its assembly plant in Oklahoma City, GM is actually obliged by its UAW contract to pay 2,300 workers full salary and benefits for doing absolutely nothing. As The New York Times describes it, "Each day, workers report for duty at the plant and pass their time reading, watching television, playing dominoes or chatting. Since G.M. shut down production there last month, these workers have entered the Jobs Bank, industry's best form of job insurance. It pays idled workers a full salary and benefits even when there is no work for them to do."

What a mockery! Saudi Arabia to Lead U.N. Faith Forum: "Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich Islamic kingdom that forbids the public practice of other religious faiths, will preside Wednesday over a two-day U.N. conference on religious tolerance that will draw more than a dozen world leaders, including President Bush, Israeli President Shimon Peres and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown."

Obama likely to escape campaign audit: "The Federal Election Commission is unlikely to conduct a potentially embarrassing audit of how Barack Obama raised and spent his presidential campaign's record-shattering windfall, despite allegations of questionable donations and accounting that had the McCain campaign crying foul. Adding insult to injury for Republicans: The FEC is obligated to complete a rigorous audit of McCain's campaign coffers, which will take months, if not years, and cost McCain millions of dollars to defend. Obama is expected to escape that level of scrutiny mostly because he declined an $84 million public grant for his campaign that automatically triggers an audit and because the sheer volume of cash he raised and spent minimizes the significance of his errors"

A brilliant American military rescue that the media have "overlooked": "The American businessman lay shackled in a mud hut 8,000 feet up a remote mountain in Afghanistan, armed captors posted inside and outside to prevent any escape attempt... he said. "In my mind I'd given a military intervention a one out of a hundred chance. Not that they couldn't do it, but they're busy and I'm not that important a fellow." On an airstrip many miles away, however, several twin sets of Chinook helicopter rotor blades were starting to turn as about 60 of America's most elite troops prepared to prove him wrong. Members of a task force that Military Times agreed not to name, the commandos had been hunting for the businessman since soon after he went missing. Now they were ready to act. This is the story of one of the most daring and successful U.S. hostage-rescue missions in years."

Obama's 'Change': Appointing Beltway Has-Beens: "What's with Obama's choice of old-time Clinton cronies and recycled Washington insiders to run the transition to his new politics of change? Can't the anti-Washington-insiders and the president-elect find anyone who isn't a Beltway has-been? Judging by the appointments to his transition committee and leaks about possible top staff and Cabinet choices, Obama appears to be practicing the politics of status quo, not the politics of change. Obama based his innovative campaign on an emphatic and convincing commitment to change the culture of Washington and bring in new people, new ideas, and new ways of doing business. But now, Obama has definitely changed his tune. As president-elect, he's brought back the old Washington hacks, party regulars, and Clinton sycophants that he so frequently disparaged"


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, November 13, 2008


By Jeff Jacoby

The storyline goes something like this: America's one-time popularity in the world was squandered by George W. Bush, whose belligerence and unilateralism after Sept. 11, 2001 alienated allies and engendered widespread anti-Americanism. But now, with the election of Barack Obama, America can restore its good name and regain the world's goodwill. One vigorous exponent of this narrative has been Obama himself. "The single most important issue that we're facing in this election," he said during the campaign, is choosing a leader "to repair all the damage that's been done to American's reputation overseas." On the day I become president, he often told voters, "the world will look at America differently."

Sure enough, much of the international reaction to Obama's election has been ecstatic. "Legions of jubilant supporters set off firecrackers in El Salvador, danced in Liberia, and drank shots in Japan," the Los Angeles Times reported. Kenya declared a national holiday, while a minister in the French government likened the occasion to "the fall of the Berlin Wall times 10." South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu exulted: "We have a new spring in our walk and our shoulders are straighter." BBC correspondent John Simpson pronounced Obama's election one of those events that renders the United States "young and vibrant, the envy of the world" and The Sun, Britain's most popular newspaper, headlined its story "One Giant Leap for Mankind."

For the president-elect, such worldwide jubilation must be gratifying. He should take it all with a healthy shake of salt, however. Because it isn't going to last. Antagonism to the United States is as old as the United States. It didn't begin with the current president, unpopular though he is, or in response to American military action in Iraq. Nor is it going to vanish on January 20.

In Hating America, a survey of more than two centuries of anti-American hostility, Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin note that an upsurge of anti-Americanism was already "strong in the Middle East and well under way in Europe" before Bush took office in 2001. In the 1990s, for example, Greeks opposed US support for Kosovo's Muslims, and vented their anger at President Bill Clinton. "Among the epithets flung at Clinton in the mainstream Greek media," the Rubins recount, "were criminal, pervert, murderer, imposter, bloodthirsty, gangster, slayer, naive, criminal, butcher, stupid, killer, foolish, unscrupulous, disgraceful, dishonest, and rascal."

A decade earlier, it was Ronald Reagan who provoked eruptions of anti-American fury. In 1983, millions of Europeans marched in protest when the Reagan administration countered the Soviet Union's deployment of nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe by installing US ballistic and cruise missiles in West Germany.

But it isn't only issues of war and peace that set off America's braying critics. In A Dangerous Place, a memoir of his tenure as ambassador to the United Nations, Daniel Patrick Moynihan describes a 1974 world food conference in Rome that had been convened by the United States. "The scene grew orgiastic as speakers competed in their denunciation of the country that had called the conference, mostly to discuss giving away its own wheat," he wrote. America is a big, rich, and powerful nation; that alone is enough to provoke global resentment, no matter who lives in the White House.

As a presidential candidate, Obama argued that America's standing in the world had declined because of the Iraq war and unilateral actions by the Bush administration "emphasizing military action over diplomacy." Yet there will almost surely be times in Obama's administration when the United States will have to take action when others won't, to defend its principles or protect a threatened party. As one notable American has written: "There will be times when we must again play the role of the world's reluctant sheriff. This will not change -- nor should it." The author of those words? Barack Obama, in The Audacity of Hope.

Popularity is nice, but it isn't the goal of American foreign policy. Great nations have great interests -- interests that cannot always be secured through patient negotiation or Security Council resolutions. As the foremost military power, the United States must at times be "the world's reluctant sheriff," using force to maintain order or defend liberty. President Obama may speak more softly than his predecessor, but he will still be carrying a very big stick. Like other presidents, he will be loudly condemned when he uses it. As George W. Bush can tell him, the abuse goes with the job.



Some Positive Reactions from the Right

By Dennis Prager

I spent a good part of the past year speaking and writing against the election of Barack Obama. During the last week of the campaign, my Salem Radio Network colleagues, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved, and I spoke on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket in the Battleground states of Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. One would expect that I would be devastated at Barack Obamas election -- as devastated as liberals were at the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004. I am not -- yet. Here are some reasons why:

1. Republicans won the election of 2004, an election that was more important to the future of America and the world than was this election. Had Sen. John Kerry won in 2004, America would have left Iraq in defeat and Islamists would have won their greatest victory ever. Millions of young Muslims would likely have seen in Islamic jihadism humanitys future and signed up for terror; and Iraq would have degenerated into genocidal chaos.

2. The election of a black president is good for blacks, good for whites, and therefore very good for America. At least at this moment -- no one can predict the future -- many more blacks feel fully American, and fewer blacks regard white America as racist than ever before. One cannot attain a higher status than the American presidency, and a black man will now occupy that position. As the Hoover Institutions Shelby Steele wrote, this is the first time in history that a majority white nation elected a black as its leader. Conservatives are not surprised. I have argued for decades that America is the least racist country in the world. By and large, only Americans on the right have believed, or at least had the courage to say, this. Now that fact is obvious to virtually anyone with eyes to see.

3. The Obama victory poses a serious challenge to liberalism and to the doctrine of black victimhood. If fewer and fewer blacks perceive white Americans as racist, a major reason for black support for liberalism could lose its appeal to blacks. On the other hand, if liberalism continues to portray blacks as victims of white racism, more white Americans will regard liberalism as phony -- or worse, as stirring up racial tensions for political gain. Most whites are tired of racial tension, tired of being portrayed as racist, tired of their children being taught in college that they are either consciously or unconsciously racist, tired of lowering standards for blacks or anyone else.

So the Obama victory puts liberals in a bind. They either acknowledge the reality of an essentially non-racist America and thereby alienate black and white liberals still committed to this proposition or they continue to play the America is racist card and alienate many whites.

The challenge the Obama victory poses to many blacks is that they will have to abandon ascribing black problems -- such as disproportionate amounts of violent crime and the highest rate of out-of-wedlock births in America -- to racism. Fewer and fewer white Americans will tolerate being blamed for problems within black life.

4. The Obama victory will bring clarity to Americas place in the world. Now that America is apparently loved again, we shall see how this plays out beyond emotional rhetoric. Will Europe contribute significantly more troops to Afghanistan? Will Germany now allow its NATO troops to shoot at Taliban fighters (thus far they have been allowed to shoot only if shot at)? Will our allies and Russia and China place the needed sanctions on Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear device? Or is Americas being loved irrelevant to how other countries behave?

5. Conservatives will be able to show how much more decently they act when they are out of power. The treatment of President George W. Bush by liberals has been despicable, undeserved and unprecedented. We who oppose Barack Obamas policies will, hopefully, act in accordance with conservative values of decency. Hence my simple announcement on the day after the election: I did not vote for him. I did not want him to be president. But as of January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be my president. Barack Obama may have a successful presidency or a failed one. If he allows the left wing of the Democratic Party to set his agenda, it will be the latter. In the meantime, however, we can celebrate the aforementioned good of Barack Obamas election and pray for him and for our beloved country.




"Compassionate" conservatism was a mistake : "The liberal pundits who embraced the candidacy of Barack Obama are also eager to issue a death certificate for free market capitalism. They're wrong, and they remind me of what the great Willie Nelson once said: `I'm ragged but I'm right.' To be sure, the American people have handed power over to the Democrats. But today there is a categorical difference between what Republicans stand for and the principles of individual freedom. Parties are all about getting people elected to political office; and the practice of politics too often takes the form of professional juvenile delinquency: short-sighted and self-centered."

Freedom works: The case of Hong Kong : "Hong Kong has an impressive reputation for economic freedom and classical-liberal virtues. In a series of articles, Milton Friedman used Hong Kong to show how the power of free markets combined with little else can create wealth, pointing out that its per-capita income rose from 28 percent of Britain's in 1960 to 137 percent of Britain's in 1996. As Friedman wrote in 1998, `Compare Britain - the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the nineteenth-century economic superpower on whose empire the sun never set - with Hong Kong, a spit of land, overcrowded, with no resources except for a great harbor.'"

Guess what else is in the bailout bill: "Do you think the IRS should set up undercover operations to entrap unsuspecting taxpayers? Do you think the IRS should release your confidential tax returns to law enforcement and intelligence agencies upon request? If you answered `No!' to either question, you're out of luck. Before its October recess, Congress passed a bill giving the IRS these powers. You may ask, `Why didn't Downsize DC oppose this bill?' As a matter of fact, we wrote against it virtually non-stop for two weeks! Don't remember? That's understandable. These provisions are buried in Sections 401 and 402 of Division C in H.R. 1424, the Bailout bill."

Goodbye neoconservatives; hello to their liberal brethren?: "The media and the Washington foreign policy elite breathed a sigh of relief when Barack Obama thumped John McCain in the election. Had John McCain won, there was always the chance that the neoconservatives would have beaten out the Republican realists for his foreign policy soul. With a victory by the liberal Obama, however, the stake would finally be driven into the heart of the `jingoistic' neoconservative vampire. Yet even after Obama takes power, an evil foreign policy ghoul will still hover over the White House - this time wearing the benign clothes of a compassionate angel. Obama's top foreign policy advisors include Susan Rice, a member of the `muscular liberal' crowd - you know, the same crew that includes the bombing progressives Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke."

GOP needs Night of Long Knives: "The GOP has been laid low, thanks to politicians who swapped their principles for power and lost both. As the chief electoral vehicle for conservative and free-market ideas, the Republican Party cannot regain America's confidence, nor should it, until the guilty have been catapulted into the nearest volcano. Comrade George W. Bush has spearheaded the most aggressive federal expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As a delivery system for socialism, he has been the most effective Trojan Horse since that pine steed rolled into Troy."


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, November 12, 2008

Are conservatives less creative than liberals?

The article below, which asserts that conservatives are less creative than liberals, is just the usual Leftist bigotry, based on a very poor knowledge of the research literature. Creativity does not generalize much, meaning there is no such thing as an overall trait of creativity. If there were an overall trait of creativity, lots of great painters would also be great composers but there are in fact no examples of that. You can be creative in one field and not in another. Take my own case: I am extremely good at writing iconoclastic academic journal articles but could not write a novel for nuts. So we find there that even creativity via the written word does not generalize from one sort of writing to another. So all that is shown below is that Leftists judge one-another as more creative and are more likely to take an interest in self-indulgent activities.

Cognitive complexity /Openness to experience/ rigidity are other old interrelated Leftist shibboleths which we see mentioned below. Again they generalize poorly, amusingly badly, in fact. The two halves of the widely-used Budner scale of "rigidity" do not correlate at all in fact! Again there is no such thing as an overall trait of cognitive complexity (except as an aspect of IQ). Conservatives are more complex on some things and Leftists on other things. Conservatives, for instance, tend to have carefully differentiated and complex views on moral questions whereas Leftists just say: "There is no such thing as right and wrong". Can you get more simplistic than the Leftist position there? See here and here for relevant research background. Amusing that the guy below confirms the common finding that conservatives are happier, though.

I am reproducing the full article below so people can admire the propaganda effort. It sounds quite plausible and fair if you don't know the underlying facts
By Scott Barry Kaufman

Barack Obama is the new President-elect of the United States. The significance of this cannot possibly be overstated. While certainly this is a historic moment because it raises the bar of what African Americans can aspire to, and takes us one step closer to equality in American, I'd like to focus on a potentially overlooked outcome of this historical moment: America will become more creative.

This is because Obama represents many of the core liberal values that promote creativity and innovation. In fact, we may soon see something similar to what Psychologist and Politcal Scientist Jay Seitz observed during the 17th century rise of liberalism when he noted that the rise "fostered creative production by encouraging individual creative expression."

And this is something sorely needed in our country at the moment. Today, Proposition 8 was passed in California, banning gay marriage. This bill is a serious threat to individuality. Of course, change won't happen overnight. But with Obama, change is on its way. How can I be so optimistic that Obama, and the new liberalism he will bring to the White House will spur creativity and increase our appreciation for individuality in America? Surely this is my subjective spin. But is it? New research suggests that I may be right.

We already know from prior studies that conservatives prefer simple representational art over abstract art, traditional poetry over the avant-garde, and music that is simple, familiar, and 'safe'. But what about when it comes to engagement in creative behaviors and actual creative ability? Are conservatives less creative than liberals?

Psychologist Stephen J. Dollinger assessed the creative behaviors and products of 426 undergraduates. For behavior, he assessed engagement in various creative activities, spanning the domains of visual arts, literary arts, performance, and crafts. For creativity, he had participants complete an incomplete figure in any way they liked. The figures had already been started by an artist. Each drawing was then rated by three MFA graduate students on the quality of the details as well as the overall creative impression.

He also had participants take photos, and write essays on how each photo represented themselves. These photos were judged by psychologists for the degree of individuality inherent in the essays. Interestingly, prior research has shown these ratings predict performance on other creativity measures as much as seven years later! For both creativity tasks, the judges agreed highly with each other on the creativity of the products.

Dollinger also administered measures of vocabulary and openness to experience, since each of these have shown linkages to creativity in prior studies. A sample openness item is "likes to reflect, play with ideas." Finally, and most importantly, Dollinger also assessed whether the students favored, opposed, or held a neutral view on the following issues:

Death penalty, Multiculturalism, Stiffer jail terms, Voluntary euthanasia, Bible truth, Gay rights, Pre-marital virginity, Immigration of foreigners, Church authority, Legalized abortion, Condom vending machines, Legalized prostitution

He found that compared to liberals, those endorsing more conservative positions had fewer creative accomplishments, and produced photo essays and drawings that were judged as less creative (although statistically significant, note that the effect sizes weren't huge). Even taking into account the vocabulary and openness to experience of each participant, the results for drawing products and creative behaviors still held up. Interestingly, he also found that those who were more conservative did worse on the vocabulary test and were less open to experience.

What can explain these findings? This study suggests that conservatives are indeed less creative than liberals. Why could this be? Dollinger proposes various potential explanations. First, conservatives may have found the ambiguity of the creativity tasks threatening, and the anxiety associated with this sense of threat may have hindered the expression of creativity. Prior research has indeed shown that those that are more conservative have lower cognitive-complexity and therefore may dislike amniguity more than those who are less conservative.

As Dollinger suggests, it would be interesting to evaluate the immediate affective responses of high and low conservative students as they encounter tasks that are explicitly described as "creativity tests". Someone should do that study.

Another explanation is that conservatives are more inclined to follow convention in general. And of course, convention sounds the death knell for creativity. A related possibility is that the authoritarian and anti-hedonistic aspects of conservatism may cause imagination to be devalued amongst conservatives. It is interesting to note that in support of this hypothesis, Dollinger did find that conservatives in the study scored lower on openness to experience.

Another intriguing possibility presented itself in this study. Dollinger checked out the actual photo essays that his participants produced and noticed that the conservative students' photo essays were generally "wholesome" and indicated a satisfaction with their lives, including their family lives (religiosity was also a common theme). In contrast, liberal students' photo essays were related to "boundary-crossing behaviors", creative energy, and the unconventional exercise of their civil liberties.

As I've argued in my recent article Confessions of a Late Bloomer (check out the latest issue of Psychology Today), trauma or family conflict in childhood can be a major driving force for creativity. So can discontent with the established order. This study suggests that this driving force may be missing in conservatives.

Of course, these findings may not generalize beyond American college students who were receiving extra credit to produce creative products. As Dollinger notes, many of the students in the sample weren't able to vote yet, and they may not yet have well-formulated political ideas. Also, as college students, they may not have fully had time to engage in creative pursuits. Interestingly, and in support of this idea, Dollinger found that that the relationship between conservatism and engagement in creative behaviors was much higher among participants in the 25-53 age range than participants in the 18-24 age range.

Also, it's unclear how much these findings generalize to all forms of creativity. Perhaps conservatives are better at other domains not sampled in Dollinger's study. That's an interesting question that should be studied.

"Change is gonna come" There are many reasons why change is gonna come with Obama as President of the United States. In addition to his intelligence and open mindedness, I add to the list his creativity and appreciation for human individuality. Being a liberal, many of his core values are the opposite of those that define a conservative outlook. I look forward to the creative times ahead.




Israel to continue fuel cutoff to Gaza : "Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday decided not to resume much-needed fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip because of continued rocket fire, Israeli defense officials said, and Gaza officials threatened to shut down the territory's only power plant. Israel cut off the shipments last week and closed Gaza's border crossings in response to a wave of Palestinian rocket attacks, which came after an Israeli incursion into Gaza and a fierce gunbattle between army troops and Hamas forces. The clashes have tested an Egyptian-mediated truce that has held between the sides for five months. Israel is the sole provider of industrial fuel for Gaza's only power plant. The Israeli officials said fuel shipments could resume on Tuesday if no more rockets are fired."

India negotiating $1.5 bn defence deal with Israel: "India is negotiating a deal with Israel to purchase four intelligence and early warning planes at a cost of USD 1.5 billion, a media report said on Monday. Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh is leading a delegation to Israel this week to discuss the purchase of the planes and missiles from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), daily Ha'aretz reported. The Indian delegation will also discuss cooperation with Israel on intelligence matters and in the war on terror, sources close to the Israeli defense industries reportedly told the daily. Earlier, India had bought Phalcon AWACS plane radars from IAI for $1.1 billion, a deal that has been delayed but likely to come through by early 2010. Negotiations over the new deal is said to have started a few months ago. India has also made other big deals with Israel recently involving a $640 million sea-to-sea missile project and a $260 million purchase of anti-aircraft missiles."

Britain lifts ban on civilian nuclear exports to India : "In a significant development, Britain on Monday said it has lifted six-year-long ban on export of sensitive nuclear technology to India for civilian purpose. "Since March 2002 UK policy has been to refuse all licence applications for Trigger List items to India," Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell said on Monday. "That policy has now changed and we will now consider on a case by case basis licence applications for peaceful use of all items on the NSG Trigger List and NSG Dual-Use List when they are destined for IAEA safeguarded civil nuclear facilities in India," Rammell told the House of Commons in a written statement."

Bush signs Indian nuclear bill into law: "Terming his signing of the nuclear bill as a "big day" for Indo-US relationship, jubilant US President George W Bush on Wednesday said the development sent signals to the rest of the world that countries following path of democracy and responsible behavior would have the United States as a friend. Flanked by two of his most trusted lieutenant, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bush used the occasion to celebrate the hard work done by his administration, his counterparts in India and the Indian American leaders in the past three years with regard to the deal which has ended more than three decades of India's nuclear isolation. Identifying India as the natural partner of the United States, Bush said the two countries have common interests and values"

Starbucks profits dive by 97% : "Profits at Starbucks collapsed 97 per cent in the fourth quarter of the year after the ubiquitous coffee chain was forced to absorb the effect of weakening demand and the cost of closing stores earlier this year. As the group admitted to the earnings plunge, shares in the Seattle-based group sank 3 per cent in after hours trading to $9.91 each. Two years ago, the stock fetched $38.41. The group, which this year admitted that it had too many stores in some areas and ousted its chief executive, said that profit for the last three months of the year fell to $5.4 million, compared with $158.5 million for the same period the year before. While total revenue rose 3 per cent to $2.52 billion, just below Wall Street expectations, like for like sales for the period slid 8 per cent in the US as Americans cut back on discretionary spending".

General Motors shares almost worthless: "Shares in General Motors crashed to their lowest level in 62 years yesterday after an analyst at Deutsche Bank said that they could be worth nothing at all within 12 months.The company gave warning on Friday that it could run out of cash early next year, but Deutsche Bank said that this could happen as early as next month. Rod Lache, the Deutsche analyst, cut his 12-month price target on GM to $0, bringing it down from $4, and issued a "sell" recommendation. GM's shares slumped to $3.02 in early trading, their lowest level since 1946, although they edged up again to close at $3.30, down $1.06 on the day. Mr Lache said: "Even if GM succeeds in averting a bankruptcy, we believe that the company's future path is likely to be bankruptcy-like." Although the prospects for a government bailout are seen to have risen since Barack Obama won the US presidential election last week, investors said that such action would come at a significant cost to existing shareholders. Barclays slashed its target price from $4 to $1 and recommended an "underweight" position"

The corrupt EU: "Six billion euros was paid out wrongly by the European Union last year, the highest cash total yet called into question by the European Court of Auditors' annual review. There were numerous cases of overclaiming from the EU's budget of 114 billion euros, especially in regional projects designed to raise living standards in poorer areas, as well as "serious failures to respect procurement rules", the auditors said. At least 11 per cent of the 42 billion budget for regional and social funds should not have been paid out - the largest area of mismanaged expenditure and one for which the 27 member states and the European Commission are jointly responsible. There were also "irregularities" of between 2 per cent and 5 per cent in the 51 billion agriculture budget. For the 14th successive year, the Court of Auditors was unable to state that the EU accounts were clean for "most spending areas", although they gave the European Commission praise for producing a reliable set of figures for the first time."


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, November 11, 2008


The 11th of November in 1918 was when the First World War officially came to an end. And that day has been formally marked every year since in remembrance of those who died. When I was growing up it was known as Armistice Day in Australia and I still think of it as that. It is however now formally Remembrance Day. It is Veterans Day in the USA. It is perhaps a little more significant this year as the 90th anniversary of the event. Britain certainly seems to have been engaging in more than the usual amount of commemoration in the last few days.

It is indeed a fitting occasion to remember. All wars are bad but that one probably reached a highpoint in ghastliness. And the amount of the slaughter was phenomenal. Few British and Australians emerged from it without the loss of at least one family member. One of my uncles twice removed died in it.

The suffering endured by the troops at the front was so awful that the war became known as "the war to end all wars". No reasonable person wanted another war. Even Theodore Roosevelt lost his enthusiasm for war when one of his sons died in it. And no politician thereafter could come to power unless he was seen as anti-war. The history books have washed memory of it away but even Hitler came to power as an advocate of peace.

I am putting up below a picture of a Nazi propaganda poster of the 1930s that you won't believe unless you are aware of how readily all Leftists preach one thing and do another. It reads Mit Hitler gegen den Ruestungswahnsinn der Welt. And what does that mean? It means "With Hitler against the armaments madness of the world".

And how about the second poster below? It would be from the March 5, 1933 election when Hitler had become Chancellor but Marshall Hindenburg was still President. Translated, the poster reads: "The Marshall and the corporal fight alongside us for peace and equal rights" (Der Marschall und der Grefreite kaempfen mit uns fuer Frieden und Gleichberechtigung)

Convinced yet? If not, maybe the next one below will convince. It is a poster for one of Hitler's famous Nuremberg rallies. It reads: Reichsparteitag des Friedens, 1939. That translates as "National party rally for peace, 1939".

And the fourth poster reads: Mit Adolf Hitler "Ja" fuer Gleichberechtigung und Frieden -- which translates as "With Adolf Hitler "Yes" for equal rights and peace" -- the same old standby slogans that the Left trot out to this day, of course.

So if there is any lesson to be learnt from the ghastliness of the 20th century, it surely is that loud "antiwar" cries from the Left are fraudulent. Such cries are just bait for the gullible and a mask for their real love of destruction.

Sadly, there will never be an end to the desire of some people to prey on others so there will never be an end to war. And any pretence otherwise is at best ignorant.


The Polls Show That Reaganism Is Not Dead

Barack Obama won the White House by campaigning against an unpopular incumbent in a time of economic anxiety and lingering foreign policy concerns. He offered voters an upbeat message, praised the nation as a land of opportunity, promised tax cuts to just about everyone, and overcame doubts about his experience with a strong performance in the presidential debates. Does this sound familiar? It should. Mr. Obama followed the approach that worked for Ronald Reagan. His victory confirmed that voters still embrace the guiding beliefs of the Reagan era.

During Reagan's campaign, the nation suffered from high unemployment and high inflation. This time around, data from the Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll showed that Mr. Obama took command of the race during the 10 days following the collapse of Lehman Brothers -- when the Wall Street meltdown hit Main Street. Before that event John McCain was leading nationally by three percentage points. Ten days later Mr. Obama was up by five and never relinquished his lead.

Mr. Obama's tax-cutting message played a key role in this period of economic anxiety. Tax cuts are well-received at such times: 55% of voters believe they are good for the economy. Only 19% disagree and see them as bad policy. Down the campaign homestretch, Mr. Obama's tax-cutting promise became his clearest policy position. Eventually he stole the tax issue from the Republicans. Heading into the election, 31% of voters thought that a President Obama would cut their taxes. Only 11% expected a tax cut from a McCain administration.

The last Democratic candidate to win the tax issue was also the last Democratic president -- Bill Clinton. In fact, the candidate who most credibly promises the lowest level of taxes has won every presidential election in at least the last 40 years. But while Mr. Obama was promising to cut taxes, the Bush administration took the lead on a $700 billion, taxpayer-backed bailout bill -- with very little marketing finesse. Few Americans supported the bailout, and a majority of voters were more concerned that the government would do too much rather than too little. In terms of getting the economy going again, 58% said that more tax cuts would better stimulate the economy than new government spending.

A Rasmussen survey conducted Oct. 2 found that 59% agreed with the sentiment expressed by Reagan in his first inaugural address: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Just 28% disagreed with this sentiment. That survey also found that 44% of Obama voters agreed with Reagan's assessment (40% did not). And McCain voters overwhelmingly supported the Gipper.

The real challenge for the new president will be attempting to govern with a message that resonates with most voters but divides his own party. Consider that 43% of voters view it as a positive to describe a candidate as being like Reagan, while just 26% consider it a negative. Being compared to Reagan rates higher among voters than being called "conservative," "moderate," "liberal" or "progressive." Except among Democrats, that is. Fifty-one percent of Democrats view that Reagan comparison as a negative. There's Mr. Obama's dilemma in a nutshell.

Mr. Obama won the White House promising tax cuts, but he will be governing with a Democratic Congress bursting with desire for a more activist government. As he faces this challenge, he might remember the fate of another man who made taxes the central part of his campaign: the first President Bush, whose most memorable campaign line -- "Read my lips, no new taxes" -- was as central to his victory as Mr. Obama's promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. George H.W. Bush famously reneged on that promise. Voters rejected his bid for a second term. Mr. Obama ran like Reagan. Will he be able to govern that way, too?




Big British welfare shakeup: "People living in council houses will no longer be entitled to a subsidised tenancy for life under Whitehall proposals to address waiting lists. New tenants would have fixed-term contracts under the plans, with regular reviews every few years, The Times has learnt. If a tenant's financial position improved he or she would be encouraged to take an equity share or to move to the private sector. If they refused they could face higher rents. The right to a council home is also likely to be tied to a requirement to have or be actively looking for a job. The measures are being considered by Margaret Beckett, the new Housing Minister, in the most radical shake-up of the social housing system for decades to ensure that those who deserve council homes get them."

The death of the American idea: "I disagree with my fellow conservatives who think the Obama-Pelosi-Reid-Frank liberal behemoth will so obviously screw up that they'll be routed in two or four years' time. The President-elect's so-called "tax cut" will absolve 48 per cent of Americans from paying any federal income tax at all, while those that are left will pay more. Just under half the population will be, as Daniel Henninger pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, on the dole. By 2012, it will be more than half, and this will be an electorate where the majority of the electorate will be able to vote itself more lollipops from the minority of their compatriots still dumb enough to prioritize self-reliance, dynamism, and innovation over the sedating cocoon of the nanny state. That is the death of the American idea - which, after all, began as an economic argument: "No taxation without representation" is a great rallying cry. "No representation without taxation" has less mass appeal. For how do you tell an electorate living high off the entitlement hog that it's unsustainable and you've got to give some of it back?"

Homosexuals reject democracy: "Protests continued Friday in several California cities, including San Francisco, Palm Springs and Long Beach, over the passage of Proposition 8, which outlaws same-sex marriage. The ballot initiative, which passed 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent Tuesday, overturns a May ruling by the California Supreme Court that struck down a 2000 ban on same-sex unions. In San Francisco, an estimated 2,000 protesters marched down Market Street toward Dolores Park. The march stretched out for at least three city blocks, and the protesters completely blocked Market Street's westbound lanes and the eastbound lanes in places."

Iraqi: We need U.S. troops: "A top Iraqi official warned Saturday that time is running out to sign a new security agreement with Washington, saying the country still needed U.S. troops despite improved security. Also Saturday, a suicide bomber killed eight people and wounded 17 west of Baghdad -- another sign that militants have still not given up the fight despite setbacks at the hands of U.S. and Iraqi forces. ''I hope that we can settle this matter as soon as possible because time is running out,'' Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said of the long-delayed security pact. ''The security improvement that has been achieved is very important. The support of U.S. forces in the coming period will still be very important.''


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, November 10, 2008


We have seen it all the last two years: Weeping journalists on election night; a journalist openly promising to help make Obama successful ("Yeah, it is my job."); film takes of journalists cheering an Obama speech; the savaging of Sarah Palin and the hands-off treatment of Biden; soft-ball interviews and long puff-pieces on Obama as the young cool crusader;comparisons to JFK's Camelot, and on and on.

In the 3rd book of his history, Thucydides has some insightful thoughts about destroying institutions in times of zealotry-and then regretting their absence when there is a need for refuge for them. The mainstream press should have learned that lesson, once they blew up their credibility in the past election by morphing into the Team Obama press agency.

There will come a time in the year ahead when either Obama's unexamined past will come back to haunt him, or his inexperience and tentativeness in foreign affairs will be embarrassingly apparent, or his European-socialist agenda for domestic programs simply won't work. And as public opinion falls, what will MSNBC, the New York Times, the editors of Newsweek, a Chris Matthews or the anchors at the major networks say?

Not much-since they will have one of two non-choices: (1) either they will begin scrambling to offer supposed disinterested criticism, which will be met with the public's, "Why should we begin believing you now?" or "Why didn't you tell this before?", or (2), They can continue as state-sanctioned megaphones of the Obama administration in the manner that they did during the campaign. They will lose either way and remain without credibility.

In short, we live now in the Age of Post-Journalism. All that was before is now over, as this generation of journalists voluntarily destroyed the hallowed notion of objectivity and they will have no idea quite how to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again.




By Jeff Jacoby

To be a conservative in Massachusetts is to know disappointment, never more so than on Election Day, when candidates and causes of the right rarely stand a chance. Waiting in line at my Brookline polling place yesterday, I was under no illusion that my vote would change the outcome: Barney Frank would be re-elected to the US House, John Kerry would go back to the Senate, and Massachusetts would vote decisively for Barack Obama. To say nothing of the rest of the nation poised to elect the most lopsidedly liberal government in years.

But why succumb to gloom? Even for a red voter in the bluest of states, Election 2008 has its consolations: The Clintons really won't be going back to the White House. We haven't seen the last of Sarah Palin, who demonstrated genuine star power as she withstood with aplomb and good humor a vicious assault from the left.

Government financing of political campaigns, always a dreadful idea, is dead. Yes, Obama egregiously broke his solemn promise to accept public financing and its attendant spending limits. But having witnessed Obama's astonishing financial blowout -- he raised well over $600 million, crushing his rival in the money war and therefore in advertising and field organization -- no future candidate will agree to be shackled by those limits.

A turn in the wilderness will do Republicans good. During the GOP's years in power, the one-time party of fiscal sobriety and limited government turned into a gang of reckless spenders and government aggrandizers. If a few years in exile can lead Republicans back to their conservative, Reaganite roots, yesterday's losses will not have been in vain.

But the most lustrous silver lining of all, even for disappointed Republicans, is the racial one. As a politician and policymaker, Obama distresses me; his extreme liberalism is decidedly not what the nation needs in its president. But as a symbol -- a son of Africa elected to lead a majority-white nation that once enslaved Africans and treated their descendants with great cruelty -- Obama's rise makes me proud of my country. The anthem of the Civil Rights Movement was "We Shall Overcome." Impossible as it might have seemed scant decades ago, we have.




Thanks to Financial Fiasco, This Holiday Season Has 'Wal-Mart' Written All Over It: "Sales at department stores and specialty retailers are in free fall. They are cutting staff, discounting merchandise and closing stores to survive. But even as the financial turmoil strangled discretionary spending at many stores, it sent struggling consumers into the arms of Wal-Mart - and left it, the world's largest retailer, poised for a blockbuster Christmas, the NY Times reports."

Richest Voters Supported Obama: "The wealthiest Americans voting in yesterday's presidential election supported Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain, 52% to 46%, according to the exit poll conducted for the television networks. The poll asked voters to place themselves in one of 8 different income categories, ranging from under $15,000 per year to $200,000 per year or more. Those who said they earned $200,000 per year or more picked Obama over McCain, 52% to 46%. McCain, by contrast, won among voters in 3 of the 4 middle categories of income. Voters who said they earned $50,000 to $75,000, picked McCain over Obama, 49% to 48%. Voters who said they earned $100,000 to $150,000, picked McCain over Obama, 51% to 48%. Voters who said they earned $150,000 to $200,000 picked McCain over Obama, 52% to 46%"

New Zealanders come to their senses: "New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, is to stand down as Labour leader after conceding defeat in the country's general election. The victorious National Party, led by John Key, took 59 seats in the vote and its partner ACT 5. United Future leader Peter Dunne will join them, making a total of 65. Labour has 43 seats, the Greens eight, and they are joined by Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton for a total of 52. Mr Key said: "New Zealanders have voted for prosperity, for a brighter, more ambitious future." Ms Clark said: "In politics we all experience the highs and the lows ... tonight is a night for the winners to savour, but we won't be going away." [Like Obama, she talked a good talk but all she delivered was failure]

Obama to appoint talk radio's executioner?: "Democrat Henry Rivera, a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, is expected to head President-elect Barack Obama's FCC transition team, a move that has sparked fear in media circles that the Fairness Doctrine may return to silence conservative talk radio. If reenacted, the "Fairness Doctrine" would require broadcasts over the public airwaves to give equal time to opposing political views. For talk radio, which boomed after the law's repeal in 1987 by building an audience devoted to conservative talk, the law's return would decimate the industry's marketability. Many fear the "Fairness Doctrine" would drive talk radio hosts - like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage - out of business. Rivera, according to Maloney, "is expected to lead the push to dismantle commercial talk radio that is favored by a number of Democratic Party senators. Rivera will play a pivotal role in preventing critics from having a public voice during Obama's tenure in office."

Israel Braces for Obama's Engagement in Iran, Gaza: Israeli leaders have become accustomed to President George W. Bush's reticence to push them into making tough decisions. In Barack Obama, they are bracing for a president who may not be so accommodating. Obama's plan to engage Iran in direct negotiations over the Shiite Muslim state's drive to enrich uranium to produce nuclear weapons could limit Israel's option to use military force to block the program. And his pledge to be actively involved in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians could lead him to exert pressure against settlement-building and travel restrictions on the Palestinians in the West Bank. ``There could be more pressure on Israel to take more risks, like removing security checkpoints in the West Bank,'' said Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv. ``The Iranians will exploit Obama's willingness to talk to them to play for time.''


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, November 09, 2008

Army men marry nurses

It's not always so by a long chalk but there is a lot of it nonetheless. So how come? I think it is in a way a good answer to the common Leftist accusation that the military are "murderers". Talk about the pot calling the electric kettle African-American! Nurses are those who succour the sick. Why would such people want to associate with soldiers if soldiers really were "murderers"?

It's even true in my own life. My military career was of no moment to anybody but me -- but I did enjoy it greatly and I am still proud to identify myself as an Army man. I was in a professional corps rather than being one of the guys at the cutting edge -- in the infantry, sappers etc. -- but nonetheless I have had rather a lot to do with nurses. I even married one. And the lady in my life these days is also a nurse.

It's really no mystery. Both occupations bring you into sharp contact with real life. Both occupations are incompatible with illusions. Stupid theories tend to get detonated by harsh reality.

It's interesting how nurses speak of their choice of occupation as "going nursing". It's not "doing nursing" or "becoming a nurse". It is a vocation. It is a venture into a way of life. And the armed services are like that too. Both occupations are very demanding, in their own way, and both often subjugate their own needs to a higher cause.

So from all that is it any surprise that both military men and nurses tend to be conservative?


For those who take an interest in political history, I have just put up on Paralipomena a most revealing article by a historian about the Great Depression. I am something of a student of the period but there is a lot of good stuff there that even I did not know.


Sarah answers back

After all the lies that the press invented about her during the campaign, all that the latest flood of unsourced allegations show is that the press realize she might unseat Obama in 2012

Sarah Palin refused to rule out a run for the White House in four years' time as she hit back at extraordinary allegations from aides to John McCain about her "hillbilly" shopping sprees and breathtaking ignorance. As the controversy over her vice-presidential candidacy intensified following the Republican defeat on Tuesday night, Mrs Palin responded to a barrage of anonymous allegations from the McCain camp, including binge-buying of luxury clothes and a claim that she did not know that Africa was a continent....

Landing in Anchorage, Alaska, after one of her aides described the allegations as "unfair and sickening", Mrs Palin was greeted by crowds chanting "2012!", to which she replied: "We'll see what happens then." Addressing the Africa allegation, she said: "If they're an unnamed source, that says it all. I won't comment on anyone's gossip based on anonymous sources. "That's kind of small, of a bitter type of person who anonymously would charge that I didn't know an answer to a question. So until I know who's talking about it, I won't have a comment on a false allegation."

She has also denied going on shopping sprees. Nicolle Wallace publicly defended Mrs Palin yesterday, taking to a morning television show to call her "the most undiva politician I have ever seen". Mr McCain's aides say they were also dismayed that, without informing the campaign hierarchy, Mrs Palin scheduled a call from President Sarkozy of France just before the election. In fact, the call was from Marc-Antoine Audette and his fellow comedian, Sebastien Trudel, who are notorious for prank calls to heads of state. Mrs Palin appeared to believe that she was talking to Mr Sarkozy and when told that she would make a good president herself some day, she replied: "Maybe in eight years."

On Wednesday, as the finger-pointing began, Mrs Palin said: "I have absolutely no intention of engaging in any of the negativity because this has been all positive for me." She said it was time to savour Barack Obama's victory and "not let the pettiness, or maybe internal workings of a campaign, erode any of the recognition of this historic moment".

Meanwhile, interview requests from such talk-show luminaries as Larry King and Oprah Winfrey poured in to Mrs Palin's office in Alaska. "The intensity of all the interest is amazing. Everyone wants to talk to her," said Bill McAllister, her spokesman.


Michelle Malkin has more. And there is a good Canadian comment here. And a bit on the possible source of some of the accusations here.



by Walter E. Williams

For the U.S. Congress, news media, pundits and much of the American public, a lot of economic phenomena can be explained by what people want, human greed and what seems plausible. I'm going to name this branch of economic "science" wackonomics and apply it to some of today's observations and issues.

Since July this year, crude oil prices have fallen from $147 to $64 a barrel. Similarly, average gasoline prices have fallen from over $4 to a national average of $2.69 a gallon. When crude oil and gasoline were reaching their historical highs, Congress and other wackoeconomists blamed it on greedy oil company CEOs in their lust for obscene profits. But what explains today's lower prices? The only answer, consistent with wackonomic theory, is easy: Oil company CEOs have lost their lust for obscene profits. Or, maybe, since many of these CEOs are getting up in years, they might have begun to heed Matthew's warning (19:24), "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

Speaking of CEOs, there's the "unconscionable," "obscene" salaries they receive, in some cases over $10 million a year. Wackonomics has an easy answer for these high salaries: it's greed. However, CEOs don't have the corner on greed. There are other greedy people we don't scorn but hold in high esteem. According to Forbes' Celebrity 100 list, Oprah Winfrey receives $275 million, Steven Spielberg gets $130 million, Tiger Woods $115 million, Jay Leno $32 million and Dr. Phil $40 million. I need to talk to these people and learn their strategy. I've been making every effort to get that kind of money. I go to bed greedy, dream greedy dreams, awaken greedy and proceed through the day greedy. Despite my heroic efforts, it's all been for naught; I earn a pittance by comparison.

Wackonomics can help us understand what some people call the income distribution. The logical extension of wackonomic thought is that the unequal or unfair distribution of income is the handiwork of a dollar dealer who distributes dollars. The dollar dealer might deal one person a million dollars a year while dealing most others a mere pittance like $10, $20 or $30 thousand a year. Thus, the reason why some people are wealthy while others are poor is because the dollar dealer is a racist, sexist, a multi-nationalist, or just plain mean. Economic justice requires a re-dealing of the dollars, income redistribution or spreading the wealth, where the government takes the ill-gotten gains of the few and returns them to their rightful owners. Wackonomics might have a greed-based explanation for income inequality. There is a pile of money called income and greedy people got there first and took their unfair share. Similarly, economic justice requires a redistribution of income.

Wackonomics isn't just practiced by the uninitiated. This year's Nobel Laureate, Princeton University Professor Paul Krugman, after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, gave one rendition of wackonomics in his column "After the Horror," New York Times (9/14/01). Krugman wrote, "Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack -- like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression -- could do some economic good." He went on to point out how rebuilding the destruction in New York and Washington, D. C., would stimulate the economy through business investment and job creation. For practitioners of non-wackonomics, this reasoning doesn't even pass the smell test. If Professor Krugman's vision is correct, and extending his logic, the terrorists would have made an even larger contribution to our economic well-being had they been able to fly a plane into the White House and destroyed buildings in other cities.

Wackonomics isn't all bad. There's an upside to it. It spares people the bother of having to understand the complexities of the world.



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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)