Saturday, March 07, 2009

Obama's kneejerk Leftist explanations defy the reality of America's economic situation

The logic of Obama's address to Congress went like this: "Our economy did not fall into decline overnight," he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care, and education -- importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.

The "day of reckoning" has now arrived. And because "it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament," Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan's Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.

The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates. Indeed, one could perversely make the case that, if anything, the proliferation of overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs inventing ever more sophisticated and opaque mathematical models and debt instruments helped get us into this credit catastrophe in the first place.

And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.

What's going on? "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before." Things. Now we know what they are. The markets' recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions -- the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic -- for enacting his "Big Bang" agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.

Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. Health, education and energy -- worthy and weighty as they may be -- are not the cause of our financial collapse. And they are not the cure. The fraudulent claim that they are both cause and cure is the rhetorical device by which an ambitious president intends to enact the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime.



Obama is just another callous Leftist who does not care about people at all

And he shows desperate economic ignorance

As the stock market plunged below the Dow's 7,000 mark -- a loss of 1,500 points since his inauguration -- Obama casually dismissed the sharp drop in equity values, comparing it to the ups and downs of a poll. The stock market "is sort of like a tracking poll in politics," he told news reporters. "You know, it bobs up and down day to day. And if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong."

Excuse me? Tracking poll? That's like dismissing a severed hand as a hangnail. The stock market represents the life savings and investments of millions of workers. More than 50 percent of American households own shares in public companies. We are talking about people's retirement finances here that they see vanishing before their eyes, and millions of these investors are middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet.

This is a time that called for a little sympathy about what this recession is doing to investors. "The stock market is the country right now. This is where people's wealth is, this is their pension plans, their 401(k)s and IRAs," CNBC's investment guru Jim Cramer said last week.

But the president's seemingly callous shoot-from-the-hip response may have been the result of the political pressure he is coming under as the economy significantly worsens on his watch. Add to this the growing chorus of critics who are blaming the stock market's plunge on his policies. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that President Obama's policy agenda is a factor in driving down the Dow," economic policy strategist Cesar Conda wrote last week in his Politico blog. "The reason is simple: The threat of significantly higher tax rates on economic success, more government regulation and intrusion in the free market, and explosive increases in government spending and debt have all combined to reduce economic returns on equity investment," he said.

Cramer, whose views on stocks are closely followed by millions of CNBC viewers, said he wanted "some sign that Obama realizes the market is totally falling apart. His agenda has a big hand in that happening."

The other White House blunder came last week, too, when Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, took a shot at conservative radio-talk-show king Rush Limbaugh, saying he was the leader of the Republican Party. That triggered a GOP counterattack that took the White House to task for engaging in the kind of political blood sport that Obama had campaigned against, promising to change the tone in Washington. Cable-TV talk shows fueled the controversy and, by midweek, the White House was in full retreat as it realized their attacks had misfired and backfired. Not a pretty picture. A somewhat embarrassed presidential press secretary, Robert Gibbs, confessed that the low-road episode had been "counterproductive."

But Republicans were gleefully ridiculing the White House's failed attempt to tie the GOP to the hugely popular Limbaugh's nuclear attacks on the president's policies. "Now that the Obama administration has declared their own distractions, diversions and manipulations strategy to be counterproductive, House Republicans would like to see this administration join us in our bipartisan national conversation about job creation, stimulating small business and middle-class tax relief," said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican. "They should apologize to the American people for supporting these tactics and get back to work," he said.

Meanwhile, the government was moving at its typical snail's pace to get the administration's stimulus money into the states, in large part due to the dozens of critical deputy-secretary posts that remain empty at Treasury and other key departments that have the job of dishing out the funds.

The economy is tanking, and Wall Street still had little confidence that Obama's spending stimulus would work (since only a portion of its funds will be spent this year). And in Congress, the Democrats were doing what they do best, spending more money, this time a massive omnibus fiscal 2009 bill containing 9,000 earmarked provisions that will needlessly cost taxpayers and the economy billions of hard-earned dollars. The American people are willing to be patient for now, but we are by nature an impatient people and eventually that patience is going to start running out.



Save Us From the "Saviors"

Barack Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress have made one thing perfectly clear: ideology trumps everything-including common sense, basic free market economics, and patriotism.

That's right. I said patriotism. Patriotism is defined as a love for one's country. In order to love one's country, one has to believe it is preponderantly good. Not perfect, but a place where, when you add up all the plusses and minuses, you come with a net plus. A big net plus.

It has become more than apparent that the vast majority of Congressional Democrats and the president himself believe America is an inherent minus. So much so, that "tweaking around the edges" of the most successful and prosperous nation the world has ever produced will not suffice. For these profoundly misguided Americans, 220 years of exceptionalism must be tossed aside to make way for a new era of social utopianism-which can only be achieved by massive government involvement in every important aspect of American life. That's not patriotism. That's unbridled hubris and a lust for control that should infuriate every reasonable American.

Note that word "reasonable." Never before in modern American history have we had a presidential election where reason mattered less. We had hope and change. We had a thrill running up a leg. And we had the surest sign that those who believe America is fundamentally flawed nation were confident they could sell that ideology to a majority of the electorate. To wit:

"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal ... This was the moment .... this was the time ... when we came together to remake this great nation " - President Barack Obama

Only in the fevered imaginations of egomaniacal ideologues could the idea that all the goodness the world has to offer was waiting for their ascension to power. But give them credit. They calculated their strategy well. "Hope,""change" and "messiah" got them to election day. Now "fear," "catastrophe," "depression" etc., will be wielded like a billy club in order to smash any resistance to their agenda.

They even have their "Emmanuel Goldstein." Goldstein was the enemy of the state in Orwell's "1984," a man whose presence on a viewscreen required "two minutes of hate." Democrats started with George W. Bush for obvious reasons, but they're smart enough to know that demonizing the former president for standing against their worldview has a limited shelf life.

Enter Rush Limbaugh. Both the president and Democratic members of Congress, with ample help from their media cheerleading section, have made it clear that this radio host-that's right, a radio host-will replace the former president as the symbol of everything that is wrong with America. They are also calling him the "de facto head of the Republican party" in order to demonize them as well.

Note who else they've belittled whenever it suits their purposes: Wall Street, bankers, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, coal companies, insurance companies, Americans who don't think, as Joe Biden remarked, "paying higher taxes is patriotic"-and Americans who think there's something wrong with paying their neighbor's mortgage along with their own.

Are some people deserving of scorn? Certainly. But bad people don't equal a bad system. Our system of Constitutional government combined with our brand of free market capitalism has produced unparalleled bounty and freedom for the entire world. That it can falter on occasion has far more to do with human foible than systemic failure.

Yet it is the perception of the latter which is being heavily promoted. Without the fear of systemic failure, Americans cannot be convinced that the massive transfer of wealth from the private sector to the federal government is anything more than a naked power grab. They will not be persuaded that the rewarding of sloth, irresponsibility and stupidity-in the name of "social justice," no less-is anything more than the entitlement mentality run amok. So, as Barack Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel remarked, Democrats are not about to let "a serious crisis go to waste"-even if they have to sustain it longer than necessary to get what they want.

Options for those who want to stop the madness? I can think of three. One is immediate and the other two either untimely, or unlikely. First and foremost, hammer our Congressional representatives with emails, letters and phone calls-just like we did when they tried to foist illegal immigration "reform" on us two years ago. Tell them you have no interest in mortgaging the country's future to satisfy the ambitions of those whose core belief is the idea that Americans are "too stupid" to run their own lives without massive government interference.

Two, vote these socialist, do-gooder hacks out of office in 2010. I know, Republicans aren't much better, but given a choice between Hitler and Mussolini, you vote for Il Duce. And two years is a long time, but it's better than four.

Lastly, maybe it's time Americans demanded to know-without the slightest ambiguity-whether or not the president of the United States is an American citizen. Perhaps I am succumbing to the fever known as "conspiracy theor-itis," but I am hard-pressed to imagine how someone with America's worst interests at heart could have an agenda substantially different from the one being proposed by our current president. I find it incredible that the same mainstream media which found a twenty-year-old drunk diving charge lodged against the former president are uninterested in whether or not a basic tenet of our Constitution is being violated.

I love this country-warts and all. Those seeking to completely remake it like to think of themselves as patriots, but their ambitions betray them. They yearn for a Euro-lite, socialist nation where entitlement, mediocrity and victimhood are embraced, and Americans are, as Churchill put it, "equally miserable." We're better than that. Far better.



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, March 06, 2009

The Obama Economy

Obama is the new FDR -- the man who created the Great Depression by his anti-business policies

As 2009 opened, three weeks before Barack Obama took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 9034 on January 2, its highest level since the autumn panic. Yesterday the Dow fell another 4.24% to 6763, for an overall decline of 25% in two months and to its lowest level since 1997. The dismaying message here is that President Obama's policies have become part of the economy's problem.

Americans have welcomed the Obama era in the same spirit of hope the President campaigned on. But after five weeks in office, it's become clear that Mr. Obama's policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence -- and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.

The Democrats who now run Washington don't want to hear this, because they benefit from blaming all bad economic news on President Bush. And Mr. Obama has inherited an unusual recession deepened by credit problems, both of which will take time to climb out of. But it's also true that the economy has fallen far enough, and long enough, that much of the excess that led to recession is being worked off. Already 15 months old, the current recession will soon match the average length -- and average job loss -- of the last three postwar downturns. What goes down will come up -- unless destructive policies interfere with the sources of potential recovery.

And those sources have been forming for some time. The prices of oil and other commodities have fallen by two-thirds since their 2008 summer peak, which has the effect of a major tax cut. The world is awash in liquidity, thanks to monetary ease by the Federal Reserve and other central banks. Monetary policy operates with a lag, but last year's easing will eventually stir economic activity.

Housing prices have fallen 27% from their Case-Shiller peak, or some two-thirds of the way back to their historical trend. While still high, credit spreads are far from their peaks during the panic, and corporate borrowers are again able to tap the credit markets. As equities were signaling with their late 2008 rally and January top, growth should under normal circumstances begin to appear in the second half of this year.

So what has happened in the last two months? The economy has received no great new outside shock. Exchange rates and other prices have been stable, and there are no security crises of note. The reality of a sharp recession has been known and built into stock prices since last year's fourth quarter.

What is new is the unveiling of Mr. Obama's agenda and his approach to governance. Every new President has a finite stock of capital -- financial and political -- to deploy, and amid recession Mr. Obama has more than most. But one negative revelation has been the way he has chosen to spend his scarce resources on income transfers rather than growth promotion. Most of his "stimulus" spending was devoted to social programs, rather than public works, and nearly all of the tax cuts were devoted to income maintenance rather than to improving incentives to work or invest.

His Treasury has been making a similar mistake with its financial bailout plans. The banking system needs to work through its losses, and one necessary use of public capital is to assist in burning down those bad assets as fast as possible. Yet most of Team Obama's ministrations so far have gone toward triage and life support, rather than repair and recovery.

AIG yesterday received its fourth "rescue," including $70 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program cash, without any clear business direction. (See here.) Citigroup's restructuring last week added not a dollar of new capital, and also no clear direction. Perhaps the imminent Treasury "stress tests" will clear the decks, but until they do the banks are all living in fear of becoming the next AIG. All of this squanders public money that could better go toward burning down bank debt.

The market has notably plunged since Mr. Obama introduced his budget last week, and that should be no surprise. The document was a declaration of hostility toward capitalists across the economy. Health-care stocks have dived on fears of new government mandates and price controls. Private lenders to students have been told they're no longer wanted. Anyone who uses carbon energy has been warned to expect a huge tax increase from cap and trade. And every risk-taker and investor now knows that another tax increase will slam the economy in 2011, unless Mr. Obama lets Speaker Nancy Pelosi impose one even earlier.

Meanwhile, Congress demands more bank lending even as it assails lenders and threatens to let judges rewrite mortgage contracts. The powers in Congress -- unrebuked by Mr. Obama -- are ridiculing and punishing the very capitalists who are essential to a sustainable recovery. The result has been a capital strike, and the return of the fear from last year that we could face a far deeper downturn. This is no way to nurture a wounded economy back to health.

Listening to Mr. Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, on the weekend, we couldn't help but wonder if they appreciate any of this. They seem preoccupied with going to the barricades against Republicans who wield little power, or picking a fight with Rush Limbaugh, as if this is the kind of economic leadership Americans want.

Perhaps they're reading the polls and figure they have two or three years before voters stop blaming Republicans and Mr. Bush for the economy. Even if that's right in the long run, in the meantime their assault on business and investors is delaying a recovery and ensuring that the expansion will be weaker than it should be when it finally does arrive.

Source. Background on FDR here, here, here, here and here


Brookes News update

Obama's spend, tax and borrow policies will wreck the US economy : Obama's massive spending binge is built on a myth. A myth that could have the severest consequences for American living standards. His administration's understanding of how economies works is minus zero. He and his advisors are infatuated with statist solutions for problems created by statist policies and lousy economics
American union leader's wage argument collapses along with Krugman's : Mike Fishman, like his fellow union leaders, is a thoroughgoing economic ignoramus who doesn't give a stuff about America. His argument in favour of compulsory unionism is totally dishonest and anti-democratic. Moreover, the idea that unions raise living standards is a dangerous myth that the left and the Democrats have fostered. If Obama gets his way union militancy could see a replay of 1937 when it destroyed a potential economic recovery
What is Obama's 'Stimulus' bill all about? : Obama's phony stimulus will supply the corrupt Democratic Party with billions of taxpayers' money for years to come. It will give it opportunity to become the dominant political party for the next generation massive payoffs to the special interests, creating millions of dependents and setting up more bureaucracies that will defend their interests, They want a one-party system headed by a popular man and they damn well intend to get it. By electing Obama did America's inadvertently deal a fatal blow to the very foundation of their republic?
The Obama Steamroller: Is resistance futile? : If Obama wins two terms he will turn the US into a European like economy, with much slower growth prospects, crushing deficits, increased entitlement and spending as far as the eye can see. And of course, there will be the need for ever higher tax rates on the diminishing share of the population who pay income taxes, and for ever larger amounts of debt to be financed mostly by foreigners. Europe will have arrived. Obama will have succeeded in his dream to destroy America as a superpower. He will have done to the US what Peron did to Argentina. It won't be "Don't cry for me, Argentina" but "Don't cry for me, America"
Obama's Economics: Financial Stability, or Fascist Decline?: History and economics is not on the side of the Obama administration. Yet as long as he continue to insist on a government solution, so long will the market continue to flounder and corporations fail. And the blame will rest securely on his government which will have manipulated the economic crisis for its own selfish ends
Mandating markets for wind power - a stealth tax on electricity consumers : Federal and some state governments stand accused of trying to impose stealth taxes on electricity consumers by forcing power retailers to buy expensive power from inefficient and costly renewable energy sources. There are no climate benefits whatsoever in forcing consumers to buy an increasing proportion of their electricity from expensive and unreliable suppliers like wind farms



Obama's Crooked Cabinet: Yet Another Post Nominee Turns Out to Be a Tax Evader: "Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, who is President Obama's nominee to be the U.S. trade representative, failed to pay almost $10,000 in taxes during the past three years because of a series of mistakes, the Senate Finance Committee said this week. Kirk's errors involved honoraria from speeches, on which he should have paid taxes; the cost of sports games, for which he deducted too much; and improper treatment of accounting fees on his income taxes. Kirk has agreed to file amended returns, the Washington Post reports. An Obama spokesman declared the issues "minor" and said the administration is confident that the nomination is on track for a scheduled hearing Monday with the Finance Committee. "

Useless British regulator: "The Financial Services Authority is facing a multimillion-pound compensation claim from a group of investors who say that the City watchdog failed to stop the activities of a suspected rogue trader. Former clients of GFX Capital Markets, which has collapsed with estimated losses of œ44 million, say that the FSA knew of serious concerns about its boss, Terry Freeman, but allowed him to continue trading. The accusation comes as the regulator is struggling to cope with the most serious loss of public confidence in its decade-long history. It was accused of being negligent in its monitoring of Northern Rock, the mortgage lender that was nationalised last year, and the regulator's chairman, Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, has been forced to draw up radical plans to improve its ability to police the City. The Times understands that FSA officials had gathered intelligence on Mr Freeman, 60, a foreign exchange trader, for more than two years. The authority knew that he had changed his name after being disqualified as a director in response to a conviction."

Dumb Turkish pilots caused crash: "A faulty altimeter and apparent inattention by the pilots caused the Turkish Boeing 737 crash in Amsterdam, the accident investigation showed yesterday. The investigators' preliminary report confirmed the widespread theory that the pilots let the automatic systems slow the plane to a dangerously low speed as it approached Schiphol airport. At 450ft, as the pilots scrambled to speed up, it stopped flying and flopped on to the ground, killing the three flight deck crew and six others on board. The radio altimeter had "told" the automatic flight system that the plane was 8ft below the surface when it was still nearly 2,000ft in the air. This caused the autothrottle to pull back the power to idle, as if the plane were touching down. Normally, pilots are expected to monitor the performance of the automated approach system. According to a conversation recorded between the plane's captain, first officer and an extra first officer on the flight, the pilots had noticed the faulty altimeter earlier but did not consider it a problem and did not react" [Contrast that with the video here]


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, March 05, 2009

Taxing "The Rich"

Obama is trying to get tax hikes on "the rich" through Congress to pay for all his promises to other people. But his simplistic Leftist worldview seems to have prevented him from seeing who the people are whom he proposes to tax more. Who are the people earning over $250,000 a year whom Obama wants to hit? Income is a sort of a pyramid. There are a few very rich people at the top but most of "the rich" whom Obama wants to tax are near the base of the pyramid: fairly close to that $250,000 mark. And most of them are hard-working people: doctors, dentists, businessmen and professionals generally.

So will they just pay the extra tax and grin and bear it? If the tax increase were limited to paying 39.6% instead of 33% on any income above $250,000, those just over the mark might not think the change worth bothering about -- and sneering Leftist Jonathan Chait makes that point. But Chait fails to acknowledge that there is a lot more to Obama's tax proposals than the new top rate. Obama also wants to cut out a lot of tax deductions available to those earning over $250,000 and he also has proposed increasing their tax rate on capital gains and dividends from 15 to 20 percent. So many professionals will take a fairly big hit if they carry on as before. So lots of them will reorganize their affairs so that Obama gets exactly nothing extra from them.

And The Corner has a collection of emails from high earners that gives lots of detail about what many of them will do. One example:
"My wife and I are both pediatricians. We own our own practice together. We have one PA and 7 other employees. We each gross about $200 K a year. We have 3 young children at home, 2 of whom are not in school. We also employ an in-home nanny. My wife has been torn for years about not being at home for these children, which are our biggest investment in the future. We operate parallel S corporations as PC's, with a 50/50 ownership of the LLC that is our business. We file taxes jointly. After crunching some numbers concerning the President's tax hike proposals, I have come to the following conclusions. If the President's plan is enacted, we will do the following:

1. My wife will become a stay at home mother.

2. At least 3 of my 7 employees will be released.

3. The practice will downsize to a smaller office space, i.e. less rent.

4. The number of patients cared for on a daily basis will drop by 40%.

5. My wife will come out of the forced ER call schedule for good.

6. I will gross $249,999.00 a year, exactly.

7. The net income of our personal home will decrease by less than $10 K a year from where it would have been if we changed nothing.

So a lot of important service providers will reduce the services they provide in response to the simple-minded ideas of the simple-minded Leftist in the White House -- and America will be the poorer for it. Wealth is not money. Wealth is the goods and services that money can buy and reduced services available reduces the total national wealth. And that's no abstraction. As one of my medical correspondents notes:
"Seeing that almost half of doctors are women, and most are married and many have children, it should be obvious that many will reduce their hours worked. And with all the problems that Obama Care will create, there WILL be a shortage of doctor hours to care for patients. So EVERYONE will EQUALLY WAIT IN LONG LINES FOR CARE.

Another relevant excerpt which shows that the loss of wealth will be large:
"President Lyndon Johnson's administration was known for his War on Poverty. President Obama's will become notable for his War on Prosperity. We're speaking, of course, of Obama's plans to hike income taxes on the most wealthy 2 or 3 percent of the nation. He's not just raising the top rate to 39.6 percent; he's also disallowing about one-third of top earner's deductions, whether for state and local taxes, charitable contributions or mortgage interest. This is an effective hike in their taxes by an average of about 20 percent.

And soon the next shoe will drop - he'll announce that he's keeping yet another of his campaign promises: to apply the full payroll tax to all income over $250,000 a year. (Right now, the 15.3 percent Social Security tax only applies to the first $106,800 of income - you neither pay the tax on income above that, nor accumulate added benefit.) For many taxpayers in this bracket, this hike will raise their total taxes by about half. Finally, he's declaring war on investors by raising the capital-gains-tax rate to 20 percent. These increases are politically insignificant: The top 2 percent of the nation casts only about 4 percent of the votes, barely enough to attract the notice of even the most meticulous pollsters. But they have enormous economic significance. Those who earn more than $200,000 pay almost 60 percent of America's income taxes and account for a third of its total disposable income. If these spenders and investors are hunkering down, waiting for the revenuers to beat down their doors, their confidence will be anything but robust. Their spending will drop; they'll be unlikely to invest (except in new tax shelters)."

So Obama's increase in the tax rates could well bring about not an increase but a REDUCTION in the amount of tax revenue received.


Obama's attack on American oil producers

When there are huge cries for energy independence, Dumbo is doing his best to throttle the investment that could make it happen

Last summer, when the price of oil rocketed nearly to $150 per barrel, presidential candidate Barack Obama scored political points by calling for a windfall-profits tax on the so-called "Big Oil" companies. Obama's plan was to wallop them with extra taxes for every barrel they sold, so long as prices remained over $80 per barrel. By Inauguration Day, though, the global economic crisis and plummeting oil demand had driven prices to less than $30 per barrel, and with no windfall profits available to tax (and gas prices at the pump no longer an issue), the Obama team quietly dropped the idea. But now, in his proposed budget, Obama has found a new outlet for his desire to punish Big Oil-and, ultimately, the American public-with higher taxes.

Announced last week, the president's budget aims to raise more than $31 billion from energy producers over the next ten years by assessing new levies, repealing existing tax deductions, and rejiggering accounting rules. Among the new charges is an excise tax on oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, which the administration hopes will raise $5 billion over 10 years. Obama also wants to limit companies' ability to deduct their oil and gas drilling costs, thereby raising their taxable income. And he would impose a fee on non-producing oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico on top of the rents and fees companies already pay for leases.

This last item supports a dubious claim made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others during last summer's high-gas-price hysteria: that Exxon Mobil and its brethren were limiting supply and boosting prices by refusing to produce oil and natural gas from federal leases that they held. What the conspiracy theorists never mentioned was that companies must pay rents on leases whether they produce or not, and that companies buy leases from the government for the right to investigate whether the sites contain extractable resources. Often, of course, they don't contain enough extractable oil or gas to make drilling worthwhile, though the government keeps all fees and royalties. There are other instances in which leases are legitimately non-producing. Leaseholders must negotiate an expensive bureaucratic maze to gather the necessary environmental permits to begin exploration and drilling. That can take years. Moreover, environmental organizations like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club routinely take leaseholders to court as a way to sow delay and drive up energy companies' costs.

Perhaps the surest sign that Obama wants to go after the oil and gas industries is his proposal to make them completely ineligible for the manufacturing-tax deduction. Congressional Democrats have long sought this move, calling it a repeal of a special tax break that Washington supposedly gives the petroleum industry. The reality is just the opposite: the manufacturing-tax deduction is available to virtually every manufacturing industry in the United States, not just oil and gas producers. Denying the deduction to Big Oil won't snatch away an ill-gotten favor in the name of fairness; it will unfairly penalize an industry denounced in recent years for the sin of making money.

More here



Corporatism: FDR's "right path" is alive and well! : "`I believe that President Roosevelt has chosen the right path. We are dealing with the greatest social problem ever known. Millions of unemployed must get their jobs back. This cannot be left to private initiative.' And, sure enough President Barack Obama's overall Budget will generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the Government sector, people who will be grateful voters in the next election. Here is the Washington Post's piece on that: I'll bet readers thought the opening quote above was perhaps by our President Barack Obama, an admitted admirer of the New Deal. Actually, it was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, in 1933, speaking admiringly of the New Deal as the way for National Socialism to follow."

Obama's audacious agenda: Who's paying for it? : "Audacity on steroids. How else to describe the Obama administration's fiscal 2010 budget proposal, unleashed on an American public so staggered by the events of the last few months that they cannot comprehend the magnitude of the plans Mr. Obama and his still-inchoate Cabinet have for the nation. The list of problems the new president has resolved to put right reads like a roll call of the loftiest policy ambitions of every administration since FDR. . That each of these projects failed to one degree or another would give pause to most administrations intent on tackling any one of them. By contrast, Obama has declared that, amidst the greatest financial crisis since World War II, he will solve all of them."

Stimulus bill is really lawyers' full employment act: "A law firm announced last week it was building a special legal team to help its clients acquire some of the $787 billion in the stimulus bill. `We recognize this is an extraordinary opportunity to help advance the interests of our clients,' said team leader Doug McGarrah of Foley Hoag LLP, with offices in Boston and Washington, DC. The clients will need all the help they can get, because deciphering the legal complexities of the stimulus bill is going to occupy lawyers for decades."

An uncharitable tax : "The federal government budget proposed by the president imposes higher taxes on incomes above $250,000. One of the provisions is that charitable donations would no longer be tax deductible. . Without a tax deduction, charitable donations get tax punished. When the beneficiaries of donations are the poor and other good causes, these suffer from fewer gifts. A tax on charitable donations hurts the homeless, the hungry, the wildlife that does not get preserved, the ignorant who do not get educated, and all humanity which loses knowledge and more of its natural legacy. When government taxes the rich like this, it taxes the poor."

Mormon polygamy: Your tax dollars at work: "One of the things I mentioned to Jessop was how I was convinced that Mormon polygamy, for the most part, could not survive without the active help of government. Officially none of the multiple wives are legally married - they are single mothers eligible for all sorts of financial aid from the county, state and federal governments. When you consider that the media age in polygamous Mormon communities is around 12 or 13 you will understand precisely how many millions of dollars politicians are willing to give the sect `for the sake of the children.' Jessop agreed and said: `You can't support three kids these days by yourself, let alone 28.' She confirmed that millions in taxpayer funds were flowing in to polygamous communities keeping the[m] alive. Jessup says that these communities have individuals whose job is to write up grant proposals and submit them to various levels of government. So housing rehabilitation grants, highway grants, educational grants, development grants, etc., pour into these communities. With virtually no separation of church and state in these communities, the church uses the millions showered on the local governments, for its own purposes. Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said that the polygamists `proved themselves the master of grant applications.'"


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, March 04, 2009

Material success and social failure?

More junk epidemiology below. The authors find less social dysfunction in Nordic countries and in Japan and say that is because incomes are more equal there. So, like nearly all epidemiologists, they make causal inferences from correlational data -- which you cannot logically do. They allegedly spent 30 years arriving at their conclusions so I am sorry to say that it took me approximately two minutes to see an alternative explanation for their findings: ethnic diversity. Japan to this day has few immigrants and the Nordic countries have only recently begun to have a large immigrant population. And as Robert Putnam has famously shown, social homogeneity expands trust and co-operation. So there is less social dysfunction because people feel happier and safer and more co-operative in a country where most people are like them.

And, without looking at it in detail, I am guessing that the same applies to U.S. States. States with the largest minority populations (the South?) have the highest level of social dysfunction.

How nasty of me to undermine so quickly conclusions that so suit the prejudices of the Left! But even if all of the explanation that I have just given is wrong, the point still stands that "correlation is not causation". You learn that in Statistics 101 but if you are a grand epidemiologist, you are allowed to ignore that, apparently. And BOTH of us could be wrong. There could be some third process at work generating the numbers concerned. Assigning causes from epidemiological data is always mere speculation

It is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. Likewise, large inequalities of income are often regarded as divisive and corrosive. In a groundbreaking book, based on 30 years' research, Richard Wilkinson, Emeritus Professor at The University of Nottingham together with co-author Kate Pickett from the University of York, go an important stage beyond either of these ideas to demonstrate that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them - the well-off as well as the poor.

Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett forcefully demonstrate that nearly every modern social and environmental problem - ill-health, lack of community, life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness , long working hours, big prison populations - is more likely to occur in a less equal society, and adversely affects all of those within it.

The remarkable data the book presents and the measures it uses are like a spirit level which we can hold up to compare the conditions of different societies. It reveals that if Britain [Which has always received lots of immigrants and which as a consequence now has a large and troublesome minority population] became as equal as the average for the four most equal of the rich countries (Japan, Norway, Sweden and Finland), levels of trust might be expected to increase by two-thirds, homicide rates could fall by 75 per cent, everyone could get the equivalent of almost seven weeks extra holiday a year, and governments could be closing prisons all over the country.

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, shows us how, after a point, additional income buys less and less additional health, happiness and wellbeing. The issue is now community and how we relate to each other. This important book explains how it is now possible to piece together a new, compelling and coherent picture of how we can release societies from the grip of pervasive and schismatic dysfunctional behaviour, a picture which will revitalise politics and provide a new way of thinking about how we organise human communities. It is a major new approach to how we can improve the real quality of life, not just for the poor, but for everyone.

More here

The above post also appears today on my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog, which is where I normally debunk epidemiological theorizing



Obama and special interests: "In his weekend radio address of February 28, 2009, President Obama once again talked about how he isn't captive to any special interest group. As he put it, `The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run Washington for far too long, but I don't. I work for the American people,' Obama declared. `I didn't come here to do the same thing we've been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November.' . Who are all these (mean, vicious) special interests? And who are all the (honorable, virtuous) American people? Lo and behold they are the very same citizens of the country! Yes these special interest groups are composed of Americans who are represented by experts at approaching the government for various types of support. They are farmers, artists, merchants small and large, teachers, steel workers, auto workers, bankers, brokers, dentists, doctors, and so on and so forth. That is who all these nasty, vicious special interest groups are made up of, the same folks who are so noble and innocent, The People!"

The return of big government: "Despite the bad economy he inherited, the political circumstances, for Obama at least, are favorable. He's popular, as new presidents usually are. He talks about `hard choices' but hasn't made any. With large Democratic majorities in Congress, he's free of worry about rebellion on Capitol Hill. Despite glitches in picking his cabinet, his cool demeanor is unshaken. He governs campaign-style, largely with speeches and announcements. No wonder he enjoys being president. Accountability comes later. But there's a problem. Candidates don't have to deal with reality. They talk about the wonderful things they can accomplish as if advocating them is the same as achieving them. They live in a world of political make-believe in which everything from reconciling conflicting interests to paying for costly programs is easy. That's the world Obama continues to inhabit."

Waiting for Godot?: "Is he really just a one-trick pony? What does he do but grind out speeches? What meat-grinder is running behind him, fed with lists of great words, lists of lofty leftist platitudes? His fans swoon, hearing only heavenly hope, nothing but the sweetest swill. Obama is surely the greatest speechmaker in generations. I think he tops Clinton, he challenges Ronald Reagan, Eugene McCarthy, even Franklin Roosevelt. Are we rats following the pied piper? What is the substance? Where is the beef? No beef."

It would be cheaper to fight World War II again: "What is the right word to describe the U.S. government's current and proposed fiscal condition: fantastic, unbelievable, surreal? The Obama administration now expects a budget deficit in fiscal year 2009 of $1,750 billion, or more than 12 percent of GDP. Total federal spending this year is expected to be $3,940 billion, or 27 percent of GDP. President Barack Obama promises that the deficit will be brought down to $1,170 billion in fiscal year 2010. Don't bank on it. Did anyone, even two or three years ago, expect this situation to develop? We need to go back only ten years, to fiscal year 1999, to reach a time when the government's total outlays were smaller than this year's deficit."

Bureaucratic corruption: "Televisions, X-Boxes, alcohol, Internet software and tuition. Inspector General auditors say those are just some of the questionable purchases made by Tennessee Valley Authority employees on their government charge cards. An audit of the program created to pay for small business-related expenses finds spending has swelled to more than $75 million annually, with nearly a third of those purchases over $5,000. One unidentified cardholder had nearly $6 million in charges on six cards in two years. The auditors say the program lacks `accountability and physical control.' TVA managers agree and say they are cracking down."

How big government infrastructure projects go wrong : "The recently enacted $787 billion 'stimulus' program appears to be the down payment on a sweeping `new New Deal' that will include many other ambitious government programs - including the possible nationalization of health care. Given the size and scope of such interventions into the economy, it's important to remember that big government programs often have results that are very different than what was intended. We can gain particular perspective by reflecting on the experience of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's most ambitious infrastructure program, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)."

Scotland: Price control for booze -- to put the price UP, not to keep it down: "Scotland will enter a new age of temperance under radical plans aimed at curbing endemic drinking in a country with some of the worst alcohol abuse rates in the world. Ministers unveiled new plans yesterday which will set a minimum price for drinks, based on the number of units they contain, and a ban on promotions such as buy-one-get-one-free offers. If the plans are approved, Scotland will become the first country in Europe to fix a minimum price on drinks."

Capitalism is the cure not the cause: "Capitalism has become an easy scape-goat recently. This is best exemplified by the Obama Administration's New Deal on steroids. Rather than let the market process work on its own, the Administration has seen it fit to use this as an opportunity to naively think that by spending more money in order to create jobs, the economy will recover. President Obama's logic comes from the vantage point that government, not individuals, create wealth and prosperity and the institution must intervene in areas of human need, such as housing and healthcare, when people are unable to help themselves. Even when the economy slumps. If history is any guide, this is pure fantasy."

The beautiful harmony of collective community: "One of the arguments against decentralized decision-making is that it's too selfish. There's no collective action. There's no community. When the government does stuff, it's collective and therefore - so goes the argument - there's an opportunity for everyone to be acting on everyone else's behalf. These arguments have always struck me as strange. There's lots of collective action, it just isn't coerced. And I've never understood the `community' created by taxation."

China's first moon probe crashes to lunar surface: "China's first moon probe Chang'e 1 intentionally crashed into the lunar surface on Sunday after more than year of science observations, according to state media reports. . Chinese space officials said they planned to launch a follow-up mission - Chang'e 2 - by 2011. Chang'e 1's intentional crash was slated to be a dry run for a potential moon landing, they said Sunday."

The infinite dullness of PBS TV news: "Over the last few months I have had my TiVo record the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, the famed PBS TV program deemed very highfalutin by my liberal colleagues and pals. It's not so much that I lack news sources but more a matter of my own limited amateur investigative journalism. I am curious how a substantially government-funded news program deals with the current national and international economic fiasco. By now I have watched over three months of this program and just as I suspected, it is so terribly biased, so uninterested in balanced reportage that it has become very boring to watch it evening after evening."


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, March 03, 2009

Obama and the "Mikoyan syndrome"

A comment received from Gerard Jackson of Brookesnews

A number of people have commented on the hypocrisy of Obama and his rich supporters, whose attitude is one of "do as I say and not as I do". Critics do not realise that this is characteristic of leftists. They always exempt themselves from their own strictures. I call this behaviour the Mikoyan syndrome.

Anastas Mikoyan was a communist agitator in oil refineries at Baku Batoum that were owned by an industrialist called Zubalov, Mikoyan led strikes, protests and organised study groups. One can think of him as the pre-Soviet equivalent of a "community activist". However, once the Soviets grabbed control of the state he took Zubalov's mansion for his own, including the servants, cracked down on strikes, shot protestors, banned study groups that questioned the party's authority and sent their organisers to labour camps. He was justified in doing this because - like today's Democrats - he believed that anyone who challenged the Party was evil or stupid. I regret to say that Mikoyan survived Stalin's purges and died of old age, unlike thousands of his victims.

At the end of the day, Obama is nothing but a highly polished Hugo Chavez with the same corrupt instincts. To him the crisis is an opportunity to plunder Americans and then - with the willing assistance of America's corrupt media - use the loot to effectively turn the US into a one-party state.


Obama adds to the mortgage problem

An email from the National Association of Realtors. Simplistic Leftist thinking about "the rich" is going to make the financial crisis worse

You may have seen news reports about President Obama's budget proposal that was released today at 11:30 AM Eastern Time. A small section of the sweeping budget plan has the potential to become a major impediment to a recovery in real estate markets across the nation. NAR is 100% opposed to the provision that modifies the Mortgage Interest Deduction and is prepared to use its formidable array of resources against its enactment.

As currently drafted, the plan changes the Mortgage Interest Deduction by reducing the amount of mortgage deductibility on families earning over $250,000. This proposed change in the Mortgage Interest Deduction will result in further erosion of home prices and home values. If this proposal is enacted it will lead to a new round of price depreciation, will cause greater distress on the balance sheets of banks as the collateral value of mortgage backed securities declines. A second credit crisis could emerge before the first one is resolved.

As you read this NAR is launching a multiphase plan of action to eliminate this provision from the budget plan. In the next 24 hours, NAR will be expressing our concerns directly to President Obama, to all members of the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, placing advertisements in the publications read by Washington, DC decision makers. Additionally, NAR will be forming a coalition with other groups affected by this proposal.


Does the Media Still Love Obama?

Obama is struggling to adjust to a media that isn't fawning over him as much as they used to. From the Canada Free Press
The day following President Obama's State of the Union speech I opened my daily newspaper to read the headline "What the president said and what the facts say." It was an Associated Press story and it drove a tank through the President's various promises and assertions.

The AP reporters weren't the only people who had some doubts. A Reuters news story confirmed my prediction, noting that "Stocks fell on Wednesday as investors found little new in a major speech by President Obama on how he planned to stabilize the economy, while gloomy home sales data weighed on the market." Facts are stubborn things. Eventually they cannot be ignored.

I have previously pointed out that this new President's start in office has had what is surely the shortest "honeymoon" on record with both the public and the media. We're not talking about FDR's famous "first hundred days." We are talking 56 days as this is being written.

There is, I suspect, a growing feeling among both the public and the media that this recession, if the White House and Congress had done NOTHING, would have run its course. All recessions do. But Obama came out almost immediately calling it a "catastrophe" in order to gin up support for a "stimulus" bill that surely had been in the works for the last two years that Democrats had control of Congress, but were unable to get passed because of a potential presidential veto by George W. Bush.

Obama's inexperience has cost him some media credibility and if his economic program doesn't work he will be looking for a new job in 2013.



Conservatives and Porn

You're going to be hearing about this:

Porn in the USA: Conservatives are the biggest consumers

A quick look at the study reveals all sorts of problems: It doesn't examine individuals, but rather averages across areas, which leads to a red state vs. blue state analysis that allows for startling headlines but in fact tells us very little. One of the findings is that Utah has more per-capita online porn subscriptions than other states. It's probably also true that Salt Lake City is one of the toughest places in America to pay for a lap dance or a peep show. So what do porn-prone Utahns do? They go online, and skew the very statistics now being trumpeted as newsworthy.

For an antidote, read this data-driven NRO piece by Arthur Brooks on conservatives, liberals, and romance. One highlight, drawn from the 2006 General Social Survey:

About 60 percent more Democrats than Republicans confess to having watched at least one pornographic movie in the past year.

This finding never made the news. I wonder why.




Hamas tortures other Palis: "The world makes too little of the oppression of Palestinians--by other Palestinians. So Amnesty International is to be applauded for its recent report on Gaza. The nub of it is, "Hamas forces and militias in the Gaza Strip have engaged in a campaign of abductions, deliberate and unlawful killings, torture and death threats against those they accuse of 'collaborating' with Israel, as well as opponents and critics." The details are characteristically disgusting, and Hamas has been doing this for years. (So has the PLO but that is another story. No, actually the same one, pretty much.) At least a big human-rights group has taken notice. People who claim to care about Palestinians but speak only of Israel are pretending.

WA: State "death with dignity" law takes effect: "Terminally ill patients with less than six months to live will soon be able to ask their doctors to prescribe them lethal medication in Washington state. But even though the `Death with Dignity' law takes effect Thursday, people who might seek the life-ending prescriptions could find their doctors conflicted or not willing to write them. Many doctors are hesitant to talk publicly about where they stand on the issue, said Dr. Tom Preston, a retired cardiologist and board member of Compassion & Choices, the group that campaigned for and supports the law." (03/01/09)

AG: Justice Department will stop medical marijuana raids: "In a little-noticed remark Wednesday, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries established under state laws but technically prohibited by the federal government. The decision marks a shift from the Bush Administration, which was more draconian in its approach to hunting those who sought to dispense marijuana for medical purposes. Numerous states have decriminalized marijuana in recent years, and new fiscal pressures are turning more states toward being more lenient toward first-time drug offenders as the cost of keeping drug users in jail becomes untenable for state budgets. The remark was caught by The Huffington Post's Ryan Grimm."


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, March 02, 2009

The Left do NOT mean well

Fifteen years ago Jeff Jacoby's first regular column appeared in the Boston Globe. He has recyled it recently. See below. I usually agree with him but I have some reservations about this column that I set out at the foot of it

So what's a nice conservative like me doing in a newspaper like this? Wondering, for a start, why so many liberals think of conservatives not so much as people they disagree with, but as people they despise.

Most mainstream conservatives acknowledge that liberals are essentially well-meaning. Misguided, to be sure. And naive? Certainly. And elitist, self-righteous, collectivist know-it-alls, chronically unwilling to learn from their mistakes, clueless when it comes to the workings of the marketplace, always persuaded that the next government program will fix whatever went wrong with the last government program? Yeah. But well-meaning.

It should go without saying that you can mean well and do ill. Those liberal good intentions have helped pave more than a few of the 20th century's roads to hell, from the Evil Empire to the welfare state to the meltdown of the American criminal justice system. Conservatives condemn the demonic results that liberal good intentions have led to, and with gusto. What they don't do, as a rule, is demonize their opponents. Liberals do.

Liberals look at conservatives and see moral cripples: Conservatives hate the poor. Conservatives are greedy. Conservatives have no compassion. Conservatives are Neanderthals . . . racists . . . homophobes . . . warmongers. To be conservative, in the eyes of many fervent liberals, is to be by definition a vile human being -- someone to recoil from, not reason with; someone to damn, not to debate.

Personal vignette: It was a roundtable discussion about poverty and social welfare policies in Massachusetts, and I had made some point or other about welfare and illegitimacy. The representative from the prominent, Boston-based foundation spoke up in disagreement. "People like Mr. Jacoby can say that because they don't care about the poor," she began. "But the rest of us . . ."

"They don't care about the poor". Period, end of story. No room for differences of philosophy here. You're a conservative? Then you're morally defective, your views are warped, and would you please get out of the marketplace of ideas before you stink up the joint. Think of Ted Kennedy's slander of Judge Robert Bork in 1987 ("Bork's America is a land in which . . . blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids . . ."). Or of Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey's foul comparison of his colleague, conservative James Kelly, to a Nazi ("It would be like electing David Duke . . . he has the same politics and rhetoric as David Duke.")

"Liberals go for the jugular," says David Horowitz, the one-time antiwar activist and editor of the radical magazine Ramparts. "With them, it's always about character assassination. If you're conservative, you're either sick or in some way deeply malevolent."

The most flagrant recent example oozed across The New York Times op-ed page last month, when columnist Frank Rich launched a vitriolic personal assault on conservative journalist David Brock, author of a controversial article on Bill Clinton's extramarital adventures. Brock's "motives are at least as twisted as his facts," wrote Rich. "It's women, not liberals, who really get him going. The slightest sighting of female sexuality whips him into a frenzy of misogynist zeal. All women are the same to Mr. Brock: terrifying, gutter-tongued, sexual omnivores."

Imagine a conservative trying to discredit a liberal by sledgehammering him as an unhinged woman-hater, or none-too-subtly "outing" him as a homosexual. Actually, that's hard to do: The last well-known conservative with a taste for baseless personal invective was named Joe McCarthy.

At the 1984 Democratic National Convention, Tip O'Neill -- the great-hearted, much-mourned late Speaker himself -- voiced his opposition to President Reagan's policies thus: "The evil is in the White House." The evil. Never would Reagan have used such language to describe O'Neill.

But then, Reagan wasn't a man of the left. He wasn't on a utopian crusade. Like most conservatives, he didn't think the blights of the world could be ended by transforming human nature. And he certainly didn't imagine the only thing blocking that transformation was wrong-thinking people who must be gotten out of the way -- or excommunicated as "evil."

So what's a nice conservative like me doing in a newspaper like this? Why, conserving. Looking to the past to figure out what has succeeded, and trying to apply its wisdom to the conundrums of the present. Acknowledging that there are no guarantees and that life is unfair, but knowing that the best road for the pursuit of happiness is the one marked with the old signposts: Freedom. Responsibility. Virtue. Work.


I think Jacoby is right in saying that many conservatives give Leftists the benefit of the doubt -- but I think that is a mistake. I think Leftist motives have to be inferred from their deeds, not their words -- and their deeds are with eerie consistency destructive of the wealth and wellbeing of the society in which they live. That cannot just be a mistake. Except for Joe Biden, Leftists are not stupid people. I think that the Leftist AIM is destruction of the world they see about them and which they hate for various reasons. Conservatives may or may not support the status quo but Leftists uniformly want to destroy it. And the Leftist hatred of conservatives is a part of that. They see that conservatives do NOT want to destroy the society in which they live so conservatives are hated obstacles to Leftist aims. I think conservatives should view Leftists as evil. They have no hesitation in viewing us that way. It is of course an old Leftist dodge to see in others what is true of themselves ("projection"). Conservatives need to wake up to that. "You're just projecting" should become a standard reply to Leftist abuse.


Obama misrepresents his opposition

Why does he routinely ascribe to opponents views they don't espouse?


President Barack Obama reveres Abraham Lincoln. But among the glaring differences between the two men is that Lincoln offered careful, rigorous, sustained arguments to advance his aims and, when disagreeing with political opponents, rarely relied on the lazy rhetorical device of "straw men." Mr. Obama, on the other hand, routinely ascribes to others views they don't espouse and says opposition to his policies is grounded in views no one really advocates.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity. Mr. Obama also said that America's economic difficulties resulted when "regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market." Who gutted which regulations?

Perhaps it was President Bill Clinton who, along with then Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, removed restrictions on banks owning insurance companies in 1999. If so, were Mr. Clinton and Mr. Summers (now an Obama adviser) motivated by quick profit, or by the belief that the reform was necessary to modernize our financial industry?

Perhaps Mr. Obama was talking about George W. Bush. But Mr. Bush spent five years pushing to further regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He was blocked by Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank. Arriving in the Senate in 2005, Mr. Obama backed up Mr. Dodd's threat to filibuster Mr. Bush's needed reforms.

Even in an ostensibly nonpartisan speech marking Lincoln's 200th birthday, Mr. Obama used a straw-man argument, decrying "a philosophy that says every problem can be solved if only government would step out of the way; that if government were just dismantled, divvied up into tax breaks, and handed out to the wealthiest among us, it would somehow benefit us all. Such knee-jerk disdain for government -- this constant rejection of any common endeavor -- cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges." Whose philosophy is this? Many Americans justifiably believe that government is too big and often acts in counterproductive ways. But that's a far cry from believing that in "every" case government is the problem or that government should be "dismantled" root and branch. Who -- other than an anarchist -- "constantly rejects any common endeavor" like building levees, roads or bridges?

During his news conference on Feb. 9, Mr. Obama decried an unnamed faction in the congressional stimulus debate as "a set of folks who -- I don't doubt their sincerity -- who just believe that we should do nothing." Who were these sincere do-nothings? Every House Republican voted for an alternative stimulus plan, evidence that they wanted to do something. Every Senate Republican -- with the exception of Judd Gregg, who'd just withdrawn his nomination to be Mr. Obama's Commerce secretary and therefore voted "present" -- voted for alternative stimulus proposals.

Then there's Mr. Obama's description of the Bush-era tax cuts. "A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy," he explained in his Tuesday speech, after earlier saying, "tax cuts alone can't solve all of our economic problems -- especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few."

The Bush tax cuts were not targeted to "the wealthiest few." Everyone who paid federal income taxes received a tax cut, with the largest percentage of reductions going to those at the bottom. Last year, a family of four making $40,000 saved an average of $2,053 because of the Bush tax cuts. The tax code became more progressive as the share paid by the top 10% increased to 46.4% from 46% -- and the nation experienced 52 straight months of job growth after the cuts took effect. And since when is giving back some of what people pay in taxes "transferring wealth?"

In his inaugural address -- which was generally graceful toward the opposition -- Mr. Obama proclaimed, "We have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord." Which Republican ran against him on fear, conflict and discord?

Mr. Obama portrays himself as a nonideological, bipartisan voice of reason. Everyone resorts to straw men occasionally, but Mr. Obama's persistent use of the device is troubling. Continually characterizing those who disagree with you in a fundamentally dishonest way can be the sign of a person who lacks confidence in the merits of his ideas.

It was said that Lincoln crafted his arguments in "resonant words that enriched the political dialogue of his age." Mr. Obama's straw men aren't enriching the dialogue of our age. They are cheapening it. Mr. Obama should stop employing them.



A Leftist realizes that Obamism is Fascism

Here's some news: a liberal has proven capable of recognizing true fascism. Here's liberal journalist Robert Scheer on NPR, via The Hawblog:
I don't think the idea of nationalizing, as it's now being called - which means bailing out these banks, setting them straight, then letting them go private again, which is the model that everybody is using, and the people who get screwed are the people whose retirement funds had common or preferred shares and they get wiped out, and these bankers come out richer than ever at the other end - that's not a leftist idea and it's not socialism. This is what we used to, in Comparative Economic Systems, call fascism. It's putting government at the service of the big financial interests. That's what happened in Italy, that's what happened in Germany, that's what happened in Japan.

Despite the "down with bankers" slant, Scheer is correct that fascism is what you get when an authoritarian government entangles its tendrils with ostensibly private industry. Tony Blankley was on hand to ask,
What I don't understand is how my colleagues on this show, who I believe were for Obama, are now saying he's leading a fascist regime. Did he mislead them a few weeks ago when he was still running?

Scheer's befuddled response is something we'll be hearing more often as liberals who aren't total fiends wake up and realize what they've done to this country:
To answer your question, I am disappointed in Barack Obama and I'm not quite sure what he's doing.

It's going to be a little difficult to pretend the Moonbat Messiah is whoever you want him to be, now that he is actively engaged in destroying our economic system to pave the way for authoritarianism - as anyone familiar with his background should have predicted he would do.



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, March 01, 2009

Obama embraces the Bush legacy

Though the headlines from the President's speech mostly focused on his promise to end all U.S. combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010 -- and withdraw U.S. forces fully by the end of the following year -- there was considerably more to it than that. For starters, Mr. Obama again acknowledged that our forces in Iraq had "succeeded beyond any expectation," not least his own.

Mr. Obama was also rightly generous in his praise of outgoing U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, "two of our finest generals." All three men were Bush appointees, and all were instrumental in devising, advocating and implementing the surge strategy that Mr. Bush pursued amid the derision of his critics, including then-Senator Obama.

President Obama also recognized that Iraqis themselves have made significant political progress, and that "there is renewed cause for hope in Iraq." That's a far cry from his message of last July, when he told reporters, after visiting Iraq, that "So far, I think we have not seen the kind of political reconciliation that's going to bring about long-term stability in Iraq."

But more important than Mr. Obama's implicit repudiation of his own positions as a candidate (and the implicit vindication of Mr. Bush's position, to say nothing of John McCain's) is his decision to maintain a sizable U.S. military presence in Iraq -- in the range of 35,000 to 50,000 troops -- past the August 2010 "withdrawal" date. That "transitional force" is roughly the size of the U.S. military presence in South Korea through the Cold War. And its mission, involving training of Iraqi forces, U.S. force protection and "targeted counterterrorism missions," largely describes what the U.S. is already doing in Iraq.

Most of Iraq's provinces are under full Iraqi security control, and U.S. forces will be out of all Iraqi cities and towns by this July, as stipulated in the Status of Forces Agreement that the Bush Administration concluded with the Iraqi government last year. By making it clear a sizable U.S. force will remain in Iraq, Mr. Obama is showing a commitment to Iraq's continued democratic progress and should help deter a revival of ethnic tensions. He's also making clear the strategic advantage of having a stable U.S. ally in the heart of the Persian Gulf.

More here


Obama's Budget Will Harm Small Businesses and Destroy American Jobs

Simplistic Leftist theory gets it wrong again

Few would suggest that Barack Obama would intentionally kill American jobs and persecute the small businesses that create them. Unfortunately, that's precisely the effect of his new budget and tax scheme. By raising taxes on small business and reneging on his campaign promise to provide them capital gains tax relief, he will punish the very entrepreneurs that create most American jobs and market innovations.

Obama, of course, would righteously protest that he seeks to help small businesses, and will only raise taxes on the "wealthy" earning over $250,000. The simple truth, however, is that most taxpayers filing above the $250,000 benchmark are not individual fat cats or trust-fund babies. Rather, over 65% of them are actually small businesses, which file as individuals rather than corporations because they have fewer than 100 shareholders and do not pay dividends. Small businesses constitute 99% of employers, and employ over half of all private-sector employees in America, and many of them file above the $250,000 threshold.....

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), which defines "small businesses" as those employing between 3 and 199 people, these entrepreneurs employ over 50% of the nation's private-sector employees and account for over half of American non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, given the dynamic nature of our economy, these small businesses create approximately two-thirds of net new jobs and provide the first job for most new entrants into the workforce, according to the NFIB, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the United States Census Bureau. In fact, America's small businesses would comprise the world's third-largest economy (after the United States and Japan) if standing alone, and represent an astounding 99.7% of all employers in America.

If Obama really wanted to stimulate the American economy and create jobs, he would stop punishing small businesses with tax increases that falsely target "the rich." Instead of repeatedly shoveling billions of dollars to well-connected big businesses that employ armies of lobbyists but refuse to correct their defective business models, he might provide relief to small entrepreneurs like those who created Wal-Mart, Apple or Microsoft. Instead of raising taxes on small businesses, he would honor his campaign promise to cut them. Instead of futilely attempting to preserve jobs at failing giants, he would provide the incentives for the smaller businesses that create jobs. Along the way, he might consider reducing payroll taxes or providing tax hiatuses for new small businesses until they successfully transcend their fledgling early stages.

President Obama and Congress, your massive spending bills are only worsening the market and harming the economy. If you really want to restore American innovation and begin creating jobs again, stop targeting supposedly "rich" small businesses and raising their taxes. You'll be amazed at the economic growth that follows.

More here



There is a new website called A Faithful Soldier which may be worth a look. It honors everyone in the US military all around the world. Dog tags are sold on it and 15% of all proceeds is said to go to a charity (Soldier's Angels) which helps injured soldiers or families of those that lost their lives in the military. The tags could be personalized with either your name or someone you know in the military and could be good as gifts.

A good comment here on the huge political bias in the reports by -- something I have myself mentioned two or three times.

Where are all those "Green jobs"?: "California's unemployment rate jumped to 10.1% in January, the highest since 1983, as employers in the nation's most-populous state cut 79,000 jobs in the month. Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday declared a state of emergency to address California's third-straight year of drought, ordering officials to take steps to reduce urban water consumption and to expedite water transfers throughout the state. The rate, released Friday by the state's Employment Development Department, is up from a revised figure of 8.7% for December 2008. The national jobless rate for January was 7.6%. There were 3.3% fewer jobs in California than a year earlier. The report said there were 1,863,000 unemployed Californians, up 754,000 from January 2008."

A few fountains of bias to dry up: "After 150 years the final edition of the Rocky Mountain News landed on readers' doorsteps yesterday morning with the headline "Goodbye, Colorado". It is Colorado's oldest newspaper and the largest-circulation daily to succumb to the crisis in the newspaper industry. The 144-year-old San Francisco Chronicle is in danger of closing "within weeks", making San Francisco the first big city in the United States without a major daily paper. The Seattle PostIntelligencer and Tucson Citizen could also shut down if no buyer steps forward. Analysts predict that other titles will follow the 210,000-circulation Rocky Mountain News because of the economic downturn and the flight of advertising and readers to the internet"

Good demographic news from Israel: "According to the CBS, the country's Jewish population is getting younger and the Arab population getting older. The number of annual Jewish births increased by 45% between 1995 (80,400) and 2008 (117,000), as a result of aliya from the USSR, the shift by the Soviet olim from a typical Russian rate of one birth per woman to a typical Israeli rate of two-three births, the rising secular Jewish rate and the sustained high Orthodox and haredi rate. The number of annual Arab births has stabilized - since 1995 - at around 39,000, reflecting a most successful integration by Arabs into the country's infrastructures of education, health, human services, commerce, finance, culture, sports and politics. The fertility gap is down from six births per woman in 1969 to 0.7 in 2009, and the proportion of Jewish births has grown from 69% (of total births) in 1995 and 74% in 2007 to 75% in 2008. The downward trend typifies, also, the Arabs in Judea and Samaria due to large scale emigration, entrenched family planning, reduction of teen pregnancy, rapid urbanization, expanded education especially among women, record divorce rate and higher median marriage age. The Westernization of Arab fertility rate (3.5 births per woman in pre-1967 Israel and four in Judea and Samaria) is apparent throughout most of the Arab and Muslim world."


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)