Saturday, March 21, 2009


Readers of this blog seem to be great Firefox users. Only 34% use IE, according to my tracker. I myself have always used IE on the grounds that around three quarters of all internet users do so and I like to see my pages as others see them. Additionally, when someone complains that one of my pages looks funny, I always say "You must be a Firefox user" -- and that mostly hits the target.

Both IE and Firefox have their advantages but one big disadvantage of Firefox is that it handles out-of-range sizes very erratically. If I upload a graphic or some such that is too big for the space allowed, Firefox does strange things, whereas IE mostly handles that problem seamlessly -- by expanding the space or some such. And when I goof in that way is when I get complaints from Firefox users.

I have however been having a lot of trouble with IE7 lately. It keeps freezing up my screen. I have done all the things that MS recommends to solve the problem, including a big virus check, but the problem has persisted. So I have just changed to Firefox -- and the freezeup problem has vanished!

One thing I found very soon after loading Firefox was however something that was both no surprise and yet also very vexing. I found that the sidebar in most of my blogs was empty. Why? The usual problem. I had put a graphic there (the Israeli flag) that was too big for the space allocated. As an IE user, I had never realized that was a problem. So I have now loaded a smaller version of the graphic and all my sidebars should once again be "live". I hope that they are also worth reading.

I now run the risk that some things which look OK in Firefox will look funny in IE. So if that happens, please tell me. I noted that sort of thing when I was an IE user looking at a blog done by a Firefox user. You can't win 'em all!

For the record, there are a lot of Firefox features that I love and I expect that I will eventually find my way around some other features that bug me.
Who am I?

I was born in a small city of a large country but I eventually made my home in one of the great cities of that country.

I was not my father's only child. He fathered several children with numerous women.

I became very close to my mother, as my father showed little interest in me.. My mother died at an early age from cancer.

Later in life, questions arose over my real name. My birth records were sketchy and no one was able to produce a legitimate, reliable birth certificate.

I grew up practicing one faith but converted to another that suited my purposes better

I practiced non-traditional beliefs & didn't follow Christianity, except in the public eye under scrutiny.

I worked and lived among lower-class people as a young adult, disguising myself as someone who really cared about them.

That was before I decided it was time to get serious about my life and I embarked on a new career.

I wrote a book about my struggles growing up. It was clear to those who read my memoirs that I had difficulties accepting that my father abandoned me as a child.

I became active in local politics in my 30's then with help behind the scenes, I literally burst onto the scene as a candidate for national office in my 40's. They said I had a golden tongue and could talk anyone into anything. That reinforced my conceit.

I had a virtually non-existent resume, little work history, and no experience in leading a single organization. Yet I was a powerful speaker and citizens were drawn to me as though I were a magnet and they were small roofing tacks..

I drew incredibly large crowds during my public appearances.. This bolstered my ego.

At first, my political campaign focused on my country's foreign policy. I was very critical of my country in the last war and seized every opportunity to bash the rulers of my country.

But what launched my rise to national prominence were my views on the country's economy. I pretended to have a really good plan on how we could do better and every poor person would suddenly be well-off

I knew which group was responsible for getting us into a mess. It was the free market, banks & corporations. I decided to start making citizens hate them and if they were envious of others who did well, the plan was clinched tight.

I called mine "A People's Campaign" and that sounded good to all people.

I was the surprise candidate because I emerged from outside the traditional path of politics & was able to gain widespread popular support.

I knew that, if I merely offered the people 'hope', together we could change our country and the world.

So, I started to make my speeches sound like they were on behalf of the downtrodden, poor and ignorant. My true views were not widely known & I needed to keep them unknown, until after I became my nation's leader.

I had to carefully guard reality, as anybody could have easily found out what I really believed, if they had simply read my writings and examined those people I associated with.

I'm glad they didn't. Then I became one of the the most powerful men in the world. And the world learned the truth. Who am I?

ADOLF HITLER (Whom were you thinking of?)


A good point from Taranto

WDSU-TV reports that a group styling itself Citizens For Accountability and Transparency in Government has filed a recall petition against Stacy Head, a New Orleans city councilman. The station quotes the group's head:
"This is a majority black district, and we think that it should have black representation," said Malcolm Suber, who is leading the recall petition. "And if it is going to be a white representative, they should be sensitive to the black community, and she is not . . . She is opposed to the interests of the black community, and again I think she's a racist."

So, just to sum up, Suber's complaints about Head are as follows: 1) She's the wrong color. 2) She's racially prejudiced.

Would it be insensitive to employ the old idiom about the pot and the kettle?




It's only just that he who pays the piper should call the tune: " Swept up by a wave of populist economic anger, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to slap a 90 per cent tax on bonuses at bailed-out firms like insurer AIG. The Democratic majority rallied a large swath of President Barack Obama's Republican critics as lawmakers voted 328-93 for the legislation and the furor raised the political heat on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. But the White House's allies failed to win enough support for a non-binding resolution commending the Obama administration for its handling of American International Group, a newly potent political symbol of reckless greed. AIG, alive only thanks to $US170 billion in government rescue money, dished out $US165 million in bonuses to top executives, including some in the division blamed for putting the once mighty insurer on life support. "We want our money back, and we want our money back now," Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during the often bitter debate. "Here's one way to get it." The 90 per cent tax, written with AIG in mind, would apply to employees whose total annual pay exceeded $US250,000 at firms that received more than $US5 billion in government rescue funds."

More freedom of information? “‘A presumption of openness,’ is now supposed to guide federal agencies’ responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. Attorney General Eric Holder today sent a memo to agency heads that reverses FOIA guidelines that have been in place since Oct. 12, 2001. The Bush-era presumption, established by then-attorney general John Ashcroft, was that agencies should first assume that information should not be released — and put most of the burden on the requester to prove otherwise.”

Bayh and the Blue Dogs: “We knew center-right Democrats in the Senate were planning a Blue Dog-like caucus for the upper chamber, and today, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) made it official. Bayh gave an exclusive to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough — no one seemed to appreciate the irony of Bayh making the announcement on the show of a former far-right Republican congressman, who’s been making ridiculous attacks on Democrats — to talk about his new group. … Bayh made it sound as if this group expects, in effect, to dictate the entire public policy agenda of the U.S. government for the next year in a half. They want to work the White House, Senate leadership, and committee chairs, but made it clear that this nameless ‘centrist’ caucus believes it will make or break any and all legislation. Who’s in this caucus? Bayh said some of the names are secret. Seriously.”

UK: Shopkeeper takes on litter louts: “A Gloucestershire shopkeeper has cut litter in her village by 40% by writing children’s names on their sweet wrappers. Yvonne Froud, 52, marks each wrapper, crisp packet and drinks container with the name of the buyer using an indelible marker. Litter louts who drop their rubbish are shown the evidence and temporarily banned from her shop or told to go on a litter-pick. … The two-week scheme has been so successful Ms Fround says she might extend it to adult shoppers at her post office and stores in Joys Green.”


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 20, 2009

Some thoughts inspired by St Pat's day

I have often noted -- particularly on my personal blog -- how frequently these days in Australia one sees Eurasian couples about the place. Smart little Asian ladies seem to be very good at catching big burly Caucasian men. It is also such a phenomenon in American college life (particularly the Ivies, I believe) that Caucasian college women have a name for it: Yellow fever. They get a bit burnt up about how so many of the big men have an Asian lady on their arm -- to the exclusion of the Caucasian women.

And it happens a lot in my personal environment too. An Asian lady attached to a big Caucasian man is common. Even my 6' tall and well-built son has a lady of Han ancestry in his life. And the lady in my life -- Anne -- has a nephew who recently married a Korean lady. I went to the wedding. And two of my old friends now live in China with their Chinese wives, etc.

Now the gap between Asian language and culture and Anglo culture is so wide that the pairing concerned is rather surprising. Though I approve of it thoroughly. The Asian ladies bring excellent qualities to such unions, in my opinion.

What tends to be forgotten is that we have been there before. There has long been great hostility between the English and the Irish. The Irish hate the English and the English despise the Irish. But: Guess what? The rate of intermarriage between the English and the Irish has long been phenomenal. Particularly in Australia, America, Canada and New Zealand, there must be few people of predominantly English ancestry who do not also have some Irish in their ancestry. I certainly do.

And it even happens in England itself. I mentioned recently that I knew of a lady with the wonderfully Irish name of Concepta Finnegan. But the reason I know of her is that she has recently married into a wealthy English family with the family seat near Cambridge! I am sure she is far from alone.

I am inclined to think that it is mostly an example of "opposites attract". I suspect that it serves to create hybrid vigour. But that is a very large topic so I will content myself with just noting the phenomenon.

Just one more small note about that, though. When I was a young guy, we all used to think that the Catholic girls were best in bed -- because they thought it was a sin so got into it more! And I still have some happy memories about that! So Irish Catholicism could explain a lot!



More Obama destructiveness: "When the U.S. closed the southern border to Mexican trucking last week -- in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- Mexico promised to retaliate. Yesterday it did, releasing a list of 89 U.S. products that will face new tariffs of 10% to 45%. Mexico's decision wasn't taken lightly. Since 1995, three successive Mexican administrations have worked to get the U.S. to respect its Nafta obligation of allowing long-haul trucks across the border. In 2007 the two countries agreed to a pilot program that permitted a limited number of Mexican carriers into the U.S. under rigid safety regulations. After 18 months that program proved that Mexican carriers are as safe as their U.S. counterparts. That was bad news for the anti-competition Teamsters union, and last week it got Congress to kill the pilot program. Yesterday Mexico fired back. Trade wars are never pretty. But given the downturn in demand that already exists in the U.S. economy, this one could be ugly, and dangerous. Mexico is the U.S.'s third largest trading partner and the new tariffs will affect some $2.4 billion in goods across 40 states. California, an important supplier of fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts to Mexico, will be hit hard."

Markets rally as Fed cranks up the printing press : "Financial markets did a dramatic 180-degree turn Wednesday, with stock markets erasing losses to surge higher, the U.S. dollar plunging, bond yields tumbling and gold soaring after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced it would crank its printing press into higher gear in an all-out effort to revive credit markets and thwart deflation. The U.S. Federal Reserve said it would buy up to US$300-billion worth of longer-term treasury bonds over the next six months, wading into the market to buy up government paper for the first time since the 1960s, and expand an existing program to buy mortgage-related securities by another US$850-billion to US$1.45-trillion this year."

West Bank: Israelis round up Hamas political leaders : ""Israeli soldiers rounded up at least seven of the Islamic militant group's political leaders in the West Bank in a pre-dawn arrest sweep Thursday, Hamas officials and relatives said. The detentions come after the failure of recent efforts to win the release of an Israeli soldier Hamas is holding in Gaza. . Israel has detained dozens of Hamas politicians in the West Bank on various occasions since the capture of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, 22, in a cross-border raid in June 2006. The detainees in this latest raid include Nasser Shaer, a former Palestinian deputy prime minister, and several Hamas lawmakers, Hamas officials and relatives said."

Pentagon to phase out "stop loss" at last: "The military will phase out its 'stop loss' program, the contentious practice of holding troops beyond the end of their enlistments, for all but extraordinary situations, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Wednesday. Instead, the military will use incentives programs to encourage personnel to extend their service."

Obama drops plan to bill veterans' private insurers : "President Obama yesterday abandoned a proposal to bill veterans' private insurance companies for the treatment at VA hospitals of combat-related injuries amid an outcry over the measure from veterans' service organizations and members of Congress. The proposal would have authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to charge private companies for treating injuries and other medical conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, that are related to military service. The measure was intended to save VA about $530 million a year, but the administration's pursuit of third-party billing sparked resistance from leaders of veterans groups, who met this week with Obama. "

How FDR promoted racial segregation: "President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a reputation as a friend of black people, yet he signed laws that promoted racial segregation throughout the United States. The laws were supposed to promote `affordable housing.' Concerns about risk were borne out during the Great Depression, when people across the United States defaulted on their mortgage loans. FDR stepped in so that more people could afford to buy their homes. On June 13, 1933, he established the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) which replaced his predecessor Herbert Hoover's Federal Home Loan Bank. HOLC spent some $3 billion refinancing mortgages for people who had trouble making their mortgage payments. In the process, HOLC promoted the long-term, self-amortizing mortgage. As many as 40 percent of HOLC-financed properties ended up in foreclosure. In an effort to minimize risks, HOLC developed more formal, consistent methods for assessing properties. HOLC rated properties and neighborhoods on a descending scale from most desirable to least desirable, and maps were produced to help speed-up the process of evaluating mortgage applications. Neighborhoods were marked as A (green), B (blue), C (yellow) or D (red). An "A" neighborhood was suburban with recent construction, low crime, business and professional people - a white neighborhood. A "D" neighborhood was inner city, old buildings often in need of repair, sometimes high crime - a minority neighborhood. HOLC avoided "D" neighborhoods. This was how official redlining began."

This is the Army, Mrs. Jones! : "The biting winds of change are blowing through ObamaNation. The same `volunteerism' that kept America running since the days of its founding, wiped out with the stroke of a pen, will no longer be volunteerism. It becomes forced labor and like the practice of another era, presses American citizens of all ages and creeds, unknowingly into military service. On paper, H.R. 1388 is the `Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act;' the more innocuous sounding `The Give Act,' for short. But `The Give Act' is not part of Obama's distant future for unsuspecting American citizens, because it hits the House floor tomorrow. . `The Give Act' puts tow-headed school children and silver-haired seniors in the official uniform of the new State, and encompasses every walk of life in main-street America."

Insuring disaster : "In last summer's blockbuster `The Dark Knight,' the Joker invites one of the top crime lords of Gotham City to the rundown warehouse where he has stashed his ill-gotten gains. The mobster stares in awe at the huge stack of money the arch-criminal has amassed. But a moment later, his awe turns to horror as the Joker sets the money aflame. `This town deserves a better class of criminal,' he explains. The exchange reveals the deep evil of the Joker. Unlike a common criminal, he doesn't just want to steal money from others. He wants to destroy their wealth. When Americans discovered a few weeks ago that federal officials had spent another weekend of Diet Coke-fueled all-nighters concocting yet another bailout of the American International Group, they might have been reminded of this scene. This was the fourth time since September that taxpayers had rescued AIG from collapse."

Cleaning up someone else's mess: "They were the responsible ones: thousands of service station owners and other business people across New England who made the effort to properly dispose of waste oil and antifreeze by sending it to the sprawling Beede Waste Oil Co. in Plaistow, N.H. Now they are being punished for their conscientious ways. Owners of gas stations and auto repair shops are being billed tens of thousands of dollars each to pay for the more than $65 million cleanup at the deeply contaminated Beede site. Its owners were prosecuted but don't have enough money to pay for the work. Under the federal Superfund law, aimed at cleaning up the nation's most polluted dumps, if the people or companies that made the mess can't clean it up, anyone who generated waste that wound up in a Superfund site such as Beede is responsible to pay for it - even if they broke no laws."

MO: Libertarians condemn "strategic report" as political profiling : "The Missouri Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party in the state, issued the following statement regarding a `Strategic Report' issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) on February 22nd, which became known to the public late last week: `An internal document designed for law enforcement education purposes inaccurately and dangerously implies that among the indicators of possible involvement in extremist, militant militia activity is support for the Libertarian Party. This memo and its findings are potentially dangerous to both the people of Missouri and to our system of free political speech.'"

Conspiracy theories still thriving: "The highest levels of the Obama administration are infested with members of a shadowy, elitist cabal intent on installing a one-world government that subverts the will of the American people. It sounds crazy, but that's what a group of very persistent conspiracy theorists insists, and they point to President Obama's nominee for Health and Human Services Secretary, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, as the latest piece of evidence supporting their claims."

Let freedom do it: "Those of us who advocate freedom and capitalism run up against a difficult problem. Even though these ideas, hampered as they have always been by government intervention, have led to all the good things people say they want (wealth, justice, progress, personal liberty, etc.), they haven't got a prayer against the grandiose promises of those who prefer the alternate route of command and control. Government promises to protect us, feed us, comfort us, instruct us and make life fair. Freedom promises nothing more than the ability to pursue one's dreams as one chooses. There's no promise of utopia in such a system, but the results of leaving people free to their own devices tend to be pretty good, on balance. The utopian systems are the ones where you find the concentration camps and dungeons, despite the flowery rhetoric."


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 19, 2009

Supporters of Capitalism Are Crazy, Says Harvard

In their usual projective way, Leftist psychologists, sociologists etc. have been trying for over 50 years to portray conservatives as mentally ill in some way. The article below refers to the latest such attempt. I have myself written at great length in the academic journals on claims of this sort (e.g. here and here) but the article below does such a good job of ridiculing the Leftist jerk-offs concerned that I will say no more

Last weekend, Harvard University sponsored a conference called (I am not making this up) "The Free Market Mindset: History, Psychology, and Consequences." Its purpose was to try to figure out why, since everyone knows the current crisis amounts to a failure of the market economy, the stupid rubes continue to believe in it. The promotional literature for the conference opened with That Quotation from Alan Greenspan - the one in which he suggested that there was, after all, a "flaw" in the free market he hadn't noticed before.

Well, that does it, then! If our Soviet commissar in charge of money and interest rates says the free market doesn't work, who are you to disagree? The promotional material continues:

If the current state of the U.S. economy makes clear that former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's faith in free markets was misplaced, the question remains: what was it about free markets that proved - and still continues to prove - so alluring to economists, scholars, and policy-makers alike?

Because, of course, if there's one guiding principle behind the largest government in world history, it's free markets. Ahem. This conference, we were told,

brings together leading scholars in law, economics, social psychology, and social cognition to present and discuss their research regarding the historical origins, psychological antecedents, and policy consequences of the free market mindset. Their work illustrates that the magic of the marketplace is partially an illusion based on faulty assumptions and outmoded approaches.

The speakers then spent the day, I am sure, laying out their own faulty assumptions and outmoded approaches, and studiously ignoring the Austrian School of economics.

In short, the conference was about this: Why do people still think the interaction of free individuals is a superior economic system to one directed by Harvard Ph.D.s like us? I mean, apart from the failure of central planning in every case in which it's been tried, a failure so staggering that only a blockhead could miss it, why would people cling to the idea that being herded into a collective run by the experts isn't the best way to live?

So by assuming from the outset the very thing that needs to be proven - namely, that the current state of the economy just occurred spontaneously, as the result of wicked market forces - our betters relieve themselves of the need to consider that central banking, a government-established institution, just might have had, you know, a little something to do with what happened.

George Reisman has already demonstrated the absurdity of referring to our present system as a "free-market" one. Naturally, of course, none of the participants bothered to notice that a Soviet commissar in charge of money and interest rates amounts to something like the opposite of the free market, or that the economic distortions he causes cannot, therefore, be the fault of the free market. This is exactly why, in my book Meltdown, I call the Fed "the elephant in the living room." We're not supposed to notice it, and we're supposed to pretend the damage it causes is the result of wildcat capitalism, unfettered free markets, or whatever other juvenile phrase is currently in vogue to describe the usual bogeyman.

Now I don't want to list all the paper topics at this conference, since it'd be a shame to make all of you feel stupid for having frittered away your weekend when you could have listened to, say, Stephen Marglin's paper on "How Thinking Like an Economist Undermines Community." Now there's a topic I haven't heard quite enough platitudes about. (If you must, you can view the whole schedule here.) You could also have heard a bunch of totally conventional polemics about how the market economy allows for "too much" pollution, when in fact a genuine free market - which, I need hardly point out, is not actually considered in any of these alleged papers - would punish polluters and bring about the internalization of so-called externalities. Murray Rothbard dealt with this matter in an extremely important article none of the participants had read.

I wonder if anyone at the conference asked questions like these:

* When Greenspan flooded the economy with newly created money and brought interest rates down to destructively low levels, thereby distorting entrepreneurial calculation as well as consumers' home-purchasing decisions, was that the fault of the free market?

* Do you think the Fed's creation of cheap credit out of thin air makes market participants more careful or less careful in how they allocate borrowed funds?

* When Alan Greenspan bailed out Long Term Capital Management in 1998, was that a "free market" phenomenon? Do you think he thereby encouraged more or less risk taking among other major market actors?

* The Financial Times spoke in 2000, in the wake of the dot-com boom, of an increasing concern that the so-called "Greenspan put" was injecting into the economy "a destructive tendency toward excessively risky investment supported by hopes that the Fed will help if things go bad." "All the insane dot-com investment we've seen, all this destruction of capital, all the crazy excesses of the past few years wouldn't have happened without the easy credit accommodated by the Fed," added financial consultant Michael Belkin. Did the free market cause that?

* Do lending standards decline for no particular reason, or could this phenomenon have a teensy weensy bit to do with (a) government regulation aimed at increasing "homeownership" and (b) loose monetary policy by the Fed? (When the banks get the additional reserves the Fed creates, they naturally want to lend it out - and in order to do so, they wind up lending it to people they either have or would have rejected previously. As I show in Meltdown, the phenomenon of lax lending standards in the wake of an inflationary boom by a central bank is traceable all the way to the 19th century. There is nothing even slightly unexpected - or market-driven - about it.)

Questions like these could go on and on. Not one, you can be certain, was raised at this conference.

Now if you really wanted to sponsor an event whose purpose was to try to understand why people believe inane things that have been falsified by reality, you'd do much better to hold a conference on socialism, or on Keynes and his school. It would be fascinating to learn the psychological motivation behind the persistence of Keynesian economics, whose popular version is a nonfalsifiable, ersatz religion....

People who believe in the market economy support a social order in which free individuals make voluntary contracts with each other, and no one can initiate physical force against anyone else. Is that vision so obviously unattractive that we have to refer its supporters for psychological evaluation?

We might instead wonder at the psychological condition of those who would denounce such a system: might they be motivated, for all their noble talk, by nothing but base envy of those with more material wealth than they, or by a pathological desire to dominate other people? I'm sure that will be covered at next year's conference.

More here



It wasn't "capitalism" or the "free market". Fannie Mae is a Federal government instrumentality. The article below by STEVEN A. HOLMES appeared in the New York Times: Thursday, September 30, 1999

Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders. The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.'' Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's. ''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''

Under Fannie Mae's pilot program, consumers who qualify can secure a mortgage with an interest rate one percentage point above that of a conventional, 30-year fixed rate mortgage of less than $240,000 -- a rate that currently averages about 7.76 per cent. If the borrower makes his or her monthly payments on time for two years, the one percentage point premium is dropped.

Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, does not lend money directly to consumers. Instead, it purchases loans that banks make on what is called the secondary market. By expanding the type of loans that it will buy, Fannie Mae is hoping to spur banks to make more loans to people with less-than-stellar credit ratings.

Fannie Mae officials stress that the new mortgages will be extended to all potential borrowers who can qualify for a mortgage. But they add that the move is intended in part to increase the number of minority and low income home owners who tend to have worse credit ratings than non-Hispanic whites.

Home ownership has, in fact, exploded among minorities during the economic boom of the 1990's. The number of mortgages extended to Hispanic applicants jumped by 87.2 per cent from 1993 to 1998, according to Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. During that same period the number of African Americans who got mortgages to buy a home increased by 71.9 per cent and the number of Asian Americans by 46.3 per cent. In contrast, the number of non-Hispanic whites who received loans for homes increased by 31.2 per cent.

Despite these gains, home ownership rates for minorities continue to lag behind non-Hispanic whites, in part because blacks and Hispanics in particular tend to have on average worse credit ratings.

In July, the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed that by the year 2001, 50 percent of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's portfolio be made up of loans to low and moderate-income borrowers. Last year, 44 percent of the loans Fannie Mae purchased were from these groups.

The change in policy also comes at the same time that HUD is investigating allegations of racial discrimination in the automated underwriting systems used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to determine the credit-worthiness of credit applicants.




Obama's road to Fascism: ""President Obama is taking over production in the American economy. President Bush admitted to doing the same with the banking, real estate and insurance industry bailouts, proclaiming he `abandoned the free market to save the free market.' Besides being oxymoronic, he was admitting he moved from a system where people control production (capitalism) to a planned economy where government controls production (there are three main types of planned economies - fascism, socialism and communism). While refusing to similarly label his own actions, President Obama at least admits he is following what President Bush did first. I have been arguing since November that the type of planned economy we are moving toward is most like fascism, not socialism."

The NYT version of a "moderate": "Barack Obama has selected a leftist, David Hamilton, to be his first nominee for the federal bench. Hamilton is Obama's nominee for a spot on the Seventh CIrcuit Court of Appeals. Appropriately enough, Hamilton reportedly was once a former fund-raiser for the radical activist outfit ACORN, a key Obama ally. He is also a former leader of the Indiana chapter of the ACLU. Hamilton's record as a federal district judge confirms his ultra-liberalism. Recently, he invalidated a law requiring the registration of sex offenders. He also prevented enforcement of an Indiana law that required information and a waiting period before an abortion. The Seventh Circuit (the court to which Hamilton now has been nominated) found that the law in question was materially identical to a law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Casey decision. It noted that no judge in the land, other than Hamilton, has found such a law invalid since Casey was decided"

More destructive Obama-ism: It seems that not all forms of recycling are to be embraced. In a move that will greatly increase the cost of ammunition and may cause several US manufacturers to lay off workers, the Defense Department is ending a long standing practice of selling expended brass cartridges to domestic ammunition manufacturers. Instead the readily recyclable casings are to be melted down and recast for sale as scrap metal. To add insult to injury it should be noted that a scrap metal the brass will sell for substantially less than the expended casings themselves now bring!"

Israel: Netanyahu may become PM, finance minister: "Benjamin Netanyahu may take the finance minister's job himself when he becomes Israeli prime minister and forms the next government, a source close to the right-wing leader said on Tuesday. Netanyahu, facing the difficult issues of national security and the flagging economy, is in the process of forming a governing coalition after the February 10 parliamentary election. The source said Netanyahu, whose free market policies won praise from investors during his 2003-2005 tenure as finance minister, is weighing up whether to hold the post himself again or hand the job to a businessman with no political ties."

British Big Brother is watching: "The travel plans and personal details of every holidaymaker, business traveller and day-tripper who leaves Britain are to be tracked by the Government, the Daily Telegraph can disclose. Anyone departing the UK by land, sea or air will have their trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade. Passengers leaving every international sea port, station or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans. So-called "booze crusiers" who cross the Channel for a couple of hours to stock up on wine, beer and cigarettes will be subject to the rules. In addition, weekend sailors and sea fishermen will be caught by the system if they plan to travel to another country - or face the possibility of criminal prosecution."


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 18, 2009

When Will Atlas Shrug?

What is the breaking point? Where will the resistance form? Heavy questions, but unavoidable in the current political climate. The productive members of society can only be pushed so far, some say. What they envision is not defiance of law or a reversal of the election. It is people’s growing disengagement from a new economic order that punishes effort and rewards envy – the creepy future that Barack Obama and the Democrats intend for us. Columnist Michelle Malkin calls that withdrawal, “going Galt.”

Malkin was the first speaker when several hundred Coloradans gathered for a free-market leadership conference in Colorado Springs on March 6-7. Her reference was to John Galt, the individualist hero of Ayn Rand’s novel, “Atlas Shrugged.” She told of seeing a placard at the Denver protest rally for Obama’s stimulus bill signing that warned: “Atlas will shrug.”

So what, you ask. So in human behavior, incentives matter. People are choosers, not automatons. Mess them over enough and they’re out of here. All history proves it. “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us,” the bitter joke among Soviet factory drones, sums up collectivism’s ultimate failure wherever tried.

Of course in the 1950s, when Rand was writing her epic about a slow-spreading spontaneous strike among Americans fed up with big government, tomorrow supposedly belonged to New Soviet Man. Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II, the three champions of freedom who would prove otherwise, weren’t yet heard of.

But we’re now told that 2008, with its routine recession and its celebrity election, showed freedom is untrustworthy after all. Economic makeover via legislative intervention is the fashion fad of 2009, driven by Obama and congresssional Democrats under Pelosi and Reid. Suddenly everyone’s a socialist, crows Newsweek. Suddenly the headlines mirror “Atlas Shrugged,” laments the Wall Street Journal.

The novel -- with John Galt as capitalist superman and Dagny Taggart, Ayn Rand’s alter ego, as railroad tycoon – may not be great literature. But its message of radical self-reliance has inspired millions across the decades. And as a Coloradan, I like it that the story is set right here. “We can’t lose Colorado. It’s our last hope,” says a Taggart employee at the start. A Rocky Mountain valley is the retreat from which Galt triumphs at the end.

Retreat attendees in Colorado Springs, where Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute spoke after Malkin and “Atlas Shrugged” was assigned reading, weren’t about to unplug Galt-style from daily life in protest against wind power, national health care, and charity-choking taxes. But they took seriously the disincentive effects against wealth creation and social comity in these and other collectivist proposals. We should too.

As ever more people ride in the wagon and fewer are left to pull it, there will come a breaking point. Crowding taxation onto the highest earners and debt onto our kids, as President Obama proposes, invites collapse. Ignoring the constitution at will, as statists and the spending lobby do, breeds contempt. Ruin must result. Did the USA learn nothing from the USSR’s implosion, wondered Vladimir Putin recently.

Yes, we did. Cold War victory taught us the power of ideas. The East crumbled when the West asserted the superiority of liberty, wakened by thinkers like Hayek with his expose’ of the road to serfdom and Bastiat with his ridicule of “everyone seeking to live at the expense of everyone else.”

Also influential was Rand with her capitalist commandos. Galt and Taggart’s crusade was idea-powered. With moral truth they defeated the lies of something for nothing and freedom through coercion. Not even the government office of Morale Conditioner, censoring radio, could stop their entrepreneurial comeback. Their strike against the redistributionist guilt trip was fiction. But we can shrug it off for real. The Tea Party movement is a symptom. Colorado may again play a role.



Iran-loving Jewish slime is confronted with reality -- but stays slimy

Sadly, "Judenhass" is not confined to Gentiles. There's a lot of it among Jews too

New York Times columnist Roger Cohen sparred with members of Los Angeles' Iranian Jewish community about his recent columns on Iranian Jews. JTA has the story, and the L.A. Jewish Journal has the video from the synagogue forum last Thursday night. Cohen offers his own reflections of the event in his column on Monday.

This time, after hearing from Iranian Jewish expats, he makes one concession in his rosy analysis of the status of Jews in Iran. He writes: "Just how repressive life is for Iran's Jews is impossible to know. Iran is an un-free society." He also manages to note one good thing about Israel -- because it serves to make a positive point about the government in Iran: "This is the Middle East's least undemocratic state outside Israel."

But that's as far as the good news from Cohen goes. He suggests Tehran's pursuit of nuclear weapons is "pragmatic," describes Washington's ties with Israel as a "cozy, static regional relationship" and echoes those who have blamed the "Israel lobby" for the withdrawal of Charles "Chas" Freeman's candidacy for a senior intelligence post in the Obama administration.

Though the Times itself has endorsed that last point in its coverage of the Freeman affair, JTA's Ron Kampeas laid that myth to rest in a brilliant blogpost on March 9, a day before Freeman withdrew his name from consideration for the post, and in countless blogposts since (see Capital J, JTA's politics blog, for ongoing coverage of the Freeman affair).

SOURCE (See the original for links)


BrookesNews Update

The Obama economy and the stock market: What gives with the markets? The recent rally did not reflect any improvement in the real economy, which is still contracting. Perhaps it is time that economic commentators took an interest in Bernanke's monetary shenanigans and how they might be influencing the markets not to mention their possible detrimental effect on future economic developments
Obama challenges the law of markets : Obama's economic policies are guaranteed to solve nothing while doing a great deal of harm to the US economy, even if Bernanke's monetary expansion works in the short term. Unfortunately, it is far easier to state an economic fallacy than it is to refute one. This is why refutations tend to be rather lengthy
Christian socialism: an oxymoronic doctrine: Christian socialists are just as ignorant and as bigoted as secular socialists when it comes to the market place and capitalism. To read this lot you would think the world was on the verge of destruction and that the 'exploited' masses are clothed in rags. Fortunately Obama has arrived to save the day
Booms and busts are like whiskey and gunpowder : The Fed raised interest rates and flooded the market with dollars 80 years ago, and caused the great depression. It did the same thing between 1995 and 2000, by increasing the money supply 52 percent, which caused the 'dot com' bubble to burst. The Fed's lowering interest rates eleven times to help us out of the dot com bubble, started the housing bubble. And as is par for the course the free market gets the blame for the consequences of the Fed's gross monetary mismanagement
Recession and Recovery: Six Fundamental Errors of the Current Orthodoxy : The Obama administration's ambitious plans for government action on many fronts fill vulgar Keynesians with hope that a Great Leap Forward is now beginning in which huge increases in government spending, debt, regulations and monetary expansion will transform the US economy into a Statists paradise. It ain't going to happen
Has illegal immigration and its effect on education become the "third rail of politics?" : The Democrats implicit support for illegal immigration and a corrupt media's vicious demonization of anyone who raises the issue has had catastrophic consequences for California. The idea that open borders promote growth and harmony has been exposed as a sick joke
Democrats fiddle while America burns : While the Obama administration blunders on the investment drops, unemployment rises, allies are insulted, foreign affairs goes to hell and America's enemies make hay while a corrupt media run interference for him. But the guy still gives great speeches


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 17, 2009

All hail St. Pat!

I am delighted that I have plenty of the Irish in me. You will never hear an ill word about the Irish from me. I remember well and with fondness my grandmother Kelly. And Kelly is as Irish a surname as you get. Though I do know of a lady named Concepta Finnegan. That name would have to be the real pinnacle of Irishness, I think. I won't be celebrating St Pat's day today myself as I am a bit of a homebody and rarely drink beer anyway but my best wishes to all who will be celebrating. Have one for me too!

And here's a coincidence that Irish people will like. I was born in a small Australian town called Innisfail -- which is Irish for "Isle of Destiny" -- an old romantic name for Ireland itself! So there is a very indirect sense in which I was born in Ireland! Lucky I have the Irish genes to go with that!

The Cause of Poverty

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Liberals are saying that President Obama isn't really a socialist because he doesn't favor complete government ownership and control of everything, which is the strict definition of socialism. Since he "only" favors massive government involvement in some things, such as education, healthcare, mail delivery, transportation, retirement, employment, airports, money, bailouts, subsidies, grants, banks, insurance companies, the stock market, occupations, the drug war, and trade restrictions and immigration controls as well as progressive income taxation and equalization of income - well, according to liberals, all that makes Obama "free enterprise" instead of socialist. I wonder what Fidel Castro, who also favors all those things, would say about that.

Lost in all this debate on whether Obama is a socialist or not is one simple but important point: It is the dead hand of government that is the cause of America's economic woes. That means that the more that Obama does to restore wealth and prosperity to America with his increases in borrowing, spending, and printing money, the worst things are going to get. The situation is akin to someone suffering from arsenic poisoning. He goes to the doctor and asks for an antidote. The doctor prescribes more arsenic.

What liberals, who purport to love the poor, needy, and disadvantaged, fail to recognize is another important point: It is the dead hand of the state that is the cause of poverty. Or to be more precise, it is massive government involvement in economic activity that prevents or inhibits a society from becoming wealthy. Call it socialism, fascism, welfare-statism, central planning, inflationism, wealth equalization, or just massive government involvement in the economy, the fact remains: the heavier the hand of government in people's pocketbooks and business activity, the poorer people will be.

Consider my hometown of Laredo, Texas. It is located adjacent to the Rio Grande. On the other side of the river sits Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. It's actually one great big metropolitan area, separated by a river. Yet, the standard of living of people in Nuevo Laredo is markedly lower than that of those living in Laredo. It's a phenomenon that one cannot help but notice the minute he crosses the border into Nuevo Laredo. People in Nuevo Laredo are a lot poorer than those in Laredo.

I'll bet that most Americans would never ask themselves that simple one-word question that they used to constantly ask when they were children, before they had it drummed out of them in those government-run schools their parents were forced to send them to: "Why?" Why are people in Nuevo Laredo significantly poorer than those in Laredo? After all, if one travels to the American city of St. Louis, he'll find that the standard of living of people in East St. Louis, Illinois, is about the same as that in St. Louis, Missouri. That city is separated by the Mississippi River rather than the Rio Grande. Could that be the difference?

No. The reason that people in Nuevo Laredo are so much poorer than people in Laredo is this: The dead hand of the state is much more prevalent in Mexico than it is in the United States. As bad as things are in the U.S. with respect to taxes, welfare, regulation, inflation, and bureaucracy, they are 1,000 times worse in Mexico. While we have Big Government in the United States, Mexicans have Mega Government.

That's the reason people are poorer in Mexico than they are in the United States. It's also the reason that people in North Korea are poorer than those in Mexico. The dead hand of the state is more prevalent in North Korea than it is in Mexico.

All this should provide a clue for liberals, who are supposedly interested in helping the poor. If one wants to raise standards of living for people, the solution is not to increase taxes, spending, borrowing, and regulation but instead to slash them, such as by abolishing the income tax and the IRS and by completely separating the economy and the state. That's the way to help the poor.

Alas, however, liberals move in precisely the opposite direction - higher taxes, borrowing, spending, welfare, regulation, bailouts, and stimulus plans. Even worse, they continue to force children into those government-run schools where they learn to memorize, regurgitate, and conform to this destructive nonsense rather than learn how to critically analyze and challenge it.



The Economy: Sound After All!

As we noted here, Barack Obama has had to calibrate his position on the economy carefully to achieve a series of political goals. During the Presidential campaign, he said the economy was in dire straits and relentlessly ridiculed John McCain when McCain said the economy was "fundamentally sound." Once he took office, the situation became even graver, as Obama wanted to 1) make the sure the bar was set so low that anything that happens in the next four years will be seen as an improvement, and 2) justify a series of liberal initiatives that have nothing to do with the financial crisis, e.g., socialized medicine and a tax on carbon. ("Never let a crisis go to waste!")

But then the market went into an extended tailspin, and Obama seemed to realize--perhaps for the first time--that words can have non-electoral consequences. So he and his advisers started moderating their bleak view of the economy.

We've now come full circle, as this morning, Christina Romer, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, agreed with McCain that the economy is "fundamentally sound." What is most interesting about this is that even the Associated Press couldn't miss the irony:
The economy is fundamentally sound despite the temporary "mess" it's in, the White House said Sunday in the kind of upbeat assessment that Barack Obama had mocked as a presidential candidate. ...

During the fall campaign, Obama relentlessly criticized his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, for declaring, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." Obama's team painted the veteran senator as out of touch and failing to grasp the challenges facing the country.

But on Sunday, that optimistic message came from economic adviser Christina Romer. When asked during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" if the fundamentals of the economy were sound, she replied: "Of course they are sound."

Do you think Obama will apologize to McCain for his conduct during the campaign? No, I don't think so either.




NY: Senate to propose "soak the rich some more" tax scheme: "Democratic leaders in the State Senate will seek income tax increases on at least some affluent New Yorkers and a sales tax increase of a quarter of 1 percent to help balance the state budget, a Senate official with knowledge of the plans said in an interview over the weekend. . The move by Senate Democrats, who have a slim majority, will significantly increase pressure on Gov. David A. Paterson, who has said he would consider raising income taxes only as a last resort and only after the Legislature had agreed to steep cuts in state spending."

Iraq: US troops to stay in insecure areas: "U.S. troops will not be removed from areas of Iraq that are not completely secure or where there is a high probability that attacks could resume after the Americans leave, Iraq's prime minister said Sunday. Nouri al-Maliki said in an interview with The Associated Press that he had told President Barack Obama and other top U.S. officials that any withdrawals `must be done with our approval' and in coordination with the Iraqi government."

Obama to unveil small business proposals: "Amid misgivings over his spending blueprint, President Barack Obama has decided to provide billions of dollars in federal lending aid aimed at struggling small business owners. The broad package of measures to be announced Monday includes $730 million from the stimulus plan that will immediately reduce small-business lending fees and increase the government guarantee on some Small Business Administration loans to 90 percent. The government also will take aggressive steps to boost bank liquidity with more than $10 billion aimed at unfreezing the secondary credit market, according to officials briefed on the plan who demanded anonymity to avoid pre-empting the president's announcement."

Incredible. After $170 billion US bailout, $100 million in AIG bonuses: "Despite being bailed out with more than $170 billion from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, American International Group is preparing to pay about $100 million in bonuses to executives in the same unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year. An official in the Obama administration said yesterday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner had called AIG's government-appointed chairman, Edward M. Liddy, on Wednesday and asked that the company renegotiate the bonuses. Administration officials said they had managed to reduce some of the bonuses but had allowed most of them to go forward after the company's chief executive said AIG was contractually obligated to pay them."

Scottish independence referendum: "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott has demanded the Scottish Government ditches its planned independence referendum. Mr Scott told the SNP to drop the `independence panto' and focus on tackling the recession. At the Scottish Lib Dem conference, he branded the SNP government's planned Referendum Bill a waste of cash."

Nutty Harvard feminism: "Here is a tasty bit of circular reasoning used by a feminist from Harvard's law school, Diane Rosenfeld. Ms. Rosenfeld "teaches" a course on feminist theory. Rosenfeld went up against civil libertarian Nadine Strossen to `discuss' pornography. She says that the students really want to discuss pornography but never `have the space to do it' except, apparently, in her alleged course. She claims, `There's not a good way to talk about it, there's not a forum in which to really talk back to pornography, to the extent that we consider pornography as speech.' Of course, this is rubbish. There have been endless discussions of pornography, endless conferences, forums and debates. There is no shortage of academic article, hysterical feminist diatribes, preachy sermons and energetic defenses of the material. What could Rosenfeld mean when she says no place exists to discuss the topic? In my experience what such comments tend to mean is that the other forums are not entirely controlled by feminist ideologues."


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 16, 2009

Is Rand Relevant?

Ayn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged," is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history. There's a reason. In "Atlas," Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?

The novel's eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. "If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society," Rand wrote elsewhere in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," "you can predict its course." Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don't just happen by themselves; they are the product of the philosophical ideas prevalent in a society -- particularly its dominant moral ideas.

Why do we accept the budget-busting costs of a welfare state? Because it implements the moral ideal of self-sacrifice to the needy. Why do so few protest the endless regulatory burdens placed on businessmen? Because businessmen are pursuing their self-interest, which we have been taught is dangerous and immoral. Why did the government go on a crusade to promote "affordable housing," which meant forcing banks to make loans to unqualified home buyers? Because we believe people need to be homeowners, whether or not they can afford to pay for houses.

The message is always the same: "Selfishness is evil; sacrifice for the needs of others is good." But Rand said this message is wrong -- selfishness, rather than being evil, is a virtue. By this she did not mean exploiting others a la Bernie Madoff. Selfishness -- that is, concern with one's genuine, long-range interest -- she wrote, required a man to think, to produce, and to prosper by trading with others voluntarily to mutual benefit.

Rand also noted that only an ethic of rational selfishness can justify the pursuit of profit that is the basis of capitalism -- and that so long as self-interest is tainted by moral suspicion, the profit motive will continue to take the rap for every imaginable (or imagined) social ill and economic disaster. Just look how our present crisis has been attributed to the free market instead of government intervention -- and how proposed solutions inevitably involve yet more government intervention to rein in the pursuit of self-interest. Rand offered us a way out -- to fight for a morality of rational self-interest, and for capitalism, the system which is its expression. And that is the source of her relevance today.



Complaints about Obama, largely from establishment Democrats

A selection from Howard Fineman's even longer list of complaints from the establishment about the performance of President Obama so far:
If the establishment still has power, it is a three-sided force, churning from inside the Beltway, from Manhattan-based media and from what remains of corporate America. Much of what they are saying is contradictory, but all of it is focused on the president:

* The $787 billion stimulus, gargantuan as it was, was in fact too small and not aimed clearly enough at only immediate job-creation.

* The $275 billion home-mortgage-refinancing plan, assembled by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is too complex and indirect.

* The president gave up the moral high ground on spending not so much with the "stim" but with the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, larded as it was with 9,000 earmarks.

* The administration is throwing good money after bad in at least two cases-the sinkhole that is Citigroup (there are many healthy banks) and General Motors (they deserve what they get).

* A willingness to give too much leeway to Congress to handle crucial details, from the stim to the vague promise to "reform" medical care without stating what costs could be cut.

* A 2010 budget that tries to do far too much, with way too rosy predictions on future revenues and growth of the economy. This led those who fear we are about to go over Niagara Falls to deride Obama as a paddler who'd rather redesign the canoe.

* A treasury secretary who has been ridiculed on "Saturday Night Live" and compared to Doogie Howser, Barney Fife and Macaulay Culkin in "Home Alone"-and those are the nice ones.

* A seeming paralysis in the face of the banking crisis: unwilling to nationalize banks, yet unable to figure out how to handle toxic assets in another way-by, say, setting up a "bad bank" catch basin.

Hey, give the guy a break. After all, this is really the professor's first real job besides conducting cool classes with break-out discussions and some real sharing of feelings and whatever.



The Boy President

President Obama's performance in his first months in office has reinforced my belief that it would be a big mistake to elect a boy to do a man's (or woman's) job.

Note to the politically correct language police: I am very much aware that "Boy" was long a racist, insulting, demeaning term used, especially in the South, to refer to black men. I do not choose to use that term in reference to President Obama because of his race but because of his callow youthfulness. Not his youthfulness per se - John Kennedy was even younger when he was elected, but he was no boy - but his unseasoned, callow youthfulness.
callow, adj., Lacking adult maturity or experience; immature....

Obama is like a normally sober and well-behaved little boy left unattended by adults (there being few of those in Congress, and even fewer among his governing party) in a candy store - our candy store, the treasury where all our goodies are stored. Faced with so many tempting treats that he is unable to decide which to eat first, he rushes from this jar to that in a mad effort to devour as much as he can before someone makes him stop, knocking over many jars in the process but oblivious to the waste caused by his haste. His appetite is matched only by his overweening faith in his own abilities, another conceit of untempered youth, a quality nicely captured today by George Will:
The president's confidence in his capacities is undermining confidence in his judgment. His way of correcting what he called the Bush administration's "misplaced priorities" has been to have no priorities. Mature political leaders know that to govern is to choose - to choose what to do and thereby to choose what cannot be done. The administration insists that it really does have a single priority: Everything depends on fixing the economy. But it also says that everything depends on everything: Economic revival requires enactment of the entire liberal wish list of recent decades.

Obama, in short, is acting as though he believes that he must cram as much as he possibly can, and then some, down his (and by extension, our) throat right away, because sooner or later the adults will surely come in and insist on a balanced budget diet, delaying the gratification of dessert until after we've eaten our vegetables.



Paying the Piper

[Chinese] Premier Wen Jiabao's knickers are in a bunch about his country's loans to the United States, estimated at 1 trillion.
We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S., so of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. Frankly speaking, I do have some worries.

The best case scenario, I think, would be for China to stop buying the US Treasury bonds that we use to fund our day-to-day spending. Think about it: there would simply be no money to fund ACORN, anti-life activism, and corporate welfare. Some argue that inflation (and disaster) would be inevitable; I like Philip Klein's conclusion: John H. Cochrane, a professor of finance at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, explained in a recent article of mine, "Once you have a flight from U.S. government debt, there's nothing the Fed can do about it...If people don't want more U.S. Treasury debt, then the Fed is out of ammunition."

Either way, Jiabao's words were a good kick in the tush for our spendthrift leaders. I'm all for even more international pressure.




A list of some of the promises that Obama has broken already

The jocular Bob McCarty says that it's Time to Stop Celebrating Cinco De Mayo and celebrate the CINCO DE MUSTARD instead! (Site a bit slow to load)

Americans' Opinion of United Nations at Record Low: "The Obama administration's attempts to revamp the U.S. relationship with the United Nations comes at a time when Americans' opinion of the world body's effectiveness has dropped to an all-time low. In the latest annual Gallup poll on the subject, only 26 percent of respondents said the U.N. was doing a good job "in trying to solve the problems it has had to face." The score marks a new low point in a steady decline since 2002, when 58 percent of respondents thought the U.N. was doing a good job. This year's is also the lowest score registered by Gallup in more than half a century of tracking the issue. Gallup previously attributed the downward trend since 2002 to the U.N.'s stand on the 2003 war in Iraq, corruption and scandals including the oil-for-food affair and sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Africa. But even subsequent attempts to reform the U.N. and the departure of former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006 do not appear to have checked the slide."

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


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 15, 2009

Behind FDR's betrayal of the Jews of Europe

The role played by an anti-Jewish Jew

Sixty-five years ago this week, American Jews gathered in their synagogues to celebrate Purim, the holiday recalling how a Jewish woman used her influence with the king of Persia to save the Jewish community from Haman's planned genocide. What the Purim revelers of March 1944 did not realize, however, was that at the very moment they were reading their megillas and shaking their groggers, a senior Jewish adviser to president Franklin Roosevelt was presented with the opportunity to use his influence to help save European Jews from the Nazis.

By early 1944, millions of Jews had already been slaughtered by the modern-day Haman, but there were many more who could be rescued. The Roosevelt administration had long opposed taking special steps to save them, but in January 1944, under strong pressure from the activist Bergson Group, Congress and the Treasury Department, FDR belatedly established the War Refugee Board. Its declared purpose was to rescue refugees from the Nazis. Although given only token funding, the Board, under the leadership of Treasury lawyers John Pehle and Josiah DuBois, Jr. - both Protestants - dove into the task with passion and determination.

One of the Board's first proposals to Roosevelt was that he issue a declaration threatening to punish anyone involved in persecuting Jews, and pledging to provide havens for Jewish refugees. Pehle and DuBois felt such a declaration was needed in part because the most recent Allied statement regarding European Jewry had been so disappointing. The American, British and Soviet foreign ministers, meeting in Moscow the previous October, threatened postwar punishment for Nazi war crimes against conquered populations, but named only "French, Dutch, Belgian or Norwegian hostages... Cretan peasants... [and] the people of Poland" - with no reference to the Nazis' primary victims, the Jews.

Arthur Szyk, the famous artist and Holocaust rescue activist, remarked that the suffering of European Jewry was being "treat[ed] as a pornographical subject - you cannot discuss it in polite society." Obscuring the Jewishness of the victims made it harder to mobilize public interest in their fate - and sent a message to the Nazis that the Free World was not terribly interested in their plight.

IN CONSULTATION with treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Pehle and DuBois prepared a draft of the proposed declaration. It immediately ran into opposition. Assistant secretary of war John McCloy wanted to tone down the text to make it "less lurid." State Department officials opposed issuing the declaration at all, on the grounds that the Germans would use it as proof the Allies were fighting for the sake of the Jews. The White House, too, had objections, as Pehle discovered on the evening of March 8, 1944, when he met with Samuel Rosenman, FDR's closest Jewish adviser and a leading member of the American Jewish Committee.

Just down the road from Rosenman's office, at Washington's famous Adas Israel synagogue, the Purim holiday was getting underway. Worshipers listened to the ancient words of the Purim story, recalling how Queen Esther pleaded with King Ahasuerus to scuttle Haman's plan to slaughter the Jews. Rosenman now found himself with the opportunity to become a kind of modern-day Esther.

The problem was that Rosenman was a deeply assimilated Jew who had always been uncomfortable calling attention to Jewish concerns. For example, after the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom, he warned FDR that admitting more refugees would "create a Jewish problem in the US." In 1943, he counseled Roosevelt to snub the "medieval horde" of 400 rabbis who had marched to the White House to plead for rescue. Rosenman also tried to undermine the campaign that brought about the creation of the War Refugee Board.

NOW, IN MARCH 1944, faced with the proposed presidential declaration, Rosenman had one more chance to do the right thing. But he chose otherwise. He told Pehle that he had "advised the president not to sign the declaration because of its pointed reference to Jews." According to Rosenman, such explicit references to Jews "would intensify anti-Semitism in the United States." Pehle was surprised and disappointed by Rosenman's position.

The next day - Purim - Pehle discussed the matter with assistant secretary of state Edward Stettinius, and then reported back to treasury secretary Morgenthau. It had become apparent, Pehle told Morgenthau, that Rosenman had already turned the president against their draft: Stettinius had told Pehle that Roosevelt said the wording "was too pointedly on the Jews."

Rosenman was already at work on a revised version of the declaration. Morgenthau was particularly concerned about the fate of the draft's "very strong" second paragraph, which acknowledged that the Jews were being slaughtered "solely because they were Jews." Morgenthau's worries were justified; sure enough, that key paragraph ended up on Rosenman's cutting-room floor.

Rosenman made other significant changes as well. Three of the six references to Jews were deleted. A pledge to give refugees temporary haven in America was watered down to "We shall find havens of refuge for them," without specifying the United States as a haven. Three paragraphs were added at the beginning of the statement about the German mistreatment of "Poles, Czechs, Norwegians, Dutch, Danes, French, Greeks, Russians, Chinese Filipinos - and many others" - but not Jews. The plight of the Jews was pushed all the way down to the fourth paragraph.

The weakened statement was issued later that month. It was, of course, better than nothing, but it could have been much stronger. And its fate foreshadowed the obstacles the War Refugee Board would face from within the Roosevelt administration itself in trying to carry out its mission.

That this all took place on Purim is, of course, bitter irony. Both Queen Esther and Samuel Rosenman were uniquely positioned to influence the highest authority in the land to intervene on behalf of the Jews. Esther's heroic response has been enshrined for all time in the celebration of Purim. How different history might have been had Rosenman chosen to follow Esther's example.




There is here a link to an unusual book called "Denying history". Synopsis: "Denying history" takes a bold and in-depth look at those who say the Holocaust never happened and explores the motivations behind such claims. While most commentators have dismissed the Holocaust deniers as antisemitic neo-Nazi thugs who do not deserve a response, historians Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman have immersed themselves in the minds and culture of these Holocaust "revisionists." In the process, they show how we can be certain that the Holocaust happened and, for that matter, how we can confirm any historical event. This edition is expanded with a new chapter and epilogue examining current, shockingly mainstream revisionism.

Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth: "It is simply wrong for commentators to continue to focus on President Barack Obama's high levels of popularity, and to conclude that these are indicative of high levels of public confidence in the work of his administration. Indeed, a detailed look at recent survey data shows that the opposite is most likely true. The American people are coming to express increasingly significant doubts about his initiatives, and most likely support a different agenda and different policies from those that the Obama administration has advanced. Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001.

Black Democrat had financial ties to bank she pushed bailout loot for: "Top banking regulators were taken aback last year when a California congresswoman helped set up a meeting in which the chief executive of a bank with financial ties to her family asked them for up to $50 million in special bailout funds, Treasury officials said. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, requested the September meeting on behalf of executives at OneUnited, one of the nation's largest black-owned banks. Waters's husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank's board until early last year and has owned at least $250,000 of its stock."

Netherlands: Seven accused of Amsterdam bomb plot: "Seven people were arrested for allegedly plotting to bomb densely populated areas in Amsterdam, Netherlands, police said Thursday. One member of the group of six men and one woman has ties to a bombing in Madrid, Spain, said Amsterdam police spokeswoman Shermain Canbamme. Late Thursday, police were still searching buildings where the arrests were made, she said. Several shopping areas and the area around a soccer stadium had been closed as a precaution."

Congress considers changing Constitution: "Following tumultuous turnovers in Illinois and New York, lawmakers yesterday asked whether it was time to change the Constitution so that voters, and not state governors, fill Senate vacancies. Appointments by governors, said Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wisconsin, `are an unfortunate relic' of the first century of the nation's history when senators were picked by state legislatures."

FBI obstructs information requests: "The FBI tells two out of every three Freedom of Information Act requesters that it can't find the records they asked for - a failure rate five times higher than other major federal agencies, a private study has found. The FBI's performance results from an outdated and deliberately limited search process, according to the National Security Archive, a private group that publishes declassified government documents and files many FOIA requests."


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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)