Saturday, May 02, 2009

People with higher IQs make wiser economic choices, study finds

Funnily enough. Nice to see yet another proof of some very old generalizations, though

People with higher measures of cognitive ability are more likely to make good choices in several different types of economic decisions, according to a new study with researchers from the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities and Morris campuses. The study, set to be published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, was conducted with 1,000 trainee truck drivers at Schneider National, Inc., an American motor carrier employing 20,000. The researchers measured the trainees' cognitive skills and asked them to make choices in several economic experiments, and then followed them on the job.

People with better cognitive skills, in particular higher IQ, were more willing to take calculated risks and to save their money and made more consistent choices. They were also more likely to be cooperative in a strategic situation, and exhibited higher "social awareness" in that they more accurately forecasted others' behavior.

The researchers also tracked how trainees persevered on their new job. The company paid for the training of those who stayed a year, but those who left early owed thousands in training costs. The study found that those with the highest level of cognitive ability stayed at twice the rate of those with the lowest.

The finding that individual characteristics that improve economic success -- patience, risk taking and effective social behavior -- all cluster together and are linked through cognitive skill, which could have implications for policy making and education. [Psychometricians have been saying that for over 100 years]

"These results could shed light on the causes of differential economic success among individuals and among nations," said University of Minnesota-Twin Cities economist Aldo Rustichini, a co-author whose theoretical work on cognitive skills is used in the paper. [Charles Murray and Richard Lynn have been pointing that out for years]

"It also suggests that the benefit from early childhood education programs not only affects cognitive skills, but extends to more effective economic decision-making," said study co-author Stephen Burks, the University of Minnesota-Morris economist who organized the project that gathered the data. [Rubbish! Childhood education intervention programs have NO lasting effect on IQ. Burks should look at the data and stop "suggesting"]



Cramdown Slamdown

Three cheers for obstructionism

The power of a united minority was on beneficial display yesterday, as Senate Republicans defeated the budget bankruptcy "cramdown" bill. Credit goes to Arizona's Jon Kyl and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who kept their party together to beat destructive legislation that had easily passed the House and was one of President Obama's housing priorities.

The cramdown would have allowed bankruptcy judges to rewrite contracts to reduce the amount that people owe on their mortgages. But a bipartisan majority understood that relief for today's troubled borrowers would be paid with higher rates on the next generation of homeowners, as lenders priced the added risk into mortgage contracts.

A dozen Democrats joined Republicans in the 51-45 vote, and even Pennsylvania turncoat Arlen Specter gave his former GOP comrades an assist. Speaking for millions of renters and nondelinquent borrowers, Mr. McConnell said that the vote "ensures that homeowners who pay their bills and follow the rules won't see an interest-rate hike at the whim of a bankruptcy judge."

Prior to the vote, the Associated Press described the looming defeat as "the first major legislative setback for the popular president." Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and New York's Chuck Schumer also did their worst to pass the bill, including some arm-twisting of politically vulnerable bankers. Their defeat is a victory for healthy credit markets and, let us hope, a sign that Americans do not want to throw out all the rules of our market economy.

The victory is also an example of Republicans helping the economy and thus saving Democrats from their own worst instincts. Liberals were so intent on helping troubled homeowners that they were willing to punish the profits of the very banks they say they want to lend more to new mortgage borrowers. May we have more such virtuous "obstructionism."



Chrysler: Obama trying to rip off private lenders and hand their money to the UAW

As April 30 approached, the Treasury Department stepped in with a heavy jack-boot. The bondholders – people who have extended loans to Chrysler in good faith – were told to accept 33 cents on the dollar, and to be happy about it. A group of these bondholders refused. They rightly saw that to accept so little was tantamount to having their pockets picked. And, to rub salt in the wounds, the government that is supposed to uphold the law and protect citizens was on the side of the muggers, helping them steal nearly $5 billion.

Make no mistake about it, this is theft. $5 billion is being taken by force from the private sector and funneled into union pension funds and other leftist devices. Private citizens gave Chrysler loans. The government is now telling these citizens to take a huge loss. When they refuse, the President of the United States publicly rebukes, ridicules, and attacks them.

Why isn’t Obama attacking the thugs at the UAW who bear a large part of the responsibility for the company’s financial mess? The primary reason the government did not allow Chrysler to go into Bankruptcy Court was purely to keep those pension and health plans in force. A Bankruptcy Court would have put the claims of the bondholders first and made the UAW accept less. Now, with the force of the government dictating the terms, the exact opposite is about to occur. Yes, the Red Queen is on her head.

The entire financial crisis has more twists and turns than a romp along the Skyline Drive. And, the American people are justifiably angry at Wall Street for their excess and cavalier attitude. But that anger is not an excuse for allowing the government of the United States to become a thief, to imitate the worst actions of a Hugo Chavez and other Third World dictators. Unfortunately, that seems to be the course Obama has set out upon.

So, to that small band of bondholders who refused to buckle under the pressure of Obama’s threats, good for you. Stay strong and resist the demands to be patsies for a government regime that is moving ever closer to the corrupt, thuggish Third World model it seems to admire so much. Whether Americans know it or not, we all win if you win.




Rasmussen poll: Republicans Top Democrats on Generic Congressional Ballot: "For just the second time in more than five years of daily or weekly tracking, Republicans now lead Democrats in the latest edition of the Generic Congressional Ballot. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 41% would vote for their district’s Republican candidate while 38% would choose the Democrat. Thirty-one percent (31%) of conservative Democrats said they would vote for their district’s Republican candidate. Overall, the GOP gained two points this week, while the Democrats lost a point in support. Still, it’s important to note that the GOP’s improved position comes primarily from falling Democratic support. Democrats are currently at their lowest level of support in the past year while Republicans are at the high water mark".

Reign of Paranoia: "In case you missed the headline, we are all going to die. Swine Flu has engulfed Mexico and is spreading to ever corner of the globe. Egypt is slaughtering its entire pig population, the UK is dispensing information leaflets to every single home, and Barack Obama has recommended that some schools be shut down. And yet, only one victim has been claimed in the United States by the strain of influenza. Likewise, the World Health Organization says that seven—not the reported 152—is the total worldwide death toll thus far. What is replicating rapidly and claiming the psyches of millions, however, is paranoia. Simply put, the Swine Flu is the latest in a long line of over-hyped illnesses and so-called pandemics that have done little more than send the world into a paranoid frenzy."

Pact for children’s rights opposed: “A global children’s-rights treaty, ratified by every U.N. member except the United States and Somalia, has so alarmed its American critics that some are now pushing to add a parental-rights amendment to the Constitution as a buffer against it. The result is a feisty new twist to a long-running saga over the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The nearly 20-year-old treaty has ardent supporters and opponents in the United States, and both sides agree that its chances of ratification, while still uncertain, are better under the Obama administration than at any point in the past.”

Canada: Average family spends nearly half its income on taxes: “The average Canadian family spends nearly half its total income on taxes, more than it spends on food, clothing, and shelter, according to a new study from independent research organization the Fraser Institute. The Canadian Consumer Tax Index 2009 shows that even though the income of the average Canadian family has increased significantly since 1961, their total tax bill has increased at a much higher rate.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, May 01, 2009

Obama's Liberal Arrogance Will Be His Undoing

by Jonah Goldberg

The most remarkable, or certainly the least remarked on, aspect of Barack Obama's first 100 days has been the infectious arrogance of his presidency. There's no denying that this is liberalism's greatest opportunity for wish fulfillment since at least 1964. But to listen to Democrats, the only check on their ambition is the limit of their imaginations. "The world has changed," Sen. Charles Schumer of New York proclaimed on MSNBC. "The old Reagan philosophy that served them well politically from 1980 to about 2004 and 2006 is over. But the hard right, which still believes ... (in) traditional-values kind of arguments and strong foreign policy, all that is over."

Right. "Family values" and "strong foreign policy" belong next to the "free silver" movement in the lexicon of dead political causes. No doubt Schumer was employing the kind of simplified shorthand one uses when everyone in the room already agrees with you. He can be forgiven for mistaking an MSNBC studio for such a milieu, but it seemed not to dawn on him that anybody watching might see it differently.

When George W. Bush was in office, we heard constantly about the poisonous nature of American polarization. For example, Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg came out with a book arguing that "our nation's political landscape is now divided more deeply and more evenly than perhaps ever before." One can charitably say this was abject nonsense. Evenly divided? Maybe. But more deeply? Feh.

During the Civil War, the political landscape was so deeply divided that 600,000 Americans died. During the 1930s, labor strife and revolutionary ardor threatened the stability of the republic. In the 1960s, political assassinations, riots and bombings punctuated our political discourse.

It says something about the relationship of liberals to political power that they can overlook domestic dissent when they're at the wheel. When the GOP is in office, America is seen as hopelessly divided because dissent is the highest form of patriotism. When Democrats are in charge, the Frank Riches suddenly declare the culture war over and dismiss dissent as the scary work of the sort of cranks Obama's Department of Homeland Security needs to monitor.

If liberals thought so fondly of social peace and consensus, they would look more favorably on the 1920s and 1950s. Instead, their political idylls are the tumultuous '30s and '60s, when liberalism, if not necessarily liberals, rode high in the saddle.

Sure, America was divided under Bush. And it's still divided under Obama (just look at the recent Minnesota Senate race and the New York congressional special election). According to the polls, America is a bit less divided under Obama than it was at the end of Bush's first 100 days. But not as much less as you would expect, given Obama's victory margin and the rally-around-the-president effect of the financial crisis (not to mention the disarray of the GOP).

Meanwhile, circulation for the conservative National Review (where I work) is soaring. More people watch Fox News (where I am a contributor) in prime time than watch CNN and MSNBC combined. The "tea parties" may not have been as big as your typical union-organized "spontaneous" demonstration, but they were far more significant than any protests this early in Bush's tenure. And yet, according to Democrats and liberal pundits, America is enjoying unprecedented unity, and conservatives are going the way of the dodo.

Obama has surely helped set the tone for the unfolding riot of liberal hubris. In his effort to reprise the sort of expansion of liberal power we saw in the '30s and '60s, Obama has -- without a whiff of self-doubt -- committed America to $6.5 trillion in extra debt, $65 billion for each of his first 100 days, and that's based on an impossibly rosy forecast of the economy. No wonder congressional Democrats clamor to take over corporations, tax the air we breathe and set wages for everybody.

On social issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, Obama has proved to be, if anything, more of a left-wing culture warrior than Bush was a right-wing one. All the while, Obama transmogrifies his principled opponents into straw-man ideologues while preening about his own humble pragmatism. For him, bipartisanship is defined as shutting up and getting in line.

I'm not arguing that conservatives are poised to make some miraculous comeback. They're not. But American politics didn't come to an end with Obama's election, and nothing in politics breeds corrective antibodies more quickly than overreaching arrogance. And by that measure, Obama's first 100 days have been a huge down payment on the inevitable correction to come.



A Hundred Days of Media Love

There's something very curious -- even laughable -- about watching the media assemble to offer President Obama a grade after the first 100 days. They weren't exactly a team of dispassionate scientists in a lab. They continue to be what they've been all along -- a rolling gaggle of Obama cheerleaders -- only before it was a campaign, and now it's an administration. So now they're assessing whether their awe-inspiring historic candidate still glows with the luster of victory. Hmm ... let's see. They applied the luster, they boasted of the luster, and you can bet your bottom dollar they'll continue doing both.

Remember Chris Matthews, and apply his pre-inauguration pledge across the media: "I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work."

Three months have made zero difference in the major media's ardor. They were head over heels in love on Jan. 20, and they're still head over heels in love on April 29. Just as before, Obama is automatically destined for historical greatness: "Obama's start has been the most impressive of any president since FDR," crowed Time magazine. One can also say, "Obama has been the most socialist since FDR."

Time ran a long column of puffery from Joe Klein, who adored Obama's radical change from government-asphyxiating Reaganism and his long view of the sweep of history, as opposed to our "quick-fix, sugar-rush, attention-deficit society of the postmodern age." Klein declared, "The legislative achievements have been stupendous -- the $789-stimulus bill, the budget plan that is still being hammered out (and may, ultimately, include the next landmark safety-net program, universal health insurance)."

"Stupendous." That's what socialists think. Conservatives call it horrendous. You can quickly see whose side the media favor -- the multiplication of "landmark safety nets" of socialism, from the government takeover of health care to the imposition of onerous global-warming taxes.




Pirates, armed guards and “civilized” popinjays: “Certainly there are non-lethal ways to fight pirates, but as Gen. Petraeus said the other day, and I’m paraphrasing, I wouldn’t want to be on a water cannon when the guy at the other end has an RPG. Fighting off pirates requires resistance, and resistance requires at least equality in firepower. The whole point is to make piracy less and less attractive. Right now the pirates pick a target, board it and name their ransom. The risk to reward ratio is so low they won’t consider returning to their former life. One way to help them make such a decision more readily is to raise that reward-to-risk ratio to a level that it is no longer attractive. Seems to me armed ships along with military intervention are certainly a good way to do that.”

Arlen Specter's betrayal: "Sen. Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party has implications on a personal and national scale. For Pennsylvanians, who must decide who will represent us in the U.S. Senate next year, the stakes are personal. A central question will be whether Mr. Specter can be trusted on anything. In recent weeks, Mr. Specter has made numerous statements about how important it is to deny Democrats the 60th seat in the U.S. Senate and how he intended to remain a Republican to prevent one-party dominance in Washington. What Pennsylvanians have to ask themselves now is whether Mr. Specter is, in fact, devoted to any principle other than his own re-election. On that question, there is much evidence. Mr. Specter began his political career as a Democrat, switched to the Republican side out of political convenience and has switched back for the same reason. On issue after issue, he has changed his position over the years to benefit his political calculations. The most recent example is card check, which denies workers a secret ballot in labor-union elections. First Mr. Specter supported it, then he opposed it when faced with Republican primary opposition, and now, who knows? That's something Pennsylvania Democrats will have to contend with. Do they really want to nominate someone who will switch his principles on a dime?"

How to send unionists bankrupt: Sell them a failed company: "To avoid a bankruptcy of Chrysler LLC at the end of the week, the Obama administration is trying to push through a deal that gives the automaker's unions majority ownership - a deal that could blow up if the company's lenders reject it. The pending proposal for Chrysler eventually would give the United Autoworkers Union a 55 percent stake in the company. That would exceed even the 35 percent share eventually given to Fiat, Chrysler's purported partner whose agreement to the deal will be critical if the company is to stay afloat. Chrysler's secured bank lenders would get no more than a 10 percent stake along with $2 billion in cash to expunge nearly $7 billion in debt. Mr. Welch said the auto companies would be better off getting out from under government control and going bankrupt. They would be able to get a fresh start as new companies that would be free of debt and free of union constraints that have hobbled the American car companies and made them uncompetitive with foreign manufacturers. Giving the union control of the company "seems fitting since the unions are one of the principal reasons why Chrysler went broke. They destroyed it and now they're getting the spoils," said Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital."


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, April 30, 2009

How false Leftist assumptions about race are destroying America

One of my fellow psychologists speaks out about the way accusations of "racism" destroy rational thought and damage the future of American young people. I recycle his whole post below. See the original for links. I am glad I am not the only one willing to speak truth to power.

There are a few simple rules one must follow when talking about race. One must carefully adhere to the position that any inequality between Whites and Asians in which Hispanics and Blacks et al fare poorly must be explained as caused by racism or the legacy of racism while any inequality that favors Blacks and Hispanics must be studiously ignored. Without considering whether the disparity is caused by Nature (genetics, constitution) or Nurture (parenting, community standards, culture) it is clear, but dangerous to one's career for a White person to point out, that Blacks tend to be better athletes than Whites. (It is unexceptional for Charles Barkley to quip that "white men can't jump" but for a White commentator to make a similar point is to risk social opprobrium or worse.)

There is a high cost associated with our inability to speak honestly about race. Several recent examples come to mind.

Part of the reason for the financial collapse and our current recession is that people were given mortgages for over-priced properties that they had no real hope of ever being able to support. A majority of such mortgages were in four "sand states" (Florida, Arizona, Nevada, California.) As Steve Sailor has pointed out, there is something besides sand which these states have in common:
... the bubble was worse in Florida and California than in Georgia and Indiana. In the sand states in the fall of 2006, there were still Greater Fools around who believed that Hispanicization meant an unending increase in home values. The idea never gets fully articulated -- are home prices high because Hispanics can pay high prices? Or are home prices high because non-Hispanics are desperately paying high home prices to get their kids away from public schools full of Hispanics? When you spell out the logical alternatives, neither one sounds terribly sustainable, but the point is that political correctness keeps people from thinking it through. Young Wall Streeters just all emotionally believed Diversity = Goodness = Money.

It's one of those ideas -- that a constant influx of Hispanics meant ever growing property values -- that people get in their heads vaguely, but aren't allowed to interrogate under our reigning worldview and our reigning EEOC regulations, under which Malcolm Gladwell makes a fortune and Charles Murray makes nothing lecturing corporations.

For those with short memories, it is worth recalling that the impetus for the development of exotic mortgage products included the need to hide (and deny) the risk associated with changing lending standards for minorities, who had been "red lined" by racist banks and thus were unfairly denied homes. If we remain mute and in denial of this unfortunate fact, we will find ways to replicate the current disaster. In other words if we understand the disparity in home ownership as being based solely on racism rather than as a multi-factorial, complex array of inputs that eventuate in higher default rates for minorities than Whites or Asians, our "cure" for the financial meltdown will necessarily include the seeds of the next meltdown.

A second area where our denial distorts our social and economic functioning is on display at the Supreme Court. The New York Times offers a classic example of the kind of Mobius strip thinking required to support the insistence that discrimination is the only acceptable discourse to explain the disparity between White and Minority functioning:
A Bad Test

New Haven’s Fire Department administered an exam in 2003 for promotion to captain and lieutenant. A significant number of the 118 firefighters who took the test were black and Hispanic, but their pass rates were far lower than those of the white firefighters who took the test. If the Fire Department had promoted based on the test, two Hispanics and no blacks would have been eligible for the seven open captain positions. No Hispanics or blacks would have been eligible for the eight lieutenant positions.

Faced with a test that had such a strong adverse impact on minority applicants, New Haven decided to throw out the results and leave the supervisory positions open. In their lawsuit, the white firefighters insist that there was nothing wrong with the exam. They argue that the city’s refusal to rely on it was an unconstitutional race-based decision, motivated by a preference for promoting minority firefighters over white firefighters.

New Haven was in a bind once the results came in. If it had used the tests to make promotions, it would have opened itself up to a lawsuit by minority firefighters. When it decided not to use the results, it was sued by white firefighters....

New Haven still bears a good share of the blame for what has gone wrong. With all of the research that has been done on employment testing, it should have had a carefully constructed system for evaluating potential supervisors that could withstand a legal challenge.

The firefighters who took time out of their lives to study, did well on the test and then had their hard work nullified are right to feel as if they were treated badly. It does not mean that they should prevail. New Haven set aside the test results not to discriminate on the basis of race, but in a reasonable effort to avoid discriminating.

Is that clear? Since we cannot tolerate the idea that there might be an objective reality behind the disparity of results, we must discriminate, without calling it discrimination, against the White firemen and leave New Haven for the last five years with a more carefully selected (ie, diverse) set of temporary lieutenants, results be damned!

The sorry fact is that there is an entire industry that has sprung up that for forty years has attempted to create tests that will lead to equal outcomes between Minorities and Whites. The unspeakable secret is that whatever test has been devised, even those that are least reliant on language and those sub-tests that maximize Minority strengths, have consistently found that Whites and Asians out-perform Blacks and Hispanics. This has led to a third problem, the insistence on producing equality of results means that the upper limits of tests must be shifted downward; ie, we are dumbing down our society from top to bottom.

In the style that he has parlayed into a lucrative sinecure at the New York Times (though who knows for how much longer), Tom Friedman discusses the failure of our educational establishment to prepare our children for the modern world, and in his inimitable fashion manages to assume the critical rule without noticing how it impacts his argument:
Swimming Without a Suit

Just a quick review: In the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. dominated the world in K-12 education. We also dominated economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, we still had a lead, albeit smaller, in educating our population through secondary school, and America continued to lead the world economically, albeit with other big economies, like China, closing in. Today, we have fallen behind in both per capita high school graduates and their quality. Consequences to follow.

For instance, in the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment that measured the applied learning and problem-solving skills of 15-year-olds in 30 industrialized countries, the U.S. ranked 25th out of the 30 in math and 24th in science. That put our average youth on par with those from Portugal and the Slovak Republic, “rather than with students in countries that are more relevant competitors for service-sector and high-value jobs, like Canada, the Netherlands, Korea, and Australia,” McKinsey noted.

Actually, our fourth-graders compare well on such global tests with, say, Singapore. But our high school kids really lag, which means that “the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers,” said McKinsey. [Emphasis mine-SW]

There are millions of kids who are in modern suburban schools “who don’t realize how far behind they are,” said Matt Miller, one of the authors. “They are being prepared for $12-an-hour jobs — not $40 to $50 an hour.” .....

Using an economic model created for this study, McKinsey showed how much those gaps are costing us. Suppose, it noted, “that in the 15 years after the 1983 report ‘A Nation at Risk’ sounded the alarm about the ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American education,” the U.S. had lifted lagging student achievement to higher benchmarks of performance? What would have happened?

The answer, says McKinsey: If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher. If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher. If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher.

It is easy to talk about closing the educational achievement gap but incredibly stupid to refuse to question the conventional wisdom as to the cause of the gap. It is quite literally unthinkable for Tom Friedman to consider that the educational achievement gap between Whites and Asians versus Blacks and Hispanics, might actually reflect an underlying reality rather than that our schools are subtly racist. Further, the failure to recognize that among the many reasons our students do worse the longer they stay in school is precisely because we must expect less and less from them in order to minimize that gap, is unconscionable.

Again, it matters not for the purposes of understanding our problem whether the gap between Whites and Asians versus Hispanic and Blacks is cultural, constitutional, or some as yet unidentified element of the ether. Further, is doesn't even matter if the gap is, in fact, caused by residual racism. The denial of the gap, the denial that the gap persists despite 30 years and counting of efforts to address the gap with mountains of money and good intentions, is destroying our educational system.

In 8th grade, my daughter, an avid reader, was offered a list of intriguing books by her Honors English teacher. When Mrs. SW met the teacher and asked why these books were no longer on the standard reading list for 8th grade Honors English, she as told sotto voce that the distinct no longer allowed her to include such challenging books for her 8th graders because too many children could not do the work. If that is not the definition of "dumbing down", what is?

The gap exists; the gap in performance is predictive of success or lack thereof, in academic pursuits. Our need to deny the evidence before our eyes is burdening our society with the equivalent of adding epicycles to Ptolemaic cosmology. The system of discrimination to repair the effects of discrimination without allowing the awareness of the new reverse discrimination, just becomes more and more cumbersome until it collapses of its own internal contradictions. Beyond everything else, when our efforts to resolve the problem has still not shown any progress in over 40 years of social engineering, it is time to consider whether or not our assumptions are accurate and warranted.



Fox drops Obama, but is that a big deal?

Yes, it looks bad. Fox announced earlier today that it would not carry Barack Obama's prime-time press conference on Wednesday, opting to air Lie to Me instead. Now, it is rare for a network to tell a president "no,” but before we accuse Fox of political bias, greed, or abandoning civic responsibility, we should take a look at the record on presidential interruptions -- for all networks. In that light, Fox’s decision seems a lot less menacing.

The problem Fox faces is one of perception. Most viewers tend to think of the network as conservative, and think that FoxNews, home of Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity , slants pro-GOP. (MSNBC, by contrast, is widely thought to support Democrats). Plus, Fox was the only network not to air the Democratic response to then-President Bush’s address on Iraq in 2007. Add all that up and it looks like the network simply didn’t want to dish out any of its precious sweeps time to the Democrat in the White House. The thing is, it only looks that way.

For one thing, Obama is not the first president snubbed by Fox. The network didn’t air a 2001 speech by Pres. Bush, then took the same tack three years later, joining all networks in declining to air Bush’s May 2004 speech on Iraq. What aired instead? Fear Factor...on NBC. Plus, if we’re really getting specific, Fox didn’t air two of the 2000 presidential debates, and ABC was the only network that didn’t air then-candidate Obama’s campaign infomercial.

So is it just the almighty dollar, then? Is Fox putting the Tim Roth procedural, Lie to Me (currently trying to attract sweeps dollars even though its ratings are trending downward), ahead of the civic good? Perhaps. But a Fox insider points out that the network typically comes in dead last in the ratings when it airs presidential interruptions (even coming in behind FoxNews most of the time), largely because Fox has no internal news division. There’s no Katie Couric or Brian Williams offering analysis or talking to pundits -- which is why most viewers turn to ABC, NBC, CBS, or the cable news outlets whenever the president invades primetime. And let’s face it, this president seems to enjoy interrupting our favorite shows, having already had three previous addresses/press conferences (and pre-empting Lie to Me before).

But we are in a recession. And two wars. And now we’re all freaked about swine flu. So yes, it would be nice if all the networks carried the president’s press conference. (We should note that an insider says Fox's decision is not a signal from new network chief Peter Rice that Fox will abandon the president indefinitely.) It would also be nice if we all watched, but that doesn’t happen either. Unless and until all of us would rather hear what’s going on with the nation than watch Lie to Me, maybe we should cut Fox just a bit of slack.


This swine flu scare is just another media-created panic anyway. It is now reported that there were only 7 cases in Mexico and other reports indicate that the mortality rate is similar to "normal" flu. And antivirals help cure it, with Relenza being best, I believe



British reservists to be trained for quick move to front line: "The Territorial Army is to be overhauled so that it can be deployed overseas more quickly, the Ministry of Defence has announced, a recognition of the military’s growing dependence on reservists in the war in Afghanistan. News of the overhaul came after months of speculation that the reserve force would be cut drastically to make savings in the defence budget. Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces Minister, told Parliament yesterday that there would be no drop in numbers, but that reservists would be relieved of “burdensome training that they don’t really need to do”, making them ready for deployment within three years. About 18,000 of Britain’s 33,000 active reservists have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and reservists make up 8 per cent of Forces deployed in theatre".

Britain upstaged by Poland: "Gordon Brown's attempt to put the economic misery of Britain behind him on a whistle-stop world tour were stymied today when Poland's Prime Minister embarrassed him with a lecture on the perils of excessive public borrowing and culture of debt. Speaking after a breakfast meeting between the two leaders in Warsaw, Donald Tusk, the Polish premier said that while he did not want to comment on any other economy, the Poles had fared so well because they behaved with "full responsibility in terms of their deficit". While Britain is struggling to cope with the effect of three quarters of economic contraction, Poland is basking in 12 years of consecutive, uninterrupted growth. With Mr Brown standing next to him, Mr Tusk said that one of the main reasons Poland has so far managed to avoid the ravages of the credit crisis was because Warsaw had "efficient supervision to banks and sticking to the rules.... not exaggerating with living on credit. These are the most certain ways of avoiding [the consequences] of financial crisis."


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, April 29, 2009

Congratulations to all Israelis on their independence day

Their return to the land of their fathers is a modern miracle and their achievements are a beacon of light amid the stygian darkness of the Muslim lands that border them.

Welcome back Punditarian!

Consider this statement: "School bullies are inadequate people who endeavour to compensate for their own inadequacies by attacking vulnerable fellow-students".

Is there anything wrong with that statement? I don't think there is. But whether it is right or wrong, note what it does. It explains bullying by referring to two things: The characteristics of the bully ("inadequate") and the characteristics of the victim ("vulnerable"). And the entire social science discipline of Victimology does that. It sees victimization as an interaction between the characteristics of the victim and characteristics of the victimizer. And, being myself a social scientist I tend to look at human relations generally that way: as an interaction between different parties in different positions.

But here come the tricky bit: I do that when I speak of Jews too. I am the madman who thinks I am entitled to treat Jews like any other group and expect them to have both strengths and weaknesses. And you will see that I do that even in my side column. On the one hand I speak of Jews as being "the best we've got" and on the other I describe Jews in general as being politically stupid. And when I look at why Jews are persecuted and hated, I take into account vulnerabilities in Jews that might be one side of the explanation for the phenomenon. I think there is no doubt that doing that is good social science but it is of course politically perilous.

Which is where Punditarian comes in. He and I have engaged in dialogue about Jews several times and it has always been a civil and enjoyable exploration of the facts. He is himself one of the NY Ashkenazim so he does well to talk civilly with someone who tends to put him on the defensive. Jews are used to ignorant criticism but fact-based criticism from Goyim is normally beyond their experience. Jewish criticism of one-another is however a torrent. One only has to read the Israeli press to see that. Israelis who do their best to undermine Israel are appallingly common.

I recently put up a post about the role of high drive in both Jewish success and antagonism twoards Jews and Punditarian has just responded to that. I reproduce his comment:
"You are making a very old mistake, of seeking in some feature of the Jew the reasons for his persecution. Jew-hatred comes first, however, and the reasons the Jew-haters give come after.

While it may be true that the Ashkenazi Jews are a couple of standard-deviations [actually about half a standard deviation -- JR] more intelligent than the populations surrounding them, and that they may have an energy or drive that the surrounding populations seem to have lost, the Mizrachi or Eastern Jews in the Arab and Muslim countries were hated by the people around them, despite the fact that they don't test out with such substantially higher IQ results, and were not more prominent in their countries than other members of the middle and merchant classes.

I think my preamble about bullying etc. has adequately answered his first point so I will go straight to his point about the Mizrahim. He is quite right in saying that in IQ and in other characteristics the Mizrahim are not readily distinguishable from the Muslims among who they resided for many centuries. He is also right that they were oppressed by the Muslims. But were they any more oppressed than were the Christians living in Muslim lands? Not notably as far as I know. Muslims oppressed ALL "infidels". Mohammed during his early conquests did slaughter Jewish communities whom he thought stood in the way of his plans so The Koran in fact offered ample warrant for a holocaust against the Jews. But there was no holocaust. So I think that what Mizrahi Jews suffered was because they were kuffars (non-Muslims), not because they were Jews as such.

So I think the experience of the Mizrahim is quite dissimilar to the experience of the Ashkenazim and leaves the fate of the Ashkenazim in need of an explanation which considers just them and their experience. And I try to do that.

I might add that I do NOT go along with the story of a "golden age" for the Jews under the Moorish (Muslim) rulers of Spain. The Moors discriminated against Jews as much as did other Muslims. The grain of truth in the myth is that the Muslims were at least better than the Catholics -- who expelled all Jews from Spain once they had conquered the Moors.

It is always tempting to see deep similarities where there are only superficial similarities. In 1290 a Catholic King of England -- Edward I -- expelled all Jews from England too. That seems like pretty good comparability with Spain but it is not. The Spanish expulsion was motivated by religious fanaticism whereas Edward was mainly aiming at dodging his debts. The superficial similarity is there but the explanation is different.



Evening Newscasts Have Covered Obama More Than Bush & Clinton Combined: "The nonpartisan research group Center for Media and Public Affairs along with California's Chapman University released a study that found the nightly newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes to Pres. Obama's presidency in his first 50 days. That compares to 7 hours, 42 minutes for Pres. George W. Bush and 15 hours, 2 minutes for Pres. Bill Clinton during the first 50 days of their first terms. Not only has Obama gotten more coverage, but that coverage has been more positive than his predecessors. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, 58% of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, while 42% were unfavorable. That compares with 33% positive in the comparable period of Bush's tenure and 44% positive for Pres. Clinton. CBS led the coverage with 365 stories and 10 hours 46 minutes of airtime, followed by NBC with 327 stories and 9 hours 38 minutes, and ABC with 329 stories and 7 hours 20 minutes. But Fox News stands apart from its competitors here - only 13% of comments were considered favorable. On ABC, 57% of the comments were favorable, compared to 58% for CBS and 61% for NBC.

Taxachusetts still in business: "House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo today plans to push a 1.25 percent sales tax increase, which would bring the state’s 5 percent sales tax to 6.25 percent, and bring in an estimated $900 million in new revenue. He wants to dedicate about $275 million to transportation — a maneuver designed to avoid increasing the state’s gas tax, as Governor Deval Patrick has proposed, according to a State House source briefed on the plan and a briefing document obtained by the Globe. Patrick has proposed a 19-cent increase in the gas tax, which would raise nearly double the amount for transportation that DeLeo’s plan would. DeLeo also wants to dedicate $200 million to restoring cuts in local aid.”

DC: Driveways now a no parking zone: “Beverly Anderson is mad as hell. She just started to get tickets for parking in her own driveway. That’s right. The District of Columbia is ticketing people who park their cars in their own driveways. ‘This is clearly an attempt by the city to extort money out of property owners,’ Anderson tells WTOP. Anderson has received two of the $20 tickets in the past month. Anderson has owned the Capitol Hill house (and the driveway, so she thought) for more than ten years and has never gotten a ticket. And she’s not alone. It seems Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has also been breaking the law in the eyes of the D.C. Department of Public Works.”

The victory of the emotions: “While I agreed with many of their positions, in retrospect the anti-Bush movement was poisonous to the level of discourse in this country. At the time, I thought it was healthy for citizens to be vocal and active critics of the powerful. But millions of people, most of them my generational and cultural peers, became accustomed to viewing their political opponents as evil idiots. The battle lines drawn, they are incapable of thinking through a policy issue for themselves, adopting valid ideas from political movements other than their own, or perceiving a debate with a viewpoint uncolored by rank partisanship. Their politics reside at an unfortunate intersection of boring group-think and dangerous, assertive self-righteousness. Moreover, the fanaticism of the anti-Bush movement fueled the emotional, messianic campaign of Barack Obama, whose Presidency has wiped out any remaining impulse to be critical of power.”

Is Pelosi a war criminal?: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — then the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — was briefed on CIA interrogation techniques including waterboarding when they were begun in 2002. She was among the ‘Big Eight’ present at the briefings — the Senate and House leaders and chairmen and ranking members on both intelligence committees. … what if Pelosi and the other Democrats had objected? [US Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)] told me in a Friday interview that, ‘We know that when we object to planned activities by the CIA, they don’t do it.’”

Continuing attacks on the Georgian leadership: "The already embattled Georgian President Mikheil ‘Misha’ Saakashvili’s ill-fortunes don’t seem to be improving. In late March, Der Spiegel published a damning account of the yet-unreleased findings of the EU inquiry into the brief August war between Georgia and Russia. In short, the article places blame for the conflict most heavily upon the Georgian leadership, particularly Saakashvili. Paired with the PR blow of the New York Times‘ open questioning of the Georgian account in early November, there is a shifting consensus of the narrative. However, like the Times article, the circumstances of the Spiegel piece provide context for doubt and showcases more framed innuendo than evidence.”

Washington to regulate your bake sale: “Informal production and distribution, from small farms and homes, were once not only common, but the backbone of everyday life. Today, there’s a revival of much of this, as people begin to realize that corporate practices have increasingly relied upon putting additives in foods and plastics in other products. I have sad news for locavores and other health food fans hoping to buck the trend of corporate practice: H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. This new bill, now worming its way through the corridors of Capitol Hill, would require anyone who stores or sells any food products to any third party to register with the federal government and keep extensive records about every product bought, produced, modified, or sold.”


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, April 28, 2009

Milton Friedman co-worker Anna Schwartz on the present financial problems

Yet isn't Bernanke a disciple of Friedman and Schwartz? He publicly refers to them as mentors, and, thanks to their scientific breakthrough, he has famously declared that "the Great Depression will not happen again." Bernanke is right about the past, Schwartz says, "but he is fighting the wrong war today; the present crisis has nothing to do with a lack of liquidity." President Obama's stimulus is similarly irrelevant, she believes, since the crisis also has nothing to do with a lack of demand or investment. The credit crunch, which is the recession's actual cause, comes only from a lack of trust, argues Schwartz. Lenders aren't lending because they don't know who is solvent, and they can't know who is solvent because portfolios remain full of mortgage-backed securities and other toxic assets.

To rekindle the credit market, the banks must get rid of those toxic assets. That's why Schwartz supported, in principle, the Bush administration's first proposal for responding to the crisis--to buy bad assets from banks--though not, she emphasizes, while pricing those assets so generously as to prop up failed institutions. The administration abandoned its plan when it appeared too complicated to price the assets. Bernanke and then-Treasury secretary Henry Paulson subsequently shifted to recapitalizing the banks directly. "Doing so is shifting from trying to save the banking system to trying to save bankers, which is not the same thing," Schwartz says. "Ultimately, though, firms that made wrong decisions should fail. The market works better when wrong decisions are punished and good decisions make you rich." She's more sympathetic to Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner's plan, unveiled in March, to give private investors money to help them buy the toxic assets, but wonders if the Obama administration will continue to support the plan if the assets' prices turn out to be so low, once investors start bidding for them, that they threaten the banks.

What about "systemic risk"--much heard about these days to justify the government's massive intervention in the economy in recent months? Schwartz considers this an excuse for bankers to save their skins after making so many bad decisions. "The worst thing for a government to do, though, is to act without principles, to make ad hoc decisions, to do something one day and another thing tomorrow," she says. The market will respond positively only after the government begins to follow a steady, predictable course. To prove her point, Schwartz points out that nothing the government has done to date has really thawed credit.

Schwartz indicts Bernanke for fighting the wrong war. Could one turn the same accusation against her? Should we worry about inflation when some believe deflation to be the real enemy? "The risk of deflation is very much exaggerated," she answers. Inflation seems to her "unavoidable": the Federal Reserve is creating money with little restraint, while Treasury expenditures remain far in excess of revenue. The inflation spigot is thus wide open. To beat the coming inflation, a "new Paul Volcker will be needed at the head of the Federal Reserve."

Who listens to her these days? "I'm not a media person," she tells me. She rarely grants interviews, which distract her from her current research: a survey of government intervention in setting foreign exchange rates between 1962 and 1985. Never before have these data been combined to show what works and what doesn't. In her nineties, she remains a trendsetter.



Bullets meant for bankers could kill the British welfare state

Note: "The City" is shorthand for London's financial services district. But it is the people there, not the geography, that matters and Britain's new higher taxes seem set to drive many of them abroad

My first reaction to Wednesday’s Budget was to focus on the increase in the top tax rate, rather than the explosion in public borrowing that horrified other commentators. On examining the Budget documents in greater detail, I am more confident than ever that the tax rise was Alistair Darling’s biggest blunder; but I have to concede that some other decisions and numbers hidden in the small print were far worse than I first thought....

The eye-catching measure in this respect was the increase to 50 per cent in the top tax rate, but there were several equally damaging changes, mostly relating to pensions, in the fine print. In terms of Treasury revenues, these reforms are likely to be self-defeating, or at best, utterly futile.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, behavioural changes, such as changes in work patterns, relocations abroad and conversion of wages into corporate profits or capital gains, will mean that the Treasury raises much less than the £2 billion of revenue predicted. And even in the unlikely event that Mr Darling’s pre-election tax gesture did manage to raise the odd billion, these sums would be far too small to have any impact on public borrowing projections running at £150 billion to £200 billion a year...

Hopes of the quick improvement in UK economic conditions assumed by Treasury forecasts rely more than ever on maintaining the City’s role as the dominant centre of global financial and business services and on reviving the top end of the housing market. The Budget Red Book says the financial sector provided 25 per cent of the £47 billion in Britain’s total corporation tax before the recession, plus a “significant” proportion of income tax and national insurance receipts....

Yet the Budget tax measures seem deliberately designed to ensure that Britain’s financial and business service sectors never return to the global dominance they enjoyed... That, in turn, means that the growth of government revenues and the solvency of the British welfare state will depend largely on what happens to the international competitiveness of the financial sector. The logic of the Budget is simple: those who want to punish the bankers could end up destroying the welfare state.



Suspicions of staggering corruption surround GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt

O’Reilly: “Will GE get paid for supporting President Obama? GE, which owns MSNBC, has been very aggressive in helping Barack Obama.

O’Reilly: “There is also emerging evidence that GE CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, and NBC News Chief Jeff Zucker, told CNBC personnel to stop criticizing Obama’s economic policies. Now, that would be a major breach of journalistic ethics. In fact, Obama critic Rick Santelli was reported to have said that he was sent to a “Re-education camp” by NBC. “

An O’Reilly Factor producer and GE stockholder, Jesse Watters, asked GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt the following question at a stockholders’ meeting in Florida: “Last week on MSNBC, Janeane Garofalo, said that Americans who attended tea parties and were protesting high taxes and government spending were racist rednecks. She was not challenged by the anchor on MSNBC. Are you okay with that? And do you consider this a form of hate speech sir?”

Immelt’s response: “Again, we have not censored MSNBC. Again, my own personal beliefs aside, I believe that MSNBC has some standards that they follow and that’s what you are seeing.

Watters: With all due respect, this is the kind of hate that MSNBC traffics in on a regular basis. Are you comfortable with this and do you think this hurts the GE brand?

Immelt: I don’t censor what they do or what they say despite the fact that I might disagree with some of it or much of it, some of the time.

O’Reilly: “Most CEOs would have stopped NBC’s corruption a long time ago. But Immelt may be looking for a major payout. When a powerful corporation which controls a major part of the American media may be using its power and the airwaves to influence politics in order to make money from government contracts - That kind of corruption would make Watergate look small.”

TDC asks: Why would GE CEO Immelt put his own beliefs aside when GE owns MSNBC? He wouldn’t. However, he would choose to do nothing about this hate speech if he is trying to get into Obama’s good graces.




Drugs in Portugal: A decriminalization success story: “Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It’s not the Netherlands.) Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled ‘coffee shops,’ Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don’t enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal’s drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead?”

Credit card folly: “By mandating that the credit card companies lower their fees, the government will severely hinder their tenuous profitability. In order to avoid bankruptcy, the companies will have to deny credit to marginal borrowers, which would reverse the ‘easy access’ policies that have defined the industry over the last generation.”

Strange idea in Nevada: "On a party-line vote, the Democrat-dominated Nevada Assembly on Tuesday backed a bill designed to neuter the 538-member Electoral College, guaranteeing the presidential candidate who wins the national popular plurality will always be declared president.The purpose of Assembly Bill 413 is to see to it that Nevada’s five electoral votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of which candidates carries the majority of Nevadans."

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)


Monday, April 27, 2009

Barack Obama and the CIA: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?

If al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the rest of the Looney Tunes brigade want to kick America to death, they had better move in quickly and grab a piece of the action before Barack Obama finishes the job himself. Never in the history of the United States has a president worked so actively against the interests of his own people - not even Jimmy Carter.

Obama's problem is that he does not know who the enemy is. To him, the enemy does not squat in caves in Waziristan, clutching automatic weapons and reciting the more militant verses from the Koran: instead, it sits around at tea parties in Kentucky quoting from the US Constitution. Obama is not at war with terrorists, but with his Republican fellow citizens. He has never abandoned the campaign trail.

That is why he opened Pandora's Box by publishing the Justice Department's legal opinions on waterboarding and other hardline interrogation techniques. He cynically subordinated the national interest to his partisan desire to embarrass the Republicans. Then he had to rush to Langley, Virginia to try to reassure a demoralised CIA that had just discovered the President of the United States was an even more formidable foe than al-Qaeda.

"Don't be discouraged by what's happened the last few weeks," he told intelligence officers. Is he kidding? Thanks to him, al-Qaeda knows the private interrogation techniques available to the US intelligence agencies and can train its operatives to withstand them - or would do so, if they had not already been outlawed.

So, next time a senior al-Qaeda hood is captured, all the CIA can do is ask him nicely if he would care to reveal when a major population centre is due to be hit by a terror spectacular, or which American city is about to be irradiated by a dirty bomb. Your view of this situation will be dictated by one simple criterion: whether or not you watched the people jumping from the twin towers.

Obama promised his CIA audience that nobody would be prosecuted for past actions. That has already been contradicted by leftist groups with a revanchist ambition to put Republicans, headed if possible by Condoleezza Rice, in the dock. Talk about playing party politics with national security. Martin Scheinin, the United Nations special investigator for human rights, claims that senior figures, including former vice president Dick Cheney, could face prosecution overseas. Ponder that - once you have got over the difficulty of locating the United Nations and human rights within the same dimension.

President Pantywaist Obama should have thought twice before sitting down to play poker with Dick Cheney. The former vice president believes documents have been selectively published and that releasing more will prove how effective the interrogation techniques were. Under Dubya's administration, there was no further atrocity on American soil after 9/11.

President Pantywaist's recent world tour, cosying up to all the bad guys, excited the ambitions of America's enemies. Here, they realised, is a sucker they can really take to the cleaners. His only enemies are fellow Americans. Which prompts the question: why does President Pantywaist hate America so badly?




GOP dumping a RINO: "Incumbent Senator Arlen Specter trails former Congressman Pat Toomey by 21 points in an early look at Pennsylvania's 2010 Republican Primary. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Republican voters statewide say they'd vote for Toomey while just 30% would support Specter. Specter is viewed favorably by 42% of Pennsylvania Republicans and unfavorably by 55%, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of voters in the state. Those are stunningly poor numbers for a long-term incumbent senator. Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980. Toomey, who served in the House from 1999 to 2005, earns positive reviews from 66% and negative comments from just 19%. Though Specter has been in the Senate for 28 years, he has struggled to maintain grassroots support within his own party during recent years. Six years ago, the incumbent barely survived a primary challenge and defeated the more conservative Toomey by just two points, 51% to 49%. He then went on to win the general election in 2004 by a 53% to 42% margin. This time around, things could be even more challenging for Specter. He was one of only three Republicans in the Congress to vote for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus plan. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Pennsylvania Republicans said they were less likely to vote for Specter because of his support for the stimulus package."

Presbyterians vote against queer clergy: "Efforts to allow gays and lesbians to serve as clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been defeated again, sealed by votes Saturday. But the margin of defeat -- the final tally has yet to be determined -- is already guaranteed to be much closer than in previous years. That is encouraging for gay clergy supporters and concerning to opponents, with both sides expecting the issue to be revisited in the future. Last summer, the 2.3 million-member denomination's General Assembly voted to drop a constitutional requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." Any such change requires approval by a majority of the nation's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. Those votes have been trickling in for months, and on Saturday enough "no" votes had been recorded to clinch the measure's defeat."

Nuclear chief says Obama shuns science: "Nuclear Energy Institute President Marvin Fertel said Wednesday that the Obama administration did not base its decision to close the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage site in Nevada on science, and therefore it is the federal government's obligation to find an alternative. Speaking to editors and reporters of The Washington Times, Mr. Fertel said he does not think Mr. Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu even looked at the scientific research before they deemed Yucca unfit to serve as the permanent storage depot for used nuclear fuel, contradicting President Obama's promise to base his administration's decisions on sound science."

Mortgage relief faces Senate defeat: "The centerpiece of President Obama's plan to keep thousands of people from losing their homes amid the worst economic crisis in decades appears headed for defeat next week in the Senate. A handful of Democrats are siding with Republicans in opposition to allowing people to seek mortgage relief in bankruptcy court. Critics say the change would unleash a torrent of loan defaults, ultimately driving up mortgage rates and introducing fresh uncertainty into an already ailing economy. The rejection would deal a direct blow to a popular president as he pushes an ambitious agenda to stabilize the economy. The number of homes under threat of foreclosure by banks has shot up since last year, when 2.3 million U.S. households received foreclosure filings."

Typical: British spy loses secrets in a handbag: "A BRITISH agent has thrown the war against drug traffickers into chaos by leaving top secret information about covert operations on a bus in South America. In a blunder that has cost taxpayers millions of pounds and put scores of lives at risk, the drugs liaison officer lost a computer memory stick said to contain a list of undercover agents’ names and details of more than five years of intelligence work. It happened when the MI6-trained agent left her handbag on a transit coach at El Dorado airport in Bogota, Colombia. Intelligence chiefs were forced to wind up operations and relocate dozens of agents and informants amid fears the device could fall into the hands of drugs barons. The incident, which was hushed up by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), the agent’s employer, is an embarrassment for the government. It is another blow for Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, who has ultimate responsibility for Britain’s anti-drugs operations and the safeguarding of criminal intelligence."

We’re fleeing high-tax Britain, say City tycoons: "Two of Britain’s best known entrepreneurs are considering leaving Britain in protest against Alistair Darling’s new 50% tax rate, as leading figures from business and the City line up to warn of a talent exodus. Hugh Osmond, the pubs to insurance entrepreneur, is thinking about a move to Switzerland. Peter Hargreaves, the £10m-a-year co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, the financial adviser, is looking at the Isle of Man or Monaco. More are likely to be follow. Osmond, whose net worth is estimated at £230m, said: “A lot of people will be off. It’s highly unlikely that I will continue to have the UK as my country of residence. It’s just as easy to work from any close location — Switzerland or wherever.” Hargreaves, facing an extra £500,000 on his tax bill, warned: “I won’t pay, I’ll leave.”

Commonwealth cousins prop up the British Army: "The British Army’s “foreign legion” of soldiers recruited abroad to fill its ranks has expanded to more than one in 10 of all troops. NonUK nationals now number about 10,430, just less than 11% of the army’s full-time troops, excluding reserves, according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Some nationalities have become so numerous that they could form their own units in the manner of the Nepalese Gurkhas. The number of Fijians has reached 2,110, the strength of a small brigade. Other nationalities such as Ghanaians and South Africans have also increased to 700-800 each, enough for a battalion apiece. Some fears have been voiced that burgeoning numbers of nonUK soldiers could foster a “mercenary” image, while other critics believe the armed forces’ British identity could be endangered... The army has now put a cap on the number of Commonwealth recruits in some units at 15% “in the interests of operational effectiveness”. The influx of foreigners has helped compensate for the army’s problems in retaining British-born soldiers. The number of Fijians in the forces as a whole has grown from just 10 in 1999 to 2,220 in January, the figures show. One attraction for the army is the Fijians’ prowess at rugby. Last year the army’s 12-man sevens squad included 10 Fijians and a South African. Its captain, Mark Lee, was the only British player."


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, April 26, 2009

Steady descent into third world

Opening a can of worms always tempts a mischief-maker, but it's risky business. That can of worms might turn out to be a can of snakes, like Barack Obama's latest gift to the nation.

The president's on-again, off-again, maybe-he-will and maybe-he-won't decision to punish someone who loosened tongues of Islamist terrorists at Guantanamo suddenly threatens not only the CIA interrogators and Justice Department lawyers, but even members of Congress. Maybe it won't stop there: if the lawyers who offered legal opinions are at risk of punishment for their legal advice, why not the members of Congress who knew what was going on? Why not the secretaries who typed up the transcripts? Why not the interns who fetched the coffee? All were accessories either before or after the fact.

We're on unfamiliar ground now. No president before has sought to punish his predecessor for policy decisions, no matter how wrong or wrong-headed. Lyndon B. Johnson's management of the Vietnam War was often ham-handed, as anyone who was there could tell you, and his policy makers sometimes verged on criminal incompetence. But Richard Nixon was never tempted to send LBJ or any of those presidential acolytes to prison. Abraham Lincoln, by his lights, would have had ample opportunity to hang Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, but even the rabid Republicans who survived the assassination stopped short of putting Davis in the dock, finally releasing him from imprisonment at Fort Monroe when judgment overcame lust for revenge. Lee was never touched.

Exacting revenge for unpopular policies is the norm in the third world, heretofore more likely in Barack Obama's ancestral Kenya than in America, more in the tradition of gangland Chicago than in Washington, where we count on cooler heads to prevail when raw emotion threatens to overwhelm sobriety and the undisciplined senses. We recall perceived national mistakes with the sadness of regret and even gratitude for lessons learned, not the frenzied catharsis of a St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Mr. Obama, having won the White House fair and square, is entitled to change any presidential policy he chooses, but the vindication of a national election does not entitle any president to exact mindless revenge.

The loquacious prince of Hyde Park should understand this, having eloquently sounded caution and reason on his inauguration as president, promising as he had during the long campaign to "look forward," not "backward." Rahm Emanuel, once described as the president's alter ego (if indeed such an outsized ego could have an "alter"), said as recently as Sunday that "it's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back in any sense of anger and retribution."

This was in line with what the president had said all last summer when he was campaigning for the White House, what he had said on his inauguration, and in line with his oft-stated goal of restoring bipartisan civility and mutual goodwill to governing the country. Mr. Emanuel's reassurance was regarded in Washington as putting paid to an ugly era, an emphatic determination to "move on" to something close to national unity.

The president hadn't counted on the rage of the jackals on the leftmost fringe of his party, organizations like, which want only the "unity" of the lynch mob. They demand a hanging and the president promises only to think about it. Ever confident that his golden tongue, with or without the teleprompter, would mesmerize all foes and vanquish all rancor, Mr. Obama then threw George W. Bush's lawyers to the mob.

Perhaps the president imagines that nobody cares much about what happens to lawyers, but he has set in motion something neither he nor anyone else can control. Some of the Democrats in Congress, eager now to join the mob, will regret what they cry for. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, for one, was a member of the House intelligence committee and sat in on super-secret briefings after Sept. 11. She concedes that she heard about waterboarding but she doesn't remember exactly what she heard. Just like Barack Obama sleeping through 20 years of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's rabid sermons, Ms. Pelosi dozed through the briefings. Her colleagues on the intelligence panel say they remember her demanding that the CIA do more to get the "intelligence" to prevent another attack.

Republicans in the Senate, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are finally finding their voices. So is Joe Lieberman, a courageous Democrat. If we're going to have hangings, Ms. Pelosi may be at risk of becoming our most famous female hangee since Mary Surratt paid her debt at the end of a rope for hanging out with John Wilkes Booth.



Greatly Depressing

History is written by many people, but those who write government school textbooks tend to hold disproportionate sway. Sadly, their vision of America – which has driven conventional wisdom and popular opinion for decades – is built on many myths. The biggest myth of them all? That capitalism and our free market system caused the Great Depression – and that only a massive expansion of the federal government saved America from permanent economic ruin.

Nothing could be further from the truth – and yet as the true history of government meddling repeats itself all around us (with the direst of consequences for future generations), America seems incapable of learning from these mistakes for the simple reason that no one has ever taught them how destructive interventionism has been in the past and present.

Over a decade ago, Lawrence Reed of the Mackinac Center – a Michigan-based research and educational institute – penned an important analysis of the Great Depression. Written at the height of the dot-com boom (and shortly after President Bill Clinton told us that “the era of big government is over”) Reed’s treatise breaks the Depression down into sections and analyzes the cause and effect associated with each new development.

His conclusion? It’s a complete reversal of the textbook myth, an unflinchingly-candid, meticulously-documented proof that “government intervention worsened (the Depression) and kept the economy in a stupor for over a decade.” “The calamity that began in 1929 lasted at least three times longer than any of the country’s previous depressions because the government compounded its initial errors with a series of additional and harmful interventions,” Reed writes.

Anyone who follows things like money supply and interest rate adjustments knows that the Federal Reserve’s policies in the months leading up to the Great Crash of 1928 courted disaster. But it was the effect of government interventionism after the crash that did the real damage – which given the unprecedented $13 trillion intervention currently underway in our country should send shivers up and down every American’s spine.

Perhaps most importantly, Reed’s paper shatters once and for all the myth that President Herbert Hoover was the laissez-faire capitalist recalled by American textbooks. For starters, Hoover’s administration – with Congressional support – dramatically increased government spending from 16.4 percent to 21.5 of GNP in one year. Hoover also signed a foolhardy tariff that crippled trade, as well as the largest tax hike in American history in the spring if 1932. On top of that, during Hoover’s tenure the Federal Reserve imposed the biggest interest rate increase in its history. High tariffs, huge subsidies, deflationary monetary policy, tax increases – does that sound like a laissez-faire capitalist to you?

Ironically, Franklin Delano Roosevelt – whose New Deal policies were later revealed to have been taken straight out of Hoover’s playbook – won election by blasting his predecessor as “reckless and extravagant,” and presiding over “the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.” Roosevelt, the “limited government” advocate, even bemoaned Hoover’s desire to “center control of everything in Washington.”

Obviously, Roosevelt flip-flopped after he was elected and put Hoover’s interventionist approach on steroids – much as President Barack Obama has done with the failed bailout mentality of his predecessor. The reality, though, is that none of these leaders differ all that much in their ideological approach to recession.

Now the question is this – does the big government approach work? Absolutely not. Prior to the Great Depression, no American recession had lasted longer than four years. Most were over in two. The Great Depression dragged on for nearly twelve years, however, with unemployment reaching as high as 25% at one point. And just as it is doing now, government over-taxed and over-regulated the economy the whole way through, starving it of desperately needed capital while consolidating frightening levels of power in Washington.

But that’s not the story told by government textbooks – just as it’s not the story that’s being told today by the America’s mainstream media. Politicians are relying on big government’s myth to make – and promote – some of the most monumentally foolhardy economic decisions in our nation’s history. Frankly, it’s past time that we started telling the truth about our past – and applying common sense to the future. The longer we wait, the deeper we dig the hole for future generations.




How a socialist government doesn't work: "More than four million Spanish people are out of work. According to the country's National Statistics Institute a record high figure of 17.4 per cent were unemployed in the first quarter of the year. Unemployment leapt from 13.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the biggest quarterly jump since 1976. Joblessness in Spain has almost doubled in a year. The Bank of Spain had previously forecast that unemployment would not surpass 17.1 per cent for the year. Alarmingly, 1,068,400 families have every member out of work. And as the dole queues lengthen, labour unrest is growing. Two hundred pickets yesterday picketed a shipyard in the Basque country to protest at the employment of cheap Romanian and Portuguese workers that is threatening the jobs of 1,100 local workers."

Tony Blair opposes new 50 pence tax rate for high earners: "Tony Blair believes the new 50 per cent top rate of income tax introduced by Gordon Brown is a "terrible mistake". The former Prime Minister has privately expressed his despair at the Labour government's decision to target the wealthy in the Budget. Some of the leading architects of New Labour have also savaged the move, which they believe has cost Labour any hope of winning the general election. The revelation that Mr Blair has privately indicated his opposition to the headline 50 pence tax rate for people earning over £150,000 will cause consternation in Downing Street. One of Mr Blair's closest allies said: "The 50p tax move is a disaster. Blair would have cut taxes, not increased them." The hostile public reaction to the Budget, which signalled a return to the politics of class warfare, has intensified speculation that Mr Brown could face a leadership challenge. The mood of despair among Labour MPs deepened after figures published yesterday showed the economy contracted far more sharply in the first quarter than the Chancellor Alistair Darling predicted in his Budget statement only two days earlier."

The British police State: "Every phone call, email or website visit will be monitored by the state under plans to be unveiled next week. The proposals will give police and security services the power to snoop on every single communication made by the public with the data then likely to be stored in an enormous national database. The precise content of calls and other communications would not be accessible but even text messages and visits to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be tracked. The move has alarmed civil liberty campaigners, and the country's data protection watchdog last night warned the proposals would be "unacceptable". Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will argue the powers are needed to target terrorists and serious criminals who are taking advantage of the increasing complex nature of communications to plot atrocities and crimes."

Legion leader accepts apology from Napolitano: "More apologies came from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Friday during and after a meeting with the commander of the American Legion about the disparaging language in a security assessment that suggested returning troops from Iraq or Afghanistan could be recruited for "right-wing" domestic terrorist attacks. "We connected meaningfully about the important issues that have emerged over recent days, and I offered him my sincere apologies for any offense to our veterans caused by this report," Ms. Napolitano said. "I pledge that the department has fixed the internal process that allowed this document to be released before it was ready." David K. Rehbein, commander of the veterans group, told Fox News he has forgiven the department for the report, but he will not forget it happened. "[Ms. Napolitano] said the report was not worthy of the department or the veterans of this country," Mr. Rehbein said."

NYT demise coming: "The nation's largest left-wing newspaper and the bible for network news producers and bookers may be going under. This week, The New York Times announced more staggering losses: nearly $75 million dollars in the first quarter alone. The New York Post is reporting that the Times Company owes more than $1 billion and has just $34 million in the bank. A few months ago, the company borrowed $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim at a reported 14 percent interest rate. With things going south fast, pardon the pun, Slim might want to put in a call to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The problem is that under Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller, the Times has gone crazy left, attacking those with whom the paper disagrees and demonstrating a hatred for conservatives (particularly President Bush) that is almost pathological. That unfair and unbalanced approach has alienated a large number of readers and advertisers. According to a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 46 percent of Americans define themselves as conservative. Just 34 percent say they are liberal. In this very intense marketplace, insulting half the country on a daily basis may not be a great business plan. The New York Times is most definitely a committed left-wing concern that is openly contemptuous of the conservative, traditional point of view. That is the primary reason the paper may soon dissolve. And all the cash in Carlos Slim's fat wallet is not going to change that."

Obama's Iraq Policy and a Surge of Violence: "On Thursday, Iraq suffered its worst death toll on a single day since the start of U.S. engagement there; 80 people perished after the supposed capture of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, al-Qaeda in Iraq’s leader and one of Iraq’s most wanted men. On Friday, there was another attack almost as deadly; 60 people died and 125 were injured when two suicide bombers attacked a Shia mosque in Baghdad. This upswing in violence comes on the heels of Obama’s new policies in the Middle East, which call for a phased withdrawal from Iraq starting this summer and lasting until 2011. An upswing in violence is almost certainly related to Obama’s adjustments in troop numbers"

Germany's slump risks 'explosive' mood: "A clutch of political and labour leaders in Germany have raised the spectre of civil unrest after the country's leading institutes forecast a 6pc contraction of gross domestic product this year, a slump reminiscent of 1931 and bad enough to drive unemployment to 4.7m by 2010. Michael Sommer, leader of the DGB trade union federation, called the latest wave of sackings a "declaration of war" against Germany's workers. "Social unrest can no longer be ruled out," he said. Gesine Swann, presidential candidate for the Social Democrats, said "the mood could turn explosive" over the next three months unless the government takes drastic action. While authorities have belatedly agreed to create a "bad bank" to absorb toxic loans and stabilise the credit system, further financial troubles are almost certainly in the pipeline. Swiss risk advisers Independent Credit View said a "second wave" of debt stress is likely to hit the UK and Europe this year as the turmoil moves from mortgage securities to old-fashioned bank loans"


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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)