Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hitler's propaganda

I am reproducing the article from the WSJ in full below because it is generally accurate as far as it goes. I was slightly amused by the comment that the exhibition the author is reviewing doesn't say much about the reactions of the German people. Since Hitler was virtually worshipped by many Germans that is of course a tactful omission. The "variety of positive appeals" that Hitler used are also far from fully detailed. That socialism was one of them could not of course be mentioned. I and many historians agree, however that "the German populace was ultimately more indifferent to the fate of European Jews than rabidly interested in their destruction". Hitler's view of the Jews was fairly incidental to his overall appeal to Germans. After all, practically everyone was antisemitic to some degree in those days. Even the man who eventually declared war on Hitler -- Neville Chamberlain -- had some antisemitic views.

The statement below that the Nazis could never "win a majority in free elections" is misleading, however. In elections where there are more than two major parties, winning an outright majority of the vote is rare for anyone. Mrs Thatcher, for instance, once had large parliamentary majorities in Britain but she never went anywhere near getting a majority of the popular vote. Britain's centrist Liberal party siphons off too many voters from both Right and Left for ANY British party to have much chance of gaining an absolute majority. So Hitler's electoral achievements were actually quite good in the context of the Germany of his day. He led the party with the largest number of votes and that normally entitles a party to govern in Europe (and also in Canada, for that matter)

There is quite a good slideshow of Nazi political posters attached to the article -- though it helps if you understand German. I reproduce below one Nazi poster that I had not seen before. It is fairly crass so was probably not very effective. I reproduce some of what were probably the more effective ones here. My own much fuller account of Hitler's motives and modus operandi is here

After the fatal shooting last month of a security guard by a white supremacist, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s entrance was garlanded by a makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and condolence notes. The memorial has since been cleared away, but a visit to “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda,” on the reverberations of hate speech, still packs an extra charge.

“State of Deception”—a special exhibition rich in content but somewhat cramped in design—follows the Nazi propaganda effort from its inception through its dismantling after World War II. With photo murals crowded with labels, vintage newsreels captioned with American newspaper headlines and oral-history interviews, the show raises questions about the links between propaganda and action. It offers insight into Nazi planning and aims. And it explores, in a fragmentary way, the German public’s response to Nazi efforts at manipulation.

Vicious caricatures of Jews, both foreshadowing and facilitating the Holocaust, are the most familiar detritus of Hitler’s propaganda machine. But “State of Deception” reminds us that the Nazis also employed a variety of positive appeals to rally support for dictatorship and European conquest.

Details and images nuance our picture of the times. One of the show’s first images, for example, is a 1932 campaign poster with Hitler’s face floating eerily against a black background, a design that evokes celebrity portraiture. The poster is book-ended later in the show by a postwar, red-on-black, anti-Nazi poster depicting Nazism as a skeletal death’s head—an apparent reference to both mass murder and the insignia of SS concentration-camp guards.

Hitler drew inspiration from effective World War I propaganda denouncing the Germans as barbaric “Huns.” One World War I poster—featuring an apelike figure, representing Germany, carrying a lovely maiden—was appropriated by a September 1939 Nazi poster to remind Germans of “the old hatred.” The regime would later argue that rumors about the gassing of Jews were akin to the fabricated tales of German atrocities during World War I.

The Nazi message first resonated in the 1920s and early 1930s against a backdrop of the Weimar Republic’s economic and social disarray. Even then, the Nazis, while preaching national unity, targeted appeals to different constituencies. Posters urged women to “save the German family” from unemployment and asked students to become “the Führer’s propagandists.” Anti-Semitic screeds were ratcheted up or down, depending on the audience.

“State of Deception” offers enticing glimpses of the regime’s myth-making apparatus. A painting by Hermann Otto Hoyer is suggestively titled “In the Beginning Was the Word” and shows Hitler enthralling a group of converts during the 1920s. Another, by Hubert Lanzinger, depicts Hitler as a medieval knight on horseback and carrying a swastika flag.

A series of black-and-white photographs by official photographer Heinrich Hoffman captures Hitler rehearsing the dramatic poses and gestures that would become his oratorical trademark. Later, we can watch a clip of Hitler rousing a crowd with an emotional fervor that no longer seems spontaneous.

Once Hitler attained the chancellorship in 1933, he made the party’s propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, minister of the Orwellian-sounding Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. “Enlightenment,” of course, meant book-burnings and increasingly tight Nazi control over all forms of communication and entertainment. Goebbels, we learn, sought to supplement ideological appeals with mass entertainment designed to cement the new German community.

The seductions of Nazi ritual had a certain allure even for Jewish children. Peter Feigl, who greeted Hitler jubilantly with the rest of the Austrian population during the 1938 Anschluss, was dismayed that he couldn’t participate in Hitler Youth groups, with their compelling martial music and uniforms. “All this is fascinating and hypnotizing for a young kid,” he explains in a video clip from a 1995 interview.

The exhibition doesn’t chart German reaction to Nazi propaganda in any detail, but it does argue that not every initiative was equally successful. The nasty anti-Semitic stereotypes of the 1940 pseudodocumentary “The Eternal Jew”—likening Jews to vermin—attracted few viewers. By contrast, Veit Harlan’s 1940 feature film, “The Jew Süss,” a portrait of a corrupt 18th-century Jewish court financier, was a huge hit—thanks, we’re told, to its strong storytelling and production values.

The Nazi propaganda machine even extended into the Jewish ghettos and concentration camps. Scenes from “The Führer Gives the Jews a Town,” shot at the Theresienstadt ghetto and transit camp near Prague, feature seemingly happy, well-fed Jewish children—shortly before their transport to Auschwitz.

The now-infamous 1944 documentary, never distributed, capitalized on the ghetto’s beautification for an earlier visit by the International and Danish Red Cross. Their reports demonstrated that the Nazis could bamboozle even a foreign audience. The exhibition offers excerpts of an astonishing 1979 interview, conducted by the French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, in which International Red Cross representative Maurice Rossel appears to blame Theresienstadt’s “prominent” Jewish residents for helping to foster the delusion of normality.

“State of Deception” adopts the view that, on the whole, the German populace was ultimately more indifferent to the fate of European Jews than rabidly interested in their destruction. It also stresses the limitations of Nazi propaganda, which could neither win the Nazis a majority in free elections nor prevent their eventual defeat.

After the war, Allied forces tried to root out the physical residue of Nazism, from street signs to school books, and try some of its surviving propagandists for crimes against humanity.

In Germany today, advocating Nazi ideology is illegal. But in the U.S. and elsewhere, balancing free speech with the desire to silence partisans of hate crimes and genocide remains a vital and troubling concern. The exhibition ends, appropriately, with this dilemma clarified but not entirely resolved.



The Threat of Totalitarianism


It may sound like I am exaggerating or over-dramatizing the situation, but I think that we have a repetition of Hitler's policy to get total power developing in the United States. Obama's massive expansion of the federal government will destroy the United States as a world power, make us even more dependent on our enemies, and will ruin a great part of the present population and their descendants.

I believe his real purpose is not to get the United States out of the financial mess but to set the stage for a total takeover. The liberals controlling Congress are helping him in that task.

I lived through the Nazi nightmare and my family paid dearly. My elder brother fell in Russia and my father perished in a Soviet concentration camp without having committed any crime.

The rest of the family was expelled from our home in East Germany and we came as refugees to West Germany. Everything I write or lecture about is based on my personal experiences in Nazi Germany. There is nothing theoretical about my description about what happens when a nation throws God out of government and society. I don't want my children and grandchildren to go through the same.

My writing is part of my restitution for the crimes of a godless government, of the evil of which I was a part. My restitution includes a commitment to the state of Israel and the God-given rights of the Jewish people.

Afraid Of Government

During the Nazi years people were afraid of their government. Everybody spoke practically two languages-one in public and one with close friends. Since the Gestapo always tried to find out from children what their parents were thinking, my parents like all other parents had to be careful about what they said in our presence. My father listened to the Swiss broadcasts of Beromünster late at night so that we wouldn't notice. To listen to foreign news was a crime and could lead to death.

I noticed now that here in America many people are also afraid of their government and guns sales are on the rise. Thomas Jefferson stated: when the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, then there is liberty. I hope that the new tea-party movement is successful in frightening the Washington establishment.

Something is very wrong in America and this nation is moving in the wrong direction. We are getting close to Nazi reality.

Threat To A Free Press

I am especially concerned about the dangers of a government-takeover of the media. Hitler didn't need to do that because the Nazis already controlled the media-newspapers, radio and the film industry.

We were told in the Hitler Youth and in school that we could pray and sing hymns at home or in our church as much as we liked. But the rules for the German society would come from the National Socialist Party and nobody else. They, like the Soviets, had realized that a moral authority above the government in the form of God would be a threat to their power grab.

The ACLU has taken up this Nazi philosophy and applied it successfully to American society. The ousting of God from our schools is far advanced and our youth are exposed to immoral and godless indoctrination instead of learning American history, our Constitution, and the concepts of our founding fathers. Our government establishment has been watching this development for decades without doing anything about it. Our enemies don't need suicide bombers to bring us down. We commit national suicide ourselves by watching the destruction of the moral and historical basis of our society.

When the Nazis took over power on January 30, 1933, they immediately set up a parallel party structure to the administration to watch over the action of the civil servants. They were responsible to Hitler. Obama has taken a similar approach and has already at the time of this writing appointed 16 czars, part of an unconstitutional governmental apparatus. It seems that their task is to watch over and interfere in the private sector. However, they report only to Obama, bypassing the Congress.

The first Hitler government had only two members of the National Socialist German Workers Party, one being the minister of interior who was in charge of the police. Obama has some Republicans in his government and he acts like a military hawk in Afghanistan. These moves are designed to fool the opposition until total power is established.

Much more HERE



Revenge. Army reservist terminated from civilian job after questioning Obama eligibility: The Department of Defense has allegedly compelled a private employer to fire a U.S. Army Reserve major from his civilian job after he had his military deployment orders revoked for arguing he should not be required to serve under a president who has not proven his eligibility for office. According to the CEO of Simtech Inc., a private company contracted by the Defense Security Services, an agency of the Department of Defense, the federal government has compelled the termination of Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook. Cook's attorney, Orly Taitz, wrote in her blog that Simtech CEO Larry Grice said he would try to find another position within the company for Cook, but nothing is currently available. The Department of Defense does contracting in the general field of information technology/systems integration, at which Cook, a senior systems engineer and architect, was employed until taking a military leave of absence on July 10 in preparation for his deployment to Afghanistan.

Death penalty questions for Sotomayor: “The death penalty has received little attention in the Sotomayor debate. However, when a massive 707,000 homicides in 36 years (one every 27 minutes) result in 1,136 executions (0.16%), capital punishment has been all but abolished (42-43). What remains is a costly, agonizing farce, dragging out cases for decades (48). With no end in sight to intolerable homicides, and the U.S. Supreme Court having played a major role in this fiasco, the following questions (drawn from actual cases) will have continuing relevance in illustrating the danger of confirming activist justices who abuse their power and the public’s trust.”

Pentagon considers adding 30,000 to Army: “The Pentagon is considering a plan to add 30,000 soldiers to the Army to bolster a force depleted by a growing number of troops who are wounded, stressed or for other reasons cannot deploy with their units. Struggling to wage wars on two fronts, the Army says it needs a temporary increase in order to fill vacancies in units heading to the battlefront.”

Test of Russian ballistic missile fails: “Russia’s latest test of its advanced submarine-launched ballistic missile Bulava has failed, with the missile self-destructing, the Defense Ministry said Thursday — another setback for the nation’s efforts to upgrade its aging arsenal. The failure was the seventh in 11 test launches for the Bulava, and could have consequences for Russia’s top missile designers and missile force commanders.”

Maine: Frugal before it was fashionable: “Across the country, masses of worried consumers are taking lessons in getting by with less, turning to websites like and, and signing up for classes in car care and cooking. But in Maine, where Yankee thrift has been a way of life for generations, and the unofficial motto is the proverb ‘use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,’ the notion of a ‘new’ frugality is met with blank stares. … Across much of this sprawling, rural state, the art of living cheap is hard-wired into the regional DNA, a skill proudly passed down through the generations. Here, where hardened farmers and fishermen have been long battered by economic squalls, and incomes have lagged well behind the rest of New England, bargain-hunting and bartering are practices widely embraced.”

Too many bailouts, not too few: “Capitalism is a profit and loss system. The profits encourage risk-taking. The losses encourage prudence. For decades, government policy and action have discouraged prudence by bailing out or taking over virtually every significant financial institution that has acted recklessly. Five years ago, well before the crisis, Gary Stern and Ron Feldman of the Minneapolis [F]ed, wrote ‘Too Big to Fail,’ arguing that the continual rescue of debt holders and creditors was creating systemic risk in the financial system. They pointed out the crucial role that debt holders and creditors play in monitoring and restraining risky investments on the part of financial institutions. By consistently bailing out creditors, the power of that restraint was being destroyed.”

Dealing with Britain's debt: “Currently, the public sector is swelling far beyond its means. The UK is forecast to suffer a budget deficit of £170 billion later this year. This equates to every man, woman and child being in nearly £3,000 of debt. Every year, our government pays £200 billion to public sector employees and this is not sustainable. The problem with this is that the increasing deficit needs to be funded somehow. There are several ways that this can be done. One way would be to increase taxes; however an increase in tax rates reduces incentives and is therefore likely to have the adverse effect of reducing tax revenues. Alternatively, ‘quantative easing’ (glorified printing money) could be used to pay off debt. But this is highly inflationary, as resources are no less scarce, so it would reduce the value of our currency, thus making the UK less attractive for investors. Surely the best way to deal with the deficit is to reduce government spending.”

The Zimbabwe-ification of South Africa? : “‘The road ends here,’ reads a makeshift sign in the middle of the highway connecting Bulawayo with South Africa. For many miles, the once busy commercial artery between Zimbabwe’s second largest town and its main market has simply ceased to exist. Motorists have to wind their way on an improvised gravel path through the open bush. All along the route, they can observe once productive farms lying abandoned and once productive farm workers scavenging for food. The dilapidated state of infrastructure and widespread poverty are the results of the destruction of property rights and the rule of law by the government of Zimbabwe. Yet South Africa’s new Minister of Land Reform and Rural Development, Gugile Nkwinti, clearly has not been to Zimbabwe in recent years. Speaking in parliament late last month, he announced that the ANC government would scrap its current ‘willing buyer willing seller’ land redistribution policy, which allows the government to acquire land only at a market price and only with the consent of the land owner, and replace it with ‘less costly, alternative methods of land acquisition.’”


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, July 17, 2009


Well! What Sonia Sotomayor said in answers to Senator Kyl during her confirmation hearing could not be better from a conservative and constitutional point of view. She rejected "empathy" as a factor in verdicts and said that judges just apply the written law before them rather than making it all up as they go along. Refreshing! Taranto has the relevant excerpts. So she can talk the talk but will she walk the walk?

I note that elsewhere in his postings, Taranto pisses all over the idea that Obama is not qualified to be President by virtue of his having been born in Kenya -- with his birth only registered in Hawaii, as Hawaiian law allowed. Taranto is not alone in his views. Many other conservatives say likewise. I think that the reason for avoiding the question is that discovery of Obama's ineligibility would be enormously disruptive. It would invalidate his election and everything he has done since. The outcome could well be not dissimilar to what has just happened in Honduras and America needs peace at home more than it needs Joe Biden as President.

If we were judging Obama's behaviour in the way court cases are judged, however, his constant battles to prevent production of his full birth certificate would be circumstantial evidence that he is guilty as charged. Reliapundit has some pertinent comments on the matter too.


Small-business lender CIT denied bailout

Obama is in bed with BIG business -- but most jobs are created by small business

A top source of loans for small businesses faces the likelihood of bankruptcy after the Treasury and Federal Reserve on Wednesday rejected calls for a bailout. CIT Group, which provides nearly 1 million small businesses the credit they need to get by from day to day, announced that several days of discussions with regulators failed to produce agreement on further assistance after a $2.3 billion cash infusion for the company last winter.

Trading in CIT shares was halted on the New York Stock Exchange in advance of the announcement, which increases the likelihood that the lender will fall into bankruptcy after suffering for months from the bankruptcy of Eddie Bauer and other clients.

The company has been unable to raise money in financial markets all year and had pleaded with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to approve its application for a guarantee on its debt offerings like the government provided to most banks during the credit crisis. But the FDIC, worried about the company's junk credit ratings and exposing taxpayers to the risk of an impending bankruptcy, refused to budge.

The FDIC, seeking to draw a line in the sand to discourage further bailouts, maintained that while CIT is crucial for some small businesses with shaky credit ratings, it does not play a massive or indispensable role in the financial system and should be allowed to fail. Banks and other lenders could step in to fill the void.

But the company's important role helping keep small companies afloat got a more sympathetic hearing from members of Congress and some officials at the Treasury and Fed. The two agencies have set up several programs to spur lending to small businesses but they have not had much success.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, helped spur rumors early Wednesday that a rescue of CIT was imminent, telling reporters that he spoke with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner "and I understand they're working hard to try to come up with something responsible to try to prevent the failure" of the company. "I think there would be a great deal of harm to the overall economy" if CIT is allowed to fail, he said.

Rumors multiplied that the Treasury and the Fed would try to cobble together a package of short-term loans to help keep CIT afloat while it restructured to avoid bankruptcy. The Fed last winter approved CIT's bid to become a bank holding company so it could have access to Fed lending facilities, and CIT sought to build on that relationship.

Many observers thought that the White House would be sensitive to the political criticism that would result if it abandoned a small-business lender after rescuing big companies like Citigroup, General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC from bankruptcy. But the Treasury and Fed in the end sided with the FDIC in determining that the outlook for CIT was too shaky to merit another rescue.



CHANGE Only an Imbecile Could Love

By Dick McDonald

Barack Obama , may his tribe decrease, awoke one night from his Kenyan peace and lo and behold he saw this land of milk and honey populated with inexperienced and uninformed citizens. So he mounted his Comrades and rode to their rescue to bring change, change and more change. So after 5 months in office and 3 years of promises this is the change he has brought to Washington.

1. He promised to save 3 or 4 million jobs – we have lost 3.5 million jobs since January.
2. He promised to hold unemployment to 8% - it is at 9.5% and skyrocketing
3. The Government’s tax receipts from corporations are down 55%
4. The Government’s tax receipts from individuals are down 27%
5. Obama passed a stimulus bill that has no chance of stimulating the economy.
6. Announced plan to tax job creators and kill old people to pay for a universal health plan no one wants
7. The deficit hit a record $1 trillion on July 14, 2009 on its way to a record $2 trillion by year end
8. The number of under-employed is at 20% and rising
9. Business is reeling from being told they will bear more of the tax burden and have reduced staff
10. Cap and Trade will add billions to the cost of all products sold in America – it will hurt the poor
11. New emission standards will add billions to transportation cost for everything
12. He has incurred more debt in 5 months than all the presidents before him (combined)
13. He has favored wealth re-distribution over job creation and economic growth
14. He bowed to a Saudi King and runs down America wherever he goes
15. He has taken sides favoring Islamic Palestinians over the Israelis
16. He funds a Gestapo-like mob of ACORN brown shirts intimidating everyone
17. He voted against strict constructionists for SCOTUS
18. He is anti-gun and for post-birth abortions
19. He attended a black separatist church for twenty years and never heard the sermon
20. He has taken over General Motors and bankrupted little old ladies that invested in their bonds
21. He gave an equity interest in General Motors to an unsecured UAW debtor as a political payoff
22. He doesn’t hold his hand over his heart for the pledge of allegiance
23. He probably is a Kenyan-born citizen of Indonesia
24. His only solutions are to tax the rich directly or the poor indirectly
25. Gives Miranda Rights to the enemy on the battlefield
26. Wants to stop the CIA from killing enemy leaders during a war
27. Hires 30 Czars to run the country without vetting by Congress
28. He is an anti-capitalist that favors a socialist big government
29. He is against increasing domestic oil drilling in ANWR and offshore
30. He is against building nuclear plants
31. Believes in the fantasy of global warming
32. His stimulus funds have all gone to save constituent’s jobs not create new ones
33. Everything is on the table to solve an insolvent Social Security except the privatization that solves it
34. His ethanol addiction has caused corn shortages that precipitated starvation in the Third World
35. Uses Democrat-controlled media and academe to silence critics

Received direct from the author. For the products of a modern education, the opening comments are a mocking allusion to Abou ben Adhem



2010: “Next year’s elections are going to produce a political earthquake. That is because we currently suffer the most left-wing government in our nation’s history. After just 6 months in office, the flower children that rule Washington in overwhelming numbers are already smashing through all records regarding federal taxes, spending, deficits, and debt. Obama and his ultra-left Democrats adopted a so-called stimulus bill raising spending a trillion dollars that never had a prayer of actually creating jobs and promoting long-term economic growth, because it was based entirely on old-fashioned, brain dead, proven to fail, Keynesian economics. Though we would have to double federal taxes to finance the entitlement promises we have already made, the ruling Washington Democrats completely ignore that and focus instead on adopting yet another entitlement — national health insurance — that would be the biggest of all.”

US foreclosures hit record 1.5 million in first half of 2009: “U.S. foreclosure filings hit a record in the first half, a sign that job losses and falling property prices deepened the housing recession, according to RealtyTrac Inc. More than 1.5 million properties received a default or auction notice or were seized by banks in the six months through June, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said today in a statement. That’s a 15 percent increase from the year earlier. One in 84 U.S. households received a filing.”

Real ID Act faces repeal after outcry from Napolitano, states: “Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is asking Congress to repeal a post-Sept. 11, 2001, law that was meant to enhance the security of driver’s licenses but has elicited the wrath of governors nationwide who say it is too costly. The Real ID Act, which was passed in 2005 but doesn’t begin to go into effect until the end of the year, was the brainchild of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Menomonee Falls who then served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Appearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Napolitano warned that millions of travelers could face increased security screening at airports next year unless Congress acts soon because few states are on track to comply with the law. She wants lawmakers to pass a new measure known as Pass ID that would increase driver’s license security but give states more leeway on how to implement the changes.”

Honduras: Government reinstates curfew, citing threats : “Honduras’ interim government has reinstated a curfew, citing threats by groups looking to provoke disturbances. The announcement of the midnight to 5:00 a.m. curfew comes on the same day that interim President Roberto Micheletti accused unspecified groups of planning an armed rebellion and handing out guns.”

Iran: Mousavi plans new political front: “Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi plans to unveil a new political grouping which will keep up a protest campaign against last month’s disputed presidential election, an aide said on Wednesday. ‘The establishment of this front is on Mir Hossein Mousavi’s agenda and we will soon announce its establishment,’ Alireza Beheshti was quoted as saying in the reformist newspaper Sarmayeh. Mousavi, a former prime minister who lost the June 12 presidential election to hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has defied the regime by continuing to protest against what he charges was a rigged poll.”

Iraqis to US military: Stay on your base: “Two weeks after U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraq’s major cities, amid sporadic outbreaks of violence countrywide, Iraqi authorities aren’t asking American forces for help. Although U.S. troops are ‘just a radio call away,’ in Baghdad and five other major urban areas, it appears the Iraqis haven’t asked even once. In Baghdad, the Iraqis also won’t allow U.S. forces on the street, except for supply convoys. The failure to trigger the ‘Onstar option’ suggests that the government of Iraq and its military think they can deal with the car bombings, homemade bombs and attacks with silencer-equipped handguns that have plagued parts of the country in recent days.”

Some Twitter staff accounts reportedly hacked : “A hacker believed to have struck celebrity Twitter accounts previously has reportedly broken into accounts of the microblogging service’s workers including co-founder Evan Williams. Data swiped from Twitter employees was shown on a French website on Tuesday and TechCrunch technology news website quoted Williams confirming the hacks in an email. Information lifted from hacked accounts was said to include resumes, salary figures, credit card numbers, message exchanges with celebrities, and a roster of employees as well as their food preferences. Also uncovered were floor plans for the firm’s new offices in San Francisco as well as mention of a possible reality television show based on Twitter. The hacker, identified by the name ‘Hacker Croll,’ claimed to be able to get into Amazon, PayPal, and other accounts belonging to Williams and other Twitter employees.”

Has Ahmadinejad lost his global following? : “For 30 years, Iran has cast itself as a leader of resistance to Israeli and Western policies, and few of its leaders have done as much for that image as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under Mr. Ahmadinejad, Iran’s ‘resistance’ brand has gone global, challenging Western hegemony in the name of defending the globally downtrodden and winning allies from Lebanon to Venezuela while drawing harsh criticism from the United States. But analysts say Iran’s resistance image has been challenged by Ahmadinejad’s controversial June 12 reelection, after which hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the street to protest what they say is a fradulent vote.”

Granny get your gun: "Crime is generally a young person’s game, but that hasn’t stopped an ever-growing number of older Americans from breaking the law. Following a decline through most of the ’90s, over the past 10 years arrest rates for those over 50 have shot up 85 percent, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Experts predict that these numbers will continue to climb well into the next decade, as 35 million baby boomers expand America’s graying population from 16 to nearly 25 percent. Is America on the precipice of a geriatric crime wave?”

Can the economy recover?: “There is no economy left to recover. The US manufacturing economy was lost to offshoring and free trade ideology. It was replaced by a mythical ‘New Economy.’ The ‘New Economy’ was based on services. Its artificial life was fed by the Federal Reserve’s artificially low interest rates, which produced a real estate bubble, and by ‘free market’ financial deregulation, which unleashed financial gangsters to new heights of debt leverage and fraudulent financial products. The real economy was traded away for a make-believe economy. When the make-believe economy collapsed, Americans’ wealth in their real estate, pensions, and savings collapsed dramatically while their jobs disappeared.” [An excessively negative view but there is something in what he says]


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, July 16, 2009

Most interesting

A U.S. army officer, Major Cook, rejected his deployment to Afghanistan on the grounds that Obama was not born in the USA and hence ineligible to be Commander in Chief. He was ready to go to court over it. Rather than go to court, the army backed down and cancelled his deployment order. See the backdown here. Obama is clearly desperate to avoid this matter going to court, and the affair is receiving a fair bit of press coverage. Is this the beginning of the end? The lengths that Obama has gone to in order to avoid producing his original birth certificate are quite extraordinary.


America's travesty of democracy

Lawmakes who don't read what they vote for

by Jeff Jacoby

SAY, DID YOU HEAR THE ONE about the congressman who was asked to do his job? Talk about funny -- this'll crack you up! Well, maybe it won't. But Steny Hoyer thought it was hilarious.

Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, is the majority leader in the US House of Representatives. At a news conference last week, he was talking about the health-care overhaul now being drafted on Capitol Hill, and a reporter asked whether he would support a pledge committing members of Congress to read the bill before voting on it, and to make the full text of the legislation available to the public online for 72 hours before the vote takes place.

That, reported CNSNews, gave Hoyer the giggles:

The majority leader "found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. 'I'm laughing because . . . I don't know how long this bill is going to be, but it's going to be a very long bill,' he said."

Then came one of those classic Washington gaffes that Michael Kinsley famously defined as "when a politician tells the truth." Hoyer conceded that if lawmakers had to carefully study the bill ahead of time, they'd never vote for it. "If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn't read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes," he said.

Hoyer's words can be given two interpretations, both of which are probably accurate: One is that the health-care "reform" will be such a noisome mess that anyone who really digs into its details will be more likely to oppose it. The second is that so few members of Congress will bother to read the bill that if reading it became a prerequisite for voting on it, almost no one would qualify. Either way, the majority leader was declaring it more important for Congress to pass the bill than to understand it.

"Transparency" is a popular buzzword in good-government circles, and politicians are forever promising more of it. On his first day in the White House, for example, President Obama vowed to make his administration "the most open and transparent in history." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has boasted of the "great openness and transparency" that her leadership has brought to Congress.

But as Hoyer's mirth suggests, when it comes to the legislative process, transparency is a joke. Congress frequently votes on huge and complex bills that few if any members of the House or Senate have read through. They couldn't read them even if they wanted to, since it is not unusual for legislation to be put to a vote just hours after the text is made available to lawmakers. Congress passed the gigantic, $787 billion "stimulus" bill in February -- the largest spending bill in history -- after having had only 13 hours to master its 1,100 pages. A 300-page amendment was added to Waxman-Markey, the mammoth cap-and-trade energy bill, at 3 A.M. on the day the bill was taken up by the House. And that wasn't the worst of it, as law professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University noted in National Review Online:

"When Waxman-Markey finally hit the floor, there was no actual bill. Not one single copy of the full legislation that would, hours later, be subject to a final vote was available to members of the House. The text made available to some members of Congress still had "placeholders" -- blank provisions to be filled in by subsequent language. . . . Even the House Clerk's office lacked a complete copy of the legislation, and was forced to place a copy of the 1,200-page draft side by side with the 300-page amendments."

Ramming legislation through Congress so quickly that neither lawmakers nor voters have time to read and digest it is a bipartisan crime; Republicans have been as guilty of it as Democrats. The 341-page Patriot Act, to mention just one notorious example, was introduced in the Republican-controlled House on Oct. 23, 2001, brought to a vote on Oct. 24, adopted by the Democratic-controlled Senate on Oct. 25, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on Oct. 26.

Such efficiency is no virtue when it comes to lawmaking, which is why every member of Congress should be pressed to sign the pledge Hoyer was asked about. It is sponsored by a grassroots conservative group, Let Freedom Ring, and is readily accessible online. Equally worthy of support is, which is backed by a coalition of liberal organizations. Still another push comes from the libertarian group Downsize DC, which urges Congress to pass its proposed Read The Bills Act.

Senators and representatives who vote on bills they haven't read and don't understand betray their constituents' trust. It is no answer to say that Congress would get much less done if every member took the time to read every bill. Fewer and shorter laws more carefully thought through would be a vast improvement over today's massive bills, which are assembled in the dark and enacted in haste. Steny Hoyer chortles at the thought of asking members of Congress to do their job properly. It's up to voters to wipe the grin off his face.



Kabuki and Sonia Sotomayor

by Jeff Jacoby

THE NOMINATION of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court has generated controversy, but its outcome is not in doubt. "Unless you have a complete meltdown, you will be confirmed," South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told the nominee when the Judiciary Committee hearings opened on Monday. It would be hard to find anyone who disagrees.

This week's hearings, then, are all that stand between Sotomayor and one of the most consequential jobs in American life. As a Supreme Court justice, she will be shaping national policy for years, perhaps decades, to come. Long after the president who nominated her has left the White House, Sotomayor will likely still be on the bench, wielding an influence on matters ranging from property rights to labor law to free speech to criminal procedure. With the other justices, she will exercise powers nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, yet by now accepted as the high court's prerogatives: to strike down state and federal laws, to bind other branches of government, to constitutionalize new rights, to have the last word on the meaning of terms like "due process of law" and "establishment of religion" -- and to do it all without being accountable to the American people or any elected official.

Before the Senate consents to investing Sotomayor with such sweeping authority, shouldn't it get some idea of how she would use it? As a matter of due diligence, don't senators have an obligation to learn Sotomayor's views on the legal and constitutional issues of the day? The stakes could hardly be greater, after all, or the public interest more intense. Would-be senators and presidents lay out their positions on current controversies, often in intricate detail. Shouldn't a Supreme Court nominee, who will never again have to submit to public scrutiny, be expected to share her thinking on important judicial and political questions? How else can the Senate, or the voters it represents, decide whether she belongs on the court?

Yet Sotomayor, like previous Supreme Court nominees, intends to tell the Judiciary Committee as little as possible about her views and intentions. In her testimony yesterday, she refused to express an opinion on contentious issues. "I come to every case with an open mind," she insisted. "Every case is new for me."

That isn't true, and everyone knows it -- just as everyone knew it when John Roberts and Samuel Alito were the nominees taking the "judicial Fifth" and politely declining to give straightforward answers when asked about their stands on key subjects. When Roberts was before the committee in 2005, then-Senator Joseph Biden voiced his frustration at "this kabuki dance we have in these hearings here," in which senators ask pointed questions and nominees give ultra-cautious replies, sidestepping any discussion of the convictions they would bring to the court.

Am I suggesting that nominees should telegraph how they would vote in any pending or probable case? Of course not. Should they make commitments to uphold or overrule specific previous Supreme Court decisions? No. But neither should they be allowed to turn the confirmation process into a grave and windy nullity on the grounds that that is what judicial impartiality requires.

The Supreme Court itself has said that such "impartiality" is illusory. "It is virtually impossible to find a judge who does not have preconceptions about the law," the court declared in a 2002 case. "Indeed, even if it were possible to select judges who did not have preconceived views on legal issues, it would hardly be desirable to do so."

Instead of artfully dodging them, Supreme Court nominees should be required to discuss those preconceptions, and to give substantive answers when asked about their legal worldview or their analysis of constitutional issues. In the Wall Street Journal the other day, Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett suggested some questions: "Does the Second Amendment protect an individual right to arms? . . . Does the Ninth Amendment protect judicially enforceable unenumerated rights? Does the Necessary and Proper Clause delegate unlimited discretion to Congress? Where in the text of the Constitution is the so-called Spending Power (by which Congress claims the power to spend tax revenue on anything it wants) and does it have any enforceable limits?"

It is the Senate's responsibility to check and balance the vast clout of the Supreme Court, and it abdicates that responsibility when confirmation hearings become merely an elaborate ritual for rubber-stamping judicial nominees. Too much is riding on every nomination not to demand serious answers to serious questions. Kabuki has its place, and it isn't a Judiciary Committee hearing room.




Sotomayor disavows 'wise Latina' remark: "Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor retreated from her praise of the "wise Latina," endorsed a privacy right to abortion in the Constitution and insisted she was not opposed to gun ownership during a day of questioning on a string of hot-button issues before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. In her first extended public exchanges since President Obama nominated her in May, Judge Sotomayor said her widely cited 2001 remark that a "wise Latina woman" would tend to make better judgments than a white man was a "failed rhetorical flourish that fell flat" - and not, as critics charge, evidence of racism. "The context of the words I said has created a misunderstanding," said Judge Sotomayor, the first Hispanic and the third woman nominated to the high court. "I want to state upfront, unequivocally, I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judgment. I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge," she said. Republicans appeared unconvinced."

A second stimulus package? Yikes! : “Investors understand that increased government spending diverts valuable resources away from the private sector and ends up imposing even more demoralizing taxes on labor and capital. A major study of 18 large economies by Alberto Alesina of Harvard and three colleagues appeared in the 2002 American Economic Review. This paper, ‘Fiscal Policy, Profits and Investment’ found that the surest way to make economies boom can be through deep cuts in government spending — the exact opposite of the ‘fiscal stimulus’ snake oil.”

Banks winning at expense of taxpayers : “Banks surged and stocks followed yesterday, mostly on the heels of high expectations for trading firm Goldman Sachs, which really is more of a hedge fund than a real bank. Last Thursday, I said banks are my favorite stock market sector. So I got it right one time in a row. With a steep upward Treasury curve, even a banker can make money borrowing at near-zero and lending at much higher rates.”

California nightmare: “California has so degraded itself into a laughably leftist socialist commie-think nightmare that it has, as all socialist commie-think countries always do, finally bankrupted itself. As Margaret Thatcher, erstwhile UK prime minister, once said, ‘The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.’ Hahaha! Exactly! And now California has run out of money! Exactly! Now, to demonstrate their complete worthlessness as thinking, rational beings, California has decided that it will not cut expenses overmuch, but will pay for things not with money, but with IOUs! Hahaha! IOUs! Hahahaha! There is Something Beyond Surreal (SMS) about all this.”

Schwarzenegger TV spot warns of hard line on California budget: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has hit the airwaves with a television commercial underscoring he is in no mood to compromise in talks on the state budget. The Republican governor said in the 60-second spot that he would not sign a budget that plugs a $US26.3 billion deficit if it includes higher taxes and excludes changes in state government he has said will prevent welfare fraud. "And I will not sign a budget that pushes our financial problems down the road, because the road stops here," Mr Schwarzenegger said in the commercial, which aired amid growing concerns on Wall Street about the state's finances, especially its cash account. The state government started its fiscal year on July 1, and without a balanced budget agreement it is quickly burning through its cash. That has forced finance officials, grappling with declining revenues because of the recession and rising unemployment, to issue IOUs in order to conserve cash, promising payment to taxpayers owed refunds and vendors owed money for goods and services for only the second time since the Great Depression. Mr Schwarzenegger's TV commercial came amid hope in the state capital of Sacramento that budget talks are nearing a successful conclusion after fits and starts in recent weeks. The governor and top legislators of the state's Democrat-led Legislature have essentially agreed they will balance the state's books with deep spending cuts."

Heavy reading -- but as relevant as ever: “Imagine a novel of more than a thousand pages, published half a century ago. The author doesn’t have a talk-radio show and has been dead for 27 years. As for the storyline, it is beyond dated … The prose itself is a disconcerting mixture of philosophy, industrial policy, and bodice-ripping … In short, you would think Atlas Shrugged might be long forgotten. Instead, Ayn Rand’s novel is remembered more than ever. This year the book is selling at a faster rate than last year. Last year, sales were about 200,000, higher than any year before that, including 1957, when the book was published. Atlas Shrugged is becoming a political ‘Harry Potter’ because Rand shone a spotlight on a problem that still exists: Not pre-1989 Soviet communism, but 2009-style state capitalism. Rand depicted government and companies colluding in the name of economic rescue at the expense of the entrepreneur. That entrepreneur is like the titan Atlas who carries the rest of the world on his shoulders — until he doesn’t.

Should Americans be humble? : "“After president Obama traveled abroad recently it became clear that he wanted to present himself and, indirectly, America as a nation, differently from how he believed President George W. Bush did this. In particular, Mr. Bush was generally seen by his critics as more of an ‘ugly American,’ following the character of the novel by that name, written half a century ago by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer (who exemplified the sort of American who tended to be insensitive to the rest of the world’s population, their customs and languages, etc.). Mr. Obama seems to want to change this by appearing to be less arrogant, swagger less than Mr. Bush. Instead Mr. Obama wants to be friends with virtually everyone, even those who have no interest it being friends with America and Americans, including him.”

The Left’s dismissal of individual rights: "For those of us who have escaped Draconian tyrannies and reached America, for a long time it may be difficult to adjust to the fact that American Leftists are every bit the fascists that some claim they are. As Susan Sontag said, ‘Communism is successful fascism.’ A little inspection of modern American liberalism will also bring this to light — just consider that it was Woodrow Wilson and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who had no patience with opponents of various public policies governments forged during their time and sent those opposed to them to prison. (It was Warren Harding, that negligible right-winger, who eventually set these dissidents free!) Today the Left’s fascistic tendencies are still quite evident, although there is often a kind of sophistication about them (e. g., via the doctrine of Communitarianism). Anyone who reads The New York Review of Books can testify to this. No matter what public policy issues is being discussed in its pages, The Review always treats the wealth of the nation as collectively owned, rejecting that quintessentially American idea of the right to private property. No, everything belongs to us all and government is to allocate the resources in line with how the elite deems proper.”

Addiction is a choice : “I read a book recently called, ‘Addiction is a Choice,’ by Jeffrey Schaler. He suggests that addiction is not a disease, and that people actually choose to use drugs. He points to the fact that although people might have a genetic predisposition to becoming addicted, some people also have a genetic predisposition to blue eyes, and having blue eyes is certainly not a disease. Schaler says that no one has been able to find a cause of the addiction disease in autopsies or medical exams. He says that one of the only treatments for the disease of addiction is therapy in the form of talking to someone. The success rate for this treatment is not much different from those who stop using drugs on their own.”

Fishy politics may harm US consumers: “The Wall Street Journal has a great editorial today on one US industry’s latest attempt to secure some protection against foreign imports, which just may spark a trade war with an important target for American exports. This time, it’s the farmed fish industry, and the imports in question are catfish from Vietnam. ”

UK: Ireland passport proposal shelved: “The government has climbed down over plans to make people show passports for travel between Britain and Ireland. There are currently no passport controls for Irish and UK citizens travelling in the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the two islandsImmigration Minister Phil Woolas had said controls should be in place to tighten security. But the House of Lords voted to remove the clause during the passage of a borders bill.”


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, July 15, 2009

A Personal Inequity

by Thomas Sowell

Sometimes, when I hear about "disparities" and "inequities," I think of a disparity that applied directly to me-- the disparity in basketball ability between myself and Michael Jordan. When I was in school, I was so awful in basketball that the class coach wouldn't even let me try out for softball, at which I was actually pretty good.

I was more than forty years old before I ever got the ball through the basket. It wasn't during a game. The basket was in my brother's backyard and I was just shooting-- unopposed-- from practically right under the basket. The only pressure on me was that my little nephew was watching. After making that one basket, I never took a basketball in my hands again. I retired at my peak.

Think about it: Michael Jordan made millions of dollars because of having a talent that was totally denied to me. Through no fault of my own, I had to spend years studying economics, in order to make a living. Economics is not nearly as much fun as basketball and doesn't pay nearly as much money either. We are talking inequity big time.

Most discussions of "disparities" and "inequities" are a prelude to coming up with some "solution" that the government can impose, winning politicians some votes in the process. How could the disparity between Michael Jordan and me be solved? We could change the rules of basketball, in order to try to equalize the outcomes. Michael Jordan could be required to make all his two-point shots from beyond the three-point line, with five players opposing him and no one on his side. A three-point shot could require him to stand under the basket on the opposite side of the court and shoot from there. Meanwhile, I could make two-point shots from a spot half the distance from the foul line to the basket, and of course without any other players on the court to distract me. Any shots I might make from back at the foul line would count as three-pointers.

Even under these conditions, you would be better off betting your money on Michael Jordan. But, conceivably at least, we might change the rules some more to make the results come out less lopsided, in order to create "social justice."

The problem with trying to equalize is that you can usually only equalize downward. If the government were to spend some of its stimulus money trying to raise my basketball ability level to that of Michael Jordan, it would be an even bigger waste of money than most of the other things that Washington does.

So the only way to try to equalize that has any chance at all would be to try to bring Michael Jordan down to my level, whether by drastic rule changes or by making him play with one hand tied behind his back, or whatever. The problem with this approach, as with many other attempts at equalization, is that it undermines the very activity involved. Basketball would be a much less interesting game if it was played under rules designed to produce equality of outcomes. Attendance would fall off to the point where neither Michael Jordan nor anyone else could make a living playing the game.

The same principle applies elsewhere. If you are going to try to equalize the chances of women getting jobs as firefighters, for example, then you are going to have to lower the physical requirements of height, weight and upper body strength. That means that you are going to have more firefighters who are not capable of carrying an unconscious person out of a burning building. If you are going to have these lower physical requirements be the same for both women and men, that means that you are not only going to have women who are not capable of carrying someone out of a burning building, you are also going to have men who are likewise incapable of carrying someone to safety.

Most activities do not exist for the sake of equality. They exist to serve their own purposes-- and those purposes are undermined, sometimes fatally, when equality becomes the goal. Nor would a politician encouraging me to feel resentful toward Michael Jordan do any good. If I had such resentments, they would do me more harm than they would do Michael Jordan. They would make me feel bad-- and could make me miss seeing some great basketball.



Using children as weapons

Frank Rich, in a stupid column for the New York Times, can't resist throwing an elbow at a politician's child: "The essence of Palinism is emotional, not ideological. Yes, she is of the religious right, even if she winks literally and figuratively at her own daughter’s flagrant disregard of abstinence and marriage."

What a classless jerk. Other than having committed the unpardonable sin of being born Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol did nothing to warrant getting slammed in the pages of the New York Times. What's important is that the family respects life. And lives by those values. But he's too poisoned by libtardism and bitterness to see that. These ratf*cks have a pathological obsession with Palin vaginas.

The game is evident. The libtard media has driven Palin from office by targeting her daughters.... or think they have. They will stop at nothing to use Bristol Palin and her child to attempt to discredit Sarah and drive a wedge between her and Christian voters. It won't work, though. Christians don't condemn premarital sex nearly so much as they 1.) value the sanctity of life, and 2.) Hate the judgementalism and venom coming from people like Frank Rich.

The libtard media is nothing but a pack of rabid hounds. In another time and place, they would probably be Red Army soldiers lined up to gang-rape German girls. God, I hope she runs for President next time round. I can't say I'll vote for her over the other conservative nominees. I recognize her shortcomings as a candidate. But it might be worth voting for her just to give these bastards conniption fits.



Predators and Civilians

An intelligence report shows how effective drone attacks are

Several Taliban training camps in the Pakistan hinterland were hit last week by missiles fired from American unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, reportedly killing some 20 terrorists. Remarkably, some people think these strikes are a bad idea.

To get a sense of what U.S. drone strikes have accomplished in the past two years, recall the political furor that followed a July 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which found that al Qaeda had "protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland [i.e., U.S.] attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership. . . . As a result, we judge that the United States currently is in a heightened threat environment." The media declared we were losing the war.

Less than a year later, then-CIA director Michael Hayden offered a far more upbeat assessment to the Washington Post.

What changed? At least part of the answer is that the U.S. went from carrying out only a handful of drone attacks in 2007 to more than 30 in 2008. According to U.S. intelligence, among the "high-value targets" killed in these new strikes were al Qaeda spokesman Abu Layth al-Libi, weapons expert Abu Sulayman al Jazairi, chemical and biological expert Abu Khabab al-Masri, commander and logistician Abu Wafa al-Saudi, al Qaeda "Emir" Abu al-Hasan al Rimi, and, in November, Rashid Rauf. Rauf, who had escaped from a Pakistan jail the previous year, was a coordinator of the summer 2007 plot to blow up passenger planes over the Atlantic.

Is the world better off with these people dead? We think so. Then again, Lord Bingham, until recently Britain's senior law lord, has recently said UAV strikes may be "beyond the pale" and potentially on a par with cluster bombs and landmines. Australian counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen says "the Predator [drone] strikes have an entirely negative effect on Pakistani stability." He adds, "We should be cutting strikes back pretty substantially."

In both cases, the argument against drones rests on the belief that the attacks cause wide-scale casualties among noncombatants, thereby embittering local populations and losing hearts and minds. If you glean your information from wire reports -- which depend on stringers who are rarely eyewitnesses -- the argument seems almost plausible.

Yet anyone familiar with Predator technology knows how misleading those reports can be. Unlike fighter jets or cruise missiles, Predators can loiter over their targets for more than 20 hours, take photos in which men, women and children can be clearly distinguished (burqas can be visible from 20,000 feet) and deliver laser-guided munitions with low explosive yields. This minimizes the risks of the "collateral damage" that often comes from 500-pound bombs. Far from being "beyond the pale," drones have made war-fighting more humane.

A U.S. intelligence summary we've seen corrects the record of various media reports claiming high casualties from the Predator strikes. For example, on April 1 the BBC reported that "a missile fired by a suspected U.S. drone has killed at least 10 people in Pakistan." But the intelligence report says that half that number were killed, among them Abdullah Hamas al-Filistini, a top al Qaeda trainer, and that no women and children were present.

In each of the strikes in 2009 that are described by the intelligence summary, the report says no women or children were killed. Moreover, we know of planned drone attacks that were aborted when Predator cameras spied their presence. And an April 19 strike on a compound in South Waziristan did destroy a truck loaded with what the report estimates were more explosives than the truck that took out Islamabad's Marriott Hotel last September. That Islamabad attack killed 54 people and injured more than 260 others, mostly Pakistan civilians but also Americans.

Critics of the drone strikes ought to ask whether, based on this information, the April 19 strike was worth the bad publicity. We'd say yes. We'd also say that the Obama Administration -- which, to its credit, has stepped up the use of Predators -- should make public the kind of information we've seen. We understand there will always be issues concerning sources and methods. But critics of the drone attacks, especially Pakistani critics, have become increasingly vocal in their opposition. They deserve to know about the terrorist calamities they've been spared thanks to these unmanned flights over their territory.

We're delighted to see that Pakistan's military is finally taking the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda after ill-conceived truces that were a source of the country's recent instability. When Pakistan's government can exercise sovereignty over all its territory, there will be no need for Predator strikes. In the meantime, unmanned bombs away.




Promises, Promises. Sotomayor vows 'fidelity to the law': "Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor vowed "fidelity to the law" and said she has not advocated for policy since becoming a judge 17 years ago, gently addressing critics on the first day of Senate hearings that produced no fireworks, and even the prospect of Republican support. Judge Sotomayor, whos been mainly silent since becoming first Hispanic nominated to the high court, used her brief opening statement to address Republican questions about her impartiality and charges that she would legislate from the bench. "In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law," Judge Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The task of a judge is not to make the law - it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents"

Obama’s empathy test: “In discharging their constitutional duty to provide advice and, if they deem appropriate, give consent to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, Senators should examine the critical importance the president attaches to empathy as a judicial virtue and to Judge Sotomayor’s claim to be well-endowed with it. They will find that the president and the judge have exaggerated empathy’s significance, understated its ambiguities, and obscured fundamental judicial virtues.”

Gun rights leaders join in opposition to Sotomayor confirmation: “Several of the nation’s leading gun rights activists, including the heads of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and Second Amendment Foundation, today joined to oppose the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. ‘It is extremely important that a Supreme Court justice understand and appreciate the origin and meaning of the Second Amendment, a constitutional guarantee permanently enshrined in the Bill of Rights,’ said a letter from the group, which was hand-delivered to every member of the U.S. Senate.”

Obama is emulating Japan's huge policy failure in dealing with economic crisis: The scenario was eerily familiar. A long real estate bubble that had expanded extra rapidly for the previous five years suddenly burst, and asset prices came crashing back down to earth. Banks and financial institutions were left holding piles of worthless paper, and the economy soon headed south. The national government responded to the crisis by encouraging more lending and spending previously unfathomable amounts of money on public works projects in an effort to stimulate consumer spending and restart growth. But that stimulus did not save the Japanese economy in the 1990s; far from it. The ensuing period came to be known as the Lost Decade, characterized by multiple recessions, an annual average growth rate of less than 1 percent, and a two-decade decline in stock prices and corporate profits.

The average length of unemployment is higher than it's been since government began tracking the data in 1948: "The recent unemployment numbers have undermined confidence that we might be nearing the bottom of the recession. What we can see on the surface is disconcerting enough, but the inside numbers are just as bad. The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate for job losses for June is 467,000, which means 7.2 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the recession. The cumulative job losses over the last six months have been greater than for any other half year period since World War II, including the military demobilization after the war. The job losses are also now equal to the net job gains over the previous nine years, making this the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all job growth from the previous expansion".

The Obama Democrats pick income redistribution over job creation and economic growth: "Jason Furman owes an apology to Michael Boskin, the Stanford economist who wrote a year ago on these pages that Barack Obama would raise American income tax rates nearly to 60%. Mr. Furman, then in the Obama campaign and now at the White House, claimed this was wrong and that Democrats would merely raise taxes back to their Clinton-era level. House Democrats are now proving that Mr. Boskin had it right, and before it's over even he may have underestimated how high taxes will go. In the middle of a recession and with rising unemployment, Democrats have been letting it leak that they want to raise U.S. tax rates higher than they've been in nearly 30 years in order to finance government health care. Every detail isn't known, but late last week Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel disclosed that his draft bill would impose a "surtax" on individuals with adjusted gross income of more than $280,000 a year. This would hit job creators especially hard because more than six of every 10 who earn that much are small business owners"

Banking doesn’t need further regulation in US: “The decision to write or reject a loan should lie with the lender, who should carefully consider the qualifications of the borrower. Many smaller community banks have come through the credit and housing crises relatively unscathed due to their more conservative model when writing loans (’Bay State bankers wary of reform plan,’ July 8). Unfortunately, even these successful banks are coming under greater scrutiny from banking regulators. If banks were being fraudulent, then they can and should be prosecuted under existing laws.”

Obama showed "willful disregard of political oppression" by leftist dictators: "Obama has demanded that Honduras allow its anti-American would-be dictator, Mel Zelaya, to return to power, arguing that President Zelaya’s removal by the Honduras Supreme Court, with the backing of his country’s Congress and military, was “undemocratic” because the now-unpopular Zelaya was once elected. He has ignored the many legal and foreign-affairs commentators who have pointed out that Zelaya’s removal was a legal response to Zelaya’s flouting of the constitution, and not a “coup,”... But Obama has shown no interest at all in criticizing the human rights violations, violent repression, and anti-democratic behavior of Venezuela’s anti-American strongman, as even the liberal Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952, noted today in an editorial by Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl, “Double Standards on Latin America.” The Washington Post’s Diehl notes Obama’s “willful disregard of political oppression” by anti-American regimes in places like Venezuela, and the fact that his Administration “for months refused to publicly” criticize human-rights abuses in Venezuela."

Iran on the brink : “When an authoritarian regime approaches its final crisis, as a rule its dissolution follows two steps. Before its collapse, a mysterious rupture takes place. All of a sudden people know that the game is over, and then they are no longer afraid. It is not only that the regime loses its legitimacy, but that its own exercise of power is perceived as an impotent panic reaction. We all know the classic scene from cartoons. The cat reaches a precipice, but continues walking, unaware that there is no ground under its feet. It falls only when it looks down and notices the abyss. When a regime loses its authority, it is like a cat above the precipice: In order to fall, it only has to be reminded to look down.”


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, July 14, 2009

Clarence Thomas: The courage of his convictions

Justice Clarence Thomas has now served on the Supreme Court for 18 years, longer than most of the other 109 men and women who have sat on that high bench. Yet he remains an enigma to many. In the court’s open hearings he sits mute while most of his colleagues pepper counsel with questions. Yet he can be seen trading quips with his seatmate, Justice Stephen Breyer — a hint of the gregarious Clarence Thomas whose close friends describe him as a man with a wide-ranging intellect and gutsy sense of humor that takes flight in what they call “The Laugh.”.....

At first Thomas was dismissed as a clone of Justice Antonin Scalia. But today even liberal analysts of the court concede that he has set his own course. His opinions show an original and consistent approach to the law, and their distinctive prose — disciplined and graceful, but not flashy — indicates they are not the products of his law clerks but of the justice himself.

Two themes that run through his years on the court are illustrated by two of his opinions announced in the last full week of the court’s term last month. One of them was a dissent from the court’s 8-1 decision on the Voting Rights Act, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. The other was his opinion for the court in a 5-4 decision on maritime law, Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend.

The first theme is that, as in Northwest Austin, Thomas has been willing to stand alone, or nearly alone, even against his natural allies. Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion, with concurrences by seven other justices, raised serious doubts about the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires Justice Department approval for changes in election laws in states that had low voter turnout in elections from 1964 to 1972. Thomas zeroed in on the issue the court sidestepped and argued that the law was unconstitutional. This was consistent with his view back in 1994 that almost all Voting Rights Act cases had been wrongly decided — and with his general willingness to overturn previous high court decisions he regards as wrong.

But it’s not fair to charge, as some critics have, that Thomas ignores past discrimination against blacks. His dissent paints a vivid picture of white Southerners’ “concerted acts of violence, terror and subterfuge to keep minorities from voting” from the 1870s to the 1960s, and endorses the court’s upholding the original provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

At the same time, he has objected to racial preferences in government contracting because they “stamp minorities with a badge of inferiority,” and in a 1995 case, he wrote, “It never ceases to amaze me that the courts are so willing to assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior.”

In the Atlantic Sounding case, he agreed with the four justices generally labeled liberal that an injured seaman may sue for punitive damages for “failure to pay maintenance and cure” — an admiralty law term. Thomas had similarly agreed with the liberals on the meaning of the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines. As in that earlier case, Thomas’ opinion went far back in history, citing English and American cases decided in 1676 and 1784 and interpreting the Jones Act of 1920.

Thomas’ willingness to write lonely opinions and to be guided by history has sometimes helped to change the law. For example, his 1997 concurring opinion setting out recent legal scholarship on the Second Amendment right to bear arms laid the groundwork for the court’s 2008 decision overturning the District of Columbia’s handgun ban. In setting his own course in case after case, Thomas has also done more than his detractors understand to change the course of the law.

The likely confirmation of Sotomayor and the possibility of future Obama appointments could change the balance on a court that has been closely divided on many major cases. But that seems unlikely to change the thrust of Thomas’ jurisprudence. He may write more dissenting opinions and fewer concurrences, but his insistence on going his own way may if anything become more pronounced. At the same time, his tendency to go back to first principles and to re-examine the origins of the law may prove, over time, persuasive and influential in ways surprising to both his critics and admirers — just as he has surprised both in his first 18 years on the court.



Sotomayor's Selective Empathy

She's not empathetic at all. She's just an arrogant racist

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is wrongly being sold by Team Obama as an "empathetic nominee." This adjective is shown a farce when one examines her record in two noteworthy cases involving Jeffrey Deskovic and Frank Ricci. In these instances, she acted callous and indifferent to the injustice and suffering of these men.

As a 17-year-old young man, Deskovic was convicted for the murder and rape of a classmate despite a negative DNA test. He ended up serving 16 years in prison before he was ultimately exonerated after additional DNA evidence proved another man was guilty. A good portion of his life was taken away by a justice system with Sotomayor playing judge.

Despite Deskovic serving 10 years in prison, Sotomayor refused to hear two of his valid appeals. These appeals were based on DNA evidence and coerced testimony. A county clerk gave his attorney inaccurate information and his attorney filed the appeal petition four days late. The court refused to hear this appeal, so the lawyer appealed the decision before Sotomayor's court, arguing that the error was the fault of the clerk; therefore, the case ought to be heard given Deskovic's innocence. Sotomayor ruled against hearing Deskovic's appeal, effectively sentencing an innocent man to six more years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

“Despite Sotomayor’s rhetoric, her ruling in my case showed a callous disregard for the real-life implications of her rulings,” Deskovic says. “She opted for procedure over fairness and finality of conviction over accuracy. Many of the victims of wrongful convictions serving long sentences had exhausted their appeals long before they were exonerated. In how many of those cases did Sotomayor vote to refuse to even consider evidence of innocence?” Even though Sotomayor displayed a callous indifference to the suffering of this innocent man, Obama wants people to ignore this case and confirm her immediately because she is a “wise Hispanic Woman.”

Another case showing her lack of empathy and poor judgment is the Frank Ricci firefighter case. Frank Ricci is a Connecticut firefighter with dyslexia who studied many difficult and challenging hours, due to his disability, to pass a written test. Along with the passing of the test came a promotion but Ricci’s aspirations for advancement quickly vanished as he watched the city throw his results away because no minorities passed the test and they didn’t want to get sued for discrimination. Sotomayor and her court agreed with the city and were willing to punish a white firefighter who succeeds just because minority candidates did not perform well on the test.

By allowing this discrimination and racism, Sotomayor proves herself to be anything but empathetic.



The Seinfeld Hearings

How Senators could, but probably won't, make the Sotomayor confirmation a show about something

If you suspect this week's Senate confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor will be, like "Seinfeld," a show about nothing, you are probably right. To understand why, we need to revisit an era that remade how lawyers and the public think about law, and especially the Constitution.

In the 1930s, academics developed a philosophy they called "legal realism" to undercut judicial resistance to "progressive" statutes such as laws restricting the hours a baker or a woman could work. Legal realism elevated just results over the rule of law. It saw analysis of "the law" as an after-the-fact rationalization that allowed reactionary judges to conceal their empathy for the oppressed. Because legal realists believed judges inevitably made law when they ruled, they thought judges should decide cases with progressive ends in mind.

At the same time, and somewhat inconsistently, realist progressives also condemned judges who declared progressive federal and state laws to be unconstitutional as judicial activists who were thwarting the will of the people. Never mind that the Supreme Court was only tepidly enforcing the original meaning of the Constitution and was upholding the vast majority of enlightened regulations. Any interference of the will of the people was deemed to be undemocratic.

Today we live in a legal world in which many progressives and conservatives share the legal realists' preoccupation with results. So justices must be chosen who will reach the politically correct results or opposed because they will reach the wrong results. Judicial confirmation hearings are thereby turned into a game of gotcha, with questioners trying to trip up the other side's nominees, and nominees quite properly refusing to reveal the only thing their inquisitors truly care about: how they would rule in particular cases that are likely to come before the Court.

But postures must be assumed and questions must be asked. So senators and nominees opine about two empty concepts. The first is "stare decisis" or precedent: Will the nominee follow the hallowed case of U.S. v. Whatchamacallit or not?

Of course, the legal realists detested precedent, which in their time stood in the way of their progressive agenda. Nothing has really changed. Both sides only want to respect the precedents that lead to the results they like. No one thinks justices should follow every precedent, so the crucial issue is picking and choosing which to follow and which to ignore. But how? Well, by the results, of course.

Now, when it comes to the meaning of the Constitution, I agree that precedent should not bind the Supreme Court. The written Constitution remains fixed, regardless of whether past decisions have gotten its meaning wrong. I am grateful that the Supreme Court reversed Plessy v. Ferguson -- the 1896 case that gave us "separate but equal" and an unconstitutional system of racial apartheid. Unfortunately, neither Democratic nor Republican senators will decry the post-New Deal rulings that transformed our constitutional order from what Princeton professor Stephen Macedo has called "islands of [government] powers in a sea of rights" to "islands of rights in a sea of [government] powers." Unless they can explain how we know which precedents to follow and which to reverse -- apart from liking the results -- all pontificating about "stare decisis" is really about nothing.

The second empty issue to be discussed is the bugaboo of "judicial activism" and its conjoined twin, "judicial restraint," which today's judicial conservatives have inherited from New Deal progressives. But what exactly is "activism"? Is it activism when any popularly enacted law is held unconstitutional? Neither Democrats or Republicans truly believe this, however, since they want judges to strike down laws as unconstitutional when doing so leads to the ["]right result["] (but not when it doesn't). So judicial activism means thwarting the "will of the people" when critics agree with the people, while they complain about the "tyranny of the majority" when they disagree.

We can do better.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings do not have to be about either results or nothing. They could be about clauses, not cases. Instead of asking nominees how they would decide particular cases, ask them to explain what they think the various clauses of the Constitution mean. Does the Second Amendment protect an individual right to arms? What was the original meaning of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment? (Hint: It included an individual right to arms.) Does the 14th Amendment "incorporate" the Bill of Rights and, if so, how and why? Does the Ninth Amendment protect judicially enforceable unenumerated rights? Does the Necessary and Proper Clause delegate unlimited discretion to Congress? Where in the text of the Constitution is the so-called Spending Power (by which Congress claims the power to spend tax revenue on anything it wants) and does it have any enforceable limits?

Don't ask how the meaning of these clauses should be applied in particular circumstances. Just ask about the meaning itself and how it should be ascertained. Do nominees think they are bound by the original public meaning of the text? Even those who deny this still typically claim that original meaning is a "factor" or starting point. If so, what other factors do they think a justice should rely on to "interpret" the meaning of the text? Even asking whether "We the People" in the U.S. Constitution originally included blacks and slaves -- as abolitionists like Lysander Spooner and Frederick Douglass contended, or not as Chief Justice Roger Taney claimed in Dred Scott v. Sandford -- will tell us much about a nominee's approach to constitutional interpretation. Given that this is hardly a case that will come before them, on what grounds could nominees refuse to answer such questions?

Of course, inquiring into clauses not cases would require senators to know something about the original meaning of the Constitution. Do they? It would be interesting to hear what Sen. Al Franken thinks about such matters, but no more so than any other member of the Judiciary Committee. Such a hearing would not only be entertaining, it would be informative and educational. After all, it would be about the meaning of the Constitution, which is to say it would be about something.




Sotomayor faces easy route to confirmation: "The Supreme Court confirmation prospects of Judge Sonia Sotomayor appeared good Sunday as one Democratic senator said he expects her to receive more votes than the hefty majority for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Republicans indicated they don't expect a filibuster. The Senate Judiciary Committee starts at 10 a.m. Monday the confirmation hearing of Judge Sotomayor to replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter. Judge Sotomayor, a member of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has met with 89 senators. "She has wowed people," Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "She is going to be approved by a large margin." Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said he doubts Judge Sotomayor will have a fate similar to another Hispanic nominee to the federal bench, Miguel Estrada, whose confirmation was filibustered by Democrats seven times. "We're not going to filibuster Judge Sotomayor like the Democrats did Miguel Estrada, who would have been on the Supreme Court, I would have predicted, if he had not been filibustered and denied an up-or-down vote," Mr. Cornyn said on "Fox News Sunday." "I think she'll have an up-or-down vote."

Out of Alaska: “Palin has a devoted following. No Republican politician energizes GOP crowds as much as she does. When I saw her speak at the Vanderburgh County Right to Life dinner in Evansville, Indiana, in April, Palin was practically mobbed by well-wishers and autograph seekers. The conservative movement is rudderless, and social conservatives in particular would like a powerful spokesman for their cause. The social issues may not have played much of a role during Palin’s governorship, but once she is free from office she can emphasize them as much as she likes. One lesson from Barack Obama’s candidacy is that a politician should seize his (or her) moment. Elite opinion, remember, thought that Barack Obama wasn’t ready to run for president in 2008. He should sit back, the argument went. Gain seasoning. Master a few issues. Wait for his turn. But Obama understood that when you do that, you end up being Joe Biden. Obama understood that once the spotlight is on you, it’s foolish to let it pass on to someone else. He ignored the naysayers. He launched his campaign. Now he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Mandating Unemployment. Congress prepares to kill more jobs: "Here's some economic logic to ponder. The unemployment rate in June for American teenagers was 24%, for black teens it was 38%, and even White House economists are predicting more job losses. So how about raising the cost of that teenage labor? Sorry to say, but that's precisely what will happen on July 24, when the minimum wage will increase to $7.25 an hour from $6.55. The national wage floor will have increased 41% since the three-step hike was approved by the Democratic Congress in May 2007. Then the economy was humming, with an overall jobless rate of 4.5% and many entry-level jobs paying more than the minimum. That's a hard case to make now, with a 9.5% national jobless rate and thousands of employers facing razor-thin profit margins.There's been a long and spirited debate among economists about who gets hurt and who benefits when the minimum wage rises. But in a 2006 National Bureau of Economic Research paper, economists David Neumark of the University of California, Irvine, and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve Bank reviewed the voluminous literature over the past 30 years and came to two almost universally acknowledged conclusions. First, "a sizable majority of the studies give a relatively consistent (though not always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects." Second, "studies that focus on the least-skilled groups [i.e., teens, and welfare moms] provide relatively overwhelming evidence of stronger disemployment effects."

Socialized medicine will stifle innovation: "The normal critique of socialized medicine is to point out that people have to wait a long time for . . . treatments in places like Britain. And that's certainly a valid critique . . . . The key point, though, is that these treatments didn't just come out of the blue. They were developed by drug companies and device makers who thought they had a good market for things that would make people feel better. But under a national healthcare plan, the "market" will consist of whatever the bureaucrats are willing to buy. That means treatment for politically stylish diseases will get some money, but otherwise the main concern will be cost-control. More treatments, to bureaucrats, mean more costs . . . . It's ironic that the same Democrats who were pushing the medical prospects for stem-cell research during the last election are now pushing a program that will make such progress far less likely."


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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)