Saturday, December 12, 2009

Greek tragedy for the world economy

The gloomy thoughts below are from a much-published German economist presently working in Australia. It would certainly be very disruptive if countries stopped being able to pay interest on their debt. The USA can just print money to pay what it owes to China (etc.) but other countries that owe dollars cannot do that. And the US dollar is already devaluing rapidly under the impact of Obama's huge debt-financed spending -- so a large part of the world's savings (held in U.S. dollars) is being wiped out at a rate of knots. And that (inflation) is always very disruptive

By Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich

Just when many thought the global financial crisis was over, it re-emerges with a bang. This week, Greece and Spain both had their credit ratings downgraded. Standard & Poor’s changed Spain’s outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative.’ For Greece, the news was even worse: Fitch revalued Greece’s creditworthiness to BBB+, just a few steps above junk status.

Dramatic as these developments sound, they are hardly surprising. When Greece was allowed to join Europe’s Monetary Union in 2002, it benefitted enormously from the Eurozone’s lower interest rates. Unfortunately, the Greeks did not use this opportunity to consolidate their finances. Instead, they took it as an invitation to run even higher deficits.

Only in one year, 2006, was Greece able to comply with the EU Growth and Stability Pact, which sets a budget deficit limit of 3% of GDP. Following the financial crisis, this deficit has now ballooned to 12.7%. At 121% of GDP, Greece’s public debt is much larger than its economy, making it the most indebted country in the European Union.

Australians could be forgiven for thinking that Greece’s problems are those of a small, faraway country. But they matter for at least two reasons. First, the GFC has demonstrated how interconnected the world economy has become. There are no faraway places anymore. Second, the Greek troubles could be a harbinger of much worse. It is only a matter of time before one of the world’s other sovereign debt time-bombs detonates.

That even Greece could trigger a financial domino effect is not least due to its membership of the Euro currency. There is no political way the other Euro member states could let the Greeks go under. Having just supported their banks, French and German taxpayers may now have to bail out a whole country. This will have implications for the Euro and economic stability, generally. It could even break the European Union with unforeseeable consequences.

Whether Greece will be the next country to declare bankruptcy is by no means certain. Other hot contenders are the Baltic states, Spain, Dubai, Ireland and, threatening even greater disruption, Japan and Britain. US public finances hardly look reassuring, either.

There is a real possibility that some countries have overstretched themselves so much that they cannot service their debt in the near future. It now looks more like a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ that will happen. We are anxiously awaiting the next act of this Greek tragedy.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated December 11. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


Time to Put the Squeeze on Palestinian Aid

At the 1993 Oslo signing ceremony in Washington, President Bill Clinton called the Oslo accords a "brave gamble." Actually, Oslo turned out to be a tragic gamble that cost Israel almost 2,000 lives, with thousands more maimed. The reason: a concessionary policy that ignored continuing Palestinian rejection of Israel's existence as a Jewish state and support for terrorist violence against it.

Now, the Obama administration is doing the same thing. And it is Barack Obama's own secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is pretending that Palestinian terrorism -- and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it -- is nonexistent or unimportant.

Recently, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) wrote to Clinton, stating that he was "deeply concerned" about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party conference this past August.

He noted that "posters of children brandishing weapons" were displayed; senior Fatah officials routinely "glorified perpetrators of terrorism"; and leaders addressing the audience "continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel."

Accordingly, Specter urged that the $800 million in U.S. aid to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority be "predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace."

How did Secretary Clinton reply? With a flat-earth letter of rebuttal to Specter, claiming that the Fatah conference showed "a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution."

She also claimed that Abbas and Fatah "reaffirmed" their "strategic choice to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict." She noted that "some individual Fatah delegates issued problematic texts and statements ... . It is important to note that those texts and statements did not represent Fatah's official positions."

In fact, as the Zionist Organization of America has documented, the conference reaffirmed Fatah's refusal to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and did not commit itself to a nonviolence. On the contrary, Abbas himself declared: "We maintain the right to launch an armed resistance." Jailed Fatah terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, often touted as future leader, said: "Resistance to the Israeli occupation is a national obligation, and it is a legitimate right."

Another senior Fatah figure, Fahmi Al-Za'arir, said: "It is not possible to rule out or to marginalize the military option. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [Fatah's armed force and a recognized terrorist group under U.S. law] are the jewel in Fatah's crown."

These are not merely the views of "individual Fatah delegates," as Clinton claims; they are unequivocal statements of support for terror by senior leaders of Fatah from Mahmoud Abbas down.

Moreover, the Fatah platform calls for increased international pressure on Israel, and opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states. It also calls for a "strategic channel with Iran to be opened," at a time Iran is defying the world by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Moreover, at this conference, Fatah openly honored terrorists, including Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for a 1978 coastal-road bus-hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered.

In view of these easily ascertainable facts, Clinton's response to Specter is deeply troubling.

Ironically, as a senator, Clinton distinguished herself by pointing to the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the P.A. She stated that such incitement would have "dire consequences for peace for generations to come." Now, however, confronting this matter and in a position to act, she ignores her own insights and advice. Worse, she praises Fatah for its commitment to peace.

The time has come for American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to demand conditioning U.S. aid to the P.A. on the dismantling of terror groups, and an end to incitement to hatred and murder in its media, mosques and schools.



Why are Americans so pro-Israel?

Of all the ways in which the United States marches to the beat of its own drummer, few are more striking than the American people's consistent and deep-rooted support for the Jewish state. In a recent nationwide survey, the Gallup organization asked Americans: "In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?" For the fourth year in a row, 59 percent -- nearly 6 in 10 -- said their sympathies were with Israel, while just 18 percent sided with the Palestinians. When respondents were asked for their opinion of various countries, 63 percent said they had a favorable view of Israel (21 percent said very favorable), compared with just 15 percent who thought highly of the Palestinian Authority.

Conversely, only 29 percent of Americans told Gallup that their opinion of Israel was negative, even as a whopping 73 percent expressed a negative attitude toward the Palestinians.

This overwhelmingly positive feeling for Israel is normal for the United States, but it puts Americans sharply at odds with the rest of the world. At the United Nations, for example, nothing is more routine than the castigation of Israel. Similarly, any time Israel is forced to use its military power in self-defense, it comes under the harsh glare of the international media, which subject it to a scrutiny far more unforgiving than any other country receives. It was only a few years ago that a poll commissioned by the European Union found that a plurality of Europeans regarded Israel as the greatest threat to world peace -- more menacing than even North Korea or Iran. So what makes Americans different?

Foreign policy "realists" could certainly suggest reasons why close friendship with Israel is not in America's interest, beginning with the fact that most of the world doesn't share it. There are 300 million or more Arabs in the world, and they sit atop a vast share of the world's oil supply. Why endanger American access to that oil by maintaining such close ties to a nation with only 6 million people and no petroleum to export? Why risk incurring the wrath of Islamic terrorists by supporting Israel, a nation most of them detest? Surely it would make more sense -- so a "realist" might argue -- for Americans to distance themselves from the world's lone Jewish state, and tilt instead toward the much greater number of nations and governments that are hostile to Israel.

Yet most Americans instinctively reject such advice. The national consensus in support of Israel is longstanding and durable, and it isn't grounded in economics, energy policy, or a quest for diplomatic popularity. Nor, as some conspiracy-minded critics have claimed, is it because a "Zionist lobby" in Washington routinely hijacks US foreign policy, manipulating America into serving Israel's ends. The roots of America's bond with Israel lie elsewhere.

First, Americans stand with Israel because in it they recognize a liberal democracy much like their own: a nation in which elections are lively, fair, and democratic; in which freedom of speech and the press are core values; in which the political rights of minorities are respected; and in which a commitment to civil liberties and justice is woven into the very fabric of society.

Second, Americans know that Israel is a stable ally in one of the world's most critical and volatile regions. Its intelligence service is perhaps the world's finest, its military is the best in the Middle East, and its painfully acquired expertise in counterterrorism is invaluable -- all the more so as we wage our own war against jihadi terrorists.

Third, Americans sympathize with Israel because they understand that the enemies of Israel state hate the United States as well. The suicide bombers who revel in the death of innocent Jews, the fanatics who chant "Death to Israel," the Iranian- and Syrian-backed forces that launch rockets from Gaza or Lebanon with the aim of shedding Israeli blood -- they are steeped in the same murderous ideology as Osama bin Laden and the Islamists who slaughtered so many Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

And fourth, there is a deep religious bond between American Christians and the Jewish people, a bond that stretches back to the earliest era of American history. More than a century before the Revolutionary War, the Puritan leader Increase Mather taught his followers to anticipate the day when the Jews would return to their homeland and establish "the most glorious nation in the whole world." In 1819, former President John Adams wrote of his wish to see "the Jews against in Judea an independent nation." Today, tens of millions of American evangelicals passionately support -- even love -- the Jewish state, and consider it nothing less than their duty as Christians to stand with Israel and her people.

Why are Americans so pro-Israel? For reasons practical and idealistic, religious and strategic. They are linked by the kinship of common values -- an affinity of strength and decency that reflects the best of both nations, and sets them apart from the other nations of the world.




Hating and beating up on 'f------ white people' in Denver: "To Gregory Kane's column of today on hate crimes legislation, I'd add these recent incidents in Denver, Colo., in which, once again, the perps and victims were "the wrong color." The series of brutal beatings and robberies was clearly racially motivated -- tinged with such shouted statements as "I hate you f---ing white people." According to the television news, the perps will likely face state hate crimes charges. But will we see the new, redundant federal hate crimes law applied here? That is to say, if any of the suspects are somehow acquitted in state court, will federal prosecutors re-try them in federal court, as that new law allows -- an apparent violation of the constitutional protection against double jeopardy? Will any grants from the new hate crimes law be given to local prosecutors if they pursue such charges, as that new law also allows?"

Obama's Nobel speech: "In his Nobel acceptance speech this morning, President Obama justified his decision to raise the stakes in the Afghan War. It was also another arrogant, self-referential Obama Special: "As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life's work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence." Dr. Martin Luther King won the Nobel in 1964, after years of being arrested and persecuted for his pursuit of basic human rights. One would hope that his legacy amounts to much more than a president who praises himself while accepting awards he clearly doesn't deserve, and who sounds more like George W. Bush with each speech he gives on foreign policy."

Enabling ACORN's Comeback: "Congress -- and possibly Citigroup -- may be gearing up to start funding the organized crime syndicate ACORN again. The current federal funding ban expires Dec. 18. On Tuesday evening the House Appropriations Committee rejected on a party line vote of 9 to 5 an amendment offered by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) that would have blocked federal funding of the radical advocacy group. The amendment was needed because the Obama administration thumbed its nose at a provision in spending legislation that banned ACORN funding until the end of next week. In a ruling revealed late last month by the Justice Department the Obama administration invented a loophole allowing the government to continue funding the president's friends at ACORN. Through the magic of legal interpretation, the language forbidding funding the group was transformed by Acting Assistant Attorney General David J. Barron into a requirement not "to refuse payment on binding contractual obligations that predate" the original funding ban. Latham's amendment would have closed the loophole"

Progressives vs. democracy: "At press time, the House-Senate reconciliation over some version of a health care bill was still lurching along. Although key details were changing daily, one fact has remained constant: Any legislation that might end up passing through the Democrat-controlled Congress will involve enormous new government subsidies, onerous mandates on private insurance companies (and their customers), and tighter government controls on a large and growing percentage of the U.S. economy. Yet the process has already proven to be an unconscionable disappointment to many liberal legislators and commentators. Their increasingly shrill reaction to the debate has revealed a disturbing strain of American political thought that cannot comprehend how anyone could disagree with a big-government solution to health care without being evil, stupid, insane, or all three.”

Life in a mahogany bubble: "In our nation’s curious capital, people know nothing of uneducated young waitresses who juggle long hours and children, without having even one illegal nanny. DC is a world of secure jobs and money, where everyone has been to university, often to a Calvin Klein universities like Harvard, and brains in the ninety-ninth percentile seem unremarkable. We are making three hundred grand a year; why can’t they? This otherworldliness accounts I think for a certain surreal quality to Washington’s debates. For people with high-end Blue Cross, health care has something to do with Keynes and free enterprise and ideological catfights. For a young mother with a sick kid and no money, it doesn’t. But Washington doesn’t know this. Let them eat cake, but is there cake?”

Out of the mouths of babes come a conniving adult’s words: "The Copenhagen meeting opened with a video of terrified children begging adults to stop global warming. Green fanatic Clive Hamilton writes creepy letters to my children to make them scared, too. A crying 18-year-old confronts Canada’s chief negotiator at a Copenhagen briefing (?). The Age today publishes an op-ed allegedly written by a 17-year-old who says she is also “scared”, and wants “a climate agreement”. There is something profoundly immoral about terrifiying children for a political cause, and something profoundly anti-intellectual in demanding adults then heed the children’s cries to settle immensely complex questions of science and economics. This tactic alone suggests on which side of this debate reason lies."


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 11, 2009

Obama does not even have good manners

Barack Obama's trip to Oslo to pick up his Nobel peace award is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over the cancellation of a series of events normally attended by the prizewinner. Norwegians are incensed over what they view as his shabby response to the prize by cutting short his visit.

The White House has cancelled many of the events peace prize laureates traditionally submit to, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as a visit to an exhibition in his honour at the Nobel peace centre. He has also turned down a lunch invitation from the King of Norway.

According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable. "Of all the things he is cancelling, I think the worst is cancelling the lunch with the king," said Siv Jensen, the leader of the largest party in opposition, the populist Progress party. "This is a central part of our government system. He should respect the monarchy," she told VG.



Clarity Over Compromise

Whenever liberals start declaring that ideological sides don’t matter, that the best leaders govern from the center, it probably means their side is losing. The president’s approval numbers continue to plummet, support for health-care reform is tepid at best, the opposition is energized, and the 2009 elections don’t bode well for 2010.

In an effort to buy time and regroup (and marginalize such conservatives as Sarah Palin), talking heads have decided that the GOP’s attempts at ideological purity are poisonous to the political process and that one of our most successful presidents was really a centrist.

In Newsweek’s Palin-bashing extravaganza, Evan Thomas writes (and editor Jon Meacham concurs) that Ronald Reagan, like Eisenhower, governed by “deftly uniting center and right.” He continues that Reagan “piously gave lip service to the right-wing social agenda while doing nothing to further it.” Meacham writes that Reagan picked centrist George H.W. Bush for vice-president in 1980 because he realized the conservative movement needed moderates to win and ultimately govern — a move unlikely today because there are “so few moderates left in the GOP.”

Even conceding that all great leaders must occasionally reach across the aisle, Ronald Reagan did not yield to the center, the center bowed to him. Through congeniality and appeals to common sense and goodwill, he forged a coalition, known as Reagan Democrats, that kept the presidency in Republican hands for twelve years.

In 1981, sixty-three Democrats defied pressure from House Speaker Tip O’Neill and passed Reagan’s budget. Despite all the caterwauling in the 80s about rampant homelessness, and a shaky economy early in his term, Reagan stood his ground. Geniality with toughness ruled foreign policy, as well, though Thomas writes that while Reagan “talked tough about the Russians, he did more than any president to foster detente.”

Back on Planet Earth, it was because Reagan talked not about peaceful co-existence but about actually defeating the Soviet Union that nuclear annihilation was liberals’ other cause celebre of the 80s. By the time he made minor concessions to Gorbachev late in his presidency, he had already walked away from the table at Reykjavik (in lieu of abandoning the Strategic Defense Initiative) and the Communist Empire was crumbling. Much to the dismay of liberals who were seeking a negotiated peace, Reagan’s was one of the few voices making the moral case for freedom over containment.

Ultimately, his moral certainty that freedom is a God-given right that can and must prevail proved more powerful that any weapons system on either side of the Iron Curtain. Reagan’s spectacular success was due not to doling out pork or straddling the center but by instilling hope. Any interim compromises he made were to forward his two over-riding goals: reviving America’s broken economy and defeating the Soviet Union.

Though unable to tackle Washington’s entrenched bureaucracy or all the issues dear to the religious right, any conservative will attest to his towering presence over the movement even today. Conservatism to Reagan was less a matter of ideology than common sense and fair play. He writes in his autobiography that he selected George H.W. Bush for VP out of admiration, respect for his experience and because his second place finish made him the logical choice.

Besides, at the time, most potential running mates were, in fact, centrists, hence Reagan’s immense popularity then and now. Painting him a mere pragmatist renders conservatism alien and abstract. It is neither — its compatibility with human nature’s highest aspirations enabled him to render the opposition party impotent for the better part of a decade. That took clarity, not compromise, and the American left is terrified of seeing his like again.



US Supreme Court questions ‘honesty’ law used to convict Conrad Black

The judges of the US Supreme Court are examining a controversial law that was used to convict Lord Black of Crossharbour of fraud. The jailed press baron, whose empire included The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph newspapers is challenging the “honest services” law before America’s highest court. Miguel Estrada, his lawyer, told the court on Tuesday that the law — which makes it a crime to deny “honest services” — was “vague, amorphous, and open-ended”.

Most judges appeared disposed to rule part or all of the law unconstitutional. Justice Stephen Breyer asked whether the law could be applied to an employee who spent time at work reading the Daily Racing Form. “There are 150 million workers in the United States,” Justice Breyer told Michael Dreeben, the Deputy US Solicitor-General. “I think possibly 140 million would flunk your test.”

Lord Black was sentenced in December 2007 to six and a half years for obstruction of justice and five years for fraud. As he is serving both sentences concurrently, he is unlikely to be released early even if the conviction is overturned. However, his legal team could then argue that there was no obstruction of justice because there was no underlying crime. The decision could affect hundreds of cases including the conviction of Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron.



Martha Coakley: Too Immoral even for Teddy Kennedy's Seat

In Tuesday's primary election, Massachusetts Democrats chose as their Senate nominee a woman who kept a clearly innocent man in prison in order to advance her political career. Martha Coakley isn't even fit for the late Teddy Kennedy's old seat. (What is it about this particular Senate seat?)

During the daycare/child molestation hysteria of the '80s, Gerald Amirault, his mother, Violet, and sister, Cheryl, were accused of raping children at the family's preschool in Malden, Mass., in what came to be known as the second-most notorious witch trial in Massachusetts history.

The allegations against the Amiraults were preposterous on their face. Children made claims of robots abusing them, a "bad clown" who took the children to a "magic room" for sex play, rape with a 2-foot butcher knife, other acts of sodomy with a "magic wand," naked children tied to trees within view of a highway, and -- standard fare in the child abuse hysteria era -- animal sacrifices.

There was not one shred of physical evidence to support the allegations -- no mutilated animals, no magic rooms, no butcher knives, no photographs, no physical signs of any abuse on the children. Not one parent noticed so much as unusual behavior in their children -- until after the molestation hysteria began. There were no witnesses to the alleged acts of abuse, despite the continuous and unannounced presence of staff members, teachers, parents and other visitors at the school. Not one student ever spontaneously claimed to have been abused. Indeed, the allegations of abuse didn't arise until the child therapists arrived.

Nor was there anything in the backgrounds of the Amiraults that fit the profile of sadistic, child-abusing monsters. Violet Amirault had started the Fells Acre Day School 18 years before the child molestation hysteria erupted. Thousands of happy and well-adjusted students had passed through Fells Acres. Many returned to visit the school; some even attended Cheryl's wedding a few years before the inquisition began.

It's one thing to put a person in prison for a crime he didn't commit. It's another to put an entire family in prison for a crime that didn't take place. In the most outrageous miscarriage of justice since the Salem witch trials, in July 1986, Gerald Amirault was convicted of raping and assaulting six girls and three boys and sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison. The following year, Violet and Cheryl Amirault were convicted of raping and assaulting three girls and a boy and were sentenced to 8 to 20 years.

The motto of the witch-hunters was "Believe the Children!" But the therapists resolutely refused to believe the children as long as they denied being abused. As the police advised the parents: In cases of child abuse, "no" can mean "yes."

To the children's credit, they held firm to their denials for heroic amounts of time in the face of relentless questioning. But as copious research in the wake of the child abuse cases has demonstrated, small children are highly suggestible. It's surprisingly easy to implant false memories into young minds by simply asking the same questions over and over again. Indeed, the interviewing techniques in the Amirault case were so successful that the children also made accusations against three other teachers, two imaginary people named "Mr. Gatt" and "Al" and even against the child therapist herself -- the one claim of abuse that was provably true. But only the Amiraults were put on trial for any alleged acts of abuse.

Coakley wasn't the prosecutor on the original trial. What she did was worse. At least the original prosecutors, craven and ambition-driven though they were, could claim to have been caught up in the child abuse panic of the '80s. There had not yet been extensive psychological studies on the suggestibility of small children. A dozen similar cases from around the country had not already been discredited and the innocent freed. Of all the men and women falsely convicted during the child molestation hysteria of the '80s, by 2001, only Gerald Amirault still sat in prison. Even his sister and mother had been released after serving eight years in prison for crimes that never occurred.

In July 2001, the notoriously tough Massachusetts parole board voted unanimously to grant Gerald Amirault clemency. Although the parole board is not permitted to consider guilt or innocence, its recommendation said: "(I)t is clearly a matter of public knowledge that, at the minimum, real and substantial doubt exists concerning petitioner's conviction." Immediately after the board's recommendation, The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Jane Swift was leaning toward accepting the board's recommendation and freeing Amirault.

Enter Martha Coakley, Middlesex district attorney. Gerald Amirault had already spent 15 years in prison for crimes he no more committed than anyone reading this column did. But Coakley put on a full court press to keep Amirault in prison simply to further her political ambitions. By then, every sentient person knew that Amirault was innocent. But instead of saying nothing, Coakley frantically lobbied Gov. Jane Swift to keep him in prison to show that she was a take-no-prisoners prosecutor, who stood up for "the children." As a result of Coakley's efforts -- and her contagious ambition -- Gov. Swift denied Amirault's clemency. Thanks to Martha Coakley, Gerald Amirault sat in prison for another three years.

Remember all that talk about President Bush shredding constitutional rights? Overzealous liberal prosecutors and feminist do-gooders allowed Gerald Amirault to sit in prison for 18 years for crimes that didn't exist -- except in the imaginations of small children under the influence of incompetent child "therapists." Martha Coakley allowed her ambition to trump basic human decency as she campaigned to keep a patently innocent man in prison.




Poll: Palin Within 1% of Obama: "Riding a wave of positive publicity from her book tour, Sarah Palin's favorable rating has crept within just 1 percent of President Barack Obama's job approval rating, according to the latest polls by CNN and USA Today/Gallup. The results suggest Palin has fixed the dent in her popularity ratings created this summer when she announced she was stepping down as governor of Alaska. According to a CNN poll released Monday, 46 percent of voters now say they like Palin. That's the same level of popularity she enjoyed before she resigned the Alaska governorship. The same percentage of likely voters – 46 percent – say they don't like the former Alaska governor, a clear indication that she continues to be a polarizing figure. Not surprisingly, the breakdown is sharply along party lines: 80 percent of Republicans like Palin, while 70 percent of Democrats don't. Although popularity polls and job approval polls differ, the results suggest that Palin is closing the gap on Obama. On Monday, a USA Today/Gallup poll reported that only 47 percent of likely voters approve of the president's job performance."

Did deregulation cause the Great Recession? "In a December 3 article in Politico (’J-O-Bs should come before GDP’), Rep. Phil Hare argues that ‘reckless deregulation’ is one of the causes of the current economic crisis. That isn’t actually true. This year’s edition of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Ten Thousand Commandments report found that 3,830 new regulations came into effect in 2008 alone. Over 30,000 total new rules passed during the Bush years. Hardly any were repealed. Businesses currently dole out the equivalent of Canada’s entire 2006 GDP - about $1.2 trillion - just to comply with federal regulations. Where is the deregulation?”

The pee-nal code and sex crimes: "Over two decades ago Juan Matamoros got a ticket in Massachusetts for taking a pee. Twenty-one years later he was happily living in Florida with his wife and two kids. The state government forced him to pack up his family and move since that one full bladder, years earlier, meant he was considered a sex offender and he had to comply with the sex offender zoning laws. These laws are intended to make all sex offenders miserable for the rest of their lives — a sort of perpetual, never-ending punishment for all the serious sex offenses that the politicians have criminalized — such as peeing outside, streaking, consenting sex between teens, sexting, etc. A little more information on Mr. Matamoros shows how out of control sex offender laws have become. In 1986 Matamoros was a bit tipsy and took a pee next to a car. Three people saw this and he was fined for the act. Local sex laws say he is not allowed to live near a school, bus stop, park, playground or day-care center.”

Spendaholics: "The reaction of Congress and the president to the good news on TARP has been revealing. Here we face a decade of unprecedented red ink, yet they think they're still not spending enough. Let's get this straight: The economy is on the mend, the recession is technically over, budget deficits still run well over $1 trillion a year, and unemployment actually ticked down in the latest report. Yet here's our President Obama declaring on Tuesday the nation must 'spend our way out of this recession.' And congressional leaders are hatching plans to declare a surprise $200 billion 'savings' in the government's bank bailout program. Hint: Given their druthers, the $200 billion will be gone before you know it"

NYT Gift Guide Includes A Separate Section For "People Of Color.": "We don't like to throw around words like "racist" in the same sentence as the NYT's name, but there's no other word we can think of to describe this page in the NYT's annual Holiday Gift Guide -- called "Of Color/Stylish Gifts" and aimed exclusively at the paper's non-white readers. Or, as the NYT describes it, "gifts created for and by people of color." Found in the "Style & Travel" section of the Gift Guide, it stands alongside sections called "Frugal Travel," "Chic and Cheerful," and "Cosmetic Enhancements." But this page is the only one aimed squarely at readers whose skin isn't white in color -- and it's the first time we can remember a gift guide, anywhere, openly defining its offerings by their appeal to a specific racial group. Can you imagine the NYT designating a section of its Holiday Gift Guide to presents made "for and by white people"? Or Jews? Or Chinese?"

Mystery behind 'Beast of Kandahar' revealed: "It's been dubbed "The Beast of Kandahar"and - until now - has been the closest thing Afghanistan has to a Loch Ness Monster. Over the last two weeks, an increasingly steady stream of grainy images have appeared on the internet of a strange, sleek new aircraft spotted in the skies above the war-torn country. Now the US Army has confirmed it - the RQ Sentinel stealth drone is real. Shaped like a B-2 stealth bomber and created by Lockheed Martin, the Sentinel has no metal parts outside its engine and can fly completely unnoticed through areas "thick with radar". The aircraft is also coated with a special paint, or "secret sauce", as it was described to FOX News by Oklahoma State University's associate professor of Aerospace engineering Dr Jamie D. Jacob. The Sentinel is reportedly set up as a "troop support sensor platform", meaning it's unlikely to carry Hellfire missiles such as that fired by the current fleet of Predator aircraft."


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 10, 2009


I don't suppose anybody has noticed but I am in the midst of editing my blogroll (under "INTERESTING BLOGS" in the side column here). I am deleting links to blogs that no longer are being updated or which have vanished completely. And there are a lot of those. I have had over 300 links to go through, however, so it will take me a while yet to get through them all.

Meanwhile, I might as well add some new blogs while I am about it so let me know if you think there is one that should be there. No guarantees but I will at least look at all suggestions.


Americans Show Conservative Instincts, Not Ideology

by Michael Medved

It’s true that the American people are fundamentally conservative – but not in the angry, doctrinaire sense suggested by so many of my fellow radio ranters. Americans are conservative in temperament, but not necessarily in ideology. We are cautious, practical, skeptical folk, inherently resistant to sweeping, radical change—whether such change issues from the left or the right.

At the moment, the liberal true-believers who control both White House and Congress present the most potent, plausible threat of precisely the sort of jarring and dangerous transformations the people reliably reject. This offers Republicans a precious opportunity to re-connect with America’s deep-seated conservative instincts and to revive their battered party – unless they blow that chance with strident, unbending, purist appeals of their own, convincing the puzzled public that both parties have abandoned pragmatism and common sense.

Recent political history shows a clear and consistent public preference for flexible problem solvers over embattled ideologues. For some fifty years, presidential elections have been mostly close – with ten out of the thirteen winners held to 54% or less of the popular vote (and five of them actually winning with less than a majority). Only three times since 1960 did candidates win in one-sided blow-outs, and in each of those races (LBJ’s triumph in ’64, Nixon’s in ’72, and Reagan’s in ’84) the opposing nominee looked like an impractical, reckless, wing-nut extremist. Barry Goldwater even embraced the title extremist (“extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”), George McGovern’s anti-war crusade offered an unapologetically leftist platform, and Walter Mondale proudly promised in his convention speech that he would raise the nation’s taxes. Their pathetic performance as major party nominees (winning 39%, 38% and 41%, respectively) showed the powerful national reflex against any candidate or party perceived as out of the mainstream, tilting too far in one direction or another.

By contrast, all three of the Democrats who have won the presidency since 1968 (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama) campaigned as level-headed centrists, who pledged to build bi-partisan coalitions and to bring the country together. All three, however, governed with progressive tendencies and leftist associates that undermined their carefully crafted moderate images. Jimmy Carter in particular emerged as a sanctimonious scold, favoring impractical, inflexible liberal nostrums in both foreign and domestic policy that made him an easy target for the amiable, common sense appeal of Ronald Reagan.

Though rightly embraced as a great conservative hero, Reagan’s 1980 campaign went to great lengths to appeal to the wary middle-of-the-roaders who decide every election. He chose a conspicuous moderate as his running mate (George H. W. Bush) and framed the campaign’s key question (“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”) to make the other guy look scary, extreme and dogmatic. In the end, Reagan won an election in which self-described conservatives made up only 28% of the electorate (according to exit polls), while “moderates” were 46%. In fact more than 60% of the voters who placed The Gipper in the White House called themselves “moderates” or even “liberals,” showing the classic inclination to support an impressive candidate who seems to transcend ideology rather than to exemplify it.

Despite pipe dreams of an unwavering right wing majority ruling the electorate, the highest percentage of voters who actually call themselves “conservative” occurred in 2008, when 34% chose that description (Exit polls showed precisely the same percentage in 2004 and 1996). Meanwhile, the number of “moderates” who cast ballots ranged from a low of 42% (in 1984) all the way to 50% (in 2000).

Bill Clinton tried to appeal to these swing voters by emulating Reagan’s optimistic “I’ll-fix-the-mess” campaign when he ran against the floundering George H. W. Bush in 1992, posing as a sensible “New Democrat” rather than a by-the-book liberal in the McGovern-Mondale-Dukakis mode. In his first two years, however, miscues like the clumsy push for gays in the military and the “Hillary Care” disaster gave the lie to his pretensions of centrism, leading to the historic sweep for Newt Gingrich and his resurgent Republicans. The Contract With America that made that political earthquake possible (giving the GOP 55 more seats in the House and eight new Senators) was a cunningly devised document that emphasized reformist “good government” promises (Balanced Budget Amendment, Congressional Term Limits, Welfare Reform) and scrupulously avoided polarizing (if worthy) pledges that might have seemed extreme (abolishing the income tax, a human life amendment, eliminating major government departments).

After this smashing Republican victory in ’94, perceptions of the two parties quickly switched, With the government shutdown (widely if unfairly blamed on Gingrich, rather than Clinton) over budgetary struggles, the triangulating President won the image battle as more flexible and pragmatic, while the professorial Republicans (both Gingrich and his chief deputy Dick Armey had backgrounds as brilliant academics) came across as more interested in principles than practicality. In his re-election bid, the chastened Clinton (remember “The era of big government is over”?) easily sailed to victory, and also blithely triumphed over his seemingly rigid prosecutors during the protracted impeachment crisis.

George W. Bush succeeded Clinton not as the fire-breathing right wing purist his opponents tried to caricature but as a self-styled “compassionate conservative” pledged to bring a new spirit of cooperation to the divided capital. In debates and on the stump, he offered an aw-shucks, ordinary guy appeal (paradoxical for the son of an ex-president) that contrasted with the stiff, self-righteous, shrill persona of Al (“Prince Albert”) Gore. His decisive response to 9/11 allowed him to win re-election as “a uniter, not a divider” (over John Kerry, a humorless Massachusetts patrician and unwavering liberal). But ceaseless Democratic attacks on Bush as “the most extreme conservative president in American history” finally combined with GOP Congressional scandals to give Nancy Pelosi the speakership in 2006, and Barack Obama the presidency in 2004.

Obama used the classic winning formula in 2008: seeking the nation’s highest office as an open-minded problem solver, willing to use conservative as well as liberal ideas to address the nation’s woes. The 2004 convention keynote speech that made him a national figure overnight promised no more “red states” or “blue states,” but only “the UNITED States of America.” In his presidential campaign, the imprecise and soothing talk of “hope” and “change” did little to impress conservatives (who voted for McCain by a ratio of four to one) but drew a decisive 60% of the self-described “moderate” vote. The polls show that those same moderates and independents have now turned against President Obama with a vengeance, giving Republicans their historic opportunity.

In contrast to his gauzy promises of hope and healing, Obama and his Congressional allies have governed as divisive devotees of the hard left -- willing, for instance, to risk economic and budgetary disaster for the sake of realizing the leftist dream of “universal health care.” Pollsters show mounting opposition to Obamacare not because the public rules out every form of governmental activism as a solution to major problems but because the people distrust big, dogmatic schemes to remake reality all at once.



It is the Donks that big business likes best

By Jonah Goldberg

One of the great frustrations of the libertarian-minded right is how Republicans got stuck being "the party of big business." The quotation marks around the term are at least somewhat necessary, because in many respects, it's not true.

The notion that big business is "right wing" has always been more sloppy agitprop than serious analysis. It's true that historically, big business is against socialism and communism -- and understandably so. Socialism and communism were once close to synonymous with expropriation of wealth and the nationalization of industry. What businessman or industrialist wouldn't be against that? But many of those same industrialists saw nothing wrong with cutting deals with statist regimes. For example, the Swope Plan, put forward by Gerard Swope, president of General Electric, laid out the infrastructure for much of the early New Deal.

Yet the debate is always framed as if the choice is between "government intervention" on the one hand and free-market capitalism on the other. From 30,000 feet, that division is fine with me. My objection is the glib and easy association of big business with the free-market guys. (Milton Friedman was no champion of public-private partnerships and industrial policy.) This identification allows self-described progressive Democrats to run against big business when they are in fact in bed with the fat cats.

For instance, the standard line from the Democrats is that the plutocrats and corporate mustache-twirlers oppose health care reform because, in President Obama's words, they "profit financially or politically from the status quo." That sounds reasonable, and in some cases it is reasonable. But it makes it sound as if Obama is bravely battling "malefactors of great wealth."

But that's not really how it works, as Timothy Carney documents in his powerful new book, "Obamanomics." In 2008, Obama raked in more donations from the health sector than John McCain and the rest of the Republican field combined. Drug makers gave Obama $3.58 for every dollar they gave McCain. Pfizer gave to Obama at a 4-1 rate, as did the hospital and nursing home industries. In 2008, the insurance industry gave more money to House Democrats than House Republicans. HMOs give to Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 60 to 40.

So far, the health care industry has mostly been trying to cut insider deals with the government, not fighting to defend the status quo. Discussions between Big Pharma and the White House have been more like pillow talk than a shouting match.

This pattern is hardly unique to health care. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, led by GE, includes many other Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs -- the company that has profited mightily from Obama's brand of hope and change. CAP is an aggressive supporter of the Democrats' climate change scheme. Why? Because GE and friends stand to make billions from carbon pricing, thanks largely to investments in technologies that cannot survive in a free market without massive subsidies from Uncle Sam. GE chief Jeffrey Immelt cheerleads big government as "an industry policy champion, a financier and a key partner."

Going back to U.S. Steel and the railroads, the story of big business in America is often as not the story of fat cats rigging the system. And the story of progressivism is the same tale. The New Deal codes were mostly written by big business to squeeze out smaller competitors. The progressives fought for these reforms on the grounds that it's easier to steer a few giant oxen than a thousand cats.

But health care is the most troubling example of the trend. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson notes that while everyone has been debating the government takeover of health care, what's really transpired is health care's takeover of government -- thanks to what he calls the "medical industrial complex." Already 1 in 4 federal outlays are for health care; government pays, directly or indirectly, for half of all health care costs; and the entire industry is heavily regulated. Obama's answer to this state of affairs is more -- much more -- of the same, on the phantasmagorical grounds that it will cut costs.

My biggest objection is not to what isn't true about the claim that the right is the handmaiden to big business, it's to what is true. Too many Republicans think being pro-business is the same as being pro-market. They defend the status quo against bad reforms and think they've defended economic freedom. The status quo stinks. And the sooner Republicans learn that, the sooner they'll deserve to win again.



Russia back to its old authoritarian ways

From absolute monarchy to Communism to Fascism, only the details change. The Russians are a brilliant people condemned to appalling government -- even worse than Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi!

Pound for political pound, Russian "prime minister" Vladimir Putin may well be the most powerful human being on this planet. Yet, he may still be brought down by the inevitable corruption of power. Though he is no longer even officially "president" of the country, Putin still has the ability to hire and fire local officials like governors and mayors, to populate an depopulate the national parliament, to name the pontiff of the Orthodox Church and to discharge justices of Russia's supreme court at will. He recently displayed this authority to truly terrifying effect.

Unlike its U.S. counterpart, the Russian Supreme Court has an explicit legal mandate in the constitution itself to be its legal arbiter, which should mean that judicial independence in Russia is even more sacrosanct. Yet, when Justice Vladimir Yaroslavtsev gave an interview to the Spanish daily El Pais and said that Russian security agencies control the country just as they did in Soviet times, and worried that "nobody knows what [the FSB] will decide tomorrow, there is no consultation or discussion," he was immediately forced to resign. When his colleague Justice Anatoly Kononov came to his defense with an interview in the Russian paper Sobesednik, he too was forced out.

Yaroslavtsev told El Pais that "the judiciary in Russia during the presidencies of Vladimir Putin and his successor Dmitry Medvedev had been converted into an instrument at the service of the executive powers that be" and that "the center of the adoption of [judicial] decisions is in the administration of the president." Then Putin proved him right in the most emphatic way possible.

If there were any institution more untouchable by politics than the constitutional court, one would think that would be the church, but Putin has rolled his virtual tanks across that territory as well. He has a new bill moving rapidly through the Russian parliament which will make it illegal to discuss religion unless in possession of a Kremlin-issued permit. Instead of wiping out all religion as in Soviet times, Putin has instead co-opted it; he's installed a KGB operative as pontiff of the Russian Orthodox Church and is now moving swiftly to simply wipe out his competition.

The media can offer no brake or check on Putin's power. When prominent TV reporter Olga Kotovskaya recently began delving into official misuse of power, she promptly "fell" out of a window on the fourteenth floor of an office tower. She's not the first journalist to "take the Putin Plunge." Russia remains one of the very most dangerous places on the planet to practice the craft of journalism.

Students who stand up to the regime find themselves expelled. Bloggers who dare to do so end up in prison, or bankrupted, or both. And Putin his helped along mightily, of course, by Western journalism that either ignores his abuses or actually celebrates them, by an American president who has better things to do than to speak up for democracy, and by a Republican Party that cannot seem to find the wherewithal to call him to account.

More here



Using cellphones while driving: "In the ongoing concern with the use of hand-held and hands free cell phone use while driving a car, the focus seems to be all on what such use does to one’s driving and the comparison is nearly always between such use and no distractions at all. But what about the possibility that cell phone use in cars may not be any more hazardous than, say, changing CDs or cassette tapes, tucking in the baby in the back, checking the map, looking for something in the glove compartment, or having a heated discussion with one’s passenger, while driving one’s vehicle. Indeed, this is probably true but not easily tested and confirmed (or dis-confirmed). Imposing restrictions on drivers concerning these other possible distractions would, no doubt, be somewhat problematic since all those are mainly personal distractions and no big industry can be held complicit. Deep pockets are missing there, too. Instead these other distractions seem quite normal, just part of life on the road and have been with us since automobile and similar vehicle use itself has been.”

Infatuated with the New Deal: "President Obama is a master of the ‘narrative.’ That’s the fancy new word in the political lexicon for a storyline that makes a politician look good. Last year, Obama was the candidate of hope and change who would cure Washington of its bad habits. Now he has a presidential narrative. It goes like this: He’s done his part to revive the economy, and it’s time for others to do theirs, particularly the business community. Obama has been refining his narrative for several months. Last week’s jobs summit at the White House was cleverly crafted as a day-long expression of his version of the economy’s path in his 11-month presidency. And if that was lost on anyone, he was explicit in spelling it out.”

The auto bailout one year later: "President Bush provided the initial bailout for GM and Chrysler in December 2008, so it’s reasonable to look back a year later and ask: Was the bailout necessary? Did it work? In hindsight it is readily apparent that the answers are: No, and No.”


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 09, 2009

More Fascist tactics from American "liberals"

Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue is a wanted man -- at least according to the liberal activist group that's put a de facto bounty on his head

A network of liberal groups known as Velvet Revolution started an ad campaign offering $200,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man whose trade organization has become a thorn in the side of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats.

The group is not leveling any specific charges of criminal behavior. Rather, it is casting a wide net, fishing for any whistleblowers from Donohue's past who might come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. The campaign against the Chamber was launched in response to the group's opposition to climate change legislation and health care reform, and its plan to spend $100 million lobbying against these and other initiatives. "On every issue, the Chamber is kind of the lead corporate advocate for the status quo," said Kevin Zeese, a lawyer who sits on the board for Velvet Revolution, calling Donohue a "knee-jerk reactionary" and the Chamber a "right-wing extremist group."

The Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, decried the ad campaign and threatened possible legal action. "The media should be following the money trail behind this scurrilous group instead of giving credence to its outrageous tactics -- and we are considering legal options with the ad," spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel said.

The Chamber has already taken a lot of heat from the White House. Top aides tried to neutralize the group earlier in the year by doing an end-run around the organization and dealing directly with members, as some big companies, like Apple, peeled off from the Chamber due to disagreements over issues like climate change.

The organization was also not invited to Obama's jobs forum in Washington last week. But Zeese said the White House has nothing to do with the bounty on Donohue. "It's individual donors. We have no connection to the White House or unions or anything like that," he said.

Velvet Revolution launched the StoptheChamber campaign in October and started offering a bounty for information on Donohue a month later. A $100,000 reward was increased to $200,000 early this month, thanks to what Zeese called a "handful of larger donors" whom he would not identify. A full-page print ad that looks like a "wanted" poster out of the wild West began to run in the Washington City Paper this week. It features a head shot of Donohue and offers a tip line for "insiders and whistleblowers possessing information not already in the public domain."

The tip line is live. When called, the operator asked for "criminal" information about Donohue. Zeese said that a handful of tips have come in which the group is "pursuing."



GOP Seeks Principle After Scozzafava Controversy

A group of eleven party officials introduced a resolution for the upcoming Republican National Committee winter meeting to verify candidates conform to at least eight of ten basic party principles in order to receive party funding for their races. It’s their answer to the controversy aroused earlier this fall when it was revealed the RNC had donated heavily to the campaign of New York 23rd Congressional District candidate Dede Scozzafava, a candidate whose viewpoint and New York State Assembly voting record on several issues differed greatly from Republican orthodoxy.

Citing the “eighty percent” rule invoked by President Reagan, who argued that someone who politically agreed with him eighty percent of the time was his friend, the “Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates” outlines ten key issues which sponsors believe should be a litmus test for fealty. The issues include, among others: smaller government, lowering taxes, market-based health care reform, opposing restrictive gun laws, refusing amnesty for illegal immigrants, and containment of Iran and North Korea.

While some conservative stalwarts oppose determining financial support based on fixed principles and issues, this resolution can be seen as a response to the defection of Republican icons like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Dick Armey, and a number of conservative media personalities to the cause of Doug Hoffman, who ran under the Conservative Party banner after state party insiders granted the GOP nod to Scozzafava.

In truth, this initiative by conservatives in the Republican Party mirrors that of Democrats. The Blue Dog coalition within their party disagrees with the rank-and-file only on the scope or approach to government intervention in various policy areas. At the end of the day, practically all Democrats still jump on the bandwagon of big-government solutions because that’s what the interests backing Democrats pay for.

This GOP proposal, sponsored by members of the party’s conservative wing who hail from the states many consider “flyover country,” faces an uncertain fate at the winter RNC meeting. It’s a Republican Party where Chairman Michael Steele overcame questions about his conservative bonafides during the runup to his election last January, yet it’s also a party which won two governorships with candidates who called for conservative solutions to their states’ problems – New Jersey’s Chris Christie in particular vowed to address the tax burden faced by residents and property owners.

But the true schism this idea attempts to address is the one created by Dede Scozzafava and her NY-23 Congressional bid. Where those on the right are lockstep in opposition to the liberal agenda put forth by Barack Obama and Democrats, any Republican defection to the Democrats’ side is heresy. Witness the conservative wrath directed at targets like Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, who voted for a Democrat health care reform proposal in committee, and the so-called “cap-and-trade eight,” eight GOP House members who provided the winning margin to pass the Waxman-Markey bill.

While some may see this proposal as too restrictive, the fact that disagreeing with two of the ten planks is still allowable suggests there’s room for compromise under the big tent. Being in step with eighty percent of a party’s platform shouldn’t be too much to ask when a candidate comes looking for financial help. A message of limited government will carry the day in 2010, so putting the party’s officeseekers on the same page philosophically should pay dividends at the ballot box and give the GOP the opportunity to be a real thorn in Barack Obama’s side.



A blunt letter to liberal elitist Senator Barbara Boxer

Do you remember the scene? The Senate. Barbara Boxer hearing from a Brigadier General? Silly General! He addresses Barbara as "Ma'am", and she CORRECTS him in front of millions of people, telling him she's "worked SO hard to earn the title, "Senator", so please to use that when speaking to her.

The letter to Boxer below is said to be from a National Guard aviator and Captain for Alaska Airlines named Jim Hill. The letter has been around for a while but is still well worth a run here


You were so right on when you scolded the general on TV for using the term, "ma'am," instead of "Senator". After all, in the military, "ma'am" is a term of respect when addressing a female of superior rank or position. The general was totally wrong. You are not a person of superior rank or position.. You are a member of one of the world's most corrupt organizations, the U.S. Senate, equaled only by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congress is a cesspool of liars, thieves, inside traders, traitors, drunks (one who killed a staffer, yet is still revered), criminals, and other low level swine who, as individuals (not all, but many), will do anything to enhance their lives, fortunes and power, all at the expense of the People of the United States and its Constitution, in order to be continually re-elected. Many democrats even want American troops killed by releasing photographs. How many of you could honestly say, "We pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor"? None? One? Two?

Your reaction to the general shows several things. First is your abysmal ignorance of all things military. Your treatment of the general shows you to be an elitist of the worst kind.. When the general entered the military (as most of us who served) he wrote the government a blank check, offering his life to protect your derriere, now safely and comfortably ensconced in a 20 thousand dollar leather chair, paid for by the general's taxes. You repaid him for this by humiliating him in front of millions.

Second is your puerile character, lack of sophistication, and arrogance, which borders on the hubristic. This display of brattish behavior shows you to be a virago, termagant, harridan, nag, scold or shrew, unfit for your position, regardless of the support of the unwashed, uneducated masses who have made California into the laughing stock of the nation.

What I am writing, are the same thoughts countless millions of Americans have toward Congress, but who lack the energy, ability or time to convey them. Regardless of their thoughts, most realize that politicians are pretty much the same, and will vote for the one who will bring home the most bacon, even if they do consider how corrupt that person is. Lord Acton (1834 - 1902) so aptly charged, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Unbeknownst to you and your colleagues, "Mr. Power" has had his way with all of you, and we are all the worse for it. Finally Senator, I, too, have a title. It is "Right Wing Extremist Potential Terrorist Threat." It is not of my choosing, but was given to me by your Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. And you were offended by "ma'am"?

Have a fine day.


Jobs or Snow Jobs?

by Thomas Sowell

President Obama keeps talking about the jobs his administration is "creating" but there are more people unemployed now than before he took office. How can there be more unemployment after so many jobs have been "created"?

Let's go back to square one. What does it take to create a job? It takes wealth to pay someone who is hired, not to mention additional wealth to buy the material that person will use. But government creates no wealth. Ignoring that plain and simple fact enables politicians to claim to be able to do all sorts of miraculous things that they cannot do in fact. Without creating wealth, how can they create jobs? By taking wealth from others, whether by taxation, selling bonds or imposing mandates.

However it is done, transferring wealth is not creating wealth. When government uses transferred wealth to hire people, it is essentially transferring jobs from the private sector, not adding to the net number of jobs in the economy.

If that was all that was involved, it would be a simple verbal fraud, with no gain of jobs and no net loss. In reality, many other things that politicians do reduce the number of jobs. Politicians who mandate various benefits that employers must provide for workers gain politically by seeming to give people something for nothing. But making workers more expensive means that fewer are likely to be hired.

More here



Forbes has just put out its annual Rich List of Fictional Characters, Uncle Sam is on top, with Scrooge McDuck in second place. A few years ago Santa Claus was number one but was removed following a deluge of mail advising that he is not a fictional character.

All the president’s regulators: "During the first year of the Obama administration, conservatives have directed much of their fire on the major legislation the president is pushing through Congress. This concern is justifiable, as Democrats are moving bills aimed at taking over the nation’s health care system, creating a national energy tax to limit carbon emissions, and enabling unions to rapidly add members by denying workers a secret ballot on unionization. But as critical as it is for the right to expose the damaging consequences of such major legislation, conservatives must not lose sight of the fact that there is more than one way for the president to impose his vision on the country.”

Iran: Streets, campuses erupt in protest: "Campuses across Iran erupted in protests Monday as defiant college students chanting anti-government slogans clashed with security [sic] forces armed with clubs in a forceful new round of confrontations over the nation’s disputed June presidential election. The daylong protests on National Students Day were not as large in Tehran as those that broke out in the days after the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But they took place in a larger number of cities and towns and followed weeks of ominous warnings by security [sic] officials. They continued through the day despite efforts by security [sic] forces arrayed on streets and inside campuses.”

Commercial spaceship makes first public appearance: "A spacecraft designed to rocket wealthy tourists into space as early as 2011 was unveiled Monday in what backers of the venture hope will signal a new era in aviation history. The long-awaited glimpse of SpaceShipTwo marks the first public appearance of a commercial passenger spacecraft. The project is bankrolled by Virgin Galactic founder, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who partnered with famed aviation designer Burt Rutan, the brains behind the venture.”

NJ: Homosexual Marriage bill passes key Senate hurdle: "A proposal to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey narrowly passed a key state Senate committee on Monday, paving the way for a legislative showdown this week and boosting the possibility New Jersey will join the handful of U.S. states allowing gay couples to wed.”

Government event on transparency … closed to public: "It’s hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public. The event today for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama’s uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama’s first year in office ends, the government’s actions when the public and news media seek information are not yet matching up with the president’s words.”

Pay back the debt: "Sunday, the Administration released what should normally be considered good news: The Obama administration is planning to slash its estimate of the losses from the government’s bailout package by about $200 billion. That from today’s Washington Post. Apparently, banks have been so eager to pay back the TARP (perhaps so that they won’t have to submit to a ‘pay czar’), that TARP won’t increase the deficit as much as initially expected. That would be good news if this Administration wasn’t hell-bent on digging itself deeper into a fiscal hole. The move could pave the way for Democrats to tap some of the unspent TARP funds for a jobs bill, currently being crafted by House Democrats. … Administration officials talk about their commitment to reducing the deficit, but they keep doing the opposite.”

Inside Cuba: Guerrilla blogging: "‘Blog.’ Many people in Cuba don’t understand all the fuss regarding this mono-syllabic word that seems to have no relationship to the daily routine of survival. On the Island, the blogosphere is an incipient media and, outside of Havana, all but invisible. Though their work generates controversies and awards worldwide, Cuban bloggers are largely unknown here. With Internet access in Cuba restricted to the very few, the nation’s bloggers function as a kind of guerrilla underground. They work as independent agents whose existence heralds a civic re-activation that will modulate the Revolution’s Realpolitik — or is that Raulpolitik? Blogs Sobre Cuba, an online database founded in 2007, lists more than 1,000 blogs on Cuban topics, both on and off the island.”


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 08, 2009

Avoid the "zero catch" webhost

Unlike its name, has lots of catches. It is an old fashioned webhost with lots of intrusive popups and a small webspace allowance. I had my content up there for some years but they have recently deployed some very aggressive bots which have now shut down my site twice for no apparent reason. Content that was OK for years is now not OK, apparently. I of course used their help system to protest but just got brushed off. So goodbye to them! The free webhosts I like best at the moment are and


There Go The Jobs In The Energy Sector

The EPA led by Lisa Jackson, a big global warming acolyte, is prepared to announce next week that CO2 is a dangerous gas. That's right, everytime you exhale according to our imperial federal government you will be emitting a dangerous gas.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will early next week, possibly as soon as Monday, officially declare carbon dioxide a public danger, a trigger that could mean regulation for emitters across the economy, according to several people close to the matter.

Such an "endangerment" decision is necessary for the EPA to move ahead early next year with new emission standards for cars. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said it could also mean large emitters such as power stations, cement kilns, crude-oil refineries and chemical plants would have to curb their greenhouse gas output.

The announcement would also give President Barack Obama and his climate envoy negotiating leverage at a global climate summit starting next week in Copenhagen, Denmark and increase pressure on Congress to pass a climate bill that would modify the price of polluting.
I guess this another case of where the science is settled.

In the past activist judges have used previous reports citing CO2 as a dangerous gas as a reason to bar the construction of clean coal plants and to restrict the building of refineries, even though there was no official stamp on that line of reasoning. With the EPA making it official, it will be yet another blow to manufacturing and the energy sectors of our economy.

There won't any recovery anytime soon at the rate this is going. Without jobs and entire sections of our business world being handcuffed with everything from salary caps to ridiculous rulings like this, there simply won't be anywhere to hire people.

No, I am not putting much stock in those November unemployment numbers. Businesses just weren't up to laying off more people at the end of the year. Keep an eye on the numbers for January, which will of course take all the experts once again by surprise.




Jack Wheeler gives us what appears to be a full account of Sarah's speech at the Gridiron Club. The club is the oldest and most prestigious journalist organization in Washington DC. The annual Gridiron Dinner is attended by the media elite, at which the president is traditionally the speaker. This year, President Zero was the first president to refuse to address The Gridiron Dinner since Grover Cleveland. On Saturday December 5th., this year, the black tie dinner had double the attendance of recent years - for instead of Mr. Zero, the speaker was Sarah Palin. The tradition of the dinner is that the speaker pokes fun at himself and the attendees. Wheeler says that Sarah was such a hit there were dozens of the most liberal elite journalists in America laughing their heads off, many wiping tears of laughter from their eyes:
Good evening. It's great to be in Washington. I am loving the weather [it was snowing]. I braved the elements and went out for a jog! Or, as Newsweek calls it, a cover-shoot. I feel so at home here in DC. I can see the Russian Embassy from my hotel room!

It's a privilege to be here tonight at the Washington DC Barnes & Noble. Tonight, I'll be reading excerpts from my new book. Perhaps you've heard of it? "Going Rogue." Yukon wasn't sure if I'd go with that title and somebody suggested I follow the East Coast self-help trend and go with, "How To Look Like A Million Bucks...For Only 150 Grand." Todd liked, "The Audacity of North Slope." [She nods to him as he's at the head table]

Hey, I considered not having a title at all. I've said it before, but you Beltway types just don't seem to get it. You don't need a title to make an impact. But anyway, let's get started. I'll begin my first reading on Page 209.

It was pitch black when we touched down in Arizona late on August 27, 2008. The next morning we drove to John McCain's ranch in Sedona. John was waiting on the porch. Before he can say a word, I tell him, I'm quoting now: "I know why I'm here, and I'm ready. But, I'm worried. The cost of credit protection for the largest U.S. banks is rising precipitously. Have you given any thought to the run on the entities in the parallel banking system? Do you realize the vulnerability created when these institutions borrow short term in liquid markets to invest long term in illiquid assets?"

John said, "you betcha!" I thought, "you betcha?" Who talks that way?

Well, sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. When you don't, you end up in places like this. Who would have guessed that I'd be palling around with this group? At least now I can put a face to all the newspapers I do read. It is good to be here and in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals. Or, as I call it, a death panel.

To be honest, I had some serious reservations about coming to visit your cozy little club. The Gridiron still hasn't offered membership to anyone from my hometown paper in Wasilla, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Frontiersman. And my dad thought it was just a plain bad idea to leave the book tour for some football game. He might have a point! [She waves to her parents at a table at the back of the room] Hi, Dad! Hi, Mom! They crashed the party, you know.

I've been touring this great, great land of ours over the last few weeks. I have to say, the view is much better from inside the bus, than under it! But really, I am thrilled to be with you. And I'd like to thank the Gridiron for the invitation and Dick Cooper for his introduction. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, this has to be the most extraordinary collection of people who have gathered to viciously attack me since the last corporate gathering at CBS.

Despite what you have read, or more likely, despite what you have written, I do feel a real bond with all of you. I studied journalism, earned a communications degree and for a time only wanted to be a journalist. I was even a television sportscaster back home. I'm guessing some of you probably got your start the exact same way... once there was television. Let me get back to the book.

I know that many of you are still upset because I wouldn't play that silly Washington game. You know, the one where all of you read a book in its entirety, from the first page of the index to the last. But think about it, because you actually had to read the whole book in the vain hope of finding your name, you now know all about Denali, mom, dad, ungulate eyeballs, slaying salmon on the Nushagak and Ugashik near Alegnigak, where we make agootak and moose chili! You're welcome.

Still, I want to do something very special for this audience of Washington elite. So, I'll read from the index--which I chose not to include in the hardback. Would you believe me if I said I didn't include it because we wanted to save trees?

Under A we have... Alaska, media not understanding. Pages 1-432.

Under B... Biased media. Pages 1-432

And under C... Conservative media. See acknowledgments. I'll stop there.

I know this can be a long night, and as I understand it, we're going to break with a Gridiron tradition. Normally, the Democrat speaker would deliver a speech after me. But instead, John McCain's campaign staff asked if they could use that time for a rebuttal.

A lot has been made of a few campaign relationships. The closeness. The warm fuzzy feelings. John and I both agree all those staffers should just move past it. It's history. Let's just say, if I ever need a bald campaign manager, it appears all I'm left with is James Carville. I don't want to say that I've burned a bridge, but I know all about canceling a bridge to nowhere.

That Democrat speaker I referred to is, of course, the one-and-only Barney Frank. And I'm the controversial one? Barney, the nation owes you and the government a debt. A huge, historic, unbelievable debt. But, it's good to be here with you, Mr. Chairman. Because by Chairman, I don't just mean the House Financial Services Committee. As far as I can tell, Barney's also the Chair of AIG, CITI, and the Bank of America.

I don't want to say that the U.S. Government is taking over the role of the private sector, but I have to admit, on the flight here, thumbing through a magazine and looking at a photo of President Obama with the President of China, the person next to me pointed at it and said, "Hu's a communist." I thought they were asking a question.

Still, when I see this administration in action, I can't help think of what might have been. I could be the Vice President overseeing the signing of bailout checks. And Joe Biden would be on the road, selling his new book, "Going Rogaine."

Speaking of books.... Did I mention mine? "Going Rogue" Makes a great stocking stuffer. Available now at a bookstore near you. Hey, I have to pay for my campaign vetting bill somehow. Really, the response has been great. So I'll close by reading a final passage.

Page 403: ...I've been asked a lot lately, "Where are you going next?' Good question!

Wherever I go I know that, as with anyone in the public eye, I'll continue to have my share of disagreements with those in the media. Maybe even more than my share. It will come as no surprise that I don't think I was always treated fairly, or equally. But despite that, I respect the media very much. It's important. A free press allows for vigorous debate! And that debate is absolutely vital for our democracy. So as hard as it can sometimes be, we must all look past personal grievances. We must move beyond petty politics. And we must allow these incredibly talented and hard-working women and men to ask the hard questions and hold us, and our government, accountable. Because their mission is as true as the sun rising over the Talkeetna and Susitna Mountains....

Okay - so none of that is actually in the book. Not a word. But I do believe it! And I believe we live in a beautiful country blessed with so many different people who want the best for their children, families and for our great nation. I'm so proud to be an American.

And that is what I'll be talking about when I travel to where I'm headed. No better place than here to announce where I'm going. I'm going to Iowa! I'll be there tomorrow from noon to 3:00 pm at the Barnes & Noble on Sergeant Road in Sioux City. Come early. Long lines are expected. Thank you everyone. God Bless the U.S.A!



The Only Thing Less Popular Than Paul Krugman is the New York Times

Scott Rasmussen ran a couple of surveys to illustrate the importance of how poll questions are framed. The results make that point quite effectively, but are also interesting in their own right.

Rasmussen surveyed likely voters with respect to two pundits, Paul Krugman and John Fund. He found, not surprisingly, that neither is well known to the general public. Krugman scores exactly even, 22 percent favorable and 22 percent unfavorable, with 55 percent knowing nothing about him. Of those who know who Krugman is, 4 percent view him "very favorably" and 6 percent "very unfavorably." Fund is even less well known; his favorables/unfavorables are 12/22. (My guess is that most of those 22 percent either had Fund confused with someone else or were just reacting to the sound of his name.)

Here's the interesting part: in a separate survey, when Krugman was identified as "New York Times columnist Paul Krugman," his numbers plummeted to 25 percent favorable and 37 percent unfavorable. Moreover, his "very unfavorable" percentage more than tripled to 20 percent. On the other hand, when Fund was identified as a Wall Street Journal columnist, the opposite happened: his favorable/unfavorable percentages flipped to 34/20. All of which suggests that the public has pretty well caught on to the Times, which, as Rasmussen notes, was viewed favorably by only 24 percent in a 2008 survey.




Rupert Murdoch attacks bailout funds for media companies: "News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch has rejected the idea of public funding for media companies, saying if news outlets were not attracting audiences they deserved to fail. The government's only role in helping media should be to reduce unnecessary regulation and eliminate obstacles to growth and investment, he said last week at a US Federal Trade Commission workshop on the future of journalism in the internet age. "The prospect of the US government becoming directly involved in commercial journalism ought to be chilling for anyone who cares about freedom of speech," Mr Murdoch said. US congressional hearings in September -- into how the government could help -- heard ideas such as giving tax breaks to newspapers that restructured to operate as non-profit businesses. "In exchange, of course, (papers would be) giving up their right to endorse political candidates," Mr Murdoch told the FTC. "The most damning problem with government help is . . . (it) props up those who are producing things that customers do not want. In other words, it subsidises the failures and penalises the successes." A newspaper aid program is under way in France"

Nobel acceptance will be a tricky moment: "He’s the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who just ordered 30,000 more troops into war. He’s the winner who says he didn’t deserve to win. He’s not quite 11 months on the job and already in the company of Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. This is President Barack Obama’s Nobel moment, an immense honor shadowed by awkward timing. When Obama leaves for Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday to be lauded for his style of international diplomacy, he goes knowing that the American people are more concerned about something else: peace of mind. The economy has left millions of them hurting. … Unemployment is in double digits even as the bleeding of jobs has slowed. Meanwhile, there’s no hiding the contrast of war and peace.” [The magic of Leftism: Only Obama can escalate a war and get a peace prize at the same time]

More on general market efficiency: "It’s very difficult for any single individual/entity to beat index returns. For anyone who has some money set aside, the advice, ‘Put it in an index fund’ is sage. Very few mutual funds beat index returns in a given year. Over many years, almost none do. The average investor does not have access to inside information. The stock price moves within seconds in response to any information made public. If someone sees an incongruity or arbitrage opportunity, many others have probably already seen it and have already acted on it. ‘What makes you think you can beat the market?’ is a good question. It is also a question which I don’t think is applied enough.” [Hmmmm ... I don't know about that. I don't follow the market much these days but when I did I was always ahead of the index. You just have to have correct theories. Most people don't. And my portfolio came through the GFC in pretty good shape. Even the Dubai affair has had only a minor effect on it]

UK: The big squeeze: "Next year, Britain’s middle classes and the rich will face the biggest squeeze on their living standards in decades, shows research produced by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers for The Independent. In the build-up to what promises to be an exceptionally tough pre-Budget report this Wednesday, PwC says the typical British family (’Middle England’) already faces a decline of 2.4 per cent, or £300 a year, in its discretionary spending power, after tax, mortgages, food and other essentials.”

Nonsense on poverty: "The Joseph Rowntree Trust released its report on the state of poverty in the UK and brought forth the usual howls of outrage about, well, pretty much everything really. I was actually rather enjoying the howls of how we now have Dickensian, Victorian, levels of poverty for I always do enjoy hysterical hyperbole. But it set me thinking, do we actually have such levels? Of course, we simply do not have, absent a very few families blighted by mental illness, drugs or drink, anything like the physical poverty of those days.”


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)