Saturday, January 02, 2010



Clueless

Clueless. It’s the word that best describes the Obama administration’s first year in office. They’ve proven themselves clueless about creating jobs; clueless about handling growing nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea; and now, most devastatingly, clueless about protecting Americans from terrorist attacks on our own soil. And with nearly one year under the belts, they can’t keep blaming the Bush administration for everything that goes awry.

It is hard to imagine a more incompetent handling of the thwarted Christmas Day bombing of a U.S. jetliner. First, the commander in chief was too busy enjoying his vacation in Hawaii to do much more than issue platitudinous assurances that he was "actively monitoring" the incident, while dispersing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the weekend talk shows to downplay the significance of the event.

When the news media began uncovering evidence that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was exactly who he claimed to be when taken into custody -- a terrorist tied to an al-Qaida network in Yemen -- the administration began backtracking on its earlier statements that the incident was not part of a larger terrorist plot and that "the system worked." But it took the president three days to appear before the American public to insist on a thorough investigation. By that time, everyone knew that the would-be suicide bomber’s own father had alerted U.S. intelligence officials of his son’s threat to American security. But the warnings didn’t keep Abdulmutallab off a jetliner headed to the United States.

Even the words the president used in his press conference Dec. 28 suggest how clueless he is. He described Abdulmutallab as a "passenger (who) allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device," repeatedly referring to Abdulmutallab in his comments as a "suspect." These are the weasel words we use when talking about ordinary criminals, which is no accident. The Obama administration’s anti-terrorism philosophy is to treat terrorist attacks like criminal actions, not acts of war.

The Obama administration’s response to the deadly terrorist attack at Fort Hood in November was exactly the same. For days after Nidal Hasan gunned down his fellow soldiers at the Texas Army installation, killing 13 and injuring dozens, the administration tried to portray Hasan as a troubled lone wolf whose actions had nothing to do with his increasingly radicalized Islamic faith. But as news organizations revealed that the FBI had been monitoring Hasan and that he had been in contact with a known radical imam in Yemen, the insanity explanation looked increasingly lame. Now the administration is engaged in a review of why so many clues to Hasan's terrorist intentions went ignored.

The Obama administration’s cluelessness has reached the point that even the president’s admirers have to admit something is drastically wrong. The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, one of President Obama’s most fawning fans, wrote this week: "The more I think about the Christmas all-but-bombing, the angrier I get. At the multiple failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to get on the plane with explosives sewn inside his underwear. And at the Obama administration's initial, everything's-fine-everybody-move-right-along reaction." And Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, now wants to stop the administration from releasing Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, in light of growing evidence of al-Qaida's active presence there.

Many of us who criticized Barack Obama’s candidacy did so because we felt he was too inexperienced to be president. His first year in office has done nothing to allay those fears. He has put together a team of White House operatives who politicize every crisis. Their first concern seems to be to protect the president from blame, not to protect the American people from harm, whether it be from failed economic policies or terrorist attacks.

And the president seems unable to go much beyond reading a script. He shows little actual leadership, whether in crafting a health care plan or devising a coherent foreign policy, preferring to delegate to others duties that he should assume. He turned over responsibility for the stimulus plan and totally revamping of U.S. health care to Democrats in Congress, with predictably unsatisfactory results. Meanwhile, his policy of engagement with enemies like Iran and North Korea has simply emboldened them to pursue their nuclear aims at a faster pace.

Americans have given President Obama an extended honeymoon, but their love affair with a man who showed much promise, if not actual accomplishment, is cooling down. The latest Rasmussen presidential tracking numbers show the president at only 47 percent approval. Unless President Obama dramatically changes course, 2010 will be the year when most Americans begin thinking about divorce.

SOURCE

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How incessant government meddling brought on America's financial crisis

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA HEADS the list of Americans who believe that the continuing financial crisis should be blamed on excessive risk-taking by bankers who had an unbridled desire to make money in mortgages. These would-be reformers want stronger government regulation of the bankers to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.

In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Obama blamed "fat cat bankers" for causing the crisis, putting America through its "worst economic year...in decades." He went on to chide Wall Street banks for "fighting tooth and nail" the new regulations he believes would be vital in preventing future crises.

A deeper examination, however, reveals that this is neither a housing crisis nor a Wall Street banking crisis. This is a monetary crisis, rooted in the lending of money created out of thin air. This is what leads to economic booms and busts.

The current crisis goes back to the Asian Contagion of 1997 and the meltdown of the Long Term Capital Management hedge fund in 1998. In response to each of these situations, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates and rapidly expanded the money supply. This excess liquidity helped push stocks, especially tech issues, to unsustainably high levels. The excess money created by the Fed and the banking system spilled into the rest of the economy, pushing up consumer prices.

To combat the rise in prices that it had caused, the Fed tightened monetary policy, which precipitated a massive plunge in stocks. Then, to bail out investors and stimulate the slowing economy once again, the central bank expanded the money supply rapidly to force rates lower. It ultimately jammed down the overnight fed-funds rate to 1%.

Unhappy with the correspondingly low returns on money-market funds, recently burned by the stock market, and spurred on by Wahington policies intended to encourage homeownership, investors turned to real estate, largely housing, seeking higher returns. In time, in the hands of frenzied investors, the new money created by the Fed and banking system boosted home prices sharply.

In our present crisis, excess money created by the Fed also pushed up consumer prices. Once again, concerned about this, the Fed raised interest rates, thus raising mortgage rates. Subprime borrowers were the first casualties of these higher rates. Unable to afford their interest payments, they kept refinancing their loans by taking out new ones. When the easy money and credit stopped flowing, the loans became harder to refinance, and these borrowers began to default; the higher interest rates and reduced availability of easy mortgage credit also hurt more highly rated borrowers looking for homes. And, of course, the speculators, or flippers, who had feasted on the easy-money loans, saw their schemes disintegrate without easy credit flowing from Washington.

When the Fed tries to induce business activity in this manner, it never lasts. This is because the central bank always has to cut off the flow of easy money, in fear of causing further damage in the form of rising consumer prices. When the Fed removes this artificial stimulus, business activity dependent on it grinds to a halt, asset prices plunge, and recession sets in. In some ways, the process is analogous to a doctor administering adrenalin to a patient. Remove the stimulus and the patient collapses.

Healthy economic growth is supported by savings, rather than newly created money. People and businesses save and invest the money they don't need to consume right away. They make loans and investments that create computer equipment, copper mines, retail stores, and new homes. These loans and investments need not be cut off suddenly by a Fed worried about rising prices, as is the case when the Fed induces business activity by simply creating money.

In the most recent boom, total debt rose to a record 375% of gross domestic product. (By comparison, debt was 150% of total GDP in the inflationary boom of the 1970s.) Thus, the Fed has had to resort to desperate measures to bail out the economy. Along with its gargantuan loan programs, it has injected over $1.2 trillion in new bank reserves into the system -- building upon a base of about $800 billion -- in an effort to hold overnight interest rates near zero. This has propelled stock and commodity prices upward, while credit spreads have tightened. In time, borrowing and lending should accelerate, and economic activity should increase. This should continue until the inflationary consequences of the easy-money policy become evident. Consumer prices should rise, as should long-term interest rates. Then, confronted with the inflationary effects, the Fed once again will have to reverse its easy-money scheme and raise short-term interest rates, or allow the inflationary effects to accelerate.

How many more crises must we endure until we realize the common denominator is the creation of money and credit by the Fed? Wall Street bankers and speculators, who try to game the system and make profits during each boom, are mere bit players in these crises. By fostering the booms and triggering the busts, the real villain is the institution of central banking itself. Thus, instead of providing stability to the economy, central banking has created great instability. Until this is understood, we will make little progress in preventing future crises or easing the current one.

Lurching from crisis to crisis in boom-bust fashion is unacceptable and unnecessary. The Federal Reserve must stop juicing the economy with massive amounts of newly created money and move to a monetary system free of government-caused booms and busts. The only effective way to do this would be to remove control of our money supply from politicians and their appointees. We need to move to a money that is 100% backed by a commodity, such as gold. Only then can we rid the economy of the devastating effects of the creation of money and credit out of thin air.

SOURCE

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Gross National Happiness

Happiness is central to the idea of America; along with life and liberty, the Founding Fathers listed “the pursuit of happiness” as a fundamental right in the Declaration of Independence. Yet little has been done since to find out what actually makes America a happy nation. And while our leaders make all sorts of promises to the American people, they rarely speak of—or pursue—happiness as a national goal. What would our nation look like if they did?

In Gross National Happiness, Arthur Brooks, author of the controversial and strikingly original Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, reveals the main sources of bliss—and misery—in America. Based on an enormous and unbiased array of hard data, Gross National Happiness offers up some very unconventional wisdom about our happiness as individuals and as a nation.

For Instance:

* Despite the stereotype of grim conservatives and happy-go-lucky liberals, the truth is that people on the political right are nearly twice as happy as those on the left.

* Marriage makes people very happy, but children have the opposite effect: The happiness of couples, and the quality of their marriage, falls after the birth of the first child.

* Many politicians identify income inequality as a major problem facing our nation, yet this is precisely the wrong problem for policymakers to be addressing if we want a happier country.

* There is just one reliable way to “buy happiness”: by giving money away to charity.

* Work, not leisure, makes us happy. Ninety percent of Americans like their jobs, and 70 percent of Americans say that they would continue to work in them even if they were financially independent.

Witty, enthralling, and full of surprises, Gross National Happiness offers illuminating conclusions about how we the people—with the aid of our government and political leaders—can be the happiest nation possible.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Armed Somali Muslim shot entering Danish cartoonist's home: "Danish police late on Friday shot and wounded a man trying to enter the Aarhus home of Kurt Westergaard, who drew controversial cartoons of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, Danish media reported. The Danish cartoonist, who has received several death threats since a Danish newspaper four years ago published his drawing featuring Mohammed wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb, was at home in Viby near the western city of Aarhus when the 27-year-old and two others tried to get in, daily Politiken reported online. Guards repulsed the three intruders as security alarms were set off, and the wounded man was hospitalised. Denmark's Ritzau news agency said a dozen police vehicles were at the scene while sappers were sent in to look for a bomb that may have been laid."

2009 a tough year for Airbus and the A380: "Plane maker Airbus will miss its delivery target for the new A380 superjumbo in 2009, sources said on Wednesday, capping a year of production setbacks and technical glitches for the company. A union source who asked not to be named said that Airbus would record 10 deliveries of A380s to airlines in 2009, short of the previous target of 13 which had been revised down from the initial 21 planned a year ago.An Airbus spokesman said 10 had been delivered so far and any deliveries still outstanding from 2009 would be made in January. In 2008 Airbus delivered 12 of the superjumbos and the model's routes now include Paris to New York for Air France. That plane has been grounded at least three times due to technical faults since starting the route in November. An A380 flown by Singapore Airlines had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a flight to Singapore. Airbus has also suffered setbacks to production of its Airbus A400M military transporter, which this month carried out its first test flight in Spain. Deliveries of the A400 are at least three years behind schedule due to a series of technical problems and media reports said Airbus needs another five billion euros ($A8 billion) to finish the project".

Seattle loves its murderers: "Seattle officials are backpedalling on a plan to name a new park in honor of a sister city better known these days as the Italian community where an American student was convicted of murdering her British roommate. Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher said Thursday that the city is shelving the naming process for the park because of community concerns after the recent conviction of Seattle native Amanda Knox. The park in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood was to be called Perugia Park. Six other city parks bear the names of Seattle sister cities. An Italian jury in early December convicted the 22-year-old Knox of the 2007 murder in Perugia of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox was sentenced to 26 years in prison." [There's a long record of Leftist support for criminals -- even ones as vile as "Tookie" Williams]

French police useless against Muslims: "Youths burned 1,137 cars across France overnight as New Year's Eve celebrations once again turned violent, the French Interior Ministry said on Friday. Car burnings are regular occurrences in poor suburbs that ring France's big cities, but the arson is especially prevalent during New Year's Eve revelry. The number of vehicles torched was only 10 short of the record 1,147 burned this time last year, even though the Interior Ministry mobilized 45,000 police during the night -- 10,000 more than 12 months ago. It said police detained 549 people overnight, compared with 288 in 2009 New Year celebrations. However, unlike in previous years, there were no direct clashes between police and youths. "The few disturbances that did take place were brought swiftly under control," the ministry said in a statement."

Update on Rush Limbaugh: "In a press conference held at the Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu today, conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh said he did not suffer a heart attack and that tests had thus far been inconclusive on what exactly caused his symptoms earlier this week. And, in true Rush style, he also took a moment to poke at Obama's proposed overhaul of America's health care system: "The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer,” Limbaugh said. “Based on what happened here to me, I don't think there's one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine, just dandy."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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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)

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Friday, January 01, 2010



HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL WHO COME BY HERE!

My New Year's eve was very quiet -- which is how I like it. Anne came over and cooked us some excellent roast pork for dinner; We listened to Scottish music; We opened a bottle of Veuve Clicquot NV to toast the new year. And at 66 I still seem to have a fair bit of life left in me so expect to be blogging on for some years yet. I am gradually going deaf and blind but you can't keep a good blogger down!

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Power promotes hypocrisy, study finds

The research below concerns non-political behaviour but the authors endeavour to suggest that Republicans are examples of the hypocrisy concerned. To me, however, it sounds much more like a picture of Democrat legislators and Greenie activists

2009 may well be remembered for its scandal-ridden headlines, from admissions of extramarital affairs by governors and senators, to corporate executives flying private jets while cutting employee benefits, and most recently, to a mysterious early morning car crash in Florida. The past year has been marked by a series of moral transgressions by powerful figures in political, business and celebrity circles.

A new study explores why powerful people many of whom take a moral high ground don't practice what they preach. Researchers sought to determine whether power inspires hypocrisy, the tendency to hold high standards for others while performing morally suspect behaviors oneself. The research found that power makes people stricter in moral judgment of others while going easier on themselves.

The research was conducted by Joris Lammers and Diederik A. Stapel of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and by Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The article is to appear in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.

"This research is especially relevant to the biggest scandals of 2009, as we look back on how private behavior often contradicted the public stance of particular individuals in power," said Galinsky. "For instance, we saw some politicians use public funds for private benefits while calling for smaller government, or have extramarital affairs while advocating family values. Similarly, we witnessed CEOs of major financial institutions accepting executive bonuses while simultaneously asking for government bailout money."

"According to our research, power and influence can cause a severe disconnect between public judgment and private behavior, and as a result, the powerful are stricter in their judgment of others while being more lenient toward their own actions," he continued.

To simulate an experience of power, the researchers assigned roles of high-power and low-power positions to a group of study participants. Some were assigned the role of prime minister and others civil servant. The participants were then presented with moral dilemmas related to breaking traffic rules, declaring taxes, and returning a stolen bike.

Through a series of five experiments, the researchers examined the impact of power on moral hypocrisy. For example, in one experiment the "powerful" participants condemned the cheating of others while cheating more themselves. High-power participants also tended to condemn overreporting of travel expenses. But, when given a chance to cheat on a dice game to win lottery tickets (played alone in a private cubicle), the powerful people reported winning a higher amount of lottery tickets than did low-power participants.

Three additional experiments further examined the degree to which powerful people accept their own moral transgressions versus those committed by others. In all cases, those assigned to high-power roles showed significant hypocrisy by more strictly judging others for speeding, dodging taxes and keeping a stolen bike, while finding it more acceptable to engage in these behaviors themselves, the researchers said.

Galinsky said hypocrisy has its greatest impact among people who are legitimately powerful. In contrast, a fifth experiment found that people who don't feel personally entitled to their power are actually harder on themselves than they are on others, a phenomenon the researchers dubbed "hypercrisy." The tendency to be harder on the self than on others also characterized the powerless in multiple studies.

"Ultimately, patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy perpetuate social inequality. The powerful impose rules and restraints on others while disregarding these restraints for themselves, whereas the powerless collaborate in reproducing social inequality because they don't feel the same entitlement," Galinsky concluded.

SOURCE

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Who Will Be Responsible for the American Dead?

by David Horowitz

Two Guantanamo terrorists released in November were behind the Christmas Day attack in Detroit. Our security agencies ignored their own security measures and their own intelligence — including warnings from the terrorist’s father that his son was involved with terrorists.

The chief of our Department of Homeland Security is preoccupied with covering her ass, and conferring citizenship rights on enemy combatants. Instead of throwing the enemy in the darkest possible dungeon and extracting information on the next terrorist attack, both she and her president are referring to him as an “alleged” bomber and helping him to lawyer up because after all he’s only a criminal who deserves the presumption of innocence and every other right accorded to citizens of this country who might be interested in protecting it.

The answer to the question posed above is that liberals will be responsible when the next bomber actually succeeds in killing Americans. Liberals have fought the very idea that we are at war (and should use security measures appropriate in wartime) although our enemies have declared war on us. Liberals have fought to close the Guantanamo Bay holding center and to release its terrorists back onto the battlefield.

Liberals have fought to deny us the basic security techniques — harsh interrogation measures, military tribunals, terrorist profiling (which would focus scarce security resources on Muslims and not on the hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens who are traveling to do business and visit families, including for example, elderly Christians confined to wheelchairs whose prophet preached love rather than war.)

Liberals have advocated and pursued a diplomacy of apology and appeasement whose effect is to encourage our adversaries to have contempt for us and to deny support to the brave dissenters in the Muslim world who are struggling for their freedom. And liberals have conducted a relentless propaganda campaign designed to portray their own country as an unprincipled aggressor whose immediate consequence is to weaken its efforts to defend itself.

We expect this from the anti-American left. But we are getting it from the liberal “center” from the likes of Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, the late Senator Kennedy, institutions like the New York Times, and pundits ranging from Chris Matthews and Andrew Sullivan who should know better to Joshua Micah Marshall and Joe Klein who have lent cover and support to the neo-Communist America haters of the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Our country is about to pay a terrible price for the orgy of liberal derangement that made the Bush administration rather than Saddam Hussein the culprit in the Iraq war and whose collective effort over the last seven years has been to dig the graves of the innocent American victims of the next terrorist attacks.

SOURCE

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Naked Liberalism

Death of liberalism is near, and its harbinger is not a conservative onslaught, nor a new Contract With America. Its demise is being signaled by activities in a small town in Oregon, noteworthy only for a rambunctious annual Shakespearean Festival. Ashland, Oregon, as all things west of the Cascade Range in Oregon, is a refuge for all things liberal, but Ashland finds itself in a liberal conundrum that portends bad things for left leaning granola crunchers. More on Ashland later.

American liberalism initially manifested itself with the emergence of suffrage drives, with Wilson’s pandering for the League of Nations, and with the relaxing of mores during the twenties. Morals were plied with the consumption of prohibited beverages and further trod upon by the liberating sense of rebellion that came with doing so.

Such exuberance was quickly snuffed out by the harsh realities of the Great Depression, Nazism, the bleak existence most families found themselves in, and the eventual national commitment to a two front war. There was scant time available for dalliances with anything that wasn’t practical and immediate. Concepts and ideas outside of the very real and necessary were left to those in the colleges of America and Europe or to professional philosophers and theorists. The esoteric took a backseat to the real.

Then, after a relatively brief period of peace, America elected a young Senator from the uber-liberal state of Massachusetts, and liberalism was once again uncorked. Fermented by years of being bottled up by the necessities imposed by the outside world, liberalism was unleashed full tilt into a generation excited by the charisma of a core of liberal politicos who enthralled them. Eager to escape their depression educated parents and their parents’ puritanical concepts in child rearing; this generation accelerated past the standard bearers and never looked back. Chicago 1968.

Based on the reasonable concepts of equal civil rights (although it took Republicans to actually get civil rights legislation passed in the sixties; over objections of many Democrats), women’s rights, taking care of the poor and protecting the weak, liberal thought was embraceable by many who felt blessed in those heady times. The original concepts of egalitarianism were soon consumed by an unstoppable tornado that evolved from the anti-war movement and its associated rebellion against all restraints; parental, moral, and governmental.

Soon liberal thought pushed well past the novel concepts of civil rights, sexual equality, and governmental support of the poor, to free love, sexual freedom, feminism, abortion rights, and exaggerated forms of freedom of expression, including; burning the flag, urinating and defecating on religious symbols, vulgarity in art and music, tolerance of all manner and combination of sexual encounters, right to self-euthanize, and the consumption of all manner of mind bending drugs, among others.

The acceleration of liberal thought through its lighting fast evolutionary period makes expansion of our universe look like a pedal car at a NASCAR race, and since it has raced along for fifty years at maximum rpm and it will soon burn out like a piston in a lean running engine. Liberalism is now best defined by its extremists. Much like Spinal Tap, liberals are not content to have the volume up to 10; they have a need to continually go to 11, and beyond. No idea is off the table. No idea is too extreme. Just keep turning the volume knob to the right, 12, 13, maybe. Bose eat your heart out.

Which brings us back to Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is proud of its liberalness and in particular its tolerance for nudity. Liberals support this form of self-expression as harmless and victimless. Yet now Ashland finds itself having to rethink its policies. Not because there are too many cute women walking the streets of Ashland sans fashion, but because such open policies invite the extremists. And even in Liberal-ville, full male nudity is enough to change the mind of many self-expression proponents; especially those raising children.

But real crisis occurred when a Minnesotan boarded a bus to Oregon in order bring his own brand of nude self-expression to Ashland. Mr. Freedom-of-Expression decided that parading his package in the vicinity of an elementary school was indeed an appropriate form of self-expression, and Ashland was the kind of liberal haven to support it.. Some moms, liberal and otherwise, became concerned. What is a liberal to do?

Now it is liberal v. liberal in Ashland, as the community tries to achieve an impossible balance between reasonable nudity and un-reasonable nudity within the city’s limits. The mayor wants an ordinance, many townies want nudity, the Minnesotan wants a refund on his bus ticket, and parents, many liberals themselves, want to protect their children from free-expression freak-a-zoids who have no restraint.

And therein is the clue, liberalism has accelerated far past its defensible positions on many issues, and in-fighting is the inevitable result. Late term abortions, Government funded abortions, lack of fiscal restraint, the Afghanistan surge, Gitmo, Iraq, as well as nudity in Ashland, are all pitting moderate liberals against the liberal extremists, and the results will be near-term collapse of the liberal movement as we know it.

There will be pockets of liberal thought and liberal resistance, but conservatism is about to enjoy a resurgence as extremists burn out even the most ardent sock wearing, Birkenstock shod, parents in Oregon with their continual assaults on society with their lack of discipline and nouveau-avant-garde liberal stunt-ages, un-cleverly disguised as freedoms-of-expression.

All things reach an acme, for liberal thought it was Election 2008. The reality of implementing liberal ideas in government in 2009 and beyond comes with the revelation that gaining liberal consensus is much more difficult than herding cats and much less likely than taming badgers. Because of the now disparate nature of many core beliefs, liberals simply cannot effectively govern.

Sometimes the brightest star does burn itself out first. With nowhere to go, except past 14, 15, and beyond on the volume knob, liberalism is quickly replacing its once viable compassionate reason with more volume and diametrically opposing ideas; ideological difficulties which are not easy to overcome with lurking massive deficits and growing taxpayer unrest. The liberal movement is quite literally running out of ideological steam after is meteoric run, but now a long period of acrimony and infighting awaits. I only hope conservatives are ready.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Judge says charges against Blackwater guards were a corrupt prosecution: "Criminal charges against five Blackwater security guards accused of fatally shooting 14 people in Baghdad in September 2007 have been dismissed. Judge Ricardo Urbina said prosecutors violated the defendants' rights by using incriminating statements they had made under immunity during a State Department investigation to build their case. “The government used the defendants' compelled statements to guide its charging decisions, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leads, and ultimately to obtain the indictment in the case,” Judge Urbina ruled. “In short, the government had utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of the defendants' statment or that such use was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.” The guards had been charged with killing 14 Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others using gunfire and grenades during an unprovoked attack at a busy Baghdad intersection. They had faced firearms charges, and up to 10 years in jail on each of 14 manslaughter counts. “The explanations offered by the prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions... were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility,” Judge Urbina wrote. Blackwater has insisted its personnel were acting in self-defence, but critics repeatedly have accused the company of a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach." [Leftist enemies of the Iraq war wanted a scalp by hook or by crook]

Pint and mile measures preserved for British businesses: "The pint measure and the mile, have been preserved for British business, under new powers which come into force today. The Government this year negotiated an indefinite exemption from EU laws which would have forced companies to produce separate metric and imperial labels for different markets. Ministers said their "success" in Europe meant that British firms could carry on using imperial units alongside metric measurements. The change also means the UK alone can decide on the future of the pint of beer, cider and milk, the mile on road signs and the troy ounce for precious metals. Lord Drayson, the Science and Innovation minister, said: "As we enter a new decade it's good to know that traditional imperial measurements like the pint and mile will remain. "But importantly this also means that businesses will avoid the unnecessary cost of changing labels. This indefinite exemption leaves these important decisions in our own hands, removing worry and uncertainty from businesses."

GMAC receives third round of bailout funds: "GMAC Financial Services will receive a third round of bailout funds from the U.S. Treasury Department and the government will have a controlling stake in the company, according to a government report Wednesday. The troubled auto and mortgage lender will collect $3.8 billion of additional aid on top of the nearly $13.5 billion already received since December 2008, the Treasury said in a statement Wednesday." [It's no longer a business. It is now a government-run charity]

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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Thursday, December 31, 2009



The wake-up call from Flight 253

by Jeff Jacoby

AFTER THE SEPT. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, it was widely asserted at the time, nothing would be the same. What Pearl Harbor had been for our parents and grandparents, 9/11 would be for us: a shattering national wake-up call revealing both the gaping holes in America's homeland security and the reality that we were at war with an implacable enemy whose defeat would require years of sacrifice and resolve.

But it became clear after a while that for many Americans, 9/11 had not marked a break with old ways of thinking. As the near-unanimity of 9/11 receded, Americans divided into what the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes dubbed September 12 people, for whom 9/11 had changed everything, and September 10 people, who believed the terrorist threat was being exaggerated by the Bush administration and who regarded the fight against Islamist extremism as chiefly a matter of law enforcement.

Would that divide have closed if Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had succeeded in blowing up Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day? If al-Qaeda, which reportedly trained Abdulmutallab in Yemen and is claiming responsibility for the thwarted attack, had succeeded in carrying out another 9/11, would the short-lived unity and moral clarity of that terrible day in 2001 have returned?

Had Flight 253 ended in the mass-murder the bomb plotters intended, Americans would today be filled with grief and fury. They would also be grappling with some hard lessons -- lessons that in recent years too many had been inclined to dismiss. Among them:

* Terrorism isn't caused by poverty and ignorance. Abdulmutallab came from a wealthy and privileged family, and had studied at one of Britain's top universities. He wasn't trying to kill hundreds of Americans out of socioeconomic despair. Like the 9/11 hijackers and countless other jihadists, Abdulmutallab was motivated by ideological and religious fanaticism. The teachings of militant Islam may seem monstrous to outsiders, but that is no reason to doubt that their adherents genuinely believe them, or that by giving their lives for jihad they hope to change the world.

* The global jihad is real. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was widely derided for initially insisting that Flight 253 wasn't blown up in mid-air because "the system worked" and "the whole process went very smoothly." Far more troubling, however, was her effort to downplay the suggestion that Abdulmutallab's attempted attack was "part of anything larger" -- this even after he had terrorist acknowledged his ties to al-Qaeda. Of course Abdulmutallab is part of something larger: He is part of the global jihad -- the relentless assault by Islamist radicals whose deadly serious goal is the submission of America and the West to Islamic law. If government officials like Napolitano cannot bring themselves to speak plainly about the jihadists' ambitions, how will they ever succeed in crushing them?

* Terrorists can always adapt to new restrictions. After 9/11, knives and sharp metal objects were banned from carry-on luggage, so Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb. Thereafter everyone's shoes were checked, so the 2006 Heathrow plotters planned to use liquid-based explosives. Now liquids are strictly limited, so Abdulmutallab smuggled PETN, an explosive powder, in his underwear. There is no physical constraint that determined jihadists cannot find a way to circumvent. Yet US airport security remains obstinately reactive -- focused on intercepting dangerous things, instead of intercepting dangerous people. Unwilling to incorporate ethnic and religious profiling in our air-travel security procedures, we have saddled ourselves with a mediocre security system that inconveniences everyone while protecting no one.

* The Patriot Act was not a reckless overreaction. Security in a post 9/11 world has not come from pressing a "reset button," sending Guantanamo inmates off to Yemen, or refusing to use terms like "war on terrorism." It has come from stepped-up surveillance and stronger intelligence-gathering tools, and from working to pre-empt terror attacks in advance, rather than prosecuting them after the fact. Congress was not out of its mind when it enacted the Patriot Act in 2001, and the Bush administration was not trampling the Constitution when it deployed the expanded powers the law gave it: They were trying to prevent another 9/11 -- and they succeeded. President Obama has repeatedly and ostentatiously criticized his predecessor's approach. Perhaps it is not just a coincidence that Obama's first year in office has also seen an unprecedented surge in terrorist threats on US soil.

We came fearfully close to having to re-learn those lessons the hard way last week. Only the failure of Abdulmutallab's explosive to ignite and the bravery of the passenger and flight attendants who rushed him prevented what would have been the bloodiest attack on US soil in more than eight years. The world remains extremely dangerous, and the war against radical Islam is far from over. Flight 253 was another wake-up call. Did the September 10 people hear it?

SOURCE

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Whistleblowers punished for warning of aviation security lapses

They've been frantically trying to warn America for the past six years: Aviation security is a joke, and it's only a matter of time before terrorists destroy another airplane full of innocent passengers.

The close call in Detroit on Christmas Day has vindicated a group of highly experienced experts -- including former airline pilots, federal air marshals and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors -- who were fired or demoted for pointing out obvious flaws in the nation's post-9/11 aviation security system to their chain of command.

Even now, facing financial ruin after their careers were trashed and their families destroyed, courageous members of the Whistleblowing Airline Employees Association ( airline-whistleblowers.org) refuse to be silenced.

Former United B-777 Captain Dan Hanley was forced out of the cockpit after filing federally mandated complaints in 2003 about the lack of federal air marshals and onboard cabin cameras aboard his high-risk London-to-New York flights. Six years later, there was still no federal air marshal aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit, even though both cities are well-known hotbeds of radical Islamic activity.

Robert MacLean, hand-picked as one of the first federal air marshals, was fired for publicly criticizing the Transportation Security Administration's plan to remove marshals from nonstop, long-distance flights -- in violation of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 -- because the agency didn't want to pay their hotel bills.

Former FAA inspector Gabe Bruno uncovered evidence that an airline mechanic certification school was being run by a criminal syndicate. He's still trying to get somebody -- anybody -- in the federal government to find out where all the bogus mechanics are currently employed.

Fellow FAA whistleblower Rich Wyeroski was canned for asking too many questions -- and pointing out the lunacy of forcing passengers to take off their shoes when the airplanes they board are serviced offshore in completely unsecured facilities.

Former TSA Red Team Leader Bogdan Dzakovic, one of the world's top experts on aviation security, was demoted to human answering machine after he testified at the 9/11 Commission's second hearing that safety issues were still not being addressed.

The U.S. government's No. 1 job is to protect American citizens, but it didn't stop Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who was already on the terrorist watch list, from buying a ticket -- in cash -- for Seat 1House,Senate,President,White House,Conservatives,Liberals,Barack Obama,President,Democrats,Republicans,Libertarians,Irwin Stelzer:26398789:26398789:Irwin Stelzer, directly above the aircraft's fuel tank, or from boarding the Detroit-bound flight with explosives sewn into his underwear.

"This individual should not have been missed," fumed Maine Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Senate homeland security committee, in a classic example of understatement. But the harsh punishment meted out to whistleblowers has had its predictably chilling effect. "Who's going to speak out if you have a 2 percent chance of success and your career will be trashed?" Hanley asked.

The few brave souls who lost everything to warn Americans of the ever-present danger in the skies have been kicked to the curb, while those who failed to perform the Department of Homeland Security's core mission -- led by Secretary Janet Napolitano and her claim that "the system worked" in the Detroit incident -- continue to collect their government paychecks, aided and abetted by an irresponsible Congress.

As Robert Spencer, author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," told The Examiner: "In reality, nothing worked. ... All the stupid and humiliating airport security procedures, all the little Baggies for toothpaste and shampoo, all the padding through the security scanner in stocking feet didn't work."

The dirty and dangerous secret about airline security is that it's all just political theater designed to calm passengers' very real fears. If the system allows a young, radicalized Islamist known to U.S. authorities to board a plane with 80 grams of pentaerythritol tetranitrate sewn into his pants, nobody is safe.

Meanwhile, your government is too busy bailing out failed banks and car companies and taking over the health care industry to provide for the common defense. Just don't say you weren't warned.

SOURCE

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Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?

You just can't make up how brazen this crowd is. One week ago, President Obama quietly signed an executive order that makes an international police force immune from the restraints of American law.

Interpol is the shorthand for the International Criminal Police Organization. It was established in 1923 and operates in about 188 countries. By executive order 12425, issued in 1983, President Reagan recognized Interpol as an international organization and gave it some of the privileges and immunities customarily extended to foreign diplomats. Interpol, however, is also an active law-enforcement agency, so critical privileges and immunities (set forth in Section 2(c) of the International Organizations Immunities Act) were withheld. Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol's property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America's defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?

SOURCE

Another comment

American law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal level are bound by open records act laws. At the federal level, the Freedom of Information Act applies.

Knowing that an intrepid reporter can, after establishing credible sources, file a judicially enforcible FOIA request to obtain information from a law enforcement agency is one of the chief deterrents to law enforcement agencies from abusing discretionary power.

Additionally, Interpol is a foreign power, but operates out of the U.S. Department of Justice inside the United States. While Interpol has some limited immunities given by Ronald Reagan in the early 1980’s, it does not — or at least did not until last week — have immunity from the 4th Amendment. Consequently, this international agency could, should it abuse its powers, have the federal government seize its assets, etc.

In other words, the international police organization Interpol was treated like every other law enforcement agency in America — it was subject to FOIA requests and could, like any arm of a municipal, county, state, or federal government agency, have its property taken by the federal government if it crossed the boundaries of criminal law protection for the accused.

For no discernible reason whatsoever, last Wednesday when no one was looking, Barack Obama signed an executive order giving all immunities of foreign powers to Interpol.

In other words, Interpol is now in a better position than any American law enforcement institution that operates on American soil. It cannot have its records searched or seized and it is not subject to the restraints of sunshine and transparency that FOIA requests can bring.

At a time when Obama is worried about ensuring the rights of terrorists against the abuses of the American government, he has no problem surrendering American rights to an arm of the United Nations. This is extremely important because it comports with Barack Obama’s world view in ways harmful to American sovereignty. Obama has said repeatedly that he views no nation as greater than any other nation. He has said repeatedly that one nation should not be able to impose its will on another. He applies this even to the United States.

In Barack Obama’s world, the United States is no better and no worse than Iran, China, North Korea, or Kenya. In his world view, we are all players on an international stage with the United Nations as the leader. Therefore, while Obama will not give up American sovereignty to Peru, he is perfectly happy to give up sovereignty to the United Nations.

The man is not just an amateur. He is also a damnably naive fool.

This is also a backdoor to the International Criminal Court (”ICC”). The United States chose, before Obama took office, to avoid the ICC. Interpol has become the law enforcement arm of the ICC. By taking away the limits to Interpol’s immunity in the United States, Barack Obama has freed the organization up to conduct criminal investigations of individuals inside the United States on behalf of the ICC without any of us knowing about it.

And who does the ICC want to investigate? The lawyers, CIA operatives, and soldiers who have defended the United States in the War on Terror by setting up GTMO and prosecuting the war. These men and women now have yet another deterrent to keep them from being fully effective — the fear of an international criminal investigation that they don’t even know about.

How many Americans will get killed because of the policies Barack Obama is employing to undermine our safety and security in a dangerous world?

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Not so liberating: The twilight of liberation theology: "It went almost unnoticed, but on December 5th, Benedict XVI articulated one of the most stinging rebukes that has ever been made by a pope of a particular theological school. Addressing a group of Brazilian bishops, Benedict followed some mild comments about Catholic education with some very sharp and deeply critical remarks about liberation theology and its effects upon the Catholic Church. Apart from stressing how certain liberation theologians drew heavily upon Marxist concepts, the pope also described these ideas as ‘deceitful.’”

Back from the brink: "For years, perhaps decades to come, Americans will be whittling away at the mountain of debt the Obama administration has built, in part to apply Maynard Keynes’s nostrums to the sagging economy, in greater part permanently to expand the size and role of government. On the day before Christmas, immediately after its dawn vote to pass the health care bill, when few were watching, the Senate joined the House in raising the debt ceiling so that the administration could borrow enough money — $290 billion — to keep the government running, but only for a few months, so great is the amount of red ink pouring onto the federal books. Congress is also preparing a second stimulus bill — it will have a different name — and instead of using the money flowing in from the banks to repay the government’s bail-outs to reduce the deficit, the president and Congress are converting it to a slush fund to be spent on a variety of new programs. Throw in the fact that no one believes the health care bill will not add to the deficit, and Americans will remember 2009 as the year they loaded huge burdens on their children and grandchildren.”

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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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)

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009



One formidable lady



HIGH standards, a short temper and a taste for whisky - Margaret Thatcher's personality is laid bare in secret files released in Britain Wednesday which cover the first few months of her premiership.

The files, covering the first few months of her premiership, reveal she refused a guard of 20 "karate ladies'' when she visited Japan soon after becoming prime minister in 1979 and personally handled pistols to decide which model was best for police in Northern Ireland.

Her impatience for the failings of ministers and civil servants less formidable than herself is also shown in a volley of curt, scrawled annotations on documents.

Perhaps the most unusual story in the files relates to her attendance at the Tokyo Economic Summit in June 1979, the month after she was elected Britain's first female premier. British officials heard of Japanese plans to lay on 20 "karate ladies'' to provide her security at the event, but Thatcher insisted she did not want them. "The Prime Minister would like to be treated in exactly the same way as the other visiting Heads of Delegation; it is not the degree of protection that is in question but the particular means of carrying it out,'' a confidential official communique from the Foreign Office said. "If other Delegation leaders, for example, are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this; but she does not wish to be singled out.''

Another document records a conversation between Thatcher and the then US President Jimmy Carter at the White House in December 1979. She was trying to persuade him to reverse the US policy of not selling arms to Northern Ireland's police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Arguing her case, Thatcher said, according to the official record: "She herself had handled both of the gun(s) which the RUC at present used and that which was on order. "There was no doubt that the American Ruger was much better.''

A file on her first visit to France in June to meet president Valery Giscard d'Estaing revealed that embassy staff in Paris paid for her duty-free cigarettes and alcohol. They later had to chase Downing Street for a refund.

An invoice in the file lists one bottle of Teacher's whisky, known to be her drink of choice; one bottle of gin, a "snifter'' of which was favoured by her husband, Denis; and 200 Benson and Hedges cigarettes for Thatcher and a senior Downing Street figure.

Elsewhere, Thatcher berates officials for not providing a "sufficiently interesting'' itinerary for the first day of her maiden tour to the US and requests a "fuller program'' in New York.

She furiously annotates documents in blue fountain pen, adding notes, underlining and even correcting officials' grammar.

SOURCE

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Utopian new left just like old left

How did the European left rationalize communism's crimes and transform itself into a viable political force after the fall of the Soviet Union? It's all explained in "Last Exit to Utopia: The Survival of Socialism in a Post-Soviet Era." First published in 2000, the book by the late French intellectual Jean-Francois Revel is only now available in English. But given Revel's insights into today's leftist movements, it couldn't be more timely.

The old left's attempt to "excommunicate" modernity, as Revel describes it, is as alive today as it ever was. He traces the left's ideological rejection of modern civilization and the idea of progress back to French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who in the 18th century launched the Romantic rebellion against the Age of Reason.

Revel explains how Rousseau's "primitivism" and denial of reason manifested itself in the utopian ideologies of communism and fascism. These ideologies are often mistakenly associated with rationalism, progress and science. But their deeper motivation was the irrational impulse to eliminate all the uncertainties of the human condition -- to create, in short, an earthly paradise. Revel calls this the "totalitarian temptation" because mankind is tempted into thinking that the only obstacle to creating the good society is a lack of will and power.

Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany were the most extreme examples of this idea. But Revel notes there were softer versions, ranging from socialism to the progressive movements in the United States. Yes, some versions were violent while others were not. But, Revel stresses, all shared the idea that their noble cause to create an ideal society morally justified the means, and the means of choice was state power - sometimes grossly violent and sometimes not.

Hitler's creation is long gone, and so, too, is the Soviet Union. But the legacy of Rousseau's assault on civilization and progress lives on in three modern political movements.

The first is environmentalism. By this I don't mean the mere desire to have a clean environment, but rather the messianic mission to create a new ecological order through the application of state power. Environmentalism, particularly in its more radical forms, has inherited all of the old left's habits of mind, only on a far grander scale. It seeks to transform not just civilization, but the physical planet as well.

As with the old left, new left environmentalists view capitalism and the free market as enemies. But so, too, is reason. The lengths to which some scientists will go to stifle dissent reveal not only a disrespect for the scientific method, but also contempt for using reason to understand reality. If truly understanding climate change were the main goal, there would be no hesitation to look at all the evidence of global warming. In the minds of many climate-change scientists, however, the top goal is not to understand the planet but to "save" it. The cause transcends the science.

Another new left movement is dedicated to "global governance" -- the creation of supranational institutions to control societies. Manifested in the United Nations, the European Union, and other international institutions, the ostensible aim is more happiness for more people, but the means is the same old centralization of power in ever larger governing institutions -- in this case, regional and global ones.

The enemies here are also familiar, namely, the nation-state and the free market. The United Nations and the European Union seek to bypass and control both, empowering bureaucratic elites who are unaccountable to the democratic process. In the old days, the nation-state was to be the engine of socialism; today, it is supranational institutions.

Unsurprisingly, this movement exhibits all the traits of the old left. Dissent from the received ideal is tolerated no more than the fat-cat bourgeois was by old-school socialists. For example, EU advocates in the European Parliament are boycotting its new European Conservative and Reform Group because it questions some aspects of integration. Its sin is apostasy from the creed of European integration, which EU advocates equate with wanting a return to the bad old days of suicidal wars. The same advocates never explain how regulating the size and shape of bananas and cucumbers or the noise that tires make serves such a noble cause.

Another great utopian movement of our era, militant Islamism, differs in origin from these secular leftist movements, but it shares some of their mental habits. The Muslim Brotherhood rejects capitalism and freedom no less than the most ardent environmentalists. It matters little whether advocates want to create a religious caliphate or an ecological nirvana. They share the utopian's disregard for progress and civilization, and see few if any limits on the means to stop them.

Though written about the past, Revel's book is a window into the future. Read it and you understand why, as the French say, "Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" ("The more things change, the more they stay the same.")

SOURCE

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Leftist destruction in Britain

The economy has suffered its worst decade of growth since the Second World War, figures revealed yesterday. The findings, which show a far worse performance than under the Tories in the 1990s, raise serious doubts about Labour's claims to superior handling of the economy during its 13 years in power.

Gross domestic product, which is the country's total economic output, rose just 1.7 per cent a year in real terms, which means the figures have been adjusted for inflation. At this low level, the last decade has been Britain's weakest period of economic expansion of any ten-year period since the 1940s, according to the research based on figures from the Office for National Statistics. By contrast, in the 1990s, when John Major was in power before being ousted by Tony Blair in 1997, output rose by an average of 2.2 per cent a year.

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have made a habit of disparaging the economic record of the Conservative Party, but yesterday the Tories said the figures exposed the Government's dismal record. Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond said: 'After more than a decade in power, Labour's economic legacy is record low growth and a poorly performing stock market. 'This shows the urgent need for change to ensure the next decade is one of sustainable growth and a return to soundly-based prosperity.

The biggest loser over the decade was the embattled manufacturing sector, which collapsed into negative territory, falling by an average of 1.2 per cent every year. This did not happen even in the 1970s and 1980s, a time when Britain's industrial base virtually collapsed with victims such as shipbuilding, coal mining and car manufacture. During those two decades, output grew at an average annual rate of 0.6 per cent and 1.0 per cent respectively.

The sluggish performance of the economy is made even worse by the fact that the population has ballooned in recent decades. A rising population is usually associated with a rise in economic output, rather than a fall. The population has grown from 56 million in 1971 to 61 million in 2007, and is forecast to keep on climbing to nearly 63 million in 2011.

The findings come at a bleak time for Britain, which remains the only G20 economy still in recession. Latest ONS figures show that output fell between July and September, down 0.2 per cent. Since the recession started last year, the economy has shrunk 6 per cent, the biggest slump in modern times.

Unemployment has shot up to 2.5million, and a warning has come from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that another 250,000 could lose their jobs. Its chief economic adviser Dr John Philpott said the outlook may be even worse, with unemployment possibly reaching three million. He said: 'Private sector employers will seek to contain wage costs and public sector employers will have to cope with the consequences of fast shrinking budgets and mass job downsizing.'

More HERE

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The most important civil right of all

Well, to paraphrase a famous president of a slightly earlier time, "you're doing a heckuva job, Janet." That goes for everybody at the White House.

If Barack Obama wants to reassure a nervous public that bureaucratic incompetence won't be tolerated, he might look to the example of what happened to the director of FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But no one expects the president to sack Janet Napolitano, the secretary of something the government insists on calling Homeland Security.

That's not how an administration that regards words and deeds as equals actually works. The lessons in the latest Islamist attempt to bring down a Western airliner could be useful, but such lessons are too painful for the guvvies to think about.

Mzz Napolitano's early assurance, since amended, that "the system worked" was either dopey beyond belief, or an unintended ringing endorsement of the ancient folk ethic that "God helps those who help themselves." Better God than a guvvie, but not everyone can count on having as a fellow passenger a young Dutchman with quick instincts, athletic grace, a sharp eye and a full complement of bravery and courage. That's not really a "system" for securing the homeland.

President Obama, interrupting a day at the beach, told reporters in Hawaii that he would pursue the plotters in Arabia and he would not rest until they are caught. This time he did not promise they would be executed, as he did of the Guantanamo plotters who are to be tried in New York City. But the attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit was "a serious reminder" of the dangers George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and other Republicans warned us about. (Of course, he couldn't afford to say it quite that way.)

Mr. Obama's tough-guy rhetoric, his words plain, pretty and well-parsed, is more reassuring than his deeds, or would be if there was evidence that he really understands what must be done. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young jihadist from Nigeria by way of Yemen, was quickly indicted on federal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, which means that he will have the full array of rights accorded to every defendant in an American court. Someone will have to read his Miranda rights, and he will have the right to a lawyer. This will please the civil rights radicals who imagine the Constitution to be a suicide pact, and who don't, or can't, understand that the most important civil right of all is the right not to be murdered. Murder, after all, is the surest way to deprive someone of his other civil rights.

If ever a system isn't working, this is the one. Warning flags the size of bedsheets fluttered above checkpoints on two continents. The suspect's father tried to warn the American government that his son had been radicalized and was looking for an opportunity to slaughter innocents. That should have been enough to interview the young man before revoking his visa. But such common sense, common nearly everywhere else, is rarely rewarded in the government precincts of the politically correct. Someone eager to scratch the itch to wound America might be offended.

Where were the intelligence services that soak up so many of the nation's billions every year? Did the CIA talk to the FBI, or the DEA to DIA, or did considerations of protecting turf take precedence, as such considerations often do? The Obama administration promises an investigation, naturally, and of course it will be fair, thorough, hard-hitting, blah, blah and blah. Congress should be suspicious of bureaucrats investigating themselves, and conduct its own investigation. But Democrats in Congress will no doubt be more interested in protecting the administration than finding out what really happened. To find out might compel even a senator to actually do something.

The Detroit incident ought to persuade President Obama once and for all that making nice with those who are determined to kill as many of us as they can is a fool's errand. He can go back to Cairo again and again to apologize as eloquently as he can, and when the apologies are over and he bumps the floor with his forehead in bowing to whomever, the Islamic jihadists will still despise us and will continue to plot to destroy us.

Janet Napolitano can conjure up more ways to harass air travelers, going after all those blue-eyed Scandinavian grannies in Minnesota again to avoid "profiling" the likely terrorists. She may require us to take off our pants as well as our shoes. But even with more harassment of the innocent, she still won't have a "system" that works. We must pray for a Dutchman.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009



Obama handles Northwest Airlines terror incident differently than Ft. Hood

Yet Ft. Hood was where people died. Is it only terrorism if it doesn't succeed?

The Obama White House has been aggressive in its press outreach regarding the Northwest Airlines terrorist incident. Some of the earliest stories on accused terrorist Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to set off an explosive device on board Northwest Flight 253 were sourced to the White House, and White House officials were quick to label the incident an "attempted act of terrorism." The White House wants the public to know that President Obama, on vacation at a luxurious oceanfront home in Hawaii, has received conference call updates and is keeping close tabs on the situation.

"President Barack Obama's Christmas Day began with a briefing about a botched attack on an airliner in Detroit," began an Associated Press account published Christmas evening. "Obama's military aide told the president about an incident aboard a plane as it was landing in Detroit just after 9 a.m. here [in Hawaii]. The president phoned his homeland security adviser and the chief of staff to the National Security Council for a briefing…'We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,' one White House official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive situation."

Those details didn't come from nowhere. "Within a few hours of the Delta/Northwest Airlines flight touching down in Detroit, a senior administration official telephoned and e-mailed members of the White House press pool," writes the Atlantic's and CBS's Marc Ambinder, a reliable source of the White House perspective. The administration message: We're on the case. "The apparatus of government is in high gear now," Ambinder reported.

The White House messaging on the Flight 253 affair stands in stark contrast to its handling of the massacre at Ft. Hood, Texas in which Obama, on the day after the killings, cautioned the public against "jumping to conclusions" about the murders of 13 people, and then, a day later, declared that "we cannot fully know" accused killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's motives. Now, the administration is openly using the T-word.

But it appears the White House's press outreach has been more extensive than its outreach to actual officials in the government. "They're keeping information very tight, in terms of not giving it to Congress," says Republican Rep. Peter King, who has been on television frequently in the hours since the incident. "There are not too many details coming out."

In his appearances, King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, has been described as having been "briefed" on the issue. It turns out he has been briefed, but not by the administration. "When I say 'briefing,' these are people on my staff who are in contact with people in the government agencies," King says. So far, King has had just one contact with the administration: a phone call from Homeland Security deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute, who told him about airport security measures. Beyond that, nothing. "As far as all the other details I've gotten, they came from sources that we have in the government," King says. "I understand the Democrats are getting the same treatment, so it's not a partisan thing."

The important issue now, King says, is for officials to get to the bottom of how the incident could have happened. "There are real issues we have to look at as to why [Abdulmutallab] was on a watch list, or why he was on a classified file that the our government had on him, and yet he was not on a no-fly list and not on a secondary screening list," King says.

King isn't blaming the Obama team for what happened. "If [Abdulmutallab] was known about for two years, then that goes back into the Bush administration," King says. Still, it is the Obama administration's responsibility to find out what happened, and King is hopeful but a little wary. "The only reluctance I have is that the White House would not cooperate with us on the White House gate crashers incident, which was far less important than this," King says. Now, with an incident involving the nation's defenses against terrorism, "We have to have a full investigation as soon as possible."

SOURCE

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One war Obama is keen on

Taking his vendetta with Fox News to a new low, President Obama sent an administration spokesperson to appear on every network but Fox to discuss the Northwest Airlines flight 253 terror attack.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press and CBS’ Face the Nation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, NBC’s Meet the Press, and CNN’s State of the Nation.

Communicating to the American people the facts and status of an attempted terror attack should be of paramount importance to a President plunging in the polls, but Obama appears more obsessed with ostracizing Fox News than keeping the American people informed of the war on terror.

The Fox network has the highest cable network ratings beating every other network. Shouldn’t the administration want their message to reach to the largest possible audience? Perhaps the Obama administration is afraid Fox might ask questions about their Homeland Security policies that allowed the suspect to be purged from the government database of potential threats.

The White House reports Obama received a brief update on heightened air travel safety measures and the investigation. It would be interesting to know how much time Obama spent organizing his administration’s media strategy to blacklist Fox News.

SOURCE

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Some questions that need answers

Situational awareness is a term I learned from the fly-guys. When you’re hurtling along at 1000 miles an hour, knowing where you are (and where you need to be) in relationship to the ground and every other aircraft isn’t a matter of passing interest, it’s a matter of life and death. It’s the same thing for drivers, especially those who are talking on the cell phone while smoking a cigar and driving a car with a six-speed manual transmission.

Being on an airliner or a train is pretty much the opposite, especially at the end of a long trip. On a long transatlantic flight -- even in business class -- all you want to do is get off the doggone plane, get through customs and home to that waiting hot shower. You’re not thinking about someone seated a few rows in front of you who has a bomb concealed in his underwear.

That’s not your problem, right? They screen everyone, the highly-trained Federal Air Marshals are on board -- undercover -- and ready to spring into action. But what if they’re not? What if you’re departing from a high-risk airport such as Amsterdam’s Schipol, with a young Nigerian man aboard whose explosives go undetected? And what if there are no watchful FAMs aboard? It’s not only your problem: it’s the problem of every person on that aircraft.

For all the inconveniences we go through -- for all the blue-haired Norwegian grannies who are practically strip-searched regularly at the airports -- our security people seem to be unable to stop even the crude kind of attack attempted by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day.

No sentient being could have been comforted by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s ABC TV appearance on Sunday morning. No matter the question, she stuck to her mantra of how the system reacted perfectly to the attack, impervious to the question of why the system didn’t interdict it. She said in-flight aircraft were warned, the crew of Flight 253 reacted well and so forth. But she evaded every substantive question Jake Tapper asked.

Tapper asked questions -- ranging from why Abdulmutallab wasn’t prevented from getting on the flight to why DHS has spent billions on new technologies but hasn’t yet fielded one of them -- and Napolitano ducked every one.

Congressional Republicans should be asking Napolitano some pointy-type questions right now. Such as:

1. Abdulmutallab’s father apparently reported him to the embassy in Lagos, saying he'd turned radical. Who shared that information and with whom? Was there any follow-up?

2. What is the function of the so-called “Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment,” which listed Abdulmatullab, other than to keep DHS bureaucrats employed?

3. What does it take to be promoted from the “TIDE” list to the “no-fly” list?

4. Abdulmutallab has apparently claimed that Yemeni al-Queda planned the attack and provided him with the means. Are those claims true?

5. What preventive actions are being taken while Abdulmutallab’s claims are being investigated?

6. In light of Abdulmutallab’s claims, will the administration delay or cancel plans to release some Gitmo inmates to Yemen?

7. The flight reportedly had no Federal Air Marshals aboard. Why? Schipol is notoriously lax in security.

8. How much has Homeland Security spent on new passenger and baggage-screening technologies? What do we have to show for it?

Which brings us back to our personal dilemma: we can either stop flying -- which we mustn’t do -- or we can take personally our duty to defend ourselves and our fellow passengers in the air.

TSA shouldn’t panic: no one is advocating sneaking weapons aboard or punching every suspicious person in the gut. But what I am saying is that our right of self defense is also a duty and it has to be undertaken seriously.

We have to be aware, and we have to be willing. How many of us would have reacted as did Jasper Schuringa, the brave Dutch filmmaker who jumped over other passengers to subdue Abdulmutallab and put the underwear fire out? Too few, I’d guess.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

A non-Christian Christmas for the Obamas: "President Obama and his family celebrated Christmas in Hawaii on Friday, but with their own twists. The president and his wife, Michelle, started their day at 6:40 a.m. by going to the gym -- a feat unimaginable to most parents of young children eager to open presents on Christmas morning -- and returned more than an hour later. The first couple did not swap presents, aides said. And the Obamas did not attend church services, instead spending the day at the oceanfront home they are renting in Kailua, on the island of Oahu. Later on, the children -- along with Obama's sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, her husband, Konrad Ng, and their children -- were to open gifts. A meal of roast beef and potatoes was to follow, aides said." [I don't claim to be a Christian but even I attended the cathedral service in honour of the day]

Obama supports oil drilling in Brazil but not in the USA: "The U.S. government is preparing to provide up to $10 billion in loans to finance the development of massive hydrocarbon reserves off Brazil’s coast thought to contain 80 billion barrels of high-quality crude, an amount that could lead to a six-fold increase in Brazil’s current proven reserves and transform that nation into one of the world’s 10 largest oil producers. President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, discussed the matter with officials this week during a visit to the South American country, Brazilian Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo da Silva told reporters. He said the U.S. Export-Import Bank already has signed a letter of intent in that regard with Brazilian state oil company Petrobras."

Poll: Just 29% Say U.S. Heading on Right Course: "Just 29 percent of U.S. voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest level measured since early February, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. The percentage of voters who felt the country is heading in the right direction remained in the narrow range of 31 percent to 35 percent from July to early November. For the previous three weeks, however, confidence in the country’s current course has held steady at 30 percent. The majority of voters (65 percent) continue to believe the nation is heading down the wrong track. The latest finding is up slightly from last week and has remained fairly consistent for months. In the weeks just prior to Barack Obama's election, more than 80 percent of voters felt that way. Eighty-nine percent (89 percent) of Republicans and 74 percent of unaffiliated voters believe the nation is heading down the wrong track, findings that have held roughly steady for months. Democrats are more closely divided on the question: 52 percent say right direction, 38 percent say wrong track. Just nine percent (9 percent) of GOP voters say the United States is heading in the right direction."

Housing boom in southern Israel: "When Israel launched a massive offensive in the Gaza Strip a year ago, political leaders said the primary objective was to snuff out cross-border rocket fire against villages in southern Israel. That military mission has largely been accomplished. Launches of short-range Qassam rockets plummeted 90 percent to a decade low in 2009. The newfound peace of mind has fueled a surge in demand for homes in a region that people had been fleeing. Although much of Gaza remains in ruins, renewed interest in real estate in Sderot, the main target of the Qassam rockets, has pushed home values up by as much as a 30 percent. In the kibbutz, or farming collectives, around Gaza, there is also a resurgence in demand. Yisrael Gunwerg, a real estate marketing executive for neighborhood projects at two kibbutzes, said sales of new homes have tripled while prices have risen 15 percent. However, that sense of relief belies a long-term trepidation that a new, worse flare-up is only a matter of time. Southern Israel residents are aware of Israeli army intelligence assessments that Hamas is learning the lessons of the war and stocking hundreds of missiles in preparation for another round of fighting."

Hollow talk: "President Barack Obama on Monday vowed to use ‘every element of our national power’ to keep Americans safe and said the failed Christmas Day plot to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner was ‘a serious reminder’ of the need to continually adapt security measures against changing terrorist threats. But even as Obama spoke, word came that a State Department warning had failed to trigger an effort to revoke the alleged attacker’s visa.”

TSA admits it: Rules confusion is intentional: "You are now free to move about the cabin. Or not. After a two-day security clampdown prompted by a thwarted attempt to bomb a jetliner, some airline officials told The Associated Press that the in-flight restrictions had been eased. And it was now up to captains on each flight to decide whether passengers can have blankets and other items on their laps or can move around during the final phase of flight. Confused? … The Transportation Security Administration did little to explain the rules. And that inconsistency might well have been deliberate: What’s confusing to passengers is also confusing to potential terrorists. ‘It keeps them guessing,’ transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said.”

UAW: We did it for cars, we’ll do it for your kids: "Michelle Berry runs a day-care service from her home in Flint. Although she owns the business, Berry’s been told she is now a government employee and union member. It’s not voluntary. Berry and 40,000 other Michigan private day-care providers have union dues taken out from the child-care subsidies the state sends them on behalf of their low-income clients. The ‘union’ is a creation of the United Auto Workers. This racket means big money to the UAW, writes the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank.”

Cash for Clunkers: Home edition: "Cash for Clunkers (cars) is over. Cash for Clunkers (houses) continues. Legislators just extended the scandal-marred $8,000 home- buyer tax credit — which means another $11 billion will be wasted. Ground zero of last year’s financial crash was the politically driven collapse in the housing market. Six years ago, Rep. Barney Frank, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, declared: ‘I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.’ Uncle Sam rolled the dice a lot, and we all are paying the bill.”

Notorious British "child protection" authority still being careless: "An urgent review has been ordered after the 15-page Haringey Council file, which included details about a boy taken away from his mother over fears he could be abused, was found in a railway carriage in London. "This is an isolated case but of course the council is extremely concerned that sensitive papers relating to child safety appear to have been left on public transport," a council spokesman said. "It is the position of the council that such documents should be stored and used securely. We will urgently review our procedures and tighten them where necessary to make sure it doesn't happen again." A council worker has been suspended while the review is carried out." [They're clearly just bureaucrats who don't give a damn until they are caught out]

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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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)

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