Friday, April 16, 2010

The upcoming British elections (on May 6)

Comments below by Professor Peter Saunders, a British sociologist of libertarian inclinations

‘Let the baby-kissing begin.’ With these words, the BBC announced the start of Britain’s general election campaign, which is already turning out to be the most dishonest in living memory.

Everybody knows the country is bankrupt, but nobody will say what they’re going to do about it. The deficit is on the same scale as Greece; the public debt is bigger than at any time since World War II. But the first week of the campaign was taken up with an absurd argument about £6 billion of National Insurance revenues when the budget deficit is £167 billion! The parties are fiddling as the country burns.

Both parties have promised to maintain ‘front line services,’ and neither is talking about tax rises. Conservative leader David Cameron has promised health spending and foreign aid will be ring-fenced (never mind that Britain is still giving China £170 million per year in aid!).

Cameron is desperate to convince voters that the Tories have changed. They are now the nice party. He says the Thatcher years were divisive and that he will be ‘inclusive.’

But Labour wants to convince us that Cameron is a Thatcherite wolf in sheep’s clothing. This week, it launched a nationwide poster campaign based on the hugely popular BBC drama Ashes to Ashes in which a police officer is shot and wakes up in the 1980s. The poster portrays Cameron as Gene Hunt, the abrasive, politically-incorrect detective at the centre of the program. The tagline warns that the Tories will take us back to the 1980s.

But the campaign has backfired. Viewers like Gene Hunt! Cameron comes across as a rather prissy Eton toff. By portraying him as a no-nonsense tough guy, Labour has done him a huge favour.

But why do both parties think Thatcher is such a toxic brand? When she came to power in 1979, Britain was on its knees. The unions had made the country ungovernable, the Treasury was in hock to the IMF, and all the big industries were owned by the state and didn’t work. When the Tories lost office in 1997, they handed over one of the strongest economies in Europe. At a time when the country’s economy has again collapsed, you would think the Tories would be embracing this record, not trying to distance themselves from it.

The country is bust, but the parties won’t scare the voters with talk of nasty medicine to come. It may be time for the politicians to start kissing babies, but they are all determined not to frighten the children.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated April 16. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


Arizona doctor says Obamacare will force him to close shop

While it may be years before most Americans feel the impact of President Obama’s health-care bill, a few patients in Scottsdale, Ariz., got a small taste of life under Obamacare last week when they arrived at their Dermatologist’s office only to see a sign with the following taped to the front door:

“If you voted for Obamacare, be aware these doors will close before it goes into effect.” The note is signed Joseph M. Scherzer M.D. and includes the following addendum: “****Unless Congress or the Courts repeal the BILL.”

Scherzer, who attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, has been a practicing Dermatologist in Scottsdale, Ariz., since 1976. Reached yesterday at his office, Dr. Scherzer, 63, said he plans to stop practicing before 2014 when the bill’s full impact will be felt because he refuses to deal with the headache of increased government involvement in health care.

“I’m absolutely serious [about stopping practicing] and it’s not just because I’ll be nearing 65,” Scherzer said. “The stress is what would push me out the door. From what I’ve gathered hearing from my friends and peers, most physicians I’ve heard from feel the same way.”

Scherzer said the bill’s emphasis on punitive measures for physicians not following government-prescribed treatment methods under Medicare would increase his anxiety level to the point he would no longer be able to practice medicine. The maximum fine was previously $10,000; under the bill it will now be capped at $50,000. Scherzer said the fine system makes seeing a Medicare patients a difficult and stressful exercise.



Tea Parties Vs. Hard-Left Protests

In the mind's eye of the conservative movement, the Tea Party phenomenon right now is maybe the crucial factor in slowing socialism in Washington, on everything from the federal health care takeover to the hidden taxes of cap-and-trade legislation.

It's also a fascinating visual. When was the last time you saw such a spontaneous eruption of conservative grassroots anger, coast to coast? On both counts, the Tea Party movement should be cause for massive television coverage. Except for one thing. It's a conservative uprising, so it gets different treatment.

It's ignored as long as possible, and when it's no longer possible to be ignored, it's savaged.

The movement was launched in February 2009, when CNBC's Rick Santelli suggested throwing a "tea party" to protest government takeovers. A new study by Rich Noyes of the Media Research Center found only 19 news stories on the Tea Party movement for the entire year on ABC, CBS and NBC. The Obama family dog received more attention.

How anemic is this? Compare those 19 stories in all of 2009 with 41 stories the networks gave the "Million Mom March" against gun rights in 2000 -- and all before the math-challenged protest even happened. Consider racist and anti-Semitic Rev. Louis Farrakhan's "Million Man March." On Oct. 16, 1995, ABC, CBS and NBC together aired 21 stories just on one night.

The difference in tone was just as dramatic. Amazingly, the Tea Parties were assumed to be racist, but Farrakhan's event was not. ABC anchor Peter Jennings devoted all but 75 seconds of his newscast to promotional goo for the Nation of Islam.

Jennings sanitized the gathering. "For most of the hundreds of thousands who came here today, the event far overshadowed the man who organized it," Jennings claimed. He concluded the show on Farrakhan's behalf, that "it would be a terrible mistake not to recognize that here today he inspired many people, and in a broader sense, as one participant here after another has reaffirmed, this day, at this time and at this place, really did mean unity over division."

Jennings defied logic, and his own ears. The event meant "unity over division" even as speakers angrily attacked whites for "rolling toxic waste" into black communities, and screamed about the "growing racism and incipient fascism of white America." A young poet called blacks "God's divine race."

Compare that to the Tea Party stories. The victory of Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts spurred heavier network TV attention, another 42 stories in 2010. But now that they had to cover the Tea Party, the tone turned negative: Overall, 27 of 61 stories (44%) openly suggested the movement was fringy or extremist.

Contrast ABC's Peter Jennings then with ABC's Dan Harris now. Farrakhan was somehow a uniter, not a divider. But Harris warned Tea Party protesters "waved signs likening Obama to Hitler and the devil. ... Some prominent Obama supporters are now saying that it paints a picture of an opposition driven, in part, by a refusal to accept a black president."

And with that, everyone associated with the Tea Party movement, and everyone in sympathy with the Tea Party movement, had just been neatly tarred with the racism brush. What dramatic selectivity of "news judgment"! At left-wing rallies, reporters consistently and easily ignored hateful and extremist podium speeches from protest organizers. They paid no attention to objectionable signs. "Bush Lied, Thousands Died!" Big deal!

But at a conservative event, they go searching high and low for the kookiest, fringiest protester in a crowd of tens of thousands, so they can smear the entire crowd as a racist gathering.

The sanitize-the-left pattern happened at antiwar marches before the Iraq war in 2003. Signs at one January protest included "Bush Is a Terrorist," "USA Is #1 Terrorist" and "The NYPD Are Terrorists Too." Hateful? Objectionable? Not on your life!

ABC's Bill Blakemore ignored them, lauding the diversity of the marchers, "Democrats and Republicans, many middle-aged, from all walks of life." As one ABC producer admitted during the George H.W. Bush years, "We were looking for mainstream demonstrators."

The other networks echoed that approach. Take the issue of violence. On Feb. 15, 2003, "peace" demonstrators in New York injured eight police officers, and several protesters were arrested. But CBS reporter Jim Acosta still referred to the event as peaceful: "Despite some arrests and clashes with police, it was, for the most part, a peaceful reminder to the powerful that there is a divide over whether the nation should go to war."

Just weeks ago, when the Tea Party crowd came to Capitol Hill against ObamaCare, no one was arrested. But network anchors like NBC's Brian Williams were still lamenting that the health care debate had "veered into threats of violence." This isn't "news" coverage. It's carpet-bombing.




More pictures of white, racist tea partiers here

Holder charges former NSA official with leaking truth to media: "The Justice Department often launches investigations to ferret out government leakers, most of which end up going nowhere. But today, in a move that is likely to alarm journalists and whistleblowers alike, Attorney General Eric Holder’s prosecutors announced they had at long last found an alleged culprit: they charged a former National Security Agency official with disclosing classified information to a newspaper reporter about multibillion-dollar agency computer programs that were fraught with problems.”

Iceland: Volcano eruption could last months: "The last time Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano blew, the eruption lasted more than a year, from December 1821 until January 1823, reports Sally Sennert, a geologist at the Smithsonian Institution. ‘This seems similar to what’s happening now,’ she says. The volcano is erupting small, jagged pieces of rocks, minerals and volcanic glass the size of sand and silt into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.” [No transatlantic flights for months? All those Caribbean cruise ships might end up doing something useful!]

Historic preservation vs. private property rights: "The recent battle between a property owner and the Morrison Historic Preservation Commission in Illinois has again reinforced the importance of private-property rights. The battle centers around a property owner in Morrison who purchased four older properties along the main thoroughfare with plans of demolishing some of them, apparently for business-development purposes.”

China — it’s money: "The real motivation behind complaints about the Chinese currency regime is not to promote exports but to blunt imports. What really galls critics is the rapid rise of Chinese imports to the United States. Imposing tariffs on those imports would benefit a small slice of U.S. industry, but at great expense to tens of millions of American families. A blanket tariff on imports from China would act as a regressive tax on shoes and clothing, biting into the budgets of American families that can least afford it. It would also make products created in the U.S. but assembled in China, such as iPhones, laptop computers and other consumer electronics, more expensive and less widely affordable.”

A nanny state assault on internship programs: "Twenty-one years ago, I founded, and still run, a semester-in-Washington effort to teach real world politics (maybe an oxymoron) to college journalists who want to be political reporters. In spring and fall classes of 16 weeks each, I give my dozen students a twice-weekly seminar series featuring top political practitioners and political journalists. The rest of the week, they work in news bureaus as interns, usually unpaid. Few of them receive college credit, and many have already graduated. I guarantee each a $3000 living expense stipend if they aren’t paid, and don’t charge any tuition or fees. Generally, my ‘graduates’ have nothing but praise for the experience, reflected in hundreds of them making personal donations to our 501(c)(3) non-profit, which has a budget of about $250,000 per year. As an educational entrepreneur, what I have built is now threatened by an Obama Labor Department bureaucrat who wants to crack down on employers who don’t pay interns, using rule-making powers that date to a Supreme Court decision from the 1940s that is mostly applicable to blue collar apprenticeships, and hasn’t been updated since.”

Government crackdown on loans for the poor: "People who apply for payday loans usually have a high risk of default, or need money immediately — otherwise, a bank would be willing and able to offer a longer-term loan at a much lower interest rate. When payday loan stores lend out money, they have to take into account the risk of that loan remaining unpaid. Because these loans are made to people who are less likely to pay them back, that higher risk is counterbalanced by a higher interest rate. If rates are lowered by force of law, many higher-risk borrowers will find themselves entirely without access to legitimate forms of credit.” [Leaving crime as the only option?]

A crisis Republicans should not waste: "The points of caution have already been noted by conservative commentators: The public anger over the passage of Obamacare may well subside by November, especially if the economy continues its healing. And so the Democrats, having desperately gone for broke, may be delivered from their danger and find themselves surviving with wreckage vast, yet not terminal. But the tawdriness that attended the ramming through of Obamacare has had a mind-clearing effect for the public. Academics might find their surety in theories ever more inventive, but ordinary people, anchored in the world, trust in common sense: They cannot believe that their medical care will really be better when managed in the style of the Post Office or the IRS. They cannot believe that a new entitlement will lower costs and not raise taxes, that it will not lead to price-controls and rationing. My own reckoning is that the passions of this season will endure: that the Hand of Justice will pass over the house of Democrats and leave very few standing.”

Poll finds opposition to health law up: "Opposition to President Obama's health care law jumped after he signed it - a warning to Democrats running for re-election this fall that his victory could become their liability. A new Associated Press-GfK poll found that Americans now oppose the health care overhaul plan 50 percent to 39 percent. Before a divided Congress finally passed the bill and Mr. Obama signed it at a jubilant White House ceremony last month, public opinion was about evenly split. Another 10 percent of Americans said they are neutral on the plan. Disapproval for Mr. Obama's handling of health care also increased from 46 percent before the bill passed to 52 percent currently - a level not seen since last summer's angry town hall meetings."

Obama’s supreme problem: "One detail was missing from President Obama’s list of qualifications for his nominee to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court: Any mention of the Constitution. He just doesn’t get it. At a time when Americans are furious over Obama’s headlong plunge into socialism, when his Democrat party is losing elections and hemorrhaging incumbents because voters reject their big-government ‘remaking America’ agenda, the chameleon forgot to adapt.”

Cheers, sucker!: "It’s Tax Day, but some people are celebrating. It’s just not you. (T)he U.S. Department of State paid $3,814 to fill an order of Jack Daniel’s whiskey for gratuities at one of its many overseas embassies …. Last year alone, the State Department sent taxpayers tabs totaling nearly $300,000 for alcoholic beverages — about twice as much compared to the previous year …. Our government bureaucrats are quick with a buck … when it’s yours.”


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