Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gun Control Laws

Thomas Sowell

Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that the Second Amendment to the Constitution means that individual Americans have a right to bear arms, what can we expect?

Those who have no confidence in ordinary Americans may expect a bloodbath, as the benighted masses start shooting each other, now that they can no longer be denied guns by their betters. People who think we shouldn't be allowed to make our own medical decisions, or decisions about which schools our children attend, certainly are not likely to be happy with the idea that we can make our own decisions about how to defend ourselves.

When you stop and think about it, there is no obvious reason why issues like gun control should be ideological issues in the first place. It is ultimately an empirical question whether allowing ordinary citizens to have firearms will increase or decrease the amount of violence.

Many people who are opposed to gun laws which place severe restrictions on ordinary citizens owning firearms have based themselves on the Second Amendment to the Constitution. But, while the Supreme Court must make the Second Amendment the basis of its rulings on gun control laws, there is no reason why the Second Amendment should be the last word for the voting public.

If the end of gun control leads to a bloodbath of runaway shootings, then the Second Amendment can be repealed, just as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist for people, not people for laws.

There is no point arguing, as many people do, that it is difficult to amend the Constitution. The fact that it doesn't happen very often doesn't mean that it is difficult. The people may not want it to happen, even if the intelligentsia are itching to change it. When the people wanted it to happen, the Constitution was amended 4 times in 8 years, from 1913 through 1920.

What all this means is that judges and the voting public have different roles. There is no reason why judges should "consider the basic values that underlie a constitutional provision and their contemporary significance," as Justice Stephen Breyer said in his dissent against the Supreme Court's gun control decision.

But, as the great Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, his job was "to see that the game is played according to the rules whether I like them or not."

If the public doesn't like the rules, or the consequences to which the rules lead, then the public can change the rules via the ballot box. But that is very different from judges changing the rules by verbal sleight of hand, or by talking about "weighing of the constitutional right to bear arms" against other considerations, as Justice Breyer puts it. That's not his job. Not if "we the people" are to govern ourselves, as the Constitution says.

As for the merits or demerits of gun control laws themselves, a vast amount of evidence, both from the United States and from other countries, shows that keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals. It is not uncommon for a tightening of gun control laws to be followed by an increase-- not a decrease-- in gun crimes, including murder.

Conversely, there have been places and times where an increase in gun ownership has been followed by a reduction in crimes in general and murder in particular.

Unfortunately, the media intelligentsia tend to favor gun control laws, so a lot of hard facts about the futility, or the counterproductive consequences of such laws, never reach the public through the media.

We hear a lot about countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States that have lower murder rates. But we very seldom hear about countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States that have higher murder rates, such as Russia and Brazil.

The media, like Justice Breyer, might do well to reflect on what is their job and what is the voting public's job. The media's job should be to give us the information to make up our own minds, not slant and filter the news to fit the media's vision.



The Keynesian Dead End

Spending our way to prosperity is going out of style -- but not with Obama

The current Keynesian revival began under George W. Bush. Larry Summers, then a private economist, told Congress that a "timely, targeted and temporary" spending program of $150 billion was urgently needed to boost consumer "demand." Democrats who had retaken Congress adopted the idea —they love an excuse to spend— and the politically tapped-out Mr. Bush went along with $168 billion in spending and one-time tax rebates.

The cash did produce a statistical blip in GDP growth in mid-2008, but it didn't stop the financial panic and second phase of recession. So enter Stimulus II, with Mr. Summers again leading the intellectual charge, this time as President Obama's adviser and this time suggesting upwards of $500 billion. When Congress was done two months later, in February 2009, the amount was $862 billion. A pair of White House economists famously promised that this spending would keep the unemployment rate below 8%.

Seventeen months later, and despite historically easy monetary policy for that entire period, the jobless rate is still 9.7%. Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis once again reduced the GDP estimate for first quarter growth, this time to 2.7%, while economic indicators in the second quarter have been mediocre. As the nearby table shows, this is a far cry from the snappy recovery that typically follows a steep recession, most recently in 1983-84 after the Reagan tax cuts.

The response at the White House and among Congressional leaders has been . . . Stimulus III. While talking about the need for "fiscal discipline" some time in the future, President Obama wants more spending today to again boost "demand." Thirty months after Mr. Summers won his first victory, we are back at the same policy stand.

The difference this time is that the Keynesian political consensus is cracking up. In Europe, the bond vigilantes have pulled the credit cards of Greece, Portugal and Spain, with Britain and Italy in their sights. Policy makers are now making a 180-degree turn from their own stimulus blowouts to cut spending and raise taxes. The austerity budget offered this month by the new British government is typical of Europe's new consensus.

To put it another way, Germany's Angela Merkel has won the bet she made in early 2009 by keeping her country's stimulus far more modest. We suspect Mr. Obama will find a political stonewall this weekend in Toronto when he pleads with his fellow leaders to join him again for a spending spree.

The larger lesson here is about policy. The original sin —and it was nearly global— was to revive the Keynesian economic model that had last cracked up in the 1970s, while forgetting the lessons of the long prosperity from 1982 through 2007. The Reagan and Clinton-Gingrich booms were fostered by a policy environment for most of that era of lower taxes, spending restraint and sound money. The spending restraint began to end in the late 1990s, sound money vanished earlier this decade, and now Democrats are promising a series of enormous tax increases.

Notice that we aren't saying that spending restraint alone is a miracle economic cure. The spending cuts now in fashion in Europe are essential, but cuts by themselves won't balance annual deficits reaching 10% of GDP. That requires new revenues from faster growth, and there's a danger that the tax increases now sweeping Europe will dampen growth further.

President Obama's tragic mistake was to blow out the U.S. federal balance sheet on spending that has produced little bang for the buck. The fantastical Keynesian notion (the "multiplier") that $1 of spending produces $1.50 in growth was long ago demolished by Harvard's Robert Barro, among others. That $1 in spending has to come from somewhere, which means in taxes or borrowing from productive parts of the private economy. Given that so much of the U.S. stimulus went for transfer payments such as Medicaid and unemployment insurance, the "multiplier" has almost certainly been negative.

With the economy in recession in 2008 and 2009, we argued that some stimulus was justified and an increase in the deficit was understandable and inevitable. However, we also argued that permanent tax cuts aimed at marginal individual and corporate tax rates would have done far more to revive animal spirits, and in our view would have led to a far more robust recovery.

What the world has now reached instead is a Keynesian dead end. We are told to let Congress continue to spend and borrow until the precise moment when Mr. Summers and Mark Zandi and the other architects of our current policy say it is time to raise taxes to reduce the huge deficits and debt that their spending has produced. Meanwhile, individuals and businesses are supposed to be unaffected by the prospect of future tax increases, higher interest rates, and more government control over nearly every area of the economy. Even the CEOs of the Business Roundtable now see the damage this is doing.

A better economic policy will have to await a new Congress, which we hope at a minimum can prevent punishing tax increases. But for now the good news is that voters and markets are telling politicians to stop doing what hasn't worked.



President Alfred E. Obama

David Limbaugh

Observing President Obama's relentlessly reckless approach to our nation's fiscal integrity is reminiscent of the signature phrase of Mad magazine's Alfred E. Neuman, "What, me worry?" Obama struck again last week at the G-20 conference in Toronto, urging other nations to follow his Pied Piper lead into deficit spending hell.

Unlike recent U.S. presidents who recognized and touted this nation as the world's exemplar for economic growth and prosperity, Obama is turning us into a poster nation for financial irresponsibility. While other nations at the meeting were focusing on deficit reduction, Obama was haplessly urging them to join us in Keynesian spending oblivion.

He told the conference that global economic recovery remains "fragile" and implored the nations' leaders to continue deficit spending to sustain the "recovery." The Washington Post reports that Obama's remarks "tempered the Group of 20's headline achievement at the summit, a deficit-reduction target that had been pushed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the host of the meeting and a fiscal conservative."

Obama is wholly impervious to the historical record documenting the failure of FDR's pump priming during the Depression, which exacerbated rather than ameliorated the economic problems. He is similarly detached from reality concerning the failure of his own policies to stimulate growth of any kind to save his beloved public sector and thus recommends more of the same.

In speech after speech, he takes credit for having launched an economic recovery in the United States and for achieving job growth. Notwithstanding his economic models that stubbornly predict such results, he can point to no empirical evidence to verify his delusional boasts.

It would be bad enough if his economic policies were simply retarding our economic recovery, but they are also accelerating our trip to national bankruptcy. Yet Obama continues to press forward with his foot smashed down on the gas pedal.

Though fiscal sanity would demand that we put the brakes on runaway government spending, Obama wants more of it and is in the process of securing it -- not just in the short term but also in perpetuity. Obama launched an array of new spending programs ostensibly billed as temporary -- to help "stimulate" the economy -- but his latest budget, according to The Heritage Foundation, "would replace this temporary spending with permanent new programs." As if that should surprise anyone! ...

Yet after all his newly imposed federal spending programs, Obama will soon unveil the results of his "bipartisan" budget commission and swear he's going to drastically reduce the deficit -- mostly by raising taxes even more. To make the numbers work, even in theory, he'll have to break -- yet again -- his promise not to raise taxes "of any kind" on those making less than $250,000. And he'll expect to be lauded for his stewardship and given a pass for reneging on his pledge. Those who criticize him for his reckless spending, his broken promises and his economically suicidal blueprint to solve our debt and economic problems through higher taxes will be castigated as mere partisans. So predictable. So maddening. So destructive.

In a nutshell, then, Obama's plan is to spend us into bankruptcy without improving private-sector economic growth, impose national health care and other permanent entitlements to further bankrupt us and suppress the economy, exploit the Gulf oil spill to cram through the further growth-destroying cap-and-trade bill, and then revamp the tax code to place even further burdens on income earners and the economy as a whole. What, me worry? Duh! How about you?


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, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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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)


Monday, June 28, 2010

Kupelian's "How Evil Works"

By Matt Barber

My wife Sarah and I were listening to the radio a few months back as Sean Hannity interviewed an author about his latest publication. The book was “How Evil Works”, but we were unable to ascertain, for some time, its author’s identity. We were immediately drawn into the discussion as this mystery guest waxed wise about what he called man’s “millennia-old blind spot” – namely, the existence of evil, how it works and why it destroys us.

I was amazed by the speaker’s insights into this “radioactive topic.” “Wow, this guy really get’s it,” I told Sarah. She nodded in agreement either unwilling or unable to take her attention away from the show long enough to answer. Finally – and for the benefit of us late arrivals – Sean divulged the identity of his guest: It was best-selling author and award-winning journalist David Kupelian. I was no longer surprised.

David continued. He spoke of how America – once the moral guidepost to the world – had, “over time… abandoned its original principles,” only to now suffer from great “moral confusion.”

He spoke of a president, “wearing a mask,” who is “deceptive from morning ‘till night.” A president who, “taking us where we don’t want to go – has to lie about where he’s taking us.” “Those in power talk an awful lot like those we used to fight,” he said.

That was it. “We’ve got to get this book,” I insisted. Sarah agreed. I don’t often do book reviews (this is my first in fact), but after reading “How Evil Works,” I felt compelled to put pen to paper. Whereas Kupelian’s conversation with Hannity stopped me in my tracks, his book took it to the next level. It was simply outstanding.

I guess the best way to describe it is to say that “How Evil Works” has the same effect on your brain that yawning has on your ears at high altitude. Things just suddenly pop with crystal clarity.

Throughout “Evil’s” pages David meticulously unpacks today’s most pressing issues providing unassailable answers to some of our most critical questions. For instance:

• Where have all the statesmen gone and why do politicians lie?

• Why are so many Americans abandoning their Christian roots and embracing atheism and the occult?

• What drives terrorists to kill?

• How are psychological and spiritual problems linked, and why do we medicate ourselves into zombies?

• Why do people who seem to have everything so often self destruct and end up with nothing?

• How can we turn it all around and return this great nation to her God fearing ways?

And many more...

In recent days I was on a flight to Oklahoma City, OK. As I read the last page of “Evil” and placed it in the seat flap in front of me, a 15 year-old girl sitting to my side asked: “So how does evil work?” What an opening! “Well, this book explains it a lot better than I can,” I replied.

For several minutes we discussed worldview and our horribly failing culture. Turns out she was on her way to a missions trip in Jamaica. She mentioned that, like me, C.S. Lewis was one of her favorite authors. I chuckled and asked: “You’re homeschooled, aren’t you?”

Indeed she was, but explained that in the fall she was attending public school for the first time. “I want to get in there and be salt and light,” she said.

“Well then,” I replied, “take this with you. If you love C.S. Lewis, you won’t be able to put it down.” I handed her “How Evil Works.” She smiled ear-to-ear, thanked me and we went our separate ways. I’m quite certain that for it, her salt will be that much saltier and her light just a bit brighter.

SOURCE. You can read chapter 1 of the book here


Athens to Sacramento in Three Seconds

The self-imposed Greek financial tragedy has rocked the world economy and brought the European Union almost to its knees, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. The parallels between what has caused Greece to get to this point and the looming disaster in California go way beyond the surface. Whether California will have the same effect on America that Greece has had on Europe is yet to be determined.

Governor Chris Christie makes an effective argument for New Jersey being America’s Greece. In fact, the New Jersey state deficit exceeds California’s as a percentage of its overall budget, and no one would argue that the public employee unions in New Jersey are less entrenched than in California or Greece. But at least New Jersey has the newly-elected Christie, who speaks with honesty and candor about the state’s challenges, and provides a slice of reality to its residents. California, in contrast, has the hapless Arnold, who has been in La-La land for six years with no end in sight.

To hang these financial calamities on the public employees alone would be misguided. In a recent study of 183 countries regarding ease of doing business, Greece came in 109th – but at least they can be comforted that Somalia and North Korea were worse. Like Greece, California lags in comparison to other states; it is ranked 47th for business environment. Having oppressive public employee unions certainly adds to the challenge, but both Greece and California suffer from the same anti-business mix of high taxes, overwhelming government regulation and high labor costs. One could say Greece is in the middle of the pack, compared to California which is near the bottom of the state rankings.

Greece does even worse with its protection of investors, where it ranks 154th. Similarly, there are few states which do worse protecting investors than lawyer-rich, lawsuit-happy California. Los Angeles has more lawyers than the country of Japan. Californians are not only moving their businesses to other states, but almost anyone who can is registering the entities elsewhere to protect themselves from lawsuits.

Starting a business can be pretty ugly in Greece. Their rank is 140th out of 183. Even Botswana makes it easier than Greece. Of course, California is no longer the shining city on the hill either – in fact, its big cities are pretty dismal when it comes to job growth. Of the largest cities in America, the highest ranking California city comes in at #42. Shockingly, it’s the bastion of left-wing politics, San Francisco. Of the 66 largest cities in America, four of the bottom ten are located in California. The Golden State seems more like pewter these days.

Yet, California ignores all the hints from across the sea that it needs to change its ways. Scandinavian countries have increased their retirement age to 67 while California dithers. There was some talk of pension reform in a recent deal that Arnold cut with four government unions, but it was smoke and mirrors that didn’t fool anyone. With a $19 billion budget hole, cutting possible pensions for employees who haven’t been hired yet won’t really slice too much from that crushing amount. The state payroll has grown 31 percent in ten years, and now stands at 356,000 employees. Significant employee reductions need to be made and fast.

There are now 12,000 state employees receiving pensions over $100,000 per year, and that number will only grow in the near future. A real leader has to step up and threaten to take California into bankruptcy over these outrageous pension and health benefits. The people of California should be unwilling to pay them. Why should hard-working Californians pay their public employees benefits that far exceed anything the residents themselves have any hope of receiving? If the matter goes to court and a judge says that we have to pay it, the Governor should tell the judge to go out and collect the taxes himself.

Sanity has to be brought back to California. Greece has opened the eyes of some people here, but not enough. The government wonks are still out of control. In May, California added 28,300 jobs of which 30,000 were in the government. You read that correctly -- the private sector lost jobs while government added 30,000 new positions. One might ask the simple question of where the revenues are coming from to pay for these new positions.

We will see in November whether Californians have come to their senses. We have a contest for Governor between someone who has perpetuated this problem for 40 years, Jerry Brown, and a new face ready to confront the challenges, Meg Whitman. If Brown wins, Greece may be looking like an attractive place to relocate.



Media bias, episode 97,823

Several people were caught on an open mike mocking Sarah Palin for delivering a "roller coaster"-type speech after she addressed California State University, Stanislaus on Friday.

As the former Alaska governor stepped off stage at the sold-out dinner fundraiser and the sound of applause faded away, voices identified as reporters in a viral video could be heard one after another cracking jokes about the speech.

"Oh my God, I feel like I just got off a roller coaster, going round and round, and up and down. Sh-t flying out … everywhere," one said, as someone else made whooshing sounds.

Another one chimed in, comparing the address to the work of a sloppy college student. "When you’ve got to write a report as a college student and you just try to jam as many quotes in as possible … That’s what I got," he said.

Someone else added: "She didn’t finish a statement." Then another voice could be heard cutting through, saying: "Did she make a statement, because I didn’t catch that either."




Christ was not crucified. He died on a stake, not a cross. I have been pointing out for a long time that the words referring to a "cross" in the original Greek New Testament mean "stake" or "wood", not cross. So I was rather pleased to read that a learned professor has just looked into the matter in depth and came to the same conclusion. I have put the article up on my Scripture blog

Don't mind me, I'll just die here in the dark: "My wife and I live in Arizona, which has a nasty habit of bursting into flames from time to time. Seeing as how the state is so unpredictably flammable, it's generally a good idea to be ready to bug out if the neighborhood starts to get well-done, and we keep a `go bag' of important documents and the like at hand in case we need to head for less-smoky environs. Dear old dad-in-law's California digs are similarly combustible, and also prone to slide into the ocean if visited by rain instead of fire. So we thought it wise to inquire as to his preparations for unfortunate events. `Oh, I'll just do what they tell me to do.' When pressed, he grew upset at the idea that he should presume to make plans when there are experts whose job it is to handle such eventualities."

The brainless TSA again: "A six-year-old girl from Ohio is on the US Department of Homeland Security's "no fly" list. FOXNews.com said today, citing an affiliate television station in Cleveland, the little girl, Alyssa Thomas, was travelling with her parents from Cleveland to Minneapolis when a ticket agent notified the family she was on the list of restricted fliers. "We were, like, puzzled," said her father, Dr Santhosh Thomas. "I'm like, well, she's kinda six years old and this is not something that should be typical." When the family tried to clear up the issue with Homeland Security, they received a letter notifying them that it could not be changed."

Black professor writes book about crime that uses no data: "The Gates controversy began last July, when Crowley arrested Gates for disorderly conduct outside his home, after responding to a dispatcher’s call about a potential break-in at the house... Gates declined to comment for this report, referring questions to his lawyer, Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree. Ogletree is promoting a new book about racial injustice, entitled The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America. In it, he compares the Gates arrest to the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, which led to race riots. In an interview, Ogletree said he did not request any arrest data from the Cambridge police nor did he interview police officials or Crowley. “This is not about data and Cambridge,’’ he said."

Gallup: In 2010, Conservatives Still Outnumber Moderates, Liberals: "Conservatives have maintained their leading position among U.S. ideological groups in the first half of 2010. Gallup finds 42% of Americans describing themselves as either very conservative or conservative. This is up slightly from the 40% seen for all of 2009 and contrasts with the 20% calling themselves liberal or very liberal."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

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, 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)


A very revealing modern opera: "Before Night Falls"

About homophobic Cuba

You may remember that a movie of Before Night Falls was made in 2000. It was directed by Julian Schnabel and starred Javier Bardem. When I wrote about this movie, I received a letter from a reader. He said that he had seen the movie in a heavily gay neighborhood and overheard the conversation of two men as they were exiting the theater. One was saying to the other, "Wow, what an eye-opener. I had no idea." No idea of what?

Of the persecution of gays by the Cuban revolution (i.e., Castro's gang). They threw gays into cells and camps, along with other "undesirables." One of the gays was Arenas. And the father of this prison system, the Cuban gulag, was none other than Che Guevara himself: hero of a billion T-shirts. The Left is very uncomfortable with this aspect of the revolution (when they know about it). Bring it up, and they're apt to change the subject, angrily.

Arenas was born in 1943. When a teenager, he joined the revolutionaries, fighting in the hills. But he soon discovered the revolutionaries for what they were. A free and humane spirit, he could only oppose them: only be a "counterrevolutionary." He started to write novels in the 1960s. One of them was smuggled out to be published in France. He was tossed into the gulag, both for his literary disobedience and for his homosexuality - which was also a form of disobedience.

He went through the usual: unstinting torture. And eventually they broke him. He renounced his dissidence and his homosexuality. But he managed to escape the island during the chaos of the Mariel boatlift in 1980. As an exile in America, he lived only ten more years. Dying of AIDS, he committed suicide. His last act was to finish his autobiography, Before Night Falls.

The composer Jorge Martin was born in 1959 and came to America with his family in 1965. They lived in New Jersey. He won the right to compose an opera on Before Night Falls in 1995 - that is, he reached an agreement with the Arenas estate. According to interviews, he almost drew short of composing the opera. He too is Cuban-born, creative, and gay. And he despises "identity politics" (I am quoting him now).

In the end, however, he said, "Screw it, I'll do it" - he loved the story too much, and was too taken with its operatic possibilities, to pass it by. He wrote the opera without a commission, which is not all that common; he just wanted to do it, possibly had to do it. He and Dolores Koch collaborated on the libretto. She was the translator of Before Night Falls, and knew Arenas well.

Can we talk about the opera world? We're all adults here, right? We can speak frankly. The opera world is very gay and very left-wing. There are a fair number of conservatives in it. Many are closeted, and they sometimes come out to me (swearing me to eternal secrecy, on pain of death). But the opera world is by and large strongly left-wing, as well as gay. And Before Night Falls will pose a dilemma: On one hand, you have your 50-year love affair with the Castro dictatorship; on the other hand . . . what about gays? It's one thing to persecute filthy capitalists who want to sell toothpaste in the shadows, or who read National Review-style literature by candlelight. But gays?

As the opera begins, we see Arenas in a New York apartment, dying. Then he flashes back to his youth in Cuba, and the story unspools from there. We see a lot of frolicking on the beach - Where the Boys Are, with only boys. All Frankies and no Annettes. Before long, we're in the hills, with the revolutionaries. They are mouthing their slogans: "Poverty, no more! Ignorance, no more!" And they dispatch their "revolutionary justice," which appalls the protagonist. He learns that he can trust no one, or trust few: Friends, in the grip of the state, betray.

When he makes it to America, he is free but creatively stifled. And he says, "The Left hates my politics, the Right hates my sexuality." In that apartment, he ends it.

Finally, a word or two about politics, broadly defined. (Very broadly defined.) It's astonishing to see a work of art that opposes the Cuban revolution - that knows it for what it is. I sat in wonderment, during particular scenes and moments. Did they really show a paredon, a wall against which the revolution shot "traitors"? Did they really put an image of Che Guevara in a menacing light, rather than the usual adoring one? Did a character really say, "The regime hates any thought that's free"? Were we really seeing events in the Cuban gulag - just as we see in escapees' memoirs, trashed, sniffed at, or mocked in The New York Review of Books?

The Cuban revolution is one of the most mythologized - i.e., lied about - events in modern history. Not here, baby. Before Night Falls may be the finest anti-revolutionary opera since The Dialogues of the Carmelites (which is about the monsters of 1789 in France). Is it the only one?

Frankly, it's hard to believe that they - they: the opera world, the keepers of the culture - will let Martin get away with this. With this gusano opera. (Gusano means "worm," and is what the Cuban Communists and their apologists abroad have always called any Cuban who opposes the regime.) I have already heard some grumbling: some grumbling about the opera's harsh depiction of Castro's gang.

If the opera makes it to New York, what will they say? Will the gay-rights angle win out, or will the honest portrayal of the revolution be too much to bear? New York, like the opera world at large, is used to such operas as Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar, which is about Federico Garcia Lorca and the Spanish Civil War. As directed by Peter Sellars, it puts Franco's executioners in the uniform of the American military. That's your ticket to success!

Martin has said that Before Night Falls is about beauty and hope, and so it is. An article about his opera described it as an "ode to freedom" - and so it is. It is brave, both in its libretto and in its score (all that melodicism, unsanctioned by the music establishment). The opera is a worthy work of art. It treats a moving story movingly. And, for telling a truth too seldom told, it makes you grateful.



The Leftist smear machine at work

Smears are all they've got

by: Meredith Jessup

This week, we rolled out a couple of features from our July issue of Townhall Magazine: the cover story, which focuses on the "100 Americans the Left Hates Most," and "The Anatomy of a Smear: the Left's Fight to Silence Glenn Beck."

In "Anatomy of a Smear," I took an in-depth look at the Left's systematic, organized smear machine and used the example of the Left's #1 most-hated conservative--radio and Fox News host Glenn Beck--to show exactly how the machine works. It's important to note, as he did yesterday during our radio interview, that despite the July article's singular focus on Glenn in particular, the Left's assault on truth does not stop with him.

To further prove this point, let me give you two examples from just the past 12 hours.

One of the groups working to draw advertising support away from Beck's Fox program is StopBeck, an online organization whose founder immediately accused me of being "deceitful" in my reporting but when asked, couldn't provide a single example of my alleged deception.

After yesterday's radio interview, StopBeck posted this article on the group's website. The article insinuates Townhall has "no interest in being fair and balanced" simply because we are "right-wing" and are owned by Salem Communications, "a media company that focuses on evangelical Christian and conservative political talk radio." It also claimed my article, printed in a "deceptive and notoriously biased" publication, was "riddled with distortions"--again, no examples.

Almost immediately, some of StopBeck's nearly 8,500 followers began tweeting to their favorite "journalist"--Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. Their messages read: "FYI: Conservative Townhall Magazine Flatters @StopBeck Effort In July Cover Story" and included a link--not to my article, but to StopBeck's article about my article.

Their suggestion is both comical and blatantly misleading: Even conservatives think Glenn Beck is a nut-job and want him off the air as much as we do. But they know Olbermann is just the type of "professional" who'd willingly peddle such a ridiculous notion to give it more credence and exposure to others on the Left.

And while we're on the subject of Olbermann... The MSNBC host is trying to pick a fight with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. In a tweet on Friday, Palin responded to liberals' criticism of conservatives' objections to the White House's involvement in establishing the BP escrow account.

"Don't let the lamestream media suck you into 'they're defending BP over Gulf spill victims' bs... This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab," she wrote. She then suggested people read Thomas Sowell's latest column, "Degeneration of Democracy."

In his column, Sowell argues that the Obama administration's policies are "damaging" the "fundamental structure" of America:
Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere. And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. ...

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

Sowell goes on to discuss FDR's policies of the Great Depression, and describes pre-war Germany's laws "for the relief of the German people."
That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people-- indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

The point of Sowell's article, then, was to draw parallels between historical facts and the challenges facing us today, and how seemingly innocent policies meant to help can be manipulated into something much more sinister.

So where does Olby fit into all this? Olbermann seized on Palin's suggestion to read Sowell's column and accused the former governor of comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. Palin retorted with a tweet: "Lamestream media: I never compared Obama to Hitler. Quit making things up."

Olbermann poked back at Palin with a number of smug messages, demanding she "disavow" Sowell's column. Palin has yet to respond to Olbermann's absurd assertion and demands, and if I were Olbermann, I wouldn't hold my breath. Palin is too smart to be roped into his lame attempts to rile her.

This example is just one of the latest smear attacks. Instead of assess Sowell's work--filled with historical facts that can't be childishly ignored--Olbermann attacks Palin. Just another diversion away from facts--a typical tactic of the Left's smear machine.



Democrats: Free speech for me, not for thee

In March, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision struck down campaign finance limits on political expression by individuals working through corporations and unions as a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. A cry ensued among liberal Democrats predicting doom if they and their special interest allies were required to follow the Constitution. Big Labor's bosses promised to spend millions to protect the Democratic majority if it would speedily pass legislation to circumvent the decision (and thus the Constitution), but restore limits on their corporate foes.

The resulting DISCLOSE Act, according to its backers, will ensure transparency in campaign ad funding. Thursday, the House of Representatives approved the bill 219-206, with 36 Democrats and 170 Republicans in opposition to the measure, which was written by Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year, and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who led the Senate Democrats' campaign panel in 2008.

The bill is full of draconian restrictions on individual political speech expressed via corporations, but gives privileged status to the Democrats' union masters. A provision pushed by Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Bob Brady, for example, allows unions to transfer unlimited funds among affiliated groups to pay for political ads with no disclosure whatever. That makes campaign funding more transparent?

Then there's the ban on advocacy for or against a candidate by any company that received Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. That silences General Motors' white-collar workers, but not the United Auto Workers union, which, oh by the way, got, among other things, $6.5 billion in preferred GM stock, paying a government-guaranteed 9 percent cash dividend. Could the fact the UAW gave more than $2 million to Democrats in 2008 explain why Democratic leaders pushed a proposal that so blatantly favors the union?

Similarly, DISCLOSE curbs political speech for employees of companies receiving more than $7 million in government contracts. Public sector unions that spend millions of recycled tax dollars electing Democrats have no such restrictions. By thus outlawing business funding for or against candidates, DISCLOSE will encourage more funding for corporate lobbyists and marketers targeting government contracts and earmarks.

As usual, DISCLOSE was rammed through the House after being introduced with only a few hours' notice and too little debate allowed. Because Democrats have abandoned doing a federal budget for the year, couldn't they find a little more time to allow Congress and the people it is supposed to represent to read and discuss this measure at greater length? Next we will see if Senate Democrats are as determined to throw out the First Amendment as were most of their House colleagues.


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, 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)


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jewish self-delusion

Sigmund Freud was Jewish and so were many of his patients. And Freud documented lots of ways in which people deceived themselves. His book "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" is still a great read.

It seems that Jews have not changed much since Freud's day, because the delusions in the article reproduced below are quite florid. They appear, in fact to have been even too florid for the Jewish publication (Cleveland Jewish News) in which they appeared, as they have now been taken down.

The author is right in one way. The great majority of Jews are frantic Leftists and so is Obama. So if Jewish values are what most Jews currently believe, the author is right.

The idea that Obama is a friend of Israel, however, is the delusion. It requires very selective memory in view of Obama's ill-mannered snubbing of Netanyahu and his constant pressure on Israel for endless concessions to the Arabs

President a friend of Israel, reflects Jewish values


Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:06 PM EDT

President Barack Obama is "good for the Jews" not only because he counts individual Jews among his closest advisers (including David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel), but also because he is an unprecedented standard-bearer for values that we hold most dear.

President Obama's Supreme Court nominations lead us further toward the ideal of an open, mobile, and inclusive society. For the current opening, he could have calculated that having two Jewish members of the Court (Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) is more than enough or that two women (Ginsburg and Obama appointee Sonia Sotomayor) are plenty. Instead, he selected Elena Kagan, an eminently qualified, pragmatically progressive consensus builder.

Moreover, his domestic priorities give voice to Jewish values. This president has been intensely supportive of scientific integrity and research. His efforts will extend healthcare to millions. We support women's equality, and the first bill he signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

We are fortunate that our country's steadfast commitment to Israel's security does not depend on which party holds the White House. While it is commendable that the CJN solicits a variety of views, support for Israel should not be cast as Democrat against Republican. We are all in this together.

President Obama is a proven friend of Israel. He stood in Cairo and announced forcefully that the bond between the United States and Israel is "unbreakable." Following the Gaza flotilla incident, the Obama administration alone refused to buy the propaganda that a pro-Hamas group intent on violent confrontation had somehow become the spiritual descendants of Gandhi. Instead, the administration successfully used diplomatic engagement to protect Israel's interests.

As The Jerusalem Post reported, following the incident Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren "praised the Obama administration for being sympathetic to Israel's situation." The American Jewish Committee wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in "admiration for the U.S. diplomatic effort, under your direction, to restrain those governments that have sought punitive actions against Israel" and thanked her "once again for the Administration's commitment to the . U.S.-Israel alliance."

At home, Barack Obama is one of the greatest champions against intolerance and exclusion that this country has ever seen. Abroad, he stands with Israel - even when he stands alone. He embodies and shares Jewish values and aspirations, and we are right to support him.

Harris Senturia of Shaker Heights is a member of the Cleveland Chapter of the National Jewish Democratic Council. This column reflects his own opinions and not necessarily those of any organizations


Some of the things that Mr Senturia screens out

In a letter to President Obama this week, 87 Senators urged the president to support Israel's right to self-defense against the threats of terrorism from Hamas and Hezbollah and a nuclear-bound Iran that has repeatedly pledged to wipe Israel off the map. In another time, such counsel would be redundant. For most of Israel's 60-year existence, the Jewish state has been able to count on the stalwart support of its American ally against the many enemies arrayed against it. As Arab states launched wars with exterminationist intent, and as the international community undermined Israel through the agency of the United Nations, America alone stood in Israel's corner.

Under President Obama, however, such support for an embattled friend is no longer automatic. As Iran races virtually unimpeded toward a nuclear weapon, the Obama administration scolds Israel for daring to build new houses in its capital of Jerusalem. While Hamas, aided by Turkish jihadists, arms for a new war against Israel, the White House demands that Israel exercise a suicidal restraint.

As Israel becomes ever more isolated, the Obama administration continues to reach out to its enemies in the Arab and Muslim world. In their new pamphlet, David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin trace the deterioration of the U.S.-Israeli relationship under President Obama, now at its lowest point in three decades. And they show that by emboldening Israel's enemies, the administration is sowing the seeds of a new conflict, one will that could make it complicit in a new and devastating war against Israel. As a result of President Obama's wrongheaded policies, Israel's security - and America's - is increasingly imperiled.



McCarthyism nonsense

The McCarthyism nonsense constantly spouted by the Left has always been amusing. It's colossal historical revisionism along the same lines as their claim that the socialist Hitler was a Rightist. They blame Senator Joe McCarthy for the Hollywood blacklist, the prosecution of Alger Hiss etc. Yet none of that had anything to do with McCarthy. It did all happen but it was the work of HUAC -- the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was headed by a DEMOCRAT, Edward J. Hart.

Have you ever before heard of Edward J. Hart? Even I had to look up his name. You haven't heard of him or his embarrassing political identity because his deeds are routinely blamed on the Senator. Moreover, what Joe McCarthy suspected and investigated was PERFECTLY CORRECT. See below:

Liberals have been embarrassing themselves for decades with this McCarthy business. Point out an unsavory association, and they squeal like stuck pigs about the scourge of McCarthyism. In the mind of the liberal, Senator McCarthy was a deranged conservative finding imaginary communists under every rock and creating the fiction of the Red Menace. Note: they have the same attitude today about radical Islam.

Beck has been a favorite target of ignorant liberals who spit "McCarthyism" the same way they do "racism". Beck's fact-based exposes on communists in the Obama administration drives the left to use what they consider among the most vile of invectives.

Appallingly, too many conservative commentators share the left's abysmal dumbness about the truth regarding the late Senator.

Liberals, evidently, have not yet been brought up to speed on the Venona project and other new information. Obama refers to McCarthyism as "cowardice" in Dreams. McCarthy didn't vote "present" on matters of national security.

In 1995 the CIA released decoded Soviet communiqu‚s known as the Venona cables which turned out to be most revealing. After decades of liberals savaging the reputation of Senator Joseph McCarthy, almost no one other than authors Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans are talking about the Venona discoveries which vindicate McCarthy.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, enormous amounts of data became available, including the Venona papers: coded messages from the KGB and other communist intelligence agencies about communist agents in the United States (Evans, M. Stanton. Blacklisted By History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies).

We also know now that CPUSA was a faithful creature of the Soviet Union. "Far from being mere indigenous radicals working for peace and social justice, as sometimes argued, the party and its members were subservient tools of Moscow-and those who weren't subversive didn't stay very long as members." (Evans, Pg. 20):
From a composite of all these data, it's evident the Soviet/Communist operation in the United States, as elsewhere, was vast, sophisticated, and effective, nowhere more so than in seeking positions of official influence. The Red networks reached into virtually every important aspect of the US government, up to very high levels, the State Department notably included. All of which was obviously congruent with the warnings of McCarthy and others who sounded the alarm about such matters in the late 1940s and early '50s. There was in fact an immense conspiracy afoot, there were secret Communists burrowing in the woodwork, and these Communists were, in case after case, devoted agents of the Soviet Union. (Evans, Pg. 21).

That would be the CPUSA of Frank Marshall Davis. And the same CPUSA that was openly enthusiastic about Barack Obama. On January 31, 2009, Sam Webb of CPUSA gave a speech extolling the blessings of the Obama presidency and denouncing capitalism, which according to Webb, exists to oppress blacks. Liberals and communists have no sense of irony. Webb also called upon his fellow travelers to support the Obama administration and called for a New New Deal which looked remarkably like Obama's current agenda. Candidate Obama met with and was subsequently endorsed by the Chicago New Party and the Democratic Socialists of America.

Liberals to this day don't understand that McCarthy's sole mission was to uncover Soviet operatives working in government positions, not put insipid movie actors out of work. In fact, being blacklisted in Hollywood became a badge of honor. For all of their bleating about "McCarthyism", the left never has understood that McCarthy was a senator and their jeremiad should be directed toward the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

As is the nature of liberals, the introduction of facts changes nothing. They are entirely shame-proof. Conservatives who are offering up faux indignance about McCarthy's moral courage are the ones who ought to be shamefaced.



The Left's New Enemy: "Empire"

by Daniel Pipes

We know what Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao wanted (state control of everything) and how they achieved this goal (brutal totalitarianism); but what do their successors today want and how do they hope to achieve it? It's a curiously un-examined subject.

Ernest Sternberg of the University at Buffalo offers answers in an eye-opening article in a recent issue of Orbis, "Purifying the World: What the New Radical Ideology Stands For." His begins by sketching out what the contemporary far Left (as opposed to the "decent Left") opposes and what it wants.

What the Left opposes: The prime enemy is something called Empire (no definite article needed), a supposed global monolith that dominates, exploits, and oppresses the world. Sternberg summarizes the Left's all-embracing indictment of Empire:
people live in poverty, food is contaminated, products are artificial, wasteful consumption is compelled, indigenous groups are dispossessed, and nature itself is subverted. Invasive species run rampant, glaciers melt, and seasons are thrown out of kilter, threatening world catastrophe.

Empire achieves this by means of "economic liberalism, militarism, multinational corporations, corporate media, and technologies of surveillance." Because capitalism causes millions of deaths that a non-capitalism system would eliminate, it also is guilty of mass-murder.

The United States, of course, is the Great Satan, accused of hoarding disproportionate resources. Its military oppresses the poor so its corporations can exploit them. Its government promotes the pretend-danger of terrorism to aggress abroad and repress at home.

And Israel is the Little Satan, serving as Empire's sinister ally - or maybe the Jewish state is really the master? From World Social Forum meetings in Brazil to the United Nations anti-racism conference in Durban and from mainline churches to NGOs, Zionism is represented as absolute evil. Why Israel? Beyond not-so-subtle antisemitism, it alone of Western countries lives under a barrage of constant threats, which in turn compel it to engage in constant wars. "Stripped of all context," Sternberg notes, "Israel's actions fit the needed image of aggressor."

To fight Empire's superior resources, the Left needs to ally with anyone else opposing it - notably Islamists. Islamist goals contradict the Left's, but no matter; so long as Islamists help fight Empire, they have a valued place in the coalition.

What the Left seeks: One catchword is authenticity: Empire's artificiality makes indigenous culture analogous to endangered species. Culture should be indigenous, organic, and sheltered from Empire's crass commercialism (e.g., Hollywood), its bogus rationalism, and its false concepts of freedom.

A second catchword is democracy: The Left rejects the distant and formalistic structure of a mature republic and instead celebrates grassroots, non-hegemonic democracy that offers a more direct voice. The democratic process, Sternberg explains, " will proceed through meetings freed from the manipulative reins of law, procedure, precedent, and hierarchy." These high-flying words, however, disguise a recipe for despotism; those laws, procedures, precedents, and hierarchy serve a very real purpose.

A third is sustainability. To integrate economies into the earth's ecosystem, the new order "will run on alternative energy, organic farming, local food markets, and closed-loop recyclable industry, if any industry is needed. People will travel on public transit, or ride cars that tread lightly on the earth, or even better, ride bicycles. They will occupy green buildings constructed of local materials and inhabit cities growing organically within bioregions. Life will be liberated from carbon emanations. It will be a permanent, placid way of life."

Socialism definitely forms part of this picture but economics no longer dominates, as once it did. The new leftist goal is more complex than mere anti-capitalism, constituting an entire way of life. Sternberg dubs this movement world purificationism, but I prefer left-fascism.

He then asks the vital question: Will the Left's latest incarnation once again turn totalitarian? He finds it too early to answer definitely but points to several "totalitarian warning signs," including the dehumanizing of enemies and accusations of mass murder. He warns of an inflection point when left-fascists "stand true to their cataclysmic rhetoric and strap on suicide belts or take up arms to become martyrs." In other words, the dangers are real and present.

So much for those fashionable theories of two decades ago, trumpeted as the Berlin Wall fell, about the end of ideology. The Left retrenched after the fall of Leninism and now threatens humanity with a new version of its anti-Western, anti-rational, anti-liberty, anti-individualist ideology.


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, 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)


The big ego that turned a rooster into a feather duster in less than 3 years

The Federal legislators of the Australian Labor Party (Australia's major Leftist party) have just done something impossible in America: fired the head of the administration. The man fired, Kevin Rudd, was Australia's Obama in more ways than one. Congress can't fire Obama but under Australia's British ("Westminster") system such things are possible. Below are some comments about Rudd by Andrew Bolt, a prominent Australian conservative commentator. It is striking to note how typically Leftist was Rudd's psychology

Blame the early loss of his father, or just his wiring, but Rudd has had a manic need to assert himself, as if to make up for a deep insecurity. He'd do whatever was needed to win authority over others, or just praise. He'd be whatever you wanted him to be.

And so he'd tell me one pleasing thing in private, but another populist thing in public. He'd hold press conferences outside his church to impress conservatives, but visit a strip club to impress an editor. He'd talk primly to voters, but abuse a stewardess.

To win the election, he promised to be a Howard-lite, crying: "This sort of reckless spending must stop." To win applause, he embarked on the greatest spending spree we've seen.

And he had to be The Man. As chief of staff to the Queensland premier, or as prime minister visiting an office, he'd show his place in the pecking order by putting his boots on the desk or table.

None of this need matter. But Rudd gave in to the same deep insecurities in trying to run a team of ministers. He had to decide everything, so delays were endless. Most ministers other than Treasurer Wayne Swan, Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard were cut out of the loop.

Rudd chose as his most intimate advisers, mostly people barely 30, eminently bully-able, and he ordered his MPs to visit homeless shelters and report back, as if they were children doing homework.

But when he tried his hectoring on the premiers over his health "reforms", he bought a brawl. And when he repeated the dose on our biggest mining chiefs, he bought a war he could not win.

Those insecurities killed him in the end. His fatal confrontation with Gillard was prompted in part by his refusal to believe she was as loyal as she professed. To check she was not plotting, he sent a 31-year-old aide to ring his MPs, and this last insult fuelled a bushfire.

Yet Rudd could have been saved, if voters had now not seen through him. For almost three years he has had stratospheric approval ratings. He was rated highly for trustworthiness and vision, and seemed to have a plan, and to be meticulous in implementing it.

His fall started when his grandiose schemes started to fail - and none more badly that his "free insulation" disaster.

How could this man who seemed so diligent bungle one thing after another? But the public smelled fraud only when Rudd was this year forced to drop one more overblown, oversold plan - the emissions trading scheme that he'd promised to tackle, "the great moral challenge of our time". Now it seemed to many that Rudd had tricked them. He was a fake.

Even yesterday, in his moving farewell speech, Rudd showed how much of his achievements were just cardboard scenery. He listed the targets he'd set for tackling homelessness and Aboriginal poverty - targets he wasn't actually meeting. He cited his apology to the "Stolen Generations" - people no one can find. He praised his signing of the Kyoto Accord - which led to what? He mentioned his health reform - which hasn't even been settled.

But in standing there crying, Rudd showed at last the wounded man he was. He was as humble as it would have suited him to have been from the start.

SOURCE. (For comments on the new Australian Prime Minister see my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog)


Why Congress might like to fire Obama -- if it could

Obama's all-round failed policies are much like the all-round failed policies of Kevin Rudd

The Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll out today confirms that the nation that entertained such high hopes for Barack Obama has lost confidence in his capacity to lead. Sixty-two percent of all Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. For the first time, more Americans disapprove of Obama than approve. Fifty-seven percent would prefer someone else, rather than the member of Congress they now have.

Though green shoots have appeared in the economy, Americans no longer believe it. Only one-third thinks things will get better before they get worse again. Independents are deserting Obama. One in six Democrats now disapproves of the job he is doing.

The Obama economic program -- $800 billion in stimulus money piled on top of the Federal Reserve's doubling the money supply, giving us two straight deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product -- has failed to ignite a robust recovery. Unemployment still hovers just below 10 percent.

The two-month-old oil spill, where BP's malfeasance was matched by government incompetence in preventing it from destroying the gulf ecology and economy from Louisiana to Florida, has cast a pall over America's spirit as wide and deep as the oil slick itself.

The war in Afghanistan is not going well, casualties are running at a nine-year high, and the country no longer wants to fight it, but to get out and come home.

Three months after Iraqi elections, there is no government in Baghdad. The August deadline for withdrawal of all U.S. combat troops will likely be missed. U.S. relations with Israel have rarely been worse.

Turkey, black-balled by the European Union, a friend and ally of 60 years, is thickening ties to Tehran and Damascus and emerging as first Muslim state of the Middle East and principal patron of the Palestinian cause.

The Russians are pushing Kyrgyzstan to force the United States out of Manas air base, a critical link in the resupply chain to Afghanistan.

Brazil is bitter that America trashed the deal it helped to negotiate to transfer half of Iran's nuclear fuel out of the country.

For the first time since the late 19th century, the United States is about to be surpassed as the world's first manufacturing power -- by China, which in Mao's time was still trying to make steel in backyard furnaces.

America is facing a crisis of confidence in government, with the nation unable to win its wars, balance its budgets, control its borders, stop the bleeding of its manufacturing base or plug a hole in the ocean floor.



Lefty hypocrisy

By hiring General Petraeus, Barack Obama has taken just one more step toward President Bush's approach to fighting the war on terror -- along with okaying the Patriot Act, drone attacks, intercepts, military tribunals, rendition and more.

More than anything, this is turning out to be a moment of truth for the left. Will they continue to stand by Obama, suggesting that their opposition to "Bush's war" was just an unprincipled cover for their hatred for a socially conservative, Republican President? Or are their convictions about (not) fighting terrorism strong enough to compel them to speak out even against a President they once idolized?

It will be interesting to see. The fact that MoveOn.org has scrubbed their site of the attack ad they took out on Petraeus back when he was a Bush nominee isn't encouraging for those who believe in the left's purity.




I put up daily on my EYE ON BRITAIN blog examples of how badly Brits are served by their socialized medicine system. The leading posts yesterday and today are however particularly horrible and a terrible warning about what Obamacare has in store for Americans. I love children so both reports brought tears to my eyes.

There is an interesting article here which gives a very cautious introduction to a piece of research on economic illiteracy. You will see the reason for the cautious wording if you open the associated PDF and look at Table 2. You will see there that Conservatives are roughly twice as likely to understand basic economic truths as are liberals. Some of the truths are so basic and obvious to anyone capable of thought that the denial of them by liberals has to be seen as mostly defensivesness and dishonesty.

New Australian PM reassures Obama of Australia's continuing commitment to Afghan campaign: "Australia’s new prime minister said she used her first telephone conversation with President Barack Obama on Friday to assure him the country’s military commitment to Afghanistan would not change under her leadership. Some observers have speculated Prime Minister Julia Gillard may push for an early withdrawal of Australia’s 1,550 troops from Afghanistan as the war loses popularity among Australians and elections loom.”

Bush Was Right About Petraeus: "A brief smile of satisfaction may have crossed George W. Bush's face when President Barack Obama said "Get me Petraeus" to take command of the war in Afghanistan. Bush picked Gen. David Petraeus to implement and successfully carry out the troop surge in Iraq at a time when it seemed all was lost and the former president was under fire from his many critics to pull out -- including Obama who incorrectly predicted his effort would fail. Bush's name was strangely absent from nightly news reports on Obama's decision to turn to the man his predecessor had chosen to tackle an almost impossible assignment".

Rasmussen poll finds a classic Left/Right divide: "Nearly half of American Adults see the government today as a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Adults see the government today as a threat to rights. Thirty-seven percent (37%) hold the opposite view. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. Most Republicans (74%) and unaffiliateds (51%) consider the government to be a threat to individual rights. Most Democrats (64%) regard the government as a protector of rights. Additionally, most Americans (52%) say it is more important for the government to protect individual rights than to promote economic growth."

There’s no level playing field nor equal opportunity: "Yet another excuse for some people to gain power over others is this idea of the level playing field. It’s a metaphor, of course, but used often to mean starting in a race with no advantages for any of the participants. Another term by which to indicate this is equal opportunity. Even those who see through the ruse of peddling equality for all people tend to cave in to this one, agreeing that at least everyone has the right to an equal opportunity. The opportunity for what is not often spelled out but it may include obtaining a job, entering a school, embarking on travel, winning a contest or whatnot. The image that’s called to mind is that when people start out to achieve some goal, none may be favored or disfavored, none may have special advantages or disadvantages, etc. But the the idea is hopeless. In no actual or even imaginable endeavor do people enjoy the level playing field or an equal opportunity.”

MA: Backers say sales tax cut to be on ballot: "Voters in November will get the chance to slash the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, according to advocates who say they submitted more than enough petition signatures yesterday to force the item onto the ballot. Carla Howell — chairwoman of the Alliance to Roll Back Taxes, based in Wayland — said her group submitted about 19,000 signatures to town and city clerks by yesterday’s deadline, a comfortable margin over the required 11,099 signatures. Her group put similar measures on the ballot in 2002 and 2008, but neither passed. She called the latest campaign a ‘modest start to bringing the state government in line with the level of spending that’s appropriate.’ The proposal, Howell said, would force state officials to cut spending by more than $2 billion.”

Exploited kid: "When the Fayetteville, Ark., Gay Pride Parade steps off on East Street Saturday on its way to the Wal-Mart parking lot, it will be led by a young man who has made a career out of fighting for gay rights. Make that a young boy. Will Phillips, the grand marshal, is 10 years old, and his presence has thrust Fayetteville’s Gay Pride Parade into the national spotlight. Ordinarily, the annual parade is pretty low-key, residents say. The mayor issues a proclamation, the police close a few streets and a few hundred people show up. … But the selection of young Will, who last November refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school to show his support for gay rights, has changed all that. This year the parade has drawn national attention, and it’s promising to tread the line between farce and confrontation.”

Attacks on the Electoral College gain momentum: "You won’t hear about it in the mainstream media, but the Electoral College is on the verge of being eliminated. One important legislative vote could occur Thursday. Two others could occur in the upcoming days and weeks. A California-based group, National Popular Vote, is lobbying hard for a dangerous piece of anti-Electoral College legislation. … Five states have already approved NPV, but now three additional states are dangerously close to joining them: Delaware, Massachusetts, and New York.”

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, 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)


Thursday, June 24, 2010


Every now and again I put up a gallery of what I think are the best pictures that have appeared on my blogs. I have finally got around to putting up my selection for the second half of 2009. See here


Personality, happiness and those pesky genetics again

A central tenet of Leftism has long been that people are something of a blank state and can be "educated" into becoming whatever the Leftist wants. So Leftists to this day often reject the idea that what we are is largely genetically inherited. The evidence against the Leftist dogma has been piling up over the years, however, and recent research, below, has confirmed in detail what has long been known in general -- that even how happy you usually are is genetically inherited. It has long been known, for instance, that even quadriplegics -- people who have lost the use of their limbs through spinal injury -- end up roughly as happy after their accident as before.

If anything, the report below understates the role of genetics. It was found that genetics explained only 50% of the variance in happiness. But that does NOT mean that environmental factors explained the rest. The remaining variation in the data is much more likely to be due to errors of measurement. Measuring happiness is hard to do with great exactitude.

Leftist intellectuals in recent times have sometimes used the invariance of happiness to argue that governments should be free to do what they like because people's happiness will be unaffected anyway. That obnoxious argument assumes, however, that what people want is unimportant. Leftists do often seem to believe that

Happiness in life is as much down to having the right genetic mix as it is to personal circumstances according to a recent study.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh working with researchers at Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia found that happiness is partly determined by personality traits and that both personality and happiness are largely hereditary.

Using a framework which psychologists use to rate personalities, called the Five-Factor Model, the researchers found that people who do not excessively worry, and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier.

They suggested that this personality mix can act as a buffer when bad things happen, according to the study published in the March issue of Psychological Science.

The researchers used personality and happiness data on more than 900 twin pairs. They identified evidence for common genes which result in certain personality traits and predispose people to happiness.

The findings suggest that those lucky enough to have the right inherited personality mix have an ‘affective reserve’ of happiness which can be called upon in stressful times or in times of recovery.

The researchers say that although happiness has its roots in our genes, around 50 per cent of the differences between people in their life happiness is still down to external factors such as relationships, health and careers.

Dr Alexander Weiss, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, who led the research said: “Together with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness is a core human desire. Although happiness is subject to a wide range of external influences we have found that there is a heritable component of happiness which can be entirely explained by genetic architecture of personality.”



McChrystal was right

By Barry Rubin

There are two ways of looking at General Stanley McChrystal's interviews with Rolling Stone magazine: one is to focus on whether he should have said such things, the other is to analyze the important truths he unveiled. Here, I'm going to look at the latter and, following my usual practice, I've actually read the article and will base myself on the text.

But first, think about it: the general pointed out the near-disastrous situation with American leadership today. An increasing number of people know that he's correct in his assessment. Isn't that what's really important?

On its cover, Rolling Stone called him, "The Runaway General," saying he is carefully watching "the wimps in the White House." Coming from Rolling Stone, this phrase is presumably intended to mock the general. To anyone who cares about U.S. security, however, it rings true, a warning rather than a whining.

Thus, Michael Hastings has written an article important not for back-biting gossip about who doesn't like who but because it tells a lot about the looming tragedy on the ground in Afghanistan and the loony situation in the government in Washington.

One of the most devastating points in Hastings' article is one whose huge significance the author himself doesn't seem to notice. In passing, he mocks the Afghan war effort as "the exclusive property of the United States" because all of its allies have opted out. Yet doesn't this mean that President Barack Obama's apparent popularity with Europe is meaningless? After all, Obama has made this his war and if he cannot get any ally to support the campaign that is a devastating outcome.

At the other extreme, the most noticed point in the article was Hastings' quote from one of the general's top aides saying that in meeting with the generals, Obama seemed ill-prepared and disengaged. Does this surprise you? Do you doubt that it is true? What, then, is the proper reaction, to feel that McChrystal and his staff have big mouths or to be worried about the tininess of the president's experience, knowledge, interest, focus, and decisiveness?

Much more here


Not for Sale

As the adage goes, if you give a mouse a cookie he's going to want a glass of milk. The same is true when government attempts to exercise power outside its boundaries.

Eminent domain, a process in which a state can take over private property for public use in exchange for market-value compensation, was established by our Founding Fathers as a way for America to better herself for the good of the people. It was primarily meant to be used to build roads and provide public right of ways for a growing nation.

"Eminent domain is for public use, for roads and schools," says Christina Walsh, director of activism and coalitions for the Institute for Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm. "It is not simply to transfer property to someone who has more money and more power."

Throughout the nation are cases where government at all levels is seizing property for private profit - whether it be a new shopping center, condominiums or to expand a current business. State and local governments are exercising powers beyond their limits to fund corporate welfare and for their own economic growth.

A case that received national criticism by property owners was the 2005 Supreme Court decision of Kelo vs. City of New London. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city of New London, Connecticut, to wipe out an entire neighborhood for hotels and offices to better complement pharmaceutical company Pfizer's new corporate facility.

Lead plaintiff, Susette Kelo's land went to private developers to fund corporate welfare. But that's not all. New London and Connecticut spend about $78 million to clear the land for condos and other specialty components. Four years after that decision, Pfizer decided to move out, leaving the government-seized land barren and empty. Not only was a neighborhood lost for nothing, but millions of dollars was also wasted.

"This was an unconscionable decision made by the Supreme Court," says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). "Eminent domain should never be used as a power grab to benefit the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of the people."

As this Supreme Court decision sent shockwaves around the country, many states reformed their eminent domain laws. Walsh says 43 states have taken steps to protect the rights of property owners and about half of those states have made significant reforms.

"In the wake of the Kelo decision, people found out about the abuse of power and communities starting rallying around property owners," Walsh says. "There have been dozens of successes over the years for property owners."

Some states still have done nothing to reform current laws dealing with eminent domain. New York is one of those states and is currently in battles to seize land from many private property owners for its own economic development.

Current New York law considers property in "blight" conditions, a condition of disrepair, to be able to be seized by eminent domain procedures. With a loose definition of what "blight" conditions look like, many corporations and cities have seized on opportunities to takeover properties they justify as "blighted."

In the case of Kaur vs. Urban Development Corporation, there is controversial use of eminent domain by Columbia University, a private school, which wants to build a new 17-acre research campus in the West Harlem neighborhood of Manhattanville.

Manhattanville business owners' lead attorney and former New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Norman Siegel was able to prove that Columbia and Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) conspired together to produce the conditions of "blight" that would then allow the ESDC to seize the property wanted by the university. He also found that many of the "blighted" buildings were already owned by Columbia and it was the university's responsibility to clean them up. Because the university was not keeping the buildings and spaces up to code, many of the businesses in the area were forced to move out.

Last December a state appellate court struck down the ESDC's actions as illegal. The case was then heard by the Court of Appeals on June 1, and a ruling is expected sometime this summer.



Brookes News update

Obama's ideology could wreck America : If for some perverse reason your idea of success is a massive expansion of government at the expense of economic progress then destructive economic policies make sense. It becomes apparent why Obama and his cronies would see absolutely nothing wrong with implementing an energy policy that would cause "electricity prices to rocket", as he admitted, and oil prices to soar. We begin to see why he wouldn't mind being a one-term president if he was able to set America on an irreversible course that would transform it into a country that reflected his statist vision. If that were to happen America would indeed cease to be America
The Australian economy is looking shaky : If the government borrows or taxes then this clearly involves a straightforward transfer of purchasing power. It is absolutely absurd to suggest that this process raises total spending. Yet this is exactly what is being said
KPMG and the stupidity of Rudd's resource rent tax : KPMG's resource rent tax paper is utterly worthless. The fact is that Rudd used taxpayers' money to pay KPGM to give him the result he wanted. We have a word for that kind of behavior. As for the idea of economic rent, it is a dangerous fallacy that will do enormous damage to the economy if it is not thoroughly refuted
Paul Krugman's dishonesty and contemptible behavior : I've no idea what it is about President Bush that drove Krugman nuts, but I strongly urge him to undergo a course of psychiatric treatment because he has long since passed the point where facts or reason - or even reality - matter to him
How are wage rates determined? : Thus no employer can lastingly pay a worker one dollar an hour and sell his product for five dollars an hour. Other employers will be very happy to enter this business and offer the worker more than one dollar per hour. It is the values that consumers place on each particular contribution to total production that determine what businessmen can pay for that particular contribution
Oliver Stone & Jesse Ventura tag-team for Hugo Chavez to smack down America : Self-styled libertarian Jesse "The Body" (not Jesse "The Brain") Ventura praised the sadistic tyrannical Castro and Oliver Stone, Castro and Chavez's favourite Hollywood lickspittle. Ventura thinks these thugs are absolutely super-duper people: Ventura is so dumb he annot distinguish between the subjects of a Stalinist police state and the attendees of an AmWay convention



Israel launches new spy satellite “Ofek 9″: "Israel launched a spy satellite called ‘Ofek 9′ late Tuesday, Israel’s Defense Ministry and officials said, increasing Israel’s capacity to keep an eye on enemies like Iran. The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying the satellite was launched late Tuesday from the Palmachim air force base on Israel’s coast south of Tel Aviv. An hour later, after the satellite completed its first circuit, the ministry said it had achieved its proper orbit, describing it as ‘a surveillance satellite with advanced technological capabilities.’”

Obama having staff problems: "A burst of unsettling news about President Obama's key staff members Tuesday threatened new challenges to his image and agenda, already stained by the BP oil spill and the chance of a shellacking for his party in November. In a span of hours, Peter Orszag said he would quit as director of the Office of Management and Budget in July, Rahm Emanuel fought rumors that he would step down as Obama's chief of staff and, most embarrassing, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, criticized the administration in a Rolling Stone article".

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, 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)