Sunday, August 01, 2010

"Armed Citizen" update

There is an update over at Armed Citizen about their battles with copyright piranha "Righthaven". There are a couple of addresses given there for you to write to if you would like to help.

Note that although all the past content on "Armed Citizen" has been taken down, everything they have covered over the last few years was also covered on my GUN WATCH blog so is still available in the archives there. The difference between GUN WATCH and "Armed Citizen" is that my blog covers general gun news as well as reports of self-defense shootings by citizens.

Another difference is that, on GUN WATCH, I very rarely put up more than a short excerpt of a report -- which makes that blog an unlikely target for a copyright suit. "Armed Citizen", by contrast, reproduced whole articles at times.


The old "Jewish money" slur revived -- by a Democrat

The claim that "Jewish money" controls politics has long been a staple among the antisemitic fraternity. The fact that the bulk of Jewish political donations go to the Democrats makes that claim all the more risible. George Bush was a much better friend to Israel than Obama has been. And in the Yom Kippur surprise attack of 1973 it was Nixon who made sure that Israel was promptly sent what it needed to defend itself, even though Jewish voters had overwhelmingly opposed his election. Golda Meir describes Nixon in her autobiography as the best friend Israel ever had in the presidency

Mike Grimm, a G.O.P challenger to Democrat Mike McMahon's Congressional seat, took in over $200,000 in his last filing.

But in an effort to show that Grimm lacks support among voters in the district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, the McMahon campaign compiled a list of Jewish donors to Grimm and provided it to The Politicker.

The file, labeled "Grimm Jewish Money Q2," for the second quarter fundraising period, shows a list of over 80 names, a half-dozen of which in fact do hail from Staten Island, and a handful of others that list Brooklyn as home....

Grimm recently went to a religious service led by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, a Kabbalahist who is known as a rabbi to the rich and famous. Several of his followers, including Haim Revah, whose company owns the Lipstick Building and Ilan Bracha of Prudential Douglas Elliman, donated to Grimm.

Reached by phone, Grimm, who is part-Italian, part-German, said he was proud of his Jewish support and said he was disturbed to hear that the McMahon campaign compiled a separate list of his Jewish donors.

"The fact that a U.S. Congressman would separate out any group by religion or even by ethnicity is nothing short of outrageous," he said. "This goes beyond politics."

More here


Deficits Up, Unemployment Up

Next year's budget deficit is projected by Mr. Obama's own analysts to be $1.4 trillion, up from $1.3 trillion projected in February. Over the next decade, under his own policies, the cumulative deficit would be $10 trillion. And the national debt would rise from $6 trillion in 2008 to $19 trillion in 2020.

These are Mr. Obama's numbers, not those of his Republican critics.

The deficit as a percent of GDP is projected at 10% in fiscal year 2010 and 9% next year, and is not forecast to fall below 3.5% until 2017, after President Obama's possible second term. Then, it rises again in 2019 and 2020.

This is far above levels seen earlier in the decade. The deficit as a percent of GDP stood at 9.9% in fiscal 2009, but before that the highest percentage this decade was 3.5% in 2004.

Government receipts are projected to be lower, not just in 2010 and 2011, but through 2017, because fewer Americans will be working. When fewer people work, the government collects less tax revenue.

Outlays are also projected to be lower, which should be good news. But a third of the savings over the next decade are attributed to Medicare, either through the new health care law, which mandates cuts in Medicare, or through savings in the current program.

These Medicare savings are a mirage. Congress has repeatedly overridden statutory Medicare cuts, the latest being cuts of 21% in physician reimbursement, due to take place on June 1. Instead, Congress voted a 2.2% increase. With an expanding elderly population, other planned cuts are equally unlikely.

OMB acknowledges that "the collapse of the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis have taken a significant toll on the economy, and many of the after-effects are likely to be felt for years to come." Yet the report forecasts real GDP growth to be 3.6% in 2011, in contrast to the forecast of the International Monetary Fund of 2.9% and the Congressional Budget Office forecast of 1.9%. GDP growth rates are projected to be above 4% for 2012 through 2014 and 3.6% in 2015.

This is a five-year average of 3.9%, a pace our economy has rarely met over the past 40 years. One exception was the five years from 1996 to 2000, not coincidentally, the last time the federal budget was balanced.

Such growth rates necessitate a falling unemployment rate and rising real incomes fuelling a decent recovery in consumer spending, along with a substantial boost from net trade over coming years. There are no signs yet that any of these are occurring.

In fact, administration economists project higher levels of unemployment, albeit slowly declining, than have been the case under prior expansions. Between 1996 and 2000, unemployment averaged 4.6%, and in 2003 to 2007, it averaged 5.2%. In contrast, the Mid-Session review predicts annual average unemployment to stay above 8% through 2012, falling below 6% only in 2015.

A boom in trade seems far from certain given Europe's precarious economic situation, with Spain due to follow Greece as the next bailout candidate and French and German taxpayers on the hook for the tab. Meanwhile, Congress has shown no signs of ratifying pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, agreements that, if approved, would help to boost American exports.

The most serious issue facing Americans today is lack of employment opportunities and how to deal with growing spending and entitlement programs.

What is the path to economic prosperity? Many Democrats recommend raising taxes on upper-income taxpayers in order to shrink government deficits and rein in growth of the national debt. Many Republicans - and some Democrats - counter that these tax increases would slow economic growth by reducing incentives to work and invest.

For one sensible observation on tax increases and growth, look no further than a new paper published in June's American Economic Review, the flagship journal of the economics profession. It was written by Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer and her husband David Romer, both professors at the University of California (Berkeley).

Entitled "The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks," the paper distinguishes between the effects of tax changes arising from legislation and increases in effective tax rates that occur automatically, for instance as individuals move into higher tax brackets.

The Romers conclude that legislated tax changes had far more effect than had automatic tax increases. Looking at data from 1947 to 2007, and examining the legislative record behind the tax changes, they conclude "Our estimates suggest that a tax increase of 1% of GDP reduces output over the next three years by nearly 3%." A major reason is that higher taxes have a markedly negative effect on investment.

The Mid-Session Review, which underscores the worrisome economic and fiscal conditions that prevail, should be a warning that our current policies are unsustainable. As Mr. Obama, along with other Americans, awaits the July jobs numbers due out on August 6, he might want to glance at his CEA chair's latest paper.



Obama's ideology is very American -- sadly

In addition to the points below see my extensive summary of the evidence that American "Progressives" were the first Fascists of the 20th century

Reading the scholarly work of Woodrow Wilson is an educational experience. It is shocking to read the expressions of his disaffection for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. As R.J. Pestritto has demonstrated, the intellectual roots of modern liberalism lie in an assault on the ideas of natural rights and limited government. They eventuate in an administrative state and rule by supposed experts. Obamacare represents something like the full flowering of modern liberalism.

Wilson's expressions of disapproval are the precursor to Barack Obama's disdain for the Constitution and the Warren Court. Obama perfectly reflected Wilson's views in his 2001 comments on the civil rights movement and the Supreme Court. In the course of the famous radio interview Obama gave to WBEZ in Chicago, Obama observed that the Warren Court had not broken "free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties." To achieve "redistributive change," the limitations of the Constitution would have to be overcome by the Court or by Congress.

Franklin Roosevelt touted welfare state liberalism in the "second Bill of Rights" that he set forth to Congress in his 1944 State of the Union Address. "Necessitous men are not free men," Roosevelt asserted, and enumerated a new set of rights, among which were the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation, the right of every family to a decent home, and the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

Implicitly arguing that the teaching of the Declaration had become obsolete, Roosevelt asserted: "In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed."

The economic "rights" asserted by Roosevelt in his second Bill of Rights differ and conflict with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are claims on the liberty of others. If I have a right to medical care, you must have a corresponding duty to supply it. If I have a right to a decent home, you must have a duty to provide it.

The argument for the welfare state belongs in the same family as "the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden."

Lincoln memorably derided the underlying principle as "the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it."

William Voegeli's Never Enough: America's Limitless Welfare State is one of the books of the year. George Will drew attention to Voegeli's book in his excellent column "The danger of a government with unlimited power." Michael Lind attacks Will and comes to the defense of liberalism. William Voegeli strikes back in "Why liberalism is dangerous." Voegeli has reignited a profoundly important argument that ultimately requires us to recover a basic understanding of limited constitutional government.




Israeli airstrike kills senior Hamas rocket maker: "Israeli warplanes fired missiles, killing a senior commander of the Hamas military wing and wounding 11 people in five targets hit across Gaza overnight, the group and the military said Saturday. The Israeli military said the strikes were in response to a powerful rocket fired from Gaza that hit the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon on Friday, causing damage but no injuries. Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas rulers said their slain member was Issa Batran, 42, a commander of the groups' military wing in central Gaza and a senior rocket maker. The strikes hit a smuggling tunnel that runs under the Gaza-Egypt border used for smuggling weapons, the military said, as well as Batran's shack in central Gaza, which was likely used to make rockets, and a Hamas military training camp in Gaza City. However in Friday's attack, Ashkelon was hit by a military-grade Grad rocket that can travel longer distances and cause far more damage.

Waters plans US House trial to fight ethics charges: "Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., plans to go through a House trial to contest charges of misusing her office, NBC News confirmed Friday night. A House ethics subcommittee says Waters, 71, improperly intervened in 2008 with federal regulators to help get bailout funds for a bank that her husband owned stock in and on whose board he once served, said NBC and other media reports. Waters also once held stock in the bank.”

Growing pains : "Health care costs — and thus Medicare costs — are growing faster than GDP. Between 1998 and 2008, the rate of the program’s growth outpaced GDP by about 2.8 percent. That may not seem like much, but as long as that trend continues, it means that, every year, all else being equal, Medicare eats up a larger share of the budget. In the short term, that’s worrying. In the long term, it’s a huge problem. Somehow, all that excess growth will either have to be contained or paid for. That leaves policymakers with three basic options: Raise taxes, borrow more, or cut costs. But as Joseph Newhouse pointed out last week in Health Affairs, each presents significant difficulties.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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