Saturday, January 23, 2010



The Lies of Obama

When politicians are caught out in lies, their supporters often resort to the old cliché: all politicians lie. But that is itself a lie: most don’t. Even among those who do, there are enormous differences in the importance and frequency of the lies. And it is surely now clear that this nation has a far from routine problem in the scale and regularity of President Obama’s lying.

When politicians lie they are usually trying to avoid political damage, or to make themselves look good. Bill Clinton lied (and got himself impeached) to save himself from embarrassment about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Hillary Clinton lied about being under fire in Bosnia to enhance her non-existent foreign affairs profile. Richard Nixon was forced from office because he lied to cover up his involvement in a political dirty trick. John Kerry lied about his Vietnam combat experience to blunt his anti-military reputation.

But Barack Obama’s lies are far more corrosive and destructive, because they go the heart of legislation and governance, and so seriously undermine trust in government. His lies generally take a specific form: they attempt to persuade people to vote for him or his policies by categorically assuring them that they need not have the anxieties that they have been expressing. The lies say, essentially: trust me, support what I want, and I promise that what you fear will never happen. But in every case it soon becomes clear either that he knew perfectly well that what the public feared would in fact happen, or that he was giving a firm assurance that he was in no position to give, or that he had no intention of following through on his promise. The accumulated weight of Obama’s deceit is overwhelming:

* During his campaign for the presidency and since, Obama repeatedly assured us that he would protect Medicare against cuts; but he now presses for passage of bills that include savage cuts in Medicare.

* To obtain passage of his first stimulus bill, Obama assured us that 90% of the jobs created would be in the private sector; but as he well knew, most of them were to be in the public sector.

* Early in the health care debate, Obama assured us that he had not said that he favored a single payer system; but he was on record as having said exactly that.

* Obama gave primary voters a firm assurance that if he became the nominee of the Democratic party he would (unlike Hillary Clinton) abide by the campaign finance limits of public funding; but as soon as he became the party’s nominee, he reneged on that pledge.

* During the presidential campaign Obama criticized the presence of former lobbyists in the Bush administration and solemnly assured us that he would appoint no lobbyists to his administration; but once elected he proceeded to appoint even more lobbyists than his predecessors.

* Obama criticized the size of George Bush’s deficit and promised to stop deficit spending if elected; but he has already quadrupled the size of the deficit he objected to and recklessly continues new federal spending in the trillions.

* When campaigning Obama criticized bills before the congress that were too long for anyone to be able to read and promised to stop that; but the bills he has been backing throughout his first year are infinitely longer (2000+ pages) than the ones he criticized.

* Candidate Obama promised an end to the corruption of earmarks and pork, but in the bills he has supported this year there have been more and bigger earmarks than ever before.

* Candidate Obama promised us that CIA personnel involved in the interrogation of terrorists would not be prosecuted; but his administration is now doing exactly that.

* Obama assured a joint session of Congress that the health bill he supported (pre-Stupak) would not provide public funding for abortions; but bitter resistance on the part of House Democrats to inclusion of language to that effect soon proved that it did.

* Candidate Obama promised that he would make sure that there was always enough time for the public to read legislation before it was enacted; but he has done exactly the opposite, repeatedly pressing for even faster passage of even longer bills.

* Candidate Obama met fears that he would be a tax and spend liberal by promising, emphatically and repeatedly, that those earning under $200,000 would see no increase in their taxes of any kind; but he now urges passage of a healthcare bill that breaks that pledge in many different ways, and his unrestrained increase in federal spending makes more tax increases inevitable.

* Candidate Obama promised bipartisanship and an end to partisan bickering; but in a display of especially ruthless partisanship his allies have shut Republicans out of all key meetings on his health care initiative, with the unprecedented result that domestic legislation of historic importance garnered not a single Republican vote in the Senate.

* Candidate Obama criticized his opponent’s plan to tax employer paid healthcare benefits, and promised he would not tax them; but the bill he now backs will do just that.

* Obama had promised that he would not sign a healthcare bill that would add one dime to the federal deficit; but the bill he now backs adds trillions in new federal spending, offset only by new sources of revenue that are both uncertain and more properly seen as offsetting the already existing deficit.

* Obama coerced congress into passing his stimulus bill by promising that if it were passed unemployment could go no higher then 8%; but unemployment is now at 10%, and he could not possibly have had good reason to exclude that possibility.

* Obama promised that his cap and trade legislation will create jobs; but its massive tax increases will certainly hobble the economy and destroy jobs, while green jobs in significant numbers can at best be hoped for, but never promised.

* Obama has repeatedly assured the American people that if they like their current health plan they can keep it; but the House bill which he supported created huge incentives for employers to drop their coverage and shift their members to a public option.

* Obama has just as often assured the public that under his health plan everyone will be able to keep their current doctor; but many are certain to lose their doctors when ObamaCare’s large cuts in Medicare funding induce more doctors to withdraw from Medicare coverage, as they also would were employers to transfer patients to a public option to save money.

* Obama assured a joint session of Congress that his health plan would not fund illegal aliens; but his allies had been busy voting down amendments to that effect. (This was the point of Joe Wilson’s outburst.)

* Obama claimed that Caterpillar’s CEO had told him that Caterpillar would begin hiring again as a result of the stimulus bill; but that individual immediately announced that he had said no such thing, and that Caterpillar would in fact be laying off more workers.

* Candidate Obama promised that Guantanamo would be closed by January 1, 2010; but it is still open.

* Candidate Obama promised that his administration (unlike his predecessor’s) would be so transparent that TV cameras (C-Span) would be there for key deliberations; but an unprecedented level of secrecy prevails as the final stages of Obamacare are negotiated behind closed doors and kept so secret that even the Senate majority whip admitted that he had no idea what was going on. Requests for Obama to honor the promise of C-Span cameras are being ignored.

* To gain traction for his attempt to return a would-be socialist dictator in Honduras to power, Obama claimed that he had been overthrown in an illegal coup; but the congressional research service pointed out correctly that ex-President Zelaya had been removed for constitutionally sufficient cause by legal and constitutional means.

* Obama claims that he wants a public option only to increase choice and competition; but the House bill would clearly reduce choice both by squeezing unsubsidized private health plans out of the market, and by setting rigid conditions on acceptable plans that would narrow available options.

* Candidate Obama claimed that violent radical Bill Ayers was just another guy in his neighborhood; but the record shows that the two had worked closely together.

* Obama assured us that his stimulus bill would create or save a million jobs; but he was claiming as fact what could never have been more than a wild (and highly improbable) guess, and his more recent attempts to justify that guess have been fraudulent.

* Obama assured us that his health plan would never ration care, or “pull the plug” on grandma; but the legislation he backs sets up panels to make crucial decisions on when to withhold care, and it makes such deep cuts in Medicare that rationing is inevitable.

* Obama now assures us that health insurance premiums will not go up if ObamaCare becomes law, insisting indignantly that people who say this have not read the bill; but the legislation forces insurers to cover preexisting conditions, which will compel them to raise premiums substantially.

This is an extraordinary record of serial mendacity. One or two instances might charitably be regarded as rash promises later regretted, or as the wishful thinking of someone who had not thought through the implications of what he was saying. But when it happens again and again—and my 30 instances are by no means exhaustive—only one judgment seems possible: this is the record of a habitual, shameless liar, a man who will say anything to get what he wants. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, goes the old saying. But scores of times? How shameful is that for our society when this disgraceful record is never the subject of a reproachful editorial in the New York Times, the Washington Post, or CBS news? Richard Nixon was removed from office, and Bill Clinton impeached for a single lie. Who could look at Obama’s record without concluding that his lying is in a completely different league to theirs?

President Obama evidently believes that he can solve any problem with a speech. But he really does not care whether what he says is true or not, nor does he feel any responsibility to honor the assurances and promises he makes. As a result, this nation is now in a position where it cannot believe a word that he says, and that amounts to an unprecedented crisis of confidence in the Presidency. Democratic government will atrophy if we allow lying on this scale to count as the business as usual of politics. When will the press and the Congress hold him accountable?

SOURCE

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Obama's attack on the big banks may achieve little

Article below from the NYT!

President Obama wants to cut down to size those too-big-to-fail banks. But his vow on Thursday to rewrite the rules of Wall Street left many questions unanswered, including the big one: Would this really prevent another financial crisis?

The president’s proposals to place new limits on the size and activities of big banks rattled the stock market, but banking executives were perplexed as to how his plan would work. Indeed, many insisted the proposals, if adopted, would do little to change their businesses.

Moreover, it was unclear if the twin proposals — to ban banks with federally insured deposits from casting risky bets in the markets, and to resist further consolidation in the financial industry — would have done much if anything to forestall the crisis that pushed the economic system to the brink of collapse in 2008.

Mr. Obama appeared to be leaving crucial details to be hashed out by Congress, where partisan tussling has already threatened another reform the president supports — the creation of a consumer protection agency that would have oversight over credit cards, mortgages and other lending products.

Wall Street figures, many caught off guard by the news, reacted cautiously. “I am somewhat skeptical about how much the federal government can actually regulate,” said John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, the mutual fund giant. “We need to try, but all the lawyers and geniuses on Wall Street are going to figure out ways to get around everything.” Indeed, Mr. Obama acknowledged that “an army of industry lobbyists” had already descended on Capitol Hill, but vowed, “If these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have.”

Shares of big banks — potentially the biggest losers should the proposals be enacted — fell sharply, dragging the broader market down by about 2 percent. Even as the markets stumbled, Mr. Obama — still stinging from the Democrats’ loss on Tuesday of the Massachusetts seat formerly held by Senator Edward M. Kennedy — ramped up his populist approach, one week after he proposed a new tax on large financial institutions to recoup projected losses from the 2008 bailout.

Mr. Obama said the banks had nearly wrecked the economy by taking “huge, reckless risks in pursuit of quick profits and massive bonuses.” The administration wants to ban bank holding companies from owning, investing in or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds and from engaging in proprietary trading, or trading on their own accounts, as opposed to the money of their customers. Mr. Obama called the ban the Volcker Rule, in recognition of the former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul A. Volcker, who has championed the proposal. Big losses by banks in the trading of financial securities, especially mortgage-backed assets, precipitated the credit crisis in 2008 and the federal bailout.

It was not clear, however, how proprietary trading activities would be defined. Officials said that banks would not be permitted to use their own capital for “trading unrelated to serving customers.” Such a restriction would most likely compel banks that own hedge funds and private equity funds to dispose of them over time. Officials said, however, that executing trades on a client’s behalf and using bank capital to make a market or to hedge a client’s risk would be permissible.

Federal regulators have already leaned hard on banks to curb pure proprietary trading, and the banks expect that regulators will demand more capital if they keep making risky bets, making the practice far less profitable. Some of the biggest firms, applying a narrow definition, say that pure proprietary trading constituted less than 10 percent of their revenue, and in some cases far less. Morgan Stanley, for example, already abandoned all but two proprietary trading desks last year.

The Buckingham Research Group estimated that the new rules would reduce revenue at Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase by less than 3 percent. Goldman Sachs, which typically derives a tenth of its revenue from such trading, said it would be able to contend with the new rules. “I would say pure walled-off proprietary-trading businesses at Goldman Sachs are not very big in the context of the firm,” David A. Viniar, the firm’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call....

Reaction on Capitol Hill also was muted, partly because neither party wanted to be seen as beholden to unpopular banks. The House bill passed last month would consolidate oversight, require stronger capital cushions for the largest banks and impose regulation of some derivatives. In many ways, the new White House proposal amplifies provisions in that bill that would have left regulators discretion over proprietary trading and excessive liability.

More here

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BrookesNews Update

The US economy: A quick survey of the pathetic, the fallacious and the ignorant : If business is neither spending nor hiring then government spending will have a negative effect on the economy. As I have said elsewhere, even if business was hiring and spending the Obama administration's spending, borrowing, regulatory, energy and taxation policies will still cripple economic growth
This economy is no rose garden : The same commentators who didn't see the recession until it ran over them and who still cannot grasp what the hell caused the financial crisis are now telling us that happy days are on the horizon and apart from a few troubled spots the Australian economy can now look forward to steady growth and a falling unemployment rate. But falling unemployment is not in itself a sign of a healthy economy
Is China's economy the world's biggest bubble? : While most observers focus on China's asset boom they are missing an even bigger picture. Her massive boom in fixed capital is running its course. Once it is terminated the bubble will burst
No shock: stimulus is a money loser : The results are in, and last year's $787 billion stimulus not only failed to do what it was supposed to do, but it has also turned out to be one of the worst investments in economic history GOP:
It's Sink or Swim in 2010 : Republicans remain a center-right country. In fact, a recent Gallup poll established that Americans identify as conservative vs. liberal by a nearly two-to-one margin. So, whose advice will Republicans follow in 2010? Will it be that of a fork-tongued Democratic emissary like Tim Kaine? Or will it be that of the GOP's highly motivated, itchin'-to-vote, grass-roots Party faithful?
You can't say that, Senator Reid! : "Harry Reid's dared to not only notice, but comment upon, 'the Negro dialect.' You know, the dialect white Democrats mimic when addressing black churches. The dialect currently in use by young black men struggling to show that they haven't joined Uncle Sam's plantation
Obama's jobs hole: "The unemployment rate will probably rise to about 11 percent. The corrupt mainstream media will have to summon all their considerable journalistic talent to remind the American people in objective news reports that despite the harrowing unemployment numbers, the nation's economy is really in good hands

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

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

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

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Friday, January 22, 2010



Bloomberg Hammers Obama, Congress Over Bank Plan

Mayor Says President's Idea To Limit Size And Investments Will Lead To Big Problems For NYC, Including Layoffs

President Barack Obama's demand Thursday that Congress clamp down on the size of banks and their investments got major blowback from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said it could cause layoffs and hurt the city.

It's a clash between the president and the mayor. President Obama wants to whittle away at the size of the financial services industry. "The American people will not be served by a financial system that comprises just a few massive firms," the president said.

But Mayor Bloomberg said the banks and Wall Street are part of the bedrock of the city's economy, and efforts to slash their business just means less tax revenue for the city, which brings up the dreaded "L" word. "If that's the case then we'll have to lay off people because it will really hurt our industry," Bloomberg said.

The mayor was so upset about the move -- and a suggestion that Wall Street bonuses be put in escrow, which means the money wouldn't be spent here, wouldn't help the city economy -- he responded with a proposal of his own for members of Congress. "Maybe we should hold back their salaries for a decade or so and see whether the laws they pass work out," Bloomberg said.

The mayor also demanded that the members of our congressional delegation go to the mat to protect the financial services industry, much like senators from Texas protect the oil industry.

Senator Charles Schumer said he will try to protect New York, but that some reforms are necessary. "It's a careful balance. You can't say do nothing because we all know the banks made mistakes, but you can't be so draconian that you cause job loss or make the institutions not function properly," Schumer said.

The banking reforms still have to be negotiated by Congress, where people are still reeling by the effects of the Massachusetts Senate race, so it's anybody's guess what will happen.

Mayor Bloomberg also said that limiting the size of banks will hurt their competitiveness in the global economy.

SOURCE

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ACORN's California Makeover

With help from docile Democratic politicians and journalists, ACORN is attempting to perpetrate yet another spectacular fraud on the American people.

After the American public saw the true face of ACORN last year, hidden camera videos showing its workers across the nation bending over backwards to facilitate underage prostitution, fraud, immigrant smuggling, and tax evasion in the name of social justice, ACORN realized it needed to take emergency action to protect its revenue streams. So among other measures the embattled radical advocacy group is changing the name of its largest state chapter in an effort to keep tax dollars and foundation grants flowing into its coffers. ACORN feels it needs to do this because California ACORN is a critical component of the ACORN empire, boasting 37,000 dues-paying members.

With the fallout from the hidden camera videos, congressional funding of ACORN's election fraud and racketeering business is no longer guaranteed, so ACORN decided to reconstitute its California operation as the "new" group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE). ACCE claims that it is "up and running as an independent state-wide organization with no legal, financial or structural ties to ACORN."

Of course we know that ACCE is lying. How do we know this? For starters, because ACCE's new executive director is Amy Schur. Schur is a loyal 20-year-plus ACORN employee who has shown her willingness to get her hands dirty for the cause. Marcel Reid, a former member of ACORN's national board, said Schur is corrupt and hopelessly tainted. "If there was true reform, why would Amy Schur be the head of ACCE?" she said. Reid, who with other ACORN whistleblowers formed a group called ACORN 8, was expelled from ACORN in 2008 when she tried to investigate a nearly $1 million embezzlement by founder Wade Rathke's brother. According to the ACORN 8, Schur participated in an eight-year long cover-up of the theft whose exposure in 2008 led to Rathke's ouster.

ACORN insiders say Schur has intimate knowledge of how ACORN operates. Schur has been in charge of the group's national campaigns and is likely to testify later this year in Nevada when ACORN goes on trial for illegally paying canvassers to register Nevada voters in the 2008 presidential campaign. Her testimony could be devastating to ACORN because it could publicly air many of the group's skeletons.

ACCE's office address is shown in the registration as 3655 S. Grand Ave., Suite 250, Los Angeles 90007. That address just so happens to be the address of California ACORN's headquarters too. A new splinter group trying to make a clean break with the original group would presumably have the good sense not to operate out of the original group's office. Or not.

More HERE

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How conservative is Scott Brown? More conservative than you might think

There's been a lot of fretting about exactly how jubilant conservatives should be over Scott Brown's election. Sure, his election may spike health care legislation -- but the Senate has just inherited a Pro-Choice Northeastern Republican who may buck the party on a number of issues going forward.

It's clear that Scott Brown is no Jim DeMint, and it remains to be seen how Brown will assert his independence after repeatedly asserting he wasn't beholden to Washington interests in the campaign. But there's evidence that Brown is much more conservative than your typical Northeastern Republican.

For one thing, while Brown may be pro-choice he's not a social liberal. Last month, the Boston Phoenix published what in retrospect is an hilariously wrong thumbsucker on Brown's Senate race. The theory was that Brown was simply running in the Senate race to elevate his profile so he could run for Governor. Whoops. However, the piece does contain this telling observation: "Throughout his political career, Brown has been considered a staunch conservative. His first race for the State Senate, in 2004, was defined largely by the issue of same-sex marriage, which Brown opposed. He is extremely popular among the conservative base of the state party, say insiders."

That's worrisome to those in the wing of the state GOP — personified by gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker — who believe the party needs moderate candidates who focus on job creation and fiscal responsibility. They want to downplay social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, and to distance themselves from the hard-line rhetoric of the Tea Party movement.

The liberal Republicans in the Massachusetts state party actually saw him as a threat because he was too conservative? After last night, it's hard to say Brown's more conservative detracted from his campaign rather than benefited him.

It's also not clear that Republicans in Massachusetts are all that fiscally conservative, even as they try and dodge socially conservative issues. As discussed in my column today, "Are the Reagan Democrats back?", former Democratic state treasurer Tim Cahill renounced his Democratic partisanship on the grounds Democrats are fiscally reckless. Cahill has teamed up with a pro-life Republican state Represenative to run for Governor in Massachusetts. It's now a three way race against an unpopular Democratic incumbent Governor where an independent former Democrat(!) is credibly running to the right of the Republican in the race. That's how liberal the Republican party is in the state.

And Massachusetts may be Democratic, but it's not necessarily liberal. In his report from Massachusetts yesterday, Reason writer Michael Moynihan -- a Boston native -- summed up Massachusetts voters this way: "These guys support labor unions, not civil unions."

Given Brown's demonstrable personal appeal and the fact he campaigned specifically against the Democratic economic agenda, Brown might prove to be able to get away with being more socially conservative and economically conservative than anyone could expect from a Massachusetts Republican.

SOURCE

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Out-of-touch Democrats and the Kamikaze Congress

Democrats across the country are switching parties or retiring, probably because they place greater value on their political careers than in blind party loyalty or supporting a far-left agenda. A new Rasmussen poll indicates that 36% of Democrats “believe their representatives in Congress have lost touch with the party’s voters”, while only 54% say they “have done a good job representing their party’s values over the past several years.”

Obviously, Democrats are not on the same page as their supporters, let alone independents and Republicans. Which page are they on? Whose interests are they representing? And how can they possibly believe that ignoring their constituents will be helpful in winning reelection in November?

Some don’t, which is why they’re getting out of the game with their reputations intact. The rest, who go along with Obama’s disastrous agenda, seem to be committing political suicide, sacrificing their careers to implement long-lasting changes in U.S. government and society that the people do not want. Like Japanese kamikaze pilots of the Second World War, they fly a one-way mission. But this brand of liberalism is no “divine wind,” and the inevitable crash will affect the entire country.

The House of Representatives was designed to reflect shifting public opinion. Today’s problem is that opinion is shifting, and House Democrats aren’t reflecting. They continue to pursue federal health care reform that is unnecessary, unpopular, and unconstitutional. They ignore, or support, the president’s alarming use of policy “czars,” sidestepping Congress and the voters in an unprecedented increase of the Executive Branch’s power. If Democrats refuse to address the problems in the Obama administration, and continue to disparage the legitimate dissent of concerned citizens, they will be dealt a severe blow in the coming 2010 election, which could result in a lost Democratic majority and lame duck presidency only halfway through Obama’s first (and possibly last) term.

This is not to say that Republicans are safe, either. Some in Washington, like Representative Ron Paul and Senator Jim DeMint, are active and vocal in their opposition to the current mad dash toward big government and socialism. Others are disturbingly silent. So-called RINOs (Republicans in name only) may find their seats to be equally at risk in the coming election.

Both major parties have an opportunity to represent the best interests of the American people by embracing the Constitution and the free market, and slowing Obama’s progressive agenda. They have less than ten months until Election Day. There is no doubt that voters will be watching their actions very carefully.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

I am finally able to say something good about Senator Ted Kennedy: He timed his death superbly -- not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. The result: Scott Brown.

New Senate math means rough road for more "stimulus": "The road for another stimulus bill just got tougher following Tuesday’s election of Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Democratic stronghold Massachusetts. After health care, Congress’ next big priority is to pass something that shows voters in an election year that they’re on top of the nation’s unemployment scourge.”

The coming grab at your wealth and retirement: "Unfortunately, you cannot protect yourself or your family from the feds as long as you stay within American borders. And the most disturbing grabs for your wealth are likely to come from the federal government. Consider just one. … Bloomberg reports that the U.S. Department of the Treasury is officially formulating ways to force a portion of every 401k/IRA account into ‘fixed payment annuities’ — that is to say, into long-term Treasury bonds. In other words, your retirement dollars would be converted into government IOUs. This is the same government debt that Obama cannot peddle overseas anymore because places like China know the greenback is unsustainable in the long run … perhaps in the short run as well.”

Muslim convicted of planning Canadian terror plot: "A member of a homegrown terrorist group was found guilty Thursday of participating in a plot to set off truck bombs in front of Canada’s main stock exchange and two government buildings. Shareef Abdelhaleem, 34, was a member of the so-called Toronto 18 plot to set off bombs outside Toronto’s Stock Exchange, a building housing Canada’s spy agency and a military base.”

Nobody wants to listen to Leftist whining: "Air America Radio, a progressive radio network that once aired commentary from Al Franken and Rachel Maddow, said Thursday it is shutting down immediately. The company founded in April 2004 said it ceased airing new programs Thursday afternoon and will soon file to be liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It began broadcasting reruns of programs and would end those as well Monday night. Air America said 10 consecutive quarters of declining ad revenue and the difficulty of making money on the Internet contributed to its financial woes. ‘The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America’s business. This past year has seen a `perfect storm’ in the media industry generally,’ the company said in a statement on its Web site. The network had some 100 radio outlets nationwide.”

Report: Army betting big on ray guns: "The ray gun is real … or at least it will be soon. The U.S. Army is betting big on laser warfare — designing, testing and perfecting ultra-precise weapons based on devastatingly powerful beams of light. And given recent developments, it’s only a matter of time until the military has in its arsenal a weapon that until now has been the staple of science fiction — the ray gun. Set your phasers to kill. Boeing, one of the Pentagon’s top contractors, already has a laser weapon that will improve the military’s ability to counter artillery, mortar, drone aircraft and even rockets, a spokesman tells FoxNews.com.”

Earthquakes and economic development: "Think of all the jobs that will be created in rebuilding Port-au-Prince’s presidential palace, its port facilities and other infrastructure destroyed by nature’s wrath! Money will pour in from the United States, China, and Western Europe to succor the earthquake’s victims and to finance repairs and new construction activity. Haiti will rise from the ashes and be lifted out of poverty. Or so the story goes. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Haiti’s real crisis is poverty: "Haiti’s poverty — 80 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 per day — is especially tragic given the strong link between poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters. A study by the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters looked at a recent 30-year period comparing natural disasters in the world’s 10 richest countries to those in the 10 poorest countries. The center found that the average annual number of victims per 100,000 population per rich country was 36; for the poor countries it was 2,879 even though rich countries experience the same amount of disasters. Why is Haiti so vulnerable? Its insular economic policies and dysfunctional institutions have kept Haitians poor.”

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

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

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

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Thursday, January 21, 2010



A revolution begins

By Boston Herald Editorial Staff

It was - for the second time in Massachusetts history - the shot heard round the world, or at the very least from coast to coast and surely in the halls of Congress. Scott Brown won this one fair and square with his down-to-earth charm, his hard work and his forthright position on issues - and with the help of that much-disparaged by the opposition pick-up truck.

But it is also true that Brown was the right candidate at the right time with the right message. And it’s that message that the White House and congressional Democrats can no longer ignore. After all, if the people of Massachusetts can send a Republican to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat Ted Kennedy had a lock on for 47 years, then the revolution has indeed begun. And like that battle in Concord more than two centuries ago, this is only the opening round.

Her fellow Democrats will attempt to blame the loss entirely on Martha Coakley, her inability to connect with voters, her verbal blunders and on assuming her primary victory was all she needed. Much of that is true, but it is also true that Coakley promised to be simply more of the same. And voters here are tired of more of the same.

They don’t see the point of an expensive new health care bill that threatens to damage the health care industry here, disrupt service to Medicare recipients and tax us all - especially when we already insure 97.4 percent of our people.

They don’t see the point of paying higher and higher energy costs, when the world’s pollution is not our fault.

They don’t see the point of growing the deficit so that our children and grandchildren will be paying for today’s policy mistakes - including a $787 stimulus bill that didn’t.

Most of all they are simply tired of the kind of Washington arrogance that says “don’t worry, we know what’s best for you.” Voters of Massachusetts wanted to take back the power that has been so sorely abused. Yesterday they did.

SOURCE

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A blessing in disguise for the Democrats?

By Jeff Jacoby

IT REALLY IS the people's seat, and on Tuesday the people of Massachusetts took it back. But in electing Scott Brown instead of Martha Coakley to replace Ted Kennedy in the US Senate, the Bay State's voters did more than hand the GOP its most improbable and thrilling come-from-behind victory in a generation. They did more than embrace a charismatic, upbeat Republican and reject a dour, gaffe-prone Democrat. And they did more than prove that no political party has a permanent lock on any state's electoral loyalties.

They also gave President Obama and the Democratic left a blessing in disguise -- if only they are wise enough to recognize it.

Brown ran explicitly against Obama's polarizing domestic agenda -- especially the radical health-care overhaul that the president has made his No. 1 priority. Not long ago, such a campaign strategy would have been dismissed as suicidal. But the harder the administration and the Democratic leadership in Congress have pushed their health legislation, the more unpopular it, and they, have grown. At a Coakley rally in Boston on Sunday, it spoke volumes that Obama made not a single direct reference to the health-care bill he has championed -- and that Brown promises to be the 41st vote against.

Politically, ObamaCare has backfired. No president in the modern era has ended his first year in office with disapproval ratings so high. Much of the goodwill with which he entered the White House has been squandered, and any effort to try to force the health bill through Congress now would drive what's left of that goodwill right over a cliff.

But that isn't going to happen. Brown and the voters of Massachusetts have killed ObamaCare for good. In so doing they have given the president a priceless second chance to adjust his political course, move toward the center, and deliver at least some of the bipartisan cooperation that was at the heart of his once-enormous appeal. They have given him that chance, moreover, nearly 10 months before the 2010 midterm elections. If Obama seizes the opportunity that Massachusetts and its likable senator-elect have just given him, those elections need not be a calamity for his party. With some restraint and wisdom now, the brightest days of his presidency may be still to come.

SOURCE

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A blue collar approach pays off for GOP

Republican Scott Brown shocked the nation and turned Massachusetts politics on its head. But how did he do it? A Suffolk University poll taken Nov. 8 showed Democratic candidate Martha Coakley leading by 31 points -- a staggering advantage most political observers believed could not be surmounted by Brown, one of just five Republicans in the Massachusetts state Senate.

But a series of factors conspired to allow Brown to do what seemed impossible in November, and his luck began to change right after the state's Democratic primary that month, when Coakley made what many now view as an unwise decision to take a break from campaigning.

Brown, on the other hand, hit the ground running, going door to door in working-class neighborhoods across the commonwealth in his old pickup truck, delivering a populist message that resonated with people suffering under the state's sour economy. Brown talked about job creation, the deficit and overspending in Washington. And he pledged to put the brakes on the unpopular Democratic plan to reform health care. "He's been going door to door, town to town," said Brown backer Shawn Littlehale, of Norwell. "Martha Coakley has been hiding."

Brown also put out a series of well-received ads, including one in which he seemed to appear in a campaign ad produced by John F. Kennedy when he ran for the same seat in the 1950s and promised a tax cut. Brown also used social media like Facebook, Twitter and text messages to supporters to get voters to the polls and for a massive rally to counter a Sunday appearance by President Obama.

While Brown capitalized on Coakley blunders that became almost too numerous to count, it was his substance and style that eventually won over voters, even in the face of an onslaught of negative campaign ads put forward by the Democratic National Committee. "Brown focused the discussion on the issues that really matter in Massachusetts," Ron Kaufman, former adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, told The Examiner. "And it connected with the voters in a big way."

Voters said that aside from his political stance, they liked Brown's low-key, authentic style, which contrasted to what many perceived to be an aloof and out-of-touch Coakley. His appeal was so great, even Coakley volunteers were swayed by him, including phone bank worker Carol Caryl, 70. "He has a certain amount of charisma, driving that truck," Caryl said.

SOURCE

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Can You Say "Lame Duck"?!

Albert Einstein, whom even the most zealous Obamatons would have to admit was at least a trifle smarter than their own icon, once defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Mr. Obama, welcome to your padded room. We trust you will find the straight-jacket more than comfortable.

Even as Scott Brown was obliterating Martha Coakley in the race for "Ted Kennedy's seat," a typically petulant Barack Obama was sending out the word that he was right, the American people were wrong – and they had better change their ways. As the popular Washington newspaper Politico reported just before the results begin pouring in: "President Barack Obama plans a combative response if, as White House aides fear, Democrats lose Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts, close advisers say."

So, there you have it. And one is reminded of the late Dick Tuck's concession speech after his loss in the 1966 California State Senate election: "The people have spoken, the bastards."

Make no mistake about it: The Coakley defeat in Massachusetts was an outright and utter rejection of Barack Hussein Obama and his entire leftist agenda. He can twist and spin it anyway he wants; he can bob and weave, shuck and jive, attempt to end run the legislative system, and attack the American people as much as his unrepentant heart desires.

But, the fact is: Denial is not just the name of a river in Egypt. Martha Coakley ran as an Obama Democrat. She embraced his every deficit spending spree, tax increase, and Big Government takeover scheme – just as she embraced the man, himself, when he journeyed north to give her his ringing endorsement. That endorsement was supposed to turn the tide. It was supposed to make people's eyes once again glaze over and prompt them to pull the leftwing lever as they had done for the Wizard of Ooze barely a year ago.

But something has clearly changed – and that something is the view the American people now have towards a president who openly rejects their values, cynically denigrates their mores, and angrily denounces their "trifling" objections to his overriding will.

So, now, over the next four to five days, the world will watch while Barack Obama makes a decision that will fix his place in history: will he reorder his steps and work the people's will – or will he double down on insanity? Let's put it this way: If the smart money could talk, it would likely query, "Can you say "lame duck"?

SOURCE

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White House Hopes for Economic Growth But Wont Change Its Counterproductive Policies

Yeah, well, good luck with that! The irrational policies coming from this administration couldn’t be more wrong. If they were truly trying to promote an economic expansion, without a doubt they would change them. The tried and true methods to promote economic growth don’t include any of the following: tax hikes, a weak dollar, trade wars, additional regulatory burdens, increased energy costs or a takeover of the health-care industry.

Only a year ago, Democrats were mouthing phrases denoting the sheer folly of raising taxes in a recession. Having passed their massive public spending free for all they called a “stimulus” and wasting a mountain of taxpayer dollars are results that are, at best, unimpressive. It has resulted in the creation of a large number of bogus jobs but very few real ones. But it has been fairly good at increasing the wages of public sector employees (people who are already employed) and building a few skate parks.

Now their sensible tone along with any notion that fixing the economy as job one is gone. The Obama Administration, along with Congress, has been thrown under the progressive bus in favor of their standard class warfare vernacular, an ideology they are much more comfortable articulating. Once again they’ve wrap themselves in the mantle of public savior, guarding the poor and saving the planet and the workingmen and women of America from evil capitalists and business owners everywhere. Righteous crusaders, who but for the lack of an extra trillion or so more tax dollars can make all of our wildest dreams come true.

It is the focus of their ire, businesses and the rich whom I call capitalists (you know, the ones with capital) who will actually lead us out of this economic malaise. Whether the time is right for them to lead is dependent solely upon their own very rational assessment of the business climate going forward, and that outlook is not promising. The President and his advisers hope that browbeating bankers will lead to more business borrowing to expand output and create additional jobs. He acts as though CEO’s will plow ahead, willy nilly, borrowing and investing no matter how many additional burdens he and his political allies on the hill ask them to bear.

As far as private sector job creation goes, the Obama has missed the point entirely. This is quite possibly because very few of his advisers know anything about the private sector, as most of them have never worked in it. So I’m going to let him in on the dirty little secret of job creation, one that those of us out here in the real world already know. Businesses borrow money only so that they can earn additional profits, jobs that are created are really incidental to their focus, which is to grow the bottom line. Many of the policies the President promotes serve only to diminish the ability of a business to earn a profit. No Profit! No Growth! No Jobs!

The Business world is totally different than the political world. Companies don’t have to expand. Investors don’t have to risk their capital. They only do so when the conditions in place enable them to forecast an increased profit. When CEO’s look at projections showing a bottom line that is shrinking, their thoughts are not of expansion and job creation, but rather they work nonstop trying to rationalize their cost structures to insure profitability, enabling them to survive the downturn. Labor savings is at the top of the heap when it comes to cutting expenses.

The good news is that an accelerated recovery can get underway any time the administration wants, but it will require them to make that hard pivot they have been talking about. They need to turn away from raising taxes, encourage the production of our domestic energy resources and stabilize the value of the dollar.

Domestic drilling will directly create thousands of jobs in US oil fields and have the added benefit of reducing energy prices, enabling a more robust economic recovery and the jobs that come along with it. The prospect of lower taxes and a stable dollar will renew the incentive for investors and their capital who are clearly watching from the sidelines to get back into the game of providing the fuel for economic growth. The nightmare of a health care bill, which seeks to punish healthy people with higher premiums and younger folks with fines for being young needs, to be scrapped in order to promote an economic environment that is, if not employer friendly, at least not hostile.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Stealth propaganda: "An obscure 2008 academic article gained traction with bloggers over the weekend. The article was written by the head of Obama’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein. He’s a good friend of the president and the promoter of the contradictory idea: ‘libertarian paternalism.’ … Obama’s Regulation Czar is so concerned about citizens thinking the wrong way that he proposed sending government agents to ‘infiltrate’ these groups and manipulate them. This reads like an Onion article: Powerful government official proposes to combat paranoid conspiracy groups that believe the government is out to get them … by proving that they really are out to get them.”

Russia diversifies into Canadian dollars: "Russia’s central bank announced on Wednesday that it had started buying Canadian dollars and securities in a bid to diversify its foreign exchange reserves. Analysts said the move could be a sign of increased diversification of emerging market central bank assets away from the dollar and into investments denominated in other commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar. Adam Cole at RBC Capital Markets said if taken in isolation, Russia’s announcement that it was buying Canadian dollars was not significant, but if it was part of a broader trend, then it was an important step. “If it is a barometer for the activity of other central banks, then its is structurally positive for the currencies of countries like Canada and Australia that have a commodity bias in their economies,” he said. Although not officially confirmed, traders said that other emerging market central banks, including some in Asia which hold large foreign exchange reserves, have also been active in the foreign exchange market in recent weeks buying both Canadian dollars and Australian dollars. [Obama's red-hot printing press has destroyed confidence in what was for many years the world's most trusted currency -- the U.S. dollar]

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

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

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

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010



A kick in the teeth for Obama, Reid and Pelosi

The Massachusetts Senate result has shown that lies and fancy talk might get you into office but in the USA you still have democracy to deal with -- and arrogance will get you nowhere there.

Scott Brown is every American conservative's hero today.

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‘Barack Obama made a lot of promises but they meant nothing’

Voters in Massachusetts cast their votes yesterday amid freezing temperatures and falling snow. They provided a window to America’s sour mood, even in this traditional Democratic stronghold.

Voters spoke of disappointment that President Obama had not made good on his soaring rhetoric. Pat Tobin, a saleswoman who voted Republican yesterday, said: “When people say ‘change’ there should be something behind it. Obama made a lot of promises of ‘change’ but I don’t think it meant anything.”

Craig Provost, an industrial designer who voted Democrat, said: “I think there is a backlash against Obama because he has not fulfilled all his campaign promises. But I think he is doing a good job.”

Voters in traditionally Irish-American South Boston, known as “Southie”, backed Mr Obama by 59-40 per cent over John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. But the area is more conservative than Boston as a whole. It is these “Reagan Democrats” — white working-class voters who defected to the Republican Ronald Reagan in the 1980s — who are now having second thoughts about Mr Obama and the Democrats.

During the campaign, Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, a lawyer, state legislator, US Army National Guard officer and former model, aired an advert showing himself strolling around “Southie” shaking hands. Martha Coakley, his opponent, alienated many white working-class men by failing to know her baseball facts and mocking her opponent for campaigning in the cold outside Fenway Park baseball stadium.

Jean Holland, an accountant who voted for Mr Brown yesterday, said she felt let down by Mr Obama. “I really thought when Obama got in he would be more for the working class people,” she said. “He’s not doing much right now. He’s dragging his feet. He has got a lot going on with the wars.”

Matthew Gagliano, a mechanical engineer, also voted for Mr Brown. Many voters voiced deep misgivings about the Democrats’ healthcare reform proposal, saying neither the country nor they could afford it. “Obama is doing a good job but I don’t like the healthcare situation,” he said. “It’s too much government control. I do not want taxes to go up.” Christine Creed, a bank worker who voted for Ms Coakley, said: “A lot of people are afraid of healthcare reform. People are nervous. But there is hope. In 2010 the economy should pick up.”

SOURCE

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Why is academe so Leftist?

The NYT has just come out with some half-reasonable thoughts on that and I have added a few comments in my leading post today on EDUCATION WATCH. For readers in a hurry, however, I will repeat below my preamble to the article:
There is much that is reasonable in the NYT article below but it ignores the numerous reports from conservative academics of the discriminatory treatment that they have received in their workplaces. My own experience is typical. Probably because I was an obvious high-flyer from the beginning, I was APPOINTED (at age 27) with tenure. I didn't have to wait for tenure. So when they found out that I was a conservative, they could not kick me out. But they COULD block my promotion. And they did. Although I was in some years getting as much published in the journals as the whole of the rest of the Department put together, I only ever managed to get one step up the ladder. With the amount I was getting published, I should have FLOWN up the ladder.

Another thing the article below ignores is that the unrealistic ideas of Leftists make them unsuitable for work in business. My realistic conservative ideas meant that I did well in both business and academe but the only Leftist I know who went into business eventually went broke. Academe is a refuge for dreamers who couldn't make it elsewhere. I look at the issues concerned in greater detail here

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Republicans learn to play the technology game

A year ago, many journalists and political pundits believed that a paradigm shift had occurred in the 2008 election. In electing the first black president, Democrats won states that had been out of reach for decades (Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana) and showed surprising strength in the reddest of red states (Montana, North Dakota, and Arizona). There was considerable sentiment on the Left that like 1968 or 1932, Obama’s win in 2008 had been a realigning event. John Judis of the New Republic and other liberal political analysts believed the election, held amid an economic meltdown, had sped up emerging trends and would give Democrats the upper hand for years to come.

Democratic success among Latinos, urban professionals, and women had helped build a new coalition that would endure as white males receded like mastodons at the end of the Pleistocene epoch. As Washington Post columnist Harold Myerson gushed after Obama’s win: “The future in American politics belongs to the party that can win a more racially diverse, better educated, more metropolitan electorate. It belongs to Barack Obama’s Democrats.”

Except in Virginia, and New Jersey and maybe Massachusetts. And to the 60 percent of respondents in the latest National Journal poll who thought that things would be the same or better if John McCain had been elected in 2008. Democrats argue that these are only bumps in the road – that George W. Bush had been even worse than they said (which hardly seems possible) and that it will take a couple of years for the transformation to take hold.

But the liberal euphoria was based on two erroneous assumptions: First, that the Republicans would be frozen in time on the day after the election; second, that Barack Obama would govern as he campaigned, as a cool, competent centrist open to new ideas. President Obama has wielded power awkwardly and behaved like an unimaginative partisan. Watching clips of the candidate talking about televising the health-care negotiations on C-SPAN reminds us how much difference there has been between the dream and the reality of Obama. But even if Obama rediscovers the magic that made Myerson and Judis believe that a new era of Democratic dominance had arrived, the question of how the GOP would react was still to be settled.

When the Franco-Prussian War began in 1870, the French believed the outcome would be the same as it had been in previous generations: an easy victory over a weak Germanic foe. Instead, France rushed into war and swiftly lost 140,000 men to Kaiser Wilhelm’s army and, perhaps, the national will to fight. The French mistake was to believe that their old enemy had stayed the same.

Of all of the rhapsodies composed by journalists about the 2008 Obama campaign, some of the most fervent were devoted to technology. Obama was the guy with Scarlett Johansson’s e-mail on his BlackBerry. John McCain thought that Google had a definite article. Obama had a YouTube channel with 1,110 videos, 13 million names on an e-mail list and his own social networking site (MyBO). Obama’s foot soldiers were mobilized by texts sent directly to their smartphones, and more than a half-billion dollars came in from online contributors.

New York Times media columnist David Carr sneered at the “crude and expensive” networking technology of the Bush administration, and suggested that Obama might use the new technologies of the Facebook and Twitter era to transcend party politics. “Political parties supply brand, ground troops, money and relationships, all things that Mr. Obama already owns,” Carr wrote. It turns out that Obama’s network has had limited value since he took office, in no small part because his digital army includes many of the young voters likely to be disillusioned by his old-fashioned approach to governing.

Even so, Republicans learned some valuable lessons during the campaign. GOP members of Congress have more than twice as many Twitter followers than their Democratic counterparts and tweet five times more often. Minority Leader John Boehner may look like a character from Mad Men, but the Don Draper of the House has a “director of new media” and more than 30,000 Facebook fans – almost four times as many as Nancy Pelosi.

SOURCE

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Feds find little fraud at big Wall Street firms

While the American public and Capitol Hill lawmakers appear to blame wrongdoing on Wall Street as the primary cause of the global financial crisis, federal law enforcement agencies have had little success in finding and prosecuting instances of fraud at the nation's major investment firms. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.s testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last week, while boasting of thousands of cases against small-time defrauders running mortgage scams, was notable for the absence of a single example of successful prosecution of crimes by the big firms on Wall Street.

The Justice Department last year lost the only case it has brought against Wall Street executives involving suspected fraud in connection with risky subprime mortgage securities. A U.S. District Court last year acquitted two Bear Stearns hedge fund managers whom the government accused of fraud.

The Justice Department and other federal agencies have beefed up the administration's financial crimes task force to ferret out more wrongdoing, but the cases thus far overwhelmingly target small, local operators — including mortgage brokers, appraisers and real estate agents — as well as borrowers who lied to get home loans. The department has opened 2,800 investigations of mortgage fraud throughout the country. Hundreds of cases are pending in states that were tied to the housing bubble, such as Florida and California. Criminal charges have been filed against 826 suspects, but only two of whom — the Bear Stearns traders — worked on Wall Street.

While public outrage has largely targeted Wall Street, the government has consistently said that fraudulent operations were spread across the country and encompassed every sector related to housing and mortgage finance. "Mortgage fraud has swept through our economy," Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer told the commission, and it has continued in the aftermath of the financial crash. New scams, he said, are taking advantage of people who are in default on their mortgages and in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said the department's findings show that pervasive cheating helped create the housing crisis. Some borrowers, he said, lied to obtain loans or took on risky mortgages to make quick profits but walked away from their obligations when the market turned. "During the housing bubble, cheating became so commonplace that those who did it were barely considered to be engaging in fraud," he said. "It is possible that hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of borrowers, brokers and salespeople cheated over the space of just a few years, helping to bring down themselves and an entire industry, and contributing mightily to the economic and fiscal predicaments in which we find ourselves."

The public frenzy against Wall Street has resulted in proposals in Washington for hefty new taxes on bonuses and securities transactions and for breaking up the biggest financial firms....

More here

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Kangaroo court for the banks

The big banks were bit players compared to what the politicians and "regulators" did

As a general rule, diagnosis should precede treat -ment, but last week, we saw in both the legislative and executive branches examples of the treatment-before-diagnosis" mentality. In Congress, the first hearing of the congressionally created Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was held under the chairmanship of Phil Angelides, former California treasurer and former chairman of the California Democratic Party. The commission was "mandated" by law to report back to Congress by December 2010 "with a series of conclusions about what occurred, and recommendations as to how to avoid future market breakdowns.

Mr. Angelides led off his first hearing, to which he had called the chief executives of some of the leading New York banks with a demand that they accept blame for the financial crisis, by saying he was "troubled by [the bankers'] inability to take responsibility." With the chairman having decided on the first day that the bankers were responsible for the financial meltdown, what is the point of the commission? Can't they even bother to fake an intent to carry out their responsibilities as the law requires?

Even weirder, the Democratic leaders have made it clear that they plan to pass their financial re-regulation act before the November elections - even though legally they call for recommended changes from the commission to be reported back to them after the election - in December.

Sadly, Mr. Angelides' kangaroo-court attitude does not seem to be an aberration. On Saturday, President Obama, in the words of The Washington Post, "unleashed a verbal barrage against the nation's largest banks, accusing them of wanton selfishness by refusing to accept new regulations he and his party are proposing, and for fighting a new tax that Obama wants to impose."

The president proposes enacting a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, which would be a $90 billion tax leveled against the 50 largest banks, which, according to the Post "Obama called responsible for pushing the nation into economic crisis. By paying the tax, the nation's largest banks would settle their debt to taxpayers." That the banks paid back, with interest, the money lent to them by the taxpayers does not excuse them from this new tax.

Note that not only are the president and the commission chairman assuming they know the cause that the commission is assigned to find, but also that this new tax would establish a precedent that any person or business can be taxed or fined for any harm Congress thinks he or it did to the economy.

On this theory, everyone who contributed to the real estate and stock market bubbles, the breaking of which "caused" the crisis, could be taxed for the "effects" of their economic conduct. Under that theory, everyone who bought real estate or a stock after, say, 2005, should be taxed for a crime against society. Perhaps the Democrats would apply this theory to education. They could tax the teachers' unions and their members for "causing" generations of ill-educated children.

But beyond such foolishness, the fundamental danger of this mentality is that if they are wrong that the banks caused the crisis, their remedies in the form of new regulations and taxes may not make the economy safer. Rather, they may needlessly encumber and tax our financial institutions and drive financial business to unregulated Asia - and with it, our future prosperity....

Three-quarters of a century later, serious economists are still vigorously debating the causes for the Great Depression and its persistence. Wouldn't it be wise to spend at least a few months trying to find out the real causes of our current economic crisis before committing major surgery on a financial system that has over the past century permitted the United States to become the greatest economic engine in human history?

More here

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

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

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

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010



Don't trust the knowalls

The examples below are from business but in politics it is always the Left who think they have all the answers -- with results as bad as knowalls in business. Even "experts" are often wrong and Leftists tend to be profoundly ignorant of most of the things they discuss -- such as economics

IN DECEMBER 2008, two seemingly unrelated events occurred. The first was the release of Stephen Greenspan’s book, Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It. Greenspan, a professor of psychology, explained why we allow other people to take advantage of us and discussed gullibility in fields including finance, academia, and the law. He ended the book with helpful advice on becoming less gullible.

The second was the exposure of the greatest Ponzi scheme in history, run by Bernard Madoff, which cost its unsuspecting investors in excess of $60 billion. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent operation in which a manager uses funds from new investors to pay off old investors. Since there is no legitimate investment activity, it collapses when the operator can’t find enough additional investors. Madoff’s scheme unraveled when he couldn’t meet requests for redemptions from the investors stung by the financial meltdown.

The irony is that Greenspan, who is bright and well regarded, lost 30 percent of his retirement savings in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The guy who wrote the book on gullibility got taken by one of the greatest scammers of all time. In fairness, Greenspan didn’t know Madoff. He invested in a fund that turned the money over to the scheme. And Greenspan has been gracious in sharing his story and explaining why he was drawn to investment returns that looked, in retrospect, too good to be true.

If you ask people to offer adjectives they associate with good decision makers, words like “intelligent” and “smart” are generally at the top of the list. But history contains plenty of examples of intelligent people who made poor decisions, with horrific consequences, as the result of cognitive mistakes.

Odds of success are poor, but not for me

Corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are a multitrillion dollar global business year in and year out. Corporations spend vast sums identifying, acquiring, and integrating companies in order gain a strategic edge. There is little doubt that companies make deals with the best of intentions. The problem is that most deals don’t create value for the shareholders of the acquiring company (shareholders of the companies that are bought do fine, on average). In fact, researchers estimate that when one company buys another, the acquiring company’s stock goes down roughly two-thirds of the time. Given that most managers have an explicit objective of increasing value-and that their compensation is often tied to the stock price-the vigor of the M&A market appears moderately surprising. The explanation is that while most executives recognize that the overall M&A record is not good, they believe that they can beat the odds.

“A high-quality beachfront property” is how the chief executive officer of Dow Chemical described Rohm and Haas after Dow agreed to acquire the company in July 2008. Dow was undaunted by the bidding war, which had driven the price premium it had to pay to a steep 74 percent. Instead, the CEO declared the deal “a decisive step towards establishing Dow as an earnings-growth company.” The enthusiasm of Dow’s management had all the hallmarks of the inside view. When the deal was announced, the stock price of Dow Chemical slumped 4 percent, putting the deal on top of a growing pile of losses suffered through acquisitions.

Basic math explains why most companies don’t add value when they acquire another firm. The change in value for the buyer equals the difference between the increase in cash flow from combining the two companies (synergies) and the amount over the market value that the acquirer pays (premium). Companies want to get more than they pay for. So if synergies exceed the premium, the price of the buyer’s stock will rise. If not, it will fall. In this case, the value of the synergy-based on Dow’s own figures-was less than the premium it paid, justifying a drop in price. Glowing rhetoric aside, the numbers were not good for the shareholders of Dow Chemical.

What’s in it for me?

Incentives matter, as economists have argued quite compellingly. An incentive is any factor, financial or otherwise, that encourages a particular decision or action. In many situations, incentives create a conflict of interest that compromises a person’s ability to properly consider alternatives. So when you evaluate your own decisions or the decisions of others, consider the choices that the incentives encourage.

Dr. Katrina Firlik, a neurosurgeon, shared an example: at conference dealing with spine surgery, a surgeon presented the case of a female patient with a herniated disc in her neck and pain that was caused by a pinched nerve. She had already failed typical conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and waiting it out.

The surgeon asked the audience to vote on a couple of choices for surgery. The first was the newer anterior approach, where the surgeon removes the entire disc, replaces it with a bone plug, aim fuses the discs. The vast majority of the hands shot up. The second choice was the older posterior approach, where the surgeon removes only the portion of the disc that is compressing the nerve. No fusion is required because the procedure leaves most of the disc intact. Only a few audience members raised their hands.

The speaker then asked the audience, which was almost entirely male, “What if this patient is your wife?” The show of hands was reversed for the same two choices. The main reason is that the amount surgeons are paid for the newer and more complicated procedure is typically several times what they’d receive for the older procedure.

The expert squeeze

Accurately projecting holiday sales is a crucial task for retailers. A forecast that is too low leaves shelves bare and profits lost, while too much optimism leads to dusty inventory and pressure on profit margins. So retailers have a great incentive to come up with a precise sales estimate. To do so, most merchants rely on experts—individuals in the organization who gather information, study trends, and make predictions.

The stakes are especially high for consumer electronics firms because they generate so much of their revenue during the gift-giving season and the value of their inventory depreciates rapidly. The pressure is really on the internal experts at consumer electronics giant Best Buy, one of a multitude of retailers that rely on specialists. So you can imagine the reaction when James Surowiecki, author of the best-selling book, The Wisdom of Crowds, strolled into Best Buy’s headquarters and delivered a startling message: a relatively uninformed crowd could predict better than the firm’s best seers.

Surowiecki’s message resonated with Jeff Severts, an executive then running Best Buy’s gift-card business. Severts wondered whether the idea would really work in a corporate setting, so he gave a few hundred people in the organization some basic background information and asked them to forecast February 2005 gift-card sales. When he tallied the results in March, the average of the nearly two hundred respondents was 99.5 percent accurate. His team’s official forecast was off by five percentage points. The crowd was better, but was it a fluke?

Later that year, Severts set up a central location for employees to submit and update their estimates of sales from Thanksgiving through year-end. More than three hundred employees participated, and Severts kept track of the crowd’s collective guess. When the dust settled in early 2006, he revealed that the official August forecast of the internal experts was 93 percent accurate, while the presumed amateur crowd was off by only one-tenth of 1 percent.

Best Buy subsequently allocated additional resources to its prediction market, called TagTrade. The market has yielded useful insights for managers through the more than two thousand employees who have made tens of thousands of trades on topics ranging from customer satisfaction scores to store openings to movie sales. For instance, in early 2008, TagTrade indicated that sales of a new service package for laptops would be disappointing when compared with the formal forecast. When early results confirmed the prediction, the company pulled the offering and relaunched it in the fall. While far from flawless, the prediction market has been more accurate than the experts a majority of the time and has provided management with information it would not have had otherwise.

More HERE

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Israel in Haiti

Israel’s relief efforts to Haiti include the following:

* A field hospital, the only hospital in operation, with 40 doctors, 25 nurses, paramedics, a pharmacy, a children's ward, a radiology department, an intensive care unit, an emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, an internal department and a maternity ward. The hospital can treat approximately 500 patients each day, and in addition will perform preliminary surgeries.

* A search-and-rescue team, which has rescued about five people from under the rubble.

* 220 personnel in total

* Dozens of truckloads of medical and logistical equipment

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, one of the richest countries in the world, has sent a message of condolence to Haitian President René Préval. Some Arab countries have “pledged” help, such as $1 million pledged from both Kuwait and Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates says it will “shortly” send a plane with humanitarian assistance. Qatar, with the third largest gas reserves and the second highest GDP per capita in the world, has dispatched 50 metric tons of aid to the hundreds of thousands of homeless and injured Haitians.

Latest reports are that the IDF Medical Corps have treated some 200 injured people in Haiti, performed ten life-saving surgeries and saved the lives of 140 others. On Sunday night, a resident of Port-au-Prince gave birth to a boy at the Israeli field hospital. In appreciation and gratitude, his mother decided to name her new son “Israel” in honor of the country that helped her.

The director of the Haiti field hospital, Col. Dr. Itzik Reis, explained that the IDF delegation is also giving assistance "to people from emergency crews from all over the world, who simply are not capable of dealing with everyone who needs help and giving them treatment. For example, when we understood that the Dominican team is not set up to provide full treatment, we created an order by which they stabilize the patients and we give them the remainder of the treatment.”

Other Israeli relief operations in Haiti include:

* A six-man ZAKA rescue unit, which worked for 38 consecutive hours and succeeded in pulling eight students alive from the rubble of the collapsed university.

* IsraAID, which sent a planeload of food and medical equipment.

* "Latet" (To Give) – a 15-member mission to Haiti, including three physicians, three nurses, and three paramedics.

SOURCE (Videos here)

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ELSEWHERE

A Word of Caution: "Like so many others, I am praying for a Scott Brown victory and am incredibly heartened by the many accounts of support for him from unexpected sources. But I think it's important to remember that this is a blue state with a very powerful, well-oiled machine. The Democrats, from President Obama on down, are aware of what a Brown victory means for them and their agenda, and they are going to be willing to do (almost) anything to defeat him. And experts I trust (like Dan Schnur) remain actually somewhat pessimistic about the possibility of Brown pulling off an upset. Really, it's far from impossible that Coakley's people could find every stray Democrat vote around and drag their voters to the polls. Democratic partisans like Ed Schultz have admitted they'd be willing to cheat in order to keep the seat in Democrat hands (nice guy for the Dems to try to recruit themselves for the Senate, isn't he?). It's far from over. But there's solid reason for hope, and as Hugh Hewitt once put it in the title of a book, "If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat."

Communities put a halt to red-light cameras: "Red-light cameras that have been gaining a foothold in many states face a growing public backlash and outright removal. The cameras, billed as safety devices since their introduction in the USA nearly 20 years ago, are increasingly viewed by many motorists as unreasoning revenue generators for hard-up local governments.”

TX: Protesters converge on new Planned Parenthood center: "Thousands of demonstrators gathered in southeast Houston today to protest the opening of a new Planned Parenthood clinic. The building is located on the Gulf Freeway near the University of Houston. Protestors are calling it an ‘abortion super center.’”

TN: Chattanooga hospital ends hiring of tobacco users: "Officials at a Chattanooga hospital have decide to stop hiring tobacco users. Memorial Hospital Vice President Brad Pope told the Chattanooga Times Free Press the decision is an extension of the hospital’s commitment to health and is not based on potential healthcare cost savings. Any form of nicotine will make an applicant ineligible to be hired — even nicotine gum or a patch. The new hiring rule will not affect current employees of Memorial. Information posted on the hospital’s Web site states testing for nicotine will be added to an already-required screening for illegal drugs and will disqualify applicants who test positive.”

1989 San Francisco earthquake: "From the Marina District I could see the smoke from the fires that had broken out. The fire department simply couldn’t respond that day. All the official reports I read later spoke of the hundreds of citizens who started battling fires before any official help arrived. Throughout the city, the reports later showed, individuals, untrained in rescue work, climbed into buildings and brought out the wounded or helped those just too shaken up to know what to do. The police, who apparently had time to roust gay men from the bars in the Castro, said they were spread too thinly to help the public very much. That help came from the people of the city, not from those who rule them.”

The new paternalism: "We’ve all heard about this new paternalism, haven’t we? You know, Cass Sunstein and ‘Nudge’ seems to have got David Cameron all excited, there are even those calling the whole idea libertarian paternalism. We. the populace, are such confused little baa lambs that we need the wise and the good to tell us what to do. But instead of actually insisting we do something we’ll just get a few nudges from taxation or regulation to get us through the right five bar gate. You know the sort of thing, maybe the collie dog will bark at us, perhaps even nip our heels, but we won’t be forcibly beaten into our pens.”

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

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

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

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Monday, January 18, 2010



12 Signs That 2010 Is Going To Be A Really, Really Bad Year For The Democrats And The Obama Administration

Guest post below from "Michael The Patriot" of The Truth

The 2010 election is still almost 10 months away, but already every indication is that if the election was held today, the Democrats would suffer a crushing defeat. So will things get better for the Democrats by the time election day rolls around? Well, actually the truth is that things are only likely to get worse for the Democrats and the Obama administration in 2010. As the U.S. economy continues to fall apart, and as health care and national security continue to take center stage on the national scene, an increasing number of voters are likely to become disenfranchised with the Democratic Party. The following are 12 signs that 2010 is going to be a really, really bad year for the Democrats and the Obama administration.

#1) Health care "reform" has been a total nightmare for Obama and the Democrats. The majority of Americans have been horrified to learn that the plan put forward by the Democrats will make purchasing health insurance mandatory, will raise taxes, will give the government unprecedented control over health care decisions, will result in much fewer health care choices for the average American and will push U.S. government deficits through the roof. Approval ratings for the health care "reform" bill have been hovering in the 30s, and considering that this is the centerpiece of the Democratic agenda, this is a really, really bad sign for Obama and the Democrats.

#2) In fact, more Americans than ever are sick and tired of the financial mess that the U.S. government is getting us all into. The truth is that the U.S. government is drowning under an absolute mountain of debt and all of the spending that Barack Obama is doing is only making it worse. To finance this debt, the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue so many new bonds that the rest of the world cannot possibly buy them all. So who is buying them all up? The Federal Reserve. In fact, the Fed is now purchasing approximately 80 of all new U.S. debt.

#3) But even with all of this reckless government spending the unemployment situation in the U.S. is still absolutely brutal. When even Wal-Mart is closing stores you know things are really bad. Wal-Mart just announced this past week that it will close 10 money-losing Sam's Club stores and will cut 1,500 jobs in order to reduce costs. So if even Wal-Mart has to shut down stores, what chance do other retailers have?

#4) In fact, some areas of the U.S. are a total economic nightmare at this point. The mayor of Detroit recently said that the real unemployment rate in his city is somewhere up around 50 percent. When things get that bad, the party out of power starts to look better and better.

#5) So just how bad are things when compared to past recessions? During the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy lost 2% of its jobs and it took four years to get them back. This time the U.S. economy has lost more than 5 percent of its jobs and there is no sign that the bleeding of jobs will stop any time soon. Those who do not have jobs are much likelier to consider voting for the party out of power.

#6) The reality is that more Americans are in financial trouble than at any point in recent times. Americans are going broke at a staggering pace. 1.41 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009 - a 32 percent increase over 2008. This is not a trend that is going to help the Democrats.

#7) We are also seeing a record number of mortgage defaults. According to a report that was just released, delinquent home loans at government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac surged 20 percent from July to September. In fact, things are such a mess at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that the Obama administration recently removed the caps on the amount of financial assistance that the U.S. government will be giving these two entities. Whether or not Obama created this mess is not the issue. What is the issue is that an increasing number of Americans are blaming him for this mess.

#8) In fact, many analysts believe that the the housing crash is far from over. They say that a massive "second wave" of mortgage defaults is getting ready to hit the U.S. economy starting in 2010. In fact, this "second wave" is so frightening that even 60 minutes is reporting on it. When this second wave does hit, most Americans are going to place responsibility for it in the laps of the Obama administration.

#9) Now there is even concern that the recent global deep freeze could end up seriously affecting food prices in American supermarkets in 2010. As the past several decades have clearly shown, Americans tend to vote according to how their pocketbooks are doing, and if food prices shoot through the roof that will not help Obama and the Democrats at all.

#10) In addition, recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans are so concerned about terrorism that they would be willing to sacrifice certain freedoms in order to feel safer. Considering the fact that terrorism is considered to be an issue that greatly favors the Republicans, this has got to be very concerning to the Democrats.

#11) On the foreign policy front, Obama risks alienating the Jewish vote by continuing to insist that Israel give East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. The truth is that the Jewish vote is crucial for the Democrats and Obama in places like Florida, and by taking such a hardline anti-Israel position, Obama is not winning any new friends in the Jewish community.

#12) Also, Barack Obama is continuing to push for a treaty with Russia that would reduce the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal to approximately 10 percent of the size that it was at the height of the cold war. Such an irresponsible approach to national security is surely not going to win Obama and the Democrats many friends among moderate voters who are concerned about security issues.

Any way you cut it, 2010 is shaping up to be a very bad year for the Democrats. Barack Obama's approval rating has already been plummeting like a rock, and there does not seem to be much hope of that turning around any time soon. In fact, if the signs above are any indication, the 2010 election could end up being really, really good to the Republicans. But with Obama still in the White House until at least 2012, will they be able to do much to clean up the mess?

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Jihad and the Department of Dawah…er, Defense

This past Thursday (1/14/10) I attended a briefing (an early iteration of the discussion contents are available here, entitled “To Our Great Detriment”) which elucidated in irrefragable detail the Pentagon’s willful capitulation to the dictates of Islamically-correct interpretations of jihad by various Muslim Brotherhood “consultants” to the Department of Defense (DOD). While the DOD adopts the absurdly apologetic interpretation of jihad at its most “aggressive” as a bloodless missionary “striving” to promote the Religion of Peace—negating the living legacy of Jihad as a genocidal war doctrine, in practice as well as theory—the Pentagon’s Muslim Brotherhood advisors, true to the authentic doctrines of Jihad as an endless war of propaganda and deceit, continue to espouse Jihad war to their Muslim constituencies.

The result of this stunningly corrosive process has been the willful subversion of US Department of Defense policy to the ultimate goals of both cultural and violent Jihad—Islamization. More immediately, the warped, criminally negligent “rules of engagement” this DOD subversion has engendered are imposed upon our troops actually battling armed jihadism, putting their lives in danger, unnecessarily, and for precisely the wrong “cause”—alternative forms of Islamization, such as supporting Sharia-compliant regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, irrevocably hostile to Western ideals and goals.

The dangerous absurdity of DOD subversion—and its cruel, destructive impact on our troops—is self-evident in this report and accompanying commentary (from Friday 1/15/10) by Diana West:
This wasn’t supposed to happen there. According to a ‘counterinsurgency’ plan (COIN), anti-US, anti-infidel violence just wasn’t supposed to erupt in Garmsir, Afghanistan, of all places. But it did. And at least eight Afghans died in this Helmand Province district in rioting this week inspired by rumors that U.S. troops had roughed up a Koran. Somewhere between ‘one thousand’ (UPI) and ‘several thousand’ (The New York Times) Afghans converged on the central bazaar in response to these rumors. ‘The Taliban were provoking the people,’ an Afghan police official told the Times. ‘The Taliban were telling the people, ‘This is jihad; you should sacrifice yourselves.’

Jihad? What’s jihad? Among see-no-Islam Western policymakers, Islamic war doctrine is a cipher, a taboo, so policy is made in ignorance. But thousands of uneducated Afghans knew exactly what the Taliban meant. And what’s more, they acted on it. It was ‘like watching the movie Blackhawk Down,’ a Marine master sergeant told UPI, except ‘I was in it. My gunner kept yelling he had definite targets, people shooting at us but he couldn’t fire back because there were unarmed people around them.’

The contemporary willful ignorance—and subversion—of our DOD, contrasts starkly with the studious and intellectually honest approach to jihad taken by C. Snouck Hurgronje. A professor and Dutch colonial official, Snouck Hurgronje was also a pioneering and prolific Western scholar of Islam.

He visited Arabia (1884–85), including a stop at Mecca, while serving as a lecturer at the University of Leiden (1880–89). Hurgronje’s 2 vol. classic work “Mekka” (1888–89), describes the history of the city, and expounds upon Islam’s origins, and the traditions and rituals of the earliest Islamic communities. Translated into English as “Mekka in the Latter Part of the 19th Century” (1931), the second volume includes many details of daily life in an Islamic culture, and also discusses the Indonesian Muslim colony at Mecca...

Although deeply respectful of Islamic religious life, as an authoritative scholar of Islamic doctrine and history, and Dutch colonial official, Hurgronje vigorously opposed Islamic jihadism. He stated plainly that all teaching with regard to the orthodox, mainstream Islamic institution of Jihad war and the establishment of a Caliphate should be prohibited in Muslim schools. But perhaps most importantly Hurgronje’s “prescription” was based on a meticulously researched, clear-eyed, and unfettered understanding of Islamic doctrine, history, and culture...

Hurgronje who spent decades studying Islam, notably years of insightful fieldwork in Indonesia researching and writing his seminal, The Acehnese, made these observations regarding the jihad from his Mohammedanism, (New York, 1916, p. 59):
…yet another duty was most emphatically impressed on the Faithful; jihad, i.e., readiness to sacrifice life and possessions for the defense of Islam, understood, since the conquest of Mecca in 630, as the extension by force of arms of the authority of the Muslim state, first over the whole of Arabia, and soon after Muhammad’s death over the whole world, so far as Allah granted His hosts for the victory.

More HERE

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Political correctness and the 21st century battlefield

The national security panel at the Reclaim American Liberty conference in New York on Wednesday considered (1) whether we have the right legal architecture for maintaining our security and (2) whether we have the right battlefield architecture for this purpose. I summarized the panel discussion regarding the first question here. Tonight I'll write about the second.

The key panelist on our "battlefield architecture" was Col. Allen West (U.S. Army, Ret.). Col. West served as a commander in Iraq and, after retiring from the Army, served as an adviser in Afghanistan.

West retired from the Army with full benefits after being accused of misconduct in connection with the interrogation of an Iraqi police officer. Information obtained during the interrogation is said to have led to the arrest of two insurgents and the cessation of attacks on West's 4th Infantry Division battalion. At a hearing, West testified that he would act as he did if he had it to do over again. "If it's about the lives of my men and their safety, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can," West said.

Not surprisingly, West was blunt about our military's rules of engagement -- they are not suited for the 21st century battlefield and they put our troops in danger. On the 21st century battlefield, our enemy has removed its uniforms and taken to hiding among the population. Our rules of engagement enable them to obtain an advantage by adopting these tactics.

West noted that in a fire-fight, our troops typically have about five seconds before the dying starts. Yet, we require them to hold their fire until the intentions of the enemy have been verified and the potential for collateral has been assessed. This can't be done in five seconds. Thus, our troops are at a significant disadvantage.

In addition, when the enemy holes up in a mosque, we cannot attack. Thus, the enemy is able to use our own "politically correct" rules against us.

West argued that "top-down" rules of engagement are inherently inadequate on the 21st century battlefield. When these rules are driven by political correctness, our ability to fight is undermined even more.

The same lesson applies to the homeland, which West correctly considers part of the 21st century battlefield. The Fort Hood massacre illustrates the point. In this instance, political correctness prevented us from dealing with the enemy before he dealt with us.

Col. West is running for Congress in Florida's 22nd congressional district. Currently, that district is represented by Ron Klein, who defeated West in 2008 by a margin of 55-45. However, the seat was held until 2006 by Republican Clay Shaw, and we have seen that making up a 10-point gap from 2008 is, in the current environment, hardly out of the question. The Weekly Standard wrote about the race here.

West, an African-American, is quite charismatic and, if elected to Congress, would be a marvelous spokesman for the conservative cause. If you wish to donate to the campaign, you can do so here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

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Limbaugh Lambasts the Interior Department

Another of Obama's ignoramuses doing his work of destruction

I never listen to the radio during the day, but yesterday I made an exception when blogger Bob McCarty alerted me to Rush Limbaugh's comments about the Interior Department's new rules on oil and natural gas drilling on federal lands.

Limbaugh pointed out that Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) sent a blistering letter to Interior Sec. Ken Salazar on Jan. 7, repudiating him for his characterization of the small companies that drill for oil and natural gas. Boren took offense at Sec. Salazar's reference to drillers as the "kings of the world" during a recent conference call with reporters.

Boren said, "This kind of statement is beyond the pale when thousands of Oklahomans and people from other energy-producing states are losing their jobs due to the recession...The energy industry is overwhelmingly made-up of independent producers that drill 90 percent of the wells in the U.S...And quite frankly, they consider this brand of rancor as a slap in the face...."

Similarly, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal took Sec. Salazar to task for handing control of oil and natural gas production "to the whims of those that profess a 'nowhere, not ever' philosophy" toward drilling. In a letter to Sec. Salazar, the governor said the Interior Department is proposing to add additional layers of analysis to the leasing process at a time when the Department needs to "get moving" on 2,000 leased parcels that have been waiting for a decision since June 2008. He added that the Department's delay is holding up about $26 million in state revenues.

"This involves families and jobs, schools and care for those on Medicaid--all at a time when our national and local economy is faltering," the governor wrote.

Rush Limbaugh had his own message to the Interior Department. "You guys say you want energy independence and you're killing the small business men and women in oil and gas production in this country who are trying to help you achieve that. It's on purpose, I'm telling you, folks, it's on purpose."

The oil and natural gas industry directly employs or supports 9.2 million American workers. If it were allowed to drill in energy-rich, non-park areas controlled by the government, it could create thousands of new jobs, generate revenues to pay for much needed services, and reduce the federal deficit. And no stimulus plan would be required.

SOURCE

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

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

****************************

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

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