Saturday, February 20, 2010



MSM denial over IRS bomber's Leftism

Gee, looks like angry people! Must be the Tea Party movement!

Before crashing his plane into an IRS office building, Joe Stack wrote and posted online a diatribe against insurance and drug companies, private health care, George W. Bush, and the Catholic Church. Subtract out the subtle hints at his planned terror act, and a similar rant could have appeared in some form on any of several left-wing message boards.

Despite this, it isn't just willfully blind posters on those same left-wing message boards that are trying to insinuate some connection between the Tea Party movement and this apparent tax-evader and suicide pilot, who railed against Congress for failing to pass health reform. A reader emails in a few examples from the mainstream media, including this gem from New York Magazine, whose author does not seem either to have read the manifesto very closely or to have attended any Tea Party rallies: "In fact, a lot of his rhetoric could have been taken directly from a handwritten sign at a tea party rally.”

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post shoots from the same hip, and even goes out of his way to omit, without an ellipsis, Stack's attack on capitalism (and nod of approval to communism) at the end of his rant: “But after reading his 34-paragraph screed, I am struck by how his alienation is similar to that we're hearing from the extreme elements of the Tea Party movement.”

Time Magazine settles for placing a reference link to another piece, The making of the Tea Party movement, in the middle of its coverage.

So the next time you see a Tea Party rally, try to spot as many anti-Christian supporters of health insurance reform who hate George W. Bush as you can. Send the photographs and videos to us at The Washington Examiner.

Seriously, though, you'd think educated, intelligent people would see the difference. Unless they don't want to see it.

SOURCE

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Beware of "Comprehensive" Anything

Victor Davis Hanson below applies some classic conservative advice to present-day politics

Before envisioning dramatic change, the Roman emperor Augustus is said to have warned, "Make haste slowly." The reformer Augustus was eager for radical social transformation. But he also knew he had to deal with generations of Roman tradition and habit -- and thousands of entrenched special interests. President Obama should heed Augustus' advice before he plans any more doomed top-to-bottom change.

Take his stalled health-care reforms. Rather than trying to turn a largely private system all at once into a huge state-controlled and regulated industry at a time of historic deficits, he would have been better off advocating incremental changes. Tort reform, for example, would reduce frivolous lawsuits that drive up medical expenses. Or health insurers could be allowed to compete across state lines. Tax credits and grants could focus on the uninsured. The costs of such changes would have been marginal, the savings large.

Instead, a 1,000-plus-page health-care bill had so many regulations that not even its congressional authors could explain all the details or predict their effects. And so President Obama's massive overhaul looks like it will meet the same fate as Bill Clinton's doomed 1993 "comprehensive" effort to remake American health care.

Obama also promised a remake of the war on terror -- including changing even its name to "overseas contingency operations." He campaigned on ending military tribunals, renditions and the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The Patriot Act and Predator drones were supposed to be trimmed back. Candidate Obama wanted combat troops to leave Iraq in March 2008 and declared the surge there a failure.

That comprehensive "reset" strategy was also quietly dropped. Obama has instead continued almost all the old Bush anti-terrorism protocols. Despite campaign talk of quickly getting out of Iraq and criticizing our supposed terrorizing of civilians in Afghanistan, Obama follows most Bush policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Loud promises to close Guantanamo, investigate former CIA interrogators and try terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York so far have not happened -- and probably won't.

Unfazed by his health-care implosion, about-face on terrorism and falling polls, the president has promised Hispanic groups he will seek comprehensive immigration reform, and will probably support the Democratic-sponsored "Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act."

George Bush, of course, failed with massive immigration legislation in 2008. Bush wanted to address all at once every problem from closing the border and guest workers to amnesty and earned citizenship. Instead, far better would be a more modest effort to just close the border -- and worry about the other problems later. That could be done fairy easily through enforcing existing employer sanctions and finishing the border fence.

Once the influx of new arrivals is curtailed, the other contentious issues can be dealt with piecemeal. Without a million new arrivals each year -- while we argue and debate -- the size of the illegal community would shrink due to voluntary repatriation, deportations and greater assimilation (such as through marriage).

In fact, very few presidents succeed in "comprehensive" reform. President Bush -- pointing to his mandate after the 2004 victory over John Kerry -- vowed to change public Social Security into a semi-private enterprise. It was a radical Obama-like plan in reverse, in which younger workers could open their own private investment accounts. But just like Obama's effort to remake health care, the more Bush campaigned across the country for comprehensive Social Security reform, the more the public seemed to be opposed. Far easier would have been raising the retirement age by a year or two.

Why do such comprehensive efforts usually fail? Often existing policies are not all bad. Remaking them from the ground up has as much to do with politics and bragging rights about achieving "big change" as real need. Comprehensive reform also often involves new laws, more money and additional bureaucrats. Yet almost every problem facing America arises from too much federal spending and borrowing -- not too little government.

Finally, offering "comprehensive" reform usually means years of arguing and horse-trading among pressure groups to get anything done. By the time all the special interests are appeased or bought off, the resulting elephantine legislation typically looks nothing like what was intended.

In short, big-government medicine usually doesn't work on big-government sickness. If President Obama wants "comprehensive" change, it would be better simply not to spend any more money we don't have -- another lesson from Augustus, who put financial reform and budgetary sanity above everything else.

SOURCE

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The Greek Lesson

By Victor Davis Hanson

No, I don’t mean the classical Greeks, but their present-day counterparts. Economists have given us all the usual diagnoses of what went wrong in a now bankrupt Greece — high taxes, tax cheating, too generous retirements, unsustainable entitlements, government corruption, and anemic demography.

Add to such socialism the natural foreign policy and collective expressions that always follow statism in the modern Western world — increased pacifism, utopian pretension, moral equivalence, cheap anti-Americanism — and we have the foreign policy expression of Greece (and much of the EU) of the last 30 years. (A citizen who believes by birthright that he is to be taken care of by the state always hates the state that can never do enough, in the fashion that the country who is taken care of militarily always hates its protector.)

In other words, Greece is the canary in the mine of the impending crack-up of the modern welfare state. It is a great gift to us all, this example. A year ago, the socialists, even as they were juggling and falsifying their books, were bragging that the Wall Street meltdown was a referendum — and capitalism was doomed. Now, the entire socialist dream is exposed and even the most ardent statist knows that there is no longer enough “others” to pay the tab.

The poor EU learned that the Greek siesta, the 10PM Athenian dinners, the state power company vans at the beaches in the workday afternoons, the kafenions full of 50-year-old men at 11AM, the angry students perpetually in the streets at each hinted reform, and the moonlighting telephone employees all came at the expense of far harder-working Scandinavian and German socialists, who apparently now realize a nice two weeks each year on Santorini or Crete aren’t worth billions of their own Euros in rescue bailouts.

Here in California we see the symptoms of the same Greek malady as we go from one budget shortfall to the next — dream-like borrowing, raising taxes, and furloughing, in lieu of the tough medicine of cutting government payrolls, changing pension payouts, and freezing the pay of state-workers until their compensation mirror images those in the private sector.

Postmodern Western society will soon witness a real showdown, analogous to the teenager who rebels and either accepts that he is still dependent on his parents and therefore subject to the rules of the house, or runs away and implodes in a sea of drugs and street-life.

In short, how will an entitled society react when the money runs out and it learns that it must change or wither away — and all the whining rhetoric about “social justice” and “a green future” and “spread the wealth” and “redistributive change” won’t bring another barrel of oil or bushel of wheat or Douglas fir 2” x 4”?

On the one hand, the money is vanishing. Income, state and federal, as well as payroll, taxes here in California may soon top 60% on top incomes (10% state, 15% plus payroll on most of one’s self-employed income, 39% federal). Add in property and sales taxes and we’ve reached the point where the lemon can no longer be squeezed without either more than the current 3,500 a week leaving the state, or going the Greek route of endemic cheating.

Where did all the wealth go? Modern Western society is in some sense becoming drone-like, its entitled sensitive citizens assuming ceremonial roles and attitudes about the very landscape they inherited from their industrious predecessors.

Here in California we idle farmland, though we have the water, expertise, and soil to produce far more food than we do. We put vast swaths of both land and sea off limits to gas and oil production, though we could produce far more petroleum and natural gas than we do. We snub nuclear power, though our population steadily increases and its desire for electronic appurtenance grows, not shrinks. We like “wilderness areas” (who doesn’t?) where we build no roads, harvest no timber, and build no dams. We strangle Silicon Valley with all sorts of labor and business regulations until it fabricates and outsources abroad. In other words, we are creating no real new sources of concrete wealth as we nuance the shrinking capital we inherited.

Yes, before we have the actor, the writer, the professor, the insurer, the investor, the regulator, and the politicians, we need the elemental among us to find or create material wealth. We, the sloganeering class, forgot that, and so subsidize our high living either on borrowed money or the prior productive investment of those now in the grave yards.

And the tab is coming due faster than we ever dreamed. All the soaring, teleprompted rhetoric, the Ivy-League credentials, and the social justice boilerplate will no more create wealth than ceremonial fifth-century AD consuls and robed bishops could fabricate the glory of Rome.

Why am I not too optimistic right now? Our President, who submitted the largest deficits in recent memory, and who is on track to nearly double the national debt in record time, continues to blame Bush — not just for Bush’s lamentable deficits, but for Obama’s own new unsustainable ones. I think his weird logic is: “Bush’s bad deficits made me trump them by a factor of four.” When the Commander-in-Chief expects the populace to believe that, or drops real unemployment figures and talks instead of theoretical jobs saved, or flip-flops on everything from evil Wall Street bankers now suddenly good, or bad nuclear power now vital, then we have about as much hope as we would have under Jimmy Carter.

More here

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A good letter

On 23 August 2009, the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger published a letter to the editor from Dr. Roger Starner Jones, a physician who specializes in emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Dr. Jones' letter was published under the title "Why Pay for the Care of the Careless?" and read as follows:

During my last shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with a shiny new gold tooth, multiple elaborate tatoos and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ring tone.

Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid.

She smokes a costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer.

And our president expects me to pay for this woman's health care? Our nation's health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture -- a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.

Life is really not that hard. Most of us reap what we sow.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Obama banned from Las Vegas: "The list of people banned from Las Vegas is a litany of dishonour. But among the swindlers, fixers and mobsters — many of their mugshots displayed on the Nevada Gaming Commission’s website under the heading Excluded, Wanted & Denied — is a new and rather unlikely name: that of Barack H. Obama, of Washington. “I want to assure you that when he comes [here], I’ll do everything I can to give him the boot,” growled Oscar Goodman, the Mayor of Las Vegas, before Air Force One swooped down over Sin City’s infamous “Strip” for a presidential visit that was expected to last less than 24 hours. Mr Goodman was not there to greet Mr Obama when he stepped on to the tarmac of McCarran International, having turned down an invitation from the White House. Nor was he expected to attend any of the President’s events — an astonishing rebuff by a lowly city mayor to a US leader. With Obama’s visit intended in large part to help the re-election chances of the deeply unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — a man who opined with excruciating candour that the President’s victory in 2008 was a result of him being a “light-skinned African-American, with no Negro dialect” — the mayor’s snub was threatening to turn an already awkward situation into a full-blown political debacle... the 70-year-old mayor is livid about what he regards as Mr Obama’s repeated attacks on his beloved city, which has been hurt badly by the recession."

Obama finds a useful RINO: "The same day President Obama called for another $50 billion to $100 billion stimulus plan (and concomitant increase in the deficit), he also appointed the chairmen of his Deficit Reduction Commission. It says a lot about Washington that almost no one got the irony of those paired announcements. The two cochairmen will be Democrat Erskine Bowles, President Bill Clinton's former White House chief of staff, and Republican Alan Simpson, the former Wyoming Senator. Mr. Simpson was best known for being a thorn in the side of conservatives and supply-siders when he was in the Senate. "He is a tax increaser and he's anti-immigrant," says Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Larry Kudlow of CNBC's Kudlow Report is even more critical. "Simpson's to the left of Erskine Bowles," Mr. Kudlow scoffs. "This thing [the bipartisan deficit panel] needs to be blown up. It's an excuse to raise taxes -- when we need to be cutting tax rates."

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, February 19, 2010



Mixed race can be a good thing

I gather that all references to mixed race are these days regarded as taboo. So when Obama referred to himself as a "mutt", you could almost hear the gasps. But blacks themselves take it very seriously. Among blacks, a lighter-skinned black tends to be more prestigious and more complacent about his skin color. So a brown black cruises, if that makes any sense.

Whites, on the other hand, are less sensitive to such differences. For political correctness purposes, all noticeably pigmented people are "black" and, as such, a privileged class who may not be criticized. Why the least competent segment of society is treated as a a privileged class is a question that I had better not address here.

But I want to say that being of mixed race is in fact a matter of some significance. I myself am of mixed race: Mostly English but with plenty of Irish and a bit of Scots. And that stands me in good stead. The English in me means that when I am in England I am quite reserved and hence qualify as "a nice quiet chap" -- which is a term of praise in England.

But when I am in Scotland the Celt comes out in me and the emotional, sentimental attitudes of the Scots are ones that I am entirely comfortable with. And even when I am back home in Australia, I do sometimes play sentimental Scottish music (is there any other kind?), which I greatly enjoy.

And I also have blood kin who are even more mixed than I am. My vivacious cousin twice removed -- Michelle -- is half Han Chinese and half Anglo and I am mightily impressed by her good qualities. She is still as yet in High School but she will go far. Her blue-eyed father is a very knowledgeable academic and a former Assembly of God minister so that helps.

So mixed race can be a good thing. American blacks are right. White racists will hate me for saying that but you can't win 'em all.

The Celtic sentimentalist in me, however, gives me a liking for the blue eyes that characterize all my close blood kin. But the fact that my tall blue-eyed son has a firm relationship with a lady who is half Han Chinese and half English will most probably mean that I will not have blue-eyed grandchildren. My son did however meet his lady when she was studying rocket science (I kid you not) so she is pretty smart. He is a mathematician and the Chinese are pre-eminent in mathematics so I am very pleased by the intellectual potential of any grandchildren that I might have. As an academic myself, I hold intellectual achievement in high regard. Iris pigmentation is a trivial matter if other things are good.

Mind you, genetics can sometimes spring surprises. Someone I see often and admire greatly is an Italian man with the usual Italian black hair and dark eyes. Yet he has recently fathered a gorgeous daughter who has blue eyes and RED hair -- two colorations that are recessive genetically. But he does have a blue-eyed, red-haired Anglo wife so that helps.

To forestall cynical comments, I might mention that Vincenzo does have a blue-eyed sister and that his mother is a Northerner. And there is a lot of Germanic blood among Northern Italians. Germans have been invading Italy for over 2,000 years -- since the days of the Roman republic, in fact. No wonder that Italians find Germans very alarming to this day.

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Hate is a tool of big government

If eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, incessant distractions are the way that politicians take away our freedoms, in order to enhance their own power and longevity in office. Dire alarms and heady crusades are among the many distractions of our attention from the ever increasing ways that government finds to take away more of our money and more of our freedom.

Magicians have long known that distracting an audience is the key to creating the illusion of magic. It is also the key to political magic.

Alarms ranging from “overpopulation” to “global warming” and crusades ranging from “affordable housing” to “universal health care” have been among the distractions of political magicians. But few distractions have had such a long and impressive political track record as getting people to resent and, if necessary, hate other people.

The most politically effective totalitarian systems have gotten people to give up their own freedom in order to vent their resentment or hatred at other people— under Communism, the capitalists; under Nazis, the Jews.

Under extremist Islamic regimes today, hatred is directed at the infidels in general and the “great Satan,” the United States, in particular. There some people have been induced to give up not only their freedom but even their lives, in order to strike a blow against those they have been taught to hate.

We have not yet reached these levels of hostility, but those who are taking away our freedoms, bit by bit, on the installment plan, have been incessantly supplying us with people to resent.

One of the most audacious attempts to take away our freedom to live our lives as we see fit has been the so-called “health care reform” bills that were being rushed through Congress before either the public or the members of Congress themselves had a chance to discover all that was in it.

For this, we were taught to resent doctors, insurance companies and even people with “Cadillac health insurance plans,” who were to be singled out for special taxes. Meanwhile, our freedom to make our own medical decisions— on which life and death can depend— was to be quietly taken from us and transferred to our betters in Washington.

Only the recent Massachusetts election results have put that on hold.

Another dangerous power toward which we are moving, bit by bit, on the installment plan, is the power of politicians to tell people what their incomes can and cannot be. Here the resentment is being directed against “the rich.”

The distracting phrases here include “obscene” wealth and “unconscionable” profits. But, if we stop and think about it— which politicians don’t expect us to— what is obscene about wealth? Wouldn’t we consider it great if every human being on earth had a billion dollars and lived in a place that could rival the Taj Mahal?

Poverty is obscene. It is poverty that needs to be reduced—and increasing a country’s productivity has done that far more widely than redistributing income by targeting “the rich.”

You can see the agenda behind the rhetoric when profits are called “unconscionable” but taxes never are, even when taxes take more than half of what someone has earned, or add much more to the prices we have to pay than profits do.

The assumption that what A pays B is any business of C is an assumption that means a dangerous power being transferred to politicians to tell us all what incomes we can and cannot receive. It will not apply to everyone all at once. Like the income tax, which at first applied only to the truly rich, and then slowly but steadily moved down the income scale to hit the rest of us, the power to say what incomes people can be allowed to make will inevitably move down the income scale to make us all dependents and supplicants of politicians.

The phrase “public servants” is increasingly misleading. They are well on their way to becoming public masters— like aptly named White House “czars.” The more they can get us all to resent those they designate, the more they can distract us from their increasing control of our own lives— but only if we sell our freedom cheap. We can sell our birthright and not even get the mess of pottage.

SOURCE

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Unbelievable: Obama Shifting NASA Mission from Moon to Muslims

President Obama recently announced he would be diverting funds away from NASA's plans to return to the moon, but failed to mention what his plans for the future of NASA might look like.

According to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, President Obama has asked NASA to "find ways to reach out to dominantly Muslim countries," in a push to make the agency a tool of international diplomacy.

The Orlando Sentinel reports: In addition to the nations that most of you usually hear about when you think about the International Space Station, we now have expanded our efforts to reach out to non-traditional partners,” said Bolden, speaking to a lecture hall of young engineering students. Specifically, he talked about connecting with countries that do not have an established space program and helping them conduct science missions. He mentioned new opportunities with Indonesia, including an educational program that examines global climate change."

Canceling the Constellation program already threatens to put the U.S. behind countries like China and Russia. When did Kennedy's once undeterred vision of American space exploration transform into Obama's plan for an international science "welfare" program? When did NASA become a tool of diplomacy and an extended arm of the EPA?

SOURCE

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Bayh's Good-Bye: Here's the Real Reason

Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., "shocked" President Barack Obama and his party by announcing his plan to retire from the Senate. Appearing on CBS' "The Early Show," Bayh explained: Washington suffers from acute partisanship. Washington doesn't work. It is broken.

How noble -- a principled position against "divisiveness." Let us honor a good man standing tall against the lack of "bipartisanship." Pass the barf bag.

When has Washington, D.C., not been "divisive" under a president pushing unpopular ideas -- whether the war in Iraq, the Senate "amnesty" bill, partial privatization of Social Security or Bill Clinton's attempt to allow gays to serve openly in the military?

Could it be that the "fed-up" senator feared losing re-election? Don't ask. CBS didn't. The possibility that Bayh faced a tough re-election wasn't even hinted at. But imagine Bayh, who explored a 2008 presidential bid, running for re-election while justifying to skeptical Hoosiers his votes for "stimulus," TARP, the auto bailouts and ObamaCare.

Here's the big underreported story: In a hypothetical race against undeclared candidate Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. -- according to a recent Rasmussen poll of likely voters -- Bayh was down 3 points. Against another possible opponent, former House Republican John Hostettler, he was only ahead by 3 points. Welcome to the new normal. No Democrat or squishy Republican is safe.

By a 2-1 margin, more people call themselves politically conservative than liberal. Self-identified "independents," who outnumber both the Dems and the Republicans, have turned against Obama with a vengeance. This center-right country now realizes it elected a left-winger for president. And voters don't like what they see or what he's doing.

More HERE

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GOP 'tsunami' predicted for exurban, South, mountain states

Former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, the architect of previous Republican campaign successes, says outer-suburban voters eager to place a check on President Obama and Democrats are swinging back to the GOP and will power a Republican resurgence in New England, while aiding GOP "tsunamis" in Virginia, Colorado and Iowa.

Mr. Davis, the current president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group of the party's more moderate lawmakers, told reporters Wednesday that the GOP has had its best-ever year of recruiting candidates for congressional elections, which has helped put so many seats into play.

He said Democrats are having a tough time reaching a balance of keeping regular voters happy while also appeasing the liberal voters who surged to the polls in the 2008 election. "Those are the problems Democrats have coming in. The surge voters right now, they're asleep. And the outer suburbs, the South, the mountain states, I think you can look for Republican tsunamis," Mr. Davis said. "You're going to have big years."

A sign of how bad Republican fortunes have been the past two elections is their ouster from New England, where the GOP no longer holds any House seats. But Mr. Davis said Republicans will capture seats there this year, including both New Hampshire districts.

On Wednesday, Mr. Davis' predecessor at the Main Street Partnership, former Rep. Charlie Bass, said he'll run to try to recapture the House seat from New Hampshire that he lost in 2006 to Rep. Paul W. Hodes. Mr. Hodes is vacating the seat to run for the Senate.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Catholic foster care cut in light of D.C. gay marriage laws: "The Archdiocese of Washington's decision to drop its foster care program is the first casualty of the District's pending same-sex marriage law that will obligate all outside contractors dealing with the city to recognize gay couples. Its decision, posted late Tuesday on the archdiocese's Web site, announced that the archdiocese had ended its 80-year-old program Feb. 1, the day the city's contract expired with Catholic Charities, the church's social services arm. "We regret that our efforts to avoid this outcome were not successful," Catholic Charities Chief Executive Officer Ed Orzechowski said in a statement. "Foster care has been an important ministry for us for many decades. We worked very hard to be able to continue to provide these services in the District." Catholic Charities' caseload of 43 children and 35 foster families was transferred, along with seven staffers, to the Bethesda, Md.-based National Center for Children and Families so as not to disrupt client care".

Economists told Britain's numbskull Leftists that their planned higher taxes would REDUCE tax revenue: "Gordon Brown’s launch of a Labour election campaign promising economic recovery was in jeopardy last night as a record slump in tax receipts fuelled fears that Britain could slip back into recession. Official figures showed that the Treasury borrowed another £4.3 billion last month. It is the first time since records began in 1993 that the nation has been in the red in January, traditionally the month when government coffers are swelled by big tax receipts. Economists, who had expected a surplus of about £2.8 billion, sounded renewed alarm, with some saying Britain’s deficit could exceed Greece’s." [The higher taxes haven't all kicked in yet but big businesses are already moving out in droves]

Are our “leaders” superior?: "When people talk about how market agents need to be regulated because, well, without it they could do bad things, it never fails to amaze me how narrow-minded is this line of reasoning. When human beings are fit for regulation by others, they are usually children and the others are their parents or guardians. So it has to do with who is an adult, who is not. Makes sense. But when it is about adult citizens allegedly requiring regulation by other adult citizens, it is simply baffling.”

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, February 18, 2010



How did religion evolve?

The article below is very limited. The authors rightly say that basic concepts of right and wrong have often previously been shown to be largely hardwired (inborn). They also rightly see that religion reinforces and refines moral and ethical ideas but does not cause them. So the authors only achieve a negative: They exclude morality and a need for co-operation as a reason for religious beliefs. The only positive conclusion they have to offer is the very vague statement that religion is a "byproduct of pre-existing cognitive functions". That tells us precisely nothing, it seems to me. So let me answer the question. I don't think it is hard at all. I would say that religious beliefs are a product of a very basic and distinctive human trait: A hunger to understand -- in particular, a hunger to understand the world about us. And supernatural beliefs answer questions that otherwise lack answers. Is that clearer than a "byproduct of pre-existing cognitive functions"?

Religion evolved as a byproduct of pre-existing mental capacities, and not because it fulfilled a specific function of its own -- though it can facilitate co-operation in society, a study concludes. The new study, published Feb. 8 in the research journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, takes a somewhat different track, exploring the link between morality and religion.

Some scholars claim that religion evolved as an adaptation to solve the problem of co-operation among genetically unrelated individuals, while others propose that religion emerged as a byproduct of pre-existing cognitive capacities," said study co-author Ilkka Pyysiainen of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies in Finland.

Pyysiainen and a co-author, evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser of Harvard University, reviewed the two competing theories using the principles of what they call experimental moral psychology. "Religion is linked to morality in different ways," said Hauser. "For some, there is no morality without religion, while others see religion as merely one way of expressing one's moral intuitions."

But past studies, the authors said, show that people of differing religion or no religion show similar moral judgments when asked to comment on unfamiliar moral dilemmas. That suggests intuitive judgments of right and wrong work independently of explicit religious commitments, the researchers argued. "This supports the theory that religion did not originally emerge as a biological adaptation for co-operation, but evolved as a separate byproduct of pre-existing cognitive functions that evolved from non-religious functions," said Pyysiainen.

"However, although it appears as if co-operation is made possible by mental mechanisms that are not specific to religion, religion can play a role in facilitating and stabilizing cooperation between groups." This might help to explain the complex association between morality and religion, the scientists added. "It seems that in many cultures religious concepts and beliefs have become the standard way of conceptual moral intuitions. Although, as we discuss in our paper, this link is not a necessary one, many people have become so accustomed to using it, that criticism targeted at religion is experienced as a fundamental threat to our moral existence," said Hauser.

SOURCE (Journal abstract follows)
The origins of religion : evolved adaptation or by-product?

By Ilkka Pyysiainen and Marc Hauser

Considerable debate has surrounded the question of the origins and evolution of religion. One proposal views religion as an adaptation for co-operation, whereas an alternative proposal views religion as a by-product of evolved, non-religious, cognitive functions. We critically evaluate each approach, explore the link between religion and morality in particular, and argue that recent empirical work in moral psychology provides stronger support for the by-product approach. Specifically, despite differences in religious background, individuals show no difference in the pattern of their moral judgments for unfamiliar moral scenarios. These findings suggest that religion evolved from pre-existing cognitive functions, but that it may then have been subject to selection, creating an adaptively designed system for solving the problem of cooperation.

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Another choice Obama appointment

Rashad Hussain is the Obama administration’s newly appointed special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the thuggish international organization that is engaged in a full-scale campaign to intimidate Western governments into adopting hate speech codes that will effectively quash criticism of Islam – including jihad violence perpetrated in its name. Rashad Hussain is an apposite choice for this position, since several years ago he defended a notorious U.S.-based leader of a jihad terrorist group.

But someone doesn’t want you to know that, and made a clumsy attempt to cover it up. In 2004, Rashad Hussain, then a Yale law student, declared that the investigation and prosecution of University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian, who ultimately pled guilty to charges involving his activities as a leader of the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was a “politically motivated persecution” designed “to squash dissent.”

Journalist Patrick Goodenough of Cybercast News Service reports that Hussain’s remarks in support of Al-Arian were published in the jihad-enabling Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in November 2004. But now all that has gone down the memory hole. The Washington Report’s archived version of this November 2004 article lacks two paragraphs that were included in the original version: the ones quoting Rashad Hussain. Otherwise the article is unchanged.

The Washington Report editors, caught red-handed, decided to brazen it out, and blame their accusers – a tried-and-true tactic that is also frequently employed by jihadists in the West. They insist that there was no cover-up, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a venomous Islamophobe: according to Goodenough, “WRMEA news editor and executive director Delinda Hanley denied there was a ‘cover-up,’ and implied that anti-Muslim discrimination was behind the fact this was now being raised.”

Sure. It’s just “anti-Muslim discrimination” to be concerned about Rashad Hussain’s support for Al-Arian, a vicious suicide-bombing supporter who chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and clearly meant it. When two Islamic Jihad suicide bombers killed eighteen people in Israel in 1995, Al-Arian called them “two mujahidin martyred for the sake of God.”

But there was no cover-up! It was all a mistake, you see: according to the Washington Report now, Sami Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila Al-Arian, actually said the words that were attributed to Rashad Hussain. But this explanation doesn’t make sense, since the article was altered just to remove the quotes, not to change the name of the person quoted. Also, the author of the original story, Shereen Kandil, contradicts the Washington Report’s explanation, telling Goodenough: “When I worked as a reporter at WRMEA, I understood how important it was to quote the right person, and accurately. I have never mixed my sources and wouldn’t have quoted Rashad Hussain if it came from Laila al-Arian. If the editors from WRMEA felt they wanted to remove Rashad Hussain from the article, my assumption is that they did it for reasons other than what you’re saying. They never once contacted me about an ‘error’ they claim I made.’”

Whoever is covering up for Rashad Hussain should come clean. And in the process, Obama should reevaluate the wisdom of sending a man like Hussain, with the views that he holds, to an organization such as the OIC.

More HERE

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Rasmussen: Voters Think Democrats More Likely To Have A Plan for the Future

We see below that the voters accurately perceive the Left/Right difference: That it is Democrats who want great transformations for America whereas Conservatives want just cautious incremental change. The sadness is that that the GOP and the Donks are not differentiated more strongly in that way. Perhaps conservatives need to convey a stronger message about the desirability of NOT having grand plans for other people

The first President Bush called it “the vision thing,” and voters are more confident that the Democratic Party has it than do Republicans. They also see Democrats as more ideological than the GOP these days. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 44% of voters believe that the Democratic Party has a plan for where it wants to take the nation. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree, and 24% aren’t sure. By comparison, 35% think the GOP has a plan for where it wants to take the nation, but slightly more voters (39%) think the Republican Party doesn’t have any such plan. Twenty-six percent (26%) are undecided.

Interestingly, 65% of Democratic voters say their party has a plan for the future, compared to 57% of Republicans who say the same of the GOP. Voters not affiliated with either party are more closely divided and tend to think neither party knows where it’s going.

It helps, of course, that Democrats control both the White House and Congress and therefore are setting the national agenda. But right now it appears voters see the Republicans more as the party of “no” than as a party with ideas for the future.

Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters describe the Democratic Party’s leadership as at least somewhat liberal. That includes 46% who say Democratic leaders are very liberal. Seventy-two percent (73%) now believe President Obama is a political liberal.

As for the leaders of the Republican Party, 61% of voters describe them as at least somewhat conservative, but that finding includes only 24% who say they are very conservative. Conservative is the most popular of five common political labels tested by Rasmussen Reports. Liberal is the least popular.

The Political Class sees the two parties a little differently. Seventy-six percent (76%) of the Political Class believes the Democratic Party has a plan for where it wants to take the nation, but Mainstream voters are almost evenly divided on the question. A plurality (48%) of the Political Class says the Republican Party does not have a plan for the nation’s future. Mainstream voters again have more mixed feelings: 40% think the GOP does have a plan for where it wants to guide the nation, but 31% don’t.

More here

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Tehran on path to our destruction

The international community is standing by as Iran goes nuclear

STAND by for some bad news. No, I mean really bad news. The world is not going to apply crippling sanctions to Iran. Even if it did, Iran would not be deterred from developing nuclear weapons. The only way that Iran can be significantly delayed in its pursuit of nuclear weapons is through an Israeli air strike on its nuclear facilities.

I think the chances of an Israeli attack are somewhat less than 50-50. Even with an air strike, the likelihood is you would delay rather than prevent Iran getting nuclear weapons. Don't get me wrong, a delay is much better than no delay, but the balance of probabilities is that Iran will ultimately have a nuclear arsenal.

Even sanctions would only have an outside chance of working. But the world is not even going to try them. China, and to a lesser extent Russia, are going to make sure that doesn't happen. This is a tragedy far beyond Copenhagen, but like Copenhagen it illustrates the complete breakdown of the multilateral system.

The US could strike Iran's nuclear facilities far more effectively than Israel could, but to do so would be foreign to every instinct of the Obama administration. It would also be hugely risky. But the risks of not acting are even greater. Nonetheless, the portents are strong that the Obama administration will dither.

More than 12 months ago, just after his inauguration, Obama said: "If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us." Since then Obama has done everything an American president could possibly do to engage and entice Iran. He has made countless statements about the genius of Persian civilisation, the wonders of Islam as a religion, the sweetness of the Iranian people, the potential reasonableness of the Iranian government. And in response he has received contemptuous game playing from the Iranians. I come to my conclusion that Iran will ultimately get nuclear weapons with great reluctance, but it follows ineluctably from the facts. Consider the main players: Iran, the US, China, the UN, Russia, Israel. First Iran. There is really no doubt that Iran has a program designed to produce nuclear weapons.

Recently President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government announced that Iran had enriched uranium to 20 per cent and would build a slew of new nuclear fuel plants. This is a fundamental step along the road to nuclear weapons. It represents one of the critical technical hurdles....

Consider the US. The key argument against George W. Bush's intervention in Iraq is that it did not have UN approval. It is inconceivable Obama would get UN approval for a strike against Iran, so it is heroic, though not absolutely out of the question, to imagine him doing it. Instead the US is providing anti-missile defences to all the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, in the hope that this will balance their fear of Iran.

Israel just might strike, but my guess is the world will dither and wake up one brand new day to a Tehran that encompasses the possibility of the destruction of us all.

Much more here

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ELSEWHERE

It looks like American conservatives are taking a leaf out of Obama's book. A lot of them have recently got together to sign The Mount Vernon Statement, which is supposed to set out what conservatives stand for. It is VERY short on specifics. It reminds me of "hope and change"

Poll: Majority of Americans say Obama doesn’t deserve second term: "President Obama’s new jobs plan may include finding one, a new survey suggests. A majority of Americans think Obama should be a one-term president, the CNN / Opinion Research Corp. poll says, with 52% saying he is undeserving of a second term in office.”

Socialist bankruptcy in Greece: "How long have European socialists been telling us how successful European welfare-statism has been? The governments in Europe’s socialist countries, they tell us, take care of their people with pensions, social security, free health care and education, and job security. And everything, they say, is just hunky dory. But as we libertarians have been telling American socialists for decades, it’s just a matter of time before socialist systems start cracking apart, which of course has now occurred in Greece.”

Obama’s nuclear winter?: "If the president wants to go further in demonstrating his commitment to nuclear energy — and reduce the burden on the taxpayer should something go wrong — he should seek to wean the industry off its reliance on the state. The best way to do that is to streamline the permitting process further. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new permitting process is a good first step in that it reduces the time from application to license issue down to just four years in ideal circumstances; by way of comparison, the United Kingdom’s Labour government has announced a new process whereby planning application and licensing together take just one and a half years.”

Bring back recourse in foreclosure plan: "A growing chorus of voices has recently been echoing the same refrain: the Obama foreclosure prevention plan has been a failure. This should be no surprise since the Obama plan, from its very beginnings, ignored the primary drivers of default: negative equity coupled with unemployment. But the solution being proffered — mortgage write-downs — is simply another dead-end. Forgiveness, either through bankruptcy courts or the Treasury, will encourage additional delinquencies, not less. The most direct way to reduce foreclosures is expecting those borrowers who can pay their mortgages to do so, regardless of the value of their homes. We need to bring back recourse, allowing lenders to seek repayment from all of a borrower’s assets, not just the collateral behind a loan.”

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, February 17, 2010



Obama faces mid-term humiliation after Senate exodus

President Barack Obama is facing humiliation in this year's mid-term elections after a wave of desertions by Democratic senators who have retreated from tough challenges for their seats from a resurgent Republican party.

There was speculation on Tuesday that the next to join an exodus ahead of the November elections could be Blanche Lincoln, who represents the conservative southern state of Arkansas and is behind every putative Republican challenger in opinon polls.

The Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is meanwhile trailing all his potential Republican opponents in his state of Nevada, and even Mr Obama's old Senate seat in Illinois is expected to be close run.

The White House was rocked on Monday by the announcement by Evan Bayh, a popular, centrist senator from Indiana, who became the fifth senator to confirm he will not run for re-election. The latest speculation of more senators coming forward will only add to President Obama's woes and raise the prospect his party could lose its majority in Congress.

The emerging consensus in Washington is now that the Democrats have only a 50-50 chance of keeping control of the Senate, where they currently hold 59 out of the 100 seats, in what would be a stunning reversal of fortune after the party's clean sweep in 2008.

It has already lost the 60-strong majority that automatically overrode procedural blocks, after little known Republican Scott Brown last month captured a Massachusetts seat held by the late Edward Kennedy for 47 years.

Other Democrats are expected to withdraw from fray before deadlines fall for standing in the midterms, when 33 Senate seats and all 435 House of Representative seats will be contested.

The ruling party's vulnerability was further underlined on Tuesday when Frank Lautenberg, the 86-year-old senator for New Jersey, collapsed at his home and was hospitalised for the treatment of an ulcer. News of his collapse served as a reminder of the frail health of other senators, such as Robert Byrd, at 92 the oldest and longest serving member of the Senate, and Arlen Specter, an 80-year-old cancer and brain tumour survivor who faces a gruelling re-election battle in Pennsylvania.

Mr Bayh blamed his departure on a deep disillusion with the partisan gridlock in the Senate that he said failed to put nation over party.

Other Democrats have simply lacked the stomach for the fight, amid public upset over job losses, spiraling federal deficits and spending, huge bonuses awarded to executives of bailed-out financial institutions and Washington's yearlong and so far fruitless pre-occupation with health care.

Senator Byron Dorgan has announced he will run again in North Dakota - where Democrats have yet to find a replacement candidate - while the party failed to recruit its top candidate in Delaware when Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau eschewed a run for the seat long held by his father.

Democrats have a 255-178 edge in the House of Representatives, but more retirements are expected among 49 Democrats from districts, mainly in the South, that supported Republican presidential candidate John McCain in 2008.

"It hasn't been a lot of fun for centrist Democrats," said John Feehery, a Republican strategist. "They get a lot of heat back in their states on spending and health care and you have to be a true believer in the president's agenda to stick this out and a lot of them are not true believers. To put your family through the stress of another campaign if you don't have the fire in your belly is a big deal."

SOURCE

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Obama's addled national security advisor and his hatred of dissent

"Politics should never get in the way of national security," wrote John Brennan, the White House's shockingly political deputy national security advisor. His USA Today Op-Ed article last week set off a firestorm inside the Beltway by essentially accusing critics of administration policy of deliberately lying -- "misrepresenting the facts to score political points, instead of coming together to keep us safe" -- and aiding and abetting al-Qaeda: "Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda." ...

For the record, I basically agree with Brennan's critics. The Obama administration's explanations for how it's treated the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing and how it dealt with the civilian trial for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other al-Qaeda terrorists have been incoherent and amateurish....

Let's assume Brennan's right about President Obama's critics -- that, for political reasons, they're distorting the facts of how the Christmas Day suspect was handled. Would that help al-Qaeda? That would depend on what direction the critics are pushing the administration, wouldn't it? In this case, critics are demanding more diligence and hawkishness against al-Qaeda. That helps our enemies?

And lying in itself isn't aid and comfort to the enemy. John F. Kennedy successfully misrepresented the facts about the "missile gap" in 1960, in a hawkish direction. But I'm not sure it helped the Soviets. I'm not defending lying -- and Brennan offers no good evidence on that score. I'm just trying to unpack his argument. As with his boss, it seems Brennan's real objection is to inconvenient criticism, and he's willing to use any rhetorical weapon near to hand to delegitimize it. That's why he suggests criticism is driven by partisanship. But, again, partisanship is one of the necessary antibodies of a healthy democracy.

No one likes partisan asininity, never mind dishonesty, but politics are supposed to be messy. In Federalist 51, James Madison famously wrote about how "ambition must be made to counteract ambition." That's what "playing politics" usually amounts to. Like the seeming chaos of the market, the hurly-burly of politics is how we sort things out. The result is often healthier than the process would suggest.

As the Washington Post's Fred Hiatt recently noted, partisanship defined the debate over port security during the Bush years. Democrats in Congress harped on the Bush "failure" to achieve the impossible goal of inspecting every cargo container. Now that Obama has adopted the Bush policy, the same voices are cheering. The hypocrisy might be annoying, but the Democrats' anti-Bush partisanship also called attention to an important issue. The real danger now is that Democrats will abdicate diligent oversight out of partisan loyalty, while Republicans will ignore the issue out of fear of seeming hypocritical.

Every White House is prone to group-think. So it's no wonder that this administration has the tendency to dismiss criticism as illegitimate, partisan and even dangerous. The Bush White House certainly dabbled in this sort of thing on the grounds that there was a war on. Democrats used to take great offense, which is why they insisted dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Brennan's tantrum reveals that that talking point is a dead letter.

But I'm less concerned about that than I am about Obama's faith in something called "post-partisan politics." Politics without partisanship isn't politics. And democracy without politics isn't democracy.

SOURCE

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But he hearts Islamists

It's bad enough that John Brennan, President Obama's national security deputy, thinks Gitmo jihadi recidivism is "not that bad." But in his talk last week with Islamic law students at New York University, Brennan made even more reckless comments about our counterterrorism programs while pandering to one of the worst Muslim grievance-mongers and sharia peddlers in America.

During the question-and-answer session, Brennan welcomed a question from Omar Shahin. He identified himself as the head of the "North American Imams Federation." What he didn't mention was his role as the chief ringleader of the infamous flying imams. You remember them: They were the six Muslim clerics whose suspicious behavior -- provocatively shouting "Allahu Akbar!" before boarding the plane, fanning out in the cabin before take-off, refusing to sit in their assigned seats, requesting seat-belt extenders, which they placed on the floor -- led to their removal by a U.S. Airways crew in 2006...

Brennan didn't appear to know who Shahin was. Somebody around him should have briefed him. Shahin's involvement in Hamas-linked charities and radical Wahhabi "youth groups" has earned the Jordanian-born naturalized citizen increased FBI scrutiny over the years. Instead, Brennan treated him as just another innocent Muslim with "reasonable" concerns about the government. "We came to this country to enjoy freedom," Shahin began with faux, flag-waving emotion. "We feel that since September 11, we aren't enjoying these values anymore. . Also, we feel that there's a big lack of trust between Muslims' community and our government. . My question: Is there anything being done by our government to rebuild this trust?"

Instead of countering the narrative, exposing Shahin's true intentions and vigorously defending America's homeland security apparatus, Brennan dutifully genuflected to the gods of political correctness. Obama, he told the militant 9/11 inside-job theorist and jihad white-washer, is "determined to put America on a strong course."

No, not a "strong course" that includes national security profiling of Islamic radicals pretending they care about our country's best interests. By "strong course," Brennan assured Shahin, he meant a course toward assuaging the civil rights groups who have objected to every security program at airports, borders, train stations and visa offices for the past nine years.

Brennan told Shahin that the post-9/11 response of the Bush administration was a "reaction some people might say was over the top in some areas" (insert indignant grievance-monger nodding and mmm-hmming here), and that "in an overabundance of caution, (we) implemented a number of security measures and activities that upon reflection now we look back, after the heat of the battle has died down a bit, we say they were excessive, OK."

It gets worse: Brennan then went on to decry the "ignorant feelings" of Americans outraged at the jihadi attacks on American soil. And then he told Shahin and the audience of Muslim students that he "was very concerned after the attack in Fort Hood as well as the December 25 attack that all of sudden there were people who went back into this fearful position that lashed out not thinking through what was reasonable and appropriate."

The Fort Hood jihadist slaughtered 14 innocent soldiers and an unborn baby after an Army career of openly threatening the lives of our soldiers, and Brennan is wringing his hands about the rest of us "lashing out" over government incompetence. He believes our true sin is not in the systemic underreacting by the military, homeland security, intel and White House officials in charge, but in the "overreacting" of the American public. With clueless capitulationists like Brennan in charge of our safety, who needs enemies?

SOURCE

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NJ governor offers Obama an example of fiscal courage

President Obama could learn a lot about fiscal responsibility from New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie. The governor is making hard choices to close a $2.2 billion state budget deficit by freezing spending and erasing surpluses to meet current needs. Mr. Christie is cutting money for schools, colleges, hospitals and the New Jersey Transit system - 375 line items total. He is removing noncitizens from the state health care system and canceling a jobs program that mainly created jobs for government bureaucrats. His cuts are intended to impose efficiency and accountability on government spending, concepts people generally do not associate with New Jersey politics.

Mr. Christie is taking withering fire for his efforts, which is a knee-jerk response to making hard choices, particularly when they affect government spending that some came to view as entitlements. But he is doing what he was elected to do. Mr. Christie's rationale is that, "We cannot spend money on everything we want." It's an approach refreshing in its simplicity and common sense. Contrast Mr. Christie's efforts with the orgy of self-indulgence Mr. Obama calls a budget bill. Mr. Obama seeks drastic and unnecessary increases in federal spending, resulting in projected trillion-plus-dollar deficits for at least five years and probably beyond.

On Feb. 2 in Nashua, N.H., Mr. Obama lectured the American people on fiscal responsibility. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," he said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage." However, his budget proposal is the most fiscally irresponsible in American history. It lavishes billions of dollars on unnecessary programs, pet projects and pork for cronies. There is no belt-tightening in his reckless budget; he does not believe in budget cuts. He's the guy who can't pay his mortgage but decides to buy a boat, a sports car and a home theater and then browbeats his unemployed neighbors about doing more to make ends meet.

Mr. Obama has proposed a number of gimmicks to make himself look more responsible, such as a freeze on discretionary spending. This will affect just a minuscule part of the budget and will begin freezing only after his spending spree has been put in place, guaranteeing long-term fiscal deficits.... The contrast to Mr. Christie's fiscally responsible approach could not be more vivid. When the governor announced his budget cuts, he said, "I am not happy, but I am not afraid to make these decisions, either." Mr. Obama could use some of Mr. Christie's grit.

More here

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ELSEWHERE

One more time: World War II did not bring us out of the Depression: "The misconception that World War II was a period of prosperity apparently comes from measurements such as the unemployment rate falling from an estimated range of somewhere between 9 and 15% in 1940, down to 1.2% in 1944. As Dr. Higgs points out, this is not surprising given that a total of 16 million people served in the military forces during the course of the war, and were thereby removed from the labor force. Meanwhile, industry shifted to producing vast amounts of materiel to be destroyed - planes, ships, guns, etc. If such production created prosperity, then building airplanes simply to crash them into the ocean would indeed be good economic policy. At the same time, consumer goods became largely unavailable and/or rationed, and standards of living remained quite low."



French warships for Russia: "Get ready for another Paris-Washington spat. France is close to its ambition of selling a powerful warship to Russia. We looked last October at French hopes that Moscow would order a Mistral [see pic above], a big 600-foot assault vessel that carries helicopters, tanks and troops. The deal seemed a little implausible, given that Nato states have never sold important weapons to Russia and the unease over Moscow's unfriendly behaviour towards its neighbours. Now, four months later, the sale looks imminent. And Russia wants not just one 500 million euro Mistral-class ship from the Saint Nazaire yard, but also three more to be built at their own shipyards."

Audit: Census Bureau blew millions on preparations: "The Census Bureau wasted millions of dollars in preparation for its 2010 population count, including thousands of temporary employees who picked up $300 checks without performing work and others who overbilled for travel costs. Federal investigators caution the excessive charges could multiply once the $15 billion headcount begins in earnest next month unless the agency imposes tighter spending controls, according to excerpts of a forthcoming audit obtained by The Associated Press."

WI: Atheist group sues to end ministers' tax breaks: "A nationwide atheist group is asking religious leaders to take Jesus' advice and render unto Caesar what is Caesar's - especially when it comes to taking the federal tax break on their housing. The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation says the housing exemption gives churches an unfair advantage because they can compensate their leaders with tax-free housing. Other nonprofits, such as the foundation, can't do that. So it's suing the federal government to outlaw the housing allowance. `We think the law is rotten at the core,' said co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. `It is not constitutional, it is not fair, and it is not necessary.'" [That churches are major providers of charitable services seems to be overlooked. I can't call to mind a single atheist charity]

Outnumbered men call the shots on campus sex: "In American colleges and universities, women now outnumber men by a ratio of nearly two-to-one and both the New York Times and USA Today ran recent articles about the damaging impact on campus social life. Since the more in-demand sex gets to make the rules, females give in more frequently to male demands for casual sex and multiple partners. The apparent increase in promiscuity connects directly to changing demographics. In the 1950's, men students greatly outnumbered female "co-eds" so the guys had to behave themselves if they wanted a chance to date desirable women. By the 1960's, increasing female enrollment negated the feminine advantage and campuses moved toward the quicker connections favored by most males. Now, with outnumbered men pursued by female classmates and therefore calling the shots, standards at many schools have reached new lows.

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, February 16, 2010



PBS & NPR, America’s Pravda and Izvestia

By Tibor R. Machan

It is a feature of American culture that’s most upsetting though hardly anyone makes much of it at all. Indeed, I know several avid defenders of the free society who make regularly and eager appearances on National Public Radio and I have to confess that I myself have appeared on one or two Public Broadcast Service programs when allowed to make a pitch for a society that would have no such things, partly government funded TV or radio network.

When I first left Hungary, in 1953, and came to live in the West, I settled for a while in Munich where my father and stepmother worked for Radio Free Europe. This outfit was partly American government–CIA–funded, beaming programs into Eastern European, Soviet bloc countries and supposedly countering communists propaganda. But at heart the idea of the American government doing this turned out to be a paradox since what is wrong with communist countries is precisely that they place everything in society under state control, including broadcasting the news, educating the young, doing science, entertainment or athletics. That is just what is supposed to be so different between communism and capitalism; yet here was RFE doing just what the communists were doing, entrusting government with broadcasting. (I recall how eager I was at one point shortly after I came West to have the American government give massive funding to Olympic hopefuls so they would defeat Soviet athletes and show how much better American athletes can be than Soviet ones, not realizing for a good while how paradoxical this was–sports should not be the purview of government in a genuine free country.)

Yet, what we have had in America and many Western countries for decades on end is, you guessed it, virtually the same thing as they had in the Soviet Union and its colonies, namely, government run radio and TV, just like the two government published and managed “newspapers” in the USSR, Pravda and Izvestia, not to mention all their other media. Instead of showing a confidence in the institutions that emerge spontaneously in a free country, from the initiative of free men and women, Americans abandoned the principles of their system to mount a counter-offensive. Let’s defeat communism by becoming, well, partly communist! What a self-defeating policy that is.

These days a good example is PBS’s broadcast of Professor Michael Sandel’s lectures on justice from Harvard University. Sandel is smart and erudite but at heart a propagandist for a planned society, only in degrees different from what the most earnest of the Soviets had hoped for (but, of course, couldn’t bring off because of how it contradicts human nature). There is, of course, nothing objectionable about Harvard broadcasting Sandel’s lectures at its own expense but there is decidedly something wrong with Sandel getting even partial government funding for his partisan lectures. He is not a teacher who gives an fair and accurate representation of different ideas of justice but someone who subtly nudges his students and audience in a particular ideological direction.

Am I exaggerating in considering Sandel a propagandist, albeit a subtle one? Well, here is how he handled Aristotle’s political philosophy.

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle defended a fairly intrusive type of political system in which the government or state–although some dispute this interpretation–aimed at making people good. OK, this is a pretty standard rendition of Aristotle but in laying it out one needs to make note of the fact that it may well miss something vital about justice. This is that very likely no one can really make people good–that task needs to be everyone’s own (other than those crucial impeded). Human goodness is arguably something every individual has to bring about for himself or herself. Otherwise it is nothing but regimentation and what we get is perhaps good behavior but clearly not morally virtuous conduct. Aristotle, probably somewhat influenced by the experience of the extreme tyranny of the city state of Sparta, accepted the idea that people can be forced to be good. This is what the classical liberal ethos has corrected about ancient political philosophy–human beings need to choose and cannot be forced to be good!

Now Sandel gave no mention of this problem with Aristotle. He made it appear (by failing to discuss the point) that whereas Aristotle had a noble concern with human goodness, the more recent tendency in (especially American libertarian) political philosophy to restrict the power of government and leave citizens to their own resources when it comes to living a morally good life was inferior to it. But it isn’t. Classical liberals pay plenty of attention to human goodness but they realize it cannot be engineered! Communitarians and welfare state liberals to the contrary notwithstanding, people cannot be forced to be good! It is a distinctive element of human life that people’s goodness must be their own doing not that of behavior modifiers, brain-washers or the bureaucrats.

To make it appear that this approach to politics fails to promote human goodness is a distortion. That is why I call Sandel’s lectures propaganda. If they were fair-minded, by presenting this kind of critique of Aristotle and others who want to force us to be good, it would be educational. And by being put on PBS, a partly government funded TV network, the lectures come very close to resembling what the citizens of the Soviet Union and its colonies received from Pravda and Izvestia.

SOURCE

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Is the Voice of America Pro-Iran?

More Leftist infiltration of the media

An internal struggle within the Voice of America (VOA) over its news coverage of Iran is spewing outside the agency as veteran staffers claim the channel tilts coverage in favor of the Tehran regime.

The divisions erupted in late January when VOA chiefs removed a popular TV anchorman from the flagship U.S. broadcast into Iran, after he and about 30 Persian-speaking broadcasters had a confrontational meeting with VOA Director Danforth Austin, Newsmax has learned.

The broadcasters, who work for VOA’s Persian service in Washington, D.C., challenged the editorial judgment of two senior managers because they banned stories about the violent crackdown on protesters in Tehran in recent months.

“What motivates us to be here is that we have the best interest of [VOA] at heart. . . at this crucial moment in history when Iran is front and center of U.S. foreign policy and the Iranian public are looking to VOA for top-notice journalism,” one of those present at the meeting told Austin.

VOA is a taxpayer-funded multimedia network with a $194 million budget that employs 1,300 people worldwide to “broadcast accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news and information to an international audience,” according to its Web site. The Persian-language version of the VOA got special attention for its ability to do reach Iranians in the period after 9/11.

The broadcasters criticized Alex Belida, acting director of the Persian News Network (PNN), for “poor editorial judgment” and a lack of understanding of Iran and Iranian affairs. Belida does not speak or read Persian.

Much more HERE

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Beyond bogus: 'International opinion'

United Nations reflects dictators' worldview

By Daniel Mandel

Last week, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren was heckled relentlessly and interrupted vociferously by members of University of California at Irvine's Muslim Student Union. Such negation of civility, discourse and decorum, which was noisily and gleefully celebrated by still other members of this group, is often defended by solemn-sounding references to United Nations' resolutions.

This case was no exception. In a subsequent statement, the Muslim Student Union said it opposed having university departments sponsor a speaker representing a country that "is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined" - which is, in fact, the case.

Those who use this type of argument rely on the halo effect of the United Nations, which is held, implicitly or explicitly, to embody "international opinion," a term that can be invoked with reverential awe to dignify a bad, dishonest argument. So let's tell the truth - the U.N. is not a democratic body. It represents governments, not societies, and it consists mainly of unrepresentative governments. The U.N. Human Rights Council cited by the university's Muslim Student Union is a case in point: Non-democratic African and Asian regimes exercise an unbreakable controlling majority of 26 of its 47 seats.

It is these dictatorships that set the council's agenda and determine its vote - and thus decide what constitutes "international opinion" as cited by the Muslim Student Union. Of what has that opinion consisted? That monstrous human rights abuses by the worst dictatorships need not be investigated or acted upon. This affords little surprise, as many of the worst abusers are themselves council members - Angola, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, to name four - and their standard operating procedure is to look out for each other.

Thus, Asian and African autocracies have acted in tandem to minimize scrutiny of nations such as Zimbabwe, a veritable human rights Enron. In its four-year existence, the council's controlling membership has eliminated investigations into the most serious human rights abuses in Belarus, Congo, Cuba, Liberia and Sudan. In that time, about 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in Sudan's Darfur region alone. Instead, "international opinion" busies itself with vilifying Israel at the behest of Arab and Muslim tyrannies.

In this, the council reflects the U.N. more widely, as the 22-member League of Arab States and the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference determine the Middle East agenda of the so-called Non-Aligned bloc, the largest one within the U.N. system. Non-Middle Eastern tyrannies receive reciprocal favors for their support of this agenda. Russia shields Iran from sanctions over its illegal nuclear weapons program, while China does the same for Sudan.

But none of this is new. Democracies became a minority within the U.N. system in the late 1950s and stayed that way. The democratic wave in Eastern Europe and South America that followed the Cold War proved ephemeral in some places - Vladimir Putin's Russia is one stark example among others - and in any case too small to alter this fact. "International opinion," in short, is whatever a consensus of tyrannies says it is.

It follows that whatever a majority of U.N. member states declare can, at best, only incidentally reflect what their societies think, if it does at all. And what most people think about other countries or foreign policy in any case may bear little relation to the facts.

Accordingly, even in democracies, most people have to do their own research beyond skimming the daily papers and television news to develop an informed opinion on any subject. For this, most lack time or inclination, if not both, though the Internet has somewhat attenuated the problem. As for inquiring minds in repressive states, where the media is government-controlled, the option to become informed about something simply may not exist.

This state of affairs obliges us to be guided by this golden rule: Disbelieve anyone who appeals to "international opinion" or its imagined embodiment in the consensus of this or that United Nations organ to burnish his argument. As for why democratic governments and societies continue the damaging practice of investing moral authority in "international opinion," that is a subject for serious study - and correction.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

The TSA animals again: "Security officers at a US airport have come under fire for forcing a disabled boy to remove his leg braces and walk through a checkpoint. Four-year-old Ryan Thomas was flying from Philadelphia to Disney World in Orlando with his parents Bob and Leona when the incident occurred. At the time Ryan, born 16 weeks prematurely with malformed angles and low muscle tone in his legs, had only just begun to walk. His parents wheeled his stroller to the security checkpoint then broke it down and put it on the conveyor belt. They then walked Ryan through the metal detector. The alarm went off and the screener told them to take off the boy’s braces. “I told them he can't walk without them on his own,” Bob Thomas told the Philadelphia News. “I said this is overkill. He's 4 years old. I don't think he's a terrorist.” Security also demanded Ryan walk through on his own. Spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration Ann Davis said the boy should not have been told to remove his braces. Instead he should have been taken to a private screening area to be swabbed for traces of explosive materials. The family have received an apology".

Indonesia: Obama statue removed from park amid outcry: "Authorities removed a statue of Barack Obama from a park in the Indonesian capital due to a public backlash and moved it Monday to a nearby elementary school that the U.S. president attended as a child. The bronze statue, inspired by a childhood photograph of a 10-year-old Obama in shorts with a butterfly perched on an outstretched thumb, had been targeted by critics since it was erected in the Jakarta park last December.”

Troops: Strict war rules slow Afghan offensive: "Some American and Afghan troops say they’re fighting the latest offensive in Afghanistan with a handicap — strict rules that routinely force them to hold their fire. Although details of the new guidelines are classified to keep insurgents from reading them, U.S. troops say the Taliban are keenly aware of the restrictions.”

“Entitled” to a five-bedroom house: "Many of our ‘leaders’ want to make America more like Europe. When President Obama was in Europe, he praised the ’social safety net that exists in almost all of Europe that doesn’t exist in the United States.’ Vice president Joe Biden called paying higher taxes ‘patriotic.’ Europe does have a bigger ’social safety net.’ But the gain comes with pain: Europe’s higher taxes and bigger government lead to slower job growth and higher unemployment. Politicians always claim that the safety-net will be limited to ‘necessities for the truly needy,’ but such government programs always grow. An article in today’s UK Daily Mail illustrates how over time, welfare states begin to offer monstrous entitlements.”

Obama’s fall: "How the mighty have fallen! Only seven or eight months ago, President Obama and congressional Democrats were on their way to remaking America along liberal lines and positioning themselves for decades of political dominance. Their lopsided majorities in the House and Senate, plus the White House, gave them unassailable command of Washington. Today, they still have those majorities and the presidency, but they’re no longer in command. Their hopes of enacting the most ambitious agenda of liberal legislation since the days of FDR and the Depression are over. Now they’re reduced to stunts, tricks, and gambits usually associated with embattled presidents and minority parties.”

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, February 15, 2010



Acorn-ucopia

Didn't Acorn, the corrupt community organizer, get its federal funding yanked after its last scandal? Actually, no. Through municipal middlemen, it's poised to rake in another $4 billion. Where is the outrage?

You'd think a group implicated in dozens of electoral fraud cases, theft of funds and, most recently, helping criminals interested in bringing child prostitutes to the U.S. would have been ruled ineligible for federal aid long ago. But think again, because these aid rats are experts at survival.

FrontPage magazine reports that federal Judge Nina Gershon ruled that Acorn is eligible for the Obama administration's proposed $4 billion in Housing and Urban Development grants within the $3.83 trillion federal budget proposal for 2011. That cancels the ban Congress placed on Acorn funding late last year after at least five of the group's offices willingly aided undercover reporters posing as a pimp and prostitute to get federal funding for a brothel and cheat on their taxes.

Acorn's antics were revealed after a series of reports last September on the BigGovernment Web site. Faced with a firestorm of complaints, Congress had no choice but to pull funds for the group.

Many were surprised that Congressional Democrats backed Acorn's defunding. Usually, Acorn and the Democratic Party work hand in hand. Acorn supplies votes and election assistance to Democratic candidates, and the Democrats supply them with funding. Turns out, the fund-pulling was really just for show. Acorn is being allowed to make an end-run around the federal funding ban through the use of a middleman, the Washington Times reports.

The way it's done is through HUD Community Development Block Grants, which are given to cities and states to help boost development efforts. Instead of applying directly to the federal government for aid, a violation of Congress' ban, Gershon, a Clinton appointee, effectively ruled that Acorn can instead apply directly to cities and states. In short, this gaping loophole means the ban is off.

No organization that has broken the law so many times has any right to even indirect federal funding. The fact the feds never prosecuted them as they should have is what has created the opening for Acorn to put its snout in the public trough once again. It's time for Congress and HUD to get tough with these miscreants before they do any more damage to our system.

SOURCE

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Tax competition

Tax, it is often argued, is one of the most influential issues when it comes to determining a country's competitiveness. Included amongst the many reasons for this, is that low taxes help attract a better skilled workforce, thus generating higher productivity.

The suggestion that lower tax has a positive effect on a country's attractiveness for highly educated people is about to be proven in Denmark. From the first of January this year Denmark has implemented tax reform securing lower income taxes and cutting the highest marginal tax rate by about 10 percent. The Danish government has done this to make Denmark more attractive to highly skilled people in a climate of sharpened international competition.

In Denmark highly skilled people can sign a three year contract giving them a tax discount for those three years. The most common scenario in the past has been that people come to Denmark, have their three years of tax discount and then move on to another country . However, The Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) can already now report that since the reforms it has become easier for Danish companies to convince foreign staff to sign contracts for longer periods than those three years.

This is a good thing for Denmark, but there is a cloud on the horizon. There is much uncertainty about the opposition’s plans regarding these tax reforms if they eventually come to power. The leader of one of the opposition parties (Social Democrats) has stated that she intends to roll back these tax cuts. This position induces uncertainty about the future and may have the effect of minimizing the effect of the tax cuts.

Tax is important in determining competitiveness. However certainty about the future is also important. The Danish Social Democrats should therefore take a close look at what their sister party in Britain have done to the business climate by introducing tax rises and set their policies accordingly. [After British tax increases, big companies are pulling out of Britain wholesale]

SOURCE

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Russian Leaders Order the Privatization of Industry – Will Punish Bureaucrats Who Hamper Investment

This is a very encouraging sign. As Obama moves to to take control of large slices of the U.S. economy (health insurance; banks; automobiles), Russia is going in the opposite direction. Clearly, however, the Russian selloff is designed to shore up their budget at a time of financial difficulty -- rather than any new ideology. Many governments worldwide are doing the same

President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered the Cabinet to sell off more government stakes in successful companies to private investors over the next two years. The Cabinet must submit proposals for increasing the number of “major … strategic companies that are attractive for investment” in its privatization plan by March 15, the Kremlin said on its web site.

The current plan, which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed in November, already seeks the sale of stakes in several strategic companies, such as shipper Sovkomflot. Medvedev has the responsibility of striking these companies off the list of strategic assets for the stakes to change hands. He hasn’t approved their exclusion as yet.

Medvedev’s order for a greater sale of key assets comes after he conferred with officials last week about ways to encourage investment — and as the government is facing a budget deficit for a second straight year.

Medvedev also instructed the Cabinet to come up with a proposal to punish more severely those bureaucrats that hamper investment, probably targeting those engaged in corruption. The Kremlin didn’t elaborate on the measure.

SOURCE

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Rockefeller on Obama: Prez isn't 'believable'

Republican Rep. Joe Wilson created waves that left Washington rocking for weeks by shouting "You lie" to Barack Obama during the president's address to Congress last fall, and now a similar message has been delivered by a member of the president's own party.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., told an audience today the president is "beginning to be not believable to me." The comment was just the latest evidence of the dissension in the Democratic Party that prevented Obama from passing his health care proposal last year despite having a significant party majority in the U.S. House and a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate.

Rockefeller, a Democrat in a family of lifelong Republicans, was referring to Obama's proposed budget that would cut tax incentives to coal mining companies. The cut would hit West Virginia's coal industry hard, and Rockefeller's dissatisfaction was evident in the video posted on Real Clear Politics. Obama's budget proposal would kill $2.3 billion in coal tax breaks, Rockefeller pointed out. "He says 'I'm for clean coal,' and then he says it in his speeches, but he doesn't say it in here. And he doesn't say it in the minds of my own people. And he's beginning to be not believable to me," Rockefeller said.

Participants in a Real Clear Politics online forum said, essentially, it's about time:

* "You must have a pretty thick skull, Senator Rockefeller, if you're just now starting to notice."

* "Too late, the monster is out of the bag."

* "I believe BHO is not lying intentionally … He literally cannot tell the difference from the truth and a lie."

* "What he is saying, in other words, is 'YOU LIE!'"

* "Old Rocky may be an extreme liberal but he can still read the tea leaves and they are telling him that Obama has become toxic even for 'senators for life' like him."

More HERE

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The GOP's Best Friend

Commentator Steven Thomma remarks that Obama's opportunity to be a "transformative" president in the mold of Roosevelt or Reagan is fading fast.

He offers a number of reasons why the President's first-year agenda fell short, relying heavily on the assertion that the recession forced the President to devote time and energy to matters other than "big" things like health care (and notes that he mismanaged the health care process, as well).

But nowhere does Thomma hit at the real source of Obama's problem. The real issue for the President is that he made a faustian bargain -- allowing himself (in his own words) to "serve as a blank screen" on which people's own hopes and dreams could be projected. Throughout the campaign, he struck to happy generalities about unity and bipartisanship and hope and change (no wonder he was portrayed by Jib Jab as riding a unicorn amidst rainbows). He did it because he knew it was the only way to win. And the press let him get away with it.

No doubt, he'd have never become President if he'd announced that he was going to triple the national debt and promote a big-government takeover of health care, secured by a series of corrupt kickbacks. But as soon as he took office, that's what he did. He bet that he had the silver-tongued oratory to popularize even previously unpopular initiatives, and that economic conditions were going to frighten people into embracing Big Government.

He was wrong. And now, understandably, people who had been projecting their own hopes and dreams onto Obama -- from the left, right, and middle -- have been disappointed. And are very, very angry. Include among them most of the Democrat caucus.

Now, those on the right and in the center see him as a left-wing naif. Those on the left see him as an incompetent. Obama has been the Republicans' best friend.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

New England: Poll shows signs of GOP resurgence: "In some of the most reliably Democratic states in the nation, well-known Democrats are suddenly vulnerable. And the GOP, counted out in the region not long ago, is eyeing a resurgence. Since the 2008 election, no Republicans represent the six New England states in the US House of Representatives. But a recent WMUR Granite State poll indicates that if the election were held now, the New Hampshire GOP would probably recapture both congressional seats lost to the Democrats four years ago and retain the Senate seat Judd Gregg is relinquishing.”

Don't bail out Greece: "Gerald Ford had the right idea. The year was 1975. New York City was in financial trouble. It had to borrow to pay its operating expenses. And lenders were getting tough. So Mayor Abe Beame turned to Washington, begging for a bailout. But America still had a vestigial sense of financial integrity back then. The Big Apple was lucky; America’s president told Beame to ‘drop dead.’ With no other option available, New York’s politicians had to do the right thing – they cut expenses and the city flourished.”

Government pay packages have room for big savings: "State and local governments face large budget deficits as revenues have stagnated and spending has remained high. To reduce deficits, large savings can be found in the generous compensation packages of the nation’s 20 million state and local workers. In 2008, wages and benefits of $1.1 trillion accounted for half of total state and local government spending. Public sector pay averaged $39.66 per hour in 2009, 45 percent higher than the private sector average. The public sector advantage was 34 percent in wages and 70 percent in benefits.”

Uncertainty: What progressives don’t understand: "Progressives want government involved in everything, if not running or owning, at least ‘helping.’ They don’t seem to think through the consequences. Until government owns everything (and that day’s nearer than it was a year ago), private decisions by privately owned businesses pretty much dictate our economic health. Here’s the rub. Washington has signaled its clear intention to intervene. Doubt it? Ask Wall Street, the car industry, the mortgage industry, the banking industry. We could go on (and we’re afraid we’ll have to). What effect does that have? … What investor, for that matter what company, what board of directors will risk a financial commitment when overnight the rules of the game can be changed on them? Would you put your personal fortune at such a risk, vulnerable to the whims of ideologues who want to ‘remake’ America? Neither would they. There’s no deal-killer quite like uncertainty.”

A Republican "Truther"?: "In an obvious ambush of Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina, Fox News commentator Glen Beck told Medina in a radio interview that he had received emails from listeners saying that she was a 9/11 truther, that is, a person who believes that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks. Medina failed to specifically deny the charge, indicated that she didn’t have an opinion on the matter, stated that some good questions had been raised about the issue, and said that the American people had not seen all the evidence.”

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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