Saturday, May 01, 2010



ACLU ROUNDUP

I would normally cover ACLU shenanigans on TONGUE-TIED but there are more than speech issues involved in the three matters below:

ACLU hatred never stops

One would have thought that the SCOTUS decision in favor of the Mojave cross was the end of a long saga but the ACLU is not giving up -- although their grounds for hope are now very slim. Below is their latest wisdom on the matter:

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in the case Salazar vs. Buono — concerning a cross in the Mojave National Preserve that has been designated as a national memorial — wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, but was also encouraging in some respects. The question of whether or not the government’s sale of the land on which the cross sits to a private veterans’ organization remedies a violation of the Establishment Clause has been sent back to district court. The Supreme Court found that the lower court used the wrong legal standard in deciding to invalidate a transfer of the land on which the cross stands to private ownership. But the opinion does leave the door open to reaching a favorable outcome in the case, and, more importantly, does not preclude private citizens from challenging the constitutionality of religious displays on government property in the future.

The case, Salazar v. Buono, stems from a complaint raised by veteran and former National Park Service employee Frank Buono, who claimed that the presence of an overtly religious symbol on federal land represented unconstitutional favoritism toward a specific religion.

In 2002, while the federal district court case was pending, Congress designated the cross as a national memorial. In an apparent attempt to circumvent the Establishment Clause violation, Congress also transferred one acre of land on which the cross stands to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, with the provision that the VFW continue to maintain it as a war memorial.

The ACLU, which represented Buono in the case, will continue to argue that the transfer does not remedy the government’s unconstitutional endorsement of one particular religion. “The cross is unquestionably a sectarian symbol,” said the ACLU of Southern California’s Peter Eliasberg, who argued the case before the Court, “and we respectfully but strongly disagree with the suggestion by some members of the Court that the cross does not favor one religion.”

SOURCE

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ACLU versus Arizona

The announcement below:
Today, MALDEF, the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arizona and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) held a news conference on the House of Representatives Lawn of the Arizona State Capitol Building in Phoenix, Arizona to announce their future legal challenge to Governor Jan Brewer's recently signed SB1070. In addition, the organizations sought to address misinformation and fears that have been spreading throughout the Latino community across Arizona. MALDEF, ACLU, ACLU of Arizona and NILC leaders were joined by civil rights leaders Dolores Huerta, Richard Chavez and multi-Grammy winning artist and human rights advocate, Linda Ronstadt.

"Today, the three most experienced immigrants' and civil rights legal organizations nationwide – MALDEF, ACLU and NILC – announce their partnership, together with local Arizona-based counsel, to challenge SB1070 in court," stated MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz. "The Arizona community can be assured that a vigorous and sophisticated legal challenge will be mounted, in advance of SB1070's implementation, seeking to prevent this unconstitutional and discriminatory law from ever taking effect."

"This law will only make the rampant racial profiling of Latinos that is already going on in Arizona much worse," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "If this law were implemented, citizens would effectively have to carry 'their papers' at all times to avoid arrest. It is a low point in modern America when a state law requires police to demand documents from people on the street."

Linton Joaquin, General Counsel of NILC, added, "This unconstitutional law sends a strong message to all immigrants to have no contact with any law enforcement officer. The inevitable result is not only to make immigrants more vulnerable to crime and exploitation, but also to make the entire community less safe, by aggressively discouraging witnesses and victims from reporting crimes."

There are a number of serious constitutional problems with the law, the groups say. It violates the supremacy clause by interfering with federal immigration power and authority. The law also unlawfully invites racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color.

"What we are witnessing today is the blatant targeting of an entire American population, Latinos," stated civil rights leader Dolores Huerta. "We must not give in one inch in Arizona's effort to blame our community for all the ills of the state or their efforts to run us out. We have worked this land, built and maintained these buildings and sacrificed as much as any other. We must put an end to SB1070."

"My family, of both German and Mexican heritage, has a long history in Arizona. It has been our diverse and shared history in this state that unites us and makes us stronger," stated Linda Ronstadt. "What Governor Brewer signed into law last week is a piece of legislation that threatens the very heart of this great state. We must come together and stop SB1070 from pitting neighbor against neighbor to the detriment of us all."

SOURCE

The nature of the Arizona law is very misleadingly stated, of course. Go here to read a brief summary of what the law actually says. Note particularly that "The law only allows police to ask about immigration status in the normal course of “lawful contact” with a person, such as a traffic stop or if they have committed a crime" so it is NOT racial profiling

The law was also very carefully drafted to avoid legal challenges that have succeeded in the past so it is only the ACLU's unwavering hate of America that gives this challenge legs. The legal grounds stated above have been fully taken into account.

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Amusing: ACLU versus Obama

The latest ACLU emission below
The American Civil Liberties Union today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reject his administration's reported authorization of a program under which suspects, including American citizens, can be targeted, hunted and killed far away from any battlefield.

According to the letter, signed by ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, the use of lethal force outside of armed conflict zones is strictly limited by international law, and at least in some circumstances, the Constitution, which permit lethal force to be used only as a last resort and only to prevent imminent attacks that are likely to cause death or serious physical injury. The program is reportedly based on "kill lists" to which the names of U.S. citizens and others are added after a secret internal process.

"A program of long-premeditated and bureaucratized killing is plainly not limited to targeting genuinely imminent threats. Any such program is far more sweeping than the law allows and raises grave constitutional and human rights concerns," wrote Romero.

In addition to spelling out the reasons the targeted killing program is illegal, the letter points out that such a program risks the death of innocent people: "Over the last eight years, we have seen the government over and over again detain men as 'terrorists,' only to discover later that the evidence was weak, wrong, or non-existent…This experience should lead you to reject out of hand a program that would invest the CIA or the U.S. military with the unchecked authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield."

SOURCE

What they are talking about is strikes via unmanned Predator drones on terrorists in Pakistan. But in his election campaign Obama specifically promised to strike at terrorists in Pakistan. So I think the ACLU is pissing into the wind on this one.

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Democrat promises are not worth the paper they are written on

Conservatives really need to believe that Leftists mean it when they say, "There is no such thing as right and wrong". But the Left will gradually reap as they sowed when nothing they say will in future be trusted. They are steadily destroying basic standards of civility

It must be tough being a Senate Republican these days. There really is no deal that can be reached with Senate Democrats that can be trusted, no law passed that won't be broken, and no compromise reached that won't be betrayed. Nothing is sacred anymore, especially the word of a Senator.

On Wednesday, after being assured that by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) that provisions for an unlimited bailout-takeover fund would be removed from his legislation, Senate Republicans lifted their objections to bringing the financial takeover legislation to the floor of the Senate.

In a statement, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), who had been engaged with deliberations with Dodd, said, "I appreciate Chairman Dodd's assurance that my concerns relating to ending bailouts will be included in his bill. I take him at his word."

Apparently convinced that a major breakthrough had been achieved, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-KY) issued a statement saying, "The time afforded by my Republican colleagues and Sen. Ben Nelson was instrumental in gaining assurances from the Chairman that changes will be made to end taxpayer bailouts and the dangerous notion that certain financial institutions are too big to fail."

Only there's a big problem with this approach. Dodd never removed the bailout provisions. They're still in there, on pages 277 through 284 of the substitute amendment offered by Senators Dodd and Blance Lincoln (D-AR), there is the unlimited bailout-takeover authority and fund administered by the FDIC.

At least Dodd had the courtesy to betray Shelby to his face, on the Senate floor. After Republicans lifted their objections to proceeding to debate, thinking they had a deal to remove the bailout provisions, Dodd promptly took to the floor to say, "We haven't sealed anything, but we've had great conversations as two people of good will can have that I think will allow us to get there."

And then, Dodd only promised to allow Republican amendments to be heard and debated. So much for his word!

Of course this is not the first time where the trust of Congressional Republicans has been betrayed when it comes to the never-ending bailout regime in Washington.

Don't forget the grand compromise that brought House and Senate Republicans on board to the 2008 bailout. That "compromise" included in the Troubled Asset Relief Program was some form of an insurance program for so-called toxic assets. That part of it was never even enforced by either the Bush or Obama Administrations even though it clearly was stated in the law.

The $700 billion program was supposed to purchase mortgage-backed securities, but as noted by the Washington Times, only $30 billion was ever devoted to the purchase of the securities. Instead, the money wound up being used as a bank recapitalization fund for which is was never intended. Most of that money was promptly paid back, as apparently the banks that were "bailed out" were well-capitalized after all.

Banks and financial institutions instead opted to use a Federal Reserve program, which was never authorized by Congress, and lacked the same level of disclosure and oversight as TARP. The Fed wound up purchasing some $1.25 trillion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's mortgage-backed securities.

Is that what Congressional Republicans intended? Probably not. But that wasn't the end of it. After the Senate explicitly defeated a bailout for GM and Chrysler using the TARP, then-President George Bush went ahead and extended the loans anyway to the bankrupt automakers from the Treasury program.

After that, Barack Obama abused the government ownership of the two companies to redistribute their ownership from the bondholders who kept them afloat to the labor unions that had put them in the red in the first place.

These experiences, by now, should be highly educational for the Senate Republican Caucus.

More HERE

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NASA has entered the era of nothing

At the end of this year a new era will dawn at NASA. It will mark a first-ever period for our civil space program – the era of nothing. Since its inception, even if it has only been through fantastical imagery, NASA always had, ‘the next thing.’ In the beginning there was the X-15, then Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Programs. Near the end of the Apollo Program it was announced that the shuttle program had been approved and would be moving forward.

With the loss of space shuttle Columbia in 2003 it was decided that the next thing would be a return to the old thing – manned space exploration. This was supposed to come in the form of the Constellation Program, a byproduct of the ‘Vision for Space Exploration’ with its moon, Mars and beyond philosophy. Then President Barack Obama came into office and changed all that....

So President Obama can talk vaguely of going on to Mars and the asteroids all he likes, his plan in its current state, leaves America with neither the hardware to do it nor, (after they are laid off) the workforce to build it. Even some of the most despised presidents in American history, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush left us with manned space programs, (the shuttle and Constellation Programs respectively). Obama, just a little over a year in office has not only given us nothing, he has taken away the little we had.

More HERE

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

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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, April 30, 2010



Welcome to Mr. Obama's fascist America

He betrays the influence of a famous Nazi philosopher, Martin Heidegger. And Heidegger is not the only Nazi philosopher now beloved of the Left. Carl Schmitt is another

President Obama is inciting racial division. He rightly fears that the Democrats will suffer huge losses in November's midterm congressional elections. Republicans are within reach of retaking control of the House of Representatives. Even the Senate may be in play. His party's grip on power is threatened - and with it, Mr. Obama's radical socialist agenda.

Fear breeds desperation. Hence, Mr. Obama is resorting to the worst kind of demagoguery: playing the race card. In a video to Democrats, the president embraced identity politics; black, Hispanic and female voters are to be courted at the expense of white middle-class America.

"It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women, who powered our victory in 2008, stand together once again," he said.

Mr. Obama conveniently ignored the large chunk of white voters - suburbanites, latte-sipping professionals, environmentalists, labor union members - who voted for him in huge numbers. For Mr. Obama in the 2010 election, whites no longer matter - especially white Christian males.

In recent memory, no president has so deliberately and publicly sought to pit racial and gender groups against each other. The president is not simply the titular head of a party or the leader of government. He is the head of state and embodies the collective will of the American people. He is the president of all Americans - not just certain segments of his electoral coalition. Mr. Obama's rhetoric is reckless. It is fostering civil strife and racial animosity.

Imagine the media uproar had President George W. Bush, for example, in 2006 called for "whites, Southerners, Christians and veterans" to vote for the Republican Party. Mr. Bush would have been excoriated (rightly) for racist and sectarian pandering.

Mr. Obama is fracturing America. He is calling on the primacy of race and gender in order to perpetuate his national socialist revolution. He is championing a revanchist tribalism - the politics of grievance and racial victimology that undermines our common national identity. Just like his old pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Mr. Obama is an anti-American, virulent race-baiter.

Instead of seeing Americans, he classifies people according to their race and gender. Modern liberal identity politics is rooted in fascist doctrine. The most influential philosopher of the 20th century was Martin Heidegger. His 1927 classic work, "Being and Time," is widely acknowledged as profoundly influencing Western thought - especially the academic left and its embrace of postmodernism. It's the very culture from which Mr. Obama - by his own admission - comes.

The German thinker developed the theory of the primacy of race, blood and group identity in a secular, relativistic world. Heidegger rejected eternal Judeo-Christian principles of moral absolutes. Instead, he called for the will to power through racial communities and tribal solidarity. Heidegger adamantly opposed democracy, capitalism and market-oriented growth - denouncing them as unjust and oppressive.

What is conveniently ignored is that Heidegger also was a passionate Nazi. He admired Adolf Hitler. He was a member of the National Socialist Party. Heidegger believed that fascism - with its racialism, neo-paganism, economic corporatism, worship of state power, rabid environmentalism and hatred of Western civilization - represented the true future. Sadly, he may have been right.

Today's Western liberal elites are Heidegger's heirs. For decades, the American left has been obsessed with race, class and gender. It despises America's national heritage and common culture. The Founding Fathers' dream of a republic based on limited government and rugged individualism, the Constitution, the notion of American exceptionalism, our roots as an English-speaking, Christian civilization based on a distinct national identity - these idols must be smashed in the name of progressivism.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Mr. Obama's presidency is not simply about erecting European-style social democracy. It is more insidious and dangerous than that. It is an attempt at establishing a liberal fascist regime - Heidegger meets Jane Fonda.

The results are similar to what exists in other fascist states: a pliant dominant media, greater government control over all aspects of national life, a bloated public sector, economic sclerosis, a corporatist economy, permanently high unemployment, crushing taxes, a hostility to Jews (Israel), a growing intolerance to dissent, the demonizing of critics and an irrational cult of personality.

The most distinctive characteristic, however, is the incitement of racial conflict. Fascism thrives on fomenting ethnic divisions and hatred, targeting internal race enemies to galvanize supporters behind their leader.

This is what Mr. Obama is doing today. He and his Democratic allies have deliberately fanned the flames of racial tensions over Arizona's immigration law.

The state statute does nothing more than empower local police to enforce existing federal immigration laws. Overrun by Mexican drug cartels, a soaring crime wave and many illegal migrants, Arizona's authorities are taking action to protect the border in the wake of federal government inaction. The state's comprehensive immigration enforcement law is simply patriotic common sense and self-defense. [See here for details of what the Arizona law does and does not do]

Mr. Obama, however, has blasted it as "misguided." The liberal media is comparing the law to Hitlerism, a form of apartheid and white supremacy, supposedly for its racial profiling of Hispanics. The Rev. Al Sharpton is leading an economic boycott of the state. The attack on Arizona's immigration law is an attempt to frighten Hispanics into believing that white Arizonans are seeking to impose a racial caste system. It is deliberately playing the races against one another to help Mr. Obama get higher voter turnout among minorities in November.

The consequences are the gradual Balkanization and breakup of America. The mainstream media refuses to report on one overriding reality: Racial violence has broken out in protest of Arizona's law. Gangs of Hispanic protesters in Arizona have been throwing rocks and bottles at police, spitting at them and denouncing them as "pigs." Massive rallies are planned across the country this weekend to demand amnesty for illegal aliens. Event leaders will use Arizona's law as a rallying point to channel ethnic anger and rage.

Mr. Obama is fueling greater ideological, political and racial polarization. Not since the Civil War have Americans been so divided. He is laying the groundwork for a possible race war. Welcome to Mr. Obama's fascist America.

SOURCE

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Obama threatened by heckuva glob

The rapidly expanding environmental catastrophe caused by the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana is presenting a growing political challenge to the Obama White House, with Mr. Obama and his aides at pains to defend the response and forestall comparisons to the Hurricane Katrina crisis.

Nine days after British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew apart and began spewing 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico, a massive oil slick is set to wash ashore on the southern coast Thursday evening and, experts say, could dwarf the damage caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

Failure to get control of the relief effort and contain the environmental challenge could pose the same kind of political threat to Mr. Obama's popular standing that the much-criticized handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina did for former President George W. Bush. And unlike Katrina, it is likely the federal government will be the clear lead authority in dealing with the BP spill.

But Mr. Obama only Thursday dispatched Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to help coordinate the federal response to the potential environmental disaster.

More HERE

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Obama Helped Kill Immigration Reform In 2007 - Will Media Remember?

Blacks and Hispanics tend to be hostile to one-another so this figures -- and confirms Obama's race bias

With immigration reform back on the front page thanks to Arizona's new controversial law, it's going to be very interesting to see how the Obama-loving press report what he did concerning this issue when he was a junior senator from Illinois in 2007.

For instance, David Broder's "How Congress Botched Immigration Reform" published in Thursday's Washington Post didn't even mention Barack Obama's name. This seems particularly odd given this paragraph (h/t Jennifer Rubin):
But once the bill hit the floor, it was attacked from both flanks. The most conservative Republicans -- Jim DeMint of South Carolina, David Vitter of Louisiana and Jeff Sessions of Alabama -- led the assault. They were joined by some civil libertarians and allies of organized labor who were dissatisfied with the bill's protections for guest workers. Democrat Byron Dorgan of North Dakota repeatedly tried to gut the guest-worker program before finally succeeding by one vote on his third effort.

Broder curiously chose to ignore the fact that Barack Obama was, for all intents and purposes, the fateful deciding vote as reported by the late Robert Novak in June 2007:
Democrat Byron Dorgan, who seldom has tasted legislative success during 15 years in the Senate, scored a dubious victory last week. He was able to insert a poison pill in the immigration reform bill that aimed at emasculating the essential guest worker program. The 49 to 48 vote that passed Dorgan's amendment included surprising support from two prominent first-term senators: Jim DeMint, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, and Barack Obama. [...]

The Dorgan amendment is a classic poison pill: designed to kill, not improve, the bill. Its passage makes resurrection of immigration reform all the more difficult. Decisive votes by DeMint and Obama were not appreciated by the bipartisan group that had crafted the bargain intended to secure America's borders while permitting an orderly flow of temporary workers. [...]

Obama's vote for the poison pill was unexpected because he had participated, uninvited, one time in the bipartisan negotiating process. He had demanded and won a provision permitting immigrants to stay on the job after being designated "not employable" by the government under the new system until their appeals were exhausted. Obama's support for the Dorgan amendment then infuriated Republicans in the negotiating group who had opposed the concession to the presidential candidate.

More HERE

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Obamacare Officially Exposed as Fraudulent

When signing his health reform bill in March, President Obama promised it would “bring down health care costs for families and businesses and governments”. Now, rigorous analysis by top officials in his own administration exposes the president’s promise as a fraud.

The chief Medicare actuary declares that “overall national health expenditures under the health reform act would increase by a total of $311 billion”. Moreover, within five years of implementation, the plan will cost employers $87 billion in penalties for failing to provide government-approved insurance. Despite crushing costs, and the likelihood of Medicare cuts “jeopardizing access to care,” 23 million Americans will still be uninsured nine years from now. If these numbers from the Department of Health and Human Services had been available before final House votes, it’s doubtful Congress would have approved this ill-conceived initiative.

SOURCE

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BrookesNews Update

The US could be facing more of a downturn than a recovery : If the sudden spurt in the money supply turns out to be merely a spike then monetary policy will remain tight. We can therefore expect industrial production to continue to slowdown. On the other hand, if the money supply is indeed rapidly expanding then things will eventually turn very nasty
Will China's demand for resources drive up interest rates? : Glenn Stevens worries that a new conservatism among consumers might counter the growth from the mining boom. He just cannot free himself from the fallacy of consumer spending driving the economy. In reality consumer spending is only about 1/3 of total economic activity
Ken Henry's dangerous fallacy of taxing "imputed rent" : Treasury has floated the idea of taxing the imputed rent that homeowners obtain. Apart from the fact it would amount to a massive rise in income taxes for those who bought their own homes, it is also a fallacy. People why buy their homes do not earn a rent, thought they can most certainly obtain a capital gains. As expected, our free marketeers once again failed to rise to the occasion. They did the same thing with the fallacious resource rental tax, failing to see that there is no such thing as economic rent
Why does George Soros bite hand that feeds him? : George Soros is at it again: do one thing and advise others to do the opposites. This hypocrite can be called many things but never Mr Integrity"
The fight-back begins: An uprising from the moguls of enterprise threatens to disrupt, if not demolish, Obama's fake green plans for the world. The Sierra Club and other socialist despots have been bringing 'vexatious and frivolous' law cases against normal businesses for a long time, with Democratic approval. Al Gore used the same tactic in his run-up to the vice presidential elections. The Democrat rat-pack did the same recently to Sarah Palin, bringing malicious and unfounded accusations against her
Gloria Estefan:‘Our Gloria' Betrays Cuban Fans, Jumps On Obama Bandwagon : Will a flurry of entrepreneurism like the one that propelled the Estefans and so many of their fellow refugees to prosperity be possible under the enterprise-stifling conditions Obama and the Democrats are installing at breakneck speed? Many doubt it. Gloria and Emilio Estefan's fundraiser is helping those who traditionally pull up the ladder after themselves
My liberal friend : That across the nation, friends are being pitted against friends, families dividing along partisan lines and Americans are being encouraged to resent anyone perceived as having more than their (fair) share of the pie is the result of the left's totalitarian impulse to crush any kind of dissent

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, April 29, 2010



British Labour Party meltdown

Leftist hypocrisy exposed

GORDON Brown prostrated himself as a "penitent sinner" yesterday after a brush with a voter triggered a calamitous chain of events that threatened to derail Labour on the eve of tonight's pivotal TV debate.

The Prime Minister spent an unscheduled 45 minutes inside the terraced house of Gillian Duffy apologising to the Labour-supporting widow for insulting her behind her back.

His muttered description of her as a "bigoted woman", picked up by a microphone as he drove off from their combative but apparently friendly encounter, plunged Labour's high command into its most serious crisis of the campaign.

Instead of pressing the party's record on the economy before tonight's final trial by television, the election machine was reduced to desperate firefighting as Lord Mandelson led a series of cabinet ministers on to the airwaves.

The Business Secretary said that Mr Brown had been wrong to criticise the pensioner, whose mistake, on her way to buy a loaf of bread, had been to buttonhole the Prime Minister over the deficit, immigration and student debts.

A mortified Mr Brown issued six apologies over the next six hours, including one by e-mail to Labour supporters for letting them down. Despite saying sorry to Mrs Duffy over the telephone, he ignored aides and insisted on driving back to Rochdale from Manchester, abandoning his preparation for tonight's third and final leaders' debate, to atone in person for his blunder.

He emerged from her house smiling fixedly, saying that he had misunderstood her earlier words. But a more telling image showed him in a Manchester radio studio earlier, head in hands, the full horror of the episode dawning as he listened to a tape of his remarks.

The ghastly unfolding seemed unlikely when the pair parted on apparently good terms after a five-minute conversation in the street. Mr Brown told Mrs Duffy that it had been "very good" to meet her and she told journalists that she had found him "nice" and that he had won her vote.

But within seconds Mr Brown could be heard - courtesy of a Sky News microphone that he had worn for his walkabout - declaring their meeting a "disaster", blaming aides for putting him in such a position, and describing Mrs Duffy as "a sort of bigoted woman". He concluded, days into a new campaigning style in which he meets more real people: "It's just ridiculous."

His reaction was apparently sparked by a comment on immigrants, when she said: "All these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?"

SOURCE

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Obama's regulatory disaster

Putting the smackdown on banks will further harm the economy

President Obama rails against Wall Street to score populist political points. But when the smoke clears from all the demagoguery, the financial regulations he is pushing will result in fewer loans, more costly credit and individuals facing more risk.

Contrary to the president's talking points, the proposed regulations will not prevent "a second Great Depression." In fact, the problems that created America's recent financial troubles have been ignored in pending legislation. Nothing is being done to reform government-backed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac despite their history of fraud and responsibility for taxpayers being saddled with $400 billion in bailouts. Mr. Obama won't even discuss changing government regulations that forced banks to make risky mortgages.

Given Mr. Obama's continued bashing of the free market, it's hardly surprising that the Democrats' regulations run counter to how markets operate. A good example is the "Volcker rule" to limit the size of banks, which is one of Mr. Obama's five "key proposals" for new financial regulation. What the president never addresses is why some banks become large. He seems to assume it's because they are just lucky or have been up to no good.

There are more rational explanations that determine bank size. Companies grow because they offer better services than their competitors. Larger banks can provide services at a lower cost. Big loans frequently necessitate the involvement of multiple banks working together, which requires complicated negotiations; large banks can handle larger loans and sometimes avoid such extra costs. Limiting bank size means these efficiencies will be lost. As a result, there will be fewer loans, and their costs will increase.

There is similar danger in Mr. Obama's proposal to "bring derivatives and other complicated financial instruments out of the dark" by forcing them to be traded on registered exchanges and approved by regulatory bureaus. This idea ignores why firms and individuals make deals between themselves rather than doing everything through exchanges. Derivatives often provide insurance to investors. Farmers trade in derivatives when they sell crops harvested in the fall before they are planted. By doing so, they know how much to plant and how much they will get paid, thus avoiding price risk. Many firms do the same thing.

Simple deals between companies often make more sense than having to deal on an exchange. If government forces companies to go through a regulatory process for every transaction, they won't do it as often and they won't be benefiting from the insurance they otherwise would have gotten.

Mr. Obama is trying to put bureaucrats in the corporate driver's seat by regulating every aspect of business. Government has neither the expertise nor the incentive to run companies correctly, and government surely can't keep politics out of its decisions. These general rules apply even more to banks, whose performance can be greatly manipulated through regulatory tinkering. No matter how Democrats spin their power grab in the banking sector, making the financial system less efficient means higher costs for American consumers.

SOURCE

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The Left's Favorite Bank

In the ubiquitous echo chambers of the left, the embattled Goldman Sachs is being falsely characterized as both Republican-friendly and a symbol of free-market corruption.

Of course it's pure nonsense that has been eagerly lapped up by those who want to believe the worst about Republicans, capitalism, and America itself. The Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit against Goldman for securities fraud was filed just in time for the bank to bend over for a televised spanking in Congress.

But Goldman, which engages in the ritual of public self-flagellation from time to time on advice of counsel, is the best friend that Democrats and leftists ever had on Wall Street. Its alumni and enablers have pushed faddish, left-wing, pro-Big Government policies for as long as I've been a journalist.

Goldman's business model is simple: the bigger and more stifling government gets, the more profit Goldman makes.

Why would a highly profitable company -- it made a staggering $3.46 billion in the first quarter– --want more regulation unless it stood to benefit from such assaults on the marketplace?

Because laissez-faire is anathema to Goldman. The high-flying bank abhors free markets with a Mussolini-like zeal. Like Il Duce and his less thuggish imitators in the welfare wasteland of modern Europe, Goldman stands for centrally managed markets, provided that it gets to make the rules.

Goldman thrives on complexity and backroom dealing. It reaps huge profits from regulations that place its smaller, less politically nimble competitors at a disadvantage.

So it should surprise no one that Goldman favors increased regulation of the economy as a matter of policy, including President Obama's Wall Street takeover bill which virtually mandates bank bailouts in perpetuity. Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein told reporters yesterday, "The biggest beneficiary of reform is Wall Street itself."

Blankfein echoed one of his colleagues. "We're not against regulation," a Goldman official told the Politico last week. "We're for regulation. We partner with regulators."

As the Washington Examiner's Timothy P. Carney noted, in a teleconference call for reporters last week Goldman officials affirmed no fewer than three times during the call that the company wants more federal control.

Regurgitating pious catch phrases and politically correct slogans, Goldman supports disastrous Big Government policies, including corporate bailouts, economy-killing carbon emission controls, and the financial affirmative action law known as the Community Reinvestment Act.

Through its charitable arms, the bank has lavished money on its liberal friends. Those of Goldman's donations that can be said to have an ideological dimension go almost exclusively to causes on the left.

Here are just a few:

Wildlife Conservation Society ($36,770,562 since 2004 – $35 million of it in real estate); United Nations Association of the USA ($1,000,000 since 2002); Planned Parenthood ($650,200 since 2003); National Urban League ($250,000 since 2000); Brookings Institution ($175,000 since 2003); Urban Institute ($175,000 since 2001); William J. Clinton Foundation ($167,300 since 2007); People for the American Way ($166,667 in 2007); Center for American Progress ($105,000 in 2007); Tides Foundation ($50,000 in 2007); Jesse Jackson's Citizenship Education Fund ($25,000 in 2007); and National Public Radio ($25,000 in 2007).

Despite periodically inviting a few Republicans along for the ride -- fake conservatives such as the tree-hugging Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson -- Goldman is at home on the left side of the political spectrum.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Chris Dodd’s carve-outs for cronies: "The financial-regulatory bill now before the Senate is so filled with special-interest loopholes and exclusions that it makes the health-care ‘reform’ bill, with its ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ look like a model of rectitude. The Senate bill, sponsored by Democrat Chris Dodd, claims to subject all ‘too big to fail’ institutions to greater federal supervision, but in fact it only mandates such regulation for bank-holding companies. Regulators would have to make a case-by-case decision on whether to apply it to other financial companies. That’s no minor oversight, because insurance companies, like AIG, tend to have thrift charters rather than bank charters. So, as the bill stands now, AIG and other insurers that accepted massive bailout funds, such as The Hartford, would not be automatically covered. That’s a head-scratcher only if you forget that most insurance companies reside in Dodd’s home state, Connecticut.”

Sweet sixteen: "After more than a month’s worth of polling, this much is clear: Americans want Obamacare to be repealed, and they’ll reward the political party that strongly champions that cause. Over the five-week span since the Democrats passed Obamacare, which they did so in clear and open defiance of the American people’s will, Rasmussen’s poll of likely voters has shown that Americans favor repeal by 16 points (56 to 40 percent) — more than twice the margin by which President Obama was elected.”

Abolish municipal unions: "Sooner or later, the Devil always overplays his hand. In the current crisis of public employee unions bullying cash-strapped governments, that is a good thing. Politicians and the public now see the vice-like control of the unions. Government at all levels is in dire financial need as a result of extravagance, mismanagement, and political cowardice. Paradoxically, public employees enjoy pensions, health benefits, sick pay and salary levels that are the envy of their private sector counterparts. The two problems are related. … So what to do? Answer: Level the playing field by outlawing unions for public employees.”

Everyone prospers with free trade: "Trade is win-win. Two people trade only because each values what he gets more than what he gives up. That’s why in a store both customer and clerk say, ‘Thank you.’ But when an international barrier is established, people forget that obvious truth. President Obama started a ‘trade war’ with China over cheap tires they want to trade with us. That is lose-lose. My colleague at Fox, former Gov. Mike Huckabee has said a country can only be free if we can feed ourselves, fuel ourselves and fight for ourselves … when we start outsourcing everything, that’s a road to being enslaved. In fact, as China learned, such self sufficiency is a road to stagnation.”

Parking lots teach a lesson: "I was driving across a parking lot recently and I realized that just about everyone, including me, considers the signs and striping in a parking lot to be a suggestion, rather than an order. Yet, while accidents do happen, they are fairly rare. Nothing at all like the ‘chaos’ that is predicted by people who think there needs to be a cop on every corner.”

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, April 28, 2010



Collapse of a republic

A constitutional republic that had endured for centuries was now breaking down. The signs were everywhere.

Constitutional limits on political power were dissolving; politicians were increasingly demagogic and unrestrained. Magistrates secured the passage of sweeping laws by evading normal legislative procedures.

Large portions of the citizenry now depended on plunder seized by those politicians and distributed to their supporters. The recipients, in turn, submissively voted for their masters at election time.

Many citizens who didn’t want the plunder were forced to seek it, due to economic distress created by the politicians themselves. Prices rose steeply, the economy was flooded with new currency. Masses of imported foreign workers made it more and more difficult for citizens independently to support their families. Government corruption, mismanagement, and foreign wars all created economic dislocations. The unemployment rate was shockingly high.

Unscrupulous intellectuals promoted the rush to dependency with trendy rationalizations for demagogy and vice. Standards of responsible behavior were replaced by hedonism, and a scramble of all against all.

Towering above the squalor were a few truly great statesmen. They identified the trends. They warned that unless citizens took corrective action at once, liberty would be lost. Those statesmen were much respected, but too-little heeded. In the end, liberty was lost.

Such were the last years of the Roman Republic: the death of limited and balanced government, and the imposition of imperial rule.

Those years comprise one of the most studied eras of the past. And with good reason.

The Roman Republic was the longest-lived major republic in human history. It lasted nearly five hundred years. Despite its many flaws, it had become an astounding success. Under few governments had ordinary citizens enjoyed as much personal and political freedom as in Rome - or living standards as high, or as much opportunity for building a better life. Roman citizens responded with a civic spirit that enabled the republic to survive repeated mortal threats. Eventually, Roman influence and Roman power were felt throughout the known world.

Yet in the end, that republic died.

Our American Founders were fascinated by the story of the Roman Republic. Their education included immersion in the Latin texts of Roman republican writers, such as Cicero and Sallust. They also read the charming histories of the Greek author Polybius, who had attributed Roman success squarely to the excellencies of the Roman constitution.

The records of our American Constitutional Convention and the debates over ratification are replete with references to the Roman experience. During the ratification debates, writers on both sides often published under Roman names. For example, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the Federalist papers under the name “Publius.” Last year, I visited St. Andrews University in Scotland, where James Wilson, one of our leading Founders, was educated. St. Andrews still possesses the records showing Wilson’s library withdrawals during the 1750s. His favorite topic? Ancient Rome. Wilson, like other Founders, retained that interest all his life.

History never repeats itself exactly, and parallels between America and Rome can be overdrawn. But if there were no parallels in history, then history would be a fruitless study, for we could never learn from it.

Certainly, our Founders thought we could learn from it. Again and again, they asked themselves and each other: What can we deduce from Roman success? How can we avoid Roman failures?

Our Founders embodied their lessons from Roman history (as well as from the history of Europe and America) in their Constitution. They put the document in writing, to make it clear that politicians had no power to change it without a formal amendment, as had been done with the unwritten, “living” constitutions of Britain and Rome. The Founders created a bicameral legislature and a presidential veto to reduce the risk of hasty mob action that sometimes had characterized Roman assemblies. They required that tax revenue be used only for “the general Welfare” rather than for special interests. They required that congressional laws be “proper” - that is constitutional and fair.

While the Roman government has nearly limitless authority, our Founders granted the new federal government enough power to hold the country together, but restricted that power carefully, and balanced it with the powers reserved by the states and the people. Our Founder added a Bill of Rights to further secure individual liberty. Finally, they avoided the Roman system of diffuse responsibility in favor of one concentrating responsibility for government functions among relatively few officials, so the voters would know just who had done what. The Founders would have strongly disapproved of how the modern administrative state hides responsibility from voters–such as by letting anonymous bureaucrats at the Departments of Health and Human Services write regulations which determine whether people will live or die.

The Founders’ basic purpose was to keep Americans free and personally independent, as Romans had been in the days before they lapsed into dependence on government handouts and servile submission to the cult of the Emperor.

The Founders were not omniscient, but on the whole, they were right. So long as Americans honored the rules they gave us, so long as our politicians were bound by the people’s right to liberty, and so long as citizens retained their good character and independence, our constitutional republic and our freedom endured.

When we began to behave otherwise, our own republic began to go the way of Rome.

SOURCE

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More Health Care "Suprises" ...

When major companies declared that a provision of the new health care law would hurt earnings, Democrats were skeptical. But after investigating, House Democrats have concluded that the companies were right to tell investors and the government about the expected adverse effects of the law on their financial results.

At issue is a section of the law that eliminates a tax break available to companies that provide drug benefits to retirees as part of their insurance coverage. The tax change, expected to generate $4.5 billion of revenue over the next 10 years, will help offset the cost of providing coverage to the uninsured.

Within days after President Obama signed the law on March 23, companies filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, saying the tax change would have a material adverse effect on their earnings.

The White House suggested that companies were exaggerating the effects of the tax change. The commerce secretary, Gary F. Locke, said the companies were being “premature and irresponsible” in taking such write-downs.

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California and Bart Stupak of Michigan, both Democrats, opened an investigation and demanded that four companies — AT&T, Caterpillar, Deere and Verizon — supply documents analyzing the “impact of health care reform,” together with an explanation of their accounting methods.

The documents — hundreds of pages of e-mail messages and financial worksheets — include large amounts of data that substantiate the companies’ concerns. They have reignited a battle over the law in Congress.

Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “From a financial standpoint, from a purely economic standpoint, many companies would be better off discontinuing health care as a fringe benefit, paying the penalty and pocketing the savings.”

In a memorandum summarizing its investigation, the Democratic staff of the committee said, “The companies acted properly and in accordance with accounting standards in submitting filings to the S.E.C. in March and April.”

Moreover, it said, “these one-time charges were required by applicable accounting rules.” The committee staff said this view was confirmed by independent experts at the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the American Academy of Actuaries...

More HERE

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Government: More Incompetent than Ever

Most intellectuals support big government, and millions of people depend on it. So why, with thousands of laws, millions of employees working to carry out those laws, and trillions of dollars spent, is it in trouble?

The most popular big-government programs–like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid–are going broke. These entitlements account for more than half of annual federal spending. In 2009, spending on all federal entitlements exceeded all federal tax revenue. As Cato Institute economist Richard W. Rahn explained, this means “virtually all of the other government spending programs, including defense and interest payments on the debt, will be funded by more borrowing.”

The escalation of spending for the entitlements is politically unstoppable because they’re defended by powerful interest groups that benefit from them. These and other federal programs–guarantees for home mortgages, commercial bank deposits, credit union deposits, veterans benefits, import/export deals, student loans, and private and government-employee pension benefits–involve financial commitments that currently exceed $70 trillion. In addition, more than $12 trillion in U.S. Treasury debt is outstanding, much of which is held by Chinese and other foreign investors. Incredibly, President Barack Obama’s administration risked a trade war with China by blocking Chinese imports, a political payoff for labor unions that had supported Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign, even though such action could complicate U.S. efforts to continue selling its debt.

For years, the government has spent more money than it has had. It’s constantly going deeper into debt.

In spending all this money, members of Congress commonly don’t read the bills they vote on. They keep passing more laws even though they have limited understanding of the effects of previous laws. Many laws are so complicated–over a thousand pages–that government officials themselves are among the most notorious violators. Government is bigger than anything else in our society and far more complicated than the derivatives and other toxic bank assets nobody knew how to value after the financial meltdown of 2008. Managing the federal government well is beyond the capability of any human being. It’s beyond the capability of the 535 members of Congress. It’s too big to succeed.

You Need a Form for That Form

One thing the federal government does as it gets bigger is require people to fill out more bureaucratic forms. In 1978 Congress passed the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, when it was estimated that people spent almost a billion hours a year filling out federal forms. Not surprisingly, a new federal bureaucracy–the General Services Administration’s Forms Policy and Management Team–was established just to deal with federal forms. Creating, changing, or eliminating a form requires that somebody fill out a two-page SF152 form with 27 questions. For those who might have difficulty filling out the form, the government produced a 23-page booklet explaining how.

Unfortunately, things don’t seem to have been going well with the Forms Policy and Management Team. Now it’s estimated that people spend about ten billion hours a year filling out some 8,000 different federal forms. Both political parties are responsible for the colossal waste of time that could have been used to create more growth and jobs. Republicans reportedly have excelled at multiplying the number of defense-related forms. Democrats have excelled at forms related to social spending. Obama’s so-called stimulus bill authorized bureaucrats to churn out still more forms in an effort to determine where all the money went.

Taxing Forms

Perhaps the most aggravating forms have to do with taxes. The tax code has become hideously complex, a consequence of trying to extract trillions of dollars for social and military spending and trying to do good through thousands of different tax breaks. Lindy L. Paull, who served as chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation, told the Senate Finance Committee: “The Internal Revenue Code consists of nearly 1.4 million words and includes 693 separate sections that impact individual taxpayers.

The Treasury Department has issued some 20,000 pages of regulations containing over 8 million words. Individual taxpayers who file an annual Form 1040 must deal with its 79 lines, 144 pages of instructions and 11 schedules totaling 443 lines plus instructions to go with them. There are 19 separate worksheets embedded in the Form 1040 instructions, and the possibility of filing numerous other forms, depending on the circumstances.”

The U.S. Treasury has estimated that individuals, employers, and nonprofits spend more than six billion hours a year dealing with their taxes. This is the equivalent of full-time work by 2.8 million people–more people than are employed in the auto-manufacturing, petroleum-refining, electric-power generation, computer-hardware, computer-software, pharmaceutical, medical-devices, steel, and chemical industries combined. In addition to the cost of this time is the money spent for tax-planning and tax-accounting services, not counting the taxes themselves. All this is a stupendous waste of resources that would be better spent adding value to the economy.

Bloated Mass of Contradictions

Big government is a bloated mass of contradictions that often have unexpected, harmful consequences. Politicians scold citizens for consuming too much sugar, but the government provides subsidies for producing high-fructose corn syrup that’s widely used in sodas, cookies, and other sweets.

Government subsidizes farmers for growing crops and no crops at all. Government subsidizes homeownership and restricts the number of homes that can be built. Officials criticize business executives who take on too much debt, but government encourages debt by providing tax deductions for interest (but not for equity capital), and of course the government itself is deeper in debt than anybody else.

Officials complain that companies invest so much money overseas, but the government imposes a 35 percent tax on earnings brought back to the United States. Officials bemoan our dependence on foreign oil, while restricting U.S. oil drilling.

Businesses can be prosecuted for “predatory price cutting” if they charge too little, “price gouging” if they charge too much, and “price fixing” if they charge the same as their competitors.

By providing billions of dollars of federal aid for attending college, the government subsidizes demand, which has had the effect of making college more expensive and more difficult to pay for than it otherwise would be.

Officials promote the virtues of small, high-mileage cars, and they enforce laws that make it almost impossible to produce such cars profitably in the United States. There are laws that make it more difficult for employers to hire people and laws that provide income for the unemployed.

Officials encourage more couples to get married, but there are higher taxes on married people than on single people, providing incentives not to get married. Officials say they want more doctors while enforcing laws that limit the number of students who can enter medical schools.

Government probably does more than anyone else to cause health care inflation by channeling about a trillion dollars a year into that sector, enabling people to bid up prices–and then the government tries to limit health care price increases with rationing, such as excluding more treatments from Medicare.

Mismanaging the Economy

Politicians expanded the power of the federal government to watch over the economy, but this has backfired badly. President Woodrow Wilson and Congress established the Federal Reserve System to prevent economic catastrophes. After inflating, misguided Fed officials tried to limit what they viewed as excesses of the Roaring Twenties stock market boom, but they overplayed their hand and triggered the 1929 crash.

Not realizing what they had done, they presided over a severe monetary contraction, a major cause of the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 1935 Banking Act to centralize power at the Fed, and officials there soon stumbled again, doing much to bring on the depression within a depression of 1938. In 2002 Ben S. Bernanke, a governor of the Federal Reserve Board before becoming chairman, acknowledged the Fed’s role in the Great Depression: “We did it. We’re very sorry. We won’t do it again.”

Unfortunately, in the early years of this decade, Fed officials stumbled yet again. They promoted an easy money policy that had the effect of subsidizing borrowing. The apparent intention was to make sure the economy fully recovered from the dot-com crash of 2000, but in the process they encouraged individuals and businesses to load up on debt, contributing to the bubble that burst in 2008.

Nobody has a crystal ball, certainly not Fed officials. They’re always trying to make sense of conflicting and incomplete data. Naturally they focus on avoiding the mistakes made the last time around. They can’t be sure what the effects of their policies will be in the future because it takes many months for them to play out through a large and complex economy.

By the time Fed officials realize they have accelerated monetary expansion for too long, they’re tempted to hit the brakes too hard, jolting the economy with a more severe recession. Fed officials are human and bound to make errors. Their vast power means that when errors occur they will harm not just a city or state or region. They will harm the entire country and beyond. Disastrous errors are an unavoidable risk of big government, which turns out to be a principal source of instability in our economy.

More HERE

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

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

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

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, April 27, 2010



America's Left/Right divide

The statement of vision defining American values appears in the Declaration of Independence. Understanding that vision is where I think the most fundamental conservative versus liberal divide exists.

Consider how President Obama relates to the Constitution, as he wrote in his book The Audacity of Hope – “Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth….”

Our president is a moral relativist. So we may expect that he doesn’t take very seriously the idea, as state in the Declaration of Independence, that there are absolutes. That we have God given rights that precede government and that the job of government is to secure them.

Rather than seeing government’s job as securing our rights, the liberal sees it to invent them. The politician – or the empathetic judge – defines what is moral and just.

There’s a lot of speculation about what is driving the tea party movement and why, as reflected in the latest survey by the Pew Research Foundation, Americans’ trust in government is at an all time low. I think most fundamentally it’s discomfort with this moral relativism that is driving the pervasive unrest.

The whole unique idea of American government – the idea of human liberty – was that there are absolute truths and that individual citizens can and must be protected from arbitrary rulers – whether it is a king or a political class with arbitrary powers.

President Obama said the other day regarding the kind of court nominee he will seek, “…I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights…”

What in the world can this possibly mean from our president who has just signed into law a health care bill which will force every single American citizen to buy a government defined health care insurance policy? A health care bill that opens the door to unprecedented government control over how private individuals manage their health care and the most private decisions they make over their own lives.

Or what can it possibly mean coming from our president who opposed the Supreme Court’s decision a few years ago banning partial birth abortion – which is pure and simple torture and murder of a live infant?

The real differences over liberal and conservative judges is most fundamentally about the world in which Americans will live. Whether we live and will live in a nation in which there are absolute truths or one in which we are at the hands of political arbitrariness in which our lives and property are up for grabs.

Our country is being governed today by those with the latter view of the world and, fortunately, more and more Americans are deeply concerned.

SOURCE

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Obama plays the race card

Barack Obama wants to join the sordid ranks of the race hustlers, like the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, if not necessarily the race baiters. Maybe there's only a small distinction between hustling and baiting, but once the toxic stuff is let loose, it doesn't matter what you call it.

The Democratic National Committee released a video clip Monday of the president rousing his troops with what Politico, the Capitol Hill political paper, calls with artful euphemism, "unusual demographic frankness." The auguries for November do not look good, the president concedes, and he wants "young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again." Many of these "surge" voters cast their first ballots in 2008 and then ignored pleas to turn out for gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia (or that famous Senate race in Massachusetts) and the Democrats took a licking.

No candidate, Democrat or Republican, would take the risk — real and even frightening — of drawing the race card unless absolutely necessary, of course, "absolutely necessary" defined as the occasion when his survival is at stake. Mr. Obama's survival is not yet at stake, but if a calamity like the big blowout of '94 falls on the Democrats again this year the president's prospects for re-election in 2012 would dim considerably. Now's the time for unusual demographic frankness of the kind that the Barack Obama of 2008 so eloquently denounced with word if not always in deed.

Mr. Obama spent enormous political capital to ram the health care "reform" down the throats of a public struggling not to swallow, and now he wants to do it again, and then again, and then once more, with his toxic agenda of financial reform, global warming "solutions" and immigration "reform" that he won't call by its rightful name, "amnesty." It's almost as if the president has figured out that he will be a one-term president and is determined to use whatever capital he has to impose as much as he can of that radical stuff from his Chicago activist days.

The attempt to make "solving" global warming a bipartisan effort collapsed over the weekend when Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who gives the impression of yearning to be a Democrat when he grows up, quit his alliance with Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman. The collapse may be temporary. The unholy musketeers had decided to ditch something called "a carbon linkage fee" (what everyone but a senator would call a "tax") in favor of allowing polluting companies to buy the right to continue polluting from companies willing to sell their polluting indulgences. This is more of Al Gore's global warming fantasy, and in the end the Obama administration might have to settle for a Senate resolution telling the Icelandic volcano to behave itself.

If he can push the global-warming legislation aside Mr. Obama can move amnesty for the illegals to the top of his agenda, but this, as any number of Democratic congressmen are telling him loud and clear, is merely substituting a noose for the electric chair for a lot of Democratic incumbents. "It's not a tough vote at all for me," Rep. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania tells Politico. "I'm not going to vote for amnesty. I'm not going to vote for a path to citizenship, or whatever you want to call it. … It's not like health care where everyone has a dog in the fight. If you come from where I come from, there's no support for [immigration reform] at all."

Mr. Obama, who rarely took a recorded stand on anything during his brief career as a senator, keeps demanding that Democrats in Congress fall on their swords for him. There's no scarcity of swords but he's running out of willing Democrats. The race card is all he's got left.

SOURCE

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Obamacare lies unravelling already

Last week, reality dealt Obamacare twin blows -- not that Obama will care. An analysis inside his own administration and a report from New York state shed the grim light of reality on this monstrosity before its Draconian provisions have even gone into effect.

Economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department issued a report last week, conveniently after Obamacare was shoved through, finding that though more people will end up with health insurance (many of them against their will, of course), costs are going to increase. Shocker.

How could coverage not increase with the legal mandate forcing unwilling people to buy health insurance coverage? Today millions entitled to assistance don't avail themselves of it, but Obamacare will presumably be different because there will be a penalty for non-coverage -- an idea that Obama expediently mocked during the primary campaign.

But costs will also increase? I thought Obama promised to bend the cost curve down -- that he wouldn't add one dime to the deficit with Obamacare. But two dimes or a quarter are apparently a different matter.

The HHS analysis found Obamacare will raise projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years -- and this is without even considering the impact of numerous gimmicks and camouflaged items, such as the Medicare "doctor fix." There are presently scheduled 21 percent cuts in Medicare reimbursements to physicians, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised that they won't be implemented. What a sham!

The report also revealed that Obamacare could drive 15 percent of hospitals into the red and possibly jeopardize access to care for seniors.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Potential court pick could face foes on the Left: "Unlike several other possible candidates to succeed retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, US Court of Appeals Judge Merrick B. Garland probably will not face conservative opposition. Instead, it could be liberals lining up against him. A small but vocal group of activists is privately saying that Garland is not liberal enough to replace the legendary Stevens, whose opinions defended gay rights and abortion rights and opposed the death penalty. They say Garland is a centrist who will not champion liberal concerns, too often finds middle ground with his conservative colleagues on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and showed great deference to President George W. Bush’s indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

China: One-child rule may be eased -- too late?: "When asked why she and her husband don’t want a second child, Shi Xiaomei smiles at her pudgy 9-year-old son and does a quick tally of the family budget. Her salary as a cleaning lady and the income from a mahjong parlor in their spare room barely cover their son’s school fees and other expenses. ‘With just one, we can give him nicer things. But if you tried to split what we have between two or three, they would all end up with nothing,’ the 34-year-old says at her home in Dafeng, a prosperous but still-rural county 185 miles (300 kilometers) north of Shanghai. For years, China curbed its once-explosive population growth with a widely hated one-child limit that at its peak led to forced abortions, sterilizations and even infanticide. Now the long-sacrosanct policy may be on its way out, as some demographers warn that China is facing the opposite problem: not enough babies.”

OK: House overrides pre-abortion ultrasound veto: "The Oklahoma House voted overwhelmingly Monday to override vetoes of two restrictive abortion measures Gov. Brad Henry has called unconstitutional intrusions into citizens’ private lives and decisions. The Senate was expected to follow suit Tuesday, after which the bills would become law. One of the measures requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion. The other prohibits pregnant women from seeking damages if physicians withhold information or provide inaccurate information about their pregnancy. … Keri Parks, director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma City, urged the Senate to uphold the governor’s vetoes. ‘Doctors, not politicians, should be making these medical decisions,’ Parks said.”

CIA turns to violin-sized missiles in Pakistan: "The CIA is using new, smaller missiles and advanced surveillance techniques to minimize civilian casualties in its targeted killings of suspected insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas, according to current and former officials in the United States and Pakistan. The technological improvements have resulted in more accurate operations that have provoked relatively little public outrage, the officials said.”

King accepts resignation of Belgian government: "Belgium King Albert II accepted the government’s resignation Monday after negotiations failed to resolve a long-simmering dispute between Dutch and French-speaking politicians over a bilingual voting district in and around Brussels, the country’s capital. The king had waited since last week to see if last-ditch talks could keep the coalition government of Prime Minister Yves Leterme together. But late Monday, it became clear the differences between the linguistic groups were too deep. Elections could now be called in early June.”

Renouncing American citizenship: "Let’s be clear about something. A person who decides to give up his US citizenship is not guilty of disloyalty to America; quite the opposite. He could very well be more loyal to American principles than the regime is willing to tolerate. It also does not mean that he is giving up hope for liberty; he may have great hope for liberty, in a different way and in a different place. In any case, the rise of emigration, expatriation, and citizenship renunciation is a trend that is not going away. It is rising and will get more significant.”

Space is lost: "Twelve men have landed on the moon and stayed for a few hours, the last more than 40 years ago. They brought back some rock samples. This was important but in terms of advancing science did not even scratch the surface of what could be done. The Chinese, it seems, appreciate the potential scientific and possibly military value of the moon. They have launched four manned rockets, the last carrying two men, and it is reasonable to guess that they are aiming at a permanent moon-base. India, Europe, and of course Russia are all pushing into space, while the U.S. throws away its lead.”

Anti-libertarian point refuted: "The English Marxist political philosopher Ted Honderich asks us to imagine a perfectly just society, constituted according to libertarian principles. Then he asks, rhetorically, whether it is possible that there exist starving people in such a society? (Sure, that might be so but that’s true of any society and much less likely in a free one.) So Honderich then continues: ‘[I]n this perfectly just society they have no claim to food, no moral right to it. No one and nothing does wrong in letting them starve to death. There is no obligation in this society, on the state or anything else, to save them from starving to death. It is not true of anyone that he or she ought to have helped them. This is vicious.’(p.44) Here we have a blatantly misleading assessment of a free society as well as men and women in such a society.”

The evolution of toleration in the west: "At one time, church and state intertwined and tolerance was a minority opinion. Even prior to establishment of a Constitutional Republic in the United States, there was quite a bit of church-state entanglement. The results were often bloody and always nasty. Even when only Protestant Christians had their rights respected, these Protestants frequently and repeatedly turned on one another. I have previously written here about how colonial America routinely attacked minority Christian sects, even to the point of killing people for being the wrong kind of Protestant Christian. There was never a Judeo-Christian heritage, because the colonies routinely excluded Jews and Catholics from having legal rights and some colonies refused to allow either to settle there. Bloody persecution of Christians by Christians in the colonies was mild in comparison to the centuries of bloodshed in Europe over which form of Christianity should be imposed on everyone.”

Goodbye supply side: "Properly understood, there were no Reagan tax cuts. In 1980 federal spending was $590 billion and in 1989 it was $1.14 trillion; you don’t get Reagan tax cuts without Tip O’Neill spending cuts. Looked at from the proper perspective, we haven’t really had any tax cuts to speak of — we’ve had tax deferrals. Reagan and his congressional allies had an excuse in the considerable person of Speaker O’Neill. But George W. Bush and the concurrent Republican majorities in both houses of Congress didn’t manage to cut spending, either. Part of that was circumstances — 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the subprime meltdown — but part of it was the fact that a poorly applied supply-side analysis has infantilized Republicans when it comes to the budget. They love to cut taxes but cannot bring themselves to cut spending: It’s eat dessert first and leave the spinach on the table.”

The new fat cats: "John Edwards was right. There are two Americas, just not his two (the rich and powerful versus everyone else). The real divide today is, on one side, the 20 million people who work for state and local governments and the additional 3 million who’ve retired with fat pensions. On the other, the rest of us, roughly 280 million Americans. In short, there’s a gulf between the bureaucrats and the people.”

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)

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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, April 26, 2010



Did Ayn Rand cause the GFC?

It's a strange day when I excerpt a column by eccentric Leftist Matt Taibbi but I am running the excerpt below because he is nearly right. That Ayn Rand is responsible for trust in markets is of course just attention-getting nonsense. That trust goes back to Adam Smith, centuries ago, and even Left-leaning economics textbooks spell out the advantages of market systems.

But Smith also warned of a tendency of businessmen to collude in undermining markets -- thus disadvantaging the consumer. So Taibbi is doing little more than updating Smith with modern examples below.

What Taibbi fails to mention is the way big business has the Democratic party in its pocket -- thus ensuring that government also often favours big business at the expense of the consumer. The ties between Goldman and the Obama administration are of course now well known. Without government interventions of various sorts, there would be a lot more transactions governed purely by market forces -- to the great advantage of ordinary folk


SO GOLDMAN Sachs, the world's greatest and smuggest investment bank, has been sued for fraud by the American Securities and Exchange Commission. Legally, the case hangs on a technicality.

Morally, however, the case may turn into a final referendum on the greed-is-good ethos that conquered America in the '80s - and in the years since has aped other horrifying American trends in spreading across the Western world like a venereal disease.

When the globe was engulfed in the flood of defaults and derivative losses that emerged from the collapse of the US housing bubble two years ago, few understood that the crash had its roots in the lunatic greed-centred objectivist religion, fostered in the '50s and '60s by ponderous emigre novelist Ayn Rand....

Last year I wrote a brutally negative article about Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone (I called the bank a "great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity") that sparked a heated debate. On one side were people who believed that Goldman is little better than a criminal enterprise that bilks the market, the government, and even its own clients in a bewildering variety of complex financial scams.

On the other were those who argued Goldman wasn't guilty of anything except being "too smart" and really good at making money. This was based almost entirely on the Randian belief system, under which the leaders of Goldman Sachs appear not as the cheap swindlers they look like to me, but idealised heroes, the saviours of society.

Rand's fingerprints are all over the Goldman story. The case involves a hedge fund financier, John Paulson, who went to Goldman with the idea of a synthetic derivative package pegged to risky US mortgages, for use in betting against the mortgage market. Paulson would short the package and Goldman would then sell the deal to suckers. The SEC's contention is that Goldman committed a crime when they failed to tell the suckers about the vulture betting against them on the other side of the deal.

The instruments in question - collateralised debt obligations and credit default swaps - fall into the category of derivatives, which are virtually unregulated in the US thanks in large part to the effort of former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, a staunch Randian. In the late '90s, Greenspan lobbied hard for a law that deregulated the sort of interest-rate swaps Goldman used in its now-infamous dealings with Greece.

Confronted with public outrage, the leaders of Goldman will often appear genuinely confused. It's not an act. There have been a lot of greedy financiers and banks in history, but what makes Goldman stand out is its truly bizarre cultist/religious belief in the rightness of what it does. This Randian mindset is now ingrained in the American character.

This debate is going to be crystallised in the Goldman case. Much of America is going to reflexively insist that Goldman's only crime was being better at making money than IKB and ABN-Amro, and that the meddling government (in the American narrative, always the bad guy) should get off Goldman's Armani-clad back. Another side is going to argue that Goldman winning this case would be a rebuke to the whole idea of civilisation - which, after all, is really just a collective decision by all of us not to screw each other over even when we can.

More HERE

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Medicare Report: Obamacare Bad for Seniors

The Obama administration’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a new report with dire news for America’s seniors. Obamacare’s smoke and mirrors budgeting gimmickry has real world consequences that will cause more than seven million seniors to lose their current Medicare coverage and could force as many as 15% of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies out of participation in the Medicare system altogether.

On page 9 of the report, Richard Foster, CMS Chief Actuary, warns that the payment rates for Medicare Part A providers such as hospitals, skilled nursing homes and home health agencies, are linked to increased, “unrealistic” economy-wide productivity standards that will be difficult if not impossible to achieve -- likely reducing payments below overhead costs.

From the report:
It is important to note that the estimated savings shown in this memorandum for one category of Medicare provisions may be unrealistic. The PPACA introduced permanent annual productivity adjustments to price updates for most providers (such as hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies), using a 10-year moving average of economy-wide, non-farm productivity gains. While such payment update reductions will create a strong incentive for providers to maximize efficiency, it is doubtful that many will be able to improve their own productivity to the degree achieved by the economy at large.

Over time, a sustained reduction in payment updates, based on productivity expectations that are difficult to attain, would cause Medicare payment rates to grow more slowly than, and in a way that was unrelated to, the providers' costs of furnishing services to beneficiaries. Thus, providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and, absent legislative intervention, might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries). Simulations by the Office of the Actuary suggest that roughly 15 percent of the Part A providers would become unprofitable within the 10-year projection period as a result of the productivity adjustments.

Page 9 of the report also reveals that funds from the new 3.8% Medicare tax (“unearned income Medicare contribution”) are not paid into the Medicare trust funds:
The Reconciliation Act amendments introduced a new 3.8 percent "unearned income Medicare contribution" on income from interest, dividends, annuities, and other non-earnings sources for individual taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 and couples filing joint returns with incomes above $250,000. Despite the title of this tax, this provision is unrelated to Medicare; in particular, the revenues generated by the tax on unearned income are not allocated to the Medicare trust funds.

The Democrats’ primary stated purpose for the passage of Obamacare was to reduce costs. The report also estimates a $311 billion rise in health care costs over the next 10 years.

“This Obama Administration report confirms that Washington Democrats’ government takeover of health care fails to deliver the one thing the American people wanted out of reform: lower costs,” House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of the new CMS report. “According to his own administration’s analysis, the health care law the President signed one month ago today would violate his pledge to ‘bend the cost curve’ and force millions of seniors off their current Medicare coverage.”

“This is in addition to what we already know about how this new law is squeezing employers with job-killing tax hikes and leaving middle-class families to brace for higher premiums,” Boehner added. “Washington Democrats refused to wait for this critical analysis to be completed before forcing their job-killing health care bill through Congress, and now we know why.”

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (R-Ga.) points out that Obamacare’s $311 billion increase in national health care expenditures will be much higher in the likely event that Congress would intervene on the Medicare cuts -- and Medicaid patients will suffer more limited access to medical care.

“The real increase in spending is almost certain to be even higher than the reported balance of $311 billion because the new health care law relies on unlikely future cuts to Medicare,” Price stated. “The news on Medicaid is no better. The administration chose to put more than half of all newly insured individuals under their plan into Medicaid. Unfortunately, this report confirms that the influx of new Medicaid enrollees will have serious trouble gaining access to care because the program does not cover the costs associated with its patients.”

“The only way to make quality health care both more affordable and more accessible is to put patients in charge,” Price said. “When Washington controls things that should rightly be handled by patients and their families, you get bureaucratic decisions that ignore cost signals and the individual needs of individual patients. One size does not fit all in health care. This report is yet another indication that ObamaCare must be repealed and replaced with true patient-centered health care reforms.”

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, also weighed in on the gravity of this new report.

“This report confirms Americans' worst fears about the health care law: it will increase health spending, increase federal control over our health care system, cut benefits for millions of seniors and jeopardize access to care for seniors and the disabled,” Camp said. “This is a bad law and, according to this analysis, seniors have the most to be concerned about when it comes to the future of their health care. I don’t think the Democrats’ health care bill would have passed if Congress and the American people had this analysis before the vote.”

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

As usual, government regulation as political payoff: "The old adage about those that live in glass houses and stone throwing immediately came to mind. But, the president really believes that the financial crisis we still find ourselves in despite trillions of dollars in Keynesian spending is somebody else’s fault. In fact, he indicated that, ‘the system as it stands is what led to a series of massive, costly, taxpayer bailouts.’ And I thought it was Mr. Obama and his big government colleagues in the Congress who voted unconstitutionally to give away our money to the greedy, misbehaving banks. Now, the president’s bizarre remarks are one thing, but the financial regulation bill before the Senate is even more bizarre. Crafted by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, the bill will do nothing to fix the real causes of the financial crisis. In actuality, the bill amounts to nothing more than a political payoff for Dodd’s benefactors on Wall Street. And this should come as no surprise since Dodd’s donor list reads like a who’s who of the financial services sector.”

Big business depends heavily on privilege: "Notice that the subtitle of Stossel’s article suggests that ‘capitalism’ is synonymous with ‘American business.’ Genuinely freed markets are not mostly cruel and unfair. But I think it’s a stretch to assume that the same is true of big businesses that operate with all sorts of privileges from the state and that benefit from a long history of injustice and dispossession. Big business in America does not enjoy its power and privilege in virtue of a freed market, and there is no reason to think business leaders desire a freed market. The cruelty and unfairness of big business — at home and abroad — may have little to do with free(d) markets, but they’re systemic features of ‘capitalism’ — if by that term is meant ‘rule by capitalists’ or ‘the economic system we have now.’”

It wasn’t capitalism, stupid: "As Lowenstein put it, ‘government support of the mortgage twins was among the original sins of the financial crisis. It stemmed from the country’s affection for homeownership — a legacy of a frontier nation that subsidized homesteading for pioneers and encouraged later generations to homestead in the suburbs via the mortgage-interest deduction ….’ Now whatever one may think of the sentiments that drove all this, one matter should be crystal clear: laissez-faire capitalism is entirely incompatible with such public policy.”

More forced unionization: "A group of personal care providers who work in homes in Illinois filed a class-action lawsuit this week against Governor Pat Quinn and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). They’re suing because some of the 20,000 of the home-based workers have, against their will, been made dues-paying ‘public employees’ of the state. The National Right to Work Foundation represents some of the thousands of care providers who have turned down union membership, but may still have to fend off union bosses. … I’ve reported on the forced unionization racket in Michigan, where home-based day-care providers, some of whom own their businesses and do not wish to belong to a union, are nevertheless forced to pay union dues. The state deducts the dues from their paychecks when they care for children receiving welfare. The Mackinac Center sued Michigan on behalf of the day-care owners; that case is now before the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Second Navy SEAL found not guilty in Iraq: "A military judge Friday found Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe, one of three Navy SEALs accused in the alleged beating an Iraqi detainee, not guilty, a military spokesman said. Keefe was accused of dereliction of duty for not preventing abuse of a prisoner. The verdict comes a day after another of the other accused sailors, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, was found not guilty of dereliction of duty. Huertas was also charged with impeding an investigation by attempting to influence the testimony of another sailor.”

NC: Is Asheville Obama’s vision for America?: "Okay, maybe the Obamas’ Asheville, N.C., trip is just a romantic getaway and a chance to grab some 12 Bones BBQ, as the White House suggests. But you know something is going on when even the local ‘tea party’ affiliate welcomes Obama to their ‘mountain paradise.’ … [C]ould Asheville itself be a clue to what the President is thinking when he talks about ‘transforming’ America? Founded as a health resort, the little city of ‘hillbilly-hippies,’ entrepreneurs, musicians, retirees and community drum circles is, indeed, a progressive’s vision of America. … But it also represents conservative fears about what President’s intentions might wreak: A dearth of high-paying jobs, relatively high taxes, large numbers of homeless and other wards of the state, a high crime rate, and a progressive ruling class perhaps more interested in maintaining quaintness than thickening residents’ wallets.”

Capitalism vs. capitalists: "If by ‘capitalist’ you mean someone who cares more about his own profit than yours; if you mean someone who cares more about providing for his family than providing for yours; if you mean someone who trusts that he is a better caretaker of his own interests and desires than a bureaucrat he’s never met, often in a city he’s never been to: then we are all capitalists. Because, by that standard, capitalism isn’t some far-off theory about the allocation of capital; it is a commonsense description of what motivates pretty much all human beings everywhere.”

How democracy can go bad: "Democracy is not all bad, don’t misunderstand me. It is only bad when it becomes the central political principle. In a free society some democracy is necessary because it amounts to everyone having a say in political matters, which is their right. The real issue about democracy is, what is the scope of politics. If the scope of democracy in politics is minimal, as it should be in a free country, there is no problem. … But once democracy expands its reach beyond minimal politics, it leads to all kinds of corruption and facilitating of larceny and oppression. If the many can vote themselves the belongings of the few, this is corruption. If the many can impose their lifestyle, religion, priorities and other matters on the rest, that is corruption by democracy.”

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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