Saturday, May 08, 2010

Liberals Are from Mars, Conservatives Are from Earth

By a recovering liberal who is a psychotherapist in Berkeley

One of the things I like so much about writing for American Thinker is the comments page. Readers offer so much: tips for books to read, quotes to ponder, spiritual inspiration. And then there are times when the comments absolutely floor me.

I was shocked that readers were shocked about my previously viewing Marxism as sublime. I was astonished that readers were astonished about my young client's freak-out about Styrofoam.

I realized that liberals really do live on another planet. Sometimes I feel like I'm having a Close Encounter of the Political Kind.

Conservatives can mistakenly assume that liberals think like they do, in a learned and rational way. This is an exercise in futility since liberalism is not based on logic.

To become a conservative, I've had to learn a whole new language, one based on reason. If conservatives want to understand the liberal mind, they should consider becoming bilingual, too.

Liberals live in a stratosphere centered on emotions and magical thinking. If you've tried to reason with your daughter and she looks at you blankly; if your neighbor changes the subject during your compelling arguments; if your cousin says this about Obama: "I don't know why. I just like the guy"...that's why.

After I 'fessed up last week to once being besotted with socialism, a reader had an epiphany. He wrote that maybe liberals are just plain stupid. I'm not going to disagree with this. There are innumerable examples from both the famous and the anonymous:

-- The most illustrious of all leftists, Noam Chomsky, still maintains that the Khmer Rouge did not slaughter millions of Cambodians.

-- Liberal luminaries Annette Bening and Naomi Wolf defend radical Islam, including the dreaded burqa.

-- After journeying to Cuba, members of the Congressional Black Caucus bragged about the stellar conditions there.

-- Michael Moore thinks that the Cuban health system is to die for.

-- Anita Dunn, a former special assistant to Obama, stated that Mao is one of the people she admired the most.

If these are the more informed liberals, what about Jane and Joe in the street?

-- During the primary, I asked my friend Gail why she was voting for Obama. Did she know anything about his voting record or background? She responded, "No, I don't." When I asked her why she was voting for him, she said, "I just am."

-- Last week, I chatted with Shelley, a liberal pal who voted for Obama. I asked her what she thought of him now. She said that she thought he was doing fine, but she confessed that she wasn't following the news.

-- During the election, I told a friend, George, that I thought Obama was a socialist. George responded, "Well capitalism doesn't work. Why not try socialism?" Dr. George has a Ph.D.

Are these folks "stupid"? I looked up the word, and my dictionary reads, "lacking intelligence or common sense." Going by that definition, it would be hard to argue no.

Liberals are certainly capable of intelligence. They may be adept at their careers and hobbies. But the problem is that their naïveté and a delusional way of looking at the world impedes common sense and street smarts.

Further, when liberals take the time to tune in, they get their "information" from progressive propaganda. And they don't question the Left's authority. That's the biggest problem -- not questioning the party line even though there are obvious gaps and gaffes. A big reason for this is fear. I had a telling e-mail exchange with a liberal friend. When I wrote that I thought Obama was a Marxist, she responded, "Don't say that! You're scaring me!"

Aside from intellectual laziness, the Fear Factor makes otherwise intelligent liberals stupidly fall into line. Liberals can scare easily.

Unarmed with either weapons or the basic facts, they have no way to defend themselves. Imagine a liberal and a conservative being dropped off in separate wilderness areas. How many days before the liberal would be no more? Meanwhile, weeks later, the conservative would still be going strong.

Many liberals know how inadequate they are, whether at hunting their own meat or throwing a baseball. It's generally the conservative they'll call on to build a fence or rewire their house or protect their families. Without conservatives, they are rendered absolutely helpless.

This may be a hidden reason for liberals' contempt for conservatives: They know that you can do stuff they can't, that you can survive when they'd croak, and that you don't need the government -- and they do.

Many conservative women -- like the intrepid Sarah Palin -- are more capable, more powerful, and yes, more a "man" than some of the liberal XY specimens. And the utter shame of this makes them despise you -- and want to render you helpless, too.

That's the universe I grew up in, that I lived in my whole life, until the mysterious winds of Fate swept me up and turned my life upside-down. For most of my life, I was a secular ignoramus, living in and for the self. I navigated the world with the Braille of feelings, and I blindly followed the leaders.

I've now spent two years exploring a different planet entirely, the more formidable and logical and spiritual one where conservatives work and play. I've parked myself firmly in your world, while I write about the other one.

Frankly, I like your hemisphere better, and have settled in for good. I feel more safely ensconced with the earth beneath me and the heavens above me than I ever did in Outer Space.



Big Government Schemes Get Free Pass in Report on Greek Problems

Greece has passed its audition for a bailout from other European Union states after running up its debt. The New York Times would have readers believe that tax cheats are the central problem here. But extravagant government benefits and entrenched union interests drive spending programs beyond the point where they are sustainable, nevermind how much tax revenue is collected. This point goes missing in the coverage…

Greece is a socialist state bedeviled by unsustainable pensions, mounting debt and a lethargic population. In many respects, it serves as a metaphor for where the U.S. may be heading in light of how powerful public employee unions have become. This front page piece in The New York is instructive because it fixes the blame on insufficient tax revenue as opposed to government spending; there’s an agenda here.

The Tea Party movement suggests that America may yet find her way again, which is why big government failures must be explained away in the liberal news media where there are most prevalent. Throughout the European Union, wages and taxes are high, regulations burdensome and the unions firmly entrenched. Former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao has warned against “The Europeanization of the American economy” in the form interventionist government policies that converge with disconcerting economic trends.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for instance, has released some unsettling numbers that point to severe public policy challenges: 52 percent of all union members work for the federal or state and local governments, a sharp increase from the 49 percent in 2008.A majority of American union members are now employed by the government; three times more union members now work in the Post Office than in the auto industry. This means union workers have a vested interest in higher taxes and government expansion.

Although EU member states are required to keep their deficit constrained at 3 percent of GDP, Greece has already hit over 12 percent and will need to issue almost $80 million in government bonds to finance the debt, according to government figures. U.S. taxpayers who rightly balk at the bailout measures that have been floated since the end of 2008 ought to examine the rescue package that have been floated in the EU. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is trying to sell the public (with a little help from a compliant NYT) on a $30 billion bailout for Greece.

Meanwhile, The Times is trying to sell the American people on the perfidy of taxpayers. This most recent article goes into great detail about Greek citizens who decline to acknowledge that own pools on their tax forms. It is a clever, cheeky piece that deliberately sidesteps the public policy failures responsible for the country’s collapsing economy. Only 324 residents admitted to having pools in the northern suburb area in question when satellite photos show there was almost 17,000 pools.

“Such evasion has played a significant role in Greece’s debt crisis, and as the country struggles to get its financial house in order, it is going after tax cheats as never before,” The Times argues.

Various studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, have estimated that the government may be losing as much as $30 billion a year to tax evasion — a figure that would have gone a long way to solving its debt problems.”

But there is a big missing piece of the equation here. Even if the efforts are successful, the additional tax dollars will only be used to subsidize the very spending habits that have pushed Greece to brink.

The article concludes with a dig against the most industrious elements of society without any mention of the bloated welfare state that could cost neighboring countries in the EU a pretty penny.

“Some of the most aggressive tax evaders, experts say, are the self-employed, a huge pool of people in this country of small businesses,” according to The Times. “It includes not just taxi drivers, restaurant owners and electricians, but engineers, architects, lawyers and doctors.”



"Net Neutrality" Is Back

Exactly one month ago, I wrote in this spot about Net Neutrality being dealt a severe blow in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Court ruled unanimously against the FCC enforcing Net Neutrality regulations against Internet Service Providers.

In that same article from last month, I warned: "Don’t expect progressives to give up on Net Neutrality now because of a court ruling. At this time, more than ever before, we should be keeping a watchful eye on what they do next to sneak these Internet regulations through. Progressives never take no for answer."

And today, I write with an update exposing that the Progressives in the Obama Administration are doing exactly what I warned of. The FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, has decided to move forward with Net Neutrality regulations that would allow the FCC to regulate the internet.

How Did Genachowski Get Around the Court Ruling? Julius Genachowski has maneuvered around the Appeals Court ruling by using old phone regulations that were designed for traditional landlines–not internet broadband lines. Taking this route won’t give the FCC the full amount of power that it hoped to wield, but it is a start down a very slippery slope that will lead to more and more government regulation.

While the specifics of this are still being debated, it is troubling to see such regulations develop. It isn’t enough for our government central planners to regulate our health care, financial investments, and so on; these folks have proven that they will stop at nothing short of regulating every action you take–or think of taking.



Republicans Sound Alarm on Administration Plan to Seize 401(k)s

In February, the White House released its “Annual Report on the Middle Class” containing new regulations favored by Big Labor including a bailout of critically underfunded union pension plans through “retirement security” options.

The radical solution most favored by Big Labor is the seizure of private 401(k) plans for government disbursement -- which lets them off the hook for their collapsing retirement scheme. And, of course, the Obama administration is eager to accommodate their buddies.

Vice President Joe Biden floated the idea, called “Guaranteed Retirement Accounts” (GRAs), in the February “Middle Class” report.

In conjunction with the report’s release, the Obama administration jointly issued through the Departments of Labor and Treasury a “Request for Information” regarding the “annuitization” of 401(k) plans through “Lifetime Income Options” in the form of a notice to the public of proposed issuance of rules and regulations. (pdf)

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) and a group of House Republicans are mounting an effort to fight back.

The American people have become painfully aware over the past year that elections sometimes have calamitous consequences. Republicans lack the votes (for now) to reign in the Obama administration’s myriad nationalization plans for everything from health care to the automobile industry.

Now the backdoor bulls-eye is on your 401(k) plan and the trillions of dollars the government would control through seizure, regulation and federal disbursement of mandatory retirement accounts.

Boehner and the group are sounding the alarm, warning bureaucrats to keep their hands off of America’s private retirement plans.

Just when you thought it was safe to come up for air after the government takeover of health care.



Europe is irrelevant to China

By John Lee

The visits of Nicolas Sarkozy and the President of the European Union to China last week is the latest attempt to revive Europe’s relevance as a global power. But Europe is misreading how China views the strategic chessboard. Instead of seeking a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ with Beijing, European’s would be better off working with Washington to help manage the consequences of China’s rise.

Chinese strategists are obsessed with how best to deal with the United States. Despite speculation about a preference for a multi-polar future, Beijing ultimately seeks a bi-polar world, with China and America supreme above the ‘declining powers’ of France, the UK, Germany, Japan and Russia. European hopes that the G2 (America and China) can still be transformed into a G3 (America, China and Europe) will not receive Chinese support.

While genuine opportunities for European-Sino strategic cooperation are non-existent, there are real opportunities for a coordinated EU-US strategic partnership – a point, paradoxically, which is better appreciated in Beijing than in Brussels or Washington.

On a number of specific issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, global governance, and climate change, European and American interests are aligned. Both are concerned about Beijing’s willingness to support regimes in countries such as Myanmar, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Iran in return for access to energy and mineral resources. Both believe China’s rise as a ‘responsible stakeholder’ can lead to progress in domestic political reform and greater respect for human rights. Revealingly, Beijing has gone to great lengths to avoid discussing China’s poor human rights record in any multilateral forum that involves both the US and the EU.

Most importantly, Chinese diplomats fear international isolation above all else. Over 450 European delegations visited China in 2009. That Washington, London, Berlin, and Paris have focused on wooing China bilaterally, rather than developing a unified and coordinated diplomatic front, has been a source of much relief in Beijing.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated May 7. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.


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Friday, May 07, 2010

Obama's psychosis -- a lack of grip on reality

President clings to delusion that there is no war on terror

President Obama is at war with reality. This is the central problem of his presidency.

The arrest of suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is being celebrated in the liberal establishment media as a triumph for the Obama administration. A terrorist atrocity was averted; Mr. Shahzad was captured before his plane could take off for Dubai.

Yet the media's narrative overlooks one seminal fact: We got lucky. The only reason Mr. Shahzad's car bomb did not blow up in the heart of midtown Manhattan during a bustling Saturday evening was incompetence. His detonator failed to work properly. Otherwise, everything was in place - the Pathfinder parked in a strategic location, gas cans, propane tanks and fertilizer - for a deadly jihadist attack aimed at inflicting maximum casualties.

This is unacceptable. The attempted bombing reveals once again Mr. Obama's inability to protect America from Islamist terrorism. Under his watch, terrorist attacks and attempted attacks on U.S. soil have increased.

Muslim extremists have targeted synagogues in New York and federal buildings in Dallas. In September, a plot to bomb New York City's subway was disrupted. In November, the Fort Hood massacre resulted in the murder of 13 service members. On Christmas Eve, the so-called underwear bomber came within a whisker of blowing up a United Airlines flight approaching Detroit. Every single one of these acts - aborted or not - is a damning repudiation of Mr. Obama's policy of appeasement. Rather than ushering in a new era of peace and coexistence, multicultural detente is emboldening the forces of global jihad. The Shahzads of the world rightly sense American weakness.

The heart of the Obama doctrine is the illusion that there is no war on terror. According to Mr. Obama and the liberal elite, Islamic fascism is a figment of George W. Bush's fevered imagination - a wild scheme concocted by militaristic neoconservatives to justify invading Iraq and imposing an American empire in the Middle East.

Hence, Mr. Obama has sought to repeal much of Mr. Bush's legacy. U.S. troops are to begin pulling out of Afghanistan next summer. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is being abandoned. Israel is undermined. Democracy and human rights are no longer promoted in the Arab world. Washington seeks a rapprochement with Iran and Syria. Guantanamo is to be closed. Terrorists are to be tried in civilian court. Mr. Obama apologizes for U.S. "injustices" in the Middle East. Terms such as "Muslim," "Islam" or "Islamic extremism" are censored from national security documents.

In short, the president is conveying that America no longer views radical Islam as the enemy. Mr. Obama desperately wants everyone to get along. The Islamists, however, don't. They remain impervious to his calls for hope and change.

In fact, they are expressing increasing contempt for him - and America. Like all postmodern leftists, Mr. Obama refuses to accept the fundamental truth of human nature: the enduring existence of evil. Not everybody wants to get along; some peoples, cultures and ideologies are irredeemably wicked, bent on imperial expansion and genocide. Their lust for power and domination cannot be quenched. History is full of them - the Huns, the Aztecs, the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Soviet Russia, communist China. Eventually, the only solution is to crush them. Appeasement only invites aggression.

The Times Square bomber demonstrates the parochial narcissism of contemporary liberalism. Mr. Shahzad should have been a classic convert to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's utopian dream of a world based on consumerism and globalization. He was a Pakistani immigrant who became a U.S. citizen. The country he betrayed and loathed gave him immigration visas, a university education, a job at a prestigious marketing firm, a home in suburban Connecticut - the American dream.

Instead of being grateful, he became part of the global jihad in his native Pakistan. He preferred the Taliban training camps in Peshawar to McDonald's and Blockbuster. The sword and the crescent were too alluring for him.

Since the seventh century, radical Islam has been at war with the West. It purged the Arabian Peninsula of most Christians and Jews. During the Middle Ages, it conquered large swaths of Europe - from Spain and parts of France to Sicily and the Balkans. Today's Islamists seek to restore a medieval global caliphate. Their aims are not rational or limited, but totalitarian and universal.

There is something strangely perverse about a worldview that believes a greater threat comes from old ladies at Tea Party rallies holding anti-Obama signs than jihadist mass murderers. Mr. Obama refuses to denounce Mr. Shahzad - or anyone - as an Islamic terrorist. The most he could muster was that the Pakistani-American's capture was "another sobering reminder of the times in which we live." His statements were not exactly Churchillian.

But when it comes to excoriating the Tea Party movement, Mr. Obama is more than willing to pound the pulpit and sound the clarion calls to battle. He has called them "tea baggers" - a vicious slur. He hints that they are closet racists, who may repeat the violence of Timothy McVeigh. His Democratic media allies smear them as white supremacists and "domestic extremists." New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg even said before Mr. Shahzad's arrest that maybe the culprit wasan opponent of Obamacare. This is from the mayor of a city that lost 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

The desire to equate Tea Partiers - peaceful, law-abiding activists who have never committed any heinous crimes, never mind bombings or beheadings - with murderous fanatics is not simply delusional. It reflects an ideological psychosis, a death instinct that refuses to face up to the gathering threat of Islamic fascism.

Next time, we may not be so lucky. And Mr. Obama's dogmatic denial of a war on terror will mean nothing when American blood is spilled on our streets.



Dem Turnout Falls Off A Cliff

Turnout among Dem voters dropped precipitously in 3 statewide primaries on Tuesday, giving the party more evidence that their voters lack enthusiasm ahead of midterm elections.

In primaries in NC, IN and OH, Dems turned out at far lower rates than they have in previous comparable elections.

Just 663K OH voters cast ballots in the competitive primary between LG Lee Fisher (D) and Sec/State Jennifer Brunner (D). That number is lower than the 872K voters who turned out in '06, when neither Gov. Ted Strickland (D) nor Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) faced serious primary opponents.

Only 425K voters turned out to pick a nominee against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The 14.4% turnout was smaller than the 444K voters -- or 18% of all registered Dem voters -- who turned out in '04, when Gov. Mike Easley (D) faced only a gadfly candidate in his bid to be renominated for a second term.

And in IN, just 204K Hoosiers voted for Dem House candidates, far fewer than the 357K who turned out in '02 and the 304K who turned out in '06.

By contrast, GOP turnout was up almost across the board. 373K people voted in Burr's uncompetitive primary, nearly 9% higher than the 343K who voted in the equally non-competitive primary in '04. Turnout in House races in IN rose 14.6% from '06, fueled by the competitive Senate primary, which attracted 550K voters. And 728K voters cast ballots for a GOP Sec/State nominee in Ohio, the highest-ranking statewide election with a primary; in '06, just 444K voters cast ballots in that race.

Top Dem strategists have promised to spend millions to get their voters to cast ballots, and polls show they will need to succeed in order to avoid an electoral beating. The latest weekly Gallup tracking survey shows 43% of GOPers are "very enthusiastic" about voting, while just 33% of Dems feel the same way.



Nashville Flood 2010: The Disaster You May Not Have Heard About

More media selectivity

A great American city is currently buried under a sea of water, but you may not know much about it given all the attention media have given to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the failed car bomb attempt in New York's Times Square.

The rain totals are almost unimaginable as is the flooding. Damage estimates at this point have already surpassed a billion dollars, and are likely to go higher.

Several of my readers have asked me to post the following video. I cried most of the time I watched. See if you can control your emotions better than I did

I'm currently trying to locate charitable organizations doing storm relief. One is the Middle Tennessee Red Cross.

Also, WSMV-TV is doing a telethon Thursday evening, May 6, featuring Vince Gill, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Naomi Judd, Darius Rucker, Phil Vassar, Steve Wariner, Buddy Jewell, Lonestar, Bo Bice and Lee Roy Parnell.

Another option just sent to me by a reader is the Tennessee Emergency Relief Fund at online or 888-540-5200.



The Go-Fly List for Terrorists

If America's homeland security policies were subject to truth-in-advertising laws, the "no-fly" list would be known around the world by its right and proper name: the "go-fly" list. As in: Go right ahead, jihadists, and fly our planes. All aboard, evil-doers.

While grandmas and grade-schoolers and war heroes patiently pass through a gauntlet of wands, checkpoints and screening obstacles, the nation's safety watchdogs are asleep at the wheel. They've mentally checked out at the check-in counter. And they're in over their heads at federal counterterrorism centers, where "watch list" means putting the names of dangerous operatives into massive databases -- then idly watching potential bombers waltz through our airports and onto our tarmacs.

The federal no-fly scheme was bypassed or breached easily by both the Christmas Day bomb plotter and the Times Square bomb plotter. In the former case, Nigerian terror operative Umar Abdulmutallab had been on the counterterrorism radar screen for his radical jihadi threats (which had been reported by his father to U.S. embassy officials in London). But the young, single, rootless Muslim extremist with suspicious travel patterns -- ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! -- did not meet the standards for watch-listing and didn't even make it onto the second-tier "selectee list" of potential threats who can fly only after additional screening.

By contrast, beleaguered 8-year-old Mikey Hicks of Clifton, N.J., still can't get off the selectee list after years of ridiculous harassment while traveling on family vacations....

The data are only as good as the people entrusted to collect, process and use the information to protect national security. And without the ability to share and access the information across numerous agencies, the data are useless. Nearly nine years after Sept. 11, there is still no functional interoperability among an alphabet soup of national security and criminal databases -- including NAILS, TECS, CLASS, VISAS VIPER, TUSCAN, TIPPIX, IBIS, CIS, APIS, SAVE, IDENT, DACS, AFIS, ENFORCE and the NCIC. The Senate raised questions about understaffed efforts to modernize some of these databases back in March. What are we waiting for? The next jihadi bombing attempt?

The warped priorities of the Obama White House imperil us all. A command-and-control government that squanders its time and our money taking over businesses it has no business running -- health insurance, auto manufacturing, banking, student loans -- is a government neglecting its most fundamental mandate: providing for the common defense.

More here



Prayers prevail despite court ruling: "Defiance tinged National Day of Prayer gatherings Thursday as participants decried a court ruling last month that the annual event is unconstitutional. At a breakfast here, committee chair Marj Mokry welcomed 250 people with a prayer of thanks ‘for the freedom to gather in prayer.’ Yolanda Fields, 29, director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, said the court ruling ‘feels pretty bad, because this country was founded on prayer.’”

Navy SEAL acquitted of assaulting Iraqi detainee: "Navy SEAL Matthew McCabe, who was accused of punching an Iraqi detainee, was found not guilty on all charges by a military jury Thursday. McCabe, a 24-year-old petty officer 2nd class, had been charged with assaulting Iraqi detainee Ahmed Hashim Abed, who was arrested in September in Iraq for allegedly orchestrating the 2004 murders of four U.S. contractors in Falluja. The contractors’ burned bodies were later hung from a bridge.”

AZ governor rejects call for delay to immigration action: "A prominent Senate Democrat asked Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to put off her state’s controversial immigration law to give Congress a chance to act. Scant time passed before Brewer’s answer came back: No. The request by Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York was a long shot for getting a stalled Senate immigration initiative moving again. Even the White House thinks the Senate proposal is nearly dead. ‘There’s not enough support to move forward,’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday.”

The hypocrisy of Arizona bashing: "How is it that, in one breath, Democratic senators in the US Congress can denounce Arizona state’s new immigration law as racist and, in the next, submit proposals to introduce some of the most draconian immigration policies in the world? The Arizona state government has been lambasted for demanding anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant to ‘show us your papers,’ but the Democrats want to go even further, demanding that immigrants ‘show us your biometric data card.’”

Market will recover despite government: "Brian Wesbury’s new book is for investors, policy analysts, market forecasters, ordinary citizens, and government regulators and politicians, if they will only listen to the message. Wesbury lays out the causes of the current financial crisis, explains how the government turned a contraction in the housing market into a crisis, and outlines how the government’s actions are not helping the recovery. That is the bad news. The good news is that the market is adjusting and a recovery is taking place.”

“A day in the life of the regulatory state”: "In 1801, Thomas Jefferson expressed his view of good government during his first inaugural address. Our Founding Fathers believed that the best government governed the least since the people were then free to peacefully live in any manner that they choose. Unfortunately, 209 years later, government is involved in every single aspect of our lives. It is inescapable. We literally cannot eat, spend our own money or travel without government’s interference.”


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Thursday, May 06, 2010

A rather good essay on Karl Marx

From Daily Kos, of all places, The author rightly detects the miserable nature of Marx. Basically, he hated everyone

Born 192 years ago today in Trier, Germany, Karl Marx "grew up a brilliant and spoiled child" (Sowell, 165) then spent his college years driving his father to exasperation, poisoning his mind with Hegel, and writing of the day when he would obtain enough political power to "wander godlike and victorious...I will feel equal to the creator". (Sowell, 166) So even from his youth it’s safe to say the boy had issues. A man who knew him later in life commented "a most dangerous personal ambition has eaten away all the good in him" (Sowell, 183) so the wisdom of age slipped right through him, his monomania left every potential lesson unheeded and unlearned.

Like many born before and since, Karl Marx looked at humanity in our flawed state and decided God had done a rather shoddy job with us, His favorite creation. Granted, whether browsing a bookstore’s history section, watching prime time television, or reading a "letters to the editor" it’s hard to come to any conclusion but that in creating man God certainly came up short. The difference between Marx and most, though, was the former displayed the lunatic’s worth of hubris necessary to believe that he could improve on God’s design. A bad education will do that to someone.

Despite providing the intellectual framework for much of the modern world, during his lifetime he was little known outside the small circle of Europe’s oddball professional revolutionaries and his most influential work, The Communist Manifesto, was not even his best seller. (That distinction belongs to The Civil War in France, published in 1871.) Marx was the proto-type of the modern American "activist", those who Florence King nailed as "thin-skinned pseudo-intellectuals who make their living second-guessing people completely different from themselves". For an example of the type, pick a Congressman, any Congressman.

As his prose meandered and had only a passing acquaintance with logic, coupled with a fondness for giving words (such as "value") a different meaning from their common usage (and the fact that most of his followers (like those of any great thinker) rarely bothered to actually read what he’d written) his intellectual children ran off in so many directions that Marx once declared himself "not a Marxist". (Sowell, 189) The passage of time has not remedied this trait.

For example, one can cherry pick his quotes and make him out to have been either a Thomas Jefferson or...well, a Karl Marx. He wrote in Critique of the Gotha Programme "government and church should rather be equally excluded from any influence on the school" (Sowell, 45) and no true progressive can disagree with him there, but he also insisted that political control over education is fine as long as the communists get "to alter the character of that intervention". (Smelser, 63)

One of the chuckles earned from a study of Marx’s work comes from reading his self-righteous denunciations of the Filthy Lucre, yet all the while it’s hard to dismiss his belief that true freedom is freedom from want; so for all his salvos against crass materialism he himself was, at base, as pure a materialist as history can provide. Combining the tone of an angry prophet with the fact that the underlying pillar of his economic philosophy (the insistence that all value is derived from labor) was debunked by the marginal revolution of the late 1870s, in the end reading Karl Marx brings to mind The Great Gatsby’s Tom Buchanan who "flushed with his own gibberish, saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization". Sometimes you almost feel sorry for the man. Almost.

Marx’s hatred of capitalism was not because such a system fails to raise the standard of living of the working masses – he always conceded the point that it did – but the fact that some earned more than others, those others reduced to the drudgery of factory work and thus "alienated", making them somehow lesser men. To him, the tragedy of a free market was that it "thwarted human desires for more humane, just, and loving relationships". (Sowell, 123) He’d take the Cambodian killing fields over a shopping mall, every time.

But it was in his most famous political treatise, The Communist Manifesto, where he gave voice to the ultimate fear of every socialist – spontaneous change. That is the monster in the closet for every planner and much the reason for all the bloodshed they inflict to pursue their dream. Marx shuddered, "the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production...and with them the whole relation of society." (Marx & Engels, 83)

From this primal fear springs the planners’ desire to make the world stand still, then to only move in goosestep to the genius plan they’ve outlined in their heads. The end game of all their attempts is on display cruising the decayed streets of Havana, where the Cuban masses have been reduced to driving cast-off American cars from the 1950s, everyone imprisoned in a sad time warp.



No financial privacy if Democrats get their way

The Dodd financial reform bill does more than just “reform” financial institutions and Wall Street. When taking a closer look, all Americans are affected by this bill in a very personal way.

In Section 1071 of the bill, banks will now be required to keep and forward a log on all depository accounts, including checking, savings and credit union share accounts to the federal government, as previously reported by Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

Why does the government want to receive such diligent records of every citizen’s transactions?
According to the bill, it is so the government can make sure the financial institutions are meeting the credit needs of those in the community.

“It is difficult to trust our government as its regulations and laws caused the financial meltdown in the first place,” says Bill Wilson, President of ALG. “The very people writing and endorsing this bill had their hands in this mess from the beginning. The government does not need to know that a father gave his son a $25 check for his birthday. This will do nothing to prevent another financial disaster from happening.”

Taking to the streets, ALG received similar reactions to Big Brother keeping tabs on every person’s banking transactions. The most common response is people felt this type of government oversight is a complete breach of their privacy. Also, most don’t completely trust the government to keep all this new information private and secure.

Not only does this bill give the government more control over banking institutions, but also more control over American’s individual bank accounts.

“This should be of great concern to everyone who has a bank account,” says Wilson. “It is well beyond the realm of the government to control the individual pocketbooks of Americans.”



Top brass tell soldiers to risk their lives even more than they do already

NATO commanders are weighing a new way to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan: recognizing soldiers for "courageous restraint" if they avoid using force that could endanger innocent lives.

The concept comes as the coalition continues to struggle with the problem of civilian casualties despite repeated warnings from the top NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the war effort hinges on the ability to protect the population and win support away from the Taliban.

Those who back the idea hope it will provide soldiers with another incentive to think twice before calling in an airstrike or firing at an approaching vehicle if civilians could be at risk.

Most military awards in the past have been given for things like soldiers taking out a machine gun nest or saving their buddies in a firefight, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan. "We are now considering how we look at awards differently," he said.

British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the NATO commander of troops in southern Afghanistan, proposed the idea of awarding soldiers for "courageous restraint" during a visit by Hall to Kandahar Airfield in mid April. McChrystal is now reviewing the proposal to determine how it could be implemented, Hall said.



Hedge Funds Donate Big to Democrats; Get Exemption from Bank Bill

The top 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2009 have dished out campaign contributions almost only to Democrats.

Over their lifetimes, those managers have given almost $33 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, according to research by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and that is based on data maintained by the nonpartisan CQMoneyline.

The same managers gave roughly $600,000 to Republicans, according to the research. The contributions went 98 percent to Democrats and two percent to Republicans.

The money went to Democratic campaign committees, individual lawmaker’s election bids and other political action committees.

The data looks at the 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2009, as identified by AR: Absolute Return+Alpha magazine. The New York Times published a story in March identifying the hedge fund managers, including John Paulson and George Soros.

As the Senate prepares to debate possibly hundreds of amendments to a Wall Street overhaul bill, labor unions and others have criticized the bill for not having tough restrictions on hedge funds.

“It’s very disconcerting to see this legislation moving forward that gives them a complete pass,” said Heather Slavkin, of AFL-CIO. Cry me a river, Ms. Slavkin. By now you should know that ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’ Guess Labor doesn’t like that there is a new band in town.



Time for some oil spill perspective

As for the environmental damage caused by Deepwater Horizon, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar deserves commendation for reminding everybody over the weekend that off-shore drilling is remarkably safe considering its scope and importance to the nation. There are presently more than 4,000 active rigs employing an estimated 80,000 people on the U.S. outer continental shelf, with the large majority of those operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Salazar said Sunday on Fox News that more than 30,000 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in the Gulf, and one-third of the oil and natural gas consumed by the United States is produced there.

This means off-shore drilling is now and will remain for the foreseeable future a critically important national resource. The interior secretary also noted that the industry "has been conducted in a very safe manner. Blowouts occur but the safety mechanisms have been in place. Why this failed here is something we are investigating." Amazingly, there have been only 41 deaths and 302 injuries in off-shore platform accidents since 2001, according to federal data. Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the Daily Beast reveals that off-shore oil rig jobs aren't among the 10 most dangerous jobs, while fishing, sanitation work, and farming are.

From an environmental perspective, off-shore oil drilling is far safer than Mother Nature. As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, oil that seeps naturally from the ocean floor puts 47 million gallons of crude into U.S. waters annually.

Thus far, Deepwater Horizon has leaked about three million gallons. That sounds like a lot of oil, and it is. But the Exxon Valdez leaked 11 million gallons into Alaska's Prince William Sound. Even those figures are dwarfed, according to the Economist, by the amount of oil spilled in man-made disasters elsewhere around the world. Saddam Hussein's destruction of Kuwaiti oil facilities during the Gulf War dumped more than 500 million barrels of crude into the Arabian Gulf. The 1979 blowout of Mexico's Ixtoc 1 well resulted in 3.3 million barrels being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. In short, Deepwater Horizon is an environmental crisis, but not the apocalypse that alarmists claim.




Keynesian spending has zilch effect on recovery: "Stubbornness is a bad trait in politics and policy, one that will be punished at the polls this November. The Obama administration continues to argue that its massive federal-spending campaign is essential to economic recovery. Yet the latest GDP report from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that the 3.2 percent first-quarter economic growth rate got no help from government spending. In fact, combined federal, state, and local spending actually fell 1.8 percent. What’s more, over the last three quarters of a mild V-shaped recovery, with an average quarterly rebound of 3.7 percent, government spending actually exerted a small net drag (-0.03%) on growth.”

Newsweek pays the price for writing for Leftists only: "The Washington Post Company says it will try to sell Newsweek, adding the second-largest US news weekly magazine to the growing list of high-profile publishing properties that have been sold or closed recently as the industry grapples with the rise of the internet. With few exceptions, newspapers and magazines have yet to reverse their long slide in subscribers and advertising revenue that has accelerated over the last year after the global financial crisis sparked a deep economic recession. For 2009, the company reported an operating loss from its magazine division of $US29.3 million ($32.3m), compared with a loss of $US16m in 2008. [Murdoch is doing fine though -- with his more even-handed approach]

The abstentionist elephant in the [British] room: "There is feverish speculation about how many people will vote for each party in Thursday’s UK election. But it seems nobody wants to ask the other big question: how many will bother voting for anybody? Whatever the voter turnout finally turns out to be, the virtual silence on the problem of abstentionism beforehand is another sign of the yawning gap between the new political class and the electorate.”

Forgotten facts of American labor history: " Just about everything that people think they know about labor unions and wage rates is wrong. The standard tale that practically every student hears over the course of his education is that before the emergence of labor unions, American workers were terribly exploited and their wages were consistently falling. The improvement in labor's condition was due entirely or at least in large part to labor unionism and favorable federal legislation. In the absence of these, it is widely assumed, people would still be working 80-hour weeks and children would still be working in mines. This oft-heard tale is, however, almost entirely false, and those parts of it that are true (the low standard of living that people enjoyed in the nineteenth century, for example) are true for reasons other than those alleged by pro-union historians, who see in them only confirmation of their prejudices against the market economy."

Huge power grab underway in Washington: "The Democrat-controlled Congress and the White House are pulling out all the stops to offset the oncoming tidal wave that is threatening to throw them out of power this November. With their polls sagging badly, the liberal Democrats rammed through a Puerto Rican statehood resolution yesterday which many consider the first step towards making Puerto Rico the 51st state — a move that would give liberal progressives in the Congress six more Representatives and two new Senators.”

Race for Murtha's old seat: "Tim Burns is the next Scott Brown, poised to ride and fuel the national anti-Democratic wave to victory. Or so Republicans hope. Burns is vying in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District to fill out the term of old Democratic powerhouse John Murtha, who died in February. The race in that southwestern Pennsylvania district is in many ways similar to the special Senate election in Massachusetts in which Brown scored a major upset over the bumbling Democratic attorney general, Martha Coakley. Like Brown, Burns is hoping to succeed a long-term Democrat; Murtha held the seat for 36 years."


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British election

With the British election to be decided in the next 24 hours or so, the polls are providing no clear guide to the outcome -- but my guess is that the Conservatives will squeak in. It would be a landslide but Britain's allegedly centrist party -- the Liberals -- has had something of a revival and may take a lot of votes that would otherwise have gone to the Tories.

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. -- and this time he also adds his unique perspective on British politics

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Jihadists' Deadly Path to Citizenship

America's homeland security amnesia never ceases to amaze. In the aftermath of the botched Times Square terror attack over the weekend, Pakistani-born bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad's U.S. citizenship status caused a bit of shock and awe. The Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg's response was typical: "I am struck by the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor." Well, wake up and smell the deadly deception.

Shahzad's path to American citizenship -- he reportedly married an American woman, Huma Mian, in 2008 after spending a decade in the country on foreign student and employment visas -- is a tried-and-true terror formula. Jihadists have been gaming the sham marriage racket with impunity for years. And immigration benefit fraud has provided invaluable cover and aid for U.S.-based Islamic plotters, including many other operatives planning attacks on New York City. As I've reported previously:

-- El Sayyid A. Nosair wed Karen Ann Mills Sweeney to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired U.S. citizenship, allowing him to remain in the country, and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.

-- Ali Mohamed became an American citizen after marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. Recently divorced, Linda Lee Sanchez wed Mohamed in Reno, Nev., after a six-week "courtship." Mohamed became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa that killed 12 Americans and more than 200 others.

-- Embassy bombing plotter Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women.

-- Embassy bombing plotter Wadih el Hage, Osama bin Laden's personal secretary, married April Ray in 1985 and became a naturalized citizen in 1989. Ray knew of her husband's employment with bin Laden, but like many of these women in bogus marriages, she pleaded ignorance about the nature of her husband's work. El Hage, she says, was a sweet man, and bin Laden "was a great boss."

-- Lebanon-born Chawki Youssef Hammoud, convicted in a Hezbollah cigarette-smuggling operation based out of Charlotte, N.C., married American citizen Jessica Fortune for a green card to remain in the country.

-- Hammoud's brother, Mohammed Hammoud, married three different American women. After arriving in the United States on a counterfeit visa, being ordered deported and filing an appeal, he wed Sabina Edwards to gain a green card. Federal immigration officials refused to award him legal status after this first marriage was deemed bogus in 1994. Undaunted, he married Jessica Wedel in May 1997 and, while still wed to her, paid Angela Tsioumas (already married to someone else, too) to marry him in Detroit. The Tsioumas union netted Mohammed Hammoud temporary legal residence to operate the terror cash scam. He was later convicted on 16 counts that included providing material support to Hezbollah.

-- A total of eight Middle Eastern men who plotted to bomb New York landmarks in 1993 -- Fadil Abdelgani, Amir Abdelgani, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, Tarig Elhassan, Abdo Mohammed Haggag, Fares Khallafalla, Mohammed Saleh, and Matarawy Mohammed Said Saleh -- all obtained legal permanent residence by marrying American citizens.

A year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, homeland security officials cracked a massive illegal alien Middle Eastern marriage fraud ring in a sting dubbed "Operation Broken Vows." Authorities were stunned by the scope of the operations, which stretched from Boston to South Carolina to California. But marriage fraud remains a treacherous path of least resistance. The waiting period for U.S. citizenship is cut by more than half for marriage visa beneficiaries. Sham marriage monitoring by backlogged homeland security investigators is practically nonexistent.

As former federal immigration official Michael Cutler warned years ago: "Immigration benefit fraud is certainly one of the major 'dots' that was not connected prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and remains a 'dot' that is not really being addressed the way it needs to be in order to secure our nation against criminals and terrorists who understand how important it is for them to 'game' the system as a part of the embedding process."

Jihadists have knowingly and deliberately exploited our lax immigration and entrance policies to secure the rights and benefits of American citizenship while they plot mass murder -- and we haven't done a thing to stop them.



An excellent summary from Ludwig von Mises

“The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!

Against all this frenzy of agitation there is but one weapon available: reason. Just common sense is needed to prevent man from falling prey to illusory fantasies and empty catchwords.”



What's wrong with price gouging?

by Jeff Jacoby

THERE WASN'T MUCH that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley could do about the massive pipe break that left dozens of Greater Boston towns without a reliable supply of clean drinking water over the weekend. So she kept herself busy instead lecturing vendors not to increase the price of the bottled water that tens of thousands of consumers were suddenly in a frenzy to buy.

"We have begun hearing anecdotal reports of the possible price gouging of store-bought water," Coakley announced on Sunday. "Businesses and individuals cannot and should not take advantage of this public emergency to unfairly charge consumers . . . for water." Inspectors were being dispatched, "spot-checks" were being conducted, and "if we discover that businesses are engaging in price gouging," she warned, "we will take appropriate legal action."

Governor Deval Patrick got into the act too. He ordered the state's Division of Standards to "closely monitor bottled water prices" in the area affected by the water emergency. "There is never an excuse for taking advantage of consumers," he intoned, "especially not during times like this."

It never fails. No sooner does some calamity trigger an urgent need for basic resources than self-righteous voices are raised to denounce the amazingly efficient system that stimulates suppliers to speed those resources to the people who need them. That system is the free market's price mechanism -- the fluctuation of prices because of changes in supply and demand.

When the demand for bottled water goes through the roof -- which is another way of saying that bottled water has become (relatively) scarce -- the price of that water quickly rises in response. That price spike may be annoying, but it's not nearly as annoying as being unable to find water for sale at any price. Rising prices help keep limited quantities from vanishing today, while increasing the odds of fresh supplies arriving tomorrow.

It is easy to demonize vendors who charge what the market will bear in the wake of a catastrophe. "After storm come the vultures" USA Today memorably headlined a story about the price hikes that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004. Coakley hasn't called anybody a vulture, at least not yet, but her office has dedicated a telephone hotline and is encouraging the public to drop a dime on "price gougers."

Before you drop that dime, though, consider who really serves the public interest -- the merchant who boosts his price at a time of crisis, or the merchant who refuses to?

A thought experiment: A massive pipe ruptures, tap water grows undrinkable, and consumers rush to buy bottled water from the only two vendors that sell it. Vendor A, not wanting to provoke the ire of the governor and attorney general, leaves the price of his water unchanged at 69 cents a bottle. Vendor B, who is more interested in doing business than truckling to politicians, more than quadruples his price to $2.99.

You don't need an economics textbook to know what happens next.

Customers flock to Vendor A, loading up on his 69-cent water. Within hours his entire stock has been cleaned out, and subsequent customers are turned away empty-handed. At Vendor B's, on the other hand, sales of water are slower and there is a lot of grumbling about the high price. But even late-arriving customers are able to buy the water they need -- and almost no one buys more than he really needs.

When demand intensifies, prices rise. And as prices rise, suppliers work harder to meet demand. The same Globe story that reported yesterday on Coakley's "price-gouging" remarks reported as well on the great lengths to which bottlers and retailers were going to get more water into customers' hands. "Suppliers worked overtime, pumping up production and regional bottling facilities and coordinating deliveries," reporter Erin Ailworth noted. Polar Beverages in Worcester, for example, "had emptied out its plant in the city last night and trucked in loads of water from its New York facility."

Letting prices rise freely isn't the only way to respond to a sudden shortage. Government rationing is an option, and so are price controls -- assuming you don't object to the inevitable corruption, long lines, and black market. But it's better by far to let prices rise and fall freely. That isn't "gouging" but plain good sense -- and the best method yet devised for allocating goods and services among free men and women.



BrookesNews Update

An ongoing Australian perspective on the world

Is it the Democrats' neo-fascist economics that is holding back recovery? : The economy's lacklustre response to Obama's economic policies can only cause Decmocrats consternation and fuel their desire to seek out scapegoats rather than re-examine their statist dogma. Sound economics — meaning free market economics — explains why government spending does not drive genuine economic growth but sound economics is something the Democrats resolutely refuse to accept
Ken Henry's fallacious resource rent tax and the mining industry's failed response : The theory of economic rent is pure fiction and there is nothing problematic about it. If the tax was fully implemented it would destroy not only the mining industry but also the offshore gas and oil industry. Furthermore, the logic of this fallacious tax also demands that it be levied on agriculture
Why economic policies inspired by the Great Depression fail : Obama's spending policies failed for the same reason that Roosevelt's failed. Both they and their economic advisors failed completely to understand the Great Depression and the role of withheld capacity. The result is that Obama is implementing policies that are seriously damaging the US economy
Modern Leftism and Magical Thinking : The unrealistic thought pattern of Magical Thinking now informs American public policy and statecraft at every level — on economics, foreign relations, rule of law, environmentalism, etc. It is a world-view based upon the notion the 'right' people will provide successful leadership for America, simply because they are 'good,' and not the old 'bad' leaders
Obama sends in the clowns: What these panicked "progressive" pixies fail to understand, is that the more they malign the ever-growing millions of red-blooded, God-fearing Americans who feel compelled to push back against Obama's weighty radicalism — the more they humiliate and embarrass themselves
The greens' $10 trillion climate fraud : The very rich and greedy green left are at it again, including Al Gore and Goldman Sachs. They never cease dreaming up schemes that will savage the standard of living of the masses while fattening their own bank accounts
The flood of illegals and the Arizona uproar : The American and international media are lying again. They don't send reporters out to Arizona get the story sit with beleaguered Americans at their kitchen tables and understand the torment their lives have become because of the flood of illegal immigrants that the Democrats are now openly encouraging. A country with open borders will not long be a country. If the Dems cannot get enough voters at home to keep them in power then they will import them and the country and living standards be damned. So who are the real patriots?



Laughable U.S. airline security again: "The no-fly list failed to keep the Times Square suspect off the plane. Faisal Shahzad had boarded a jetliner bound for the United Arab Emirates Monday night before federal authorities pulled him back. Although under surveillance since mid-afternoon, he had managed to elude investigators and head to the airport. As US federal agents closed in, Faisal Shahzad was aboard Emirates Flight 202. He reserved a ticket on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport, paid cash on arrival and walked through security without being stopped. By the time Customs and Border Protection officials, using a no-fly list updated earlier Tuesday, spotted Shahzad's name on the passenger list and recognised him as the bombing suspect they were looking for, he was in his seat and the plane was preparing to leave the gate. It didn't. At the last minute, the pilot was notified, the jetliner's door was opened and Shahzad was taken into custody."

The Census Bureau is violating the Privacy Act of 1974: “During the past few years, I have read numerous comments from individuals who have been threatened by Census workers concerning the American Community Survey, which masquerades as part of the constitutionally mandated enumeration commonly known as the Census. These Census workers, according to reports I read, are attempting to intimidate people with threats of fines and/or jail to get them to answer the survey form questions. Since we can expect the same tactics concerning the Census, a friend asked how I would respond if they phone or show-up at my doorstep. I said my response would be simple. Since the Census Bureau and its workers are citing federal law to intimidate us, I will use a strategy that responds in kind.”

The folly of fairness: "So Bill Gates sold me some software when he was still in that business. He was then immensely rich, certainly compared to me. I was not compared to him. How unfair, you say? But Bill took his gains from this trade and used it to feed starving African children, while I used the software I bought from him to do something utterly trivial on my computer, like writing a dull column. Now was this a fair trade? Impossible to tell. Trade is never fair — the entire notion of fairness is very difficult to apply to trade as would be the idea of blue or funny.”


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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Don’t expect real bank reform from the Wall Street Democrats

"Now, the Senate Republican leader, he paid a visit to Wall Street a week or two ago,” said President Obama at a California fundraiser for Barbara Boxer in mid-April, putting on a mocking, homespun voice. “He took along the chairman of their campaign committee. He met with some of the movers and shakers up there. I don’t know exactly what was discussed. All I can tell you is when he came back, he promptly announced he would oppose the financial regulatory reform.”

To judge from the guffawing that followed, few in attendance realized that Obama is more dependent on “movers and shakers” in the financial sector than any president of our time, although the files of the Federal Election Commission make this clear as day. The movers at Goldman Sachs, whose top employees were grilled before the Senate Banking Committe last week, gave Obama’s party three times as much money in the last cycle ($4.5 million) as they gave to Mitch McConnell’s ($1.5 million). The shakers at Citicorp gave Democrats almost twice as much ($3.1 million) as they gave Republicans ($1.8 million).
Click here to find out more!

So every time the president accuses Republicans of trying to “block progress” or of defying “common sense,” as he did that night, he is executing a dangerous tightrope walk. His party’s electoral fortunes depend on his making forceful calls for reform of our banking laws. His party’s fundraising fortunes depend on his ensuring that no serious reform—of the kind that endangers the big banks’ size and power—ever happens. That may be why the Democrats’ strategy of painting the Republicans as obstructionists on finance reform has gained little traction. By the same token, if Republicans ever did get serious about reforming the banks—and even about breaking up an industry that has turned into a Democratic war chest—they would put Democrats in mortal peril.


The rest of the article argues that the big banks SHOULD be compulsorily broken up -- a very dubious proposition from an economics viewpoint. Australia has far more banking concentration than the USA and sailed through the GFC virtually unscathed.

Note that the Australian banking system has been sweepingly DEREGULATED. It is deregulation U.S. banks need, not more crony-led government intervention


Reid and Pelosi bear brunt of blame for economic woes

It is a classic mistake to compare economic data solely within the context of Presidential terms. After all, in our current economic climate, the decline coincided directly with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid’s ascendancy to the leadership posts in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

In 2007, President George W. Bush was still our president, but Republicans no longer held the majority in Congress. In January of that year, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took on her new role as Speaker of the House and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) took his position as Senate Majority Leader.

As stated in the U.S. Constitution, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Meaning, Congress determines what gets done in the country, so who is in charge of Congress matters.

Therefore, when looking at the state of America and how it ended up where it is today, it is important to start at the beginning, in 2007, when the first changes to this current government took place. Changes like the first bailout, the minimum wage increase, changes in tax laws and new mandates on businesses all started in 2007.

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has put together a report showing a comparison of economic conditions since Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi took over Congress. The report reflects comparisons of unemployment numbers and the federal budget since the Democratic Party won control. For example, The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. currently has a 9.7 percent unemployment rate. In 2007, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Comparatively, the number of people unemployed today is 14.8 million; in 2007 it was 7 million.

“It is devastating to look at these facts and figures and see the negative impact the Democrat tenure has had on our country,” said Bill Wilson, President of ALG. “It is important to look back at these numbers and make these comparisons so we know what changes need to be made in policy—before it is too late.”

America’s youth has also been affected by the democratic tenure in Congress. As previously reported by ALG News, it is clear that as the minimum wage level climbs, it is now federally mandated to be $7.25 an hour, unemployment rates among teenagers have skyrocketed — especially in those states where minimum wage requirements are even higher. As the labor force becomes more expensive, those with less experience and knowledge pay the price.

“The numbers do not lie,” Wilson said, concluding, “The American people need to know what has been happening the past four years. It is clear there needs to be a change in the leadership in America away from the command-and-control economy that disincentives business expansion and job creation to one that can lift government’s grip from the throat of working Americans.”

The current path of the nation didn’t start when the Obama Administration took office; it started with the Democrat takeover of Congress.



Strikingly Unpresidential

President Barack Obama doesn't deserve the reputation he's had for his style and temperament and for being gracious, civil, bipartisan and post-racial. He is often ungracious, uncivil, hyper-partisan, race-oriented and vindictive. He mocks and ridicules almost for sport. More than any president in my memory, he often does not comport himself presidentially.

Why does this matter? Well -- if I even have to answer that -- he is the face of America. The left constantly talked about George W. Bush's swagger and his cowboy diplomacy and how that damaged our "image" in the world and our relations with other nations.

But George W. Bush was nothing if not circumspect, discreet and respectful in his dealings with foreign leaders and his dealings with his political opponents. He was exceedingly presidential, demonstrating an extremely high respect for the office he held and what it represented.

How the president presents himself does matter for all the obvious reasons, but I believe Obama's behavior and the public's perception of it are relevant for other equally important reasons. He came into office with a reputation for being sophisticated, gentlemanly, above the political fray and open-minded. But it was a facade, facilitated by good looks, a seemingly pleasant demeanor and an extraordinarily fawning -- and forgiving -- media. He has been getting a pass on his unseemly conduct for way too long, which partially explains the disconnect between his personal likability and the unpopularity of his socialist agenda.

I believe that if the public were fully attuned to how unpresidentially he has consistently behaved, it wouldn't be as approving of him personally, and in turn, politicians wouldn't be so afraid to call him out on his Machiavellian and brutish behavior, the exposure of which would have an electoral impact. If more people understood what I believe to be this man's actual character, they wouldn't -- in the face of his consistently highhanded tactics in pushing each and every one of his destructive agenda items -- reflexively assume he's such a nice guy who means well. Then, they might be more vigilant, and heaven knows we need megadoses of vigilance these days.

I have theories about why Obama is consistently getting a pass, beyond the media's corrupt liberalism and the allies he's created through his racial and class warfare, but that's another column. The point for now is that he is getting a pass, and his behavior is increasingly indefensible.

We talk about Obama as a graduate of Saul Alinsky's school of thuggish street agitation, but it is more than just a casual charge. He is Alinsky personified with a disarming smile. It's not just a matter of his having embraced a political strategy that involves hitting below the belt and abusing power to help his friends and hurt his enemies. His behavior is not just a tactic; it's part of who he is. It is apparent that he has been coddled so long that he simply has zero tolerance for any opposition.

Indeed, he is exactly the opposite of who he billed himself to be: "I will bring a new type of politics to Washington." As a committed liberal ideologue, he is neither a uniter nor one willing to consider both sides of an issue. But it's not just his extremist views that are divisive. He is also often personally divisive, petty and mean-spirited.

From the time he cavalierly dismissed Hillary Clinton during a presidential debate with "You're likable enough, Hillary," I knew some cold blood ran through his veins. As president, he has been gratuitously nasty with people who have dared oppose him, and he has affirmatively targeted and demonized entire industries to advance his agenda.

Consider: his command that "the folks who created the mess" not "do a lot of talking"; his endless scapegoating of George Bush; his rude treatment of foreign leaders, from Britain's Gordon Brown to France's Nicolas Sarkozy; his abominable treatment of Israel and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his character assassination of inspector general Gerald Walpin for blowing the whistle on his friends; his demonization of surgeons and primary care physicians as dishonest mercenaries, Republicans as "liars," secured creditors as "speculators," tea partiers as "domestic terrorists," Arizonans as "irresponsible," rural Americans as bitter clingers and America itself as being "dismissive," "arrogant" and "derisive" and as having "a responsibility to act" because it is the only nation to have ever "used a nuclear weapon"; his vilification of Wall Street "fat cat" bankers, big pharma, big oil, insurance companies, big corporations, corporate executives, Cambridge policemen, conservative talk show hosts and Fox News; his snubbing even of the liberal press pool; his egomaniacal behavior at the health care summit; and his administration's flirtation with criminalizing Bush-era officials for their legal opinions.




Jews Turning Against Obama: "In a stunning turnaround, President Obama has lost roughly half of his support among Jewish voters. A poll by McLaughlin and Associates found that, while 78 percent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for Obama, only 42 percent of Jewish voters would vote to re-elect him. A plurality — 46 percent — would consider voting for anyone else. That compares with 21 percent who voted for John McCain. Ever since he learned of Obama’s ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, has been warning fellow Jews that Obama would be antithetical to Jewish interests, not only as they relate to Israel but also to issues that affect all Americans."

Blowhard Democrats: "A federal law may limit how much BP has to pay for damages such as lost wages and economic suffering in the Gulf Coast oil spill, despite President Barack Obama’s assurances that taxpayers will not be on the hook. A law passed in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska makes BP responsible for cleanup costs. But the law sets a $75 million limit on other kinds of damages. Economic losses to the Gulf Coast are likely to exceed that. In response, several Democratic senators introduced legislation Monday to raise the liability limit to $10 billion, though it was not clear that it could be made to apply retroactively.” [Retroactive laws are specifically forbidden in the consitution: Article 1 Section 9, C.3 states: 'No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed,' and Section 10 says: 'No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law. . . .']

Egalitarian straitjackets: "In numerous areas of human life treating people in nearly exactly the same way may make sense. Thus, for example, when you go to your dentist, you are probably implored to floss — and so is everyone else who visits dentists. Other doctors, too, will prescribe practices one should adopt, such as eating nutritiously, exercising, getting regular sleep and so forth, which virtually all other patients are also told they will benefit from. … But once we got to such areas of human life as what kind of career suits us, what kind of significant other will promise greater happiness, where we will enjoy our vacations most, what sort of apparel is most attractive for us to wear, what it the kind of weather that suits us best — in these and innumerable other areas variety is the rule. No wonder they say it is the spice of life! So when one runs across those who have enormous faith in centralized planning and economic regulation, one is facing people who are, to borrow a term from the late Austrian economist and libertarian Murray N. Rothbard, in revolt against nature.”

“Fearmongers” were right about Obamacare: "The ink was barely dry on President Barack Obama’s signature before the RAND Corp. released a report concluding that, not only would the hard-won health care package fail to curb health insurance premium increases, but the bill itself would drive premiums for young people up as much as 17 percent. This should not have been a surprise: the Congressional Budget Office had already warned that the plan would do almost nothing to reduce premium hikes. And when New York implemented the same type of insurance reforms in the 1980s, it led to an increase of nearly $500 per year for young people. But somehow, the media didn’t pay much attention.”

Obamalaise: "An ocean of ink has been devoted to the surprising election results in Virginia, New Jersey, and especially Massachusetts. There is so much angst in the country that even the exceptionally obtuse Obama has become aware of it. To use a term rendered infamous by the feckless Jimmy Carter, we are experiencing a national malaise. But what Obama fails to comprehend is that at the root of the current national malaise is Obama himself. In this, as in many other ways, Obama uncannily resembles Carter, who projected his own defects of thought and action onto the nation, generating the anxiety and distrust he was purporting to heal. We can rightly call the national mood ‘Obamalaise,’ because it arises not just from Obama’s agenda but from his character.”

Free teenagers: Repeal the minimum wage: "In order to resolve the teen unemployment problem, all that would be needed would be a repeal of the minimum-wage law. Then, those teenagers whose labor is valued at less than the mandated minimum would be free to compete for jobs in the marketplace at less than the mandated minimum.”

The beauty of freedom: "As I was walking through Westminster earlier, I saw something really quite beautiful. A red Ferrari 599 was parked next to a silver Prius Hybrid (Pious Hybrid to those of you who watch South Park). Beautiful as the red car is, and no matter how great a demonstration it is of what a capitalist production system can achieve, this is nothing compared to what it represents next to the Prius. That is the fact that in a free, or free-ish society, Ferrari-owner and Prius-owner can happily coexist. This is something quite unique about liberty, which simply cannot be countered by those on the statist/socialist left wing.”


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Monday, May 03, 2010

The Left Loses Its Way by Abandoning 'Third Way'

It's not mentioned below but there has been a crash in Labor party support in Australia also -- where a Leftist government has proved to be a lot less conservative than it promised

Left parties are in trouble in the Anglosphere. Here in America, Democrats are doing worse in the polls than at any time in the last 50 years. In Britain, the Labor Party is on the brink of finishing third, behind both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, in the election next Thursday.

All of which raises the question: What happened to the "third way" center-left movement that once seemed to sweep all before it? Only a dozen years ago, in 1998, President Bill Clinton enjoyed 70 percent job approval. Prime Minister Tony Blair was basking in adulation in his first full year in office.

Clinton "third way" New Democrats and Blair's "New Labor" party seemed to have a bright and long future ahead. Clinton's designated successor, Al Gore, despite some ham-handed campaigning, came out ahead in the popular vote in 2000 and lost the presidency by only some hundreds of votes in Florida. With Blair at its head, Labor won unprecedented re-election victories in 2001 and 2005.

Now, less than a generation later, both New Democrats and New Labour seem defunct. Both parties have moved well to the left. Barack Obama and Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, head governments that are running budget deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product. Both are promoting higher taxes and expansion of government programs.

The financial crisis is one reason for the large deficits. But it is undeniable that to varying extents both Obama and Brown have pursued more statist policies than their predecessors did a dozen years ago. And it is undeniable, too, that both are in trouble with the voters.

In these circumstances, it is surprising that the pundit class is not chiding Obama and Brown for abandoning the politically successful policies of Clinton and Blair. The same pundit class is always ready to chide American Republicans and British Conservatives for not pursuing the courses that Rockefeller Republicans and pre-Thatcher "wet" Conservatives pursued with some political success a much longer time ago.

Rocky and the wets supported a continuing expansion of government and maintaining the power of labor unions. But a British party last won an election on that platform in 1974, 36 years ago, and no American president has been elected on such a platform between 1964 and 2008. And with Democrats plunging in the polls, Obama's election is beginning to look like an exception that proves the rule.

Americans may have voted for "hope and change," but not in the form of the 2009 stimulus package and the 2010 health care bill.

Looking back in history, the Rockefeller Republicans chose their course because they believed their party could not beat New Deal Democrats except by moving some distance toward their philosophy. And in particular, they believed they could not beat Democrats in New York, which in the first half of the 20th century was both the nation's largest state and one of the politically most marginal.

But by the early 1960s, New York was no longer the nation's largest state and was safely Democratic. And by the early 1970s, Americans were no longer voting for big government. The Rockefeller strategy was rendered obsolete.

It's not clear that the Clinton New Democratic strategy is similarly obsolete. Clinton calculated that Democrats could not win except by making inroads in the South and by making big gains in the suburbs. That's how he won twice, and Obama improved on his leads in the suburbs and carried three Southern states with Northern-accented suburbs (Virginia, North Carolina and Florida).

But Obama ran well behind in eight Southern-accented and Mountain states that Clinton carried in 1992. And polling now shows Democrats weaker than Obama was in 2008 virtually everywhere except in university towns and the affluent precincts of metro New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Similarly, in Britain polling has shown Brown's Labor party holding its traditional redoubts in declining industrial towns but getting shellacked in the affluent suburbs where Tony Blair's New Labor thrived.

The left parties have reacted to their unpopularity by playing the race card. Democrats have tried to portray tea partiers as racist, and Brown called a lifelong Labor voter who questioned his policies a "bigoted woman."

Blaming the voters is the last resort of a party in trouble. Old Labor and the Obama Democrats may not yet be finished. But they're not doing as well as their "third way" predecessors.



States Reluctant to Swim in National High-Risk Pools

Obamacare aims to insure the uninsured. To do that, the law bars insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions—but not until 2014. In the meantime, the law calls for a national high-risk pool to offer coverage to the otherwise “uninsurable.”

Under the new law, an important deadline looms. By Friday, states must declare whether they will help implement the new risk-pools for their citizens, or if they’ll just let the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services do it for them.

Many states have taken one look at the financial outlook for these pools and run the other way—with good reason. Obamacare gives HHS $5 billion to administer the pools from now until 2014. However, the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports:
“…the creation of a national high-risk insurance pool will result in roughly 375,000 people gaining coverage in 2010, increasing national health spending by $4 billion. By 2011 and 2012 the initial $5 billion in Federal funding for this program would be exhausted…”

So federal funding for the pools may run out two years early. That could leave states stuck with the entire bill a year or two down the line if they help create the pools today.

Politico reports that HHS promises that won’t happen. But states aren’t buying it. Georgia Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine says state legislators won’t implement a high-risk pool because it would “ultimately become the financial responsibility of Georgians in the form an unfunded mandate.” Officials in Kansas, Louisiana and elsewhere have similarly dug in their heels on the issue.

The risk pools are just one way in which the architects of Obamacare passed costs on to states to maintain a tenuous claim that the legislation was “deficit-neutral.” The expansion of Medicaid will cost states billions in the long run, since federal matching rates will decrease in future years.

Similarly, to increase access to care for Medicaid beneficiaries, Obamacare raises federal reimbursement rates for primary care physicians—but only for two years. After that, doctors will either receive the same low payments they do now, or the states will have to pick up the cost.

Of course, advocates of Obamacare can argue these really aren’t unfunded mandates on the states. After all, the states can refuse to pick up the tab when the feds leave the table. In that case, though, the financial shell game ends, and the whole Obamacare scheme falls apart.



Son of bin Laden has different views

It is after midnight when Osama bin Laden's fourth-born son, Omar, leads me into a nightclub called Les Caves de Boys in the center of Damascus. Marked only by a small neon sign on a side street in an upscale quarter of the city, the basement bar is dark and secluded, enveloped by an air of exclusivity.

Omar brushes past the two heavyset Syrian thugs at the door and picks a booth in the back. A dozen or so wealthy Arab men are drinking whiskey and watching Russian strippers put on a show. By Western standards, the performances are tame, a succession of scantily clad women in burlesque costumes — Little Bo Peep, pigtailed schoolgirl, pole-climbing gymnast. But as Omar sips a 7 Up, he follows their every move with boyish wonder. Russian women, he tells me, are the most beautiful in the world. "It is as if their bodies are shaped with plastic, like dolls," he says.

As a teenager in the mountains of Tora Bora, Omar had been his father's chosen successor, the favored son meant to lead Al Qaeda and carry on global jihad. Then, in 2001, a few months before Osama bin Laden was to become the world's most wanted man, Omar abandoned his father's compound in Afghanistan. He left behind almost certain death for this: the world, Les Caves de Boys, life.

Now, as a dancer joins a drunken man in the booth next to us, Omar reflects on his own connection to the strippers onstage. "I have talked to these women before," he says. "I tell them my name. Sometimes they don't believe I am a bin Laden. Sometimes they get mad. They have to dance like this because their country is poor. It was my father who made Russia poor, in the war in Afghanistan. He ruined their economy. He is doing the same thing to America right now."

Omar smiles. It's a knowing and ironic look, the age of terrorism turned into a cosmic joke: Can you believe how f*cked up things are?

Past two in the morning, a statuesque dancer emerges for the grand finale. Dressed in a red rhinestone bra and panties, with a black shimmy belt and an ostrich-feather crown, she gyrates her hips as Omar watches, mesmerized. "Thank God my father doesn't run the world," Omar says, grinning.

To Omar, Osama bin Laden is neither a jihadist nor a mass murderer – he is a lost man, a fanatical father who withheld his love, beat and betrayed his children, and destroyed his family chasing his fantasy of becoming a latter-day prophet.




Stalinist language from a Stalinist Obama official: "boot on the neck": "Administration officials pushed back Sunday against criticism that the White House isn't acting fast enough to battle the massive oil spill creeping toward Gulf shores. "We have to prepare for the worst-case scenario here," Salazar said. "We were stepping on the neck of BP to do everything we can do" since the explosion, Salazar said. "We've been on top of this every minute." Salazar's boots kept walking on CNN, where he said, "Our job is keep our boot on the neck of British Petroleum and make sure they live up to their responsibilities."

What are they afraid of?: "A brand-new chapter dawns in the birther controversy over President Obama's hidden birth certificate. The Hawaii legislature has now officially passed a measure that would allow state officials to legally ignore each month's dozens of repeated requests by persons or organizations seeking to see the infant Obama's actual birth certificate. For personal privacy reasons the certificate resides under government lock and key in Hawaii and, as is his right, Obama has never authorized its release. That's a refusal that has only inflamed conspiracy theorists who theorize that if it's really legit, what's Obama's problem with disclosing it?"

The British PM -- a classic Leftist liar: "Stop lying, prime minister. Those are the words I wanted to hear in the leaders debate on Thursday night, or indeed at any stage during this election campaign. It simply astounds me what Gordon Brown gets away with. Take his suggestion that the Tories would take child tax credits away from the ‘poorest families.’ In fact, the Conservative plan is to get rid of the credit for families earning more than £50,000, which is more than twice the average household income. Whether it’s a good policy or a bad one isn’t the issue — the fact is that Brown was deliberately misrepresenting it. Why does no one call him out?”

The race card and the Tea Party: "The agents of the Racial Industrial Complex are rightly being reminded by the Tea Partiers that their very livelihoods rest upon the fear that whites have had of being charged with ‘racism,’ a fear that, thanks to the courage of the Tea Partiers, could very well be fading away.”

Why they hate: "What is it about the Tea Parties that sends the left into paroxysms of rage? Lewis is hardly alone with such screeching verb-less statements. The entire left, from the scribes at the New Republic to the talking heads on MSNBC, have been driven mad by a handful of relatively peaceful demonstrators. Bill Clinton warned that the waving of Don’t Tread on Me flags could lead like night into day to another Oklahoma City bombing, Harry Reid defied my spellchecker by declaring Tea Partiers to be ‘evilmongers,’ Keith Olbermann dedicated two interminable Special Comments to his indignant rage at the protesters, and Frank Rich dutifully spent week after week drawing parallels between the Tea Parties and racists of days gone by. In fairness, there’s been plenty of derision from conservatives directed at, say, anti-war demonstrators during the Bush years. But never before has an entire ideological establishment whipped itself into such a frenzy over a group of protesters. What’s going on here?”

The audacity of deceit: "Hate speech? Go read the ‘comments’ beneath any moderately conservative or libertarian online blog or newspaper column. You will find any attempt to have a calm discussion of the topics raised by the columnist — including by those ready to marshal some contrary evidence — largely drowned out by a tiny handful of shrieking, post-every-10-minutes collectivist harridans, ridiculing the sanity of anyone who dares question the grow-the-government Obama agenda, let alone calmly cite chapter and verse from Founding Fathers who intended ours to be a government of sharply limited powers.”

Zoning laws destroy communities: "Zoning laws are a violation of property rights. They destroy the sense of community in neighborhoods, increase crime, increase traffic congestion, contribute to urban and suburban air pollution, contribute to poverty, contribute to reliance in government — and, thus, reduce self-reliance — and contribute to the ruin of our schools. Most of our urban and suburban problems arose with zoning and other antiproperty laws, to which welfare programs and public housing projects have contributed.”

ObamaCare vastly expands IRS red tape: "‘Billions of more documents’ will be have to be filled out by small businesses for the IRS so that a ’spendthrift Congress can shake a few extra bucks out of’ them to pay for ObamaCare. They will have to spend countless hours to ‘gather information,’ such as about the person they buy a used car from, and the mom-and-pop landlords who lease space to them, even if the small business has to spend more money gathering the information than the IRS will collect in taxes as a result.”

Guerilla public service: "After the Los Angeles artist Richard Ankrom missed his exit off California Highway 110 one too many times, he decided to indulge in a little ‘guerrilla public service.’ Ankrom crafted three reflective sign components—a number 5, the word ‘North,’ and an arrow — and artificially aged them. He also whipped up an authentic-looking California transit authority uniform. On August 1, 2001, he shimmied out over the freeway in broad daylight and used his unique artwork to tag the tricky left exit to Interstate 5 North. For nine months, no one noticed that the change was the work of a private citizen.”

Watery broth is a perfect metaphor for the state: "The goal of government regulation is uniformity, not quality. Statists tend to equate the two; without government regulation, they maintain, businesses would simply stoop to the lowest-common denominator on product quality. Yet that’s exactly what happens when the state establishes a regulatory patent over industry standards. There’s no incentive for manufacturers to exceed the government’s mandate.”


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)