Saturday, June 05, 2010



U.S. Unemployment still stuck on high

After a relatively large expansion in private-sector employment in April of 224,000, the Obama administration led people to believe that the growth rate would continue in May. The White House leaked to several media sources that the number of new jobs would exceed a half-million positions, mainly through temporary Census Bureau expansion, and that the private sector would gain around 150,000 — somewhat less than April but still ahead of population growth. Instead, the actual BLS numbers missed both marks:
Total nonfarm payroll employment grew by 431,000 in May, reflecting the hiring of 411,000 temporary employees to work on Census 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Private-sector employment changed little (+41,000). Manufacturing, temporary help services, and mining added jobs, while construction employment declined. The unemployment rate edged down to 9.7 percent.

In order to keep up with population growth, private-sector employment has to expand by at least 100,000 jobs a month. So far, the Obama administration has only seen that once, in April. Falling back to 41,000 is a drop of 75% of the growth from the previous month and puts the US back in a net job loss situation.

The problem of marginally-attached workers grew, and is reflected in the A-16 table. Comparing May 2009 to May 2010, the number of discouraged workers rose from 792,000 to 1,083,000, while the number of discouraged workers remained steady at 2.2 million. The number of people not in the labor force but who want work — including the “discouraged” workers — rose from 5.865 million to 6.381 million in the past month (not seasonally adjusted — BLS does not provide historical data with seasonal adjustments).

The Washington Post certainly expected better:
The headlines right now are ominous — from the European debt crisis to a gargantuan gulf oil spill to renewed political tensions in several corners of the world. Financial markets have faltered as a result.

But the U.S. economic recovery is still plugging along.

That is the message from the latest wave of economic data, including several reports Thursday. And Friday morning, the Labor Department plans to release what is expected to be the best report on job growth in years, though the numbers will be boosted by temporary hiring by the Census Bureau.

It points back to a spectacularly bad attempt at expectations management by the White House. Either they didn’t know what was coming, or thought that they could spin it into sunshine. The stumble on private-sector growth negates the “we’re gaining strength” claim coming from the Obama administration, and it fits into a narrative of stagnation and incompetence. No one will look at a +41K month as a big step in the right direction, not after the administration’s bragging about the four-times-stronger number in April.

Update: Rob Port notes that 95.5% of all job growth in May came from the government.

Update II: CNBC reports that Wall Street isn’t impressed, either:
US employers added 431,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in May, but 411,000 of those were temporary census workers. The private sector added just 41,000 jobs: Manufacturing, temporary help and mining added jobs, while construction declined. That number was also well short of the more than 500,000 economists had expected. The unemployment rate, however, fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent in April.

“This number is extremely disappointing,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at LandColt trading. However, he said, it should come as no surprise. “Considering first time jobless claims have been inching higher over the past four weeks … and GDP came in at a lackluster 3%, American companies are going to be reluctant to hire.”

“The two areas of potential vulnerability for the economy remain payrolls and housing and they’re both staggering a good deal,” Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, said on CNBC this morning. “From a market standpoint, I think we’re going to switch over and start issuing Dow 10,000 helmets!”


The Dow was down 160 points shortly after opening and treading back towards the 10,000 mark.

Update III: Why did the unemployment rate go down? People have begun exiting the labor force again (via Jonah Goldberg):
The unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 9.7% in May from 9.9% in April, according to a separate survey of 60,000 households. Economists were expecting the jobless rate to sink to 9.8%.

The decline wasn’t particularly good news, however, because the drop was due to 322,000 people dropping out of the labor force. While unemployment dropped by 287,000 to 15 million, employment also fell, dipping 35,000 to 139.4 million.

The participation rate dropped by two tenths to 65%.

Those are not indicators of a growing economy.

SOURCE

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Why the White House Bribed Romanoff

We now know that Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, called Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in September, 2009, to offer him one of three enumerated jobs if only he would drop out of the Democratic Senate primary in which he was challenging appointed Senator Michael Bennet. But the question is why?
In the case of the Spector/Sestak bribe, the answer is obvious: The Obama Administration wanted the Pennsylvania Senator to switch parties so that they would have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. To persuade him to switch, the White House had to do its utmost to clear the field and assure him a safe path to the Senate nomination in his new political party. So, Rahm Emanual asked former President Bill Clinton to dangle positions in front of Sestak to get him to drop out of the race.

But Michael Bennet was no great friend of the White House. Having never been elected to a statewide position, he lacked a political base and was never a particularly strong candidate. He only got the Senate seat as an appointment to fill the seat vacated by Senator Ken Salazar who gave up the seat to become Secretary of the Interior in the Obama Administration. So why was the Obama Administration trying to clear the field for Bennet and assure him of the nomination?

The answer likely lies in the politics of health care. Bennet had been a question mark from the beginning of the health care debate. The Huffington Post reported, on November 22, 2009, that he was willing to lose his Senate seat if he had to in order to back health care reform. The Post reported that his dramatic announcement ended months of silence on the subject and relieved White House concerns that he was not going to back the bill.

Funny how Bennet’s announcement came less than two months after Romanoff was offered a job to drop out of the race!

If a connection can be documented between the offer and the vote (no other motivation seems credible) the transaction becomes particularly sickening. Trading a job for a vote is the crassest and most obvious form of bribery. But what else can account for Bennet’s sudden morph from being on the fence over health care to an ardent supporter who would lose all rather than see it die?

SOURCE

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Realizing the True Cost of Obamacare

The New York Times finally decides to spill the beans

Much of the focus on Obamacare has rightly been on its fiscal recklessness. But in a New York Times story —the type of story the Times couldn’t seem to find space for prior to Obamacare’s passage — we see a clear glimpse of the kind of care that Obamacare would likely spawn.

With the nomination brewing of Dr. Donald Berwick — a gushing admirer of the British National Health Service — to head Medicare and Medicaid and with Americans already clamoring for repeal in ever-greater numbers, the story, although tardy, is an important one. It highlights the very real dangers of having millions of the decisions made by doctors and patients across America replaced by the decisions of government administrators in Washington — who rely on studies they don’t understand and pick studies to rely on that aren’t worth understanding.

In this case, the relied-upon study was completed by Dartmouth researchers, who were thrust into the national limelight by an administration searching to find an angle, any angle, to try to sell its unpopular overhaul. As the Times writes, “The debate about the Dartmouth work is important because a growing number of health policy researchers are finding that overhauling the nation’s health care system will be far harder and more painful than the Dartmouth work has long suggested. Cuts, if not made carefully, could cost lives.”

The Times piece largely stands on its own, and it provides a disturbing account of how much damage powerful government officials could do to people’s lives if they are allowed to impose their decisions nationally, especially when those decisions aren’t rooted — as they almost always wouldn't be adequately rooted — in legitimate empirical evidence in, as President Obama likes to say, “what works.” Centralizing this much power in the hands of the few would prove fatal not only to liberty but to the quality of American medicine.

The Times writes:
In selling the health care overhaul to Congress, the Obama administration cited a once obscure research group at Dartmouth College to claim that it could not only cut billions in wasteful health care spending but make people healthier by doing so.

Wasteful spending — perhaps $700 billion a year — "does nothing to improve patient health but subjects you and me to tests and procedures that aren’t necessary and are potentially harmful," the president’s budget director, Peter Orszag, wrote in a blog post characteristic of the administration’s argument.

Mr. Orszag even displayed maps produced by Dartmouth researchers that appeared to show where the waste in the system could be found. Beige meant hospitals and regions that offered good, efficient care; chocolate meant bad and inefficient….

However, the Times writes, “Measures of the quality of care are not part of the formula.”

The Times adds, “For all anyone knows, patients could be dying in far greater numbers in hospitals in the beige regions than hospitals in the brown ones, and Dartmouth’s maps would not pick up that difference. As any shopper knows, cheaper does not always mean better.”

For example, there are “big city hospitals like those at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and NYU Langone Medical Center — which look profligate by Dartmouth’s measure but may rank much higher by other quality indicators.”

More HERE

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Same Pundits, Same Hypocrisy

I could go on about one-sided political analyses. But the worst of them recently might have been media's hesitancy to criticize President Obama's halting response to the Gulf oil spill. Obama himself had to declare his "ownership" of the situation before many journalists and pundits would do the same. The Sunday shows generally ran with this theme. Obama's to be judged (only) from this point forward, they said, but it's still BP's fault and responsibility.

Maybe. But I don't recall many of these same talking heads giving George W. Bush as much as a 48-hour grace period after Hurricane Katrina before calling for his head on a platter.

Save the Washington spin award, however, for the verbal contortions about Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak. The issue is whether the Obama White House offered him a job in exchange for Sestak dropping his Democratic primary challenge to incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and whether such an offer might have broken any laws.

The spin came right out of grammar school. Everybody else was doing it, too! It's just politics, you know.

That actually might be my view, too. But rest assured that had such an offer come from a surrogate of the Bush administration -- as Bill Clinton was the surrogate for the Obama White House in the case of Sestak -- the media indignation would have blown the doors off.

Sestak himself said emphatically at one point on television that he was indeed offered a job if he would leave Specter alone. He didn't say what job, but he hinted that it was a plum one.

Most insiders believe Clinton may or may not have offered Sestak some sort of modest appointment to a non-paying federal advisory board, as the White House claims. Regardless, they think that in his original televised comments, Sestak was referring to a prospective appointment to a full-time -- and prestigious -- job. That would be a clear violation of law.

Polls are panned by many, but the aggregate of multiple polling results by multiple pollsters rarely lies. President Obama's approval rating is about 47 percent. That's not good, but it's probably better than it would be if media were as tough and skeptical with this administration as they were with previous Republican ones -- or even with Bill Clinton's.

Here's the deal: The big broadcast news organizations want Washington insiders, and they want them to keep the deck stacked in favor of Democrats. Often they don't even realize their own biases.

The cable networks all play to certain audiences. Often they go overboard to flatter the ideologies of their loyal viewer bases. They simply won't accommodate pragmatic voices that decline to speak on behalf of agendas.

The vast majority of Americans don't read newspapers. They don't watch TV news and commentary shows. They just don't care. So does it really matter what the Washington pundits say? Yes and no. Even though most people don't tune in to their every word, the pundits still have the power to turn an offer to a candidate of a non-paying job into an "ElectionGate" scandal. But only if they want to. After all, they're the real gatekeepers.

More HERE

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

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

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

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Friday, June 04, 2010



Sestak: A feeble coverup that no-one believes

The lies of the coverup are at least as bad as the corruption that is being covered up


(The bottom half of the cartoon is a reference to Richard Nixon)

Last Friday, after months of silence regarding a potential White House job offer for Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., if he did not run in the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer released a memo addressing the events.

Titled, "Review of Discussions Relating to Congressman Sestak," the memo noted the "White House staff did not discuss these options with Congressman Sestak. The White House Chief of Staff enlisted the support of former President Clinton, who agreed to raise with Congressman Sestak options of service on a Presidential or other Senior Executive Branch Advisory Board. Congressman Sestak declined the suggested alternatives, remaining committed to his Senate Candidacy."

The short version: We did nothing wrong, we asked the former president to help, and the job offered would have been unpaid. The underlying message, "Trust us, we are transparent."

This past weekend, on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called for a federal investigation. "They're now talking about a job that President Clinton himself should have known Sestak couldn't take," he said. "It's the reason the FBI needs to investigate this. An independent -- independent from me, independent from the president -- needs to investigate and get to the bottom of this and -- so we can all move on."

More HERE

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Another clumsy White House bribe

In a possible repeat of the Joe Sestak episode in Pennsylvania, insurgent U.S. Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff of Colorado said deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina reached out to him — with a wince-inducing e-mail that is now public — with three possible jobs in September 2009. Obama wanted to keep him out of a race against Sen. Michael Bennet, the White House’s favored candidate.

Taken together, the Sestak and Romanoff cases suggest a White House team that is one part Dick Daley, one part Barney Fife.

They undercut Obama’s reputation on two fronts. Trying to put the fix in to deny Democratic voters the chance to choose for themselves who their Senate nominees should be is hardly consistent with the idea of “Yes, we can” grass-roots empowerment that is central to Obama’s brand.

And bungling that fix is at odds with the Obama team’s image — built around the likes of Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, David Plouffe and Obama himself — as shrewd political operatives who know the game and always win it.

More here

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Free accommodation for loan defaulters

Stay in your home for up to two years without paying either your mortgage or rent -- mostly at the ultimate expense of Fannie and Freddie -- who then get bailed out by the taxpayer

David Streitfeld has a great NYT piece on the way in which jingle mail, or strategic default, seems to be reaching its logical conclusion. Right now, about 24% of all mortgaged properties are underwater. And if you’re being foreclosed upon now, you probably defaulted 438 days ago. In New York, that figure is 561 days.

What’s more, the “limbo” period between default and foreclosure is growing fast: it has risen from 251 days in January 2008. Doing the math, that means that the average amount of time in limbo is growing by 1 days roughly every 4.4 days. Which means that if you default today, then you probably won’t get foreclosed upon until about 567 days from now — or roughly Christmas 2011. That’s 19 months, give or take, without having to make any mortgage payments at all. And if it turns out that your mortgage is one of the millions whose documentation is so screwed up that the loan servicer can’t prove you actually owe them any money at all, then there’s really no end to the amount of time you can sit in your house rent- and mortgage-free.

This turns out to be a great business for opportunistic lawyers, who can gross over half a million dollars a year just by spending a few hours per client stringing the mortgage companies along:

More HERE

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Big drop in Employer Health Coverage coming

And the taxpayer will be on the hook

The President repeatedly promised that if you liked your health plan, you would be able to keep it. Nothing would change. Fat chance.

In fact, millions of Americans of Americans will lose or be transitioned out of their existing employer based health insurance. The official Actuary at HHS- who doesn’t speak for the Administration- said it would be 14 million. But a new report by former Director of the Congressional Budget Office Douglas Holtz-Eakin predicts it could be as high as 35 million. That kind of disruption comes at a high price: It’ll cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion more than previously estimated.

Why? Because Obamacare calls for lavish subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans buy health insurance. Indeed, households earning up to four times the federal poverty level are eligible for subsidies. According to 2008 Census data, some 127 million Americans would qualify. Yet the official CBO analysis of Obamacare estimated only 19 million would get subsidies.

Why did CBO think the other 108 eligibles wouldn’t ask for “free” federal money? Because Congress added a “firewall” provision: You can’t get a subsidy unless you have no employer-sponsored coverage, or your contribution toward employer-based coverage exceeds 9.8 percent of your income.

But this firewall is flimsy. The inducement Obamacare gives employers to keep providing generous health coverage is the threat of slapping them with a $2,000 per employee penalty if they drop coverage.

The new study by Holtz-Eakin, now president of the American Action Forum, and his colleague Cameron Smith demonstrates just how ineffective this penalty will be. It presents the example of an insured low-income worker earning one-third more than the federal poverty level. The employer could drop that worker’s coverage, give him a raise, pay the penalty and still save money. Meanwhile, the worker could pocket the raise and the Obamacare subsidy, buy his own coverage and be none the worse for wear.

As Holtz-Eakin and Smith put it, “There is room for the employer to actually improve the worker’s life by having a small pay raise and the same insurance and still save money.” For a health plan worth $15,921, the employee would get a bonus of $128 to keep the same health plan in the exchange, and the employer would save $9,941, even after paying the penalty.

In theory, everyone “wins”. Sort of. The employer gets to dump expensive federally mandated health coverage, and the employee, who may have liked that coverage, still gets a pay raise. The only big loser is the employer and employee who happens to be a taxpayer. The feds will have to dole out subsidies to even middle class families whose employers drop coverage due to the programs perverse incentives. After crunching the numbers, Holtz-Eakin and Smith concluded that as many as 35 million could lose employer-sponsored coverage, bringing the price tag of the subsidies from a” measly” $450 billion to about $1.4 trillion. Have a nice day.

SOURCE

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Crack Reporting

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Dear Editor:

Suppose Uncle Sam orders you to raise by 41 percent the price you charge for subscriptions to your newspaper. Would you be surprised to find a subsequent fall in the number of subscribers? If you assigned a reporter to investigate the reasons for this decline in subscriptions, would you be impressed if that reporter files a story offering several possible explanations for the fall in subscriptions without, however, once mentioning the mandated 41 percent price hike?

Unless you answered “yes” to this last question, I wonder why you published Mickey Meece’s report on today’s record high teenage unemployment rate (“Job Outlook for Teenagers Worsens,” June 1). Between 2007 and 2009, Uncle Sam ordered teenage workers (who are mostly unskilled) to raise the price they charge for their labor services by 41 percent. (That is, the federal minimum-wage rose from $5.15 per hour in 2007 to its current level of $7.25 in 2009 – a 41 percent increase.)

Does it not strike you as more than passing strange for your reporter – assigned to help explain why teenagers today have an increasingly difficult time finding jobs – to ignore the fact that these teenagers are ordered by government to raise significantly the wages that they charge their employers?

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

There is a new site here devoted to collating all the facts about the blockade-busting flotilla that was recently arrested on its way to Gaza.

How socialized medicine harms veterans: "The VA system rarely gets mentioned in the health care debate, which is surprising: it is a homegrown demonstration of how socialized medicine works in the real world. As with the British National Health Service, the U.S. government owns all of the hospitals, and pays for all of the health care, for qualified military personnel. The resultant problems are easy to predict.”

FTC to "Reinvent" Journalism: "The nation needs a strong, independent press, the FTC argues, and so they want to find ways for government to "reinvent" journalism. If that sounds vaguely Orwellian to you, the actual language in the Federal Trade Commission's discussion-points memo should have hairs standing on the backs of necks across the nation. It shows a wildly laughable rationale for government intervention that would prop up the failing newspaper model in a manner that would put the entire industry at the mercy of the federal bureaucracy it's supposed to keep in check."

Did Hoover really slash spending?: "Follow me here, because this is an important point: In the long block quotation above, Krugman and Wells argue that the reason we went into a Great Depression in the 1930s, whereas we merely suffered a Great Recession in our own times, is that the fool politicians back then slashed government spending while the fool central bankers hiked interest rates. In contrast, our enlightened politicians (at least the Democratic ones) and Ben Bernanke had the wisdom to run massive budget deficits and to slash interest rates. That’s why unemployment zoomed to 25% in the 1930s but has yet to break 10% in our time. Now for this story to make any sense, it must be the case that Hoover ’slashed spending,’ while the Fed hiked interest rates, within the first 20 months of the Great Depression. Do you see why?”

"Progressive" Theodore Roosevelt and the modern presidency: “Presidential scholar Edward Corwin has spoken of the ‘personalization of the presidency,’ by which he means that the accident of personality has played a considerable role in shaping the office. And indeed it is hard to think of a stronger personality than that of Theodore Roosevelt who ever served as president. One presidential scholar observed that Roosevelt gave the office ‘the absorbing drama of a Western movie.’ And no wonder. Mark Twain, who met with the president twice, declared him ‘clearly insane.’ In a way, Roosevelt set the tone for his public life to come at age 20, when, after an argument with his girlfriend, he went home and shot and killed his neighbor’s dog. He told a friend in 1884 that when he donned his special cowboy suit, which featured revolver and rifle, ‘I feel able to face anything.’ When he killed his first buffalo, he ‘abandoned himself to complete hysteria,’ as historian Edmund Morris put it, ‘whooping and shrieking while his guide watched in stolid amazement.’ His reaction was similar in 1898 when he killed his first Spaniard." [More on TR here]

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

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

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

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Thursday, June 03, 2010



Mainstream Media's "Flotilla" Fraud

The people behind the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” have a long history with terrorists, including al Qaeda. One of the primary sponsors, the Turkish IHH, were identified by the CIA as far back as 1996 as a terrorist-tied entity with links to Iran, and French magistrate Jean-Louis Brougiere testified that IHH played an “important role” in the failed “millennium plot” in the U.S. in late 1999.

Also missing from the mainstream media coverage was that supplies from the flotilla could have been transported from an Israeli port by truck, after inspection, but that offer was flatly rejected. The reasoning was transparent, considering that flotilla spokeswoman Greta Berlin announced last week to the Agence France Press, “This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it’s about breaking Israel’s siege.”

Most tellingly, flotilla passengers were seen on Al-Jazeera last week chanting, “Khyber, Khyber,” a favorite chant of jihadists because it recalls a battle where Mohammed’s army is said to have killed large numbers of Jews.

Had the mainstream media been truly brave, outlets could have given full context, namely that the blockade of Gaza targets the Hamas government and is a joint enterprise of both Israel and Egypt.

There is no “humanitarian crisis,” as claimed by the flotilla’s propaganda, given that approximately 100 aid trucks enter Gaza every day. “Throughout the last few months,” according to the Israel Defense Forces website, “More than 1,200 tons of medicine and medical equipment, 155 tons of food, 2,900 tons of shoes and clothing and 17 million liters of diesel fuel were transferred in to the Gaza Strip.”

But not surprisingly, few of these facts found their way into the mainstream media’s coverage.

More here

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Even Maureen Dowd is not impressed by Obama now he is President

The chief harpy of the NYT writes below:

It’s not a good narrative arc: The man who walked on water is now ensnared by a crisis under water.

One little hole a mile down on the ocean floor, so deep it seems like hell spewing up its sulfurous smoke, has turned the thrilling saga of “The One” into the gurgling horror of “The Abyss.” (Thank goodness James Cameron, the director of “The Abyss,” came to Washington Tuesday to help the administration figure out how to cap the BP well. What’s next? Sending down the Transformers and Megan Fox?)

With as much as 34 million gallons of oil inking the Gulf of Mexico, “Yes we can” has been downgraded to “Will we ever?”

It’s impossible not to feel sorry for President Obama, pummeled by the cascading disasters, at home and abroad, unleashed by two war-mongering oil men — plus scary escalations by Israel, Iran and North Korea. (Dick Cheney’s dark influence is still belching like the well. BP just brought on a new public relations executive: Anne Womack-Kolton, who served as Cheney’s campaign press secretary in 2004 and worked in W.’s White House and at the Energy Department.)

Obama wanted to be a transformative president and now the presidency is transforming him. Instead of buoyant, he seems put upon. Instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness, there’s the bitter draught of helplessness.

His battle against water is taking on Biblical — even Job-like — proportions. Besides the roiling water below, the skies opened from above and gusting, lightning-streaked rains drowned the president’s plans to give a Memorial Day speech at the Lincoln cemetery near Chicago. On the evening news, pictures of the president standing under an umbrella shooing people off the soggy field were a sad contrast to the wildly sentimental Joe Biden presiding, hand on heart, over a sunny and moving Memorial Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery.

After suffering more indignities — a S.U.V. in his motorcade blew a tire on I-55 outside of Chicago — a tired-looking Obama returned to Andrews Air Force Base at 7:30 Monday night and went to an area called the “tactical fitness center” to give his remarks to 150 or so subdued service members who had been rounded up by the White House advance team.

As The Washington Post’s Anne Kornblut wryly wrote in her pool report: “It has been years since President Obama attended a rally like the one that took place here Monday night: sparsely attended, thrown together at the last minute, involving people who were not expecting to be there. We’re partying like it’s Obama circa 2005.”

The oil won’t stop flowing, but the magic has. Barack Obama is a guy who is accustomed to having stuff go right for him. He’s gotten a lot of breaks: two opponents in his U.S. Senate race in Illinois felled by personal scandals; a mismanaged presidential campaign by Hillary Clinton; an economic collapse that set the stage for a historic win, memorably described by the satiric Onion newspaper as “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”

Reporters grilled Robert Gibbs at his White House briefing on Tuesday about the president’s strange inability to convey passion over a historical environmental disaster. This was underscored by Obama’s perfunctory drop-by to a sanitized beach in Grand Isle, La. Despite his recent ode about growing up near an ocean, he didn’t bother to meet with the regular folks who have lost their seafaring livelihoods.

After Gibbs asserted that his boss was “enraged” at BP, CBS News’s Chip Reid skeptically pressed: “Have we really seen rage from the president on this? I think most people would say no.” “I’ve seen rage from him, Chip,” Gibbs insisted. “I have.”

Reid asked for an exact definition of what constitutes emotion for Obama: “Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?” Gibbs mentioned the words “clenched jaw” and the president’s admonition to “plug the damn hole.”

How does a man who invented himself as a force by writing one of the most eloquent memoirs in political history lose control of his own narrative?

In “Dreams From My Father,” Obama showed passion, lyricism, empathy and an exquisite understanding of character and psychological context — all the qualities that he has stubbornly resisted showing as president. It was a book that promised a president who could see into the hearts of other people. But there’s so much you don’t learn about candidates in campaigns, even when they seem completely exposed.

This president has made it clear that he’s not comfortable outside whatever domain he’s defined. But unless he wants his story to be marred by a pattern of passivity, detachment, acquiescence and compromise, he’d better seize control of the story line of his White House years. Woe-is-me is not an attractive narrative.

SOURCE

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Black Democrats nervous about ethics probes

I wonder why?

Twenty members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including its chairwoman, are asking the House to severely restrict the powers of an independent ethics office that has spent much of its first full year investigating accusations of wrongdoing among black caucus members.

A resolution introduced late last week by Representative Marcia L. Fudge, Democrat of Ohio, and co-sponsored by 19 other black caucus members, would prohibit the release of most investigative reports prepared by the Office of Congressional Ethics. It would also prevent the office from initiating its own inquiries, unless a sworn complaint was filed by an individual with personal knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing.

The changes are merited, Ms. Fudge said, because the ethics office, known as the O.C.E., has taken up frivolous investigations that have unfairly damaged the reputation of House members.

“O.C.E. is currently the accuser, judge and jury,” Ms. Fudge said in a statement Monday. “This isn’t the case in the American justice system, and it shouldn’t be so in Congress.”

Outside watchdog groups, which in 2008 pressured House leaders to create the office after a series of Capitol Hill scandals, called the proposal a cynical attempt to effectively shut down what has already become an important new ethics cop in Washington.

“This will gut and render impotent the Office of Congressional Ethics,” said Norman J. Ornstein, an ethics expert at the American Enterprise Institute who lobbied for the creation of the office two years ago. “It is a pretty good working definition of chutzpah.”

The office, which is run by a former Justice Department prosecutor and overseen by an independent board, has investigated at least eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus. After it investigates, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has the responsibility of formally deciding if any rules have been broken.

The standards committee has dismissed eight of the nine cases referred to it by the office, including four involving black caucus members. It has not concluded its work on three other cases.

The most important power of the office, it has turned out, is its ability to force the release of its investigative findings, even if the House standards committee concludes that no violation occurred, a power that would be eliminated under the new proposal.

SOURCE

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Do Liberals Suffer from Arrested Moral Development?

Their moral reasoning is similar to that of young children

Do kids outgrow socialism? A fascinating new study, “Fairness and the Development of Inequality Acceptance,” published last week in the journal Science by researchers at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration sheds some light on individual moral development. It turns out that as people move from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood they become increasingly meritocratic, that is, they come to believe that people deserve unequal rewards based on their individual achievements.

The Norwegian researchers studied about 500 children beginning in the fifth grade through the 13th grade (ages 11 through 19) as they played modified versions of the dictator game. In the standard dictator game, a sum of money, say $100, is divided up between two players. The dictator decides how much to keep and how much to give the second player, the responder. Interestingly, research shows consistently that most dictators do not keep all the money.

The Norwegian researchers modified the game allowing for a 45-minute production phase in which players could earn points by finding and clicking on specific numbers in a series of computer screens. The researchers also set up alternative tasks allowing students to choose to play video games or watch cartoons instead of trying to collect points. Most of the participants turned out to be workaholics who clicked away full time trying to gain points. Later the points could be exchanged for money, but in some cases the amount of money was randomly given a multiplier, so that some lucky participants ended up earning more than others who had been equally productive.

Once the game was over, kids from the same grade were paired and told how long each had spent earning points, how many they earned, and what multiplier each received. The pair’s winnings were combined and one—the dictator—would decide how to divide up the total. What happened?

The Norwegian school kids, both male and female, divvied up the money with the mean share given to responders averaging around 45 percent across all grades. The researchers suggest that this nearly equal division results from the fact that “there is no apparent fairness argument justifying an unequal division of the money.”

However, the researchers found that how students divided up money changed as they became older when it was earned and depended on individual achievements and luck. Most fifth graders (63 percent) remained strict egalitarians, dividing up the money equally, despite the fact that some players earned more money through individual achievement. However, the portion of egalitarians dropped to 40 percent by 7th grade; falling eventually to 22 percent by 13th grade. Conversely, the share of meritocrats rose from 5 percent in the fifth grade, to 22 percent in 7th grade, rising eventually to 42 percent in the 13th grade. A full 42 percent of players in the 13th grade kept more money for themselves because they believed that they have earned it. The authors of the Norwegian study conclude that the meritocratic fairness view increases as the cognitive abilities of children mature. In other words: yes, kids outgrow socialism.

More here

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ELSEWHERE

The coming resignation of Barack Obama: "Months ago, I predicted in this column that President Obama would so discredit himself in office that he wouldn’t even be on the ballot in 2012, let alone have a prayer of being reelected. Like President Johnson in 1968, who had won a much bigger victory four years previously than Obama did in 2008, President Obama will be so politically defunct by 2012 that he won’t even try to run for reelection. I am now ready to predict that President Obama will not even make it that far. I predict that he will resign in discredited disgrace before the fall of 2012.”

American musketeers: "America made excellent gunpowder. It also produced superior small arms. The end of the Civil War gave a tremendous impetus to the sales campaign of American arms makers. The bottom had more than fallen out of their domestic market. With large plant, personnel, and stocks on their hands, the arms manufacturers had to seek foreign outlets. Moreover, the secondhand merchants were pressing them in the smaller countries and they found it necessary to seek out the ordnance departments of the Great Powers. But the most potent cause for expansion was that the world was ready to buy American small arms.”

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

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

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

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010



Rage about Israel but silence about real atrocities

Six million dead over the past ten years. Six. Million. Murdered through barbaric violence and mass starvation. But, oddly enough, not with that weapon of death, the paint ball gun.

Mass rape is a weapon unleashed on thousands of women every single day. Over a million refugees are living in filth, dying of disease and starvation. We're talking about... Congo.
Perhaps the scale of the humanitarian tragedy is too much for people to comprehend, or perhaps the hidden corporate agenda of mainstream media in the United States will not allow this story to see the light of day. The rape and plunder of Congo's resources is behind the great silence which surrounds this story. The proxy armies of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda serve the international corporate agenda. The story is complicated, and will never be fully understood except within the confines of historical analysis.

Meanwhile, six million are dead in the last ten years, 1,200 people die every day, unspeakable crimes against women's bodies go unreported, and the 1.2 million innocents in refugee camps cannot afford the time to wait for history's analysis of the reasons behind their despair and misery. More than 2,000 rape cases were recorded last month alone in the Democratic Republic of Congo's violent North Kivu province.

But no one questions the legitimacy of the Congo, arguably the most barbaric, dysfunctional country on the face of the earth. The U.N. barely notices Congo.

And all the so-called peace activists on the left who wail and gnash their teeth about non-existent Israeli atrocities are criminally silent when it comes to authentic war crimes; the oceans of innocent blood barely registers in their collective conscience.

You know why? Because there are no Jews in Congo. Because Congo is not the Jewish State.

Because anti-Zionism is the new Jew-hatred. Because Jews were despised when we did not have a state, and now we are despised because we do have a state.

Israel's enemies are not interested in human rights. They are interested in the destruction of the Jewish State, the extermination of the Jewish people. That is the reality.

More HERE (See the original for links)

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Obama and Jewish political stupidity

by Jeff Jacoby

LONG BEFORE his election as president, it was clear that Barack Obama felt little of the traditional American warmth for Israel or any particular repugnance for the enemies that Israel and America have in common. As Commentary's editors suggest, his exceptionally close ties to the man he described as his spiritual mentor, the Israel-bashing Reverend Jeremiah Wright, should have given pause to any pro-Israel voter. So should the persistence with which he vowed to undertake direct presidential diplomacy with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the virulently anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic president of Iran -- "without preconditions." Yet many American Jews chose to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, telling themselves that he could be numbered, as Alan Dershowitz wrote at the time, "among Israel's strongest supporters."

Only the willfully blind could believe that now. And many American Jews are willfully blind.

Time and again, Obama has made clear both his lack of sympathy for the Jewish state and his keen desire to ingratiate himself with Arab and Muslim autocrats. The disparities in the administration's tone and attitude have been striking. For the prime minister of Israel, there have been humiliating snubs and telephoned harangues; for the rulers of Iran, invitations to "engage" and sycophantic New Year greetings. When Damascus was reported to be arming Hezbollah with Scud missiles, Obama's secretary of state observed mildly that the US "would like to have a more balanced and positive relationship with Syria." When Israel announced plans to build more homes in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, by contrast, the secretary of state angrily condemned the announcement as "an insult to the United States."

Even more egregious is Obama's insinuation that American troops are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because Israel won't agree to peace on the Palestinians' terms. The Israeli-Arab conflict "is costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure," the president said in April -- a claim not just false, but recklessly close to a blood libel. No wonder the number of Israeli Jews who see Obama as pro-Israel is minuscule: just 9 percent, according to the Jerusalem Post.

When the first George Bush was in the White House, he evinced a similar anti-Israel animus, and some of his advisers worried that his Mideast policy would hurt the president with Jewish voters. "F--- the Jews," Secretary of State James Baker notoriously responded, "they don't vote for us anyway." They didn't: When Bush ran for re-election in 1992, he drew only 11 percent of the Jewish vote -- less than a third of those who had voted for him in 1988.

Is it likely that two-thirds of the overwhelming majority of Jews who backed Obama in 2008 would abandon him in 2012, assuming he runs for re-election and his animus toward Israel persists? To ask it another way: Would most American Jews vote against a Democratic nominee out of concern for Israel?

There is no reason to think so. American Jews have been stalwart Democrats for nearly a century, and their partisan affiliation shows no sign of weakening -- not even as the Democratic Party's support for Israel grows steadily weaker. When Gallup earlier this year surveyed Americans on their sympathies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 85 percent of Republicans expressed support for Israel -- but only 48 percent of Democrats did so. Reams of data confirm that solidarity with Israel is now far stronger among Republicans and conservatives than among Democrats and liberals.

That is why if they are forced to choose between standing with Israel and standing with the Democratic Party, many American Jews will simply deny that any choice must be made. As evidence, consider a recent Quinnipiac University poll, in which fully 50 percent of Jews described Obama as a "strong supporter of Israel" -- a far higher proportion than the 19 percent of evangelicals, 23 percent of Protestants, and 35 percent of Catholics who said the same. Denial is not an uncommon response to cognitive dissonance, and a goodly number of Jewish Democrats will find it easier to keep telling themselves that Obama is strongly pro-Israel than to re-think their party loyalty.

To be sure, in 2012 Obama is unlikely to duplicate the 78 percent of Jewish votes he drew in 2008. But will American Jews turn away from him en masse? Don't bet on it. "F--- the Jews," Obama's advisers can tell him. "They'll vote for us anyway."

SOURCE

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BrookesNews Update

Is the US economy facing stagnation? : When GDP for the last quarter of 2009 came in at 5.2 per cent many people immediately assumed that the upswing had finally arrived. They were wrong. The contrary factors at work were too powerful to resist and they could be getting stronger. This could see the US economy sink even deeper into recession
KPMG's Keynesian quackery is hazardous to your wealth : It is to be regretted that KPMG's economic fallacies are soundly embedded in what passes for economic debate in Australia. What Mr Salt and those like him at the Treasury and in the media have not grasped is that a good economist looks beyond the immediate effects of an economic policy
The left get it wrong again: The market didn't cause the crisis, bad economics and political meddlers did that : Statistics tell us what happened but they don't tell us why it happened. This is why one needs a theory to interpret them. These critics of the market don't have a theory. What they have are prejudices. They nothing about economic history or the history of economic thought (most economists are no better in this respect) and they certainly do not know any basic economics
Castro's supporters: Rockers For Stalinism and segregation! : What is with our celebrity class and their endless love affairs with the vicious Castro. The man is a mass murdering sadist and yet Hollywood celebrities debase themselves in front of and rockers treat him like a god. Where does this moral imbecility come from?
Senator Chris Dodd always seemed to support America's enemies : Christopher Dodd, Democratic Senator from Connecticut, is exiting the Senate, leaving, like so many before him, a very dark stain behind. To understand why American politics is immensely better off and American liberties far safer with the likes of Dodd kept away from the levers of power one needs to only look at one aspect of his political career. It was only recently that he tried to sabotage the war on terrorism?
I've had too much change and I've lost my hope! : Why do Jews continue to vote for the Democrats? In decades and generations gone past, the Jewish communities were poor. They were newcomers to the wealth and civil rights. They appreciated the liberty afforded to them
Do Democrats commit hate crimes against black Republicans? : A display of unmitigated gall describes how Democrats are falsely comparing anti-ObamaCare protestors to the anti-civil rights racists of the 1960's who were Democrats. Democrats get away with this racial hypocrisy because they know with absolute certainty that the true history of civil rights has long been buried, and the racism exhibited today by Democrats against blacks, particularly black Republicans, will be ignored by the mainstream media

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ELSEWHERE

He was supposed to be competent: "I don’t see how the president’s position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president’s political judgment and instincts. There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his healthcare proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. … The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008.”

Correction: Census workers may NOT enter your apartment: "Last week, former congressman Bob Barr wrote that Census workers can legally demand entrance to any apartment. … The claim got a lot of play on sites like the Drudge Report. The idea is certainly believable given the expansion of government power. And it’s easy to see how Barr got his impression from this law, which states that a census worker may demand the landlord of an apartment building ‘furnish the names of the occupants of such premises, or to give free ingress thereto and egress therefrom to any duly accredited representative …’ But four privacy law experts we called to said that ‘ingress thereto’ refers to the apartment complex, not individual apartments.”

Disclosed partisanship: "DISCLOSE’s partisanship is apparent in its different treatment of corporations and unions. Every major federal campaign-finance-reform effort since 1943 has attempted to treat corporations and unions equally. If a limit applied to corporations, it applied to unions; if unions could form PACs, corporations could too; and so on. DISCLOSE is the first major campaign-finance bill that has not taken this approach. For example, it prohibits corporations with government contracts of as little as $50,000 from making independent expenditures in elections or engaging in ‘electioneering communications.’ This very low threshold would bar not only large contractors such as Boeing but also thousands of small businesses from exercising the rights recognized in Citizens United. Yet no parallel provision exists for unions that bargain with the government for multimillion-dollar benefit packages.”

"Learned helplessness": "That’s a phrase I first learned from Charles Murray. I assume he invented it when writing about the unintended consequences of the Welfare State. Working at ABC, and living in Manhattan, I never imagined American welfare ‘reform’ would pass. My neighbors fervently believed subsidies should only increase. ‘No one can live on welfare,’ was a typical comment. ‘The poor barely scrape by. We must increase subsidies for education, healthcare, housing, etc., to give people a decent shot at life.’ When a Republican Congress persuaded President Clinton to sign welfare reform, my neighbors predicted riots and widespread misery. They have been largely silent about the resulting decrease in the poverty rate. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Britain’s deficits have forced Britain to rethink its welfare state…. ‘Uninspiring’ is a good word. Now the English may have finally learned that a generous Welfare State breeds helplessness.” [The term "Learned helplessness" was coined by Martin Seligman, as far as I know]

Philosophical versus political correctness: "You will know what I am after here when I tell you how much I dislike it when people talk of ‘her majesty’ or ‘his highness’ as they talk of various pretenders to heads of countries around the globe and throughout human history. For me such terms are like ones out of fairy tales because, well, there are no kings or queens or any such thing except in myths and fabricated political regimes. In other words kings are really not what they pretend to be, namely, God’s chosen leaders here on earth. As with all in-born status that places some above others not in height or even talent but in political authority — some may rule and others will be ruled — the whole monarchical idea is a lie. Yet even now one can encounter references to these pretenders, right here in the United States of America, as if these were the real McCoy! Poppycock. Was it not the American Founders who participated in the revolution that demoted, demythologized these pretenders and declared that no one is by nature the ruler of someone else?” [I don't think Tibor has quite got the idea of a constitutional monarchy. I live in one and find it most congenial]

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010



What really happened on the Gaza-bound ships -- in detail

By Ron Ben-Yishai

Our Navy commandoes fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
‘I saw the tip of a rifle’

The Navy commandoes were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.

The planned rush towards the vessel’s bridge became impossible, even when a second chopper was brought in with another crew of soldiers. “Throw stun grenades,” shouted Flotilla 13’s commander who monitored the operation. The Navy chief was not too far, on board a speedboat belonging to Flotilla 13, along with forces who attempted to climb into the back of the ship.

The forces hurled stun grenades, yet the rioters on the top deck, whose number swelled up to 30 by that time, kept on beating up about 30 commandoes who kept gliding their way one by one from the helicopter. At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.

Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes.

“I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him. We looked for him later but couldn’t find him.” Two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds to their knee and stomach after rioters apparently fired at them using guns wrested away from troops.

During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.

Some passengers on the ship stood at the back and pounded the soldiers’ hands as they attempted to climb on board. Only after a 30-minute shootout and brutal assaults using clubs and knifes did commandoes manage to reach the bridge and take over the Marmara.

It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.

SOURCE

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Fancy restaurants and Olympic-size pools in Gaza

In recent days, the international media, particularly in Europe and the Mideast, has been full of stories about “activist boats sailing to Gaza carrying desperately-needed humanitarian aid and building materials.”

The BBC World Service even led its world news broadcasts with this story at one point over the weekend. (The BBC yesterday boasted that its global news audience has now risen to 220 million persons a week, making it by far the biggest news broadcaster in the world.)

Indeed the BBC and other prominent Western media regularly lead their viewers and readers astray with accounts of a non-existent “mass humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

What they won’t tell you about are the fancy new restaurants and swimming pools of Gaza, or about the wind surfing competitions on Gaza beaches, or the Strip’s crowded shops and markets. Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza live a middle class (and in some cases an upper class) lifestyle that western journalists refuse to report on because it doesn’t fit with the simplistic story they were sent to write.

Here, courtesy of the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, is a report on Gaza’s new Olympic-sized swimming pool . (Most Israeli towns don’t have Olympic-size swimming pools. One wonders how an area that claims to be starved of water and building materials and depends on humanitarian aid builds an Olympic size swimming pool and creates a luxury lifestyle for some while others are forced to live in abject poverty as political pawn refugees?)

If you pop into the Roots Club in Gaza, according to the Lonely Planet guidebook, you can “dine on steak au poivre and chicken cordon bleu”.

The restaurant’s website in Arabic gives a window into middle class dining and the lifestyle of Hamas officials in Gaza. And here it is in English, for all the journalists, UN types and NGO staff who regularly frequent this and other nice Gaza restaurants (but don’t tell their readers about them).

And here is a promotional video of the club restaurant . In case anyone doubts the authenticity of this video, I just called the club in Gaza City and had a nice chat with the manager who proudly confirmed business is booming and many Palestinians and international guests are dining there.

In a piece for The Wall Street Journal last year, I documented the “after effects” of a previous “emergency Gaza boat flotilla,” when the arrivals were seen afterwards purchasing souvenirs in well-stocked shops. (You can also scroll down here for more pictures of Gaza’s “impoverished” shops.)

But the mainstream liberal international media won’t report on any of this. Playing the manipulative game of the BBC is easy: if we had their vast taxpayer funded resources, we too could produce reports about parts of London, Manchester and Glasgow and make it look as though there is a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the UK. We could produce the same effect by selectively filming seedy parts of Paris and Rome and New York and Los Angeles too.

Of course there is poverty in Gaza. There is poverty in parts of Israel too. (When was the last time a foreign journalist based in Israel left the pampered lounge bars and restaurants of the King David and American Colony hotels in Jerusalem and went to check out the slum-like areas of southern Tel Aviv? Or the hard-hit Negev towns of Netivot or Rahat?)

But the way that many prominent Western news media are deliberately misleading global audiences and systematically creating the false impression that people are somehow starving in Gaza, and that it is all Israel’s fault, can only serve to increase hatred for the Jewish state – which one suspects was the goal of many of the editors and reporters involved in the first place.

SOURCE

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Offshore oil disaster a gift for Obama's "shrink America" aims

An administration never enthusiastic about offshore drilling is using the Gulf oil spill as an excuse to suspend Arctic exploration. Who could've seen that coming? Now we'll be more dependent on foreign oil.

Suspicions in some quarters that the administration was being deliberately lax in its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in order to pursue a larger, anti-domestic energy agenda were met with derision. But if not deliberate, the effect is the same as the administration prepares to shut down our search for new oil.

President Obama on Thursday announced a suspension of offshore drilling in the Arctic until the causes and solutions to the Gulf spill are found. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a report delivered to the White House on Thursday that he will not consider applications for permits to drill in the Arctic until 2011. Shell Oil was poised to begin exploratory drilling this summer on leases as far as 140 miles offshore.

The irony here is that it's been the reluctance of Congress and the White House to allow more onshore development of our vast untapped oil and natural gas energy reserves that has forced oil companies such as Shell and British Petroleum to go farther and farther offshore to drill deeper and deeper in riskier waters.

"I am frustrated that this decision by the Obama administration to halt offshore development for a year will cause more delays and higher costs for domestic oil and gas production to meet the nation's energy needs," Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a statement. As with nuclear power, domestic oil exploration will now be consigned to the "study forever, develop never" category.

As we noted recently, this is another energy crisis that environmentalists will not let go to waste. The nonfatal accident at Three Mile Island in 1979 and the Soviet disaster at Chernobyl conspired to deprive the U.S. of a non-polluting form of power generation — nuclear power. The danger here is that similar overblown fears of offshore oil production will doom the U.S. to being the Bangladesh of domestic energy production.

Other nations continue to build new nuclear power plants, build new coal plants and build new offshore oil rigs (including China, in the Gulf of Mexico). They know that despite the risks and dangers, their economies and their people need the energy. The U.S., uniquely among industrial nations, will stick its head in the tundra.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Had enough government yet?: "The BP Deepwater Horizon, the most federally regulated offshore oil drilling rig ever, blows out one mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in the worst oil spill disaster ever. In the spirit of using every crisis to advance the liberal agenda, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar proposes to abolish the single agency in charge of regulating and inspecting offshore rigs, and replacing it with three new federal agencies. In fairness, Salazar had to do something drastic when it was discovered that the agency whose oversight failed to prevent the blowout was peppered with employees who spent their time doing drugs, taking bribes from the oil industry, and surfing the web for porn.”

Why some places suck and others don’t: "It’s hardly an original observation that some parts of the world suck mightily as places to be unfortunate enough to inhabit while others are, by historical or global standards, really rather decent. Various explanations for this have been offered over the years and the current fashionable one is that institutions matter. not just who is in power and what they want, but what restrictions does the society put upon exercise of power: is the law stable for example, are property rights respected, does getting ahead depend upon ingenuity, effort and improving the general lot or by sucking up to the nearest politician? Or, Lord forbid, mounting a coup to become the nearest politician?”

Tea Party vs. ACORN, etc.: "It looks like the way the Right despises ACORN, the Left does the Tea Party. It may not even be so much about their political stances, although that is part of it for sure. It is sad, though, that supporters of Mr. Obama had no problem with — indeed were proud of — his history of community organization but forget about this completely as they deride the Tea Party. And I am not just talking about Leftist talk show hosts and hostesses but snooty publications like The New Republic and The New York Review of Books. Instead of celebrating this clearly democratic phenomenon, the Left is demonizing it.”

Greedy British centre/Left politician: "Once an individual claims any kind of state subsidy, his privacy is forfeit: the humblest benefits recipient could confirm that. The one certain way to have preserved his privacy was for [David] Laws to have claimed no money — as he could easily have afforded to do. Laws is a multi-millionaire as a result of his previous career in banking: he was a vice-president of J P Morgan and then the managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd, before he was 30. That an MP with that kind of personal wealth elected to take more than £40,000 from the taxpayer says it all about politicians’ sense of entitlement. It was that sense of entitlement that brought him down. His private life was revealed by Laws himself, in a transparent attempt to claim victimhood. To some degree that ploy succeeded, as the Dianafication of the former Chief Secretary among his colleagues and some elements of the media over the past 24 hours testifies.”

Concierge medical services: "My wife and I have a great doctor. She has a small clinic nearby with a few other doctors, who are also all very good. Our doctor has a waiting list for people who want to be her patient. We have over the years recommended several people, even some who live 20 miles away, to her. She is very nagging — in a good way. She makes you promise to get a physical, eye exam, etc., intervenes to get you an appointment with a specialist if you need one, etc. Follows up by phone, and so on. She is great. She recently announced to us that she is moving to some kind of ‘concierge’ service — she figures she basically provides that kind of above-average service already, and this is a way to reduce her patient load (from about 4000 to about 400), and escape some of the regulatory burden that Obamacare is going to impose. So she’s picking a select group of her current patients — about 10% of them — and they will be allowed to remain her patients — for $1600/year each. Now, we love our doctor, so will probably do this. And 3600 of her patients will now lose their favorite doctor. Thanks, in part, to Obamacare.”

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

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

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

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Monday, May 31, 2010



Memorial Day 2010

by Oliver North

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. -- This is the place that receives the most attention on Memorial Day, though it is but one of 141 national cemeteries in the United States and 24 others located on foreign soil. Many of our countrymen will observe this "last Monday in May" holiday with travel, shopping and picnics. But those who take the time to visit one of these hallowed grounds will have an unforgettable experience.

These are the final resting places for more than 3 million Americans who served in our armed forces -- as soldiers, sailors, airmen, Guardsmen and Marines -- including the nearly 5,500 who have perished in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A visit to one of these quiet memorials is a tribute to those who made history by wearing our nation's uniform and taking up arms to preserve our liberty and free tens of millions of others from tyranny. In words written on stone markers, these places tell the story of who we are as a people.

Regardless of when they served, all interred in these cemeteries sacrificed the comforts of home and absented themselves from the warmth and affection of loved ones. Since 1776, more than 1.5 million Americans have lost their lives while in uniform.

At countless funerals and memorial services for those who lost their lives in the service of our country, I hear the question, "Why is such a good young person taken from us in the prime of life?" Plato, the Greek philosopher, apparently sought to resolve the issue by observing, "Only the dead have seen the end of war." I prefer to take my solace in the words of Jesus to the Apostle John: "Father, I will that those you have given me, be with me where I am."

My sojourns to this "Sacred Ground," as Tom Ruck calls our national cemeteries in the title of his magnificent book, remind me that among those here are veterans who served with my father and all of my uncles in the conflagration of World War II. Only a handful of those 16.5 million from that "greatest generation" remain. Others resting in these consecrated places were tested just five years later in our first fight against despotic communism -- on the Korean Peninsula. They braved stifling heat, mind-numbing cold and an enemy that often outnumbered them 10 to one.

Here are headstones of those who served in the decade between Korea and Vietnam. More than 12 millions young Americans donned military uniforms in what was called "the cold war." It was only cold for those who didn't have to fight in it. They served on land, air and sea in lonely outposts, dusty camps, along barbed wire barriers in foreign lands, on guard against those who would have done us harm if they had the chance.

Between 1964 and 1975, more than 7 million young Americans were committed to the bloody contest in Southeast Asia. The names of 58,267 who died from that fight are on the wall of the Vietnam War Memorial -- some of them were my Marines and my brother's soldiers. Headstones in cemeteries all across this land testify to more of their selfless sacrifice -- and serve as a reminder that the victory denied in that war should never happen again.

In the three-and-a-half decades since Vietnam, not a single year has passed without Americans in uniform being committed to hostile action somewhere around the globe -- including Grenada, Beirut, Panama, the Balkans and Kuwait. We are not a warlike people. But for more than two centuries, ours has been the only nation on earth willing to consistently send its sons and daughters into harm's way -- not for gold or oil or colonial conquest, but to offer others the hope of liberty.

Since Sept. 11, that great legacy has been borne by volunteers serving in the shadows of the Hindu Kush, along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the Persian Gulf and on anti-piracy patrols in the Indian Ocean. These young Americans are engaged against a merciless enemy who has proven repeatedly that there is no atrocity beneath them -- and that they will do whatever it takes to kill as many of our countrymen as possible.

Those now in uniform deserve our thanks, for no nation has ever had a better military force than the one we have today. And no accolade to those presently in our country's service is greater than honoring the veterans who preceded them on Memorial Day.

SOURCE

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Obama, ACORN and Stealth Socialism

by Anita MonCrief

As an ex-ACORN insider and ex-radical who used Democrat donor lists to raise money for ACORN alter-ego Project Vote and designed the ACORN 2005, 2006 and 2007 Political Operations Year End PowerPoint presentations, I know that President Obama (for whom I now regretfully admit I proudly voted) was an ACORN guy for many years and realize that he became the instrument for the implementation of its stealth socialism agenda.

National Journal rated Obama the most “liberal” United States Senator, even more “liberal” than avowed socialist Bernard Sanders of Vermont (for whom then Senator Obama campaigned), because he earned it.

In her sensational New York Times no. 1 bestseller, “Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies,” published in 2009, intrepid Michelle Malkin generously gave me “special thanks” for daring to expose ACORN corruption and wrote about it and the New York Times cover up of the Obama/ACORN relationship in detail at pages 244-49. (Since that material was added after the manuscript had been sent to the printer, I did not make the index.)

Stealth socialism in vogue

It’s not surprising that on May 3, 2010 Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliot released “The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists” and on May 15, 2010 former Speaker Newt Gingrich released a book titled “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine.” Of course they are right about Obama’s radical ties and “secular socialist machine.” (I’m looking forward to Laura Ingraham’s “The Obama Diaries,” out on or about July 13, 2010, but I bet President Obama isn’t.)

Even though on October 21, 2008 The New York Times killed the Obama/ACORN expose on which I been reporter Stephanie Strom’s source and I decided to blow the whistle myself and appeared on Laura Ingraham’s radio show before the end of the month, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News apparently did not learn about it until March of 2009 (the month in which attorney Heather Heidelbaugh, for whom I voluntarily became a witness in the Pennsylvania ACORN, testified before a Congressional committee about ACORN voter registration fraud and the New York Times cover up), it was inevitable that the truth about Obama, ACORN and “stealth socialism” finally would become generally known as the socialist agenda was implemented. After all, the idea was for Obama to deliver as President on that “fundamental change” that he promised as a presidential hopeful.

After an appealing generality becomes an examinable specific and the cost calculations are done, putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t fool nearly as many people. For example, Obamacare is a massive wealth redistribution program and–no surprise–not long after it was enacted, an Obama Administration official acknowledged it and we learned that Obamacare would be much more expensive than it had been officially estimated before it was passed.

Defining stealth socialism

Graham L. Strachan explained the “stealth socialism” path this way:

“Why did the Western media persist in calling the social system in the Communist bloc ‘Communism’ instead of Socialism? They did it to manufacture a false reality: to protect the reputation of another form of Socialism which existed in the West….so-called ‘Democratic Socialism’, socialism by stealth, socialism achieved through the ‘permeation’ of existing political institutions by members of organisation such as the Fabian Society, in order to influence the policies adopted by those institutions towards socialism.

“Democratic Socialism itself was based on a lie: that Socialism could be implemented peacefully through the ballot box. The implication was that if the voters didn’t like it they could vote it out again. That was a hoax. Since Socialism does not permit private ownership of property, it cannot be ‘democratic’ in the sense of allowing a choice of political Parties. This is not a matter of ideology, but of logistics. It would be impossible to have a two Party system of genuine democracy, for example, under which the state nationalised all property including business when the Socialists were voted into power, then sold it all back to the people again when they were voted out. The intention of Democratic Socialism was (and still is) to be democratic just long enough to gain power. Then it will declare the ‘end of history’ and entrench itself forever, enforcing its politically correct speech and thought on everybody, and being just as tyrannical as its Marxist revolutionary counterparts.”

How to make a socialist the ACORN way

As an ACORN insider my indoctrination as a socialist was a slow but steady progression from radical liberalism to embracing the stealth socialist methods that had made ACORN a powerful force in American electoral politics. Two years ago, in the mist of a heated presidential election year, I noticed a Facebook page of Socialism 2008. The graffiti-like picture beckoned young Socialists to Chicago, Illinois on June 19th, 2008. I RSVPed for the event on Facebook without fully understanding what had just taken place. The line between radical, liberal Democrat and socialist was almost invisible at this point.

Working for ACORN/Project Vote facilitated my crossing the “socialist”threshold and I had become what insiders termed “one of the true believers.” True believers were instrumental in the survival of ACORN and the process of making an employee a true believer began on the very first day.

Inside ACORN offices across the country, young, idealistic liberals were being ingrained with the Saul Alinsky style of Organizing. Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals was never mentioned by name, but Alinsky’s tactics were used on employees and ACORN members.

ACORN’s strategy of stealth socialism was aimed at gaining power through duplicity and somewhat assimilating into society. Alinsky, the “father of community organizing,” taught that the path to power necessitated the use of people who would serve as pawns.

“Organizing for power was Alinsky’s political end, not political party influence. When he asked his new students why they wanted to organize, they would invariably respond with ’selfless bromides about wanting to help others,’ according to Ryan Lizza writing in The New Republic. Alinsky would then “scream back at them that there was a one-word answer: “You want to organize for power!’”

Saul Alinsky almost single-handedly invented the modern art of community organizing… He was a master teacher of others, and left a legion of trained disciples and organizations, including Obama and Clinton.”

Every ACORN employee was given a copy of the ACORN Organizing Model, bylaws and various information on running campaigns, but the real education was in how ACORN operated behind the scenes. Like Alinsky, ACORN openly organized to build power, but ACORN’s ace in the hole was the black community.

Community organizers became the “information police” for minorities in dozens of cities. As the official representative for its members, ACORN was able to frame the debate in ways that aligned with its People’s Platform. The platform is based on the socialist idea of sharing the wealth. Members were asked, even coerced, to attend rallies and protests for issues ACORN had decided would lead to power.

As students exited schools with a “liberal arts” education and a desire to help, ACORN stood ready with the social justice flag in one hand and a cigarette lighter and American flag in the other. Attending such events like Socialism 2008 was the culmination of two years of looking the other way and accepting a little bad in order to save the “movement.” Some leave ACORN at this point but the ones who stay are trusted just a little more.

The Road from radical terrorists to professors and community organizers

With greater access comes greater understanding of the true subversive nature of ACORN. As stated last summer in my article “Liberal Fallout Zones“:

“Poverty is big business and a predicate for class warfare intended to perpetuate political power in the masters of that big business. In the current climate special interest groups are writing bills and influencing votes amid a huge liberal spending binge.”

That spending binge is more like a bender now because ACORN, recognizing the past mistakes of other radical groups like Weather Underground and Students for a Democratic Society decided the best way to gain power as was to pass unnoticed in mainstream America. Radicals like Frances Fox Piven and her husband Richard A. Cloward retreated into the world of Academia where they penned papers on Socialism peppered with Alinsky tactics and a new name: The Cloward-Piven strategy

On May 2, 1966, Columbia’s Professor of Social Work Richard A. Cloward, and his then research associate Frances Fox Piven, wrote a pivotal article in The Nation, articulating “a strategy to end poverty.”

In what became known as the Cloward-Piven strategy, the article argued a revolutionary approach to mobilizing the poor in the form of class warfare against capitalist forces viewed as exploiting labor and oppressing the poor.

David Horowitz, a long-time student of leftist political movements in the United States, characterized the Cloward-Piven strategy as seeking “to hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.”

Cloward and Piven argued a “guaranteed annual income” should be established as an entitlement for the poor, a right the poor could assert and demand to be paid.”

Other radicals like ACORN founder Wade Rathke and former Project Vote executive director, Zach Polett formed organizations and began implementing their socialist agenda while using the poor and minority communities as a defense if anyone dared question their actions. According to its website, ACORN planted its seed in American politics long ago and continues to play an “insider’s game” to maintain it.

“Finally, ACORN® began playing the insiders’ game in American politics. Congressional lobbying is practiced by ACORN® staff. Leaders and members became a central part of the insiders’ games, too. Members elected to office or serving on APACs acquired experience and skill applying power from the inside of the political process. Instead of confronting opponents in actions (something ACORN® will never stop doing), members could trade and negotiate from inside positions of power.

ACORN®’s work on the savings and loan bailout provided effective means of developing and applying power for low- and moderate- income people. ACORN® members won appointment to the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) to help determine the management of the billions of dollars of assets the government seized. The payoff to these activities came, and still comes, when substantial numbers of ACORN® members developed the ability to move inside the political sphere that has for so long been closed to low- and moderate-income people.”

Much more HERE


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

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

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

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

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