Saturday, August 07, 2010



In Afghanistan we see an appalling and probably hopeless example of what a low IQ society looks like

IQs are low throughout the Muslim world and inbreeding is almost certainly one of the causes. And Afghanistan has long been extreme in its Islamic practices, perhaps in part because it is so rural.

The preference for cousin marriages stems from the fact that Mohammed made divorce so easy. So the only protection for women and children is having the whole family onside


UNICEF says that 26 of every 100 Afghan children die before the age of 5. This is the worst child mortality rate in the world. Of the survivors, 60% suffer from moderate to severe physical and mental stunting, The average death age is 45, among the lowest lifespan in the world, and I suspect that this is even worse for women.

Brinkley finds it no surprise that two-thirds of Afghan adults cannot read and write. How do you modernize such a country? And since few women (outside cities) get any education at all, the national illiteracy rate is probably even worse. Illiterate women produce illiterate children.

We already know that there is no obstetrical medical care available outside the major cities, resulting in a horrific maternal death rate. I have trouble believing the population numbers we are given. Not enough young mothers and babies are surviving to produce a population explosion.

What are the consequences of these conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Nobody cares about the girls since they are married off early. But for the boys, so many of them stunted and low IQ, what can they do? Parents send them to Islamist Madrassas, where they memorize the Koran in Arabic (not their language) and are brainwashed to serve as cannon fodder “to protect Islam.” High IQ not required for this.

One cultural custom found everywhere in the conservative Muslim world is preference for the marriage of first cousins, repeated over generations, which produces not only the high infant mortality rate, but terrible birth defects—especially mental ones. Nobody is taking statistics on this yet—but observers—many with UN aid agencies—see the results in villages from Pakistan to Palestine.

This is not new in world history. There has always been a noticeable difference of intelligence between the well-fed city dwellers and peasant communities. Even in the early days of our own country, the jokes about the “country bumpkin” were common enough to indicate this difference. During my sojourn in Iran, I also noted the flood of country people coming to Tehran for opportunity. The city people scorned them as “donkeys.”

We now know that problems in Afghanistan or a Palestinian village can wind up killing us. It is a serious issue. Just ask the Marines who are training Afghan police. Their trainees are often either stoned or dim-witted, a reality reported on by villagers being policed.

More HERE

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Obama and Democrat popularity slumping

As we suggested in our recent column, the new Gallup/USA Today poll confirms that Barack Obama's ratings have collapsed as a result of the WikiLeaks release of Afghan War memos. Down from 46 percent in the most recent poll, Obama's job approval has plunged to 41 percent -- the lowest it has ever been in any major poll.

Democrats have now joined in the defection from Obama impelled by their increasing anger over his continued involvement in Afghanistan and the emerging double-dip in the recession. Support for his war policies there has dropped to 38 percent from 46 percent in February, while approval of his handling of the economy has plunged to 39 percent.

Elected as a peace and jobs candidate, the defections over these two issues among his base are likely to be especially injurious in the 2010 congressional elections. The generic Republican vs. Democratic ballot now shows an 8 point GOP lead, according to Rasmussen Reports.

We have recently reviewed polls for five Republican House challengers to Democratic incumbents in Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia and New York, and were shocked to see the Republicans leading in each. Normally, one would consider GOP chances excellent if the challenger were able to hold the incumbent to under 50 percent of the vote, since the undecided almost always goes entirely for the challenger. But to actually show leads at this point is incredible.

Once Democrats start abandoning Obama, there is no bottom to his ratings. Disaffection and cynicism spread easily in that party, and the left has shown signs of increasing galvanization against the war. More than 100 House Democrats voted against war funding, about 40 percent of the total Democratic membership in the House.

Adding to the party's woes is, of course, the emerging scandals involving Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Coming just as the fall campaign kicks off, they remind one of the Mark Foley scandal that so darkened GOP chances in 2006. With the House Democrats certain not to expel either member but to slap each on the wrist, the scandal will flare into a conflagration that will further diminish Democratic chances in November.

In a presidential year, these Democratic defections would only be consequential were there a third candidate or a primary challenger to choose. But in an off-year, staying home is a viable option, particularly for the minority and young voters Obama lured to the polls for the first time in 2008. Their defection will be disastrous for Obama and will cost him control of both houses of Congress.

SOURCE

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Panic on the Letterman show

Speaking with far-left MSNBC News commentator Rachel Maddow on his program, Dave listened as she put forth the preposterous theory that Fox News wants to frighten white Americans by reporting negatively about black Americans. "Scaring white people is good politics on the conservative side of the spectrum, and it always has been. The idea is that you sort of rile up the white base to be afraid of an other, to be afraid of scary immigrants or scary black people..."

In the past, paranoid, dishonest rants like that would have been dismissed as fringe speak. But not anymore. Without a shred of evidence, a guest on Letterman's "Late Show" (which by the way gets trounced in the ratings by FNC every night) defines an entire news organization as a racist enterprise. And Letterman goes along with the program, adding: "These people are continuing to fan this flame and ... that is cancer."

Please. The only people Fox News is scaring are far-left loons who see their shining city on the hill on fire. For 18 months, the United States has been governed from the left, and things are not going well. I'm sorry if this analysis frightens some folks, but when you spend a half-trillion dollars trying to stimulate the economy and you create just 600,000 jobs, well, people are going to notice.

When the war in Afghanistan turns chaotic, Americans are not going to be pleased. When the nation's debt is increased by more than a trillion dollars a year because of record spending, folks are going to get a bit nervous. So, in order to counter those realities, the far left must divert attention from them. Thus, the scary black people deal.

In reply, here's a Top 1 list for Letterman and his uber-liberal guest: The American people don't need to be "riled" up by phony race baiting. They are already riled up by reality. And the polls prove it.

More HERE

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State governments are oozing bureaucratic fat

The New York Times pulled together a list of how the stimulus money was to be spent. Funding included $87 billion to “help states with Medicaid costs.” $53 billion to “help states prevent cuts to essential services like education.” $27.5 billion to “provide money for highways and bridges,” which will, of course, be built by government employees. And so forth. The stimulus bill was, in large part, a massive bailout for state and local governments.

The need arose because in some ways, state governments are in even more fiscal trouble than the federal government. Washington, after all, can always print money. That would destroy the national economy in the long run, but politicians aren’t known for looking to the long run. Anything beyond the next Election Day may as well not exist for them.

But states are required to make ends meet year after year. Some, including California, are finding that almost impossible. In the Spring 2010 issue of City Journal, Steven Malanga explained why: “The unions’ political triumphs have molded a California in which government workers thrive at the expense of a struggling private sector. The state’s public school teachers are the highest-paid in the nation. Its prison guards can easily earn six-figure salaries. State workers routinely retire at 55 with pensions higher than their base pay for most of their working life.”

It’s not simply unionized state employees who’ve been getting rich at government expense, of course. Elected officials at all levels do very well, too.

Robert Rizzo, the chief administrative officer in Bell, Ca. recently quit his job after his constituents learned he was making more than $787,000 per year, roughly twice what President Obama pulls down.

City Council members were making almost $100,000 per year for part-time work. They were able to pay themselves so much because the city changed to “charter status” a few years ago. Rizzo, by the way, will be able to keep his $650,000 a year state pension. Good work if you can get it.

There’s clearly government fat to trim, but our leaders seem reluctant to get out the scissors. Last month, President Obama asked Congress for another $50 billion in aid for states. “Because the urgency is high -- many school districts, cities and states are already being forced to make these layoffs,” Obama declared, “these provisions must be passed as quickly as possible.”

Maybe, instead of starting with teachers, governments could find other places to cut.

After all, while private business has been cutting back in this recession, Uncle Sam has been hiring. The federal government has added 240,000 new employees while private employers have eliminated some 8 million net jobs. In June, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate for government workers was 3.4 percent, roughly a third of the national private sector rate.

Government spending, at all levels, is simply unsustainable. That makes this a good year for our leaders to finally start trimming back the size and scope of some government bureaus.

More HERE

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Obama hot air hides an ongoing disaster for America

On July 2, President Obama declared, "And finally, because of this law, the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes. (Applause.) There will be no more tax-funded bailouts -- period. (Applause.) If a large financial institution should ever fail, this reform gives us the ability to wind it down without endangering the broader economy. "

The occasion of his bold statement was the signing of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

So imagine our surprise when less than two weeks later Fannie Mae requested $1.5 billion more from the U.S. Treasury. This request came after the 12th quarterly loss by Fannie, and with this money Fannie's take from the taxpayers' wallet will grow to a whopping $86.1 billion for one company. Together with its twin Freddie Mac the bailout package is over $200 billion.

Fannie Mae, aka the Federal National Mortgage Association, was created in 1938 as a government sponsored enterprise (GSE) to bolster the housing market by increasing Americans' access to cheap home loans during the last Great Depression. Freddie Mac, aka the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., was created in 1970 to end Fannie's monopoly in the secondary mortgage market. Both are mandated by Congress to help increase home ownership.

The problem we have with this housing mandate is that not all Americans deserve, nor are they responsible enough, to go deep into debt to purchase a home.

Everyone understands that mortgage debt stands at the center of the ongoing financial crisis. Responsible analysis concludes that too much credit was extended to too many un-credit-worthy buyers of homes. At the center of this debacle stand these government-sponsored private financial firms named Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Neither of these firms were "reformed" by the so-called Reform Act.

Fannie has long been a favorite tool of America's political left. A revolving door has allowed politically connected White House and Congressional aides to spend time at Fannie becoming fabulously wealthy.

The examples of this revolving door are many, but the most famous and wealthiest is Obama campaign adviser Franklin Raines. Raines served on both the Carter and Clinton White House staffs before becoming Chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae. In the Fannie job this former bureaucrat earned over $100 million.

Raines was eventually pushed out of Fannie in an accounting scandal. He was accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the regulator of Fannie Mae, of manipulating the firm's accounting so that he and other senior executives could pocket ever-larger bonuses.

While at Fannie, Raines began a program in 1999 to encourage bank loans to individuals with low incomes. He also downgraded credit requirements on loans that Fannie Mae purchased from banks. Raines claimed the program would allow borrowers who were "a notch below what our current underwriting has required" to get home loans. The move was praise by liberals because they believed it would increase the number of minority and low-income home owners. We now know the program is central to the ongoing mortgage defaults still unfolding at Fannie.

So the foreclosure crisis limps on with no end in sight.

To understand Obama's failure at financial reform, you only have to analyze his rhetoric. At the same July 21 ceremony he boldly proclaimed about the bill, "It demands accountability and responsibility from everyone." Problem is, on its face this statement is a bold faced lie. Fannie and Freddie have been neither fixed nor reformed and both are bleeding the taxpayers daily.

SOURCE

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, 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, August 06, 2010



The meltdowns of socialism in Greece and most of Europe suggest that we may live in more dangerous times than we generally realize

In the 1920s, Ludwig von Mises demonstrated via economic reasoning why socialism could not work. His argument was that without market prices, there was no way to properly allocate resources. About ten years later, Friedrich Hayek supported Mises' conclusion from a different angle. He approached it as a "knowledge problem" and argued that no central authority, regardless of how intelligent, could possess enough information to make proper and efficient decisions for tens of millions of people and businesses.

History validated the theory of the two Austrian economists. Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Cuba, and North Korea produced inevitable the misery, poverty, and brutality. The two countries that continue the system are amongst the poorest countries in the world, held together only by totalitarian rule and outside economic support.

With the recognition that socialism did not work, "do-gooders" changed their efforts to a system that would be part capitalism and part socialism. They believed that capitalism could be used for resource allocation while the "caring nature" of socialism could ensure equitable distribution of wealth. President Clinton expressed interest in what was then referred to as a "third-way." Western Europe had adopted this approach decades earlier.

Interestingly, Mises argued that a "third way" could not work, either. In the 1940s, Mises demonstrated that one intervention begets additional interventions. A so-called mixed system is nothing more than capitalism with interventionism imposed. Mises showed that any such system eventually degenerates into full-fledged socialism. In a collection of essays entitled "Planning for Freedom," Mises concluded:
There is no other alternative to totalitarian slavery than liberty. There is no other planning for freedom and general welfare than to let the market system work. There is no other means to attain full employment, rising real wage rates and a high standard of living for the common man than private initiative and free enterprise.

The countries of Western Europe have, as Mises predicted, deteriorated into social welfare states likely never imagined or intended at their inceptions. As full-blown socialism approached, these countries became insolvent. Soon all will be forced to either dismantle their welfare states or incur sovereign defaults. The U.S., while never formally adopting either socialism or the mixed system, drifted into the mixed system by gradually adopting many socialist programs. As a result, the U.S. faces the same future of insolvency as its European counterparts.

In terms of history, the mixed system dates back only to Bismarck in the 1880s. It was initiated in a few countries in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Its widespread acceptance occurred after World War II, when several countries chose not to return to the decentralized economies that existed prior to the war. England was the prime example. Industries nationalized for the war effort remained nationalized after the war. England rapidly devolved into a third-rate economy as a result. Prime Minister Thatcher reversed the decline by re-privatizing most of these industries.

It took only about fifty to seventy years for the mixed systems to fail. That is literally a moment in terms of history. Many people are still reluctant to admit that socialism is a failure despite the theoretical warnings and the actual failures themselves. With socialists, it is never the system and always the people that are the cause of failure. "If only we had better leaders." As Hayek and Mises pointed out, it has nothing to do with leadership. There is a fatal flaw in the concept.

As a result of attempting to extend the socialist myth, governments and their populations are now burdened with debt, much of which will never be paid. We are on the verge of a worldwide depression that will hit as governments run out of resources. It is likely that politicians will continue to play the game of "extend and pretend." But we have reached Ms. Thatcher's end-point: "The problem with socialism is that you run out of other people's money."

How ironic that President Obama's first major achievement was ObamaCare. In May, Greece was ordered to privatize its health care system. This month, it was reported that England was going to overhaul their health care system. England was frequently referenced as a model of affordable, efficient health care by ObamaCare advocates. Apparently, the English government and its people view it differently.

These instances are not one-time events. Nor will they be limited to health care. The welfare states of Europe will soon be dismantled in part or whole. So too will the entitlement programs in the U.S. The laws of economics and physics are immutable. They are above legislation. Countries do not have the resources necessary to honor their commitments, period!

Our Founding Fathers, without using the term socialism, designed a Constitution to protect against such incoherent schemes. Over time, the Constitution was vitiated by "living document" interpretations, penumbras, and other nonsense. Now, the U.S. stands on the precipice of failure just as Western Europe. It is insolvent, and there are no other alternatives than to default or dismantle.

The world is at a very dangerous inflection point. We are about to enter a depression. Politicians are not going to back away from socialism willingly. They and large numbers of other beneficiaries will do whatever they can to retain the status quo. Despite the unequivocal failure of the modern welfare state, it is unlikely to disappear quietly. The status quo is always difficult to change. It becomes especially so in desperate economic times and for people who believe they are entitled to be taken care of by others.

The welfare state is headed for the dustbin of history. That is certain because it is no longer sustainable. The critical question is what will replace it. As Mises pointed out, there are only two alternatives: freedom or totalitarianism. There is no middle ground. There is no political compromise that can bridge this gap.

Regardless of which side of the issue you are on, the battle will be bitter and likely last a decade or more. Economically, everyone will be hurt, including many of the "well-off." Whether our moral and ethical code is strong enough to get through this together is moot. We are not like our ancestors in the sense of their strong commitment to community, responsibility, forbearance, and integrity. We are the pampered generation, entitled to gratification now and willing to cut corners to get it.

In many ways, this problem is more serious than that faced by our Founding Fathers. After all, King George had little control over their lives or fortunes. Yet these principled men risked both rather than accept even a little bit of tyranny. Theirs was a fight of principle; ours is one of survival. The fight is made more important when it is coupled with a depression. We know what monsters rose to power during the last depression and their effect on the world.

We will either get liberty or totalitarianism. There is no middle ground. For me, the choice is clear and was stated by Patrick Henry more than two centuries ago: "Give me liberty or give me death."

I am willing to sacrifice just as much as our Founding Fathers did so that my grandchildren and their grandchildren can live in the same country I grew up in. I hope enough others feel the same.

More HERE

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Barack Obama's popularity dips among white voters

President Obama’s popularity among white voters has plunged to create a widening racial divide in America. While support from black Americans has remained steady, a new Gallup poll reveals that whites have become increasingly disillusioned with the president. By last month, a 50-point gulf separated the two racial groups.

After Mr Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, he boasted a 62 per cent approval ratings among whites. But that percentage plunged in July to just 38 per cent. That compares to an 88 per cent job approval among blacks last month, only a slight dip from his high point of 92 per cent a year ago.

The precipitous drop in support from whites comes at a critical time for the president as the key mid-term elections loom in November.

Mr Obama’s popularity has taken serious knocks over his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, suspicion over his healthcare reforms and anger over the billions of pounds used to prop up the US economy with taxpayer bail outs.

The Gallup poll showed Mr Obama’s approval ratings have also fallen 28 points among Hispanic voters from its 82 per cent peak in May 2009. His 54 per cent rating among Hispanics last month was the lowest of his presidency. Overall, Mr Obama’s popularity remained unchanged last month at 46 per cent, down four points from February. His highest monthly average in the Gallup survey was 66 per cent in January 2009.

More here

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Eric Holder's Justice Dept. shakedowns -- funneling funds to far-Leftist groups

The Justice Department has found a new way to pursue civil rights lawsuits, using the powers of the Civil Rights Division not just to win compensation for victims of alleged discrimination but also to direct large sums of money to activist groups that are not discrimination victims and not connected to a particular suit.

In the past, when the Civil Rights Division filed suit against, say, a bank or a landlord, alleging discrimination in lending or rentals, the cases were often settled by the defendant paying a fine to the U.S. Treasury and agreeing to put aside a sum of money to compensate the alleged discrimination victims. There was then a search for those victims -- people who were actually denied a loan or an apartment -- who stood to be compensated. After everyone who could be found was paid, there was often money left over. That money was returned to the defendant.

Now, Attorney General Eric Holder and Civil Rights Division chief Thomas Perez have a new plan. Any unspent money will not go back to the defendant but will instead go to a "qualified organization" approved by the Justice Department. And if there is not enough unspent money -- that will be determined by the Department -- then the defendant might be required to come up with more money to give to the "qualified organization."

The arrangement was used in a recently-settled case, United States v. AIG Federal Savings Bank and Wilmington Finance. The Justice Department alleged that AIG violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by allowing third-party wholesale mortgage brokers to "charge African-American borrowers higher direct broker fees for residential real estate-related loans than white borrowers." The financial institution denied any wrongdoing, and there was no factual finding of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, under the terms of a March 19, 2010 consent decree, AIG agreed to pay $6.1 million to "aggrieved persons who may have suffered as a result of the alleged violations."

That is standard procedure in such cases. But then AIG also agreed, in the words of the consent decree, to "provide a minimum of $1,000,000 to qualified organization(s) to provide credit counseling, financial literacy, and other related educational programs targeted at African-American borrowers." The money would come from unspent funds in the victim-compensation fund. But if it turned out that, after paying off the victims, there was less than $1 million left in the victim-compensation fund, AIG agreed to "replenish the settlement fund so that it contains $1,000,000 for distribution for those educational purposes."

The consent decree directs AIG to consult with the Justice Department on which "qualified organizations" could receive money, and it gives the Department the right to approve where the money will go. In any event, the money will go to groups who have no direct connection to the lawsuit and its allegations of discrimination.

Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, says no money has yet been given to organizations under the AIG agreement. But she adds that the funds, and those from other cases, will "go to 'qualified organizations' that have a mission that addresses whatever the harm is that was the subject of the litigation."

The Department followed a similar procedure in another case, United States v. Sterling. In that suit, which was first filed in 2006, the Department accused a large California landlord of violating the Fair Housing Act and other laws by "refusing to rent to non-Korean prospective tenants, misrepresenting the availability of apartment units to non-Korean prospective tenants, and providing inferior treatment to non-Korean tenants in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles."

The defendants did not admit any wrongdoing, and there was no factual finding of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, in a November 3, 2009 consent decree, the defendants agreed to pay $2.625 million to compensate alleged victims. On top of that, the consent decree stipulated that if there weren't enough alleged victims on which to spend the $2.625 million, then what's left "shall be distributed...to a qualified organization(s) mutually agreed upon by the United States and defendants...for the purpose of conducting fair housing enforcement or educational activities in Los Angeles County."

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

As I have done for some time, I have recently picked out what I think are the best or most interesting pictures that have appeared recently on my various blogs. I have now gathered the pictures for the first half of this year together. You can access them here or here

The Dems’ misguided Rust Belt stimulus: "The Democratic Party has pinned a lot of its hopes on a ‘pro-manufacturing’ agenda. It’s a bad idea. Promoting manufacturing is an unachievable goal, an unnecessary task, and not likely to be popular. Democrats’ manufacturing agenda has to be seen as little more than a payoff to their ardent supporters in the labor movement. First, manufacturing, as most people think of it, is declining just about everywhere.”

Eminent domain by the backdoor: "Earlier today I was talking with my friend Prof. David Beito, a good libertarian and the chair of the Alabama Advisory Board of the US Commission on Civil Rights. David has been investigating the use of ‘blight’ ordinances to seize property in Montgomery, Alabama. The properties are declared ‘blights’ by the city which then comes in, often very quickly, and destroys the home. They then bill the home owners for the service provided by the city, and sells the property to highest bidder, often wealthy land developers. The homeowner not only loses their home but may end up having to pay the city for the services it provided.”

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, 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, August 05, 2010



Has Gramsci's long march now reached the U.S. navy?

Leftists have taken over education and the bureaucracy. They will never take over the ordinary mnen and women of the armed forces but if you can take over the high command of the armed forces, your task is done. The "long march through the institutions" foreseen by Antonio Gramsci is just about complete. Only a few independent media outlets then stand across your road to complete control

The Navy wants to judge sailors by the color of their skin, not the content of their seamanship.

The latest national security leak is a shocking e-mail from a Navy admiral on "Diversity Accountability." The message, sent to a list of other flag officers, notes that "a change in focus of this year's diversity brief is the desire to identify our key performers (by name) and provide insight on each of them." Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, who apparently originated this order, "is interested in who are the diverse officers with high potential and what is the plan for their career progression. He may ask what is being done within to ensure they are considered for key follow on billets within the Navy."

The message specifies, "This list must be held very closely but will provide ready reference to ensure we are carefully monitoring and supporting the careers of the best and the brightest the Navy has to offer." That is, the best and the brightest provided a sailor is one of the euphemistically "diverse." If you are a white male, it might be time to set sail and seek opportunities elsewhere.

In practice, the Navy will be creating a list of privileged "diverse" officers who will enjoy special benefits and career mentoring not available to people of the wrong race, as well as a virtual guarantee of fast-track access to the highest reaches of command. Fifty-six years after the Supreme Court struck down the concept of "separate but equal" treatment of races, the U.S. Navy is erecting a wall of segregation between what will amount to two parallel promotion systems: one for the "diverse" and another for the monotone. If this isn't illegal, it should be.

How this dual-track system will be implemented is difficult to discern. Will officers doing fitness reports on those on the list be made aware of their subordinates' privileged status? Will the people on the list have knowledge that the system is looking out for them? If they get a poor fitness report, will they have special means of getting a second look? Will there be repercussions for reviewing officers who did not know they were supposed to just keep the list members on the fast track no matter what? The devil will be lurking in these details.

This type of backward, 20th-century, overtly racial thinking has no place in 21st-century post-racial America. The Navy leadership apparently believes the way to promote racial harmony is by engaging in blatant, invidious discrimination. In practice, however, this system will, in fact, relegate "diverse" sailors to a form of second-class status. Any nonwhite male sailor who - through intelligence, initiative and drive - builds a stellar career will simply be seen as just another special case, just one of "the Listers." Those sailors may achieve rank, but they will have to work twice as hard to command respect.

In the contemporary naval bureaucracy, this type of politically correct nonsense has run out of control like a loose cannon on deck. The Naval Academy lists racial diversity as the "highest personnel priority," apparently even over the mission of educating future Navy leaders for warfare on the high seas. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made achieving diversity a "strategic imperative" when he was chief of naval operations. Call us old-fashioned seadogs, but we'd prefer that the Navy's top priority be fighting and winning our nation's wars rather than engaging in social experimentation.

The suggested list of privileged officers is due Monday. The message states that the reporting requirement will not be put into the secretary of the Navy's TV4 Taskers tracking system "due to the sensitive nature of the by name list." No doubt, once the secret list leaks, as it surely will, there will be as much discomfort for the people on the list as for those not on it, especially those unfortunates who met the diversity requirement but for some reason did not make the cut. Maybe they can sue, charging discrimination. Either way, the Navy Department has run aground.

SOURCE. NPR reports another absurdity from the U.S. navy here. Apparently the four best sailors of the year were all women and only one was a non-Hispanic white.

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British government moves to cut dramatically public funding for the arts

I wholly approve of this. I have never seen any reason why taxpayer Joe should fund the entertainment of the elite. I myself listen to Bach and Mozart rather than pop and have been known to recite Chaucer in the original Middle English -- and you will even see that I have unsplit an infinitive if you compare my heading above with the original. But the government didn't make me that way nor do I need government help to put a CD in my music system. And the idea that the "Arts" somehow "improve" people is a laugh. Most arty types are on the miserable and destructive side of politics -- the Left. Hitler was an artist, after all

Cash-strapped and desperate to slash the largest budget deficit in Europe, the new ruling coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats is moving to close the curtain on an era of what they describe as excessive government patronage.

The coalition is preparing to cut arts funding so dramatically that it could sharply reduce or sever the financial lifelines for hundreds of cultural institutions from the National Theatre to the British Museum.

The cuts would be more than a temporary fix. Officials are calling for a permanent shift toward the U.S. model of private philanthropy as the main benefactor of the arts, upending a tradition of government sponsorship that helped produce the likes of Academy Award-winning directors Sam Mendes and Danny Boyle and playwrights including Lee Hall, who was nominated for an Oscar for "Billy Elliot."

The move underscores the profound changes in the role of government that are taking place from Greece to Spain to Britain. It happens as European nations scramble to rein in runaway spending, in part by slashing public funds to sectors that came to survive -- even thrive -- because of them.

Now, the budget cuts to the arts are a small part of a broader push by the coalition government to slash spending and right Britain's finances over the next four years. Although some areas, such as national health care, are being largely protected, virtually all sectors from education to defense are bracing for steep cuts.

Panicked curators, artistic directors and art critics are warning of London's potential fall from the vanguard of the global arts scene [How sad! For them maybe but who else cares?]. In danger, for instance, are the same government-funded institutions that helped produce such films as "The Last King of Scotland" and "The Constant Gardener" as well as Broadway- and Hollywood-bound stage works such as "Jerusalem" and "War Horse." The Royal Shakespeare Company has warned that it might be forced to scale back or do away with international productions altogether.

More HERE

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Will Obamacare kill Indiana's promising experiment in health-care reform?

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney struck a deal with Democrats in the state legislature to expand health insurance to the relatively small fraction of residents who didn't have it (about 10 percent, compared with 15 percent nationally). Today, hundreds of thousands more Bay State residents have insurance, but costs are rising at dizzying rates, and state insurance regulators and current governor Deval Patrick are locked in a bitter fight with insurers over price controls in the small-group and individual-insurance markets. Leaked e-mails from the state's insurance department suggest that state-imposed caps on insurance premiums could force some insurers into bankruptcy. The state may not be far behind: experts at the RAND Corporation believe that without far-reaching reforms, health-care costs may reach unsustainable levels--growing 8 percent faster than state GDP and doubling to $123 billion by 2020. In taking the same gamble that Massachusetts did, President Obama has exposed the whole country to the risk of fiscal meltdown.

Obama's embrace of a fundamentally flawed reform model may also kill off the nation's first consumer-driven effort to cover the low-income uninsured. In 2007, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels built bipartisan support for extending coverage to over 100,000 uninsured Hoosiers who made too much money to qualify for the state's Medicaid program. Daniels and Mitch Roob, then the secretary of Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration, knew that the state was spending millions through its Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program, which subsidized treatment for uninsured Hoosiers who showed up in emergency rooms or wound up hospitalized for preventable illnesses. Roob says that the governor decided that it would be more efficient to purchase insurance for the uninsured than to buy their health care directly from the hospitals. Daniels figured that private insurance would also "enfranchise the individual, not the institution," says Roob.

Working with state senator Patricia Miller, a Republican, and state representative Charlie Brown, a Democrat, Daniels and his team developed a fiscally sustainable plan that would attract bipartisan support. The discussions were anything but easy, Roob recalls: "We went through four or five complete iterations of program proposals until we hit on what became the Healthy Indiana Plan," or HIP. The plan had three core principles. One of these, again, was individual control of health-care spending. A second was protection for taxpayers; the program was designed so that enrollment couldn't grow faster than the available funding. (The program is funded partly by diverting current Medicaid DSH funding--which required a waiver from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the Medicaid program's overseer--and partly by a cigarette-tax increase.) The third was disease prevention: Daniels, who exercises and watches his own diet, was adamant that HIP focus on wellness instead of just paying bills.

The Healthy Indiana Plan covers Indiana residents who make too much money to qualify for the state's traditional Medicaid program--those who earn from 19 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level for families and childless adults. Part of HIP is a health savings account (HSA), which Indiana calls a Personal Wellness and Responsibility (Power) account. If he's able to do so, each enrollee must make a monthly payment into his Power account that is no more than 5 percent of his gross family income. The state government also pays into the Power accounts, and it adds catastrophic insurance coverage, in case of medical emergencies too expensive for the accounts to handle. The program includes first-dollar, or zero-deductible, coverage for preventive services like mammograms and PSA tests--up to $500 annually. HIP members who can pay but don't make the minimal payments are removed from the plan for a year; Daniels felt that this incentive would give them a sense of ownership in the program and help them take responsibility for their own health. So far, the design has been successful: HIP has a 1.86 percent rate of nonpayment, and its members are likelier to stick with their plan than Medicaid recipients are.

When it took effect in early 2008, HIP was swamped with applicants. Today, about 45,000 low-income Hoosiers enroll in the program, with another 49,000 on a waiting list (HIP is capped by the federal government's current share of Medicaid spending, which limits enrollment). Recent data show that Daniels's planning has paid off: about 76 percent of HIP's population have used preventive services, and that population is less likely to use emergency rooms than are Medicaid recipients in Indiana. In fact, for HIP members required to make contributions to their Power accounts, emergency-room use declined by 15 percent over the first six months of enrollment; even those not required to make contributions showed a 5 percent decrease. Generic drugs are very popular--they constitute 84 percent of drugs used in HIP. Patient satisfaction is high: 94 percent of HIP clients claimed satisfaction with the program, and 99 percent indicated they would re-enroll.

Daniels has become a vocal critic of the president's health-care reforms, citing a state-sponsored study by the accounting firm Milliman that found that Indiana would incur between $2.9 and $3.6 billion in new costs under Obamacare. The governor also warns that the new law could do in HIP by requiring many recipients to enroll in the state's traditional Medicaid program. It happens that Daniels broadly agrees with the president's analysis of America's health-care problems. What he takes issue with is the 2,400-page bill forced on the states, which he sees as too expensive, too bureaucratic, and too Washington-centered. In the long term, Daniels believes that moving toward a consumer-driven system--modeled on HSAs and catastrophic insurance--is the way to go. "We've got to trust people to take charge of their own health-care decisions," he says, "and make insurance more like car insurance," which covers major costs, not routine ones.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

A dysfunctional Disabilities Act: "As with most good intentions, the American’s With Disabilities Act has grown into something which in some cases obviously violates that initial intent. Designed to provide equal access to Americans with both physical and mental disabilities, the common sense side of such an endeavor has begun to fall to the more absurd and, frankly, selfish interpretations of the law. The benign intent — equal access — has become a more authoritarian application and is resulting in penalizing the able.”

Will increasing taxes bring economic recovery?: "I often read economic commentary in the New York Times, not because I believe it is sensible, but rather because I want to know what America’s ruling-class spokespersons have to say about economic matters. It has been a long time since I read sound, intelligent economic commentary in the ‘Newspaper of Record,’ and its recent editorial on the economy kept that streak intact. In its August 1 edition the editors of the Gray Lady published a lengthy editorial that claimed our economy is in trouble because tax rates are too low.”

Severe governmental dysfunction continues South of the Rio Grande: "Ricardo Martinelli’s May 2009 election as president of Panama seemed to bode well for the country’s development prospects. During his campaign, he promised to implement bold market-oriented reforms, such as a flat tax (which would have been the first of its kind in the Americas), freer trade, an end to some government subsidies, and less bureaucratic red tape. Unfortunately, not only have those promises gone unfulfilled, but Martinelli’s presidency has been marked by interventionist economic measures, cronyism, the erosion of democratic checks and balances, and even harassment of independent media.”

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, 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, August 04, 2010



Today's Example of Ridiculous Media Bias Against Israel

By Barry Rubin

Along Israel's border with Lebanon, east of Metulla, some bushes were pushing in on the border fence. The fence is set in slightly from the border precisely so that Israeli soldiers can work on it. The IDF called UNIFIL and informed the UN that this work was going to be done today so that they could tell the Lebanese army that there was no aggression going on but just routine maintenance. Soldiers from UNIFIL came to observe and can be seen standing next to Israeli soldiers in the photos. Photographers were also standing by to film the operation.

But Lebanese soldiers opened fire on the Israelis who were working and in no way acting aggressively. The fact that journalists were standing next to the Lebanese soldiers shows that they knew Israel was going to do this maintenance and were observing. After the Israeli soldiers were ambushed, they returned fire. One Israeli officer was killed, another seriously wounded; three Lebanese soldiers, and a Lebanese (?) journalist were killed.

So how did Reuters and Yahoo report this? By saying that Israeli soldiers had crossed into Lebanon and been fired on, thus implying the Lebanese army was acting in self-defense! Other news agencies merely reported: Israel says the soldiers were inside Israel; Lebanon says they were on Lebanese territory....

More HERE

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Another strange gap in Obama's history

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, the State Department has released passport records of Stanley Ann Dunham, President Obama's mother – but records for the years surrounding Obama's 1961 birth are missing.

The State Department claims a 1980s General Services Administration directive resulted in the destruction of many passport applications and other "non-vital" passport records, including Dunham's 1965 passport application and any other passports she may have applied for or held prior to 1965.

Destroyed, then, would also be any records shedding light on whether Dunham did or did not travel out of the country around the time of Barack Obama's birth.

The claim made in the FOIA response letter that many passport records were destroyed during the 1980s comes despite a statement on the State Department website that Passport Services maintains U.S. passport records for passports issued from 1925 to the present.

More HERE

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Tax: Ideology v. Reality

The dog days of summer are almost upon us, and as autumn approaches and the midterm elections loom, the American people have many important issues on their minds. One of the most important issues is whether Congress will elect to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which are due to expire on January 1, 2011. President Obama has made clear his opinion that the tax cuts should expire for families making over $250,000 a year. Some liberal economists and pundits go further, pointing to our skyrocketing deficits and budgetary woes as compelling reasons why none of the tax cuts should be extended. Thus, as a new year – and a new chapter in our nation's political and economic history – looms, Americans in every socioeconomic bracket face a potential tax hike.

Is a tax increase the answer to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? Is it the best way to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and renew confidence in the American dollar at home and abroad? How one answers these questions depends, fundamentally, on one's belief about the role of government and its relationship to and impact on the economy. Is government the greatest engine of economic growth and prosperity or should the fate of America's financial future be determined by the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of the American people?

Clearly, President Obama and his allies in Congress believe that all social questions, be they economic or otherwise, are best addressed by government. This is the philosophy that has driven the various bailouts and stimuli of the past three years (a philosophy that, to many conservatives' chagrin, was shared in part by former President George W. Bush), and the philosophy that led Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to assert recently that unemployment benefits create jobs faster than any other kind of economic activity.

As with most of life's important questions, we can often find guidance and edification in the lessons of history. What kinds of economic policies (and what kind of governmental philosophy) have resulted in growth, prosperity, and financial strength, and what kind of approach has led to economic stagnation and deterioration? Writing for the Wall Street Journal in February 2009, Peter Ferrera, director of entitlement and budget policy for the Institute for Policy Innovation and former Reagan administration official, offered some historical insight:

"The best way to understand [President Obama's ideological approach to the economy] is to compare what's being proposed now with what Ronald Reagan accomplished. In 1980, amid a seriously dysfunctional economy, Reagan campaigned for president on an economic recovery program with four specific components. The first was across-the-board reductions in tax rates to provide incentives for saving, investment, entrepreneurship and work. The second component was deregulation to remove unnecessary costs on the economy. . . . Third was the control of government spending. . . . The fourth component of the Reagan recovery plan was tight, anti-inflation monetary policy, which was spectacularly successful. . . . We know such policies work because they turned around in just two years an economy far worse than today's. We were suffering from multiyear, double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment, double-digit interest rates, declining incomes, and rising poverty. In fact, what we suffer with today is not the worst economy since the Great Depression, but the worst economy since Jimmy Carter – the last time liberals were dominant politically and intellectually. The Obama administration's economic policies do not include any of the four Reagan components. . . . This is why America seems so hopeless right now, and so depressed. We are stuck going in exactly the wrong direction on economic policy because of currently dominant ideological fashions."

Ferrera's concise reminder of the policies that led to great economic prosperity under President Reagan is worth considering as our representatives weigh the pros and cons of increasing taxes, particularly on the "rich." While it may seem counterintuitive to those without degrees in economics, the Reagan tax cuts actually increased tax revenues by stimulating economic activity that, in turn, increased economic output and growth. The government was collecting less in terms of percentage but more in terms of real dollars.

This economic history lesson thus begs the question of whether it is wise for President Obama – in the midst of a severe recession – to advocate for a policy that will, in effect, penalize economic success for the segment of American society most responsible for creating jobs – that is, America's small business owners. The only way that such an approach makes sense is if you believe that government is a wiser steward of the American people's money than the American people themselves – it only makes sense to those who prefer ideology over reality.

The American people must ask themselves these questions. They must decide which version of the past they want to guide our nation's future. Do we long for the malaise of the Carter years, or the prosperity and hope of the Reagan era? I, for one, believe that it's time for a new morning in America, and that the sooner the sun begins to rise, the better off we'll all be.

SOURCE

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Electoral College bypassers should be careful what they wish for

Jeff Jacoby points out that Massachusetts legislators are about to approve a law that can only benefit Republicans!

IT IS ELECTION NIGHT, 2012. The polls have closed. State by state, the votes are being counted, and gradually it becomes clear, to the bottomless horror of some voters and the unbridled delight of others, that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican presidential nominee, has bested President Barack Obama in the popular vote nationwide.

In Massachusetts, where Obama crushed Palin by a landslide of 79 percent -- the most lopsidedly anti-Palin vote of any state -- "bottomless horror" doesn't begin to describe the political reaction. For in 2010, Massachusetts joined the National Popular Vote compact, making a commitment to cast all of its electoral votes for the presidential candidate receiving the most votes nationally, regardless of the results in Massachusetts. The compact took effect in December 2011, when California became the 15th state to join, thereby combining enough states to control a majority of the Electoral College. Now Massachusetts, the bluest of the blue states, must award its presidential electors to a candidate Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly opposed.

Well, that's one scenario. Maybe it won't be Sarah Palin, maybe it won't be 2012, but sooner or later a Republican is going to win the largest number of votes in a presidential election, and that Republican probably isn't going to carry Massachusetts. What will Bay State liberals and Democrats say when the National Popular Vote compact that so many of them endorsed requires Massachusetts electors to line up behind the Republican? Imagine if Massachusetts had been compelled to give its electoral votes in 1972 not to George McGovern, but to Richard Nixon. Or to the first George Bush in 1988, instead of Michael Dukakis. Or to Bush the Younger -- not John Kerry -- in 2004.

As the National Popular Vote bill was making its way through the state Legislature last month, the chairman of the Election Laws Committee, Senator Thomas Kennedy, warned opponents against trying to block it. "We're committed to this," he said. "It's the will of the people." The will of which people? Not the people of Massachusetts: The whole point of this scheme is to frustrate their will. From now on, anytime Massachusetts voters march to the beat of a different political drummer than most of their countrymen, the National Popular Vote compact will make sure their votes don't count.

Massachusetts is the sixth state to approve this end run around the Constitution, following Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington. It is no coincidence that all six are Democratic strongholds. This movement is fueled by lingering Democratic resentment of George W. Bush, and of the Electoral College system that made him president in 2000, even though Al Gore drew more popular votes. It is a comical irony that if the compact ever goes into effect, its only practical impact in these states will be to occasionally award their presidential electors to the Republican nominees their voters reject.

In 1972, Massachusetts was the only state to vote against the re-election of Richard Nixon. Should its electoral votes have gone to him anyway?

Democrats talk about 2000 as though it represented some colossal subversion of democracy. "Something happened in the 2000 presidential election that should never be permitted to happen again," writes Michael Dukakis in the Salem News. "The candidate who failed to win the popular vote became president of the United States."

But the national popular vote total has no constitutional significance and never has. American presidents are not elected in a single national plebiscite. They are elected by the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), each of which holds a democratic election to determine its vote in the Electoral College. In political scientist Matthew Franck's terminology, US presidential elections are federally democratic, not nationally democratic.

In the selection of presidents as in so many other areas -- from the equal representation of the states in the Senate to the supermajorities required to override vetoes -- the Framers of the Constitution rejected blind majority rule. For more than two centuries, the formula they devised has resulted in stable and peaceful governance. That is no small achievement in a nation as vast, diverse, and complicated as this one.

Can the Electoral College be improved on? Not with the National Popular Vote scheme, it can't. Most Americans will never accept a system that operates through the nullification of their vote. Today Massachusetts politicians may like the idea of awarding their state's electors to the most popular presidential candidate. Watch how fast they change their minds the first time that candidate is a Republican.

SOURCE

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Former Australian Prime Minister went to a PRIVATE hospital for his procedure

Another Leftist hypocrite. Leftists routinely glorify socialized medicine -- but only for "the masses". Britain's "Red Queen" in the 60s was Barbara Castle, a minister in Harold Wilson's Labour government. She was famous for saying that it was "obscene" for anybody to "carve their way to a hospital bed with a chequebook". But what did she do when her son got sick? Being very well-paid as a government minister, she got him admitted to a private hospital, of course, under a false name. Rudd could hardly hide his identity, however

KEVIN RUDD spent a restless night after his release from hospital, his wife Therese Rein said yesterday. But at least the former prime minister was able to get prompt attention.

Nearly 50,000 people in Australia had their gall bladder removed last year and - apparently unlike Mr Rudd - most of them had to wait. The average time on a public hospital waiting list was 47 days, while one in 10 waited six months. In NSW, one in 50 endured intermittent symptoms for a year.

But Michael Bickford, a Melbourne surgeon who specialises in upper gastrointestinal conditions, said about 20 per cent of cases came on suddenly with severe pain that required urgent surgery - and such people were usually operated on promptly regardless of them having private health insurance....

The average hospital stay is 1.5 days in private hospitals and two days in the public system. Mr Rudd had exceeded this in his Thursday-to-Monday stay at the Mater Private Hospital in Brisbane.

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, 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, August 03, 2010



Why Jews should take Israel more seriously

Many American Jews seem to think that they will always be safe in America and that they therefore have no need of Israel. I hope they are right but I fear that they are wrong.

American tolerance and British tolerance are basically the same beast of the same ancestry so as one goes so should go the other in time. But the attitude to Jews in Britain is undoubtedly getting worse. If the dovish Shimon Peres can come out and accuse Britain of antisemitism, surely it is time to sit up and take notice.

The BBC's coverage of Israel is probably all you need to see that Peres got that one right but if any doubt remains see here and here and here and here and here

I know that there are counter-arguments to say that America does not always march in the same direction as Britain but I think that it mostly does eventually. The recent enactment of Obamacare despite the appalling example of Britain's "National Health Service" should give everyone pause for thought.

It is true that the enmity towards Israel and Jews generally emanates mainly from the British Left but, as in America, the Left are enormously influential regardless of whom the people elect to government. How? Because, as in America, the Left control the education system and the bureaucracy. Gramsci's long march is nearly complete.

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USSR

Does anybody reading this know what "USSR" represents? I doubt that younger readers do, such is the state of modern education -- but no doubt some of my older readers recognize it as the name of the old Soviet Union -- centred on Russia.

But what does "USSR" actually stand for? Now we're getting tricky! I'm guessing that only a subset of those who know what the USSR was remember what the term "USSR" actually stood for. It stands for "The Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics". And I won't embarrass anyone by asking what a "Soviet" was.

But now comes the really hard bit: Why did the USSR in fact always refer to itself as the "CCCP"?

Give up? It's because "CCCP" looks like it's in the Latin alphabet that we use but it is not. It is in the Cyrillic alphabet. St. Cyril adapted the Greek alphabet to represent the sounds of Slavic languages and Slavic countries use it to this day. So "CCCP" transliterated into the Latin alphabet would be "SSSR", which stands for the "Sodality of the Soviet Socialist Republics".

So now you have to be au fait with both "Soviet" and "Sodality" to be fully knowledgeable about the matter! If you want to be ...

Another way in which Cyrillic can be confusing has been noted by almost every recent visitor to Russia. They learn by experience to look out for a sign that says PECTOPAH. Why? Because the Cyrillic PECTOPAH is pronounced as "Restoran" (Restaurant)!

Update: The actual Russian word behind the first C in CCCP is "soyuz". Russian dictionaries give a variety of translations for it but I chose the rather obscure "sodality" in order to preserve both the meaning AND the initial letter sound.

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Paycheck Fairness Act would mandate equal pay for unequal work

The Obama administration wants to force employers to pay some people equal amounts for doing unequal work, through a deceptive bill known as the Paycheck Fairness Act. “Male supermarket managers with college degrees couldn’t be paid more than female cashiers if the college degree for the manager wasn’t consistent with ‘business necessity,’” says economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth in a July 23 column in The Washington Examiner. The bill would also radically increase damage awards for what it labels as “discrimination.”

As I noted in a July 27 letter in response to her column,
Diana Furchtgott-Roth was right to criticize a bill that would require some people who do unequal work to be paid equal amounts. The perverse ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ is indeed a bad idea. But her column understated the case by suggesting that ‘now,’ an employer found guilty of discrimination is only required to pay ‘back pay,’ not ‘punitive damages.’ Actually, employers already have to pay not only back pay but also damages up to $300,000 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The so-called ‘Paycheck Fairness Act’ would eliminate the cap on punitive damages in gender-based pay discrimination cases, leaving the sky as the limit. Other provisions in this perverse bill could force employers to pay people who do nasty, dangerous, unpleasant jobs as little as those who do nice, pleasant ones, if the unpleasant jobs are performed mostly by members of one gender, and the pleasant ones mostly by the other gender. (Examiner, Pg. 20)

The supporters of the bill falsely claim it would simply treat gender-based pay discrimination the same as other pay-discrimination cases. Lazy journalists sometimes parrot this claim. But it is simply false, as I noted earlier.

The falsehoods may well succeed. In 2009, another bill known as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed Congress based on false claims about what the Supreme Court held in a pay discrimination case known as Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007). In signing the bill into law, Obama himself misstated the facts and holding of that Supreme Court decision, and broke a campaign promise dealing with transparency in the process.

SOURCE

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America has moved beyond race, and the president should, too

By Victor Davis Hanson

Weren't we supposed to enter a new age of tolerance with the election of President Barack Obama? His half-black, half-white ancestry and broad support across racial lines suggested that at last Americans judged each other on the content of our characters — not the color of our skin or our tribal affiliations.

Instead, in just 18 months of the Obama administration, racial discord is growing and relations seem to have been set back a generation.

Black voters are galvanizing behind Obama at a time of rapidly falling support. White independents, in contrast, are leaving Obama in droves.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has claimed that the loosely organized Tea Party includes "racist elements." The National Council of La Raza has ripped the state of Arizona for its new anti-illegal alien legislation. Jesse Jackson characterized aspects of the multimillion-dollar bidding war to acquire basketball superstar LeBron James in terms of masters and slaves. Pundits are arguing whether the fringe racist New Black Panther Party is analogous to the Klan.

In turn, a number of Americans want to know why some national lobbying organizations still identify themselves by archaic tribal terms such as "colored people" or "La Raza" ("the race") when it would be taboo for other groups to adopt such racial nomenclature.

Indeed, race seems to be the subtext of almost every contemporary issue, from the soaring deficit and government spending to recent presidential appointments and the enforcement of existing immigration law. In times of growing deficits, white people are stereotyped as being angry over supposedly paying higher taxes to subsidize minorities, while minorities are stereotyped as being mostly on the receiving end of entitlements.

Why the escalation of racial tension in the supposed postracial age of Obama?

First, Obama's reputation as a racial healer was largely the creation of the media. In fact, Obama had a number of racially polarizing incidents that probably would have disqualified any other presidential candidate of the past 30 years.

His two-decade apprenticeship at Trinity Church under the racist and anti-Semitic Rev. Jeremiah Wright has never been adequately explained. Obama indulged in racial stereotyping himself when he wrote off the white lower-middle class of Pennsylvania as clueless zealots clinging to their guns, religion and xenophobia.

Obama also characterized his grandmother as a "typical white person" when he implied that her supposed fear of young black males symbolizes the prejudices of the entire white community. Michelle Obama did not help things when, in clumsy fashion, she indicted America as "just downright mean" — a nation she had not been proud of in her adult life until it embraced the hope and change represented by her husband's candidacy.

Recently, Obama appealed to voters along exclusionary race and gender lines — not traditional political allegiances — when he called upon "the young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women, who powered our victory in 2008."

Yet the country passed the old white/black divide years ago. In a world of conservative Cubans and liberal whites, race is no longer necessarily a guide to politics.

The more the president appeals to his base in racial terms, the more his appointees identify themselves as members of a particular tribe, and the more political issues are framed by racial divisions, so all the more such racial obsession creates a backlash among the racially diverse American people.

America has largely moved beyond race. Tragically, our president and a host of his supportive special interests have not.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

If President Obama carries on like this, he will be a lame duck: "The president hasn’t grown into the job — all that’s needed to beat him is a serious Republican, says Simon Heffer in New York. Simon Heffer of the Daily Telegraph of England finds President Obama and his administration interested in their philosophical agenda at the expense of good governance. He writes: ‘This immediate proof of mismanagement adds to the cumulative feeling on so many other fronts that Mr. Obama and his team simply don’t understand governance.’”

Let them eat cake: "According to news reports, Chelsea Clinton’s wedding to investment banker Mark Mezvinsky on July 31 is costing papa Bill $3,000,000. According to the London Daily Mail, the total price tag will be about $5,000,000. The additional $2,000,000 apparently is being laid off on US Taxpayers as Secret Service costs for protecting former president Clinton and foreign heads of state …. let us wonder aloud where a poor boy who became governor of Arkansas and president of the United States got such a fortune that he can blow $3,000,000 on a wedding.”

Newsweak sold to old guy: "Sidney Harman, the 91-year-old founder of audio equipment maker Harman International Industries, has agreed to buy Newsweek. Newsweek has been struggling to find a profitable niche amid poor economic conditions and a flood of online competition. Declines in circulation and advertising led to a nearly $US30 million ($33m) loss in 2009. Newsweek expects to lose money again this year. In a statement, Post Co chief executive Donald Graham said Mr Harman has pledged to keep most of the magazine's staff. [A bad move]

New US sanctions aim to dry up North Korea’s cash sources: “Washington’s new sanctions seek to cut off North Korea’s illicit moneymaking sources by freezing the assets of those who help the regime fund its nuclear weapons program, a senior U.S. envoy said Monday, describing a blacklisting tactic aimed at further isolating Pyongyang financially. The U.S. will publicly name institutions and people accused of helping North Korea make money illegally in the next few weeks, Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said in Seoul.”

Judge: Virginia can challenge ObamaCare: "Virginia can challenge in court the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law, a judge has ruled. … The state argued the law’s requirement that Americans purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. … The Obama administration has argued the requirement is structured like a tax on those who do not purchase insurance and that the federal government has broad constitutional authority to design tax policy.”

Soaking the rich?: "The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of this year, which means a big tax hike in 2011. Tax rates for all brackets will increase, the double tax on dividends will skyrocket from 15 percent to 39.6 percent, the child credit will shrink, the death tax will be reinstated (at 55 percent!), the marriage penalty will get worse and the capital-gains tax rate will jump to 20 percent. Higher taxes in 2011 will be unwelcome news for taxpayers. But equally troubling are the indirect costs to the economy.”

On reforming the British welfare system: "The current system is a nightmare, that it is complex, bureaucratic and riddled with perverse incentives that mean it often makes more sense for a person to be on welfare than in work. No one would ever ha[ve] designed such a system intentionally — it is just the result of one political initiative being piled on top of another, until you’re left with a Byzantine mess that makes no sense whatsoever. Given that the current system is so bad, Duncan Smith is absolutely right to want to tear it up and start again.”

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, 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, August 02, 2010



An American Stasi?

The surveillance state


The "Stasi" was the former Communist East German Secret Service, notorious for spying on its own citizens

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported on July 25 that “there are 72 fusion centers around the nation, analyzing and disseminating data and information of all kinds. That is one for every state and others for large urban cities.”

What is a fusion center? The answer depends on your perspective. If you work for the Department of Homeland Security, it is a federal, state, local, or regional data-coordination units, designed to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism and anti-crime data in order to make America safer.

If you are privacy or civil-rights advocate, it is part of a powerful new domestic surveillance infrastructure that combines data from both the public and private sectors to track innocent people and so makes Americans less safe from their own government. In that respect, the fusion center is reminiscent of the East German stasi, which used tens of thousands of state police and hundreds of thousands of informers to monitor an estimated one-third of the population.

The history of fusion centers provides insight into which answer is correct. Fusion centers began in 2003 under the administration of George W. Bush as a joint project between the departments of Justice and Homeland Security. The purpose (pdf) is to coordinate federal and local law enforcement by using the “800,000 plus law enforcement officers across the country” whose intimate awareness of their own communities makes them “best placed to function as the ‘eyes and ears’ of an extended national security community.” The fusion centers are hubs for the coordination. By April 2008 there were 58.

The growth has continued under the Obama administration. Indeed, Obama has also continued Bush’s concealment of domestic intelligence activity by threatening to veto legislation that authorizes broader congressional oversight or review of intelligence agencies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). As a result of that threat, the GAO provision was removed from the Intelligence Authorization Act.

Due to secrecy, it is difficult to describe a typical fusion center. But if the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center is typical, this is what one looks like.
Indiana’s center has essentially become an arm of Indiana law enforcement…. It has 31 full-time staffers and two part-time employees. Some … are state employees. Others are assigned to the center from other agencies, such as the FBI, Transportation Security Administration, and Marion County Sheriff’s Department. They are joined by workers from the Department of Correction, the Indiana National Guard, the Indiana State Police, the Department of Natural Resources and local campus police…. There are also private sector analysts on contract. Previously those analysts were from EG&G Technical Services of California. The most recent contract with EG&G called for payment of $1.1 million….

Fusion centers invite reports from public employees such as firemen, ambulance drivers, and sanitation workers as well as from the private sector such as hospitals and neighborhood watch groups. They often operate tip hotlines; this means a “suspect’s” name could be submitted by a disgruntled employee, a hostile neighbor, or an ex-spouse who seeks child custody.

What or who is targeted by this sweeping coordination of data? To get an idea, let’s look at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) program, which the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said “should be a national model.” In June 2008 the departments of Justice and Homeland Security recommended expansion of the LAPD program to other cities.

In April 2008 the Wall Street Journal reported on a new LAPD policy that compelled officers to report “suspicious behaviors” to the local fusion center. LAPD Special Order #11, dated March 5, 2008, defined a list of 65 suspicious behaviors, including using binoculars, taking pictures or video footage “with no apparent esthetic value,” abandoning a vehicle, taking notes, and espousing extremist views. Local police were converted into domestic surveillance agents.

Voices of caution were present from the inception of fusion centers. Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr stated: "Using the resources of federal and state law enforcement to encourage the citizenry to submit to the government information on the political, social and even religious views of other people, is in itself outrageous. For the government to then data-base that information, disseminate it widely, and clearly imply that views with which it may disagree provides an appropriate basis on which to surveil citizens and collect information on them, is beyond the pale. It is also a poor and inefficient use of police resources."

Political Abuse

Violation of privacy rights, excessive secrecy, lack of congressional oversight, the inevitability of inaccurate and noncorrectable information, the lack of due process for the accused, the encouragement of racial/religious profiling, the creation of a “snitch” nation, the merging of the military with the private sector, the political abuse of dissidents – the objections scroll on. Specific abuses scroll on as well....

Only Aberrations?

Clearly, the elaborate infrastructure of fusion centers has spied on peaceful citizens. Those who believe the abuses are aberrations, rather than an inherent or intended function, may argue that increased transparency will bring accountability and solve the problem. But that belief is naive. At least four reasons indicate that a lack of transparency and accountability are built into the system — the absence of real congressional oversight being number one.

Second, the ACLU and others have filed numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. They have had to fight tooth-and-nail for any scrap of information.

Third, as the ACLU (pdf) notes, “[T]here appears to be an effort by the federal government to coerce states into exempting their fusion centers from state open government laws. For those living in Virginia, it’s already too late; the Virginia General Assembly passed a law in April 2008 exempting the state’s fusion center from the Freedom of Information Act.

According to comments by the commander of the Virginia State Police Criminal Intelligence Division and the administrative head of the center, the federal government pressured Virginia into passing the law…. [T]here is a real danger fusion centers will become a ‘one-way mirror’ in which citizens are subject to ever-greater scrutiny by the authorities, even while the authorities are increasingly protected from scrutiny by the public.”

A massive database on peaceful citizens, a tip hotline that encourages turning in of neighbors, the casting of suspicion on daily activities, enlisting private workers as national surveillance agents — this is a police state in the making. And if its creation is invisible to most people, well, that is another characteristic of a police state. You are not a believer until it knocks on your door … in the middle of the night.

More HERE

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The Left Hates Conservatives

Dennis Prager

Perhaps the most telling of the recent revelations of the liberal/left Journolist, a list consisting of about 400 major liberal/left journalists, is the depth of their hatred of conservatives. That they would consult with one another in order to protect candidate and then President Obama and in order to hurt Republicans is unfortunate and ugly. But what is jolting is the hatred of conservatives, as exemplified by the e-mail from an NPR reporter expressing her wish to personally see Rush Limbaugh die a painful death -- and the apparent absence of any objection from the other liberal journalists.

Every one of us on the right has seen this hatred. I am not referring to leftist bloggers or to anonymous extreme comments by angry leftists on conservative blogs -- such things exist on the right as well -- but to mainstream elite liberal journalists. There is simply nothing analogous among elite conservative journalists. Yes, nearly all conservatives believe that the left is leading America to ruin. But while there is plenty of conservative anger over this fact, there is little or nothing on the right to match the left's hatred of conservative individuals. Would mainstream conservative journalists e-mail one another wishes to be present while Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or Michael Moore dies slowly and painfully of a heart attack?

From Karl Marx to today, the Left has always hated people on the Right, not merely differed or been angry with them. The question is: why? Here are three possible answers.

First, the left thinks the right is evil.

Granting for exceptions that all generalizations allow for, conservatives believe that those on the left are wrong, while those on the left believe that those on the right are bad, not merely wrong. Examples are innumerable. For example, Howard Dean, the former head of the Democratic Party said, "In contradistinction to the Republicans ... (Democrats) don't believe kids ought to go to bed hungry at night."

Or take Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who, among many similar comments, said, "I want to say a few words about what it means to be a Democrat. It's very simple: We have a conscience."

Has any spokesman of the Republican Party ever said anything analogous about Democrats not caring about the suffering of children or not having a conscience?

Second, when you don't confront real evil, you hate those who do.

You can see this on almost any school playground. The kid who confronts the school bully is often resented more than the bully. Whether out of guilt over their own cowardice or fear that the one who confronted the bully would provoke the bully to lash out more, those who refuse to confront the bully often resent the one who does. During the 1980s, the left expressed far more hatred of Ronald Reagan than of Soviet Communist dictator Leonid Brezhnev. And, when Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire," the liberal world was enraged ... at Reagan.

Those (usually on the left) who refused to confront communism hated those (usually on the right) who did. They called the latter "war mongers," "cold warriors," charged them with having "missile envy" and with loving war.

Today, the left has similar contempt for those who take a hard line on Islamic terror. The liberal and leftist media routinely place quote marks around the words War on Terror. To the left, such a war is manufactured by rightists for nefarious reasons (oil, self-enrichment, imperialism, etc.). Indeed, the Obama administration has actually forbidden use of the term "Islamic terror." America is at war with a nameless enemy. The real enemies the Democratic administration is prepared to name are the Republican Party, tea parties, Fox News and talk radio.

Third, the left's utopian vision is prevented only by the right.

From its inception, leftism has been a secular utopian religion. As Ted Kennedy, famously quoting his brother Robert F. Kennedy, said, "Some (people) see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say why not?" That exemplifies leftwing idealism -- imagining a utopian future. There will be no poor, no war, no conflict, no inequality. That future is only a few more government programs away from reality. And who stands in the way of such perfection? Conservatives. How could a utopian not hate a conservative?

To put in another way, the famous '60s left-wing motto "Make love, not war" embodies the problem as the left sees it: The left makes love in the world and the right makes war in the world. How could you not hate the right? The right, with its beliefs in a strong military; in individuals, not the state; taking care of themselves, their families and their neighbors; and in punishing criminals, is the anti-Love, a figure as reviled on the left as the antichrist is to Christians.

This hatred will only increase if the left feels its programs to greatly increase the size of the government are in any way threatened in the forthcoming elections. The problem is that this hatred does not decrease even when the left is in power.

Hatred of conservatives is so much part of the left that the day the left stops hating conservatives will mark the beginning of the end of the left as we know it.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

I thought I might mention again for anybody who missed it last time round that my EYE ON BRITAIN blog is also a blog about socialized medicine in action. I lead off the blog every day with a story about some new horror of British government medicine. That the horror stories crop up DAILY probably tells you all by itself how bad the system is. Some days -- e.g. yesterday -- there are actually TWO such horror stories on the blog -- JR

The Ruling Elite called: "I just got off the horn with the Ruling Elite. We had an emergency conference call and to tell you the truth, they ain’t happy. You little people are not responding the way you are supposed to. A significant portion of you are not getting more optimistic because they tell you to. Instead of just reading the headline on Bloomberg that durable goods orders skyrocketed in June, you actually read the details that said durable goods orders plunged. It is getting difficult for the ruling elite to keep the masses sedated and dumbed down. These damn bloggers, with their facts and critical thinking, are throwing a wrench into the gears. Obama and his crack team are working round the clock to lock down the internet, but it will take time. Not that they are totally dissatisfied. They’ve been able to renovate their penthouses and purchase new mansions in the Hamptons with the billions in bonuses you supplied through TARP. The $1.2 trillion supplied by your children and grandchildren to buy up toxic mortgages off their balances sheets was a godsend. They will never call you suckers, to your face.”

What to expect from New York’s “workplace bullying” law: "Almost anyone who has been employed most likely has been bullied, and maybe some of us have bullied underlings (or even bosses) — though we never would admit it. Bullying is an unfortunate fact of life so, naturally, Progressives believe they can legislate it out of existence in order to form their More Perfect World. Not surprisingly, Progressive New York State is leading the way with a proposed workplace anti-bullying law, and 16 other states are pushing forward with similar legislation.”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, 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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