Saturday, November 06, 2010

Global anger mounts at 'clueless' Fed actions

Obama's minions keep devaluing the dollar by printing a torrent of new dollars. They're deposits in banks etc rather than folding notes but the effect is the same

Global anger at a fresh round of liquidity injections into the US economy swelled on Friday as Germany called the move "clueless" and emerging nations protested that it will wreak havoc on them.

Harsh criticism poured in as President Barack Obama headed for Asia on a trip he had hoped to use as a springboard for pressuring China to revalue its yuan but may end up in a fractious Group of 20 leaders summit next week.

The United States has been pressing China, largely unsuccessfully, to let its yuan currency rise more quickly to reflect the strength of what is now the world's second-largest economy and help correct global trade imbalances.

The Federal Reserve's decision this week to buy $US600 billion in long-term bonds with new money to try to revive the flagging US economy have increased fears of more money pouring across borders in search of better returns.

China landed its own blows by saying a US proposal for numerical targets for surpluses and deficits - akin to a range for yuan appreciation - smacked of outmoded central planning that won't win any friends for the United States.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, who is China's chief G20 negotiator, told a news briefing that he was also worried at the prospect of a flood of money pouring into global markets in search of higher yields. "They owe us some explanation," Cui said. "I've seen much concern about the impact of this policy on financial stability in other countries."

Fed liquidity creating problems in other countries

A "common theme" is emerging that "excess liquidity in the US is creating problems in other countries," Brazil's Central Bank Governor Henrique Meirelles told reporters in Chicago.

Resentment abroad stems from worry that Fed pump-priming will hasten the US dollar's slide and cause their currencies to shoot up in value, setting the stage for asset bubbles and making a future burst of inflation more likely.

"With all due respect, US policy is clueless," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a conference. "(The problem) is not a shortage of liquidity. It's not that the Americans haven't pumped enough liquidity into the market, and now to say let's pump more into the market is not going to solve their problems."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking to students in Florida, seized the opportunity to defend the move by saying "a strong US economy, a recovering economy, is critical, not just for Americans but it's also critical for the global economy."

New US unemployment figures on Friday, showing a surprisingly strong 151,000 jobs were created in October, caused some analysts to question whether the Federal Reserve's pledge to buy up to $US600 billion of Treasury securities was even necessary. But with a jobless rate stuck at 9.6 per cent, few doubted the Fed will proceed with buying.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will address US policy in Group of 20 discussions on exchange rates, a government source said, adding that she shared Schaeuble's criticism.

Policymakers from the world's new economic powerhouses in Latin America and Asia have said they would consider fresh steps to curb capital inflows after the Fed's move.

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said Fed policy "undermines the spirit of multilateral cooperation" that the G20 had sought to achieve. The money will find its way into financial markets of emerging nations with potentially devastating impact on their exports, he charged.

Zhou Xiaochuan, China's central bank governor, said while Beijing could understand that the Fed was implementing more monetary easing in order to stimulate US recovery, it may not be a good policy for the global economy.

More HERE

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Now, it is time to govern

Without specifically saying so, modern conservative leaders have moved toward a view of conservatism as a fixed political philosophy based on the principles of the Founding, themselves informed more by Locke, Hobbes and Montesquieu than by Burke. As a result, the Republican class of 2011 is positioned to advance an articulated and cohesive ideology. This class brings to office a critical mass of members who know what they think and why they think it. They will anchor Congress more firmly to the right than ever before and shift the center of gravity rightward.

The Left has always had guiding principles and that is why it has been so easy to map its direction and define its agenda. Its effort has always been the advancement of an articulated ideology. That is why it has so efficiently advanced that agenda in its inexorable march toward its ideal society. In contrast to conservatism, it has been a philosophy, not a lifestyle. For the first time, its philosophy will be challenged by an opposing philosophy rooted in a completely different philosophical tradition and based on defined first principles with very different civic goals. For the first time, the debate will force the evaluation of fundamental assumptions on both sides. This will not be political jockeying. It will be a true clash of ideas.

The evolution of conservatism from an inchoate, uneasy sense that things are just not right to a defined set of ideas, is a refreshing development. It enables conservatives to re-imagine the shape and purpose of government and lends cohesion to its approach to governance and coherence to its approach to public policy. It is no longer left “standing athwart history yelling ‘stop!’”, in Buckley’s formulation but, like the Founders, with the task of defining its idea of the proper role of government and its relationship to the citizen.

With Republican majorities so immediately looming, it is worth contemplating what conservatives should do with them. Conservative electoral victory presents peril even greater than its promise. It is important to note that the Republican Party’s electoral success came not from a turn to the middle, as urged by such as David Brooks and David Frum, but from a hard turn to the right. Republicans were urged by Colin Powell and other fair weather Republicans, to reject voices on the right that suggested that the Party’s troubles were not the result of too close an adherence to conservative principles but by the abandonment of them. So much for the received wisdom of Colin Powell.

It would be seductive for conservatives to indulge themselves in the sort of overweening triumphalism that led the left to its current state of electoral ruin. After so many years in the wilderness, leftists misread their mandate with Obama’s election. They thought their victory was an endorsement of their ideological goals. In the flush of victory and believing the nonsense of columnists who suggested they would never again face viable opposition from the right with the death of conservatism and the marginalization and imminent death of the Republican Party, they pursued a radical and comprehensive program that shocked the nation and roused the deep, abiding and fundamental conservatism of the American public. Conservatives must not make the same mistake.

Republicans need to deliver. But they cannot deliver everything all at once, as Democrats attempted to do these past two years. They should pursue an aggressive, but limited, agenda that addresses the immediate concerns of voters. They should pursue the art of the possible, understanding that they may not succeed at each effort.

People are scared. They see an economy in free fall and unemployment in double digits. They have seen their retirement accounts disappear and their home values plummet, if they still even have homes. They have seen their careful retirement planning evaporate and they suffer a deep sense of insecurity. It must be addressed and addressed boldly.

Conservatives know what it takes to revive an economy. They know that the free market has always provided the greatest good for the greatest number. They know, too, the destructive impact of government interference with the private sector. They know, then, what it will take to generate the economic activity that will prompt growth and job creation.

They must turn their attention, first, to opening up the flow of money so banks begin lending for the expansion of business activity. It is hard to feel sorry for bankers, but they are faced with an administration that demonizes them at every opportunity. They are told that they must start lending but, also, that if they make a mistake, their banks will be seized and they will see themselves on the 6 o’clock news being marched off to jail. They have been hit with regulations on regulations that have them tied in knots, assuming they have yet digested the comprehensive new rules that purport to create safety but which disincentivize them from making loans to any but the most creditworthy customers.

Entrepreneurs are seldom the most creditworthy of customers but they make up the engine of job creation. Loans with some inherent risk are the very loans necessary to get the economy moving again. Entrepreneurship is the balancing of risk to potential reward. Current regulation, in so completely limiting risk, has, at the same time, strangled the prospect of reward.

Republicans must first, therefore, take the step of cutting financial regulations and encouraging business and real estate lending by allowing bankers to loosen lending standards. Until lending starts to flow, the economy will languish.

Regulation is throttling economic growth. The new Congress should start the hard work of reviewing all federal regulations – one by one – and challenging any for which there is no effective continuing rationale. Hearings should be organized to which the industry groups of those most affected by regulation should be invited and at which they will be asked to present the impact of regulation on their businesses. They should be encouraged to specify which regulations the cancellation of which would be most likely to promote growth. Nothing should be off the table. If outright repeal is not possible, de-funding surely will be as the House, with its budgetary power, can refuse to fund any department, agency or program that stands in the way of economic expansion.

Closely related to challenges to regulation is the size and scope of government. Fewer regulations will diminish the rationale for current federal programs and, therefore, current personnel levels. Conservatives have consistently criticized the growth of government but neither Republicans nor Democrats have done anything but slow its growth. The time has come to reverse that growth; to actually reduce the size of government.

Both houses of Congress have committees for each department of government. Each should commence studies with an eye toward the elimination of programs and the actual reduction of departments by challenging, first, their continuing necessity and, second, their staffing and spending levels. Congress cannot cut government unless it knows what government is doing. The studies should be accompanied by the stated goal of actual budget reduction of at least 10%. The studies must be finished promptly so reform can be proposed within the year. They should, therefore, have short dates for the completion of work; say, summer of 2011.

The House should implement a policy of zero based budgeting, requiring that every department and program justify its budget requests not by reference to what has been spent before but by showing that the programs for which funding is sought continue to have a reason to exist.

Spending reduction must be started in earnest. This summer, it was reported that federal employees enjoy salaries and benefits that are twice those in private industry. The House can, in connection with its budgeting power, implement the indexing of federal salaries and benefits to those in private industry. That single reform would reduce federal spending by a significant percentage. After all, the single biggest governmental expense is personnel. Public employee groups notwithstanding, the work done by federal workers is completely analogous to that in private industry. Clerical staff is clerical staff. Middle management is middle management. Purchasing is purchasing. There is no reason for such a disparity in salary and benefit levels other than that successive Congresses, Republican and Democrat, have been asleep at the wheel. Republicans need not fear the wrath of federal employees. They are not a Republican constituency.

Everyone knows that budget reduction cannot be achieved without addressing entitlements. David Stockman has argued that unless entitlement payments are reduced (or taxes raised), the budget will never be controlled, never pausing to consider that the cost of administering entitlement programs represents an enormous percentage of the total spent. Administration can be dramatically cut without a concomitant reduction in benefits. It should be undertaken immediately. That is not to say that other reforms are not necessary. They are. But they can be addressed after less controversial reductions have been achieved and we can see the impact of those reductions.

Perhaps the most dramatic immediate reform Republicans should initiate is the streamlining of the tax system. If Republicans cannot achieve this single initiative, it is difficult to imagine their achieving anything of substance. Polling shows there is a national consensus, cutting across party lines, for a system of taxation that is fairer and flatter. Yet when Republicans had control of the legislative and executive branches of government, they never seriously considered the matter. It is time to do so. Resistance will be fierce from the left and its friends in the media. Republicans will be accused of trying to take food out of the mouths of widows and orphans. They will be accused of heartlessness. But a flatter, simpler tax can result not only in a huge saving in a much reduced bureaucracy but also in the time and attention Americans must spend in determining and paying their taxes. There is even a constituency for a flat tax among Democrats. Jerry Brown, the once and future governor or California, proposed a flat tax during his presidential runs. Elected Democrats might resist it, but their constituents will support it.

A national value added tax, combined with a repeal of the income tax and the 16th Amendment that allows it to exist, would pick up the massive underground economy and would not only yield a fairer means of taxation but would give everyone a stake in the game. It would, at once, simply the system of taxation and, at the same time, fully fund government.

Finally, Republicans should cut off the head of the snake. There is little constituency for the pensions and public sector spending that are breaking the bank other than public employee unions. Their wealth and political support have kept leftism alive well past its expiration date. Freedom to work is an important American value and the vast majority of Americans no longer see a need for supporting unions, especially public sector unions. Those unions are driving states, counties and cities to insolvency and the policies they have championed by way of bloated pensions, represent a burden on generations to come and a drag on economic growth. A national right to work law would not only implement fairness for workers but would, at the same time, reduce the impact of self-interested union political spending.

If a right to work law cannot be passed over likely Democratic opposition and the threat (or reality) of presidential veto, those instrumentalities that extend undue protection to unions, such as the plethora of programs extant in the Department of Labor, can be defunded by majority vote in the House of Representatives. That could set the stage for a compromise that would begin to move the ball toward a free market in labor.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

People are buying stocks while their dollars are still worth something: "Stocks rallied Thursday to their highest level since September 2008. The Dow surged nearly 220-points to its highest level since September 2008 thanks to the Federal Reserve's plan to buy $600 billion in treasurys. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 219.71 points, or 1.96%, to 11434.84, its highest closing level since just before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed. Dow components Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Caterpillar propelled blue chips to their fifth gain in a row and biggest climb since Sept. 1."

Unemployment not budging: “October marks the 18th straight month that unemployment has been at or above 9.4 percent—the longest period of time of sustained high unemployment since the Great Depression. That is as remarkable as it is sad for millions of American families who increasingly cannot make their mortgage payments. Foreclosures are still at all time highs, even as Barack Obama claimed that the worst of the crisis was behind us. Obama’s policies have failed to put America back to work. “It is time for the Obama Administration to change course, and for the newly elected Congress to plot a new direction. ObamaCare and its many mandates are getting in the way of hiring decisions by employers."

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, November 05, 2010

Republicans to unpick Obama's health reforms

Barely 24 hours after the Republicans stormed back to take control of Congress, the first roadblocks to bipartisanship appeared over the President's healthcare reforms.

Although talk after the midterm congressional elections was marked by tones of compromise and contrition, the probable new Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, repeated Republican pledges to try to repeal Barack Obama's policy.

"I believe that the healthcare bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best healthcare system in the world and bankrupt our country," he said.
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"That means we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with commonsense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance."

But Mr Obama made clear that he was only interested in tinkering with of the bill and explained Tuesday's landslide as reflecting people's "number-one concern . the economy".

He rejected suggestions that he was taking the country in the wrong direction, but appeared to leave the door open to compromises that could see an extension of the George Bush-era tax cuts to everyone, including the rich, as well as the fine-tuning of his financial regulatory reforms and the plans for energy independence.

But he wants the Republicans to agree to extend dole payments to long-term unemployed beyond the current 99 weeks, with as many as 2 million jobless set to lose their benefits at the end of this month.

Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is likely to become the Republicans' leader in the House, unveiled a plan of budget cuts and Obama policy reversals.

Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who is in line to chair the House Budget committee, insisted: "We should not allow any tax increases, period, because it's going to slow the economy down. If you want to get this deficit down, you need two things: economic growth and spending cuts."

SOURCE

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Soak the rich? An interesting vote from the other Washington

Do Americans share President Obama's desire to impose redistributive social justice on the well off? In liberal Washington State, of all places, voters gave a definitive answer this Tuesday: No! The resounding rejection of a punitive "Robin Hood" initiative shows that it's not just red-state Republicans who oppose extreme tax hikes on the nation's wealth generators.

As Capitol Hill resumes debate on whether to extend the so-called "Bush tax cuts," the White House should pay special heed to the fate of little-noticed Initiative 1098. Its defeat by a whopping 65-35 margin doesn't bode well for Team Obama's class warriors still clinging bitterly to their soak-the-rich schemes. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insisted this summer that saddling higher earners with higher taxes was "the responsible thing to do." Given the chance to weigh in at the ballot box, a diverse majority of voters in the other Washington determined otherwise.

The Evergreen State is just one of seven states in the nation without a personal income tax. The ballot measure, which would have enacted a state income tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of Washington residents to raise $2 billion for bankrupt public schools, was sponsored by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his left-wing corporate lawyer father. Top donors? The Service Employees International Union, whose state and national chapters threw in a combined $2.5 million of its members' hard-earned dues money, and the National Education Association, which pitched in nearly $760,000.

Hiding behind kiddie human shields, the I-1098 campaign assailed the wealthy for "not paying their fair share" and plastered their campaign literature with sad-faced students and toddlers. Big Labor has been pushing a punish-the-wealthy movement for months. According to Forbes magazine, "six of the 10 states with the highest income tax rates -- Oregon, California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina -- raised their levies on high earners, at least temporarily" last year.

But business owners large and small, representing companies from Bartell Drugs to Amazon.com, successfully fought back against the job-killing measure in Washington State. Disavowing the Gateses, Microsoft honcho Steve Ballmer also joined the opposition. The software company's senior executives expressed grave concern "about the impact I-1098 will have on the state's ability to attract top tech talent in the future."

Liberal newspaper editorial boards including the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune added their objections, citing I-1098's reckless targeting of wealth-creation in the middle of a recession and the inevitable extension and increase of income taxes to the middle class. And economists at the independent, nonpartisan Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University found that I-1098's tax burdens would lengthen and deepen the current economic downturn by destroying private sector jobs, reducing residents' disposable income and prolonging the state's high unemployment rate.

Amber Gunn of the free-market Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Wash., gave the bottom line on I-1098's unreality-based advocates: "Initiative proponents like to operate in a Keynesian world where higher tax rates and their effects on human behavior and competitiveness among states don't matter. But those effects are present in the real world and must be accounted for."

Republicans must stop allowing the White House to demonize America's entrepreneurs and producers. By continuing to refer to them as beneficiaries of the "Bush tax cuts" instead of as the besieged victims of Obama tax increases, the GOP cedes the moral high ground. It's time to make the White House own its noxious war on wealth.

SOURCE

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Obama's Big Spending Days Are Over

The new conservative majority in the House and at least six more Republicans in the Senate gives the GOP de facto control of Congress and its agenda for the next two years.

Nothing can be enacted without the approval of the GOP House, and the enlarged Republican caucus in the Senate has significantly strengthened Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hand against a smaller, weaker and more fractured Democrat majority.

With fewer (52 or 53) Democrats on his side of the aisle, Majority Leader Harry Reid faces a lot of narrow votes and, more than likely, losing ones. President Obama's stalled tax-and-trade energy bill never went anywhere in the Senate because a bunch of Democrats from fossil-fuel-manufacturing states and the Republicans teamed up to block it. Now the votes are there to kill it.

The Obama administration's big-spending agenda is going to get the cold shoulder, too, when the president sends his budget plan up to Capitol Hill next year. If the voters spoke loud and clear on any issue, it was their belief that government has grown too big and spends too much.

After racking up nearly $3 trillion in deficits in just his first two years in office, with another $1 trillion-plus deficit in store for next year and the year after that, Republicans have made it clear that the days of Obama's spending sprees have come to an end.

A chilling new budget analysis released last week by the Heritage Foundation reveals the extent of the fiscal crisis that looms over us in the coming decade. "Soaring spending drives these dangerous deficits," says the think tank's chief budget analyst Brian Riedl. "By 2020, federal spending is set to soar to 26 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), after having averaged 20 percent after World War II."

"If Congress does nothing and simply continues existing taxing and spending policies, annual federal deficits will grow, reaching a projected $2 trillion deficit in just 10 years -- and even that assumes a return to peace and prosperity," Riedl says.

This is why a number of politically vulnerable Democrats, who will face the voters in 2012, will be lining up with Republican colleagues to vote for smaller budgets, too.

With Republicans gaining more than 60 seats in the House, their largest majority since the Truman years, they are going to be able to drive the budget process in Congress, and Harry Reid won't be able to block them in the Senate. Under the budget's reconciliation rules, there is no filibuster requiring 60 votes to take up the measure that needs only a simple majority to pass it.


More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

A defense of the enterprising rich: "With the mid-term elections having arrived, I would like to take a moment to defend the people among us, those designated as ‘rich,’ who seem to be considered less fellow citizens than sheep to be shorn. In the prevailing attitude towards those so designated, in the redistributionist policies promised by craven office seekers to the voting mob, we treat these people less as human beings than as lambs to be slaughtered for the gratification of our greed and envy. We need to take a moment and think about what we are doing, because by attacking them, we attack ourselves.”

The real “Party of No” is government bureaucrats: "Shortly before Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity in D.C. tomorrow, put-upon bureaucrats will hold their own event. They’ve dubbed it the ‘Government Doesn’t Suck’ rally. Really? Try telling that to Esmerelda Rodriguez. The Chicago resident spent an entire year trying to get the permission of Chicago’s bureaucracy so she could open a children’s play center. … Rodriguez ran out of money long before Chicago ran out of red tape, and she was forced to give up her dream.”

Another A380 engine explodes: "Passengers on the giant Qantas Airways jet forced to make an emergency landing in Singapore on Thursday said they heard a loud bang and saw pieces of one of the engines fall off soon after take-off for Sydney. The Airbus A380, which had originated in London and was carrying 459 people, suffered failure of one of its four engines. Australian officials said no one on board was injured. One passenger said an explosion ripped off the engine's rear casing. "I just heard this massive bang, like a shotgun going off," Tyler Wooster told Australia's Network Nine television. "Part of the skin had peeled off and you could see the foam underneath, pieces of broken wires sticking out."

United Nations says Norway is the best place to live, and Australia is second-best: "The United Nations has named oil-rich Norway as the country with the best quality of life, followed by Australia and NZ, while Asia has made the biggest strides in recent decades. Norway - with its 81 years of life expectancy and average annual income of $US58,810 - has topped the Human Development Index (HDI) for all but two years since 2001. Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Ireland, in order, also made the top five."

Military wants to fly more sophisticated drones: "The military aims to develop more sophisticated, high-tech drones and surveillance aircraft that can collect intelligence in increasingly dangerous combat airspace, a senior Air Force leader said Thursday. Under pressure from Pentagon leaders, the Air Force has already dramatically increased the number of armed and unarmed drones over Afghanistan and Iraq. But there are growing worries that the U.S. needs aircraft able to gather information and wage electronic attacks in airspace that is more contested, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements.”

Poll: Obama would beat Palin, but not Huckabee: "The midterm elections are so yesterday. The eyes of many political insiders are already turning to 2012. President Obama would handily beat Sarah Palin in the next presidential election, despite strong anti-incumbent feelings and the Democrats losing the House to the GOP this week, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates. And while Obama would win against the Tea Party favorite, 52% to 44% among registered voters, pit the President against Mike Huckabee and it’s an entirely different story.” [If Obama continues on his present path, a half-dead monkey should be able to oust him]

DC: Three top committee chairmen ousted: "Some of the Democratic Party’s heaviest hitters went down in the House on Tuesday, a sign of the breadth and scope of voter discontent with incumbents …. Ike Skelton, a 34-year incumbent and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, lost his central Missouri seat despite a reputation as a conservative Democrat …. In South Carolina, John Spratt, House Budget Committee chairman, lost a hard-fought campaign for a 15th term in a district that had not elected a Republican since 1883. And Jim Oberstar, Transportation Committee chairman and dean of Minnesota’s congressional delegation, succumbed to a political novice after 36 years …” [Three ”Blue Dogs” who only barked on cue]

French arrest two suspected of planning attack: "The French interior minister says police have arrested two brothers suspected of planning a terrorist attack in France. Brice Hortefeux said that the two French citizens are suspected of ‘criminal association with a terrorist enterprise’ and are being questioned Thursday. He spoke on France-2 television, which said the two were arrested in a Paris suburb on Wednesday.”

France announces $22.8 billion in deals with China: "France announced euro16 billion ($22.8 billion) in deals Thursday to sell uranium, technology and more than 100 Airbus planes to China, and the two countries also agreed to a sweeping strategic partnership on nuclear power. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s three-day state visit to France opened with a red carpet welcome, Chinese flags flying on the streets of Paris and dinner at the Elysee Palace — as well as a flurry of deals that made clear how much the countries’ ties have improved.” [They are selling navy ships to Russia too]

Don’t save Social Security: "For one thing, Social Security can always be there. After all, won’t there always be young people who are working to make a living? Isn’t that where the money comes from? So what’s the problem? All that people in their 60s and above have to do is have the government take more money from young people and redistribute it to the seniors.”

The TSA: America’s real child pornography/molestation machine: "Authorities are hot to prosecute individuals for possession of ‘child pornography,’ and even parents who innocently took pictures of their young children in the bathtub have been prosecuted as ‘child pornographers.’ Even to glance at a picture of a nude child in America today is a crime and can land an unsuspecting person in prison. One would think that federal and state authorities, then, would be highly interested to know that each day, individuals wearing costumes engage in both child pornography and ‘bad touches,’ and do it in full view of others.”

Unelected monopolists fear competition: "Tim Adler reports on political panic in London over the Rupert Murdoch-led News Corporation’s proposed buyout of BSkyB, a British pay-television company …. And what better defender of democracy than Lord Puttnam, a member of an unelected legislative body whose members are appointed (for life terms) by the sitting government, in Puttnam’s case because he was one of the Labour Party’s biggest donors. Of course, Puttnam needs to tread out the ‘threat to democracy’ argument because he has no other case against the BSkyB buyout …” [In Britain, you are forced to buy the government media product. You have to buy a license to watch TV -- and the proceeds go straight to the bloated and biased BBC]

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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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Welcome, Senate Conservatives: Remember what the voters back home want—less government and more freedom

By JIM DEMINT

Congratulations to all the tea party-backed candidates who overcame a determined, partisan opposition to win their elections. The next campaign begins today. Because you must now overcome determined party insiders if this nation is going to be spared from fiscal disaster.

Many of the people who will be welcoming the new class of Senate conservatives to Washington never wanted you here in the first place. The establishment is much more likely to try to buy off your votes than to buy into your limited-government philosophy. Consider what former GOP senator-turned-lobbyist Trent Lott told the Washington Post earlier this year: "As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them."

Don't let them. Co-option is coercion. Washington operates on a favor-based economy and for every earmark, committee assignment or fancy title that's given, payback is expected in return. The chits come due when the roll call votes begin. This is how big-spending bills that everyone always decries in public always manage to pass with just enough votes.

But someone can't be bribed if they aren't for sale. Here is some humble advice on how to recognize and refuse such offers.

First, don't request earmarks. If you do, you'll vote for legislation based on what's in it for your state, not what's best for the country. You will lose the ability to criticize wasteful spending. And, if you dare to oppose other pork-barrel projects, the earmarkers will retaliate against you.

In 2005, Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) offered a measure to kill funding for the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." Before the vote, Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.), an appropriator, issued a warning on the Senate floor.

"If we start cutting funding for individual projects, your project may be next," she said. "When Members come down to the floor to vote on this amendment, they need to know if they support stripping out this project, Senator Bond [a Republican appropriator] and I are likely to be taking a long, serious look at their projects to determine whether they should be preserved during our upcoming conference negotiations."

The threat worked. Hardly anyone wanted to risk losing earmarks. The Senate voted 82-15 to protect funding for the Bridge to Nowhere.

Second, hire conservative staff. The old saying "personnel is policy" is true. You don't need Beltway strategists and consultants running your office. Find people who share your values and believe in advancing the same policy reforms. Staff who are driven by conservative instincts can protect you from unwanted, outside influences when the pressure is on.

Third, beware of committees. Committee assignments can be used as bait to make senators compromise on other matters. Rookie senators are often told they must be a member of a particular committee to advance a certain piece of legislation. This may be true in the House, but a senator can legislate on any matter from the Senate floor.

Fourth, don't seek titles. The word "Senator" before your name carries plenty of clout. All senators have the power to object to bad legislation, speak on the floor and offer amendments, regardless of how they are ranked in party hierarchy.

Lastly, don't let your re-election become more important than your job. You've campaigned long and hard for the opportunity to go to Washington and restore freedom in America. People will try to convince you to moderate conservative positions and break campaign promises, all in the name of winning the next race. Resist the temptation to do so. There are worse things than losing an election—like breaking your word to voters.

At your swearing-in ceremony, you will, as all senators do, take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution." Most will fail to keep their oath. Doing these five things will help you maintain a focus on national priorities and be one who does.

Congress will never fix entitlements, simplify the tax code or balance the budget as long as members are more concerned with their own narrow, parochial interests. Time spent securing earmarks and serving personal ambitions is time that should be spent working on big-picture reforms.

When you are in Washington, remember what the voters back home want—less government and more freedom. Millions of people are out of work, the government is going bankrupt and the country is trillions in debt. Americans have watched in disgust as billions of their tax dollars have been wasted on failed jobs plans, bailouts and takeovers. It's up to us to stop the spending spree and make sure we have a government that benefits America instead of being a burden to it.

Tea party Republicans were elected to go to Washington and save the country—not be co-opted by the club. So put on your boxing gloves. The fight begins today.

SOURCE

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Is this how Harry Reid got re-elected?

November 2nd, 2010, Fairfax, VA—The Department of Justice is deploying "more than 400 federal observers and department personnel to 30 jurisdictions in 18 states" to monitor today's elections. Of note, however, is that two notable states where irregularities have already been reported, North Carolina and Nevada, are not on the list of states.

In Clark County, Nevada, FOX 5 Vegas reported voters who, when they entering the voting booth, noted that Harry Reid's name was already checked off. Controversy emerged when it was reported that the SEIU Local 1107, which supports Harry Reid, controls the ballot boxes by contract through their representation of the voting machine technicians.

In North Carolina, a similar situation has emerged where voters attempting to vote the Republican ticket had the opposite result recorded in the machine, despite repeated attempts. And in Havelock, NC, at one point the machines only tallied 250 votes cast when 400 people had signed into vote.

However, no federal agents have been called in. Instead, they are going to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

SOURCE

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ACORN's latest fraud

Bertha Lewis, the potty-mouthed chief organizer of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced today that her group has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
petition.

Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides for the liquidation of the estate of an indebted individual or corporate entity. This is different from Chapter 11 which often provides debtors with temporary protection from their creditors while they reorganize their affairs.

Regardless of what happens in the bankruptcy case, ACORN will still exist, albeit in a different form.

Its legally separate voter mobilization division, Project Vote, which used to employ President Obama, remains open for business and continues to be located in ACORN’s office in the nation’s capital. Project Vote’s current voter drive is being run by ACORN executive Amy Busefink, who goes on trial in four weeks in Las Vegas for conspiracy to commit voter registration fraud. ACORN itself is also a defendant in the criminal case. ACORN Housing still operates. It changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America.

The evidence strongly suggests ACORN’s bankruptcy proceeding is an exercise in public relations, rather than a genuine winding down of the group’s affairs. In 14 states plus the District of Columbia ACORN chapters have incorporated themselves under new names. In many cases the “new” groups are located in old ACORN offices and run by ACORN leaders.

According to investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Lewis has been busy this year hoarding ACORN’s remaining assets. Investigators believe the group has about $20 million in cash spread out over 800 bank accounts and that ACORN affiliates hold $10 million in property.

In his book, “Seeds of Change: The Story of ACORN, America’s Most Controversial Antipoverty Community Organizing Group,” published months ago by Vanderbilt University Press, ACORN historian John Atlas said ACORN plans to resurface under a new name after the 2010 elections.

One new institution tentatively called the Community Action Support Center will be created “to provide a range of training, technical assistance, and oversight services to the new community organizations.” ACORN’s Brian Kettenring will be interim executive director. Lewis plans to create a Black Leadership Institute. ACORN executive director Steve Kest, who recently joined Van Jones as a “senior fellow” at the left-wing Center for American Progress, quit ACORN “but will work with the new community groups in a consulting and voluntary capacity.”

“The emerging community organizations will retain ACORN’s commitment to building national power, and are beginning discussions toward a process to federate at some later date, presumably after the 2010 elections or in 2011,” Atlas writes. ACORN leaders are working on “voter engagement activities.” They intend “to engage the surge voters of 2008 and turn them into permanent voters in 2010 and beyond.”

ACORN executive Nathan Henderson-James made similar statements in a leaked e-mail. ACORN will be back. In fact, it never actually went anywhere.

More HERE

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As America prints money wholesale, Europe says no to deficit-spending 'stimulus'

Jeff Jacoby

Britain was the birthplace of John Maynard Keynes, but the British government is pursuing precisely the opposite of a Keynesian approach to fiscal policy. Rather than trying to boost demand and create more jobs through extravagant increases in spending and debt, London is practicing austerity. The coalition government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron is sharply cutting public spending, pruning back everything from welfare benefits to the military. Even the sums allocated to maintain the Queen's household will be shrunk. About 8 percent of Britain's roughly 6 million public-sector jobs, or 490,000, will be eliminated.

"We have taken our country back from the brink of bankruptcy," George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, told the House of Commons. "There is nothing fair about running huge budget deficits and burdening future generations with the debts we ourselves are not prepared to pay."

Britain is not an outlier. Across Europe, The New York Times reports, "governments from Germany to Greece are slashing public outlays. . . . The debate in Europe is more on how fast to cut government spending rather than whether such reductions are the right thing to do. . . . In Europe there is hardly a policymaker to be found who is making the argument that governments need to spend more, not less."

Results so far? Economic growth in the United States has been weaker, and the loss of jobs steeper, than in the 16-country euro zone. Especially striking is the contrast with Germany, which resisted heavy US pressure to undertake substantial new deficit spending. While the US economy has been growing at an anemic annual rate of barely 2 percent in recent month, Germany's economy is currently soaring at a 9 percent annual rate. Unemployment in Germany has fallen to 7.5 percent, the lowest it has been in 18 years. Here, it has scarcely fallen at all. What does Berlin understand that Washington doesn't?

"Governments should not become addicted to borrowing as a quick fix to stimulate demand," the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, said in June, in response to the Obama administration's criticism of Germany's austerity measures. "Deficit spending cannot become a permanent state of affairs." President Obama, on the other hand, speaks blithely of "trillion-dollar deficits for years to come."

You can find economists to back up any point of view. Some will even tell you that the best way out of a hole brought on by too much debt is to dig even deeper into debt. The feeble US recovery suggests that the real world doesn't agree with those economists. Yesterday's election suggests that the voters don't, either.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

In California, even a dead Democrat defeats a Republican: "With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, deceased candidate, Democrat Jenny Oropeza, defeated Republican John Stammreich in the race for State Senate in the 28th district. Oropeza, 53, died on Oct. 20. Because her death was within 10 days of the election, her name remained on the ballot. A week after her death, Democrats sent out mailers to residents, calling for voters to still reelect Oropeza. The mailers featured Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Democratic Party general counsel Martha Escutia. The 28th district includes parts of Los Angeles, Long Beach and the South Bay."

IA: Voters oust three judges who ruled in favor of homosexual marriage: "Opponents of an April 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that made Iowa the first state in the Midwest to sanction same-sex marriage celebrated on Wednesday after the ouster of three Iowa Supreme Court justices involved in the ruling. Bob Vander Plaats, lead spokesman for the pro-removal Iowa For Freedom [sic] campaign, hailed the outcome as a victory against a court that overstepped its bounds, and added he believes the vote will ripple beyond Iowa as a sign to other jurists who rule in gay-marriage cases.”

Two cheers for the gridlock: "Although I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome on November 2, 2010, that Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer, among others, would be headed back to the nation’s capital to try to continue to shore up the government’s powers, at least the election had the favorable result of producing a gridlocked regime for a while. I say, let them be bogged down in their partisan bickering. This may have the unintended consequence of making life less regimented for most Americans, even free up our productive energies somewhat.”

Unions can bully a country into bankruptcy: "We are all familiar with the power gained by labor unions in present-day Europe. Lately, it seems that they have also gained the privilege to turn to violence each time their demands aren’t met. It’s safe to say that a union’s decision has become as important as a governmental decree. Trade unions set wages, working time, retirement age, and social benefits; then they oversee and enforce them by going on strike each time the government is unwilling to succumb to their demands.”

OR: Man wins right to give police the finger: "An Oregon man has settled a federal lawsuit over what he says was his First Amendment right to express himself by giving the finger to sheriff’s deputies. The Oregonian reports Robert Ekas settled the suit for $4,000. In his lawsuit, Ekas said that in July 2007, he flipped off a Clackamas County deputy while driving, and the deputy gave him tickets for illegal lane change and improper display of license plates. Ekas was acquitted on the citations. A month later, he gave the finger to another deputy, who detained him but wrote no tickets. Ekas alleged he was being harassed. … County officials say it was cheaper to settle the case than to proceed with defending the suit.”

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, November 03, 2010

Winners and losers in the mid-term elections

OK, we know that the Republicans won and the Democrats lost. But let’s drill down a bit. Which individuals and groups ended up with net pluses and minuses? Here are some thoughts.

WINNERS

1. John Boehner. He’s the new Speaker. He was known as a weeper and he didn’t let us down.

2. Sarah Palin. She’s the biggest star of the Republican party right now and the Republicans surged. OK, not everything she touched turned to gold but overall she came out of this very well. What now for 2012?

3. Republican minorities. First female Indian-American governor. First Latina governor. Cuban-American Senator in Florida. Two black congressmen, the first since 2003. About time and there could be more but conservative diversity is moving in the right direction.

4. The Tea Party. Not a sweep across the board by any means but in the Senate there will be Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson and possibly Ken Buck, as well as numerous House members. There’s no doubt that the Tea Party is a major force in American politics.

5. Candidates who lie about their military service. Dick Blumenthal, a Democrat, won in Connecticut, despite having pretended he served in Vietnam. Mark Kirk [R] exaggerated his naval record but still prevailed in Illinois.

6. The GOP presidential nominee in 2012. Whoever it is, they’re looking a lot more like a possible winner over Barack Obama than they did 24 hours ago.

LOSERS

1. Barack Obama. Ronald Reagan recovered after 1982 and Bill Clinton came back after 1994. But is Obama in the same league as either man? Right now, he looks like a one-term president.

2. Nancy Pelosi. Odds are she’ll leave Congress and retire to San Francisco.

3. Money. Democrats spent more and lost. Meg Whitman spent more more than any other candidate in history and also lost. Money can’t buy you love – or political office in America.

4. Harmony. Whether between the parties (who, right now, loathe each other viscerally) or within the parties (Democrats are forming a circular firing squad and the wounds left over from the Tea Party insurgency during party primaries this year have still to heal) don’t expect much sweetness and light for quite some time.

5. David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs. Democrats are in an ugly mood and Obama’s inner circle (as well as Obama himself) are being blamed. Surely there’s a shake-up in the offing?

6. Professional politicians. A lot of the Good Ole Boys who brought back the bacon year after year were booted out. Gene Taylor, Rick Boucher, Ike Skelton and John Spratt found that incumbency was a liability this time. In January, Capitol Hill will welcome the biggest class of freshmen and women for decades.

7. Moderates. Some Blue Dog Democrats, like Heath Shuler, just survived. Some GOP moderates, like Mark Kirk, were elected. But overall, the Democratic caucus in the House is more liberal as well as being smaller and their Republican counterparts are more conservative. One effect of the Tea Party successes will be that Republicans concerned about losing primary challenges will be nudged to the Right.

8. Health care reform. This battle isn’t over. Republicans will seek to freeze funds and delay implementation in preparation for a post-2012 bid to repeal the whole thing and, as Senator-elect Mike Lee of Utah put it, dance on its grave.

9. START. Obama will struggle to get the new treaty ratified. Ditto climate change legislation.

10. Young voters. In 2008, 18 percent of voters were ages between 18 and 29. In 2010, it was only 10 per cent. The rest, presumably, decided to stay in bed.

SOURCE

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The far Left of the Democratic party is behind Democrat losses

Below is an excerpt from a very insightful article about the two major factions in the Democratic party -- factions that in most of the world would be called Social Democrats and far-Leftists. The writer below calls them "Moderate Progressives" and "liberal progressives". The whole article is well worth a read -- as it has important lessons for conservatives too. The article is such a good one that I have reposted it here in case it gets taken down

Liberal progressives say necessity should have a minimal role in constraining the pursuit of progressive justice. If voters don’t agree with a progressive view of rights, recourse to the courts to overrule them is proper. Voters’ desire, and especially well-off voters’ desire, to keep taxes low and the economy growing ought not to be a significant factor in bringing medical care to poor people or saving the planet from greenhouse gasses.

Moderate progressives take the contrary view. Justice can be secure only if it is secure in the hearts and minds of the people, they believe. They place more faith in, and pay more deference to, voters’ desires, not because they don’t believe in progressive aspirations, but because they believe those goals can best be achieved through incremental measures that receive broad popular support.

We can see this clash most clearly in the reactions of both camps to the Clinton presidency and to Hillary Clinton’s once and future candidacy. To liberal progressives, the Clinton presidency is anathema. It was too timid when it had power in 1993–94, and too conciliatory when it shared power with a Republican Congress thereafter. This belief fueled the challenges to Al Gore in 2000 by Bill Bradley in the primaries and Ralph Nader in the general election. It fueled Howard Dean’s 2004 bid, and was the impetus behind much of the support for Barack Obama’s challenge to frontrunner Hillary Clinton in 2008.

To moderate progressives, the Clinton presidency is the model of progressive action in the modern world. Clinton’s go-slow approach, coupled with his continued pursuit of progressive spending and social policies where possible, meant that progressive policies became imbedded in the middle-class mindset, making them impervious to conservative counterattack.

Today’s liberal progressives are directly descended from the “New Left” of the 1960s. By this I do not mean student radicals, SDS members, Yippies, and others of the radical fringe of this movement. Instead, I define the “New Left” as those Americans — largely bearers of college and postgraduate degrees — who sought not merely to ameliorate some of the hardest edges of American life, as FDR did with the New Deal, but rather to transform American life now. They sought to eliminate, not ameliorate, poverty now. They saw Americans’ pursuit of ever-increasing wealth as an impediment to these goals; why should already well-off families have more when some people had little? And they saw American defense spending as a crucial obstacle to these goals; if no one was attacking us directly, why shouldn’t we spend on butter rather than bombs?

The New Left was characterized as much by its impatience as by its lofty ambitions. Its advocates saw the non-attainment of their goals as a moral crime. As such, those who stood in the way of those goals were not merely adversaries, they were enemies: selfish, unlettered, in need of enlightenment. This sentiment is the source of the arrogant condescension that many Americans and most conservatives have felt all too frequently is a defining feature of today’s Left.

Thus was born the now endemic battles between the progressives and the old guard (unions and party bosses in the ’80s, the DLC in the ’90s and ’00s) in Democratic nomination contests. The liberal progressive candidate would win educated voters — the “wine set,” as Ron Brownstein has labeled them — while the moderate progressive candidate would win the middle and working classes — Brownstein’s “beer set.” Since beer drinkers have always outnumbered wine drinkers in Democratic primaries, the candidates who excited the most progressive elements always lost — until Barack Obama broke the mold in 2008 by attracting African-American “beer drinkers” into the progressive camp.

Liberal progressives view these consistent defeats as examples of justice denied. Their consistent rejection by the voters is seen not as a rejection of their impatience or lofty ambitions, but as something more sinister. The voters were bamboozled by the Teflon Great Communicator, by Willie Horton ads, by triangulating good old boys, by corporate interests, and by blockheaded Texans backed by unscrupulous Mayberry Machiavellians. Something is the matter with Kansans if they don’t back progressives; it must be devious politicians who divert middle- and working-class voters with the bread and circuses of phony social issues and unnecessary foreign wars.

As the continued failure of progressive candidates in Democratic presidential primaries shows, a majority of Democrats are not of this lineage. These moderate progressives place a very different interpretation on what went wrong in the ’60s and ’70s, and have adopted a very different view of how to engage in and shape American politics.

Moderate progressives view the rejections of the Democrats from 1968 to 1984 as a sober lesson delivered by a sober populace. They view Americans today as wanting the same things economically that their parents and grandparents wanted from the New Deal: an active safety net that helps them move up in American life. In this view, Americans support Democrats when they use government to support and enhance middle-class values and aspirations. Moderate progressives believe Democrats got away from that heritage when they started to be perceived as worrying more about people who did not work than about those who did, as worrying more about criminals than the victims of crime, as worrying more about American aggression than about the freedom of the West.

For moderate progressives, then, the very impatience and lofty ambitions that animate liberal progressives were seen to be the causes of Republican and conservative victory. Moderate progressives like Bill Clinton believed that voters would choose conservative Republicans if they were not offered a Democratic alternative that sought to modernize Roosevelt’s legacy for modern times. By pledging to “end welfare as we know it” and support the people who “work hard and play by the rules,” Clinton sought to place that alternative before Americans. He did, and he won.

The very victory that moderate progressives view as legitimizing their approach, though, is seen as destructive by liberal progressives. This difference is encapsulated in how each side views welfare reform, the passage of which is widely viewed as securing Clinton’s reelection. Moderate progressives are proud of that legislation, wishing that it had provided more economic support to single mothers but generally supportive of the fact that it helped move millions of people into work. Liberal progressives, though, believe that it did little or nothing to end poverty, and as such was a sell-out of the progressive commitment to the poor. The fact that the public demanded that the welfare-reform bill or something like it be passed weighs large in the calculus of the moderate progressives, but not at all in that of that liberal progressives.

Fast forward to the past two years, and we can see that this tension within the Democratic party is a factor in every major decision the administration and the congressional leadership has made. From the start, President Obama, with the enthusiastic backing of liberal progressives, declared that his would be a transformative presidency. This meant that his agenda would largely be that of the liberal progressives: health-care reform with a major emphasis on near-universal coverage, cap-and-trade, a large economic stimulus focused more on government projects than on tax relief, a consumer-protection agency to regulate financial instruments. Truly, this crisis would not be allowed to go to waste: Forty years of wandering in the political wilderness would finally be over.

Political urgency was coupled with this intellectual impetus. Democrats were acutely aware that they had supermajorities they had not possessed since 1980. With the increase of the partisan use of the filibuster, a phenomenon not widely seen until the Clinton years, they felt they would not have this degree of power again in the near future. Many argued that the window for bold action was narrow, and it could not be let to close without fulfilling liberal-progressive dreams.

Any one of these measures would have defined a Congress. To push all of them simultaneously, plus a major financial-regulation bill to address what was argued to be the causes of the financial crisis, proved to be too much. Nevertheless, time after time, when political warning signals went up, the administration and the congressional leadership pushed forward.

None of this would have mattered if the liberal progressives had been right about the reasons they have lost in the past. If Americans genuinely wanted quick implementation of liberal-progressive economic measures, then there would have been no electoral retribution to fear. Indeed, this was the argument many liberal progressives made when the decision was made to go forward with the health-care bill.

Moderate progressives argued that Brown’s election was a wake-up call. Pointing to many polls showing that Americans did not want the health-care bill to pass and that independents were growing more concerned about the deficit and moving against the Democrats, men such as Mark Penn and Doug Schoen argued that electoral disaster loomed unless the administration changed course. They pointed to the landslide of 1994 as an example of what could happen if the Speaker and the president persisted. In essence, moderate progressive argued that the Democrats lost in 1994 by trying to be three steps ahead of public opinion instead of one.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

IL: GOP takes Senate seat formerly held by Obama: "A Republican is taking over President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois. Mark Kirk, a five-term Republican congressman from Chicago’s suburbs, beat Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in a bruising race for both.”

Feingold out: "Republicans have claimed a prominent liberal incumbent, toppling three-term Democratic Sen. Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin. Feingold was the second Democrat incumbent senator to fall, after Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Republicans also have taken away two other Democratic seats, in Indiana and North Dakota, where the incumbent lawmakers were retiring. Republican Ron Johnson, an multimillionaire Oshkosh businessman and first-time candidate, beat Feingold"

PA: Toomey defeats Sestak for Senate: "The GOP eeked out a victory in one of the nation’s most heated and most watched Senate races. Voters are sending investment banker and former Congressman Pat Toomey back to Washington on promises he will work to end corporate bailouts, to promote fiscal conservatism and to limit government.”

NY remains NY: "For two months, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has said he was more focused on governing in January than winning the race for governor Tuesday. And as expected, nearly 60 percent of New Yorkers picked the Democratic son of ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo to take the reins of state at a time when budget deficits range in billions, unemployment persists and despair over whether New York’s government is equipped to serve us run high.

CA: A Democrat stronghold holds out: "Democrat Jerry Brown won as Governor over Republican Meg Whitman. Governor Brown succeeds Republican former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and now holds the record as the oldest (so far) person to become California’s governor. Governor Brown won the gubernatorial race even under a lot of criticisms from the former chief executive of eBay, Mrs. Whitman. Democrat re-electionist Senator Barbara Boxer has also triumphed over Republican senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina, a past Hewlett-Packard chief executive. Senator Boxer described the race against Mrs. Fiorina as the “toughest and roughest campaign of [her] life.”

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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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why are the Republican Leaders Silent?

An eve of Election Day message from Richard A. Viguerie

In the closing weeks of this election, I've been disappointed by the lack of a clear, strong message by Republicans, summarizing the meaning of this election.

In October, President Obama has been in the news explaining daily his side of what a Republican victory would mean for America. But the national GOP voice in reply has ranged from silence to a whisper, almost as if they were keeping their vision and plans secret -- or really don't have one worth telling after all.

Of course, there was the Pledge to America, which was unveiled on September 23 and quickly forgotten.

Yesterday, however, Sarah Palin presented a strong and articulate case for Republicans in a Fox News interview with Chris Wallace. But I doubt more than 1 or 2 million people heard her on a Sunday afternoon.

Republicans never win elections unless the elections are nationalized. GOP candidates and committees have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the closing months of this campaign, but it has been spent almost entirely on individual races.

If 2% of that money had been spent on national TV summarizing the core issues in this election, many more state legislators, House, Senate, and Governor races would have been won by the GOP.

However, since the Republicans have failed to lead, let us conservatives rise to the occasion and pick up the leadership role. I'm sending this email to about 400,000 conservative leaders, bloggers, talk show hosts, and activists.

If each of you would forward this email to everyone on your e-lists, and ask each person to forward it to those on their lists -- by tomorrow morning (election day), we will have reached over 20 million people.

I urge those who have the time, to write their own version of a message about President Obama. Writing to your family and friends in your own words is usually going to be more effective than a letter from a stranger. However, feel free to take any, all, or none of what I've written, but please send something. You owe it to yourself, your children and grandchildren, and to this great country that we inherited from those who came before us.

A Message that America Needs to Hear:

America is close to being changed forever from the wonderful land of liberty and freedom with unlimited opportunities and freedom, to a country ruled by an elite leader and ruling class who feel that they know what's best for us.

President Obama:

1...Is Anti-business -- which means the economy will not improve (and probably will worsen) as long as those who create the jobs are under attack by the President with higher taxes, more burdensome rules and regulations, more lawsuits and legal attacks;

2 ...Is Pro-higher taxes on everyone, especially those who work hard, are productive and successful;

3...Is Anti-energy independence -- He wants to put the coal industry out of business and opposes a large part of domestic oil and gas exploration;

4...Favors redistribution of wealth -- as he told Joe the Plumber and Charlie Gibson of ABC in a 2008 Democratic primary debate;

5...Is a Socialist (at best) who
a...Gave us a failed stimulus plan of almost $1 trillion

b...Gives us $1.3 trillion dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see, to be paid by our children and grandchildren if America doesn't go bankrupt first

c...Took over 2 of our 3 car companies (GM and Chrysler)

d...Took over our largest banks

e...Took over the entire student loan program

f...Took over one of the worlds' largest insurance companies (AIG)

g...Took control over your and everyone else's health care (17% of our economy);

6...Is offended (or embarrassed) by America's exceptionalism and traveled around the world going from dictator to dictator apologizing for America;

7...Has a long history, starting as a teenager, of studying, befriending, and admiring socialists, Marxists, and communists

a...As a teenager, he spent most every evening listening to a card-carrying communist, Frank Marshall Davis, who extolled the so-called evils of America and the so-called virtues of Communism

b...Moved to Chicago as a young man and studied at the Saul Alinsky school for radicals

c...In his autobiography, he states that in college he sought out communist professors

d...While in Chicago, he became good friends with Bernadette Dorin and Bill Ayers, members of the infamous Weatherman Underground,and he held his first political fundraiser in their living room
e...For 20 years, he attended a church led by a radical anti-American preacher, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Successful political campaigns give voters a tune they can whistle. Since Republican leaders have failed to lead, let us conservatives and Tea Partiers in the final hours pick up the fallen torch and lead.

Never before has the American way -- our foundations of individual freedom, free markets, family, and faith -- been so much at the mercy of one man and dozens of czars and a cadre of ruling class elites who mock and deride those American values, expressed in our Declaration of Independence and put into the law that governs our government -- the Constitution.

We are at a point in time when we can turn it all around, or become another failure of history. We cannot rely on the current GOP leadership, and we must take up this great cause ourselves.

Thank you for all you do and have done for the cause of freedom. I would appreciate your letting me know approximately how many people you contacted.

I've spent a lot of time preparing this and I ask you to take just a few minutes and forward it to many others.

Millions who came before us paid dearly for the freedoms we enjoy. Please, with their sacrifices in mind, take a few minutes and forward this message or your version of it, to all your email contacts.

Thank you and God bless you, your family and America.

Received by email from Richard A. Viguerie [rav@ConservativeHQ.com]

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Obama says Americans are saving too much

Based on a totally wrong theory of why businesses are not hiring. Who would hire when you never know what burden on businesses the out-of-control brainiacs in Washington are going to dream up next?

Alarmed by the rising savings rate, which liberal Keynesian economic theory views as potentially bad in a weak economy, intellectuals with close ties to the Obama administration, such as Matthew Yglesias, and liberal commentators such as Noam Scheiber, are floating the idea of a trillion-dollar bailout at taxpayer expense, using government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bailout would involve Fannie and Freddie writing off part of the mortgage balances of many people who are perfectly capable of making their mortgage payments, not in order to prevent defaults, but just in order to increase borrowers’ purchasing power so that they can spend more money. (The bailout would not cover all Americans, only many of the loans held by Fannie and Freddie.)

The cost of this bailout — perhaps a trillion dollars — would be borne by taxpayers, since Fannie and Freddie are already insolvent, and are expected to need as much as $363 billion more in taxpayer bailouts, even if this massive bailout proposal is not adopted. (Democrats in Congress recently blocked GOP proposals to reform Fannie and Freddie or limit their bailouts.)

This entire proposal, like many of the administration’s stimulus proposals, is based on the faulty assumption that weak consumer demand is the primary reason for the slow recovery. In fact, personal consumption has resumed rising, while private investment has fallen and remains low. Private investment is way down compared to past recoveries, driven partly by lack of confidence in the administration (a well-deserved lack of confidence given the administration’s anti-business policies). The savings rate has only increased slightly and remains lower in the U.S. than in most of the world.

More HERE

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Governments much more likely to destroy jobs than create jobs

Songs that are "golden oldies" have much less pleasant counterparts in politics-- namely, ideas and policies that have failed disastrously in the past but still keep coming back to be advocated and imposed by government. Some people may think these ideas are as good as gold, but brass has often been mistaken for gold by people who don't look closely enough.

One of these brass oldies is the idea that the government can and must reduce unemployment by "creating jobs." Some people point to the history of the Great Depression of the 1930s, when unemployment peaked at 25 percent, as proof that the government cannot simply stand by and do nothing when so many millions of people are out of work.

If we are going to look back at history, we need to make sure the history we look at is accurate. First of all, unemployment never hit 25 percent until after-- repeat, AFTER-- the federal government intervened in the economy.

What was unemployment like when the federal government first intervened in the economy after the stock market crash of 1929? It was 6.3 percent when that first intervention took place in June 1930-- down from a peak of 9 percent in December 1929, two months after the stock market crash.

Unemployment never hit double digits in any of the 12 months following the stock market crash of 1929. But it hit double digits within 6 months after government intervention-- and unemployment stayed in double digits for the entire remainder of the decade, as the government went in for one intervention after another.

The first federal intervention in June 1930 was the passage of the Smoot-Hawley tariffs by a Democratic Congress, a bill signed into law by Republican President Herbert Hoover. It was "bipartisan"-- but bipartisan nonsense is still nonsense and a bipartisan disaster is still a disaster.

The idea behind these higher tariffs was that reducing our imports of foreign goods would create more jobs for American workers. It sounds plausible, but more than a thousand economists took out newspaper ads, warning that these tariffs would be counterproductive.

That was because other countries would retaliate with their own import restrictions, reducing American exports, thereby destroying American jobs. That is exactly what happened. But there are still people today who repeat the brass oldie that restricting imports will save American jobs.

You can always save particular jobs in a particular industry with import restrictions. But you lose other jobs in other industries, not only because other countries retaliate, but also because of the economic repercussions at home.

You can save jobs in the American sugar industry by restricting imports of foreign sugar. But that results in higher sugar prices within the United States, leading to higher costs for American candy producers, as well as American producers of other products containing sugar. That leads to higher prices for those products, which in turn means lower sales at home and abroad-- and therefore fewer jobs in those industries.

A study concluded that there were three times as many jobs lost in the confection industry as were saved in the sugar industry. Restrictions on steel imports likewise led to an estimated 5,000 jobs being saved in the steel industry-- and 26,000 jobs being lost in industries producing products made of steel.

Similarly, the whole idea of the government itself "creating jobs" is based on regarding the particular jobs created by government as being a net increase in the total number of jobs in the economy. But, since the government does not create wealth to pay for these jobs, but only transfers wealth from the private sector, that leaves less wealth for private employers to create jobs.

Songs that are golden oldies bring enjoyment when they return. But brass oldies in politics just repeat the original disasters.

A statistical analysis by economists, published in 2004, concluded that federal interventions had prolonged the Great Depression of the 1930s by several years. How long will future research show that current government interventions prolonged the economic crisis we are living through now?

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

UN official honors chief Tiananmen butcher: "A United Nations official who has courted controversy in the past has presented an award to the military leader of the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests ahead of an official visit to China by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Sha Zukang, a Chinese national who is U.N. Undersecretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, gave the award last week to Gen. Chi Haotian, a former Chinese defense minister. Gen. Chi was chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army when he ordered the attack on the pro-democracy demonstrators.”

The media are Statist rather than liberal: "It’s telling that the loudest voices opposing pot legalization are coming from the mainstream media, politicians, and law enforcement. The three have a lot in common. Indeed, the Prop. 19 split illustrates how conservative critics of the mainstream media have it all wrong. The media — or at least the editorial boards at the country’s major newspapers — don’t suffer from liberal bias; they suffer from statism. While conservatives emphasize order and property, liberals emphasize equality, and libertarians emphasize individual rights, newspaper editorial boards are biased toward power and authority, automatically turning to politicians for solutions to every perceived problem.”

Taxman comes for online hotel booking: "Municipalities seeking to boost revenues to cover budget shortfalls caused by overspending are setting their sights on online booking companies such as Orbitz and Expedia. Booking hotels online has helped lower the cost of travel for consumers, offering discounted rates for budget, mid-range, and upscale hotels. However, state and local occupancy taxes collected by the hotels also reflect the discount.”

Government art: "I hope you like it, you helped pay for it. During times of cut-backs in the private sector, and voiced government concern over the deficit, why are we paying for this stuff? To me, the piece is even quite visually appealing, but if this really adds value to society there are foundations out there that will give grants to pay for these types of things. With no real budgetary pressure to efficiently allocate resources, governments have no way to figure out the appropriate amount or type of art in society.”

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, November 01, 2010

The meteor falls to earth

A Leftist mourns the decline of Obama

Watching Barack Obama labour his way through a curiously passive, stoically disengaged appearance on US comedian Jon Stewart's The Daily Show last week, it was hard not to avert one's eyes in sympathy and embarrassment. Why, in the majesty of presidential office, would you present yourself for vivisection on the operating table of a self-aggrandising TV satirist masquerading as a moral saint? And then, even if there were some earthly purpose to this, why spend the last significant TV appearance of your election campaign in the company of a few hundred hooting and wailing college undergraduates, not a single one of whom has even considered voting Republican? "This is my fate," Obama's weary, disheartened, tolerantly amused face seemed to say. "And I must endure it as best I can." And yet, what is the purpose of expending your best and highest impulses in the public's service, when by your essential inertness and passivity of spirit you are doomed to lose all joy of it?

The Daily Show is probably as good an indicator as exists of the swamp of self-indulgence into which Left politics has slipped over the last generation. Since earnestness is by definition uncool, and since the sophistication of one's politics is chiefly to be measured by the potency of one's negative wit, clever folks who wish to be thought progressive are nowadays required to engage in a rather complicated ballet, the dual purpose of which is to appear more caring and sympathetic than other people, even as you project a general attitude of ironic disdain towards the objects of your care and sympathy.

And yet Obama's personal and emotional assets, you would have thought, were more or less the opposite of this. In The Audacity of Hope he presents a delicately observed but unsentimental portrait of his generation, sundered by the great cultural divide of the 1960s and 70s into rival camps of cultural avant-gardists and defenders of hearth and home. There he clearly imagined himself as straddling both camps, drawing upon the emotional power of tradition and continuity, and upon the "incorrigible, sweet-natured romanticism" of his beloved mother. In practice, though, his presidency has been merely a kaleidoscope of the various disembodied aspects of his persona. One moment he presents as the cool-eyed centrist pragmatist; at the next he is the cool-cat Chicago inner-city liberal. Yet in the end he has succeeded only in convincing those to his left of his political inconstancy, and those to his right of his essential insincerity of heart.

And yet, for all this, it is hard not to feel sympathy for the President's predicament. He was drawn by the overwhelming magnetic force of the Democratic Party's moral compass into a chaotic and inconclusive struggle over health policy, a struggle that disbarred him from taking any decisive stand in his own right, and in the resolution of which he was doomed to gain little credit, even as it deprived his presidency of the best part of a year's worth of borrowed time. He had no realistic choice in the first months of 2009 but to follow his predecessor's stimulus posture, even as evidence failed to prove it was having any marked effect. Now he finds himself caught between the poles of an unbalanced and intellectually irresponsible debate between scholars who assert that no money should have been spent whatever, and others, such as Princeton's Paul Krugman, who suggest that no amount of public spending on demand-stimulation could ever be enough; thus rather neatly ensuring their purity of intention by advocating a course of action they know will never be followed by any responsible president, and which will never have to be tested by events.

And yet, as honest and serious-minded scholars have shown, we know very little about why Obama's stimulus failed, or whether further stimulus would do help or harm. As Harvard's Edward Glaeser points out, there is no clear correlation in any American region between the level of economic stimulus and the quality of economic response. As a team of scholars from Stanford recently demonstrated, what we do know about the diminished multiplier effects of economic stimulus nowadays chiefly points to the differences between our world and that of the 1930s. In any case, the root cause of the global crisis lies not within the US economy itself, but rather in the extraordinary and grotesque imbalances of supply and demand within the global economy, so that the world's most dynamic industrial economy is also one of its poorest, by the deliberate design of its rulers. And yet this is a problem that excessive demand-stimulation within the US will only serve to exacerbate, even as it adds to the volume of US Treasury bonds held in the vaults of China's state banks. In these circumstances, there is in truth little choice but to proceed on a tentative, experimental course, tending to the domestic economy's frailties without adding too much to its global indebtedness.

In the hollering, wailing cadence of Stewart's studio audience, we can perhaps take some measure of the acute trouble in which centre-left parties such as the US Democrats and our ALP presently find themselves. The country's most gifted and educationally fortunate souls, it so happens, are not commonly its most political mature or worldly, even as they may be the most impatient of disappointment. And so the job of holding together the fragile alliance of social democracy - between the idealists and the worldly wise, cosmopolitans and suburbanites - is becoming almost intolerably hard. For a time Obama seemed to point towards a solution to this problem. Now he appears to have been consumed by it in his turn. And with him, you might think, goes another of the few remaining chances for America's reasonable centre-left to reinvent itself.

SOURCE

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Simple Math and Simple Politics



If you spend anytime at all perusing the blogosphere, you will find a common theme coming from self-described liberal or progressive bloggers, and that is that those on the political right are ignoramuses. The argument is that they are just too stupid to know what's what - they are even anti-science, rejecting knowledge itself -- and consequently they support dumb candidates advocating ignorant policies. Such arguments are particularly evident in the corner of the blogosphere that discusses the climate change issue. This line of argument of course is a variant of the thinking that if only people shared a common understanding of scientific facts they would also share a common political orientation (typically the political orientation of whomever is expressing these views).

Today's New York Times explains that top Democrats, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have bought into this view, leading to charges of elitism from their political opponents. Here is an excerpt:
In the Boston-area home of a wealthy hospital executive one Saturday evening this month, President Obama departed from his usual campaign stump speech and offered an explanation as to why Democrats were seemingly doing so poorly this election season. Voters, he said, just aren’t thinking straight.

“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now, and facts and science and argument does not seem to be winning the day all the time, is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared,” he told a roomful of doctors who chipped in at least $15,200 each to Democratic coffers. “And the country is scared, and they have good reason to be.”

The notion that voters would reject Democrats only because they don’t understand the facts prompted a round of recriminations — “Obama the snob,” read the headline on a Washington Post column by Michael Gerson, the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush — and fueled the underlying argument of the campaign that ends Tuesday. For all the discussion of health care and spending and jobs, at the core of the nation’s debate this fall has been the battle of elitism.

And here is what the NYT reports about Bill Clinton expressing similar views:
Former President Bill Clinton has a riff in his standard speech as he campaigns for Democrats in which he mocks voters for knowing more about their local college football team statistics than they do about the issues that will determine the future of the country. “Don’t bother us with facts; we’ve got our minds made up,” he said in Michigan last week, mimicking such voters.

But if they understood the facts, he continued, they would naturally vote Democratic. “If it’s a choice and we’re thinking, he wins big and America wins big,” Mr. Clinton told a crowd in Battle Creek, pointing to Representative Mark Schauer, an endangered first-term Democrat.

The problem with such arguments is that they are simply wrong, Facts do not compel particular political views, much less policy outcomes.

But for the purposes of discussion, let's just assume that those on the political right are in fact ignoramuses. Even if that were the case, appeals to the wisdom of the educated (and the stupidness of others) would still be a losing electoral proposition as shown by the graph at the top of this post (data here in XLS): Americans older than 18 registered to vote with a college degree represent only 32% of the voting population. Those with an advanced degree represent only 11% of the population registered to vote. For those smart folks on the left, I shouldn't have to explain the corresponding electoral implications.

It should also be fairly obvious that when highly educated people tell those who are less educated that they are too stupid to know better, it probably does not lead to acceptance of claims to authority, much less reinforce trust in experts. In fact, it might even have the opposite effect.

For those on the left who spend a lot of time explaining how intelligent they are, their politics are not always so smart.

SOURCE

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You blew it, Mr President: Sarah Palin's pre-vote TV taunt to Obama

Barack Obama's Democratic Party faces being swept from power in Washington by a ‘political earthquake’ in tomorrow’s U.S. mid-term elections, Sarah Palin claimed last night. ‘You blew it, President Obama,’ she taunted during a TV interview. ‘We gave you two years to improve the economy. The message has been sent to Democrats that they blew it.’ Most Americans want a ‘smaller, smarter’ government, the former Republican vice presidential candidate added.

Pressure was piling up on Mr Obama as he launched a last-ditch tour of the country ahead of tomorrow’s crucial ballot which is being seen as a referendum on his presidency.

Washington analysts were united in their belief the Republicans would come out on top – it was just a question of by how much. All 435 House of Representatives seats are up for grabs along with a third of the Senate, while 36 states will be choosing new governors.

The Democrat-controlled House – the party has a 39-seat majority – is expected to fall to the Republicans and the fate of the Senate is finely balanced. If there is a Republican landslide, it will pitch the White House into an implacable stand-off with Congress in attempts to push through any more Obama initiatives.

A new poll revealed just 51 per cent of Democrats believe Mr Obama should run unopposed for the White House in two years’ time. Most of the 47 per cent who say another Democrat should run against him for the next party presidential nomination had backed Hillary Clinton in her doomed primary campaign, the Associated Press-Knowledge Networks study found.

A real Democratic challenge to Mr Obama is unlikely at this stage but the findings underscored how disenchanted his own party has grown. Among American voters, 51 per cent said he deserves to be defeated in November 2012, and 47 per cent support his re-election.

SOURCE

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Despite Democrats insisting that Tuesday’s mid-terms are not a “referendum” on the president, Obama himself clearly thinks it is

Here in Chicago, a couple of things about President Barack Obama’s final appeal to the voters has been striking. The first is that he’s even campaigning in his home neighbourhood of Hyde Park, a liberal, university enclave on the South Side of the Windy City.

Illinois is a deep blue state yet Democrats could well lose both the governorship and Obama’s old Senate seat – a major symbolic blow to his personal prestige. At one point he pleaded: “Chicago, I need you to keep on fighting! I need you to keep on believing!”

If Obama is having to defend home turf at this stage of the election campaign, what does that say about his party’s prospects? It’s as if George W. Bush found himself having to give a stump speech in Midland, Texas.

The second striking thing is the extent to which Obama’s pitch to voters is, well, all about him. Despite Tim Kaine, DNC chairman, insisting that Tuesday’s mid-terms are not a “referendum” on the president, Obama himself clearly thinks it is. But I’m not sure that Obama’s almost mournful tone in looking back at 2008 will do Democratic candidates much good.

The speech was long – 33 minutes – and this self-referential riff seemed to me distinctly odd:
You know, in the introductions, I think some people mentioned a dear friend of mine who passed this past weekend. Bishop Brazier had a church right down the street. Michelle and I used to go to church at Apostolic sometime. And here’s somebody who knew me when I was a young lawyer, had just moved to Chicago. And I remember when I was making the decision to run for President, I called him. And I said, ‘You know, Bishop, I’m really not sure this is possible. I don’t know if I’m going to make it, but I think it’s worth trying’. And he says, ‘I don’t know what God has in store for you, Barack. But he did say you won’t know either unless you try’.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

The usual bureaucratic efficiency: "In the past decade, Washington sent over $1 billion of your tax dollars to dead people. Washington paid for dead people’s prescriptions and wheelchairs, subsidized their farms, helped pay their rent, and even chipped in for their heating and air conditioning bills. In some cases, these payments quietly gather in a dormant bank account. In many others, however, they land in the pockets of still-living people, who are defrauding the system by collecting benefits meant for a now-deceased relative. Since 2000, the known cost of these payments to over 250,000 deceased individuals has topped $1 billion, according to a review of government audits and reports by the Government Accountability Office, inspectors general, and Congress itself. This is likely only a small picture of a much larger problem."

From fugitive guerrilla to Brazil’s new president: "Dilma Rousseff, who was elected as Brazil's first female president on Sunday, once told reporters that as a typical Brazilian girl in the 1950s she dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But as a fighter for Brazil's left-wing guerrilla movement in 1969, she exchanged a wedding dress for fatigues and went underground, taking on names such as Luiza, Wanda and Estela to avoid the authorities. With her trademark pixie-short hair style and thick glasses, she became one of most Brazil's most wanted fugitives, branded by some as a "subversive Joan of Arc." [Pity Brazil]

The free market of religion: A privatization success story: "While the dual concepts of liberty of conscience and free exercise of religion were still being developed in the 17th century, they were sufficiently conceptualized by 1791 to warrant the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The language of the First Amendment to the Constitution not only guarantees that the federal government will not establish any religion, it also guarantees the right of each individual to freely exercise their religion according to their conscience. For the first time in Western history, a national State allowed religion to be fully privatized, no longer sheltering it from market forces of competition, and no longer subsidizing it to keep it solvent. Evidently the view of the federal government in 1791 was that religion was NOT too big to fail.”

There is a BIG 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)

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

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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