Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bristol Palin's Hollywood and the MSM

By Dick McDonald []

Bristol Palin has made it to the finals of Dancing with the Stars. From a dancing standpoint she should have been eliminated weeks ago. It baffles many why she has lasted so long. The left has advanced the ludicrous theory that it is because she is the daughter of their hated Sarah. Others say it is because she is an underdog. Other say it is because she was treated so poorly during and after her teenage pregnancy.

I believe in another theory. I think American families are using her as a protest against Hollywood, the leftist, the media, liberals and their immense displeasure with all things Obama and Pelosi and Reid. I think it is a subtle rebuke of Letterman, Bill Maher, Tina Fey, John Stewart and their ilk. The “people” have very few avenues to voice their hate for the daily barrage of leftist propaganda. I think Bristol is the lucky recipient of their rage.

Comment received by email


No You Can't. Is genius a simple matter of hard work? Not a chance

What do you think of when you hear the word "genius"? Most of us, I suspect, picture a fellow in a white coat who squints into a microscope, twiddles a knob, and says, "Eureka! I've found the cure for cancer!" More often than not, though, scientific and creative discoveries are the result not of bolts of mental lightning but of long stretches of painfully hard slogging. This unromantic reality is the subject of "Sudden Genius?: The Gradual Path to Creative Breakthroughs," a new book in which the British biographer Andrew Robinson examines key moments in the lives of such giants as Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci. The conclusion that he draws from their experience is that creative genius is "the work of human grit, not the product of superhuman grace." Along the way, Mr. Robinson also takes time out to consider one of the most fashionable modern-day theories of genius—and finds it wanting.

The theory is known in England as "the 10-year rule" and in the U.S., where it has been popularized by Malcolm Gladwell, the author of "Outliers," as "the 10,000-hour rule." The premise is the same: To become successful at anything, you must spend 10 years working at it for 20 hours each week. Do so, however, and success is all but inevitable. You don't have to be a genius—in fact, there's no such thing.

K. Anders Ericsson, the psychologist who is widely credited with having formulated the 10,000-hour rule, says in "The Making of an Expert," a 2007 article summarizing his research, that "experts are always made, not born." He discounts the role played by innate talent, citing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as an example: "Nobody questions that Mozart's achievements were extraordinary. . . . What's often forgotten, however, is that his development was equally exceptional for his time. His musical tutelage started before he was four years old, and his father, also a skilled composer, was a famous music teacher and had written one of the first books on violin instruction. Like other world-class performers, Mozart was not born an expert—he became one."

It's easy to see why the Ericsson-Gladwell view of genius as a form of skill-based expertise has become so popular, for it meshes neatly with today's egalitarian notions of human potential. Moreover, there is much evidence for the validity—up to a point—of the 10,000-hour rule. My own favorite example is that of Charlie Parker, the father of bebop. As a teenager, he embarrassed himself by sitting in at Kansas City jam sessions before he had fully mastered the alto saxophone, thereby acquiring a citywide reputation for incompetence. In 1937 the humiliation overwhelmed him, and he took a summer job at a Missouri resort and began practicing in earnest for the first time in his life. Eight years later, he had metamorphosed into the glittering virtuoso who teamed up with Dizzy Gillespie to record "Ko-Ko," "Groovin' High" and "Salt Peanuts," thereby writing himself into the history of jazz.

The problem with the 10,000-hour rule is that many of its most ardent proponents are political ideologues who see the existence of genius as an affront to their vision of human equality, and will do anything to explain it away. They have a lot of explaining to do, starting with the case of Mozart. As Mr. Robinson points out, Nannerl, Mozart's older sister, was a gifted pianist who received the same intensive training as her better-known brother, yet she failed to develop as a composer. What stopped her? The simplest explanation is also the most persuasive one: He had something to say and she didn't. Or, to put it even more bluntly, he was a genius and she wasn't.

To his credit, Mr. Robinson unequivocally rejects what he calls "the anti-elitist Zeitgeist." At the same time, he believes that while "genius is not a myth," it is merely an enabling condition that can be brought to fruition only through hard and focused work. This seems to me to strike the right balance—yet it still fails to account for the impenetrable mystery that enshrouds such birds of paradise as Bobby Fischer, who started playing chess at the age of 6. Nine years later, he became the U.S. chess champion. His explanation? "All of a sudden I got good."

Anyone who thinks himself capable of similar achievements would do well to heed the tart counsel of H.L. Mencken: "Is it hot in the rolling-mill? Are the hours long? Is $1.15 a day not enough? Then escape is very easy. Simply throw up your job, spit on your hands, and write another 'Rosenkavalier.'" Even if you don't care for Richard Strauss's most popular opera, you get the idea. Disbelievers in genius are hereby invited to prove their point by sitting down and creating an equally great work of art. You have until 2020 to comply. Any takers?


Since anecdote often helps to make a point vivid, let me illustrate the points above by recounting my own own background and where it led. I have never WORKED at anything academic in my life, though I always enjoyed academic things. So it should be no surprise that for my first degree I got lower second class honours and for my Master's degree second class honours. My Ph.D. took four years to get marked owing to dissension over it. So I started out on a very mediocre footing in academe.

Yet I started out during my Ph.D. studies submitting articles to academic journals for publication. And my very first published paper was admired for its clarity and concision. In the 20 years after that I got 200+ papers published, with papers coming out at nearly the rate of one a fortnight in my more involved years. By comparison, most academics aim at one paper a year. So I make no claim to being a genius but I was certainly extremely good in operating at the cutting edge of knowledge. Yet at no time did I ever work at it. I just did what I enjoyed and found interesting.

And my colleagues were extremely jealous -- as publications are the marker of academic excellence. They would have LOVED to get papers out at the rate I did but they simply could not. Neither hard work nor anything else enabled that in them. I was born with that talent and they were not. They could work for a year over a paper and end up having it rejected, whereas I sometimes wrote a paper in one day and had it immediately accepted.

It's a very limited talent that I have. I am so clumsy that I quite often cut myself just opening a can of beans or such. Most things I cannot do but there is that one thing that I do well. My abilities and non-abilities are not the product of anything I ever did. They just ARE


In Canada You May Die Waiting For Care, But Enjoy This Web Site

By David Hogberg

The Commonwealth Fund has another one of its surveys showing how health care in the U.S. is so much worse when compared with so many other nations.

A debate on what health care system is best is well worth having. But it’s hard to take such a debate seriously when the senior vice president for the Commonwealth Fund, Cathy Schoen, makes remarks like this: "The U.S. is the only country in the study where having health insurance doesn’t guarantee you access to health care or financial protection when you’re sick. This is avoidable — other countries have designed their insurance systems to value access and limit out-of-pocket costs".

But isn’t Schoen right? After all, under the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, people with bone marrow disease get access to the drug Vidaza, people with bowel cancer get access to Avastin, people with kidney cancer get access to Afinitor, and children with bone cancer get access to Mepact.

Oh, wait. No, they don’t. That NICE Committee said those drugs weren’t worth the cost.

Perhaps Schoen has a better case with Canada. After all, Canuck Diane Gorsuch had access to heart surgery under Canada’s system. Oh, wrong again! Ms. Gorsuch in fact had her surgery canceled twice and was waiting for her third one went she suffered a fatal heart attack. On the upside, she’s no longer on the waiting list.

One thing that Canada does guarantee its citizens — in British Columbia — is access to a Web site to check on wait times for surgeries. You simply click on the body part, and a list of hospitals appears showing the average wait times. For example, 50% of the people who need open heart surgery receive it within 3.3 weeks, and 90% receive it within 10 weeks.

Kevin Falcon, minister of health services in British Columbia, is a proud bureaucrat: “We’ve been recognized by groups like the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Wait Times Alliance as leaders in Canada in reducing surgical waits for key priority areas. The new wait times Web site will build on our success, giving patients more control over their surgical options by letting them see and compare surgery wait times from every hospital across British Columbia.”

So British Columbians may have a long wait for surgery ... but they don’t have to wait long to find that out.

Of course, maybe it won’t be long before we have such Web sites in the U.S., with politicians pushing us closer to a Canadian health system and the likes of Schoen cheering them on.



"Give Us Gridlock"

By Howard Rich

While it lacks the panache of Patrick Henry's impassioned "give me liberty" cry (which the Virginian borrowed from Cato, incidentally), the reality is that Republicans looking for a modus operandi in Washington next year could do a lot worse than "give us gridlock." In fact gridlock is really all that they can promise voters — at least for now.

While reaping historic gains in the U.S. House, the Tea Party-fueled GOP wave that broke with such force across the country last week was necessarily limited in its breadth. After all, the names of President Barack Obama and nearly two-thirds of the U.S. Senate did not appear on the ballot. Also roughly the same number of Democratic and Republican Senate seats were up for grabs in 2010 — which limited GOP gains in the upper chamber (along with the fact that Democrats were defending seats in liberal strongholds like California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Vermont).

Meanwhile in West Virginia — where a Republican hasn't been elected to a full-term in the U.S. Senate since 1942 — the victorious Democratic candidate won his race by running a TV ad in which he picked up a rifle and literally shot a hole through Obama's proposed "cap and trade" energy tax hike. "I'll take on Washington and this administration to get the federal government off of our backs and out of our pockets," Gov. Joe Manchin said in the ad, sounding more like a Tea Party protester than a twice-elected Democratic governor.

In 2012 the stakes will be much higher. Not only must Obama himself face the voters but 23 Democratic Senate seats must be defended — several of them in GOP-leaning states like Florida, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Virginia. Having slammed the brakes on the socialist overreaching of Obama and his Congressional allies in 2010 — in the next election, limited government advocates must commence the long-overdue national U-turn back to fiscal sanity, individual liberty, free markets and constitutionally-limited government.

Michael Tanner — a senior fellow at the Cato Institute — has been an instrumental voice in dissecting the fiscal betrayal that led to the GOP's "power loss" in 2006 and 2008. In analyzing last week's elections, Tanner described Republicans as being like the "proverbial dog that caught the car, wondering what they should do next."

That may be overstating things a bit given the extent to which Democrats still control the levers of power in Washington, but Tanner does offer some sage advice for the incoming Republican House Majority. "Republicans won this time simply by not being Democrats," he writes. "But having even a share of governing power means that just opposing the worst of the Obama agenda won't be enough next time. Republicans need to develop and put forward a positive agenda. They need to do this even if they know that the bills will die in the Senate or be vetoed by the president."

Indeed. And while "gridlock" may be the only result of the current congressional balance, this should not dissuade Republicans from vigorously advancing an agenda based on what fueled their dramatic gains – a reawakening of America's freedom-loving, limited government conscience. What should be on Republicans' agenda?

Obviously, the low-hanging fruit includes a permanent extension of the 2001/03 tax cuts (in their entirety) and an immediate reversal of other tax increases that are scheduled to take effect on January 1. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, preventing these tax hikes would pump as much as $6 trillion into the U.S. economy over the coming decade.

Of course it is not enough to simply stop the coming "tax tsunami," Republicans must also mount an effort to undo the damage that's been done by a decade of unsustainable government growth and two years of full-blown socialism. That means repealing every word of "Obamacare," scrapping so-called "Wall Street reform" and restoring welfare laws that were gutted when the Obama bureaucratic bailout was passed.

And that's just a start. In addition to slicing trillions off of the deficit by axing "Obamacare" and eliminating dozens of new government programs created by Obama's bailout and "financial reform" laws, the government-cutting scalpel must go even deeper into Washington's needless layers of bureaucracy.

More fundamentally, Washington itself must be redefined. A culture of entitlement must be dismantled brick-by-brick and replaced by a government that's focused on core competencies. A cesspool of corruption dominated by career politicians must be swept aside in favor of clean government run by term-limited citizen legislators.

And the conventional Washington wisdom which holds that "getting things done" means passing new legislation and regulations must be turned completely on its ear. In fact, until citizen leaders committed to freedom and free markets hold all of the levers of power in Washington, "give us gridlock." After all, doing nothing is infinitely preferable to jumping off of a cliff.




The great radio blockade against competition: "The Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act turns 10 next month. If Congress believed in truth in advertising, it would have called the law the Radio Broadcaster Preservation Act, since its effect was to protect existing stations from a new wave of competition. Though even that name would have been a stretch: The new competitors would all be noncommercial outlets transmitting at no more than 100 watts of power, so they weren’t likely to put anyone out of business.”

AK: AP calls US Senate race for RINO: "After a two-week count of write-in ballots, the Associated Press has called the Alaska Senate race for incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski, who defeated Tea Party challenger Joe Miller, will be the first write-in candidate to win election to the Senate since South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond in 1954.”


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)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

'Stop touching me!' Fury as airport security staff are caught on camera searching a crying three-year-old girl

The national outcry over intrusive body searches at American airports intensified today after it emerged security staff were caught on camera frisking a crying three-year-old girl. Mandy Simon is seen sobbing and pleading with staff at Chattanooga, Tennessee airport. She had become upset after having to have her teddy bear put through an X-ray machine and can be heard screaming: 'Stop touching me!'

The incident involving Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff was captured by her television reporter father Steven Simon on his mobile phone. Mandy was searched after she set the metal detector off at the airport twice. It is TSA policy to do a pat down search after the second time whatever the age of the passenger.

In Washington the TSA defended themselves on Tuesday. TSA chief John Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that passengers who refuse to go through a full-body scanner machine and reject a pat-down will not be allowed to board, even if they reject the in-depth security measures for religious reasons.

'That person is not going to get on an airplane,' Pistole said in response to a question from Republican Sen. John Ensign whether the TSA would provide exemptions for passengers whose religious beliefs do not allow them to go through a physically revealing body scan or be touched by screeners.

Civil rights groups contend the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

The issue is getting new attention after John Tyner posted an item online saying he was thrown out of the San Diego airport for rejecting a full-body scan and pat-down groin check and instead insisting on passing through a metal detector.

Pistole acknowledged the incident was drawing wide attention but told the committee an officer involved was 'very cool, calm, professional' in dealing with the passenger.

One civil liberty group is urging air travelers to take part in a national opt-out day the day before Thanksgiving, refusing to go through the full-body detectors and insisting that any pat-down they receive as a result take place in full view of other passengers.

Several senators asked Pistole to address public criticism of the body-imaging machines and more intrusive pat-downs the agency is using. Pistole said the tougher screening is necessary, and that the FDA has found the imaging machines to be safe. Pistole said his agency was working to address pilot and flight attendant concerns about the screening.

Elsewhere at least two passengers, including a 54-year-old Missouri City man, have complained about airport staff putting their hands down the front and rear of their pants - as invasive new screening measures are increasingly criticised. Thomas Mollman, 54, said he experienced the controversial 'pat down' when he was travelling through security at Fort Lauderdale Airport. Mr Mollman, who was wearing shorts at the time of the search, said he was subjected to a 'groping' by a TSA officer, and he believe his experience was tantamount to sexual molestation.

He said: '[The officer] put his hand in between my underwear and my skin and did a 360 all the way around, touching certain sesitive points in the back and the front.' He added: 'This was an assault. This was no different than a sexual assault.'

Under TSA rules, those who decline the scans must submit to pat-downs that include checks of the inside of travelers' thighs and buttocks.

Radio DJ Owen Stone went further in his discription of his experience at an airport at the weekend. The DJ, known as 'OhDoctah', spoke on the Alex Jones radion show, saying how he was told that the rules had been changed and was offered a private screening. When he asked what the procedure entailed, the TSA agent responded: 'I have to go in your waistband, I have to put my hand down your pants.'

Mr Stone said he chose to conduct the search in public, for fear that the TSA worker would be even more aggressive in a private room. He said that the agent pulled out the waistband of his sweatpants before patting his backside and his crotch. He said that even the TSA agent was embarrassed at what he had been told to do by his superiors, apologising profusely throughout the examination. Mr Stone was explicit in describing the procedure, saying the TSA agent directly felt his testicles, penis and backside while his hand was inside his pants.

The backlash against the full-body scans has grown in recent weeks as the holiday travel season fast approaches.

San Diego's John Tyner filmed his now-famous security encouter with a cell phone, during which he told the TSA employee 'You touch my junk and I'm going to have you arrested.' He objects to full body scans for health concerns, had checked before leaving that the airport in San Diego did not have the machines, and dislikes 'huge invasion of privacy' they represent.

The scanners show a body's contours on a computer stationed in a private room removed from the security checkpoints. Those who decline must submit to pat-downs that include checks of the inside of travelers' thighs and buttocks. Tyner ended up ejected from the airport, threatened with a $10,000 fine and did not fly.

Tyner's health concerns are backed up by various scientists and doctors, despite TSA claims they are safe.

A group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) raised scanner health concerns in a letter sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology earlier this year. 'While the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high,' they wrote.

Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is also speaking out against the TSA and reminding airports that they have a choice. Mica wrote to the heads of more than 150 airports nationwide suggesting they opt out of TSA screenings. 'When the TSA was established, it was never envisioned that it would become a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy which was soon to grow to 67,000 employees,' he wrote.

'As TSA has grown larger, more impersonal, and administratively top-heavy, I believe it is important that airports across the country consider utilizing the opt-out provision' and use private screening.

Critics also fear that the TSA's 'security theater' of checks, shoe removal, liquid inspection and pat downs has become dangerously ineffective while trying to project the feeling of safety. 'It's a big Kabuki dance,' Mica told the Washington Examiner.



Why is the TSA so stupid?

When they could do it the Israeli way

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification. That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threat with far less inconvenience.

Almost one year after it was published, Cathal Kelly's Star article is more relevant than ever:

"…in a nutshell … "Israelification" [is] a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death.

…All drivers [coming to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport] are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," [Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy] said.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of "distress" — behavioural profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

"The word 'profiling' is a political invention by people who don't want to do security," he said. "To us, it doesn't matter if he's black, white, young or old. It's just his behaviour. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I'm doing this?"

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour.

…Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben-Gurion Airport shares with Pearson — the body and hand-luggage check.
"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast — there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

…[All this] doesn't begin to cover the off-site security net that failed so spectacularly in targeting would-be Flight 253 bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

…So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive, so un-Israelified?

Working hard to dampen his outrage, Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"We have a saying in Hebrew that it's much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it's dark over there. That's exactly how (North American airport security officials) act," Sela said. "You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests that outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.



The case against Obama's proposed money-creation binge

An impressive group of right-leaning technocrats has signed an open letter to Ben Bernanke, objecting to his adoption of QE2. And it’s hard to disagree with what they have to say:

"We believe the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called “quantitative easing”) should be reconsidered and discontinued. We do not believe such a plan is necessary or advisable under current circumstances. The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment."

It seems clear that the G20 meeting in Seoul achieved absolutely nothing largely because of the unfortunate timing of Bernanke’s QE2 announcement. It overshadowed everything else, it put Obama on the defensive, and it made it impossible for the G20 to agree on anything. I don’t think that the FOMC anticipated the volume of the international criticism of U.S. policy, and that alone is reason to reconsider what they’re doing. After all, if a policy designed to increase confidence only serves to increase mistrust, it probably isn’t working.

QE isn’t necessary: there’s no immediate and obvious harm which will befall the U.S. if it’s discontinued. If it doesn’t increase employment or decrease unemployment, there’s certainly no reason to do it. And so far the evidence that QE has any effect on employment is slim at best. So yes, there’s a case to be made that QE should be discontinued. The letter continues:

"We subscribe to your statement in the Washington Post on November 4 that “the Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own.” In this case, we think improvements in tax, spending and regulatory policies must take precedence in a national growth program, not further monetary stimulus."

This is surely true, and I doubt that anyone on the FOMC would disagree. Indeed, the Fed’s own response to the letter explicitly agrees with this point:

"The Chairman has also noted that the Federal Reserve does not believe it can solve the economy’s problems on its own. That will take time and the combined efforts of many parties, including the central bank, Congress, the administration, regulators, and the private sector."

But back to the letter:

"We disagree with the view that inflation needs to be pushed higher, and worry that another round of asset purchases, with interest rates still near zero over a year into the recovery, will distort financial markets and greatly complicate future Fed efforts to normalize monetary policy.



Dude, Where's My Obamacare Waiver?

Michelle Malkin

More than one million Americans have escaped the clutches of the Democrats' destructive federal health care law. Lucky them. Their employers and labor representatives wisely applied for Obamacare waivers earlier this fall and got out while the getting was good. Now, it's time for Congress to create a permanent escape hatch for the rest of us. Repeal is the ultimate waiver.

As you'll recall, President Obama promised repeatedly that if Americans liked their health insurance plan, they could keep it. "Nobody is talking about taking that away from you," the cajoler-in-chief assured. What he failed to communicate to low-wage and part-time workers across the country is that they could keep their plans -- only if their companies begged hard enough for exemptions from Obamacare's private insurance-killing regulations.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, at least 111 waivers have now been granted to companies, unions and other organizations of all sizes who offer affordable health insurance or prescription drug coverage with limited benefits. Obamacare architects sought to eliminate those low-cost plans under the guise of controlling insurer spending on executive salaries and marketing.

It's all about control. If central planners can't dictate what health benefits qualify as "good," what plans qualify as "affordable" and how health care dollars are best spent, then nobody can. The ultimate goal, of course: precipitating a massive shift from private to government insurance.

McDonald's, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Jack in the Box are among the large, headline-garnering employers who received the temporary waivers. But perhaps the most politically noteworthy beneficiaries of the HHS waiver program: Big Labor.

The Service Employees Benefit Fund, which insures a total of 12,000 SEIU health care workers in upstate New York, secured its Obamacare exemption in October. The Local 25 SEIU Welfare Fund in Chicago also nabbed a waiver for 31,000 of its enrollees. SEIU, of course, was one of Obamacare's loudest and biggest spending proponents. The waivers come on top of the massive sweetheart deal that SEIU and other unions cut with the Obama administration to exempt them from the health care mandate's onerous "Cadillac tax" on high-cost health care plans until 2018.



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)

How Does the U.S. Health-Care System Stack Up when compared with other countries?

The article below is a good approach to the facts involved but omits for obvious reasons something important that only a very wicked person like me would mention: American healthcare statistical averages are greatly weighed down by the large black element in the population. For reasons which need not detain us here, blacks have markedly worse life expectancies and morbidities than white Americans. An accurate comparison between healthcare statistics from one nation to another would need to compare like with like -- i.e. American whites with whites elsewhere

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post... was offended by Boehner’s comment that the American health-care system is “the best health care system in the world,”

Life expectancy at birth is a particularly limited measure of health-care performance across nations, because it generally fails to account for such important variables as lifestyle, culture, income level, and educational achievement. Life expectancy at older ages, such as at 65, gives a clearer picture — though it does not eliminate the confounding distortion of non-medical factors — and using that measure, the apparent life expectancy gap between the U.S. and other comparable nations narrows. In fact, if one goes further out on the age curve to age 80 and over, one finds that the U.S. probably leads the developed world in life expectancy.

These differences highlight the U.S.’s focus on subsidizing health care for the elderly, for whom medical interventions are more frequent, costly, intensive, and arguably more beneficial, and to whose future health non-medical factors matter less on the margin. (Their likelihood of voting is also higher…) A study published earlier this month in Demography finds that at age 55 and beyond, Americans are sicker by far than the English, yet older Americans don’t die earlier than their British counterparts: Death rates were equivalent for 55-to-64-year-olds, and beyond age 65, Americans had a slightly greater probability of survival. Why is this so? Perhaps because the U.S. health-care system diagnoses and treats illnesses (particular among the elderly) more aggressively than does the National Health Service — though, of course, all that extra screening and more intensive treatment costs more money.

The next old chestnut of international health-care comparisons that Cohen serves up is infant mortality (deaths in the first year of life). Major problems with infant mortality statistics have been pointed out by others in the past and include differences in data definition and common health-care practices. For instance, American medical practice more commonly resuscitates very small premature and nonviable-birth babies; these babies later die but are treated as “live births” in U.S. statistics. Countries such as France and Japan are likely to classify such babies as stillbirths, which aren’t counted. Infant mortality rates are also affected by outside factors such as the mother’s behavior and lifestyle (e.g., obesity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol use, recreational drug use, and marital status).

Somewhat better measures of perinatal mortality (death in the first week, plus fetal deaths that meet or exceed the minimum gestation time or weigh standards) and of birthweight-specific mortality reveal much smaller differences between U.S. rates and those of comparable nations. And, of course, I should note that Richard Cohen, who is pro-choice, mourns for infants who die “before they can get a cupcake with a single candle” but not for aborted fetuses, which have a mortality rate of 100 percent.

Next up on Cohen’s checklist is “avoidable mortality,” which purportedly estimates deaths from causes that should not occur in the presence of timely and effective health care.

The most notable proponents of this measure are British researchers Ellen Nolte and C. Martin McKee, whose 2008 study (supported by the Commonwealth Fund, which probably never met a person they didn’t think deserved more comprehensive levels of health insurance) compared trends in health-care-amenable mortality in different nations.

They concluded that the United States started with a relatively high amenable-mortality level in 1997–98 and then saw unusually small reductions over the next five years, relative to comparable nations. But, once again, there is much less here than meets the eye. For one thing, the study failed to adjust the proportionate share of deaths within given populations due to amenable mortality for changes in overall national mortality rates — in other words, the share of all deaths occurring in a given time period that were due to amendable mortality.

Even Nolte and McKee acknowledge that death is typically the result of a complex chain of processes including social and economic factors, lifestyle factors, and preventive and curative health care, and they concede that this renders the underlying concept of amenable mortality somewhat less than definitive as evidence of differences in health-care-system effectiveness.

Other critics of the Nolte/McKee approach point out that their study essentially only demonstrates how many people in each country died from an arbitrary list of particular diseases and conditions. It does not determine if individuals received care or if they could have been saved by care they did not get.

Returning to Cohen — he alludes to another cliché of health-care mythology: the free-riding uninsured people who postpone treatment until they land in overcrowded and expensive emergency rooms. The statistical reality is that among the under-65 population, the uninsured are no more likely than the insured to visit the emergency department, nor are their visits more likely to be triaged as non-urgent. On the other hand, persons under 65 with Medicaid coverage are more likely to have multiple visits to the ED than those other two categories. Adults with Medicaid accounted for most of the increase in ED visits from 1997 to 2007.

In the 2006 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), it was easy for the reader to see in the ED summary that those covered by Medicaid visit the ED more often than the uninsured (82 visits per 100 persons, as opposed to 48 per 100 persons). But the 2007 version has a different format, and it is now much harder to find figures for the visit rates to the ED per 100 persons based on payment source/insurance coverage. (Any connection between a new HHS administration selling expanded Medicaid coverage and this change from longstanding report format must be purely coincidental.) By the way, did you know that the number of visits to emergency departments actually decreased between 2006 and 2007, from 119.2 million to 116.8 million? Yes, I must have missed reading that headline in the mainstream health media, too.

Thoughtful observers might consider the possibility that an increase in ED visits primarily reflects broader delivery problems (e.g., physicians who don’t do evening or weekend hours, or answer e-mail, provider resistance to low-cost clinic competition, etc.) rather than increases in the number of uninsured Americans. They might also wonder whether the new health-care law’s plan to increase coverage primarily through expansion of Medicaid will help or aggravate the problem of emergency-care overuse. But Richard Cohen only had enough space, or attention span, to use the uninsured-in-the-emergency-room image as a throwaway line.

Cohen’s paragraph on the use of Bethesda Naval Hospital by some anti-Obamacare members of Congress is another miss. Criticism of the special health-care perks that members of Congress can get for a $500-or-so annual fee may be justified to some extent. They essentially receive personalized, all-that-you-want primary care from official congressional physicians on call in the Capitol, and this ties them in to quick, no-fuss referrals to specialists and admissions at Bethesda Naval — and, despite some disavowals on the record, when members check in to Bethesda, they do receive VIP-like treatment.

However, this is not dissimilar to the executive health-care benefits enjoyed by top officials in private corporations or by government officials in countries with national health-care systems. (It’s good to be the king!) Moreover, the same deal could not be extended to all, under either a private market or a public program, without either breaking the bank or putting practically everyone first in line (and therefore right back in the middle). In any case, taking advantage of such benefits, arguably in part on the taxpayers’ dime, is nothing new in Congress, and sometimes is no guarantee of quality care.

Essentially, Richard Cohen’s column is an overwrought, highly politicized reaction to the periodically shallow rhetoric of some Republican officeholders who refer to U.S. health care as the best in the world — which, in some respects, U.S. health care is: for instance, in cancer detection and treatment and in a number of relatively sophisticated procedures for life-threatening illnesses. But that’s not the point. The real issues are (1) how to improve it, particularly in terms of more consistent quality and greater affordability; and (2) how to refrain from worsening it, along with the economy, through a harmful prescription (Obamacare). Some Republicans have focused more on #2 than #1, which is equally important but more complex, but correcting their emphasis is hardly the most important mission we face.

More here


Deficit Reduction baloney

By Thomas Sowell

Another deficit reduction commission has now made its recommendations. My own recommendation for dealing with deficits would include stopping the appointment of deficit reduction commissions.

It is not the amount of money that these commissions cost that is the issue. It is the escape hatch that they provide for big-spending politicians. Do you go ahead and spend the rent money and the food money-- and then ask somebody else to tell you how to escape the consequences?

If President Obama or the Congress were serious about keeping the deficit down, they could have had this commission's recommendations before they spent hundreds of billions of dollars, handing out goodies hither and yon to their pet constituencies.

I don't know why people agree to serve on these bipartisan commissions, which save the political hides of the big spenders after they have run up huge deficits. Back in the 1950s, there was a saying: "If you didn't invite me to the take-off, don't invite me to the crash landing."

Deficit commissions make it politically possible to spend money first and get somebody else to recommend raising taxes later. They are a virtual guarantee of never-ending increases in both spending and taxes.

Why provide political cover? Leave the big spenders out there naked in front of the voters! Either the elected officials will change their ways or the voters can change the officials they elect.

There is no special information or wisdom available to unelected deficit commissions that is not available to elected officials. Nor are they more far-seeing than politicians.

The biggest immediate tax issue is whether the Bush tax cuts will be extended for everyone. Here, as elsewhere in politics, sheer hogwash reigns supreme.

The first big cut in income taxes came in the 1920s, at the urging of Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. He argued that a reduction of the tax rates would increase the tax revenues. What actually happened?

In 1920, when the top tax rate was 73 percent, for people making over $100,000 a year, the federal government collected just over $700 million in income taxes-- and 30 percent of that was paid by people making over $100,000. After a series of tax cuts brought the top rate down to 24 percent, the federal government collected more than a billion dollars in income tax revenue-- and people making over $100,000 a year now paid 65 percent of the taxes.

How could that be? The answer is simple: People behave differently when tax rates are high as compared to when they are low. With low tax rates, they take their money out of tax shelters and put it to work in the economy, benefitting themselves, the economy and government, which collects more money in taxes because incomes rise.

High tax rates which very few people are actually paying, because of tax shelters, do not bring in as much revenue as lower tax rates that people are paying. It was much the same story after tax cuts during the Kennedy administration, the Reagan administration and the Bush Administration.



An old fallacy pops up again

Economist DON BOUDREAUX has been writing to the New York Times again:

Complaining about America’s trade deficit, Robert Lighthizer claims that foreign investments in the U.S. necessarily “will leave our children dependent on foreign decision makers” (“Throwing Free Trade Overboard,” Nov. 13). What jingoistic jabber!

When, for example, Ikea builds a store in Milwaukee, America’s trade deficit rises. But this investment in America by foreigners doesn’t make our children more “dependent on foreign decision makers.” Ikea cannot force Americans to shop or to work at Ikea; it must compete against other retailers and employers. Ikea has the same power over Americans and over “our children” as does Levitz and La-Z-Boy – which is to say, zilch.

In addition, Americans who supply the land and labor Ikea employs to build this store can use their proceeds to start their own firms or to invest in existing American businesses. To the extent that they do so, not only are both America’s trade deficit and capital stock thereby increased, but whatever decision-making ‘power’ Ikea gains in the U.S. by opening a store here is offset by the additional decision-making ‘power’ and prosperity Americans gain because Ikea’s operations in the U.S. enabled these Americans to make investments that would otherwise have not been undertaken.




Rangel: Guilty: "Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) was found guilty Tuesday of breaking 11 separate congressional rules related to his personal finances and fundraising efforts for a New York college. The eight-lawmaker subcommittee that handled the trial — which reached a unanimous verdict on 10 of the counts — now sends the case to the full ethics committee for the equivalent of sentencing.”

The (real) Party of No : "Liberal pundits called Republicans the ‘party of no’ for their opposition to Obamacare, Cap and Trade, etc. I think it’s good to say ‘no’ to bad ideas. Congressman Ron Paul has been right to make a career of that. I wish Republicans supported him years ago. Now that Obama’s fiscal commission has come up with some reasonably good ideas, Ross Douthat points out that the Dems have become the ‘Party of No,’ even to the point of defending corporate welfare …”

GOP senator deals setback to nuclear treaty: "An agreement between the United States and Russia to slash their nuclear arsenals was in danger of collapse Tuesday after an influential Republican senator said it should not be voted on this year. With a terse statement, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., dealt a major setback to President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve ties with Russia and to his broader strategy for reducing nuclear arms worldwide.”

High speed rail that isn't: "On Oct. 28, the Department of Transportation gave out $2.4 billion in grants to high-speed rail projects. This is on top of the $8 billion that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly known as the "stimulus" package. If you think this money will usher in a new era of European-style trains, think again. Most of these projects are simply for slight upgrades to the network... in all of their cheerleading, high-speed passenger rail proponents never mention what is perhaps the most damning fact about these projects. Most are not even considered high-speed by international standards."


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)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Liberal Mind Rejects Sad Facts

Dennis Prager

I recently devoted my biweekly column in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles to analyzing why most Jews believe that people are basically good despite the fact that this belief is neither rational nor Jewish. In a lifetime of teaching and writing on Judaism, I have never encountered a single normative statement in 3,000 years of Jewish writing that asserted that man is basically good.

As I expected, the reaction -- apparently all from Jewish liberals -- was entirely negative. Almost an entire page of the journal was devoted to letters attacking me. One of the seven letters -- from a prominent Hollywood screenwriter -- bordered on hysteria.

The question is, why? Why would liberals in general, and Jewish liberals in particular -- given the Jews' singularly horrific history at the hands of other human beings -- react so strongly against someone who wrote that people are not basically good?

In my original article, I offered one explanation: Since the Enlightenment, the secular world has had to believe in man (or "humanity") because if you don't believe in God and you don't believe in humanity, you will despair.

But one critic opened my eyes to an even deeper reason most liberals do not acknowledge that people are not basically good. This is what he wrote: "What a sad world it would be if we all believed as Dennis Prager that mankind is inherently evil."

And this is what I responded: "I did not write that man is inherently evil. I wrote that he is not basically good. And, yes, that does make the world sad. So do disease, earthquakes, death and all the unjust suffering in the world. But sad facts remain facts." "A distinguishing characteristic of liberals and leftists," I concluded, "is their aversion to acknowledging sad facts."

Years ago, a woman writer, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, first made me aware of this. She wrote about liberals rejecting many facts about male and female natures. She used the French expression "les faits de la vie" -- the facts of life. The left, she wrote, rejects les faits de la vie. I believe this is so for two reasons.

First, as with my correspondent above, people on the left tend to be unwilling to accept the sadness and pain that recognition of such facts creates. Leftism is often predicated on avoiding pain. That is a major reason why the left dislikes capitalism and free markets. Free markets create winners and losers, and the left does not like the fact that some people lose and some win.

This antipathy to having losers expresses itself on the micro level as well. Many liberals oppose children playing in competitive sports because they can lose -- sometimes by a big score. That is why many schools now emphasize "cooperation instead of competition." They do not want children experiencing the pain of losing, let alone losing by many points. That is also why liberals introduced the absurd idea of giving sports trophies to all kids who play, win or lose. God forbid that only the winners receive trophies; the kids who didn't win may experience pain.

Second, the left lives by theories and dogmas into which the facts of life must fit. That is why left-wing ideas are usually wishful thinking.

Though either explanation suffices, the two explanations reinforce each other. Here are four descriptive statements rejected by the left for these two mutually reinforcing reasons.

1. People are not basically good.

Leftists tend to reject this because a) It is too painful to accept, and b) it undermines the leftist dogma that people do bad because of outside forces -- poverty, capitalism, racism, etc.

2. Men and women are inherently different.

Leftists have rejected this idea because some of the differences are too emotionally upsetting to accept. Men are variety-driven by nature? Too upsetting. Women may have less yearning for, and ability in, math and engineering? Only a sexist like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers would say such a thing. Moreover, the belief that men and women are inherently different violates the left's foundational principle of equality. Many liberals admit that they reject talk of male-female differences because it can easily lead to gender inequality.

3. Black males disproportionately commit violent crime in America.

Leftist reactions to this truly painful fact are to label one who notes it a racist and to decry American society as racist because there are more black males in prison than in college.

4. The United Nations is a moral wasteland.

Since before the U.N.'s founding in 1945, liberals placed much of their hope for a peaceful world in the United Nations. That the U.N. has turned out to be an abettor more than a preventer of violence is a fact that the left finds too painful to acknowledge. And it violates the left-wing belief that nationalism is evil and internationalism is the solution.

It is generally believed that as people grow older, they reject much of the liberalism they believed in when they were young. This is true, and one reason is relevant here: As we get older, we tend to make peace with painful faits de la vie.



Big government goes hand in hand with big spending -- and both are now America's big problems

Like the Democrats' health care "reform" measure, the Debt Commission's initial recommendations, which will be followed by the full report Dec. 1 contains some good ideas, but the overall template remains flawed because it fails to address the main problem, which is government that encroaches on individual liberty, personal responsibility and living within one's means.

Federal spending now costs nearly $30,000 per household, according to Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation ( That's because, he writes, just "in the past three years, the budget has leapt by $727 billion and now stands at $3.5 trillion." And that's without the cost of Obamacare and the burden to Social Security and Medicare retiring baby boomers will add.

The Debt Commission doesn't touch Obamacare, which, says Heritage analyst Alison Acosta Fraser, will add "at least $2.5 trillion over its first real decade of implementation, when both revenue and benefit payouts are included."

The Debt Commission summary assumes a role for government the Founders never intended it to have. Where is the reminder of Thomas Paine's dictum, "The government is best which governs least," or this from Thomas Jefferson: "...the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." Jefferson also said the "fore horse" of a society's decline is public debt: "Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."

Are we to pay attention and learn from the likes of Paine and Jefferson only when their thoughts affirm what we wish to do in modern times, or were these men philosophers whose ideas are sound for all time?

There is nothing in this preliminary report about the joy of liberty and the responsibility of individuals to first care for themselves, turning to government when all else has failed rather than at the start, which can only lead to dependency and subsidized failure.

Every government agency and program should be periodically re-authorized. All spending should be justified before congressional committees responsible for oversight and reduced, or ended, if it fails to fulfill its purpose. The federal workforce must be reduced as the British coalition government has proposed doing in the UK. Individuals who make wise decisions, care for themselves and refuse Social Security and Medicare (which should be means-tested) ought to receive tax breaks. The government beast must be put on a diet.

Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, is on to something with a bill he has introduced (H.R. 4946). He wants to "put teeth back in the 10th Amendment." Cole argues "So much of the government overreach we've seen the past few years could be prevented just by enforcing the constitutional protections we already have." His bill -- the 10th Amendment Regulatory Reform Act -- would give "special standing to certain, specific state executive and legislative leaders that would allow them to challenge in federal court regulations issued by federal administrative agencies attempting to implement new federal laws or presidential executive orders."

That's a start, but it should be accompanied by history's lessons, which have much to teach us about debt. Playwright Henrik Ibsen said: "There can be no freedom or beauty about a home life that depends on borrowing and debt." That also applies to countries.



Economic and moral conservatives converging?

There was always a degree of alliance there but the Tea Partiers reveal that it is now very strong

Pat Buchanan

Other than being the highest-profile Republican victims of Tea Party candidates, what do Lisa Murkowski, Mike Castle, Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter have in common?

Other than being tea party insurgents who routed establishment Republicans in high-profile primaries, what do Joe Miller, Marco Rubio, Christine O'Donnell, Pat Toomey, Sharron Angle in Nevada, Ken Buck in Colorado and Mike Lee in Utah have in common?

The answer, writes Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner, is that all the former are pro-choice on abortion, all the latter pro-life.

Tea Party types and pro-life conservatives seem to be twins separated at birth. Carney continues: "Almost without fail the strongest advocates of limited government in Congress are pro-life and vice versa. Think of (Jim) DeMint and (Tom) Coburn in the Senate and Ron Paul and Jeff Flake in the House. They top the scorecards of the National Taxpayers' Union and also have perfect scores from National Right to Life."

Carney's point: While all Tea Party insurgents and Tea Party-backed candidates seemed to agree on the economic issues -- deficits, debt, taxes, Obamacare -- they also seem united on other issues. Looking at the down-ballot battles in 2010, being pro-life is just one of them.

Three Iowa Supreme Court judges who ruled that the state constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriages were denied retention, and Gov. Terry Branstad campaigned for giving Iowans a referendum to decide if they wish to outlaw it.

Tea Party types and Iowa conservatives were not only opposed to the idea of men marrying men, they detest the idea of judicial dictatorship.

In Arizona, Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action initiative, which prohibits race, gender and ethnic preferences, won with 60 percent of the vote. Michigan, California and Washington have already adopted the Connerly amendment.

Tea Partiers also united to back the Arizona law that requires cops to determine the immigration status of any whom, in a routine police encounter, they suspect of being an illegal alien.

Passage of the law last April brought crazed comparisons with Nazi Germany. Opponents tended to go mute, however, when they learned that 70 percent of America stood with Arizona. GOP candidates for governor subsequently ran on pledges to adopt similar statutes.

In Oklahoma, a proposition to prohibit use of Shariah law in state courts passed with 70 percent. Shariah law is the basis of law in many Muslim countries, as the Bible was once the basis of much law in America.

What do these overlooked stories of Election Day 2010 teach?

Far more than the Beltway Right, the Tea Party is in tune with the heart of America -- not only on taxes, spending and Obamacare, but on social, cultural and moral issues. National Republicans may stay out of these bloody battles, but they hold great potential for bringing out voters and driving wedges through Obama's national base.

Consider. Establishment Republicans recoil from the issue of gay marriage. But, in 2008, while McCain was winning 5 percent of the African-American vote in California, blacks in California, urged on by pastors and preachers, voted 70 percent to outlaw same-sex marriage.

The pro-life position is also a far more popular cause among black and Hispanic Americans than is the Republican Party.

Oklahoma's prohibition against any use of Shariah law should be seen as a cry from the heart of America that we are and wish to remain a Western nation, a predominantly Christian country, and we wish to be ruled by our Constitution and laws enacted pursuant to it.

The national outpouring of support for Arizona after that state came under attack for its law requiring suspected illegal aliens to show ID demonstrates how explosive the immigration-amnesty issue is. Republicans should not run away from it, for our elites are further out of touch with the people on this issue than any other.

As for the Connerly amendment abolishing affirmative action, if the GOP wishes to win in 2012, the party will put this measure on every possible state ballot, especially crucial states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

What this panoply of issues testifies to is the true identity of the Tea Party. These folks are not single-issue voters, and they are not motivated by pocketbook issues alone. They have seen the America they grew up in virtually vanish. Look at how far we have traveled.

We seem no longer able to balance our budgets, win our wars or secure our borders. Compared to what our culture was, it is a running sewer today. Working-class wages and middle-class incomes seem to have been stagnant for decades. Factories and jobs continue to hemorrhage to Asia. Company towns become ghost towns. Made in China has replaced Made in America. And as one drives through cities and suburbs, one encounters vast concentrations of people who speak some language other than our own.

The Tea Party people are rising up to take their country back, and that's why they're not going away.




Tea party senators stare down McConnell on earmark ban: "In a surprise reversal, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky announced today that he will join House GOP leaders in voting to ban ‘earmarks’ — member projects often criticized as pork barrel spending — thus avoiding an early clash with tea party freshmen committed to ending the practice. The issue was seen as a litmus test of how far the Republican leadership would go to satisfy freshmen lawmakers and the tea party movement that propelled some of them to victory. In the past, Senate Republicans have defended their right to use earmarks, but the process has been a primary tea party complaint.”

Tax-cut extension deal takes shape on Hill: "The White House and Republicans in Congress edged ever closer to a deal Sunday on at least a temporary extension of all of the George W. Bush-era tax breaks that are due to expire at the end of the year. White House senior political adviser David Axelrod and Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who has emerged as a major power broker for the chamber's ascendant conservative bloc, signaled in appearances on Sunday talk shows a willingness to cut a deal in the lame-duck session of Congress that convenes Monday. The two sides, however, remain well short of an agreement. With taxpayers facing major increases in their tax bills after Jan. 1, congressional Republicans have pressed for a permanent extension of all the tax cuts. Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats, citing what they say is the negative effects the cuts will have on deficits, want to preserve "middle-class" tax breaks while ending them for wealthier Americans."


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)


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Destructive Democrat hostility to business

The Democrats running things the past two years proved they have no clue about the business of business. In their world, the real world of the private economy is an abstraction, a political figment.

Exhibit A: Along the road to ObamaCare, the party's planners inserted into the bill the now- famous 1099 provision, requiring businesses to do an IRS report for any transaction over $600 annually. No member of Congress, White House staffer or party flunky thought to say, "Oh, wow, this 1099 requirement will crush people running their own businesses. Are we sure we want to do this?" Yes, and that 1099 fiasco is a metaphor now for the modern Democratic Party.

Exhibit B: The Obama ban on offshore oil drilling. It floated out of the White House, Energy Department and EPA without anyone thinking: "Whoa, this is going to kill hundreds of working-class guys and their families."

In recent days, both President Obama and Speaker-to-go Nancy Pelosi have said that the message of the voters in the election was that they wanted jobs. To be sure.

President Coolidge was more eloquent on this truth. The American people "are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. The great majority of people will always find these are moving impulses of our life."

But much of what this Democratic Congress did, or tried to do, was like throwing Molotov cocktails at business. It began in early 2009 with the cap-and-trade climate bill. The country was going to have to chow down its provisions no matter how many jobs got lost in Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan and other coal-using states. The bill portended so much damage to businesses in these states that some of the Senate's most liberal members had to beg off supporting it.

At his news conference last week, Mr. Obama still wouldn't rule out the EPA's impending "carbon finding" to regulate emissions, another Freddy Krueger nightmare for the average business.

The air is filling now with suggestions of what the Democrats and Mr. Obama need to do. Always mentioned is that the president needs to repair his bad relations with "business." But this is noted as just one item on the post-election to-do list: adjust the message, go to church more, reconnect with business, put up the storm windows.

The party's decoupling from vast swaths of America at work didn't start with Barack Obama. Al Gore and John Kerry ran hard against the depredations of the insurance, pharmaceutical and oil industries. The post-modern Democrats, starting at the top, convey the impression that the average company consists entirely of three guys in spats, silk vests and top hats, like the little character on the Monopoly cards, who deserve to be indicted or monitored.

And so any argument that the top marginal tax rate hits sole proprietorships and the like blows right by them. The "rich" gotta pay. They do pay, stop hiring and then they send money to American Crossroads to unelect Democrats.

As to the future, look at a map done by the National Conference of State Legislatures showing state-level party control now. The southeastern states, one of the most economically vibrant regions of the country, is wholly red. North Carolina has its first Republican senate since 1870. What's still blue on this map suggests the Democratic Party is collapsing into mostly urban, public sector redoubts—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago.

One might argue that what the post-November 2010 Democrats need is their own tea party reform movement. Problem is, they just had their version—the Soros-MoveOn-Daily Kos activists who threw over the Clintons and put the party firmly in the hands of the progressive House chairmen who stopped thinking about the private sector 35 years ago.



Soros, the damaged man

J.R. Dunn

It will come as no surprise that Glenn Beck's broadcast biography of George Soros last week has triggered a vast brawl concerning his interpretation and treatment of the topic.

The uproar revolves around Beck's portrayal of Soros' role in the Holocaust. Beck repeats the widely-known story concerning Soros' involvement in handing deportation orders to Jewish families on behalf of the Nazis. He emphasizes that Soros was only fourteen at the time, and does not condemn the activity, asserting that the matter remains "between Soros and God".

I happen to have researched the episode in depth for my upcoming book Death by Liberalism, and I can state here that Beck's narrative is completely accurate. His treatment of it is commendable, in particular his statement that no one has a right to judge the efforts of Jews to survive in Nazi-occupied Europe.

All the same, the segment has triggered a firestorm among the usual suspects, who appear to view Soros as sharing in Obama's divine status. In a hagiographic fresco dealing with the Advent of the One, the Soros halo would only be slightly smaller than that of Obama himself. In this regard, he must be defended at all costs.

First off -- as stated above, there's no question that the incident occurred. In fact, there's considerably more to it. Soros also assisted in the collection of Jewish chattels -- clothing, furniture, and the like -- for shipment to Germany. We have this on the highest authority, from an eyewitness of unimpeachable status: Soros himself. During a 1998 60 Minutes interview, Soros admitted to the entire story without hesitation, He also stated that he felt no guilt, adding that the situation cannot be understood be anyone who was not there. Then, in what might be called typical Soros style, he concludes by comparing his cooperation with the Nazis with his later activities in the markets.

As to the import of the episode -- many of the comments draw very close to Holocaust denial. How do we know, they ask, that the Jews in question were being sent to the death camps? They could have been going anywhere "to Hawaii", one thoughtful commentator states.

The truth is simple: every Jew deported from the European ghettos went directly to the camps. Most of them were gassed immediately and then -- as the survivors put it -- went up the chimneys. There is no denying this, or eliding it, or making it mean anything else other than what it is.

On to the claim that Beck is slandering Soros as a Nazi. This type of smear is not uncommon, and is usually seen headed from the left in a rightward direction, under the assumption that both conservatism and Nazism are "right-wing" doctrines. The Prescott Bush libel is instructive here. Apparently the bank on whose board Bush sat loaned money to Nazi Germany during the 1930s. This is enough for him, his son, and his grandson to be damned from here to eternity as Nazi collaborators of the foulest type, according to the American left.

In truth, Bush was in no way involved in the day-to-day operations of the bank. He may not have been aware of the loan, he may not have voted on them, he may well not have been asked his opinion. Many international banks loaned money to Germany during that period. We can judge none of them by hindsight. In the early to mid 30s, Hitler was considered to be a strongman much like Mussolini or Ataturk, a man whose stern policies and harsh ways were required by the needs of the moment. His attacks on Jews were dismissed as crowd-pleasing rhetoric. Such lofty figures as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Rexford Tugwell, Adolf Berle, Evelyn Waugh, and Wyndham Lewis all expressed admiration for Hitler and Nazism in the early 1930s. Even Winston Churchill, Hitler's deadliest enemy, wrote that if Britain was ever caught in the same predicament as Germany, he hoped that a figure as strong as Hitler would appear to lead her out of it.

That attitude began to fade with Hitler's intervention in Spain in 1936, and vanished entirely when 1938's Kristallnacht fully revealed his monstrous intentions. Hitler's previous admirers turned away in horror, leaving only mad, capering Ezra Pound to sing his glories.

That's how such slurs work -- a nugget of fact wrapped in endless layers of distortion and innuendo. That is not what Beck is involved in. As we've seen, he retails the story straightforwardly, with no embellishment or speculation. He withholds judgment on grounds of moral discretion, and implicitly encourages others to do the same.

Then why mention the story at all? Because it's necessary. An honest portrayal of George Soros would be incomplete without it. There's an aspect of Soros' behavior that has gone unexamined and virtually unmentioned: the complete disconnect between his activities as a businessman and his ambitions as a philanthropist. Soros has, at the very least, skirted financial regulations in most or all of the countries in which he has operated. He has done worse in France, Malaya, and Thailand -- the French fined him millions, while the Southeast Asian states are reportedly very interested in speaking to him in private. He has caused enormous misery through his currency manipulations. He evidently feels no guilt concerning these matters either.

Yet this same man professes to be the greatest living champion of the "open society", the bearer of the legacy of Karl Popper (one of the few liberty-loving political philosophers of the last century), and the architect of a true people's democracy, working together with his protégé, Barack Obama.

There's something terribly wrong here. This is not the way a benefactor of humanity actually behaves. It's as if Gandhi financed his independence movement through a network of casinos, or Martin Luther King sat on the councils of Murder Incorporated. What can the explanation be?

I believe that it can be found in Budapest in 1944. The Holocaust left deep and lasting scars on all who survived it, scars that often acted to cripple their psyches for decades afterward, if not for their entire lifetimes.

It's highly unlikely that George Soros is an exception. Did the brutalization of those days find a response in buccaneer raids on the financial markets? Did the memories of what he was forced to do transform him into one of those creatures who "loves humanity and hates human beings"? Is he now little more than a shattered clockwork figure attempting in his twilight years to "do good" without the vaguest notion of what such a concept might entail?

I think the argument could be made. I await Glenn Beck's interpretation with interest. One thing we can be sure of: the left will not be any happier about it than they are with what they've already heard.



Obama's Dirty Health Care Secret

One of the dirty little secrets of Obama’s health “care” debacle is that Medicare reimbursement rates are set to go down for all health care providers effective December 1. This means that the medical professionals to whom you trust your health, and, indeed, your very life, are having a 20-30 percent pay cut forced upon them in less than a month. Imagine, say, the autoworkers--or the teachers’ unions--having to take such a pay cut. The indignant outrage would be swift and immediate. The simple fact is that doctors, whose training and wisdom often stand between us and pain or death, are more important than autoworkers or even teachers.

Doctor's rates are going down to pay for ObamaCare. ObamaCare seeks to nationalize health care by placing so many restrictions and unfunded mandates on private insurance companies that they will go out of business. Government will then step in to “manage” Medicare for the entire population, rather than only the elderly. The government monopoly on health care will most surely go just about as well as the monopoly on the post office or public education. Medicare, even if kept only for the elderly population, is going bankrupt. The only question is when, not if, Medicare (along with Social Security) will run out of money.

So how is the federal government, who has been busy creating a national deficit stretching into the trillions of dollars, supposed to sustain a program for the entire population that can’t even sustain for the elderly? Obama’s supporters glaze over and mumble, “Well, it's Medicare. It cannot go away. So stop talking about it."

The psychological process required for a catastrophe to mentally "settle in" usually comes in stages. A catastrophe such as the future implosion of entitlement benefits in America will come in stages. The first stage is happening on December 1: The decrease in reimbursement rates for doctors under Medicare. Congress might reverse the fee reductions for another month or so, but then what? The rate cuts in the legislation prove that members of both parties are aware that the government cannot continue to finance Medicare as we know it--even before the mandates imposed by ObamaCare go into full effect when government becomes the primary payer for all medical care.

Perhaps you think doctors make "too much." Specialists working outside the third-party reimbursement system (plastic surgeons, for example) can do fairly well, but general practitioners who accept Medicare do not earn as much as the liberals would like you to think. So, by what formula do you determine the right amount? Do you trust the private marketplace to set the prices by negotiation between individuals and their doctors? Or do you trust politicians in Washington, DC to determine a "one size fits all" price? If you actually believe the latter, remember that "you get what you pay for." If you think doctors, who spent thousands upon thousands for their training, are going to work twice as hard for 30 percent less pay (at least), then you had better think again. Would you? If not, then why would a doctor?

Our only hope for maintaining the quality and availability of competent doctors is the possibility that ObamaCare will be torn apart by the new Congress, or struck down by the Supreme Court before it does too much damage. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that Medicare, not to mention the entire federal government, is long since bankrupt and wallowing in ever-increasing debt. By pumping money into the financial system, the Federal Reserve is risking the greatest run of hyperinflation since the Weimar Republic of Germany, the failed government that gave rise to Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. And bigger problems are looming. The massive course reversals required of our government, and needed by the entitlement-addicted American people, are much bigger than the Tea Party or anything stated in the recent election campaigns.

Don't just feel sorry for your doctors, who will be paying for our “free” health care. Feel even sorrier for yourself—whether you’re currently a patient, or might need medical care in the future. Our lives will be in the hands of doctors who have been told that they don't matter and that they are employees of the state. Their incentive will no longer be to provide excellent care. Their incentive will be to simply clock in, clock out, go through the motions and retire as soon as the government pension kicks in. Not all that different from many existing government employees.

The solution? Restore the free market, where doctors who work harder will earn more for their skill and dedication. Patients will once again be consumers who choose from competing practitioners for the best care possible. The government must get out of the way, and let people purchase their own health care in the open market--no different than how we buy computers, cars, airplane flights, food and everything else produced and delivered by people who compete for your dollar.

The transition to the free market might be uncomfortable at first. But what's the alternative? If doctors work for the government, then medical care will no longer be a profitable profession. The best and the brightest will no longer be compensated for their efforts. As with anything the government touches, the mediocre will thrive, but the brilliant will not. Innovation (the cornerstone of our medical industry) will end. Oh, yes, medical care "for all" will exist on paper. But it won't be worth the paper it's printed on.


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


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)


Monday, November 15, 2010

The civilizing effects of capitalism

Economic historian Deirdre McCloskey has just published the second volume of her multivolume look at the history of capitalism and its relationship to the “bourgeois virtues.” What she means by the latter are the basic virtues of the middle class, from prudence to love to justice. What makes this approach interesting is that critics of capitalism have long suggested that there were very few virtues associated with the bourgeoisie, mostly because capitalism itself requires and encourages what they saw as the unvirtuous behavior related to greed and self-interest.

In the first volume McCloskey convincingly argues that market relationships civilize us and lead us to treat one another, especially strangers, with openness and kindness, which was previously unknown in history. In the words of economic anthropologist Paul Seabright, markets turn strangers into “honorary kin.”

Markets do this because they encourage us to treat others as equals in that we approach them, especially strangers, most often as traders. They have rights to their property, we have rights to ours, and those rights limit the ways we can interact. But they leave exchange available as a way to get the things we want. The mutuality and reciprocity of exchange both require and encourage us to treat one another humanely, with justice, and as equals. In other words, markets lead us to treat strangers as fully human.

Contrast this with the way the State operates. Think about your interactions with agents of the government. By the very nature of what they do and your relationship to it, that interaction can never be one of equals. All such interactions are based on inequalities in power not reciprocity. The agent of the State ultimately has power over you and can use it to bend your actions to his or her will. This is very different from the reciprocity and humanity of the marketplace. From the IRS to the TSA to the police to the border patrol, the essence of the State’s relationship with you is domination and hegemony — not equality, contract, and exchange.

Compare and Contrast

To see this vividly, consider what happened to a colleague of mine last week. He is not a U.S. citizen but has the legal right to live and work in the country. He had to travel across the Canadian border to drop a relative at the airport. Crossing into Canada and again on his return he was subject to lengthy harassment by border guards of both countries, including verbal intimidation, scattering of his citizenship papers, and various threats to bar him from returning to the United States because they couldn’t figure out his status and his paperwork. He described the interaction as “humiliating.” He could feel the power of the State.

Compare that to the other interesting part of his trip. His car broke down in Canada, requiring it to be towed to a local Volvo dealer in a sparsely populated area. Not only did the Canadian Automobile Association respond quickly and politely to his call, but its agent also gladly towed him to a Volvo dealer, presumably one the agent was familiar with. However, my colleague was concerned about being taken advantage of. After all, information differences are common in such situations, opening the possibility of opportunistic behavior; this was made even worse by the likelihood he’d never be back to that dealer: Reputation wasn’t an issue. But despite this clear opportunity, the dealership treated him honestly, completing the repair in about an hour at a very reasonable price.

More interesting is that my colleague struck up a conversation with the service manager while he waited, comparing stories about their young children and extended families. My colleague said that when he left he felt like he had made a friend. That’s a far cry from what he felt after both stops at the border.

Sure the Volvo dealer wanted the business, but faced with a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a stranger, the staff made him feel welcome and comfortable — they made him feel human. He became, for that short time, honorary kin. It was the bourgeois virtues in action.

The next time someone tries to tell you that markets are dehumanizing and that we need government regulation to prevent people from treating each other like mere objects, you might share my colleague’s story.



Honesty not required in the Leftist media

Bill O'Reilly

After last week's election results rolled in, some on the left became distraught and went after Fox News big time. Of course, we are used to the growing problem of Fox-o-phobia: an irrational fear of the Fox News Channel. On election night, FNC won the national ratings race, even defeating the network news operations, which is incredible because cable channels are much harder to access than single digit network channels.

Immediately after the votes were counted, the incoming fire began. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Fox News held "a victory party" for Republicans on the air. Milbank then stated: "To be fair and balanced, Fox brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen."

A nominal Democrat? Well, that is flat-out false. FNC had seven Democrats on the air that night, and I believe Geraldine Ferraro and Joe Trippi might be surprised to see themselves described as "nominal."

So, why did Milbank mislead his readers, and how does he get away with it? We put the second question to Fred Hiatt, Milbank's editor at the Post. After a few hours of deliberation, he told us he didn't think Milbank had implied that only one Democrat was booked on FNC's election coverage. Either Hiatt is having trouble with the English language, or he really doesn't care. I'm betting the latter. Neither Hiatt nor Milbank would come on my program to explain themselves.

As to why the columnist wants to mislead readers, it's simple. He despises Fox News and wants to spread the loathing. But that's lazy. There are plenty of things to criticize about any national news organization, especially one that broadcasts 24 hours a day. Milbank just wanted to vent and didn't care about being accurate. He cared about being hostile and bitter.



Why Obama Will Not Move to the Center

He comes to destroy America, not to save it

President Obama told students in India that the 2010 election “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments,” but Americans are wondering whether he really understands that voters rejected his policies in the early-November mid-term elections. Instead of acknowledging that his policies are behind the defeat, the president blames “faulty communication,” as though the election massacre were just a public relations miscue.

Even Congressional Democrats blame the president for the “shellacking” the party suffered in losing the House to the GOP. They see a “tone deaf” and “distant” president who is “inattentive” and runs a “hapless political operation.” Some Democrats get highly personal in describing their president’s “holier-than-thou” attitudes and posturing. On November 8, Politico reported, “Many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.” This view is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-California) refusal to step aside for new leadership and her public assertions of pride at their “historic achievements.”

In short, few people see a humbled Obama; instead, they see a man who “learned the wrong lessons.”

In an editorial closely scrutinizing President Obama’s trip to India, the Washington Times characterized the trip as an announcement of “the decline of the United States as an economic power.” Mr. Obama, according to the Washington Times, “ignores the fact that it was American invention, innovation and competitive spirit that gave the country its economic pre-eminence in the first place. Rather than lecturing Americans to get in the game, he would do better to reverse the anti-business political climate he has helped foster.” Further, the Times wrote, the president “has never been comfortable with American global pre-eminence.” The Times summarized their analysis:

“In place of liberty, [Mr. Obama] substitutes redistributionist notions of social justice. Rather than a single American nation, he institutionalizes differences for political gain. Instead of patriotism and pride, he promotes internationalism and guilt. America’s decline is not the result of historical forces out of our control, but of condemning the history that brought the United States to its position of leadership. America will only resurge when it recaptures the moral image of the country as a land of individualism, opportunity and patriotism. That is an America Mr. Obama would rather do without.”

In addition to all of the non-American, “hate-America” people who had influence on the president during his formative years, Shapiro also notes the socialists and other “hate-America” mentors that the president chose as his friends and associates later in life. America’s supposed decline, Shapiro believes, is for our president — in accordance with all he was taught by his hate-mongering pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright — a matter of the “chickens coming home to roost.”

Clearly, the election of 2010 was a rejection of Mr. Obama’s ideology and agenda — a matter of the president’s chickens coming home to roost. The Obama presidency — with its anti-exceptionalism, anti-capitalist, anti-freedom emphases — is a wake-up call for America.



Obamacare reduces the incentive to work

It’s not that fewer Americans are searching for work. There are, to put it simply, less of us who want to work and to produce, and even among those of us who still want to work and produce, many of us are choosing to work fewer hours and to produce less. And the reason for this is simple: because of the generous federal entitlements provided in the new “Obamacare” law.

According to none other than the Congressional Budget Office, many of us have decided we no longer will have to work as much as we once did, given all the “assistance” we can get via Obamacare.

This is not just political “spin” or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O., a federal agency within the legislative branch of our government that employs people to analyze government policies, and consider their impact on the federal budget, and on the economy. The C.B.O. likely produces some of the most objective, “fair,” and non-politicized data that we receive from our government.

Speaking at a little-noted event at the University of Southern California’s Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics, Mr. Elmendorf noted that, outside the healthcare sector of our economy, the greatest impact of the Obamacare agenda will be in the labor market. It was October 22nd, just days away from the big midterm election, and Elmendorf’s presence at this conference, and his remarks at the conference, did not receive nearly the amount of press attention that they deserved.

Mr. Elmendorf stated that, in some cases, Americans will simply choose not to work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid funding that is provided for in the Obamacare law. As Journalist Matt Cover noted at (he was one of few journalists that actually reported on this event), this assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincides with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s remarks last May. Back then, Speaker Pelosi insisted that Obamacare would allow “artists” to “quit their day job” and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to provide for one’s self, because the government would now take care of artists’ healthcare needs.

That all sounded so good, right? It seemed like President Obama was making good on his agenda of, as he likes to say in his folksy fashion, “gettin’ people some help…”

But notice the gravity of what Mr. Elmendorf is describing. He’s talking about Medicaid, a social care program from our federal government that is intended to offer short-term assistance to poor and lower income households. And the head of the C.B.O., the individual described as the “top accountant to Congress,” is making the observation that we have, as a result of Obamacare, given increasing numbers of Americans a reason not to work (or to “not work as much”), and to choose instead to avail themselves to a government welfare program.

In short, our federal government has incentivized (some) people to consume more than they produce. And this is a very destructive thing.

Unfortunately, this is also a common thing. When government tells people “you don’t have to provide for yourself, you can instead choose to subsist off of somebody else’s effort,” it is inevitable that some people will choose the latter. And when people make this type of choice, it does long term damage to themselves and their families and to the broader society as well.



Why Do Christians Remain Silent About the Persecution of Christians in Muslim-Majority Societies?

Christians in Iraq have been, and not for the first time, deliberately targeted in a major terrorist attack. Indeed, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Iraq, from the Gaza Strip to Egypt to Sudan to Nigeria, Christians are being assaulted, intimidated, and murdered by militant Muslims.

Yet virtually never do Christians in any of these countries-perhaps with some occasional exceptions in India--attack Muslims. In the West, there have been no armed terrorist attacks on Muslims or the deliberate killing of Muslims. There does not exist a single group advocating such behavior.

Have you seen any of this in the Western mass media? Have any Christian church groups-some of which find ample time to criticize Israel-even mentioned this systematic assault? Indeed, on the rare occasions that the emigration of Christians is mentioned, somehow it is blamed on Israel, as one American network news show did recently.

I'm not writing this to complain about double standards, since one takes this problem for granted, but out of sheer puzzlement. Presumably, much of the Western media and intelligentsia-along with a lot of the church leadership, assumes that it is impossible for a non-Western, "non-white" group to ever be prejudiced. There is also a belief that if one dares report the news about pogroms carried about by Muslims against Christians it will trigger pogroms by Christians against Muslims.

The Catholic Church is quiet because it fears that complaints will increase persecution. Indeed, at a recent high-level Synod for the Middle East, leading Catholic clerics from the region blasted Israel and talked about how wonderfully Christians are treated in Muslim-majority countries. Iraq was singled out as a country where there were no problems in Muslim-Christian relations. Apparently, though, appeasement isn't working.

The al-Qaida terrorists said that all Iraqi Christians would be "exterminated" if two "Muslim women" in Egypt were not freed. Apparently, these were two young women, both married to Coptic Christian priests, unlikely candidates for conversion to Islam. They were in fact kidnapped and forcibly converted.

Thus, aggression against Christians is turned into a rationale to persecute Christians, a pattern we have often seen used elsewhere by Islamists. Yet many of the attacks in these countries are not carried out by revolutionary Islamist groups but simply by regular people, sometimes in large groups... Increasingly, Islamists are making it clear that any presence of Christians in Muslim-majority countries is unacceptable, just as the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East is unacceptable.

I just cannot understand how this factor and these attacks so often go unnoticed, and certainly unprotested. Isn't it time for Christians to try to help their persecuted brethren before they are wiped out--or at least forced to flee--altogether?



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)