Saturday, November 27, 2010

The man who hasn't got a clue

All his simplistic policies have turned to ashes

Larry Elder

President Barack Obama walked into the Oval Office in January 2009 during a severe economic downturn led by a meltdown in housing prices -- and promptly made things worse.

By bailing out banks, insurance companies and auto firms -- done to a lesser extent by the previous administration -- Obama rewarded poor performers and punished their better-managed competitors. Prevented from pouncing on wounded rivals and thus increasing market share or buying the assets of the wounded at fire sale prices, Ford, for example, watched GM and Chrysler get a cash infusion from taxpayers. Despite GM's recent "successful" public offering, taxpayers lost billions of dollars.

Obama and the Democratic congressional supermajorities passed a nearly trillion-dollar economic "stimulus" package and then proceeded to award fiscally irresponsible states with "stimulus" funds, helping postpone the day of reckoning when states must meet their budgets by reducing spending and cutting the size of government. Stimulus supposedly "saved or created" 3.5 million jobs, but it merely succeeded in transferring money from the pockets of producer taxpayers into the pockets of others.

Obama spends billions to "invest" in mythical "green jobs of the future." Investing is the job of the private sector, which uses private funds to produce a product that addresses a need or desire. Success is determined by the willingness of the consumer to pay good money for said product. A bad bet means somebody loses his own money -- a possibility that the private investor weighed before he chose to risk his capital.

But government "investments" are driven by politics, with decisions made by bureaucrats operating under rosy scenarios with romantic wish lists. When taxpayer money goes down a rathole -- as is far more likely than with privately invested money -- nobody gets fired, but the country is impoverished a little bit more.

ObamaCare puts 30 million Americans on the rolls of the medically insured. Since its passage, insurance companies -- citing the cost of ObamaCare mandates, rules and regulations -- jacked up their premiums and cut coverage. Over 100 waivers have been granted to companies and organizations that, but for these waivers, would have had to drop coverage, increase copays or reduce medical benefits. Nice to have friends in high places.

The AARP, a staunch proponent of ObamaCare, announced a reduction in benefits for its own employees, lest the tax kick in for so-called "Cadillac plans." To "bend the cost curve," ObamaCare promised cuts in Medicare reimbursement. So doctors are dropping their Medicare patients.

The administration signed into law new banking and financial regulations that keep intact the very government agencies that helped precipitate the housing meltdown -- Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Under policies aimed at allowing everyone with a pulse and a dream to buy a home, these "government-sponsored entities" allowed the players in the housing market -- banks, borrowers, investment banks and buyers of "exotic securities" -- to play with taxpayer money.

The Obama administration's various government efforts to "keep homeowners in their homes" are floundering, serving only to postpone the necessary market re-pricing of homes that are now worth less than they once were. Cash for Clunkers induced people who were going to buy cars anyway into making their purchases earlier. When the program ended, car buying slumped. The result was more taxpayer dollars removed from the hands of producers and put into the hands of recipients.

The administration, with some Republican support, increased the minimum wage and several times extended unemployment compensation -- both well-intended policies, but job killers nonetheless.

Obama promised to raise taxes on the rich, who, under Bush, got tax cuts they "didn't need" and "didn't ask for." So the rich sit on their money, not knowing whether they will be allowed to spend or save or invest it -- or whether Washington has other ideas. Most Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of the year, and if not extended, rates will go up on income, capital gains, dividends and estates.

The recent Republican takeover of the House and loss of the Senate's Democratic supermajority likely mean that the rates will be extended for all -- including the dastardly, job-creating rich. But businesspeople cannot plan -- and are thus reluctant to hire -- until they know whether their taxes are going to increase.

Candidate Obama demagogued against trade agreements that "shipped jobs overseas," and promised to tweak the Bush administration-negotiated treaty with South Korea. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the pact would create 250,000 jobs in America and it would open up exports to a NAFTA-sized market. But during his recent trip to Asia, Obama failed to get the South Koreans to go along with his changes aimed at benefiting the American auto and beef industries. The South Koreans said no, insisting that they had a deal and that if the U.S. won't do business with them, other countries will.

For two years, Obama has practiced Obamalism: Spread the wealth; redistribute income; punish success; reward ineptitude; and encourage the victicrat-entitlement mentality by making the lack of health insurance the responsibility of others.

SOURCE

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What’s Wrong With the Jobs Market?

What's needed is exactly what Obama and the Donks won't do

The terrible job market has vexed an entire generation. It shows no hope of improving anytime soon. Young people are shut out. College students are taking refuge in matriculation without end. Thirty-somethings are zoning out in their parents' basements and attics. Despair for the future has become a theme of American public life.

The question we must ask is: why is unemployment stuck at 10% in the narrowest measure and as high as 30% for some demographics?

The usual answer is that the broad economy is not recovering. That’s true but superficial; it explains nothing. We have a problem of a specific kind with the jobs market. To see it as just a symptom of slow growth is an excuse for politicians and central banks to resort to reckless policies in the name of fixing the big problem without addressing the reality on the ground.

Some new data reported by the Wall Street Journal helps get to the core of the problem in greater detail. In the current environment, which the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) laughably calls a recovery, business start-ups of job-creating companies have not kept up with closings.

As compared with other recession aftermaths, new businesses are not hiring as they once did. The number of companies with at least one employee continues to fall at a rate we’ve not seen in 18 years. Everyone speaks of this as a recovery, but the numbers don’t add up. New jobs in new companies are appearing a rate 15% less than the last recovery.

Let’s try to understand what is going on here. In boom times, companies tend to bloat up in every area, especially in their staffing. Unemployment is always a feature of the bust because businesses shed jobs and expect more efficiency and productivity out of the remaining staff. Many businesses close and lose all employees.

Whereas workers once had no problem finding jobs and naming their price, there is now a surplus of workers and a job shortage, at least at the wages that the unemployed are demanding.

What usually fills the gap here are new businesses. In recovery times, entrepreneurs initiate new projects and hire the unemployed workers to staff them. The unemployed are usually willing to work for less and are willing to learn new skills in a new business environment. These new businesses become a major source for economic growth and rising living standards.

Without new businesses, there would be no net job growth at all. In post-bust economies, it is these new businesses that are responsible for soaking up the excess labor. That’s because the older and larger businesses are not willing to take on the risk of new employees and have already adjusted to doing business with fewer.

Until these businesses come along, unemployment will likely persist. And this is precisely what is happening right now. And so, now that we have a better idea of the mechanics of the high unemployment rate, we have a better idea of what question to ask and how to solve the problem.

Where are these new businesses and why are they not starting as we might expect? Let us count the ways.

New businesses need to depend on a stable legal environment and a bright outlook for the future. These are both missing. The supposed recovery has been phonied up in every conceivable way: nationalizations, bad debt swept under the carpet, money creation by the Fed, make-work jobs paid for by the taxpayer. No one really believes all the hokum. The question is not whether the recovery is phony; it is: what is real and what is not real? No one knows for sure.

Despite every attempt by the Fed to provide oceans of free credit, banks are still extremely reluctant to lend when the payoff is not there and the risks of lending are extremely high. This means that prospective new businesses have to raise their own capital from a massively depleted capital stock.

Looking at the risks, it makes far more sense to hire no employees beyond temporary contract workers. Consider the payroll tax, the largest burden on both employees and employers. It does not benefit either party at all. It is sheer robbery that vastly increases the cost of hiring.

The problem of health-care mandates is very intense. Employees who expect these benefits are mostly going to choose between obtaining them and getting a job. But for certain firms and under some conditions, they are unavoidable and unpayable.

Business taxes are all too high and probably going higher. Regulations on all businesses in every sector of life have been intensifying for decades. No industry is free of them. Even formerly frontier sectors like software are becoming legal thickets of patents, protections, and scary mandates.

The minimum wage is way too high to encourage new job growth among new businesses. And given all the legal mandates and potential lawsuits, everyone knows that once you hire employees, you are pretty much stuck with them for some period of time. You can test the waters. But you have to be sure. And no one is sure.

Businesses thrive in an environment of freedom. But enterprise is no longer free in any area. In boom times, the consequences are less obvious. In the bust, the regulatory thicket, the taxes and mandates, and the legislative threats all become decisive in a way they were not before.

None of these problems are intrinsic to the business cycle. They are all imposed by government. The same problem afflicted the economy during the Great Depression, but back then the central planning was newly imposed. Now is different: the old central planning is killing us day by day, even without dramatic new legislation.

It could all be changed. Congress and the president and the courts could reverse it all tomorrow, restoring an environment of freedom and free enterprise. Jobs would recover quickly. Hope would be back in a matter of weeks and months. The economy would genuinely recover.

SOURCE

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Pelosi Could Guarantee Destruction of Democrats in 2012

It was the dumbest thing the Democratic members of the U.S. House could have done. And it is already jeopardizing the chances of President Obama to reverse the fortunes of himself and his party. "It" was making Nancy Pelosi the minority leader of the House, and thus the head of what is now an even more liberal delegation of lawmakers.

I find it interesting when a veteran news/talk celebrity like Barbara Walters asks President Obama to respond to Sarah Palin's comment that if she runs for president in 2012, she believes she could win. Obama at first gracefully dodges the question, only to have Walters laugh and condescending suggest that surely he believes he could defeat Palin. So we're to assume automatically that Palin is a lightweight, but that someone like Pelosi is a political pro and an asset to her party.

If Pelosi is such a pro, she should realize that her hard stand of opposing an extension of tax cuts for so-called "wealthy Americans" as part of an extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts is placing what few moderates she has from her own party in Congress in political hot water. Moreover, this puts her at odds with the president. That's not to say he wants to extend these cuts for those who earn over $250,000 as a family. Rather, it's to say that, at least for the short term, he desperately needs to do so.

The problem is that Pelosi, who at one point was known vaguely by the public, is now becoming the left-wing spokesperson and a potential obstructionist to compromise. This will only hurt her own party and the president as she rises in name identification. It was Pelosi who was unapologetic for the beating her colleagues took in the elections. Now even major national newspapers are reporting that she is becoming a huge thorn in the side of a president who desperately needs to appear more moderate in order to have a prayer of re-election in 2012.

I have drawn the comparison between the Obama administration and that of Jimmy Carter's more than once. Now history truly is repeating itself. In the 1970s, Thomas "Tip" O'Neill was a powerful Democratic speaker of the House. At first, he and Carter worked together. But when Carter began challenging pet projects of O'Neill's, and also failed to push for universal heath care, O'Neill turned into the Nancy Pelosi of his era.

Many forget that while the Democrats held onto the House in 1980, O'Neill was used as a major weapon by the GOP in that year's presidential election. They argued that the Democrats were too liberal and that Carter had to go. And so Jimmy Carter went. Doubtless he was painfully aware of the large target O'Neill had placed on his back.

It seems likely that the more soon-to-be Minority Leader Pelosi opens her mouth, the more she will appear out of touch with political reality. For example, she never flinched over the use of government planes to fly her across the country, to and from her district. Did it ever dawn on her that the Republican speaker that Democrats most loved to hate, Newt Gingrich, generally flew commercial airliners to and from his district, most often in coach, unless he had earned a legitimate "frequent flier" upgrade?

This was before Pelosi's party got spanked on Election Day, of course. Her refusal to acknowledge the consequences of the elections, and her desire to soldier on with a pure leftist agenda, create not just problems for Obama with the public, but potentially within his own party, as well.

While Hillary Clinton has emphatically denied that she will seek the presidency, a recent PollPosition national survey showed her basically tied among likely voters in a Clinton-Obama contest in 2012. And recent surveys have shown Clinton's favorable polling percentages are higher than Obama's, while the president's unfavorable percentages among voters are higher than Clinton's.

Could this explain why, throughout the early days of the recent North Korea-South Korea crisis, Secretary of State Clinton has been nowhere to be found? Can you say "Bobby Kennedy in 1968"?

With President Obama having to deal with an inflexibly leftist Democratic House caucus, and at the same time needing to recapture the support of moderate voters who abandoned the Democrats in the recent election, the last thing he needs is a louder, shriller and more stubborn Nancy Pelosi. It could spell doom for him in the next presidential contest. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Sarah hits back at biased media over gaffes

SARAH Palin, who has been hammered by critics for making the occasional verbal gaffe, used her Thanksgiving message today to point out a number of bungles made by US President Barack Obama.

The former Republican vice-presidential nominee, tipped as a potential 2012 presidential candidate, posted the message titled, "A Thanksgiving Message to All 57 States", on her Facebook account.

In May 2008, while campaigning to be president, Mr Obama wrongly told an audience in Oregon that he "had been in 57 states, [with] I think one left to go."

Ms Palin opened her message today by listing what she termed "misstatements and verbal gaffes made by Barack Obama", along with accompanying YouTube clips. They include Mr Obama calling Europe a country; the US continuing to fight "to halt the rise of privacy" - when he meant "piracy" - in Somalia; and Israel being a "strong friend of Israel's".

"I didn't have enough time to do one for Joe Biden," Ms Palin added, in a reference to the famously outspoken vice-president.

"YouTube links are provided just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue. "If you can't remember hearing about them, that's because for the most part the media didn't consider them newsworthy. I have no complaint about that. Everybody makes the occasional verbal gaffe."

Yesterday, Ms Palin was lambasted in sections of the media after she mistakenly called North Korea an ally of the US. "The one word slip occurred yesterday during one of my seven back-to-back interviews wherein I was privileged to speak to the American public about the important, world-changing issues before us," Ms Palin explained.

"If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime.

"The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?"

The Twittersphere lit up after the publication of Ms Palin's message, with critics jumping on her mention of 57 states - clearly not realising it was her joke aimed at Mr Obama.

Ms Palin also used the same Facebook message to deny reports this week she had been trying to convince the producers of Dancing With The Stars to cast Christine O'Donnell, the defeated Republican candidate in the Delaware Senate race, in the next series of the hit show. Ms Palin's daughter Bristol finished second runner-up on the show earlier this week.

"Why not just make up stories out of thin air - like the totally false hard news story which has run for three days now reporting that I lobbied the producers of Dancing With The Stars to cast a former Senate candidate on their show," Mr Palin said. "That lie is further clear proof that the media completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking."

Ms Palin was lampooned during her failed vice-presidential campaign in 2008 for her emphasis on Russia's proximity to Alaska. "They're our next door neighbours and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska," she said.

Earlier this year she was ridiculed her for using the non-existent word "refudiate", that seemed to be a cross between "refute" and "repudiate". It was this month named 2010 Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

SOURCE

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Giving thanks for the 'invisible hand'

by Jeff Jacoby


Where is the national turkey czar who arranged for turkeys to be in all the stores before Thanksgiving?

Today, in millions of homes across the nation, God will be thanked for many gifts -- for the feast on the table and the company of loved ones, for health and good fortune in the year gone by, for peace at home in a time of war, for the incalculable privilege of having been born -- or having become -- American.

But it probably won't occur to too many of us to give thanks for the fact that the local supermarket had plenty of turkey for sale this week. Even the devout aren't likely to thank God for airline schedules that made it possible for some of those loved ones to fly home for Thanksgiving. Or for the arrival of "Master and Commander" at the local movie theater in time for the holiday weekend. Or for that great cranberry-apple pie recipe in the food section of the newspaper.

Those things we take more or less for granted. It hardly takes a miracle to explain why grocery stores stock up on turkey before Thanksgiving, or why Hollywood releases big movies in time for big holidays. That's what they do. Where is God in that?

And yet, isn't there something wondrous -- something almost inexplicable -- in the way your Thanksgiving weekend is made possible by the skill and labor of vast numbers of total strangers?

To bring that turkey to the dining room table, for example, required the efforts of thousands of people -- the poultry farmers who raised the birds, of course, but also the feed distributors who supplied their nourishment and the truckers who brought it to the farm, not to mention the architect who designed the hatchery, the workmen who built it, and the technicians who keep it running. The bird had to be slaughtered and defeathered and inspected and transported and unloaded and wrapped and priced and displayed. The people who accomplished those tasks were supported in turn by armies of other people accomplishing other tasks -- from refining the gasoline that fueled the trucks to manufacturing the plastic in which the meat was packaged.

The activities of countless far-flung men and women over the course of many months had to be intricately choreographed and precisely timed, so that when you showed up to buy a fresh Thanksgiving turkey, there would be one -- or more likely, a few dozen -- waiting. The level of coordination that was required to pull it off is mind-boggling. But what is even more mind-boggling is this: No one coordinated it.

No turkey czar sat in a command post somewhere, consulting a master plan and issuing orders. No one rode herd on all those people, forcing them to cooperate for your benefit. And yet they did cooperate. When you arrived at the supermarket, your turkey was there. You didn't have to do anything but show up to buy it. If that isn't a miracle, what should we call it?

Adam Smith called it "the invisible hand" -- the mysterious power that leads innumerable people, each working for his own gain, to promote ends that benefit many. Out of the seeming chaos of millions of uncoordinated private transactions emerges the spontaneous order of the market. Free human beings freely interact, and the result is an array of goods and services more immense than the human mind can comprehend. No dictator, no bureaucracy, no supercomputer plans it in advance. Indeed, the more an economy is planned, the more it is plagued by shortages, dislocation, and failure.

It is commonplace to speak of seeing God's signature in the intricacy of a spider's web or the animation of a beehive. But they pale in comparison to the kaleidoscopic energy and productivity of the free market. If it is a blessing from Heaven when seeds are transformed into grain, how much more of a blessing is it when our private, voluntary exchanges are transformed -- without our ever intending it -- into prosperity, innovation, and growth?

The social order of freedom, like the wealth and the progress it makes possible, is an extraordinary gift from above. On this Thanksgiving Day and every day, may we be grateful.

More here

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The difficulty of winding back entitlements

Every time the Democrats create a new entitlement, the more difficult it is to cut spending, and hence taxes

During Al Simpson's nearly 50 years in government, he hasn't been afraid to take on critics and naysayers of his work in the U.S. Senate or on a variety of high-profile commissions and committees.

But as the co-chair of President Obama's debt commission, the Wyoming Republican said he's been taking an unprecedented amount of flak for the commission's draft proposals to help erase the nation's $13.8 trillion debt.

"I've never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life," said the 79-year-old Simpson. "Just vicious. People I've known, relatives [saying], "'You son of a bitch. How could you do this?'"

Not surprisingly, many of the debt commission's draft proposals to cut the debt by nearly $4 trillion by 2020 -- from raising the retirement age to 69 by 2075 to bringing in $1 trillion more in tax revenue -- have won strong opposition from liberals and conservatives alike.

But Simpson said that while every interest group that testified before his committee agreed that the mounting federal debt is a national tragedy, they would then talk about why government funding to their area of interest shouldn't be touched.

More HERE

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More of Obama's carefully hidden history comes out

Guy Benson

Have you ever heard of a group called UNO of Chicago? No, not the deep dish pizza chain; the Left-wing community organizing outfit. How about the Midwest Academy? Does the name James Cone ring a bell? If you’re like most Americans – including many who consider themselves fairly well informed about President Obama’s background and associations – you’re probably drawing a blank on all three questions. That’s why Stanley Kurtz’s new book, Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, is so important.

The key word in the title is “untold.” Kurtz, a respected investigative journalist and public intellectual, pored over reams of heretofore unseen documents and data from the president’s enigmatic past, and concluded that Barack Obama has been a movement socialist for much of his adult life. Despite its explosive title, the book is neither conspiratorial in nature, nor sensationalistic. It’s well-researched, and meticulously documented.

I sat down with Kurtz for a two-hour interview that will air in its entirety this Sunday evening on my radio program. For a flavor of the interview, here’s a partial transcript of just one exchange from our discussion, in which Kurtz details Obama’s relationship to the leader of a radical, ACORN-style group called UNO of Chicago:

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

GB: It’s 1985, and Barack Obama lands in Chicago, at which point he becomes caught up in an alphabet soup of community organization groups. Some of them, of course, I’d heard of – including ACORN – but others that I had not, such as UNO. Tell us about UNO, because that was one of the bigger eye-openers to me as I read [Radical In Chief].

SK: That is one of the more amazing things I stumbled across. Who knew that Obama had been part of a community organization that no one had ever heard of before? And yet Obama really was closely connected to a top leader…of a group called UNO Chicago. ‘UNO’ standing for “United Neighborhood Organizations.”

GB: This was a really poisonous group.

SK: They were hardcore Alinskyites. They really were kind of a predominantly Hispanic counterpart to ACORN, in that they were extremely confrontational in their tactics. They were famous, for example, for having trapped Republican Illinois Senator Charles Percy in a ladies’ bathroom to punish him. He was supposed to debate [Democrat] Paul Simon when they were running against each other [in 1984].

GB: And UNO members chased him into a women’s restroom?

SK: That’s right. They trapped him inside.

GB: Over what?

SK: He had refused to attend a forum they had set up. He quite rightly realized it was a set-up, that they were working with Simon, and that there would have been orchestrated boos and attacks in order to embarrass him.

More HERE

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None Dare Call It Desperation

Following two years of poor economic performance and electoral repudiation, liberalism is casting around for narratives to explain its failure -- narratives that don't involve the admission of inadequacies in liberalism itself.

For some, the solution is to lay the blame on President Obama. He hasn't been liberal enough. He can't communicate. "I cannot recall a president," says Robert Kuttner in the Huffington Post, "who generated so much excitement as a candidate but who turned out to be such a political dud as a chief executive." Obama is "fast becoming more albatross than ally."

This is an ideological movement at its most cynical, attempting to throw overboard its once-revered leader to avoid the taint of his problems.

But there is an alternative narrative, developed by those who can't shake their reverence for Obama. If a president of this quality and insight has failed, it must be because his opponents are uniquely evil, coordinated and effective. The problem is not Obama but the ruthless conspiracy against him.

So Matt Yglesias warns the White House to be prepared for "deliberate economic sabotage" from the GOP -- as though Chamber of Commerce SWAT teams, no doubt funded by foreigners, are preparing attacks on the electrical grid. Paul Krugman contends "Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there's a Democrat in the White House." Steve Benen explains, "We're talking about a major political party ... possibly undermining the strength of the country -- on purpose, in public, without apology or shame -- for no other reason than to give themselves a campaign advantage in 2012." Benen's posting was titled, "None Dare Call it Sabotage."

It is difficult to overstate how offensive elected Republicans find the sabotage accusation, which Obama himself has come very close to making. During the run-up to the midterm election, the president told a town hall meeting in Racine, Wis.: "Before I was even inaugurated, there were leaders on the other side of the aisle who got together and they made the calculation that if Obama fails, then we win." Some Republican leaders naturally took this as an attack on their motives. Was the president really contending that Republican representatives want their constituents to be unemployed in order to gain a political benefit for themselves? No charge from the campaign more effectively undermined the possibility of future cooperation.

The sabotage accusation, once implicit, is now direct among panicked progressives. Part of the intention seems to be strategic -- to discourage Obama from considering Clintonian ideological triangulation. No centrist concessions, the argument goes, will appease Republicans who hate the president more than they love the country. So Obama should double down on liberalism, once again.

It is very bad political advice. It also indicates a movement losing contact with political reality. When an ideology stumbles, its adherents can always turn to alcohol -- or to conspiracy theories. It is easier to recover from alcohol. Conspiracy thinking is not only addictive, it is tiresome. It precludes the possibility of interesting policy debate or genuine disagreement -- how can you argue with a plot?

More here

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

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

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

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

BEST WISHES TO MY AMERICAN READERS ON THANKSGIVING DAY

Thanksgiving is mainly an American holiday and there is no such thing in Australia. But I am flying Old Glory from the flagpole in front of my house in honour of the occasion.

Australia's two great days of the year are both military commemorations -- Armistice day (aka Remembrance day) and ANZAC day. Australia has supported its brethren in Britain and the USA in most of their wars so we have many war dead to remember.

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Reason to be thankful every day

Cal Thomas below draws on the experience of a refugee from Communist Vietnam to highlight how much Americans have to be thankful for. It is similar in Australia. Some decades ago when Vietnamese refugees began arriving in Australia, many of them set up restaurants -- most of which were successful. One of them was a very small Vietnamese restaurant in a side street in central Sydney. It was called the "New Hope" restaurant and it always brought a tear or two to my eyes whenever I walked past it. I felt how wonderful it was that Australia was able to give people new hope after they had obviously lost it in their own country

As millions of us gather at tables to offer thanks during this uniquely American holiday (OK, Canada has one, too, but without our Pilgrims), most will express gratitude to God for freedom and material blessings. This year, as in every year since 1989 when she escaped with other "boat people" from communist Vietnam, Kim Vu will offer thanks borne out of a deep gratitude for what America has meant to her since she and so many others risked their lives for something they regarded as even more valuable: freedom.

A generation has grown up since the boat people caught the public's attention. To many in what has become a self-indulgent generation, it may be difficult to fathom how anyone could go to such lengths to achieve something too many of us take for granted.

Vu was 20 years old when her father urged her to follow her brother, who was the first to escape. She is now 41. Vu says she was not afraid, though the Vietnamese communists sank boats they could spot and killed many who tried to escape. Vu tried twice to escape, but pulled back when she sensed danger. On her third try, she succeeded.

Vu's father, a retired officer in the South Vietnamese Army, gave her two gold bars to pay for the journey. She was taken in a small boat that held no more than three people to a larger boat that waited offshore in darkness. "We spent seven days on a trip to Malaysia with no food, only water and the water consisted of three bottle caps each day."

Later she was transferred to another refugee camp in the Philippines where she spent six months before the paperwork was completed and she was allowed to come to Virginia where her older brother lived following his escape.

What does freedom mean to Kim Vu? "It means a lot, because I lived with communists, who wouldn't let me go to school. I am very appreciative to live in this country." She became a U.S. citizen in 1995.

What would Vu say to her now fellow Americans who might take their freedom for granted and not appreciate the country as much as someone who once experienced oppression? "They need to see what other countries don't have that we have here. Some people don't see, so they don't know."

Kim now cuts hair at a shop in Arlington, Va. I ask her what she likes best about America. She laughs and replies, "Everything is good." How many native-born Americans think this way?

Vu maintains contact with relatives still in Vietnam (three of her six siblings are now in the U.S.). And while things are "better" in her native country than when the communists first took over, she says, "It is still a government-controlled country." Citing as one example the restrictions on her Catholic church, Vu says the church must ask permission from the government "about what time they can do the Mass."

America is too often criticized for its actual and perceived shortcomings. Critics seem incapable of appreciating America's exceptionalism, including President Obama who has dismissed the notion by saying everyone feels their country is exceptional. If that were true, why do so many want to come here? Perhaps it takes someone like Kim Vu to remind the rest of us not only of the cost of freedom, but just how fragile freedom is and how it must be constantly fought for if it is to be maintained.

More than anything else we might possess, or hope to possess, freedom ought to be at the top of every American's list of things for which we should be thankful every day, not just at Thanksgiving.

SOURCE

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Counting Our Mixed Blessings

Suzanne Fields

The Thanksgiving holiday offers mixed blessings that run from anxiety to celebration. When the different generations gather together to mix memory with desire (as the poet sayeth), we recognize differences as well as affinities, angry feelings along with the affectionate. We hasten and chasten our will to make known.

We're blessed to live in America, and yet we take due notice of the dark shadow of terrorism that falls across the horizon. We dilute fear of traveling with jokes about pat-downs and body scans, trying to hide the disgust at having been brought low with humiliation. We salute the "grannies from Topeka" pulled out of line as suspects hiding detonators in their Wal-Mart underwear. We try to laugh at airport chaos, but only after we're home again in the comfort and cozy security of our homes. We worry deeply about the proper balance of public safety against private rights, the country's safety against personal dignity. We won't let the terrorists demoralize us, but we can't throw precaution to the winds.

The words of John F. Kennedy, assassinated 47 years ago this week, ring as true today as they did when he spoke them in 1961. "Terror is not a new weapon," he said. "Throughout history, it has been used by those who could not prevail either by persuasion or example."

To that we can add the words George Washington placed in his proclamation prayer for the first Thanksgiving, "to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed."

Americans traditionally accent the positive. As we join the extended family for the holidays, we delight at the youngest at the table and look forward to watching them grow up. We engage the adolescents while ignoring, or at least dropping our eyes, at the tattoos and piercings of the most rebellious, with hopes that they, like their aunts, uncles and older cousins before them, will eventually put away childish things. (We also hope they refrain from texting while eating.)

We politely ask young vegan adults about the tofu turkey recipe, while repressing a turkey-eater's smile of superiority. We appreciate it when they hide their contempt for the cannibals of fowl and cow seated with them. We indulge the tipsy uncle who lost his wife last year, and we encourage the oldest among us to tell their stories of Thanksgivings past.

The inevitable talk of politics -- this is Washington, after all -- differs from last year. Republicans no longer have to listen to Bush-bashing. The man from Prairie Chapel promoted his memoir, "Decision Points," with panache, grace and good humor, steadfast in his refusal to criticize his predecessor, no doubt made easier since so many others are doing it for him. He can see how tacky Jimmy Carter looks, parading his second-guesses and trying desperately to make his failed presidency look at least presentable for the historians. "Decision Points" is not Ulysses S. Grant's remarkable "Personal Memoir," but it resets W., like him or not, as a thoughtful guy.

Thanksgiving is our most traditional of holidays, still relatively unscarred by commercial marketing, even as we update it with contemporary fads and fashions, Googling what we don't understand or remember. Nostalgia nurtures the older folks as so much of the familiar disappears into microchips for safekeeping. Youngsters thrive on the latest gadgets with ingenuity and inventiveness, showing smarts and saving face with spell-checks and Wikipedia (we can only hope they learn to sort the wheat from the chaff).

The most traditional of holidays has come a long way since our Puritan ancestors stepped on Plymouth Rock to breathe the air of religious freedom, to brave the hazards of the New World. We are grateful to them and marvel at their courage (though they never had to confront a pat-down). No matter how life changes, and change it does, we continue to gather together to count our blessings. Happy Thanksgiving.

SOURCE

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Thankful for a Bygone Era and New Dawn

Armstrong Williams

Many of us consistently ponder and wrack our brains to put in perspective what every Thanksgiving mean to us and our fellow man. While we usually and traditionally are thankful for family, friends, and our soldiers who fight to defend our freedoms home and abroad, I'm reminded of my fears and concern as a boy growing up in rural South Carolina. Many of you may remember the drills that we endured in preparation for a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. We were absolutely convinced that America or the Kremlin would obliterate the world with their nuclear arsenals within our lifetime.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for the Soviet Union. I know this sounds strange and dated, but bear with me. I’m thankful for Soviet Union because without it, I would not have grown up appreciating this great country as much as I do. When I’ve talked to our younger generation, from children to college students, over the past 10 years, I heard very little pride for being an American.

Growing up, the USSR was the Big Bad Enemy that was out to destroy America and Western Civilization. Because of this ominous and ever-present threat, we as Americans had to remain steadfast to the principles that made America great- Freedom, Truth, Hard Work, and Justice.

The fall of the Soviet Empire not only created a vacuum, but began to subtly provoke the questioning of whether America really was the “Good Guy”. It was easy when we knew who the bad guys were and could consider ourselves the underdog, in a way. We were now the biggest game in town, and as such, we became the target, culpable for every ill in this world. Africa is poor? America’s fault. Amazon rain forest being razed? America did it. AIDS? Secret American bio weapon. On and on. It did not take long for those within our borders to take up the refrain. It became to be seen as naive and puerile to be proud of and love America. Everything that had been great about America became an anathema. It also led us to slowly giving into the tyrannical and socialism policies of our former enemy – torture, foreign wars based on meager evidence, government handouts and bailouts, and world apology tours for the evils of our distant (and not so distant past).

Without our great antagonist, we began to fall asleep- allowing sloth, moral decay, and entitlement mentality to take over our way of life. Rather than act as the bulwark against this putrefaction, our government (both Republicans and Democrats) largely went along with it and even encouraged such behavior. Aside from the Watergate scandal, we have largely trusted our politicians over the past half century. In turn, the politicians took advantage of our trust to run roughshod over "We the People". Instead of trying to spur private sector growth through encouragement, they began paying off the electorate. Maybe it's just the greater access that the Internet and modern media have given us, but it seems to me that we have had more scandals from public officials over the past 20 years than we had from 1900-1990. When we can't look to our leaders for positive examples, to whom can we look? Well, we answered that question by looking to ourselves.

This past year, America finally started to wake up to the problems that have crept in over the past 20 or so years. The Tea Party, for all its warts, served as a shot across the bow to all politicians that under no political party, would we allow this great country to slip quietly into the wayside of history. I honestly thought the liberal ideas that President Barack Obama and the far left had been espousing were where we were headed, especially in regards to health care and their attempts to cosign America to “once great nation” status. I thought we had resigned ourselves to corrupt politician who gave lip service, at best, to our ideals.

But the American people restored my faith in this country by remembering the lessons we held so dear when the Red Menace loomed. Today, I am thankful to see our countrymen awakening and charging full speed ahead to a new dawn and recommitting ourselves to the principle ideals of the nation. Freedom! Liberty! Justice!

Thank God I’m an American!

SOURCE

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Spreadin' the glove: TSA infecting U.S.?

Latex coverings 'have been in crotches, armpits, touching people who may be ill'

Those latex gloves Transportation Security Administration agents wear while giving airline passengers those infamous full-body pat-downs apparently aren't there for the safety and security of passengers – only the TSA agents.

That's the word being discussed on dozens of online forums and postings after it was noted that the agents wear the same gloves to pat down dozens, perhaps hundreds, of passengers, not changing them even though the Centers for Disease Control in its online writings has emphasized the important of clean hands to prevent the exchange of loathsome afflictions.

"Herpes via latex glove ... ewwww," wrote one participant on the independence-minded AR15 website forum.

Responding to the question, "Does the TSA change latex gloves after each sexual assault?" another wrote on the same forum, "I seriously doubt it. Gloves are for their protection, not yours."

In fact, TSA officials in both national and regional offices declined to respond to WND inquiries about the policy for changing gloves to prevent an infection that may be on the clothes or body of one passenger during a pat-down by TSA agents from being transmitted to other passengers, including children, in line.

Martha Donahue in a commentary at Resistnet said she'd spent 30 years in the medical industry. "For those of you who fly and opt for the 'pat down,' you need to demand the TSA thugs change their gloves. I've been watching on the news how they operate. People are being searched [with] dirty gloves ... gloves that have been in crotches, armpits, touching people who may be ill, people who pick their noses. Do you want those gloves touching you?

"These thugs are protecting themselves from you. You need to be protected from them," she wrote. "In a hospital, nursing home, in-home care, or even labs, that would never even be considered an option."

ABC reported one of its news employees documented how a TSA worker reached inside her underwear. "The woman who checked me reached her hands inside my underwear and felt her way around," the ABC employee said in the network's report. "It was basically worse than going to the gynecologist. It was embarrassing. It was demeaning. It was inappropriate."

Asked today about the possibility of contamination being spread from one passenger to another on the gloves of TSA agents, a spokesman for the CDC bailed.

Much more HERE

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

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

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

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rage against the x-ray machine

The criticism of tomorrow’s mass protest against airport scanners highlights how much liberals have become detached from liberty

The casual reader could be forgiven for thinking that this Wednesday, the day before Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, is going to be a day to remember.

According to Opt Out Day, ‘it’s the day ordinary [American] citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty and…’ And what? Rights, liberty – that’s grand-sounding stuff. So what else are Americans being urged to stand up for? What else are Americans being called upon to protest? Something equally impressive, right? Yes, that’s right, 24 November is the day ordinary citizens rise up and protest against ‘the federal government’s desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an “enhanced pat down” that touches people’s breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner’.

In short, it’s the day Americans stick it to the airport security man.

Despite the po-faced, snigger-worthy phrasing, this isn’t such a ridiculous cause. As anyone who has travelled by aeroplane in the past 10 years can attest, the level of airport security is absurd. No liquids. Take off your shoes. Show us your laptop. The level of uniform scrutiny – where even OAPs have to pad, barefooted, through the x-ray arches – is a genuine triumph of rules over reason.

But what’s really got certain people riled in the US are the new x-ray machines. Clearly designed by a teenage boy, these contraptions produce three-dimensional images of passengers in such detail that genitalia are outlined and breasts highlighted. For those passengers unwilling to submit to such imaging – on the grounds that it’s a bit intrusive – they get the ‘pat down’ treatment, a thorough, uninhibited frisking which touches what the x-ray can only outline. It was clearly the prospect of having his penis caressed by airport security that made an ‘opt out day’ martyr of software engineer John Tyner a couple of weeks ago. ‘If you touch my junk’, he shouts on the obligatory YouTube video, ‘I’ll have you arrested’. He is a supporter of the new campaign group, at optoutday.com.

The increasingly vocal objections to the invasive rigmarole of airport security have not met with universal support, however. The UK Guardian’s Richard Adams, for instance, responded with disdain. For Adams, not wanting to be viewed as a potential terrorist, not wanting to be treated as 3D object of suspicion, is not a sign of self-respect – it’s a sign of self-regard. ‘This is the revenge of the How-Dare-You generation’, he rails. ‘How dare you tell me what to do! How dare you look at me! How dare you touch my junk! Sexual assault! I hate you mommy!’ The fact that resisting authority, standing up to the arbitrary exercise of power, necessarily involves a bit of don’t-tell-me-what-to-do spunk seems to have escaped Adams.

It’s not hard to fathom why this has slipped Adams’ attention. He doesn’t see the content of the protest. He doesn’t see its rationale. He sees only a caricature of its protagonists. They’re mad. They’re right wing. They’re Tea Partiers. Heck, they’re probably racist, too. After all why would anyone object to excessive airport security? It keeps us safe, for chrissakes. Adams’ outlook is at one with the state. ‘Personally, I’d like to take a flight knowing that the plane is less likely to be blown up or hijacked and rammed into a building full of people’, he says. ‘Alternatively, I’d like to be able to work in a tall building in New York City, Washington DC or even London without having a 747 flown into it.’

I’m with Adams on this. I, too, would like to take a flight confident that it won’t be blown up or hijacked or rammed into a building. The same goes for working in a tall building without worrying about jumbo jets being flown into the cafeteria. Call me human or something, but that sense of self-preservation, of not wanting to die, is something I definitely share with Adams. And I would bet that those whom Adams lampoons as right-wing loons – like the Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, who supports Opt Out Day – feel the same.

It’s just that the constantly expanding set of airport security measures does not actually make us safer. In fact, it doesn’t do much at all, except demean and annoy passengers. Little wonder that British Airways chairman Martin Broughton recently felt moved to suggest that laptop checks and shoe removal are completely pointless exercises. ‘We all know there’s quite a number of elements in the security programme which are completely redundant and they should be sorted out’, he said. Besides which, terrorist plots do not tend to be foiled by the vigilant x-ray machine operators or frisking officials with super-sensitive cuticles. They tend to be foiled before the would-be terrorists even get to the airport, through targeted intelligence operations.

To be fair, the ever-expanding number of security measures at airports is not entirely without effect. It does reassure us that there is something to be frightened of. Because if you weren’t worried about international terrorism before you entered an airport, there’s enough fear-stoking procedures within to ensure that you’re fully signed up to the ‘war on terror’ upon departing.

But for those who are less keen to live their lives according to the mindset of terrorists, there is something to be said in support of the Opt Out Day protests. While it may not be the most expansive of political protests, it does suggest that quite a few people are fed up with being treated as if they were about to kill a lot of people. In that respect at least, the cry of ‘don’t touch my junk’ isn’t quite as silly as it sounds.

SOURCE

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No subsidy for NPR

by Jeff Jacoby

A BILL pulling the plug on federal funding for National Public Radio was thwarted last week when the lame-duck Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives voted down a Republican effort to bring the measure to the floor. Introduced last summer by Colorado Republican Doug Lamborn, the legislation would bar NPR and its local affiliates from spending federal dollars on NPR programming. Of course there was never any chance that a bill targeting one of the nation's most prominent left-of-center institutions would pass while Democrats still controlled the House. But a GOP majority is taking over in January, and ending NPR's taxpayer subsidies ought to be high on its to-do list.

NPR tarnished its reputation last month when it abruptly fired commentator Juan Williams, an engaging liberal who had conceded in an interview that he gets "worried" and "nervous" when he boards a plane and sees passengers "who are in Muslim garb and . . . identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims." Williams is nobody's idea of a bigot -- among other things, he is the author of Eyes on the Prize, a famous history of the Civil Rights Movement -- and NPR's reaction was widely regarded as highhanded, dogmatic, and hypocritical. It only made matters worse when NPR CEO Vivian Schiller told an audience in Atlanta that Williams should have kept his feelings between himself and "his psychiatrist or his publicist." (She later apologized for that remark.)

In the wake of such a public-relations fiasco, one might have expected NPR to react to the House vote protecting its government funding with a modest statement of appreciation and perhaps an acknowledgment that its critics have raised some legitimate points. Instead it issued a statement so pompous and illogical that it could have been drafted in the Ministry of Truth.

"Today, good judgment prevailed as Congress rejected a move to assert government control over the content of news," it declared. "Public radio's value in fostering an informed society has never been more critical. Our growing audience shows that we are meeting that need. It is imperative for federal funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy remains available to all."

The arrogance of that statement is exceeded only speciousness. "A move to assert government control"? Lamborn's bill was just the opposite: a move to end the government's entangling financial alliance with NPR, leaving it responsible for its own budget and programming. If NPR's "value . . . has never been more critical," why isn't its "growing audience" supporting it directly? And if NPR is such an "essential tool of democracy," how did the republic survive for so long without it?

Notwithstanding NPR's haughty air of entitlement ("it is imperative for federal funding to continue"), there are at least four reasons why its taxpayer subsidies should end.

1. They aren't fair. Other radio stations and networks, from Air America to Clear Channel to Univision to Westwood One, must sink or swim in a competitive market. They survive only if listeners and advertisers value what they do. Uncle Sam doesn't keep them afloat with tens of millions of dollars annually in direct and indirect subsidies. If they can operate without corporate welfare, NPR can too.

2. They aren't appropriate. In a free society, especially one with a robust tradition of press freedom, the very idea of government-underwritten media should be anathema. When news organizations depend on largesse from the treasury, there is inevitably a price paid in objectivity, fairness, and journalistic independence.

3. They aren't necessary. NPR's partisans claim that public broadcasting provides valuable news and educational content that listeners can't get anywhere else. That may have been a plausible argument in 1970. It is utterly implausible today, when audio programming of every description can be found amid a vast and dizzying array of outlets: terrestrial and satellite radio, internet broadcasting, podcasts and audio downloads.

4. They aren't affordable. At a time of trillion-dollar federal deficits and a national debt of nearly $14 trillion, NPR's government subsidies cannot possibly be justified. All the more so when public broadcasting attracts a fortune in private funding, from the gifts of innumerable "listeners like you" to the $200 million bequeathed to NPR by the late Joan Kroc in 2003.

More than anything else, the incoming 112th Congress has a mandate to stem the flood of red ink that is drowning Washington in debt. The tax dollars consumed by NPR are admittedly a drop in the enormous fiscal bucket. But if Congress can't even do away with a frill like subsidies for public radio, how will it stand a prayer of shoving far more formidable gluttons away from the federal trough?

SOURCE

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Milwaukee voter fraud conviction makes ACORN's 2010 total at least 15‏

Yet another former ACORN employee was convicted of voter fraud last week. This brings the total number of convictions for former workers from the embattled group to at least 15 so far this year.

Kevin L. Clancy of Milwaukee pleaded guilty last week to participating “in a scheme to submit fraudulent voter registration applications,” according to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. Clancy admitted to filing multiple voter registration applications for the same individuals and registering himself and other voter registration canvassers to vote multiple times while working on an ACORN voter drive.

Clancy received a 10-month prison term for his crime. Clancy’s sentence will begin when he completes another sentence he is currently serving for armed robbery.

“The integrity of elections is dependent upon citizens and officials insisting they be conducted lawfully,” Van Hollen said. “Wisconsin’s citizens should not have to wonder whether their vote has been negated or diminished by illegally cast ballots.”

So far 2010 has been a banner year for ACORN voter fraud prosecutions....

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Zogby poll: Obama decline continues: "President Barack Obama's job approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his Presidency at 39%, and in potential match-ups with Republicans in 2012, he trails Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich and is just one point ahead of Sarah Palin. The percentage of likely voters saying the U.S. is on the wrong track is now the highest since Obama took office at 69%. The President continues to lose the job approval of Democrats, going from 78% on Nov. 15 to 72% in this Nov. 19-22, 2010 interactive poll. His approval among independents stayed at 39%, and is 6% among Republicans."

Zogby poll: 61% Oppose Full Body Scans and TSA Pat Downs; 48% Will Seek Alternative to Flying: "The implementation of full body scans and pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of security enhancements at our nation's airports will cause 48% of Americans and 42% of more frequent fliers to choose a different mode of transportation when possible, a recent Zogby International Poll finds. Overall, 61% of the 2,032 likely voters polled from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, oppose the use of full body scans and TSA pat downs. Republicans (69%) and Independents (65%) oppose in greater numbers than Democrats (50%). Of those polled, 52% believe the enhanced security measures will not prevent terrorist activity, almost half (48%) say it is a violation of privacy rights"

With new health law, hospital mergers a concern : "When Congress passed the health care law, it envisioned doctors and hospitals joining forces, coordinating care, and holding down costs, with the prospect of earning government bonuses for controlling costs. Now, eight months into the new law, there is a growing frenzy of mergers involving hospitals, clinics, and doctor groups eager to share costs and savings and cash in on the incentives. … Consumer advocates fear that the health care law could worsen some of the problems it was meant to solve — by reducing competition, driving up costs, and creating incentives for doctors and hospitals to stint on care, in order to retain their cost-saving bonuses.”

Could Dems give Obama trouble? Afghanistan war is key: "As Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg was leaving a Monitor breakfast last week, he was asked about the possibility that President Obama might face a Democratic primary challenge in 2012. Mr. Greenberg’s two-word answer: ‘Watch Afghanistan!’ Indeed, of all the issues on Mr. Obama’s plate, the war in Afghanistan is his biggest area of political vulnerability among his own Democratic base. … Among Obama’s own party, only 33 percent say the US is doing the right thing in Afghanistan; 62 percent say it’s not.”

General Motors: Never again?: "My charming wife hit me with this zinger: ‘Doesn’t GM’s stock sale show that you were wrong to complain about the bailout?’ Yikes. People just don’t get it. As one big investor (who prefers to remain anonymous because he fears government retaliation) wrote me: ‘Government bought 914 million shares at 43.71. Sold half at 33, own 500 million or so at 35. Taxpayers down about 9 billion. Why is there such celebration today about this ‘great government success?’ Not to mention the fact we don’t know what else might have been done with the bailout money. Had it been left in private hands, maybe someone would have invented a much better car, or airport security device, or Alzheimer’s cure.”

Empty promises on health care will haunt Obama: "Barack Obama is only halfway through his term, but it's not too early to ask: What is the biggest whopper he has told as president? So far, the hands-down winner is: "No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people. If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." Obama made that particular pledge in a speech to the American Medical Association in June 2009, but he said the same thing, with slight variations, dozens of times during the health care debate. And now, exactly eight months after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law, we're seeing just how empty the president's promise was..."

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals

In the article below Dennis Prager extends his thesis that American liberals are less able to handle what he has previously called "sad facts". They are more easily upset.

I think he is getting to the heart of it. The next step however is to ask why. And the fact that political orientation is highly hereditary is most of the answer.

Leftists would appear to be born with what psychologists call emotional lability. They are dominated by their emotions to such an extent that reasoned argument is of very little interest to them. They have an emotionally releasing conclusion they want to come to and will put up any argument that leads to that conclusion -- regardless of the facts or logic of the matter

So in dealing with liberals one is dealing with emotional kneejerks -- and reason has little power to alter such things -- hence the intractability of the political divide


According to polls -- Pew Research Center, the National Science Foundation -- and studies such as Professor Arthur Brooks' Gross National Happiness, conservative Americans are happier than liberal Americans.

Liberals respond this way: "If we're unhappier, it's because we are more upset than conservatives over the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves."

But common sense and data suggest other explanations. For one thing, conservatives on the same socioeconomic level as liberals give more charity and volunteer more time than do liberals. And as regards the suffering of non-Americans, for at least a half-century, conservatives have been far more willing to sacrifice American treasure and American blood (often their own) for other nations' liberty.

Both of these facts refute the liberals-are-more-concerned-about-others explanation for liberal unhappiness. So, let's look at other explanations.

Perhaps we are posing the question backward when we ask why liberals are less happy than conservatives. The question implies that liberalism causes unhappiness. And while this is true, it may be equally correct to say that unhappy people are more likely to adopt leftist positions.

Take black Americans, for example. It makes perfect sense that a black American who is essentially happy is going to be less attracted to the left. Anyone who has interacted with black conservatives rarely encounters an angry, unhappy person.

Why? Because the liberal view on race is that America is a racist society. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, a black American must abandon liberalism in order to be a happy individual. It is very hard, if not impossible, to be a happy person while believing that society is out to hurt you. So, the unhappy black will gravitate to liberalism, and liberalism will in turn make him unhappier by reinforcing his view that he is a victim.

The unhappy gravitate toward the left for a second reason. Life is hard for liberals, and life is hard for conservatives. But conservatives assume that life will always be hard. Liberals, on the other hand, have utopian dreams. At his brother Robert's funeral, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy recalled his brother saying: "Some men see things as they are and say 'why?' I dream things that never were and say 'why not?'"

Utopians will always be less happy than those who know that suffering is inherent to human existence. The utopian compares America to utopia and finds it terribly wanting. The conservative compares America to the every other civilization that has ever existed and walks around wondering how he got so lucky to be born or naturalized an American.

Third, imagine two Americans living in essentially identical socioeconomic conditions. Both earn $45,000 a year, both have the same amount of debt on their homes and both have the same number of dependents. One seeks governmental assistance wherever possible; the other eschews any governmental help. Which one is likely to be the liberal and which one is likely to be the happier individual?

This is not a question only an oracle can answer. The one who yearns for governmental help is the one who is likely to be both liberal and less happy. Conservatism, which demands self-reliance, makes one happier. The more one feels that he is captain of his or her ship (as poor as that ship may be), the happier he or she will be.

A fourth explanation for greater unhappiness among liberals is that the more people allow feelings to govern them, the less happy they will be. And the further left one goes, the more importance one attaches to feelings.

It is liberal educators and liberal parents who have clamored for protecting young people from the pain of losing games. The liberal world came up with the idea of giving trophies to kids who lose; they don't want their children feeling bad. Conservatives, on the other hand, teach their kids how to lose well. They are less worried about their children feeling bad.

A couple of years ago, I gave a speech on happiness to the students and faculty of a prestigious high school in the Los Angeles area. The subject was the need to act happy even when one isn't feeling happy -- because it is unfair to others to inflict our bad moods on them and because we will never be happy if we allow our feelings to dictate our happiness.

From what I experienced that day and learned later, liberal students and faculty generally loathed my speech; conservative students generally loved it (there was no conservative faculty to speak of). Why? Because conservatives are far more likely to be comfortable with the idea that feelings are not as important as behavior. Those who know that feelings must not govern us, but that we must govern our feelings, are far more likely to be happy people.

The upshot of all this? There is an amazingly simple way to defeat the left: Raise children who are grateful to be American, who don't complain, who can handle losing and who are guided by values, not feelings. In other words, teach them how to be happy adults.

SOURCE

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Save Us From the Intellectuals

Super-genius political science professor Charles H. Franklin of the University of Wisconsin, Madison recently gave loud voice to a widely held liberal belief: Ordinary Americans, especially conservative ones, are stupid.

At a conference by the Society of Professional Journalists, alternative newspaper editor Bill Lueders asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who'll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."

Franklin responded: "I'm not endorsing the American voter. They're pretty damn stupid." (Excuse my impertinence, but is there a grammatical glitch in the genius's formulation?)

First, we should note that Franklin implicitly accepted Lueders' premise as fact: The voters who claim to be motivated by a passion to end reckless Washington spending had just elected candidates who will be fiscally irresponsible because they support "reckless giveaways to the rich."

But how smart is it to mischaracterize a policy, misrepresent its likely consequences and ignore other relevant data to arrive at an ideologically preordained conclusion?

Extending Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more would not be a giveaway. We're not talking about the government's money, but money earned by individuals. Only leftists believe that all income is the property of the state and that the amount remaining after income taxes is a gift from the government to the individual.

Moreover, the tax rates we're discussing have been in place since 2003. To extend those rates would not be a cut. To fail to extend them would constitute a tax increase. I suppose "intelligence" doesn't require the honest use of terminology.

In addition, the premise is overly simplistic because it suggests that extending the Bush rates for the highest income bracket would cost the government revenues dollar for dollar, as if we have a completely static economy. The mentally gifted simply refuse to acknowledge the empirical evidence showing that reductions in marginal income tax rates during the Kennedy years, the Reagan years and the George W. Bush years resulted in increases in revenue. They also fail to factor in the economic truism that tax increases during bad economic times retard growth and thus constitute a drag on tax revenues.

Finally, the premise ignores that voters were rejecting Obama's big spending across the board and that the extension of the Bush rates would be only one small part of the equation. Those voting out the Democrats were overwhelmingly repudiating Obama's reckless spending in virtually every other category -- save defense. That is, they voted not against their interests, Mr. Lueders and Professor Franklin, but consistent with them.

You might be interested in some other pronouncements by Professor Erudition. One example: In an article in Politico about a year ago, Franklin wrote, "The issue that has dominated the summer and fall, health care reform, will most likely not remain high on voters' list of the most important problems in 12 months regardless of the outcome of legislation." Well, exit polls showed that 20 percent of voters believed health care was not only important but the most important issue. Doubtless, a full majority of voters believed it was among the most important problems, even if not the most important.

The liberal intelligentsia's contempt for the American people is well-established. Franklin's snarky outburst is little different from then-ABC anchorman Peter Jennings' statement that American voters had a temper tantrum when they delivered a congressional majority to Republicans in 1994, Obama's assessment that voters are irrational because they are scared, or the Bush haters bitterly decrying the 2000 and 2004 elections with their observation that red-state voters were "reality-challenged." And it's no different from liberals' perpetual characterization of Republican political figures as stupid, from Reagan to George W. Bush to Sarah Palin.

I'll tell you what is rather silly; I don't want to say "stupid." It's this repeated assertion that one's political viewpoint is based on intelligence, when it is far more related to one's worldview and disposition. For every brilliant, average or unintelligent liberal, I'll show you a brilliant, average or unintelligent conservative. Ideology is not a function of IQ, and political allegiances and policy preferences are often unrelated to facts.

If you want an example of "stupid" -- or at least intellectual negligence -- consider the childish willingness on the part of so many intellectuals, on the left and the right, to deify candidate Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Then again, hasn't it always been axiomatic that "intellectuals" lack common sense? In their minds, Jimmy Carter was going to make the ideal president. What's worse, many of them think he did. Please save us from the intellectuals.

SOURCE

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A true Marine

One thing that has made America great is its long lineage of valiant leaders in every generation. These are the type of men and women about whom our sixth president, John Quincy Adams, said, "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

One more extraordinary example of that type of leadership can be found in my friend and the new commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos.

In 2007, I visited our troops at 15 bases in Iraq with then-three-star Lt. Gen. Amos and four-star Gen. Bob Magnus.

After being recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June and endorsed by President Barack Obama in July, he was appointed on Oct. 22, which my wife, Gena, and I (among many others around the world) were thrilled to hear.

According to The Washington Post, military officials say Amos is an innovative thinker about future combat and a passionate advocate for finding additional resources to treat Marines diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. To boot, Amos is a man of great faith in God. And he's now the first Marine commandant with a background as a naval aviator. (In choosing Amos, Gates passed over Gen. James N. Mattis, who is one of the military's best minds regarding waging war on insurgents.)

Before Amos was selected as head of the Marine Corps, however, he weathered a rather unique vetting period. Amos' poise and leadership was vividly on display for the country and the world to see when he was grilled by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for an hour in a hearing in which the questioning was almost exclusively about gays in the military.

Amos was again on the hot seat when he spoke recently with reporters during a Southern California visit to mark the Marines' 235th birthday. With American troops on the battlegrounds in Afghanistan and still deployed in Iraq, Amos said now is not the time to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" policy prohibiting gays from openly serving in the military.

Amos explained: "This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness. ... There's risk involved. I'm trying to determine how to measure that risk. ... There is nothing more intimate than young men and young women -- and when you talk of infantry, we're talking our young men -- laying out, sleeping alongside of one another and sharing death, fear and loss of brothers. I don't know what the effect of that will be on cohesion. I mean, that's what we're looking at. It's unit cohesion; it's combat effectiveness."

I applaud Amos for caring more for the troops than for being politically correct. He deserves the accolades of military personnel and all citizens alike. Americans should feel proud and safer to have him serving as the commandant of the Marine Corps. If we had more leaders like him in this world, we wouldn't be in half the hurt that we are.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

You can't win against the TSA thugs: "Amid the furore over airport security, Sam Wolanyk had a plan to avoid his second intrusive pat down in a week ... he stripped off. But Mr Wolanyk, who had previously campaigned for the right to openly carry guns, was arrested. He stripped to his underwear at San Diego International Airport but refused a body scan and pat-down search because "it was obvious that my underwear left nothing to the imagination.". Mr Wolanyk said he was patted down a week ago and he "was not willing to be molested again". "I figured that this way everyone would be happy: I don't get scanned or groped, they can verify that I'm not a danger to anyone and the line would actually move more quickly because those pat-downs take time," he said in a statement. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican believed to harbour presidential ambitions for 2012, said the heavy frisking should be reserved for likely terror suspects."

South Korea considers asking for US nukes: "South Korea’s defense minister raised the possibility of redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in the country Monday, after North Korea showed off its latest advances in uranium enrichment. Kim Tae-young told lawmakers that such an option could be discussed next month at a newly created joint military committee to enhance deterrence against the North’s nuclear programs.”

Shrink the Fed before it shrinks the dollar: "The Fed has just embarked on yet another round of ‘quantitative easing,’ or QE2 — weasel words for money printing. So in addition to ‘end the Fed,’ we now hear ’sink the QE2.’ QE2 is the Fed’s Hail Mary pass, according to analyst Peter Schiff. The creation of so many new dollars would tend to depress the value of old dollars. But the Fed says inflation isn’t a problem right now. Instead, deflation is the problem. But the gurus are only talking about ‘price inflation,’ as measured by consumer price index.”

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

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

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

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Jews Vote Democratic – Redux

By Bruce Bialosky

Many people in the Republican Party wonder why the majority of Jews continue to vote Democratic. The last time Jews preferred a Republican Presidential candidate was 1972. Not even in 1980, when the clearly anti-Semitic Jimmy Carter was running against Ronald Reagan, or when George W. Bush was running for re-election in 2004 after proving himself the best friend of Israel ever to inhabit the White House, did the majority of Jews cast their ballots for a Republican. I have spent most of the last ten years attempting to change that pattern in hand-to-hand combat with the left. And yet despite my battle scars, I was still frustrated and enraged over a recent set of events that only confirmed how profoundly challenging it is to enlighten Jews who vote for Democrats.

Last month, a prominent temple in Los Angeles decided to open its doors to the four candidates running for Governor and U.S. Senate in California. Knowing that they would never get a debate between the respective parties, the temple invited each candidate to address the audience (both members and the surrounding community) in separate forums, believing that an opportunity to speak to a large audience of Jews would both benefit the candidates and promote the Temple’s mission of educating the public. The temple asked influential members of the congregation (of which they have many) to contact the campaigns and extend their invitation. Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for Governor, was the first to accept, followed by Carly Fiorina, who was running for the U.S. Senate. The Jewish press reported that Barbara Boxer declined the offer, and Jerry Brown’s campaign claimed that they never received a formal invitation; a statement known to be categorically false.

Once the first event with Meg Whitman was announced, there was a deluge of complaints from Democrats at the temple. If Whitman was coming, why not Brown? Ignoring the fact that Brown turned down his invitation, they attempted to suppress Whitman’s appearance. To its credit, the temple worked hard to promote the series – always making sure to remind its members that all four candidates were invited, and that the Whitman forum was merely the first one – but the complaints keep coming. To be fair, some of the kvetching died down when people were informed of the process, but several Democrats continued to be shrill and adamant: if Brown was not coming, then Whitman should not be allowed to speak.

Despite the behind-the-scenes discourse, the Whitman forum was wonderful: more than 800 people attended. It was held with a spirit of civility and decorum appropriate for a synagogue sanctuary. But the relentless whining of partisan Democrats took its toll on the temple leadership. They chose not to promote or publicize the next event, for Carly Fiorina. The only notice to the membership appeared in the temple bulletin. When I related this story to a churchgoing friend, he wittily replied with words of wisdom from his pastor, “If you want to make sure no one sees it, put it in the church bulletin.”

The attack on simple fair-mindedness was aided and abetted by other elements of the Jewish community. The Jewish Federation, the umbrella organization for the community, pulled out of involvement and conveyed that information through their Vice-President, a former staffer for Democratic Congressman Howard Berman. The Jewish Journal (formerly owned by the Federation and supposedly now “independent”) did a hatchet job reporting on the Whitman event which further chilled the Temple from promoting the Fiorina event.

The efforts were countered by the hard work of many and equally by the likes of Dennis Prager, who agreed to moderate the forum. Dennis helped publicize the event by promoting it on his radio show. The end result was over 1,000 people showed up to hear – and interact with – Ms. Fiorina. On the day of the Fiorina event, Jerry Brown was speaking in black churches in Los Angeles. There was no commensurate effort to invite Republican candidates to these events, and, of course, there was no outcry from partisan Democrats or friends in the press about him being there without an equal Republican opportunity.

The relentless effort by Jewish liberals to suppress the speaking opportunities of their political adversaries – behavior that is both shameful and un-American, and which violates the most fundamental principles of the Jewish community – is, regrettably, a constant theme of the left. This disgraceful incident points to an undeniable truth: there is a structural deterrent to even having a chance to present a competitive argument to the Jewish Community. Some live in denial of the fact that for the past 50 years, the Democratic Party has horribly misrepresented the interests of Jewish Americans, especially on the core value of our educational system.

They deny the fact that almost all of the Anti-Israel elements within America are not only found on the political left which are also major stakeholders and figures in the Democratic Party. They tell us we should support Jewish candidates despite the fact that none of them had the courage to stand up to President Obama while he was trashing Israel and its Prime Minister until Senator Chuck Schumer did after 18 months.

I now have a clearer picture of why our job has been so difficult. All we want is a fair, honest and open debate. There is a reason they don’t want to have it. They don’t have a winning case

SOURCE

Many conservative Jews have tried to answer the question Bialosky tries to answer above but it seems to me that both his and their answers only scratch the surface. Bialosky seems to be saying that Jews tend to be Leftist because Liberal Jews block other Jews from hearing the conservative side of the argument. And he is of course right about the way Leftists generally do their darndest to silence conservatives. "Free speech for Leftists only" seems to be their motto.

Jews are however in general intelligent people well able to seek out any information they want. It would be hard to imagine a group less likely to permit itself to be subjected to censorship. Just the suspicion of it would produce instant rebellion. So I think we will have to look deeper than Bialosky does.

I have been reading attempts to explain Jewish Leftism for a long time and have found none of the other explanations to be very persuasive either. I particularly took an interest in such explanations after I read in "Mein Kampf" Hitler's claim that all the Marxist rabble-rousers he encountered in Vienna of the '20s were Jews. He actually lists them in "Mein Kampf". He says that it was their constant preaching of Marxist class war and support for revolution that decided him that Jews were the enemies of the German people and hence must be eliminated. Read more on that here.

I am inclined to think that Hitler's account of his own mental processes is a straightforward one but I am not going to hang my hat on it. If someone can come up with a better explanation for Hitler's campaign against the Jews, I would be most interested to hear it. Most writers on the subject however have NO explanation of it at all, treating it as if it were a mystery of inspissated darkness. The only explanation usually proffered is that Hitler resented being rejected by the Jewish Rector of the Vienna art school and then took it out on all Jews -- but that is pretty laughable if one reads Hitler's own account of that matter. He actually agreed enthusiastically with what the Rector said!

At any event, it does appear that Jewish Leftism has a long pedigree, going back to Karl Marx himself, of course. And it does seem that the Leftism concerned has served Jews extraordinarily badly -- a point also made by Bialosky above.

Yet I don't myself see the motivation for Jewish Leftism as any more mysterious than the motivations of Adolf Hitler. Let me put the explanation in one sentence: Successful people in life tend to be Leftist and Jews tend to be successful in life.

Why successful people tend Left is of course a large topic in its own right so I will refer readers elsewhere for a full discussion of that topic.


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Just in case you haven't seen it yet!

A Palestinian businessman:



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Another video below -- explaining why American small businesses can't create jobs these days



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TSA: One step behind the terrorists

by Jeff Jacoby

NOT EVERYONE has reacted the same way to the Transportation Security Administration's aggressively intimate new frisking technique. Air traveler John Tyner created a minor sensation when he recorded himself warning a TSA screener in San Diego to stay away from the family jewels: "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested." Journalist Emmett Tyrrell, on the other hand, says he would "welcome a soothing pat-down . . . especially if the patter-downer is a cute little number on the order of, say, Sarah Palin." It takes all types to fill a passenger plane.

But what are we to make of TSA Administrator John Pistole, who told a congressional committee last week that he has no intention of relaxing his agency's intrusive new screenings? These include not only the hands-on body search (which at least one pilot has compared to "sexual molestation"), but also, for those who prefer to be ogled electronically, full-body X-ray scanners that leave nothing to the imagination.

"I'm not going to change those policies," Pistole testified, brushing aside a flood of recent passenger complaints as the price to be paid for security. Why, TSA's current methods are so effective, he insisted, that had they been in effect last December they would have thwarted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the al-Qaeda terrorist who tried to blow up a jetliner on Christmas Day with a bomb sewn into his underwear. That would have been quite an achievement, considering that Abdulmutallab was flying into the United States from Europe, and was never screened by TSA.

"There is an ever-evolving nature to terrorist plots," Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. "It is clear we have to be one step ahead of the terrorists."

One step ahead? That isn't how TSA operates. Knives and sharp objects were banned from carry-on luggage after 9/11, so Richard Reid boarded American Airlines Flight 63 with a bomb built into his shoe. Passengers ever since have had to take off their shoes to pass through security, so the 2006 Heathrow terrorists came up with a plan to use liquid explosives. TSA responded by confining liquids to tiny containers sealed in baggies, but then Abdulmutallab smuggled explosive powder in his underwear. Now TSA scans or gropes even air travelers' nether regions, so terrorists based in Yemen hid two bombs inside printer cartridges and shipped them to addresses in Chicago. TSA promptly responded by announcing that "toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags." Just who has been one step ahead of whom?

Precisely because terrorist plots are "ever-evolving," it is fruitless to keep trying to prevent the last terror attack. Yet that is just what TSA keeps doing. What's worse, it treats every airline passenger as a potential terrorist who must be searched for weapons -- any and all imaginable weapons -- before being allowed to board. That is a crazy system -- crazy in its ineffectiveness, crazy in its breathtaking cost, and crazy in the staggering degree of inconvenience and invaded privacy it imposes on innocent passengers. In security expert Bruce Schneier's cogent term, TSA provides not security, but security theater -- "measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security."

Anyone who has traveled through Israel's Ben Gurion airport or on El Al, the Israeli airline, has experienced what is widely considered the finest aviation security system in the world. That system doesn't involve taking off shoes, confiscating water bottles, patting down toddlers, or conducting nude X-ray scans. Nor does it involve shutting down an entire terminal because a passenger inadvertently walked through the wrong door.

However, it does involve careful monitoring of behavior, individual conversations with every traveler, and a lack of politically-correct inhibitions about profiling. Unlike TSA, the Israelis focus not on intercepting dangerous things, but on stopping dangerous people. It is hard to argue with their results.

The federalization of airline security after 9/11 was a grave mistake. Instead of creating a vast new bureaucracy, Congress should have made the airlines themselves primarily responsible for guaranteeing their customers' safety, with clear legal liability if they failed. With their bottom lines riding on it, the airlines would have been far more likely than any government agency to figure out how to get security right. Instead, we've ended up with groin gropes, naked X-rays, and "security" procedures that irritate everyone while keeping nobody safe.

The time has come to rethink air-travel safety from the ground up. Eliminating TSA might make a good start.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

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ELSEWHERE

NC: Airport director wants private security, not TSA: "After recent controversy surrounding the Transportation Security Administration’s security screenings, the director of Charlotte’s airport said he wants a private company to take over the job. Federal law allows airports to replace TSA agents with private security guards. Right now, 17 airports across the country do this, and the Orlando Sanford Airport in Florida plans to be the 18th in January. Charlotte Douglas International Airport Director Jerry Orr said he’s wanted a private firm to do security screenings since 2001, when the TSA was created.”

Florida airport to opt out of TSA screening: "Amid concerns over radiation from scanners, civil lawsuits over pat-downs, and general ineptitude on the part of TSA airport personnel, one Florida airport has thrown in the towel. Orlando Sanford International Airport has announced that it will opt out of the TSA’s screening program.”

Groping toward Gomorrah : "The Transportation Security Administration knows with 100 percent certainty that John Tyner, the 31-year-old Oceanside man who refused to submit to one of those embarrassing body scans or be searched by TSA groin-grabbers during his recent attempt to fly from San Diego to South Dakota, poses no security threat to the United States or anywhere else. He is not a terrorist, just a citizen frustrated by the growing intrusiveness of TSA screening procedures. Nevertheless, after Tyner refused to complete his screening process, a TSA official told him that the agency is likely to sue him. If it did, Tyner could face $11,000 in fines and a possible ban from air travel – not because he did anything wrong, but because he refused to submit to the authorities, which used to be a proud tradition in our society.”

Obama regime tries to quell uproar over invasive pat-downs, scanners : "The Obama administration tried Sunday to quell an uproar over pat-downs at US airports, with air travelers in revolt against the new security measures described by some as invasive and humiliating. … A loose network of groups are calling for a boycott of the full body scanners on November 24, the day before Thanksgiving — a protest that threatens to gum up the works at airports across the nation on one of the biggest travel days of the year.”

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

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

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

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

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