Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Islam rots your brain

Osama bin Laden was a hero to Muslims worldwide. Will his killing stop jihadism? It might have a temporary depressing effect but the adverse effect of Islam on the intelligence of its followers will remain. After Osama's little 9/11 caper, the U.S. government took out two hostile Islamic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan yet not even that convinced the jihadis that they were losers. Islam just deprives Muslims of any ability to make rational calculations, apparently. Any rational calculation would not lead to a conviction that a few bearded nobodies could impose Islam on the West.

The kindness of a civilizatin originating from Christian thinking indulges them for the moment but if ever they start to do serious harm they will be squashed, as bin Laden eventually was.

It's a pity he was not taken alive, though. Crushing his balls to squeeze information out of him could have been very productive. Just the threat would probably have made him very talkative.


America's Orwellian present

It might help getting our minds around what is so wrong in America today by thinking about the local police force.

It’s not hard to understand that the job of the police is to protect lives and property.

Suppose we decided to broaden their mandate. Suppose each municipality decided that the job of the police was not just protection but to make every community more fair and just and to improve the quality of life.

To do this, we’d have to let them decide what is fair and just and give them authority to implement their sense of these things.

They could force families they thought had too much money, or who earned their money in a way they thought not fair, to turn some of their resources over to others who the police concluded more deserving.

Or, if they happened to hear parents yelling at their child, they could enter the house and instruct them how they should be raising their children.

It seems pretty absurd. But it’s exactly what is going on in Washington and why things are such a mess. The very entity – our government - that is supposedly there to protect us now has incredibly wide latitude to invade our lives and property.

Even worse, not only is there considerable latitude to do this openly, but it can occur insidiously in ways where citizens don’t even realize it’s happening to them.

In the former instance, at least Congress openly votes to pay for expanded programs and spending by raising taxes.

But even with a license to steal, government power brokers know they can just take this so far. Spending may provide a path to political popularity for some, but paying for it all through taxes is a path to popularity for few.

Over the last couple years, we’ve had a vast expansion of government spending to bail out banks, automobile companies, those with mortgages they can’t afford, expand unemployment insurance, create all kinds of projects under the headline of “economic stimulus,” etc.

If government is spending a trillion and half dollars more than it is taking in through taxes, which is the case with a deficit of the size that we have now, where’s the money coming from?

We can turn to Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve, who this past week held the very first press conference ever held by a Federal Reserve chief.

This reflects the fact the Federal Reserve has been transformed into a political entity. The Fed should, in principle, be a special kind of police force. Their job should be to protect one very unique aspect of our property – our money.

But instead, the Fed has, allegedly within the scope of the law, assumed a broader mandate to provide another way to finance government spending – printing money.

Like police with a responsibility for protecting property but also with a license to steal, the latter will eclipse the former. The Fed either is going to protect the value of our money or it is going to print it to pay for spending. Unfortunately, it has chosen the latter.

Like everything else in our country, money has become relative and politicized. When the dollar was tied to gold, the official price was $35 per ounce. Since we severed this link in 1971 and totally politicized our money, it now takes over $1500 to buy an ounce of gold.

Our taxes get raised indirectly through higher prices and the eroded value of our savings.

Politicization of the Federal Reserve and our money is a particularly dangerous development in a trend that is ruining America - the erosion of law and the distortion of the role of government.

There is no way around the fact that freedom and prosperity only exist when government protects property, and this includes our money.



And America's Orwellian State is still expanding

The crash of the financial and housing markets in 2007-08 brought cries for reform from many quarters. Still, there was bitter debate throughout 2009-10 on the approach and substance of any prospective reform. Ultimately, Congress passed – on a party-line vote – the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whose authors were Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank, two of the most questionable characters in recent Congressional history.

Many Americans are concerned that whenever Congress launches a crusade for “consumer protection,” somehow that’s not what we end up with. When the Dodd-Frank bill contained a Trojan Horse – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – a lot of people became alarmed. When President Obama wanted to nominate Elizabeth Warren to run the CFPB, flashing lights and sirens started going off.

Ms. Warren had never worked in financial services – in fact, she had never held a job in any financial industry – but as a Harvard law professor, she had written a variety of articles and books. To the Obama crowd, this made her the perfect candidate to set new rules to control our lives. While Ms. Warren’s particular expertise is the struggle of middle-class families in which both parents must work just to stay even, she hasn’t yet figured out that it’s the massive growth of regulation and taxes at all levels of government – principally promulgated by her elitist comrades – that is the core of the problem.

Ms. Warren is the embodiment of the Totalitarian Liberal. Her “we know better” viewpoint endeared her to Obama, who gleefully appointed her to an extra-governmental position after it became clear that there was no hope she would obtain Congressional approval to be Chair of CFPB. Obama give her a fancy title and she has been running the CFPB – without oversight – ever since. When she appeared before Congressional committees, she exercised her best lawyer skills, repeatedly making grossly misleading statements. When asked pointed questions by committee members, she sounded like a parakeet, squawking “We need a cop on the beat!” over and over again. And, of course, what better cop could exist than Ms. Warren?

What Ms. Warren does not want is a cop on her beat, which is why she designed the structure of the bureau as it was laid out in the Dodd-Frank bill – with virtually no oversight. Funding for the CFPB is taken from the earnings of the Federal Reserve System, which means that Congress has no voice in its operation. In fact, other than approving the director, Congress has essentially no control over the bureau. This is utterly unlike any other federal agency and will probably be tested in court. After all, if Congress doesn’t manage the purse strings, what effective control do they have over Ms. Warren?

This new entity has been assigned broad oversight of financial entities, much of which overlaps responsibilities of the existing agencies. It oversees all banks and credit unions with more than S10 billion in assets, and can write regulations for all payday lenders, debt collectors, and mortgage brokers. It also reviews all entities making mortgage loans, which means virtually every bank in the country. This is the reason for her recent charm offensive with community banks: to gain their support for her nomination as Director.

She has shrewdly been placing allies into key positions in the bureau. Though some appear to have industry background, you can rest assured that they’ve been hired either because of political leanings or as window dressing to enhance her continuing effort to be appointed Director.

Under Ms. Warren’s direction, the CFPB will be requiring “greater levels of disclosure” by all parties in its purview. But financial professionals point out that extensive disclosure has been required for years for mortgages and car loans, and none of it is worth a Confederate dollar if people don’t read or understand the documents. And if there’s one thing that all the professionals agree on, it’s that most American consumers have at best a minimal understanding of even the simplest financial matters.

As a totalitarian liberal, Ms. Warren won’t try to make the consumers more knowledgeable, but instead will employ her infinite wisdom and compassion to protect them from themselves. This is confirmed by her first real venture – joining some left-wing Attorneys General to threaten lenders over their foreclosure practices. In the best tradition of Tony Soprano, they are using extortion and other threats to extract $20 billon from the lenders, despite the fact that even with some improperly-processed paperwork, there have been virtually no homeowners evicted prematurely or improperly. Almost every one of these people has been living rent-free for nine to eighteen months, with the American people picking up the tab. Now Ms. Warren wants us to fork over even more money for these follies – in higher fees and fewer services at our banks – to compensate for the $20 billion. In addition, further delays in the foreclosure process just forestall the ability of the market to cleanse itself and recover.

Because Ms. Warren has virtually no experience or true understanding of the financial markets, she will do untold harm to the people she is trying to protect. In a previous column, I described how the Dodd-Frank bill set new rules for credit cards in order to “protect consumers,” only to find that the credit that they previously had access to is now unavailable. The regulations that Ms. Warren and her cronies will create will have exactly the same effect on mortgage loans, payday loans, and whatever else they touch.

Disclosure is a very good thing when it comes to financial matters, but if consumers don’t have the education or training to understand how they’re being protected, they will ultimately be penalized by fewer products, less competition, and higher government-mandated costs. The only winners will be people like Elizabeth Warren, who know better than we do and are on a crusade to protect us from ourselves. The loser is our freedom.



Diagnosing ObamaCare

Dr. Peter Weiss summarizes a new book by Dr. Milton Wolf: "First Do No Harm"

For the past two years I have publicly debated the pros and cons of our health care system. I have debated against the implementation of ObamaCare — to no avail.

I have been on too many health care panels to remember. I have met with senators, congressmen, governors, and more. The debates feel like the reenactment of the trench warfare of the First World War, with neither side making any headway in battle.

"First Do No Harm" reviews how government involved itself in health care from 1929 to 2003, with all well-meaning actions resulting in increasing costs. Dr. Wolf astutely points out how health care became very political in the 1980s. State mandates “re-routed health care dollars not to the most necessary and innovative treatments, but instead to whomever had the best lobbyists.” This was the start of our current health care downfall.

Remember HillaryCare? Dr. Wolf rightly has no kind words for President Bush either. Medicare prescription coverage of 2003 was a political move to garner senior votes.

The bottom line of First Do No Harm is this: “At the very core of ObamaCare is a flawed belief that government can spend your money more effectively than you can yourself.” There is an ideological divide between those in favor of the plan and those opposed.

I admire the Tea Party greatly. Health care should not be a political line-item agenda — just as I can not tell a patient of mine what he or she must do. I can only give advice and recommendations. I can not force my patients to stop smoking or drinking, or to lose weight. Nor can President Obama mandate health.

To be fair, First Do No Harm does state that ObamaCare promises some nice things, such as no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, coverage for “children” up to age 26, and no lifetime limit on benefits. These all sound great, and on paper they are.

I would also like the government to buy me a home, give me a car (nothing less than 6 cylinder), and put food on my table. In a Utopian world, we all live forever and will have world peace. One critical aspect of a good physician is being honest even when the news is bad. Dr. Wolf is a good physician. He gives a very strong argument against ObamaCare in a concise, easy-to-follow manner. He offers some solutions, but still a lot more are needed to address the current situation. Those he does offer are well worth entertaining and are well thought out. I, of course, like many other physicians, have solutions, too, some of which I have expressed in these pages before.

I equate Dr. Wolf with a good doctor who is able to explain to a patient and his or her family what is wrong. He then takes the time to listen and gives his opinion as to what you should do. This is a doctor you feel you can trust. Under the Obama system, that doctor will be a thing of the past. Your new physician will be spending half of his or her time doing data entry at point of service, checking off boxes on the state-mandated questionnaire before inputting the data to determine what medication the system will allow. Never mind you only want to talk about your headaches.

Most physicians take either the oath of Hippocrates or the oath of Maimonides. With these two time-honored oaths, we promise to be our individual patients’ champion and, above all, to do no harm. Under ObamaCare, the physician’s oath will be “to the health of the state” — and to the individual patient no longer.




Dallas TSA molests beauty queen: "Dallas has found itself in the eye of a storm of negative publicity thanks to a former beauty queen's accusation of TSA molestation in a YouTube video posted Wednesday that has already gone viral. Susie Castillo, actress and former Miss USA, accused a female TSA agent of sexually violating her at DFW airport when she opted for a pat down rather than going through the full body scanner because of the health risks of repeated radiation exposure."

The forgotten patriot: "As Rhode Island prepares to celebrate the 350th anniversary of an extraordinary American document, its author remains all but forgotten. In the summer of 1663, against seemingly insurmountable odds, an improbable patriot living in an unlikely place changed the course of world civilization. Through Rhode Island’s King Charles II Charter, Dr. John Clarke convinced the king to grant religious toleration and separation of church and state to a political entity, the diminutive Colony of Rhode Island. For the first time in world history, religious freedom became fundamental to democracy."

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

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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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