Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sen. Paul says tea party holds power on Hill

To those who predicted that the tea party movement would get swallowed up by Washington, Sen. Rand Paul says the cynics have got it completely backward — it’s the tea party that has co-opted Capitol Hill.

The Kentucky Republican said in an interview that President Obama and most lawmakers have lined up behind the tea party’s drive to end earmarks, while House and Senate Republicans are pushing bills to cut spending and repeal the president’s health care overhaul — two more of the movement’s top priorities.

Mr. Paul is a leading member of one of the most closely watched new class of lawmakers to hit Capitol Hill in a long time — tea party activists and political newcomers whose energy helped usher in a GOP majority in the House and an expanded Republican minority in the Senate.

“People asked whether we would be co-opted by Washington, I think we are co-opting Washington,” Mr. Paul told The Washington Times, just hours after he and two colleagues held the first meeting of the Senate‘s Tea Party Caucus, which they said would serve as the liaison between the grass-roots movement and the people it helped propel to power.

“The president of the United States has been co-opted by the tea party,” Mr. Paul told the more than 200 people in attendance. He noted that in his State of the Union address Mr. Obama vowed to veto bills that include earmarks and to undo part of the health care law that imposes burdensome tax filing requirements on businesses.

Mr. Paul, whose crushing defeat of an establishment Republican in the primary and his victory in the general election epitomized the tea party’s rising influence last year, said he supports the new House practice of requiring lawmakers to cite constitutional authority for each bill they offer. He has also introduced a 12-page bill that he said will cut $500 billion in federal spending immediately.

Dwarfing the other cost-cutting proposals on the table, Mr. Paul‘s plan would gut the Education and Energy departments and impose across-the-board spending cuts, including in the Pentagon‘s budget. He dismissed criticism that his plan is too radical.

“Most of official Washington thinks that is way too dramatic, but, guess what — it’s not enough,” Mr. Paul said. He argued that Mr. Obama‘s plan to freeze some domestic spending over the next five years “falls completely flat” because it affects only about 12 percent of the budget and does not begin to roll back the dramatic spending increases of the last two years.

More HERE

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Civility? What Channel?

Frank Salvato



What’s all this talk about civility taking hold in the American political arena? Evidently, Progressive talker Stephanie Miller, who, I guess, has a syndicated radio show – amazing what passes for talent these days on talk radio – didn’t get that memo...strange, too, as her leader, Pres. Obama took to the airwaves after the Tucson tragedy to admonish everyone who was throwing rhetorical bombs under the guise of “political debate.” Yet, for Ms. Miller, it’s full speed ahead with the name-calling and the deprecating jokes.

Mediateite.com reports that while discussing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH):
 
“...Miller and her show’s producer, Chris Lavoie, mentioned her earlier joke about Barack Obama making ‘the Boehner cry’...”
 
Miller pronounced the Speaker’s name “Boner.”
 
“And then came an observation about Boehner’s warm glow – an observation that, of course, acts as rather juicy bait for conservatives who will (we’re guessing) most certainly ask why it’s excusable to make comments about the Speaker’s skin color:
 
“’And then the other big thing I noticed – I’m sorry cause you know you can’t help the visual, okay – Boehner is a darker color than the President.’
 
“Lavoie then chimed in with quite a specific observation:
 
“’I tweeted last night that if he wore and avocado green tie, he would totally be a 1970’s kitchen.’”


That’s nice. Isn’t it?
 
 



Truth be told, when one honestly compares the rhetoric of the Progressive Left, the Democrats and the Right – the main word here is honestly and yes I did separate the Progressives from the Democrats – we arrive at only one outcome consistently, and that is that the overwhelming majority of caustic rhetoric comes from the Progressive faction of our political spectrum.

Politico.com reported in February of last year, well before the Tucson tragedy, that Progressive talker and admitted Socialist, Ed Shultz, said this of former Vice President Dick Cheney:
 
“You’re damn right, Dick Cheney's heart's a political football. We ought to rip it out and kick it around and stuff it back in him...Do you realize that if you had five heart attacks, hell, you wouldn't get past two heart attacks and they’d dump you...But because you're a war criminal and because you are on the take from Halliburton...you can get the best healthcare on the face of the earth.”


One has to wonder where all that Leftist tolerance has disappeared to. On a more measured note, but nevertheless just as dishonest and disingenuous, former (it feels good to say that) MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann denigrated the Tea Party Movement, challenging:
 
“Let me ask all of you who attend these things, how many black faces do you see at these events?”


He continued,
 
“Why are you surrounded by the largest crowd you will ever again see in your life that consists of nothing but people who look exactly like you?”

Ironically, and simply to make a point, ACORN whistleblower Anita Moncrief recently announced the creation and launch of the nation’s first Black Tea Party group. One has to wonder whether Mr. Olbermann can wipe the self-pity from his eyes long enough to see the different “colors” involved in the Tea Party Movement, or whether his arrogance just sees Conservatives and those who want to protect the Constitution as gray.

But why should we be surprised at the vitriol coming out of the Progressive Left? Progressives are the ones who gin-up discontent around the world. From Greece to San Francisco, France to the G20 summits and World Trade Organization events wherever they take place, if there is a loud, obnoxious, bull-headed protest event, complete with posters depicting someone as Hitler and denouncing Capitalism in favor of wealth redistribution and Che Guevara, there you will find Progressives, in all their disgruntled, arrogant, elitist glory.

Now, you may be asking why I separate the Democrats from the Progressives. After all, they both come from the Left side of the aisle, right?

Wrong. Progressives exist on both sides of the aisle; they simply have found it easier to take-over the Democrat Party. Nancy Pelosi, the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus (can you imagine if there was a Congressional White Caucus? Whoa!) and all of the mini-me special interest caucus leaders routinely are found to be members of the House Progressive Caucus – 70 House members, along with two Senators comprise the whole of the Progressive contingent. Compare that to the rest of the Democrat side of the aisle which numbers 123, including 26 Blue Dog Democrats.

My point? If you want to truly arrive at civility in the American political arena, all we really have to do is separate the infiltrating Progressives from the true Democrats and spotlight the Progressives for whom and what they are: caustic malcontents hell-bent on diminishing our Constitutional Republic to a Socialist Democracy. All we have to do is encourage true Democrats to...take back their party. That achieved – and only then – can we return to the days of civil, spirited and honest debate in the American political arena.

And so it goes...

SOURCE.

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The Aim Of Blood Libels

Caroline Glick

Palin's characterization of the Left's appalling assault on her and her fellow conservatives as a "blood libel," was entirely accurate. Moreover, as her previous use of the term "death panels," in the healthcare debate brought clarity to an issue the Left sought to obscure, so her use of the term "blood libel," exposed the nature of the Left's behavior and highlighted its intentions.

By warning about "death panels," Palin exposed the fly in the ointment of government healthcare. Government control will induce scarcity of healthcare and government rationing will necessarily follow. That rationing in turn will be undertaken by panels of government officials empowered to decide who gets what care. Her remark focused the debate on the flaws in the program in a way no other had.

In the case of her use of the term "blood libel," Palin exposed the Left's attempt to criminalize conservatives and make it impossible for conservatives to either defend themselves or pursue their alternative policy agenda.

A blood libel involves two things. First, it involves an imaginary crime. Second, it involves the accusation that an entire group of people is guilty of committing that crime that never occurred.

Classically, of course, blood libels have been used against Jews. Anti-Semites accused Jews of killing Christians for ritual use of their blood. Jews had murdered no one and Judaism has no ritual involving the use of human blood. Yet repeatedly entire communities were criminalized and persecuted based on these blood libels.

By criminalizing the entire community based on false allegations regarding a never-committed crime, anti-Semites made it impossible for Jews to go on about our lives. If we sought to deny the charges, we gave them credibility. If we ignored the charges, our silence was interpreted as an admission of guilt. And no matter what we did, the blood libel firmly attached the stench of murder to a completely innocent Jewish community.

Just as their Israeli counterparts did in the wake of Rabin's assassination, so the American Left seeks to attach a sense of criminality and violence to the American Right in order to make it socially and otherwise unpalatable to support or otherwise identify with it.

By calling the Left out for its behavior, Palin exposed its agenda. But the logic of the blood libel remained. Trusting the public's ignorance, and the liberal Jewish community's solidarity, the leftist media in the US immediately condemned Palin for daring to use the term, hinted she was an anti-Semite for doing so, and argued that by defending herself, she was again inciting violence.

MANY CONSERVATIVE thinkers and politicians have long viewed Palin as a liability. By remaining in the spotlight, they allege, Palin is helping the Left. They argue that the media have already destroyed her ability to communicate with non-conservatives. And since she is viewed as a conservative leader, by failing to shut up, she is making it impossible for other potential leaders who the media don't despise to connect with the swing voters they will need to unseat Obama in 2012.

While alluring, this position does more than harm Palin. It renders the 2012 elections irrelevant.

It doesn't matter whether these conservative thinkers support Palin. What matters is that by telling her not to defend herself from libelous attacks, they are accepting the Left's right to criminalize all conservatives. If she is not defended against a patently obscene effort to connect her to a madman's rampage in Tucson, then conservatives in the US are signalling they really don't want to control US policy. They are saying that if a Republican is elected in 2012, he or she will continue to implement Obama's radical policies.

In certain ways, Palin is a revolutionary leader and the Tea Party movement is a revolutionary movement. For nearly a hundred years, the Left in its various permutations has captured Western policy by controlling the elite discourse from New York and Los Angeles to London to Paris to Tel Aviv. By making it "politically incorrect," to assert claims of Western, Judeo-Christian morality or advocate robust political, economic and military policies, the Left has made it socially and professionally costly for people to think freely and believe in their countries.

What distinguishes Palin from other conservative leaders in the US and makes her an important figure worldwide is her indifference to the views of the Left's opinion makers. Her capacity to steer debate in the US in a way no other conservative politician can owes entirely to the fact that she does not seek to win over Leftist elites. She seeks to unseat them.

The same can be said of the Tea Party. The reason it frightens the Left, and the Republican leaders who owe their positions to their willingness to accept the Left's basic agenda, is because it does not accept the Left's policy agenda.

The Left's campaign against Palin is not just about Palin. If she is discredited for standing up to blood libels then no one in the US or anywhere else can expect to succeed in moving past the failed and dangerous leftist policy agenda. But if she is defended, then a world of possibilities opens up for all of us.

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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Friday, January 28, 2011

"This rather odd little German dynasty"

That is the extraordinary description that Christopher Hitchens gives to the British Royal family. Clearly he retains a lot of hatred from his Leftist days. Sad that a man with only a little longer to live is trying his best to be remembered as a shrill abuser. Most of us mellow with age.

His rage arises from the success of the British movie, "The King's Speech". He resents that the movie is a feelgood story rather than meticulous history. He points out ways in which the movie glosses over the rough edges of the times it describes. Hitchens calumniates Edward VIII, George VI, Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain. His central point is that they were all nicer to Hitler than he, with the wisdom of hindsight, would have been.

Hitchens is of course partly right in that Edward VIII was very weak character and Chamberlain was very badly mistaken. But the first thing that Hitchens completely and quite dishonestly ignores is the tenor of the times in which all four moved. Hitler and the Fascists were at the time widely admired outside Germany, particularly among the political Left. The description of Mussolini by FDR as "that admirable Italian gentleman" perhaps best captures the mood of the times. Harvard, too, was pro-Nazi. Churchill was one of the few who stood against that mood.

Secondly, Hitchens fails to remark the vast public antipathy towards war that prevailed in England at the time. After the horrors of WWI, almost every living soul in Britain considered another European war unthinkable and wished that no stone be left unturned to avoid such a war. In his policy of appeasement Chamberlain was simply representing the nation that he led.

So Edward VIII's undoubted enchantment with Hitler and George VI's support for Chamberlain were well within the normal range of opinion for the times. Neither man had Hitchens' luxury of seeing events from the vantage point of the year 2011.

Hitchens is also enraged that Churchill supported Edward VIII for a time. But Churchill was by that time quite conservative and in a monarchy support for the King is simply normal conservative practice.

Hitchens accuses the makers a popular movie of distorting history but it is Hitchens the historian who is the biggest distorter of all -- JR

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The Myth of a Divided America

By David Bozeman

A prevailing myth, common among both liberals and conservatives, is that America is sharply divided, with roughly 35 percent of us liberal (though most polls put that number around 20), 35 percent conservative, with the remaining 30 that could go either way. You know the drill: Because we are so polarized, we must find common ground, we need to work together, and, in the spirit of unity, we have got to blah, blah, blah…

True, we certainly appear divided, but our tradition of robust, spirited debate should be as much a source of pride as it is a cause for national handwringing. In fact, we remain a people galvanized behind such defining concepts as individual initiative, responsibility, free enterprise and American exceptionalism.

We like our trucks big and our cars fast (so you know what you can do with your Cap & Trade). We devour excess, and we lovingly reward our kids with Happy Meals and bestow Wal-Mart gift cards to friends. If the above choices seem crass and commercial, America offers such a wide array of options in both lifestyle and thought that we are truly the envy of the world. The epic conflict today lies not among classes of citizens but between a relatively tiny cadre of elitists in Washington and the rest of this country.

America is largely a friendly nation, and our political discourse is among the most civil in the world. Our citizens are not at war with each other but are merely resisting attempts to “transform” (candidate Barack Obama on numerous occasions in 2008) a great nation.

Liberalism constantly butts heads with America’s most cherished defining traditions and institutions: prayer, Christmas, the Boy Scouts and our military (by way of banning many college ROTC programs). It is liberals who audaciously claim dominion over large segments of our nation’s economy. It is liberalism that advances itself not by the tacit acceptance of large majorities of the electorate but by judicial fiat and incrementalism.

The overriding point, however, is not that America is a center-right nation. In fact, on issues such as the minimum wage, entitlements and maybe a few others, we tend to lean left. And, unfortunately for Republicans, our votes don’t always reflect our ideological balance, which is where Democrat presidents tend to hit the hard wall of reality. President Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, is learning that continued electoral success rests on moving to the center and abandoning (or at least concealing) his hard left agenda. Republicans, on the other hand, who stay to the right and offer the starkest contrasts, tend to succeed beyond their wildest expectations.

But, again, what matters is not so much America’s left/right make-up. We define ourselves less on ideological persuasion than on common-sense values. And we are not divided, at least not to the extent that some in the media would claim.

A free people tend to resolve their differences peacefully, whether as individuals or groups. The idea of two Americas would tend to benefit those power-hungry pointy-heads who always place themselves above the fray and whose recipe for calm typically entails one particular side ceding or diluting their free speech in the name of “civility.”

Indeed, always beware of those who emphasize and foster division. It is the motives of career politicians, pundits and activists and not the honest concerns and conflicts of average Americans that demand scrutiny. We are not as much divided as we are under siege and only our cherished freedom to publicly accuse our ruling classes will sustain us as a nation and as a beacon for the rest of the world.

SOURCE

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The ‘HealthStat’ Seduction

The community-policing model of health care is at odds with any notion of limited government

If professional writing were the guild it often appears to be, Atul Gawande would be a scab. A surgeon and professor, Gawande also writes beautifully for The New Yorker about health care.

His latest article, “The Hot Spotters,” focuses on what Gawande claims is a revolutionary approach to health care. In Camden, N.J. — hardly a garden spot in the Garden State — just 1 percent of the people who used the city’s medical facilities accounted for 30 percent of the costs. One patient had 324 hospital admissions in five years. Another single-handedly cost insurers $3.5 million.

A third fellow, weighing 560 pounds, with both an alcohol and a cocaine problem, spent more time over a three-year period in the hospital than out of it. But thanks to work by a crusading doctor, Jeffrey Brenner, the man was pulled back from the brink, cutting his hospital visits dramatically.

Brenner’s theory is that we can save billions by delivering better health care to the sickest people. Brenner was inspired by the CompStat approach used by police in New York City during the 1990s to tackle crime where it is most concentrated. Just as cops got out of their cars and walked a beat in the worst areas, under Brenner’s “HealthStat” approach doctors and nurses get out and get involved in the lives of the sickest patients.

Brenner’s results are impressive. All it takes is a near-religious dedication to getting involved in the nitty-gritty of patients’ lives.

In a similar effort, a clinic formed by Atlantic City’s casino workers’ union and its biggest hospital treats only the patients with the highest medical costs. The clinic often hires health “coaches” from outside the health-care profession, because too many of the professionals have become bureaucratized, trained to say “no” to almost any question.

Gawande recounts how one such coach — a former Dunkin’ Donuts cashier named Jayshree who speaks Gujarati — helped a seriously ill Indian immigrant get well enough to use a walker instead of a wheelchair. Why did this patient listen to Jayshree after she wouldn’t take similar advice about diet and exercise following her first two heart attacks? “Because she talks like my mother.”

A preliminary study found that the Atlantic City effort achieved real cost savings. But it was also lucky, statistically speaking. A single heart transplant for any one of its gravely ill patients would have wiped out all of the savings.

Still, Gawande’s enthusiasm is infectious, and so is the passion of professionals like Brenner. Where Gawande falls short is in explaining how all of this justifies “Obamacare” (apparently he hasn’t gotten the memo about not using that term).

Yes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act funds pilot programs like Brenner’s, but it also fuels the sort of bureaucracy that even Gawande and Brenner concede strangles innovation. It makes insurance companies into even more sheltered monopolies — health utilities, in effect — and appeases many of the political constituencies that stand to lose money from this style of counterinsurgency medicine.

Also, we know that Obamacare incentivizes corporations to dump their most expensive patients onto public exchanges. Which means taxpayers will pick up a much bigger tab than we were told.

Given these disappointments with the latest cures for the system, perhaps a little skepticism about the ability of “hot-spotting” to make it all work out is in order, too.

But what I find most striking about Gawande’s celebration of the community-policing model is how at odds it is with any notion of limited government. He is tone-deaf to those who might bristle at the idea of medicalizing society.

In Camden, Brenner wants to put social workers in “hot spot” buildings so residents can be coached daily about their diet and exercise and harangued to quit smoking. He cajoled the 560-pound alcoholic drug addict to resume church attendance.

This all sounds fine, from a medical perspective. But citizens are not patients.

Brenner is a private citizen doing heroic work. But if this model were to be nationalized, you would in effect have agents of the government serving as lifestyle coaches and health “mothers.” Surely you don’t have to be a “tea partier” to find that creepy.

SOURCE

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Government’s “Other” Gluttony

When will our leaders get the message? All told, both parties have added more than $8 trillion (and counting) to the national debt over the last ten years – an avalanche of deficit spending that has our nation fast approaching fiscal Armageddon.

Given the dimensions of this looming crisis, it’s understandable that the debate in Washington, D.C. is focused almost exclusively on dollars and cents. Yet as limited government advocates continue to drive this fiscal dialogue, it has become increasingly apparent that we cannot turn a blind eye to the government’s “other” gluttony –its voraciousness with respect to gobbling up our individual liberties.

That loud sucking sound you hear in cities and towns all across America isn’t just money being vacuumed out of your wallet or pocketbook – it’s the steady vacuuming up of our once-inalienable rights.

This trend goes much deeper than the unconstitutional individual mandate of “Obamacare,” which would force Americans to pay fines of up to 2.5 percent of their annual income if they decline to purchase insurance.

It’s about Americans being physically molested by Homeland Security agents and having their laptops and cell phones seized without probable cause. It’s about the FCC infringing on freedom and commerce on the internet while the SEC is empowered to seize and liquidate financial institutions all over the country on a whim. It’s about the Federal Reserve investing trillions of dollars in secret while government at all levels continues inventing new definitions of “public use” to take away your private property.

It’s about overzealous politicians of both parties handing down overreaching legislation to overpaid bureaucrats and overstepping judges. It’s about the creation of convenient enemies, the cultivation of fear – and never letting a crisis go to waste.

“It’s sometimes easy to lose perspective of just how extreme and outrageous certain erosions are,” author Glenn Greenwald noted in a recent piece about warrantless computer seizures at America’s borders. “One becomes inured to them, and even severe incursions start to seem ordinary.”

More here

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ELSEWHERE

House GOP considers “privatizing” Medicare: "Months after they hammered Democrats for cutting Medicare, House Republicans are debating whether to relaunch their quest to privatize the health program for seniors. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is testing support for his idea to replace Medicare with a fixed payment to buy a private medical plan from a menu of coverage options. Party leaders will determine if the so-called voucher plan will be part of the budget Republicans put forward in the spring."

For the budget crisis, a fake solution: "The latest Obama plan would cut projected outlays by an estimated $400 billion in the next decade, and the Republican alternative would cut spending by $2.5 trillion. It's a measure of our predicament that these enormous sums wouldn't make a lot of difference, even if they were achieved. They're the equivalent of trying to empty a swimming pool with a tablespoon."

The gambling question: "So, the state of Florida has set itself up as a protector of the morals of Floridians. But if gambling is a vice, as most people in Florida — including gamblers — would acknowledge, then why does the state allow it at all? If gambling is immoral then it is immoral. Whether it is done in a state-approved and state-regulated gambling facility or done in secret in the privacy of one’s home is irrelevant. ... On the one hand, the state tries to discourage gambling, but on the other hand wants people to gamble so it can get revenue for its coffers."

Race: An interview with Eugene Robinson: "Eugene Robinson contends in his new book that black America has changed, going from one fairly unified group with a common set of goals (civil rights, economic empowerment) to four different groups: the Transcendent, the Mainstream, the Emergent and the Abandoned. He outlines each group and writes that in order to understand where they are going in the 21st century, black Americans need to understand where they are now."

State of the world: Will 2011 be the next 1989?: "Almost nobody saw the collapse of communism coming. Despite a plethora of scholarship after the collapse suggesting that it was inevitable, you would be hard pressed to find analysts in the 1980s who thought the Iron Curtain was about to come down. So as unlikely as a serious of democratic revolutions spreading through the Middle East might seem from our current vantage point, the chances that the Cold War would come to a (practically) bloodless conclusion so swiftly seemed equally unlikely."

FTC resorts to carjacking: "The Federal Trade Commission forced a Georgia woman to sell her car as punishment for selling cosmetic contact lenses over the internet without first asking for customers’ prescriptions. In papers filed last week with a federal court in Atlanta, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, acting on the FTC’s behalf, accused Da Young Kim, the sole owner and manager of Gothic Lens LLC, of failing to obey the Commission’s rules governing the sale of contact lenses. The FTC fined Kim $50,000, but due to her limited financial resources, the Commission seized her car in lieu of payment." [Government protection of a monopoly]

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obama and his imbalanced ledger

FACT CHECK: A tricky juggling act as Obama urges more spending and a freeze on spending

The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.

Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts." He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

A look at some of Obama's statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there's little reason to think that will change.

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses.

It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

OBAMA: "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.

Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.

Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has only wanted to pay for pilot programs and studies.

Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases.

OBAMA: Praised the "important progress" made by the bipartisan fiscal commission he created last year.

THE FACTS: The panel's co-chairmen last month recommended a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases, each of them unpopular with one constituency or another, including raising the Social Security retirement age, cutting future benefit increases, raising the gasoline tax and rolling back popular tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction. But Obama has yet to sign on to any of the ideas, even though he promised when creating the panel that it would not be "one of those Washington gimmicks."

Obama missed another chance Tuesday night to embrace the tough medicine proposed by the commission for bringing down the deficit. For example, the president said he wanted to "strengthen Social Security for future generations" -- but ruled out slashing benefits or partially privatizing the program, and made no reference to raising the retirement age. That left listeners to guess how he plans to do anything to salvage the popular retirement program whose trust funds are expected to run out of money in 2037 without changes.

OBAMA: As testament to the fruits of his administration's diplomatic efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian government "faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before."

THE FACTS: That is true, and it reflects Obama's promise one year ago that Iran would face "growing consequences" if it failed to heed international demands to constrain its nuclear program. But what Obama didn't say was that U.S. diplomacy has failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate over U.N. demands that it take steps to prove it is not on the path toward a bomb. Preliminary talks with Iran earlier this month broke off after the Iranians demanded U.S. sanctions be lifted.

SOURCE

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State of the Union shows Obama is now pro-business. He should be pro-growth

By Donald J. Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama urged greater US competitiveness. But there's a big difference between cozying up to businesses and promoting policies that foster economic growth

Much is being made of president Obama’s new-found friendliness toward business, punctuated by his call “to make America the best place on Earth to do business” in last night’s State of the Union address. While moderates seem pleased, liberals dislike it, and conservatives suspect that the president isn’t sincere.

As an economist, I worry that Mr. Obama is sincere. But my concern about the president’s cozying-up to business differs greatly from the concern that animates the political left.

Contrary to popular presumption, being friendly to business is not the same as being pro-economic growth or pro-free-market. Adam Smith explained that a nation is wealthy only if its people have ready access to goods and services that make their lives healthy, comfortable, and enjoyable. The greater this access, the wealthier the nation.

Of course, to make available the goods and services that consumers want requires businesses. Unfortunately, throughout history, businesses have too often been saddled with excessive taxes and regulations in well-intentioned but misguided attempts to help workers and consumers.

Economists (especially the free-market variety) – concerned always to keep outputs of goods and services as high as possible – typically defend business against counter-productive government interference. We economists do so, however, not because we have special fondness for business. We do so because we understand that government interference in business often results in fewer goods and services for ordinary men and women – as consumers – to enjoy.

In short, an economy’s success is best measured by how well it pleases consumers, not by how well it pleases businesses.

Surprise: Businesses don't like competition

Each business sees matters differently. It wants to profit as much as possible. In a free market, businesses profit only by pleasing consumers. But a business that obtains special favors from government can profit without pleasing consumers. And it’s here that trouble starts.

Consider Obama’s commitment to make America more “competitive.” (He used variations of the word “compete” nine times in his address as part of his argument that American firms and workers are threatened by their foreign counterparts.) “Competition” sounds good. But businesses don’t like competition; they like protection from competition – along with subsidies, special tax breaks, and other government favors that relieve them from the need to cater energetically to consumer demands. So a pro-business president is prone to curry favor with businesses by shielding them from competition.

Tariffs and other import restrictions are examples of pro-business policies. They increase the bottom lines of those businesses that no longer must compete vigorously against foreign rivals. Such pro-business policies are also anti-consumer and anti-market. They rob consumers of choice; they shrink consumers’ spending power by enabling protected businesses to raise prices; and they stymie economic growth, in part by channeling entrepreneurs’ efforts into lobbying government for favors and away from figuring out how to build better mousetraps.

The irony is that such policies – which really should be labeled “crony capitalist” – are often labeled “competitiveness” policies. Because these policies increasethe profits of some domestic businesses, they are mistakenly believed to make the domestic economy more “competitive” when, in fact, they make it less so.

This abuse of language is further fostered by the habit of speaking of international trade using sports and martial metaphors, such as “level playing field” and “trade war.”

Trade: Why everyone wins

Trade, though, is neither a sport nor a battle. It’s simply what happens when two or more consenting adults exchange with each other on terms that each party to the trade finds agreeable. Unlike in football games or shooting wars, in which the victors win only by making others lose, in trade every party to every exchange wins; every party gains.

And these gains only increase as trade expands across borders. It’s true, as Obama recalled, that there was “a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn’t always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors.” But don’t be blinded by nostalgia. That was also a time of far fewer miracle drugs, of more expensive clothing, of automobiles that broke down frequently, of televisions that cost an arm and a leg and received only four channels, and of no cellphones, personal computers, and the Internet.

The fact that trade is mutually beneficial means that Obama’s and others’ concern about America’s increasing trade with foreigners – especially today with China – is unjustified. Americans aren’t losing in these trades, and the foreigners aren’t defeating us.

Yes, America has a trade deficit. But contrary to popular myth, this fact does not mean that America is economically “uncompetitive.”

An American trade deficit means that foreigners are keen to invest in America. And that’s just what they’re doing, in a big way – bigger even than in China, a nation whose impressive economic growth is interpreted by many Americans as a threat to our economy.

Did you know that in the decade from 2000 through 2009, the total amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) received by China was $686 billion, while the total amount of FDI received by the U.S. was $1.8 trillion – by far the largest inflow of capital from foreigners received by any country on earth? America’s receipt of FDI dollars exceeded China’s by 162 percent. On a per-capita basis, the figure is even greater: The amount of FDI America received per person from 2000 through 2009 was ten times (!) greater than was received by China.

So when Obama said in his speech on Tuesday night that “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” he wrongly implied that America currently doesn’t do so well in the international economy. But it does – which is not to say that there isn’t a lot of room for improvement.

The president is correct that tax and regulatory reforms – along with reining in Uncle Sam’s deficit spending – are in order. Especially welcome is his call to lower corporate tax rates. And if calling such reforms “competitiveness policies” improves their chances of being implemented, I’m all for it.

But let’s not be fooled into thinking that America’s current economic troubles are caused by America’s open participation in global trade. Keeping straight about this fact will guard against our turning a blind eye to politicians who try to pass off policies that are pro-business as policies that are pro-growth.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Gov: ‘No Barack Obama birth certificate in Hawaii’: "Nationally-syndicated radio personality/entertainment reporter Mike Evans, a man self-described as a long-time friend of Gov. Neal Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), made the Drudge Report today after he made a shocking claim on Minneapolis’ KQRS-FM radio morning show Jan. 20. In short, Evans told the show host that Governor Abercrombie told him, “There is no Barack Obama birth certificate in Hawaii. Absolutely no proof at all that he was born in Hawaii.”

Rand Paul unveils plan for $500 billion in budget cuts: "Critics lashed out Wednesday at a proposal by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul to slash numerous federal programs, including food stamps, to save $500 billion in a single year. ... Paul introduced legislation in the Senate on Tuesday that would slash $42 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food stamp program -- a 30 percent reduction from the current funding level. It also would eliminate numerous other programs, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts. Paul said the proposal, which also would cut $16 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, would roll back federal spending to 2008 levels and eliminate what he considers the most wasteful programs."

Putin: Retribution “inevitable” for airport attack: "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed 'retribution is inevitable' for the suicide bombing that killed 35 people at Russia's busiest airport, while President Dmitry Medvedev demanded robust checks at all transport hubs and lashed out at the airport for lax security. ... No claims of responsibility have been made for the attack Monday at Domodedovo Airport, which also left 180 people injured. Suspicion is likely to fall, however, on Islamist separatist insurgents from Chechnya or elsewhere in Russia's restive Caucasus region who have been battling Russian authority for over 15 years."

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, January 26, 2011

Spend, spend spend

A large chunk of President Obama’s State if the Union Address was focused on jobs, as it should have been. He acknowledged the American people want the focus of his administration and the new Congress going forward to be on job growth. He emphasized his belief that the way to grow the economy is to compete economically with the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.

Obama also emphasized government investment in green energy jobs, calling for the complete removal of subsidies for oil companies and giving those subsidies to green energy initiatives. This government intervention and manipulation of the market will only result in higher energy costs, loss of jobs due to rising costs and less efficient use of tax payer dollars. You can read more about the move by the Obama Administration to favor green energy over fossil fuels here.
With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

Obama credited the free enterprise system for driving American innovation, but what we know is that innovation has been stifled by government regulation. In order to reach this goal, Obama will have to acknowledge that red tape does not create jobs and only makes it more difficult for business owners to hire new workers. Obama vowed to take a look at burdensome regulation while keeping close the option to implement what he called necessary legislation to regulate business.
To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people.

Overall, Obama tied government regulation/de-regulation, investment/spending, global competitiveness and green jobs initiatives to the overall economy and jobs picture. With so many calls for "investment" and subsidizing an inefficient green energy/job plan, it is hard to believe Obama is taking his calls to tackle the deficit seriously.

SOURCE

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Rep. Michele Bachmann Gives her Response to SOTU

Denying that her speech was in competition with the official GOP response, Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered a brief but upbeat answer to President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday. She had clarified to CNN earlier that the Tea Party Express had invited her to speak approximately a month ago and she had had no idea that networks would pick up the speech.

Using a collection of charts to show the troubling trends in the national deficit and U.S. employment percentages, Bachmann criticized Obama's plan for economic recovery -- basically, spend more -- and took on spending levels in general, saying deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush but exploded under President Obama.

Bachmann had a list of specifics on policies Obama could adopt: stop the EPA from a job-killing cap and trade policy, support a balanced budget amendment, turn back some of the 132 regulations imposed in the last two years that could cost at least $100 million, repeal ObamaCare in favor of free market solutions, and adoptan energy policy that increases production and diminishes foreign oil dependence.

She and the president both talked about American innovation, but Bachmann said the way to do that is by reducing the tax and regulatory burden on job creations. They also both mentioned medical malpractice reform (Obama credited the GOP with the policy initiative).

While the president referenced personal success stories of individual Americans, Bachmann drew on the example of Americans fighting against repression with the famous image of soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, displayed on a screen behind her towards the end of the speech.

SOURCE

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My State of the Union Address

John Stossel

President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty and gave his report on the state of the union last night. Here's mine:

We're in deep trouble. You know why. Our debt has passed $14 trillion, and yet our current spending plans will make that worse. The U.S. debt will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.

But do not despair. If we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn't just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do. Henry David Thoreau had it right when he "accepted(ed) the motto ... that government is best which governs least."

So what should we get rid of? We start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. Education ought to be in the free market. It's insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.

Next, we should close the Department of Housing and Urban Development: $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created. Let's get government out of that business.

Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can't count the votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. Trade should be free. Free trade creates prosperity. And since trade should be free, we should eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means: agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies and subsidies for public broadcasting. None of these is needed.

I propose selling Amtrak. Taxpayers will save money, and riders will get better service. Why is government in the transportation business? Let's have private companies compete to run the trains.

And we must finally stop one of the biggest assaults on freedom and our pocketbook, the war on drugs. The drug war is really a war on our own people. The ends do not justify the means.

Now the biggest cuts. Republicans propose to cut discretionary nonmilitary spending. Good. But why stop there? That's only 15 percent of our budget. We must cut more. That means cutting Medicare, Social Security and the military.

I know. Medicare and Social Security are popular, but they are unsustainable. We must privatize Social Security and slowly replace Medicare with vouchers.

And that brings me to Obamacare. The only way to cut costs and still have medical innovation is to free the market. So I propose that we repeal Obamacare immediately. Then we must do more: We must repeal all government interference in the medical and insurance industries, including licensing. All that impedes competition.

Now, military spending. Do you recall what candidate Obama said about the war in Iraq? "I will bring this war to an end in 2009. So don't be confused."

But I am confused. We're two years past 2009, but we still have 48,000 troops in Iraq. We must shrink the military's mission to truly national defense. That means pulling our troops out of Germany, Japan, Italy and dozens of other countries. America cannot and should not try to police the entire world. We can't afford it, and it's not right.

Those cuts will put America on the road to solvency. But that's not enough. We also need economic growth. Our growth has stalled because millions of pages of regulations make businesses too fearful to invest. Entrepreneurs don't know what the rules -- or taxes -- will be tomorrow. This discourages hiring.

All destructive laws must go. I again propose the Stossel Rule: For every new law passed, we must repeal two old ones.

We need to progress to an America that cherishes individual freedom. That means a government limited by the Constitution, one that protects our shores and our persons but otherwise stays out of our way. We should take seriously the words of another president, Thomas Jefferson, and embrace "a wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned -- this is the sum of good government."

That's my State of the Union address.

SOURCE

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The Biggest Lie in American Politics

Ben Shapiro

For decades, liberals have used "big business" as a bugaboo. Leftists say corporations are mean, heartless and cruel -- and what's more, they're inherently capitalist and conservative. When the economy tanks, liberals blame right-wing corporations; when the regulatory state fails, liberals claim that corporations have perverted the system.

In reality, corporations aren't conservative. They aren't capitalist. They're after the nearest buck. And when the nearest buck can be obtained simply by playing footsie with the federal government, big business becomes an emissary of the government.

To achieve its ends, the federal government employs two methods: the carrot and the stick. The carrot is special regulation and legislation benefitting certain businesses; the stick is heavy regulation designed to threaten businesses into compliance with federal mandates.

This last week provided proof in spades that big business has become a tool of the state. On Jan. 18, the Federal Communications Commission OK'ed the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. In order to obtain permission for that merger, however, the FCC required that Comcast fulfill certain conditions: NBC and Telemundo will need to add 1,000 hours of local news; Comcast must subsidize low-income Internet access to the tune of $10 per month for 2.5 million low-income households; and most egregiously, Comcast must increase Spanish-language programming.

Comcast, seeking to confirm the $30 billion deal, went along with the regulatory blackmail. And so Comcast became an active part of the liberal program to reach out to Hispanics, the poor, and a news media that desperately needs government interventionism in order to survive.

In the same vein, Republican entrepreneur Donald Trump caved in to Democrats this week in an attempt to protect his business interests. While The Donald is no fan of President Obama -- he says that China is "laughing at our leadership" and that Obama is letting China "get away with murder" -- he willingly forked over a $50,000 check to Rahm Emanuel's Chicago mayoral campaign. No doubt Trump's Chicago real estate holdings had something to do with the contribution.

When the government isn't taking away, it's giving. This week, President Obama conferred knighthood on Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, by appointing him to head his Economic Advisory Panel. In the recent past, Immelt has vacillated between criticism and praise of the Obama administration -- last July, he said that Obama was anti-business, while in December, Immelt praised Obama's outreach to business. Immelt's wild swings between antipathy and peonage to the Obama administration closely mirror the administration's treatment of GE: In general, when GE gets a handout, Immelt is a happy camper.

This relationship has worked beautifully for the government. GE has utterly abandoned its capitalistic, entrepreneurial past. Instead, it has embraced the roller coaster ups-and-downs of government subsidization. Immelt doesn't believe that the main job of government is to keep the hell out of a company's way -- he believes instead that government should become a "partner" in crime. According to Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney, GE has spent $65.7 million on lobbying, outpacing its competition by leaps and bounds.

GE and Comcast aren't alone in their desire to cozy up to the federal government. Google, once an entrepreneurial superstar, now links arms with the Obama administration by pushing "net neutrality," a scheme designed to run its competitors out of business via government regulation. Like GE, Google has one of its own inside the Obama administration -- Andrew McLaughlin, Google's former top policy executive, is currently deputy chief technology officer of the Obama administration. He has already been called on the carpet for asking Google to use its power to help out his new White House buddies.

Welcome to today's corporate America, where business takes a back seat to politics. The stock market now swings wildly based on Ben Bernanke's moods; the banking system teeters each time Barney Frank sneezes; titans of American industry scrape and bow for the scraps from Obama's dinner plate. Corporations are no longer capitalist but statist. Next time liberals cite the misdeeds of big business to complain about the ills of capitalism, inform them that big business is more a representative of government than it is of the free market.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Does favoring free enterprise mean favoring “business?”: "The idealistic Left is undoubtedly upset with Obama's new turn, but are these people really naive enough to believe that there is such as thing as a big government that is somehow untainted by the backing of big business? As for the chamber-of-commerce Republicans, can they really be fooled into believing that such moves amount to a new friendliness on the part of Obama to the interests of the private sector?"

Ventura sues TSA over pat-down; Quotes 4th Amendment: "Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration on Monday, alleging full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints violate his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Ventura is asking a federal judge in Minnesota to issue an injunction ordering officials to stop subjecting him to 'warrantless and suspicionless' scans and body searches."

Stop the debt limit doomsaying: "Democrats, left-wing advocacy groups, and the mainstream media are salivating over the debt-limit fight as a way to undermine the fiscal credibility of the newly elected Republican House majority. Some Republicans have threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling if significant spending cuts aren’t passed as well; the Left argues that if they make good on this threat, they will severely damage the fiscal health of the country. This argument, however, overstates the risk of not increasing the debt ceiling and recklessly spreads fear in capital markets."

Three cheers for the House of Lords: "People argue that the Lords is undemocratic, has no mandate, and therefore shouldn’t delay the will of the government. But without the unelected Lords making trouble for the coalition, this would be close to an elected dictatorship."

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

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

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

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Burns Night tonight

As I usually do, I will be celebrating the birth of a great poet tonight -- a pleasant break from politics. So I have put up all my blogs earlier in the day than usual.

Haggis here we come! I may put up something about it all on my personal blog later on.

Do Leftists celebrate Burns Night? I doubt that many do. It is only grievance that turns them on.

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The Assassination Attempt You Have Not Heard Of

The American Thinker brings us word of an attempted assassination you probably have never heard of.

It happened in September of 2010 in Missouri. A 22 year old named Casey Brezik, wearing a bullet proof vest, charged toward Missouri’s Democratic Governor Jay Nixon with a knife and attempted to slash his throat.

In light of the media’s race to talk about the right’s climate of hateful rhetoric, you have probably guessed by now that Casey Brezik was an anti-Christian, anti-capitalist Leftist who participated in a number of leftwing protests. He was also a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic.

Luckily for all involved, Brezik was high on pot at the time and got confused. Instead of slashing the Governor’s throat, he slashed the throat of a community college dean he took for the Governor. Jack Cashill, writing at the American Thinker, notes:
In his “About Me” box on Facebook, Brezik listed as his favorite quotation one from progressive poster boy, Che Guevara. The quote begins “Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism” and gets more belligerent from there.

On his wall postings, Brezik ranted, “How are we the radical(s) (left) to confront the NEW RIGHT, if we avoid confrontation all together?”

As good as his word, Brezik marched on Toronto in June 2010 to protest the G20 Summit, where he was arrested, charged, and deported. “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED,” he boasted.

Given what we have seen come out of Arizona, we can establish two things as fact. First, had Governor Nixon been harmed in any way, the media would have immediately begun lamenting the tea party movement and “political rhetoric.” Second, had the injuries been as they were, but Brezik had listed himself as a Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh fan on his Facebook wall, the media would have covered this exactly as they covered Arizona.

SOURCE

Conservatives have long regarded the US media as biased, but this revelation establishes that it is wholly corrupt. There's no longer any question

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Trade Deficit Blues

Ever since the Christmas holidays, I have been unable to sleep. Every night I pace the floors in anxiety. The cause of my concerns? My purchase of a Christmas present for myself — an easy chair. No, it’s not guilt over my new comfort that is causing my distress. Rather it’s the fact that there is now an imbalance of trade between me and the company from which I purchased the chair.

You see, all my life I’ve been taught that an imbalance of trade is something really bad, something to be dreaded. So, here I went and spent hundreds of dollars on an easy chair from a retail company here in Virginia. Yet, at no time since then has that company purchased anything from me. We now have a serious imbalance of trade and there doesn’t seem to be any possibility that such imbalance is going to be rectified anytime soon.

In fact, if truth be told, that’s not the only reason I am now so nervous. While obsessing over the trade deficit between me and that chair company, I concluded that there must be an imbalance of trade between Virginia and Florida. Now, mind you, I don’t know which state is on the favorable end of the trade imbalance and which is on the unfavorable end. I just am certain that there has as to be an imbalance of trade between the two states.

My hunch is that given the popularity of Disney World, it is Florida that is winning out. But since I am an American, I’m concerned for whichever state happens to be on the losing end of the trade deficit, even if it’s Florida. Something has to be done to rectify the trade imbalance between our respective states. Isn’t it possible that the state on the losing end could be drained of all its wealth if the trade imbalance between the two states is allowed to worsen?

In fact, I’m shocked that the mainstream media doesn’t even report on the trade imbalance between Virginia and Florida on the front page of the newspaper. They seem to recognize how serious and how dangerous an international trade imbalance can be. After all, they never cease reminding us of the horrible dangers to America arising from the trade deficit with China.

I do find it interesting that the mainstream media never seems to be too concerned about those countries with which the United States has a favorable balance of trade. You’d think the media would be concerned about the people in those countries. But I suppose that since the mainstream media is composed of Americans, they’re only concerned with countries that are beating us, not the countries that we are defeating, in the never-ending trade war between nations.

Needless to say, all of above is written in the spirit of ridicule. The so-called trade imbalance is one of the most ridiculous notions that have ever been conceived. I don’t really pace the floors over the fact that the chair store and I have a trade imbalance, and I couldn’t care less about the trade imbalance between Virginia and Florida. For that matter, I couldn’t care less about the trade imbalance between China and the United States, or the trade imbalance between the United States and any other country, favorable or unfavorable. I just don’t care about trade imbalances.

Suppose the federal agency that reports trade data were to be abolished and that Americans were no longer kept apprised of the trade statistics between China and the United States. It would be the best thing that could ever happen. No longer would statist economists, public officials, and the mainstream media lose sleep over the trade deficit between the two countries. No longer would they be pacing the floors, night after night, worrying about what to do about the trade deficit.

Without all that trade data, the attitude toward trade between nations would be the same as it is between me and the chair company or between Virginia and Florida. No one would care. People would simply live their lives as they ordinarily do, making their purchases and conducting their businesses. Neither China nor the United States would fall into economic collapse over a trade deficit any more than Virginia or Florida (or any other states) fall into economic collapse owing to their trade deficit.

What really matters is the concept of economic liberty. Americans (and everyone else) should be free to buy whatever they want from whomever they want and spend or invest their money anywhere they want. It’s their money, after all. It doesn’t belong to the state or to society.

Forget the trade deficit between me and that chair company, between Virginia and Florida and between every other state, and between the United States and every other country. Forget international trade negotiations and treaties. Instead, just unilaterally repeal and dismantle every restriction on the freedom of the American people to dispose of their own money the way they wish. It doesn’t matter whether trade between individuals, states, or nations balances or not. All that matters is the fundamental, natural, God-given right of people to freely trade with others anywhere in the world.

SOURCE

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Senate folly

I doubt that Harry will get support from his own troops for this. There must be some who can foresee the new rules being used against them in two year's time. It is a big ask to ask Leftists to think ahead but presumably some can manage it a little

As if the 111th Congress was not bad enough with Harry Reid's near super-majority in the Senate, the 112th could be far worse if Senate leadership gets their desired rule changes.

In what is best described as an attempt to sabotage (perhaps unwittingly) the Senate's long standing role as a "cooling plate" for public policy, the Democrats have proposed a series of rule changes that would significantly weaken the minority party's ability to delay, modify, or defeat controversial legislation.

The Democrats, eager to continue to pass more of their rejected Big Government agenda, have devised a procedural plan to shove more statist schemes down our throats.

Make no mistake; these proposed changes are a direct attack on our country's long tradition of defending the minority against what Madison would have called the tyranny of majority "factions."

Even though at times, Senate procedure seems arcane or even silly, these procedures are in place with intention passed on straight from the Founding Fathers - to make the Senate a bulwark against tyranny by a narrow majority and to guarantee senators reach at least a minimal consensus to pass controversial legislation.

Senator Tom Udall (NM) proposed the rules package the Senate is most likely to move forward with. In layman's terms, the proposal would do the following:

* Shorten the debate time on judicial nominees from thirty hours to just two hours. This would significantly weaken the serious scrutiny that judicial appointees should receive.

* Eliminate the ability of a senator to place a "hold" on freedom-stealing legislation.

* Several proposed changes to Senate filibusters would significantly weaken or destroy the procedure altogether.

As we experienced with numerous legislative fights over the past two years, the filibuster on cloture motions helped defeat egregious legislation such as DISCLOSE Act, Police-Firefighter Forced Unionism, Cap and Tax, an even worse health care law, and many more items on their statist agenda.

If Harry Reid and his cohorts get their way, the Senate will turn into the House on steroids. A frequent talking point from Democrats is, "The House passed 400 more bills than the Senate during the 111th Congress; therefore, the Senate is broken." Do not fall for the rhetoric. That is precisely what the Senate was intended to do — act as a "cooling plate" for the "heated passions" of the House.

Unfortunately, Reid and his statist allies are actively seeking to cut a deal with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass at least some, if not all, of their changes. They have threatened to pursue a "nuclear option" (appeal to the Vice President to suspend the current rules and pass new chamber rules by a simple 51 vote majority) if the Republicans refuse to support their proposals.

You see, in 1959 the Senate was declared a "continuing body," meaning their rules stay the same from Congress to Congress unless a two-thirds majority votes to change the rules on the first legislative day. However, the likelihood of 13 Republicans supporting the measure is so unlikely the only way for Democrats to pass these rules are by cutting a deal or "going nuclear."

If the rules package passes, the long-protected minority party's rights in the Senate will be decimated. In reality, their proposed changes are more likely to make the Senate even more dysfunctional than what they currently consider "broken."

SOURCE

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At Least Some People Get It

The Obama administration continues to scratch its collective head over what to do about creating jobs. After the disastrous failure of the numerous mega-billion-buck bailouts intended to lower the unemployment rate, even the now happily departed lame-duck Congress refused to pass another massive pork bomb. The Obamanistas, devoted Keynesians all, have pushed through more spending more quickly than any other administration in history. The national debt, which stood at $13 trillion on June 2, 2010, closed the year at $14 trillion. So we have spent beyond the dreams of Keynes’ avarice, and the unemployment rate still hovers near 10%.

Meanwhile, up in the Great White North, our Canadian friends have shown the way. For the fourth year in a row, they are lowering their federal corporate tax rate. It has just been dropped to 16.5%. This is less than half the American federal rate of 35%. Amazing, considering that Canada is sometimes supposed to be the pure welfare state, while we are the pure capitalist one.

And it won’t stop there. In 2012, the Canadian federal rate will drop to 15%, bringing the combined federal and provincial rate on businesses to about 25%. Back in 2000, the combined Canadian corporate income tax rate was 42.6%, so the decline has been dramatic.

Besides cutting the corporate tax rate, the Canadian government has eliminated corporate surtaxes as well as levies on capital.

All these incentives, combined with Canada’s healthy financial sector — Canada never created crazy government agencies to encourage and then purchase bad mortgages (it apparently grasps the concept of moral hazard!) — are enticing increased business investment. Spectra Energy of Houston, for example, has decided to invest $2 billion in Canadian energy and infrastructure projects. The Citco Group, a financial firm, has decided to open its only North American bank in Canada. And the big accounting firm KMPG has moved many of its operations to Canada.

American corporate taxes remain the second highest in the industrialized world. Our competitors to the north have grasped the idea that to tax an activity is to deter it. The Canadians obviously want more business, not less. And the reason they want more is that they grasp the fact that business creates jobs.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Taxpayers Paying Fannie’s, Freddie’s Legal Bills: "“Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and their regulator produced an accounting at the request of Congress…. The legal payments show no sign of abating. ” [But the big bucks raked in by the executives over the years are safely beyond the taxpayers’ reach]

Obama regime steps up abuse of whistleblower: "Military officials at Marine Corps Base Quantico today increased the isolation of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning by detaining Manning’s friend and regular visitor David House at the base entrance until visiting hours were over. ... [According to Bradley Manning Support Network founder Mike Gogulski] 'Immediately following a rally by more than 150 supporters at Quantico last week, Brad was put on suicide watch for two days for reasons his counsel could only conclude were punitive ...'"

Republicans press for Senate vote on health care: "Senate Republicans want to box majority Democrats into allowing a health care repeal vote even if GOP lawmakers expect to be on the losing side. 'We need to have a vote on it because we promised the people we would,' Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday on 'Face the Nation' on CBS."

Portugal: Voters pick conservative president, shun government: "Portugal elected its conservative president to a second term Sunday, delivering a harsh political setback to the minority Socialist government which is struggling to contain an acute economic crisis. Anibal Cavaco Silva, who is supported by the main opposition Social Democratic Party, collected 53 percent of the vote compared with 20 percent for second-placed Socialist Party candidate Manuel Alegre, official figures showed with 98 percent of districts returning."

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, January 24, 2011

Ike's Admonition

Ken Connor

The 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's famous farewell address to the nation has prompted much discussion about the prescience of his message. Has Eisenhower's vision of an America dominated by a military-industrial complex come to fruition? What would he think about our current military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan? Has Eisenhower's address been wrongly interpreted, misapplied, or misunderstood over the decades? Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan, offered her perspective on the address in an op-ed for The Washington Post:
"While the farewell address may be remembered primarily for the passages about the military-industrial complex, Ike was rising above the issues of the day to appeal to his countrymen to put the nation and its future first. 'We . . . must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.'"

The lessons that Susan Eisenhower takes away from her grandfather's speech prompted me - as I'm sure it has many others - to read President Eisenhower's address for myself. And like Susan, what I found most insightful and inspirational about Ike's words were his emphasis on the importance of balance in our approach to and expectations of government, the obligations of national identity and intergenerational bonds, and the need to remember and preserve the spirit of faith and democratic values that undergird the American experiment:
"Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. . . .

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs - balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages - balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration."

Unfortunately, it seems that in the half century that has elapsed since Eisenhower's address we have forgotten - or forsaken - this critical principle of balance and are at risk of becoming the "insolvent phantom" of Eisenhower's tomorrow.

There can be no denying that America has truly become a nation of "spectacular and costly action." We have, both individually and collectively, become a society of blind consumers and reckless spenders that looks to government as the guarantor of our comfort and security. Unable to distinguish between our wants and our needs, we've driven ourselves to the very brink of financial insolvency.

A spirit of greed and a lack of concern for the long-term consequences of our actions was the root of the huge Wall Street/mortgage/banking crisis of 2008 and the subsequent bailouts. Those same attitudes are at work in the funding crises involving entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. They are evidenced by the reigning influence of a "global corporate" complex that is aided and abetted by Washington, insulated from accountability for wrongdoing, and singularly focused on profits to the exclusion of all other concerns.

Were Eisenhower alive today, he might wonder what has happened to the America he knew - a land of "free and religious people" who still embraced the Judeo-Christian values of piety, thrift, personal responsibility and diligence at the heart of the American spirit. Today's America is increasingly reflecting a rigid secularism fiercely antagonistic to religion and her offspring, morality and ethics. Virtue is being rejected as an antiquated notion, and individualism reigns. Everywhere we turn, we are faced with the looming consequences of our shortsightedness, self-indulgence, and hubris, and we are willing to do just about anything to avoid accountability for our actions. For decades now, the preferred method has been to kick the can of responsibility down the road - leaving the problem for the next generation to solve - rather than do the hard work of changing how we think and how we live in the here and now.

Every election cycle, aspiring politicians ask the American people for their support and promise that they are the leaders who will, once and for all, set America back on the path towards stability, solvency, and success. But even the most honorable and hardworking politician can't do this alone. It requires the support of a nation committed to a revolution in how we think and act, from the blue collar working man to the high-powered corporate CEO. Given the trajectory we are on, unless everyone gets on board, we will inevitably slide into mediocrity and hopeless indebtedness.

Fifty years from now, when America celebrates the 100th anniversary of Eisenhower's speech, I pray that my own grandchildren will be able to rejoice in the fact that their nation was able to change course before it was too late.

SOURCE

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Note to Conservatives: Guard Your History

Critics forget that the Gipper had to deal with a Democrat majority Congress

February 6th marks the 100th birthday of President Ronald Reagan, and while his legacy as the pre-eminent conservative of the 20th century remains not only unshaken but sturdier than ever, his ideological heirs had better guard the truth of the 1980's from those who typically rewrite history to suit their own ends.

Conservatives, who typically feel more at home in the realms of military and business, readily concede art and academia to the left. Little wonder that Calvin Coolidge is widely regarded as a docile country bumpkin who slept his presidency away, and Warren Harding, the scandalous bootleg-gin swilling philanderer has transformed the real 29th president who, according to some accounts, literally worked himself to death.

Revisionists today would like history to recall that Ronald Reagan was not the conservative the modern right makes him out to be. A May 2010 Newsweek piece entitled "Even Ronald Reagan Was Not a Reagan Conservative" cites numerous tax increases, a skyrocketing budget deficit and the size of the federal government (versus the Clinton years), among other actions during his presidency, to prove that modern-day conservatives would have booted the Gipper much like they did George W. Bush into his second term.

Point of fact: conservatives, particularly those who were around at the time, will concede (albeit reluctantly) that the Reagan Revolution lost some of its steam in the second term, thus enabling the Democrats to regain the Senate in 1986. Nonetheless, his early tax increases were enacted with the understanding that the Democrat-controlled House would make spending cuts - for which we're still waiting. (Is it just me or does bi-partisanship usually work to the detriment of America's best interests?)

As to the growth of government, even if the Newsweek claim is true, power is not measurable in the mere number of federal employees - a more streamlined, more outsourced, more efficient Nanny-state is still just that. The entrepreneurial, can-do spirit that Reagan unleashed is what sustained America's economy for a generation.

To understand Reagan (and Newsweek and other outlets clearly don't) demands context. In 1980', America and the GOP itself had seldom seen such a powerful, likeable conservative on the national stage, and it took an epic loss in the 1976 primary to finally secure the nomination four years later. No talk radio, no Internet, no cable news - conservative dialogue was mostly limited to National Review and PBS's The Firing Line. With a massive Democrat majority in the House and an entrenched federal bureaucracy, Reagan was able to cut top marginal tax rates from around 70 percent to just under 30 percent and also gave businesses investment tax credits and depreciation deductions.

He not only forged a path for future Republican leaders, he set the bar and he raised it high. The point is not whether Reagan would be a conservative by modern standards, his greatness is earned because he refused to surrender American prosperity and pre-eminence when such senile blather was not couth and not cool, not in the Washington establishment and not even in his own party.

Now that the liberal brand has clearly fallen out of favor, we're hearing more and more that labels don't matter, that victory is won not on the extremes but in the center. Don't be fooled - Reagan's impact on modern conservatism is incalculable, and while he may have surrendered some details, he never let go of his vision, and that is why his name, and not Gerald Ford's or Bob Dole's or John McCain's, is synonymous with American exceptionalism. Reagan's memory belongs not just to historians - of either the left or the right - but to the fruitful, law-abiding Americans in whom he invested so much faith. The truth of his purpose and legacy is the ultimate gift to a free people on his 100th birthday.

SOURCE

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Another revelation about Obamacare

Americans are already experiencing the chaos that the new law has created in our regional healthcare markets, which has led to health insurance costs rising as much as 40% in some cases, just since its passage.

But another key reason why Obamacare cannot be left in its current form can be found in research conducted by our government itself. No, the claims of congressional Republicans "killing Americans" are not to be taken seriously. But President Obama's attempt at caring for our health may be sickening, and even endangering, the American work ethic.

According to none other than the Congressional Budget Office, many of us have decided we no longer will have to work as much as we once did, given all the "assistance" we can get via Obamacare. This is not just political "spin" or partisan punditry. It comes directly from Douglas Elmendorf, the Director of the non-partisan C.B.O., a federal agency within the legislative branch of our government that employs people to analyze government policies, and consider their impact on the federal budget, and on the economy. The C.B.O. likely produces some of the most objective, "fair," and non-politicized data that we receive from our government.

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

Mr. Elmendorf stated that, in some cases, Americans will simply choose not to work, because their needs for healthcare will be provided by the enhanced Medicaid funding that is provided for in the Obamacare law. As Journalist Matt Cover noted at CNSNews.com (he was one of few journalists that actually reported on this event), this assessment of Obamacare by Mr. Elmendorf coincided with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's remarks in May 2010. Recall that last year, then-Speaker Pelosi insisted that Obamacare would allow "artists" to "quit their day job" and pursue their art, free from the constraints of having to provide for one's self, because the government would now take care of artists' healthcare needs. That all sounded so good, right? It seemed like President Obama was making good on his agenda of, as he likes to say in his folksy fashion, "gettin' people some help."

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

The promises of Obamacare - reduced health care costs, universal access, a balanced federal budget - are illusory. Yet given the ways with which Obamacare was "sold" to voters, it is now apparent that politicians in our federal government have incentivized (some) people to consume more than they produce, and have assured them that it is their "right" to do so.

Obamacare must be struck down, and meaningful "reforms" must replace it. In its current form, it is the drug that is leaving the patient more sickly.

SOURCE

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High-speed rail is a fast way to waste taxpayer money

Where can the new Congress start cutting spending? Here's one obvious answer: high-speed rail. The Obama administration is sending billions of stimulus dollars around the country for rail projects that make no sense and that, if they are ever built, will be a drag on taxpayers indefinitely.

When incoming Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio canceled high-speed rail projects, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood refused to let them spend the dollars on other forms of transportation and sent the funds instead to California and other states.

Walker argued that Wisconsin didn't need $810 billion for a 78-mile line between Madison and Milwaukee because there's already a transportation artery -- Interstate 94 -- that enables people to get from one city to the other in a little more than an hour (I once drove that route to have dinner in Milwaukee).

Kasich's rationale? "They tried to give us $400 million to build a high-speed train that goes 39 miles an hour." Train boosters countered that its top speed was 79 miles per hour -- about the same as many drivers on Interstate 71.

High-speed rail may sound like a good idea. It works, and reportedly even makes a profit, in Japan and France. If they can do it, why can't we?

A look at some proposed projects gives the answer. Take the $2.7 billion, 84-mile line connecting Orlando and Tampa that incoming Florida Gov. Rick Scott is mulling over.

It would connect two highly decentralized metro areas that are already connected by Interstate 4. Urban scholar Wendell Cox, writing for the Reason Foundation, found that just about any door-to-door trip between the two metro areas would actually take longer by train than by auto, and would cost more. Why would any business traveler take the train?

Much more HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Report: Fraud plagues global health fund: "A $21.7 billion development fund backed by celebrities and hailed as an alternative to the bureaucracy of the United Nations sees as much as two-thirds of some grants eaten up by corruption, The Associated Press has learned. Much of the money is accounted for with forged documents or improper bookkeeping, indicating it was pocketed, investigators for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria say."

NM: Man beats TSA on ID case: "Capitol Hill software developer, civil liberties advocate, member of the Hill's Chamber of Commerce and, yes, frequent CHS commenter Phil Mocek announced this weekend that he was acquitted of all charges stemming from his arrest after refusing to show identification to TSA agents at the Albuquerque airport in November 2009. Mocek was in New Mexico this week to be tried on misdemeanor charges including concealing his identity from officers who responded when he tried to pass through airport security without an ID in the 2009 incident. ... It took the New Mexico jury all of an hour to find Mocek not guilty."

Dangerous bath salts? "When Neil Brown got high on bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so lucky after snorting, injecting or smoking powders with such innocuous-sounding names as Ivory Snow, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky. Law enforcement agents and poison control centers say the bath salts, with their complex chemical names, are an emerging menace in several U.S. states where authorities talk of banning their sale."

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)

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

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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