Saturday, February 12, 2011

Abraham Lincoln 'tried to deport slaves' to British colonies

Abraham Lincoln’s reputation as the great champion of America’s slaves has taken a battering amid new evidence that the revered president wanted to send many of them to toil in British colonies in the Caribbean.

Academics Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page claim that documents uncovered in British archives show that Lincoln was rather less enamoured by the prospect of a racially-united America than is often assumed.

The 16th U.S. president is widely lionised in the U.S. for winning the American Civil War for the Union and bringing an end to slavery.

Although earlier historians have conceded that he did propose sending some of the freed slaves to new colonies, they have dismissed it as a ruse designed to placate racist voters. However, according to evidence from the British legation in Washington that has turned up at the National Archives in Kew, the president was deadly serious about black colonisation right up until his assassination in 1865.

Mr Magness and Mr Page say that just after Lincoln announced the freedom of three quarters of America’s four million slaves with his historic 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, he authorised plans to set up freedmen’s settlements in what is now Belize and Guyana.

And even as black soldiers were dying for the Union cause and a mission to send 453 freed slaves to colonise a pest-ridden island off Haiti met with a disastrous small pox outbreak, Mr Lincoln was secretly authorising British officials to recruit what could have been hundreds of thousands of blacks for a new life on the sugar and cotton plantations of Central America.

Papers show Lincoln personally met agents for the then-colonies of British Honduras and British Guiana and authorised them to go into the camps of the recently-freed slaves and find recruits. One of the agents, John Hodge, assured the British ambassador that 'it was [Lincoln’s] honest desire that this should go ahead'.

Lincoln also considered a plan to get thousands of black soldiers out of the way after the civil war ended by sending them down to Panama to build a canal.

The new evidence, contained in a forthcoming book entitled Colonisation After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, is causing ructions in the U.S. over the legacy of its most revered president. Some neo-Nazi websites have seized on it as evidence of Lincoln's anti-black inclinations.

However, Mr Page, a Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, insisted that it was wrong to conclude Lincoln was a racist. Blacks had been lynched during recent race riots in New York and the president was motivated by a fear that the freeing of black slaves would cause serious racial strife, said Mr Page.

In addition, Lincoln always made clear the emigration would be voluntary, he said. 'I don’t think it was ever about any personal dislike for blacks,' Mr Page said.

'That said, that’s not to let him off the hook because if you’re backing black colonisation you’re kind of putting your blessing on racism. But he saw strife coming.'

In the end, records show that Lincoln’s plans were foiled, largely because of the reluctance of the British government who feared the pro-slavery South might win the Civil War and sue Britain for its lost slaves. At the same time, the U.S. Congress was upset about the failure of the Haiti project and another attempt to colonise land in Panama.

America is sensitive to accusations that it has ever behaved as a colonial power, a label it prefers to stick on Britain and other European countries. Mr Magness admitted that historians had 'tended to downplay' Lincoln’s commitment to colonisation as it did not 'mesh' with his image as the Great Emancipator of the slaves.

SOURCE

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Indian movies versus Islam

Ten years and two wars after 9/11, America’s struggle against Islamist terrorism is nowhere close to succeeding. If a superpower like America can’t vanquish the scourge, is there any force in the world that can?

There might well be: Bollywood, India’s flamboyant film industry. Just as the Beatles and rock ’n’ roll helped bring down the Kremlin, Bollywood might prove to be the undoing of Osama bin Laden and his noxious brand of Islamic fundamentalism.

Conventional wisdom holds that Communism collapsed because America ruined the Soviet economy by embroiling it in an arms race that it couldn’t afford. In fact, the West won the Cold War less because it pointed nuclear missiles at the Soviet people, and more because it won their hearts and minds. And in this it was aided by its music and pop culture, which gave it unrivaled soft power. It made young people feel that while they were huddled behind the Iron Curtain in a world of drab conformity, next door one helluva of a party was going on.

No less an authority than Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged to Paul McCartney that the Beatles paved the way for perestroika and glasnost — his vain attempts to save Communism by reforming it.

But can Western pop culture do the trick against radical Islam? Unlikely. American culture, despite its alleged ubiquity, doesn’t have the same transformative power in Eastern countries that don’t share the West’s ethnic, religious and cultural background. MTV and Hollywood are certainly watched in the Arab world — but their appeal is more voyeuristic than aspirational; it stems from a curiosity about how exotic people in alien countries live, not from any inclination to emulate them. But Bollywood’s allure, rooted in shared heritage, values and political issues, is different. And India’s economic success makes its pop culture even more compelling.

The Middle East is Bollywood’s third-largest overseas market, and growing so rapidly that many Bollywood movies now hold premieres in Dubai on opening night. A Universal Studios-like Bollywood theme park is expected to be a major draw for regional tourists.

But the Muslim country most in the grip of Bollywood mania is Pakistan, India’s cultural twin in every respect but religion. As with the Beatles under Communism, the more that aggressive Pakistani authorities have tried to purge Bollywood from their soil, the more its popularity has grown. During the country’s four-decade-long ban on Indian movies, Pakistanis smuggled VHS tapes and installed satellite dishes. The ban was finally lifted in 2008 — and the Bollywood scene in Pakistan exploded. Not only have Bollywood movies been playing to packed houses, but Indian movie stars — despite Islam’s taboo against idol worship — are treated like demigods. The latest fad among Pakistan’s nouveau riche is Bollywood-themed weddings in which the bride and groom dress like a movie’s stars and hold their reception in elaborate tents patterned after the movie set.

Both Hollywood and Bollywood idealize true love that conquers all. But the obstacles that Hollywood’s lovers face — affairs, commitment-phobia, previous lovers — have nothing to do with the concerns of people in traditional Muslim countries. They can relate far better to Bollywood’s paramours, whose chief impediments are familial demands, given that arranged marriage is still a revered institution in that part of the world. Bollywood certainly encourages young lovers to follow their hearts — but by convincing their families of the rightness of their cause, not by turning their backs on them. A typical Bollywood movie ends with lovers returning home after tying the knot.

But there is another reason for Bollywood’s appeal in the Islamic world. Since its inception, some of Bollywood’s biggest stars have been Muslims. Currently, the industry’s three top male leads are Muslims — all with the last name Khan. Bollywood’s most respected music composer, A.R. Rahman, who won an Oscar for his score in “Slumdog Millionaire,” is also a Muslim, as are many of Bollywood’s best lyric and script writers.

The success of these Muslims has profound implications for the emergence of a moderate Islam. They have a very different attitude toward their faith from the one prescribed by radical Islamists. Some of them are more observant than others (movie gossip circles are always abuzz over which member of the Khan troika is more serious about his faith). But ultimately their faith is about their spiritual elevation, not Taliban-style subordination. For example, “Slumdog”’s Rahman has composed qawwalis, the devotional songs embraced by Sufis, who practice a mystical version of Islam. The best Sufi music now comes from the Indian subcontinent, partly because of Muslims in Bollywood. By showcasing these artists, Bollywood demonstrates to Muslims everywhere that the demands of modernity don’t require them to abandon their traditions. Islamists understand this well, which is why they have been known to launch vicious broadsides against Bollywood.

America so far has relied mostly on hard power to defeat the Islamist threat. This strategy depends on it killing more terrorists than it is producing. If its calculus of attrition doesn’t pan out, it won’t mean that there is nothing left to resist Islamist extremism. The soft power of Bollywood will slowly but surely do its work.

SOURCE

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Progressives are Arrogant

Progressivism is all about arrogance. And that arrogance manifests itself in the various policy prescriptions that progressive politicians routinely profess from their high government offices in Washington, D.C.

These progressive bureaucrats and politicians in Washington love telling people how to do things. They think up regulations all day long to try and direct your life in the direction that they see fit.

Just look at Michelle Obama. She regularly preaches to all Americans the type of diet everyone should maintain. Of course, she doesn’t have to follow her own recommended diet, but the rest of us should. How does she make this so? She gets a bill passed that requires the FDA to regulate our meals more.

Progressives are also naturally inclined to be always worried about myths and magic. Need an example? Net neutrality.

This regulation from the progressive wing of the Obama administration comes to us from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) where the Chairman, Julius Genachowski, must be sitting around in his office all day long worrying about things that aren’t happening.

You see, the regulations known as “net neutrality” is derived out of the fear that Internet service providers (ISP’s) will suddenly start playing “nanny” and regulating the websites that you visit. Of course, there have been virtually no documented instances of this happening, but the regulating progressive bureaucrats must regulate anyway. Currently, the FCC is exploring how to implement such net neutrality regulations on the rest of us.

Fear and magic are the driving forces behind progressive policy making. If something requires magic to occur, then it will be regulated because according to a progressive, it could possibly occur. It matters little difference to them that magic does not exist.

Just look at the arguments that politicians routinely threw around following the extension of what is known as the “Bush tax cuts.” Many progressive politicians seriously argued that by voting for the extension of the existing tax code, they were enacting new and even lower tax rates. Of course that is not true, but it did not stop them from committing a little rhetoric magic. Politicians suggesting that they had lowered your taxes could be found all over Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of that vote.

The progressive mindset lurks in both parties in Washington, D.C.. Government nannies and worrywarts always emerge to “fix” the wrongs of the world. While their fixes never seem to work, there is never a shortage of these progressive experts to tell the rest of us how to do things.

What is most surprising is that we are even allowed to vote anymore. Progressive politicians have had their hands on the levers of power for quite some time, and during that time they have not found a single thing in society that they could trust a private citizen to do without the help of the government. But when it comes to voting, at least they haven’t touched that. Yet.

SOURCE

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'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once': Refreshing the President's memory

Bill O'Reilly's Fox interview with President Obama on Sunday was fascinating, and not merely because Mr. Obama made clear he's an ardent fan of these pages. What really caught our attention was the President's claim that "I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years."

The Presidency is demanding, and with the Egypt mess and his other duties, perhaps Mr. Obama has forgotten some of his tax achievements. Allow us to refresh his memory. In his historic health-care bill, for example, there is the new $27 billion "fee" on drug companies that is already in effect. Next year, device manufacturers will get hit to the tune of $20 billion, and heath insurers will pay $60 billion starting in 2014—all of which are de facto tax increases because these collections will be passed on to consumers as higher costs. Of course, these are merely tax increases on business.

As for tax increases on individuals, perhaps he forgot the health-care bill's new 0.9 percentage point increase in the Medicare payroll tax for families making over $250,000 and singles over $200,000. That tax increase takes effect in 2013, as will the application of what will be a 3.8% Medicare surtax (up from 2.9% today) to "unearned income" for the first time. This is a tax hike on investment and interest income, which will reduce the incentive to save and invest.

Mr. Obama also told Mr. O'Reilly that he hasn't moved to the "center" since November's Democratic election defeat, saying "I'm the same guy." Save for a couple of tactical retreats that he couldn't avoid, we agree with him. As the President said recently in the State of the Union, he's going to insist on raising taxes again on people making over $200,000 when his deal with Republicans in Congress expires in 2012. Definitely the same guy.

SOURCE

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What are we saving in Afghanistan?

Australian conservative Hal G.P. Colebatch is re-evaluating

It has recently been reported from Afghanistan that a one-legged Afghan Red Cross worker and physiotherapist, Said Musa, 45, is shortly to be hanged by the government, or what passes for the government, for having converted to Christianity.

No defense lawyer will represent him. Some were reported to have dropped the case after receiving death threats. He has been held for about eight months in Kabul prison and reportedly tortured.

He was arrested last May while trying to find sanctuary in the German Embassy following renewed waves of persecution of Christians. He is said to have been offered a reprieve if he denied Christianity but has refused to do this. All this has been known in the West for some time...

What are we doing allying in war with these barbarians? What evidence have they given us that they are actually a better government than the Taliban would be? How does propping them up as a government in Afghanistan, even if we win the war there, benefit us or humanity?

It is hard to see any need at the present time to spend our soldiers' lives in defense of a regime that stinks to high heaven of vile savagery, a regime which plainly cares nothing for our values and plainly cares nothing even for what we think of it, and which in fact shows by its deeds that it regards the Judeo-Christian West and its ideas and values as abomination and a mortal enemy.

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, February 11, 2011

Guess How Ugly The U.S. Unemployment Rate Would Be At 2000 Participation Levels

The participation rate is the number of people in jobs plus the number looking for a job. Conditions are so bad in the USA at the moment that a lot of people have given up looking for work. That reduces the participation rate and -- crazily -- makes the unemployment figures look better than they are: Because only those "participating" are counted

The decrease in the participation rate in the U.S. economy has left our understanding of what the real unemployment rate is a little cloudy. The latest unemployment report showed huge revisions, but little reality, as to where we really stand.

Albert Edwards of Societe Generale has put together this chart to provide a little context. It shows what the U.S. unemployment number would look life if we were at the peak participation rate of 67%, which occurred around 2000.

At that participation rate, unemployment would be about 4 percentage points higher than the current headline figure of 9%. Edwards says that 4% is the equivalent of 6.7 million more unemployed people.

So if the participation rate increased 3% (from its current 64% to 67%), unemployment would actually be 13%. That gap is partially made up of long-term, structurally unemployed construction workers left behind after the housing bust, and is a significant number.



SOURCE

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What Obama didn’t say in his sermon to the Chamber of Commerce

In his recent sermon to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Barack Obama came across as the most pedestrian, pedantic, preachy, and professorial president since Woodrow Wilson left Princeton to go into politics and eventually the White House. His ivory-tower comments accomplished the Herculean task of making George W. Bush look smart by comparison and have sullied the reputations of his alma maters of Columbia and Harvard.

He was an embarrassment to himself, to his supporters, and to all graduates of Columbia and Harvard. It was even more embarrassing when you consider what he didn’t say.

First, he didn’t mention the good news that manufacturing output in the USA has increased 120 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 1970.

Much of this achievement was the result of productivity improvements; that is, producing more with fewer people. Approximately 19 million Americans were employed in manufacturing in 1970, versus about 12 million today, for a decline of 36.8 percent. It sounds counterintuitive, but such productivity gains are necessary for higher wages and societal wealth.

The problem is that new manufacturing businesses and factories aren’t coming on line fast enough to take up the slack in manufacturing employment caused by productivity gains. There are many reasons for this, but Obama didn’t address the following ones.

* The USA leads the world in the ratio of lawyers to total population. For example, the USA has 281 lawyers per 100,000 people, while France has 30 per 100,000 people. Obama is a lawyer, and so is half of Congress. All of these lawyers and lawyer-politicians excel at driving businesses and factories offshore with excessive litigation and regulations.

* If the growth in government employment at the state and local levels had kept pace with population growth since 1946 instead of exceeding it, there would be 12.4 million fewer government workers today. Coincidentally, this number is about equal to the number of manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs due to productivity gains. Or maybe it isn’t a coincidence. Capital that is taken by the government for excess public-sector employment is capital that can’t be invested in new businesses and plants.

* Measured by stagnant SAT scores and a huge increase in per-pupil K-12 spending over the last 50 years, the productivity of public schools has declined by 70%. Universities have seen similar declines in productivity, due to a flood of student loans and grants, which remove the incentive for colleges to do more with less.

* It’s a well-known fact that most American students are deficient in math and science and are taking easy majors in college instead of majoring in science and engineering. But even students with the intellect and academic achievement to major in science and engineering are choosing more lucrative disciplines, especially finance. For example, five percent of Harvard undergraduates majored in finance in the 1960s, versus 20 percent now. They are going where the profits are. In the 1970s and 1980s, finance companies accounted for about 15 percent of all U.S. profits. By 2005, they accounted for 25 percent.

* Much of the finance industry operates as a government-sanctioned cartel, with profits virtually guaranteed by Federal Reserve policies and the real and implied backing of the federal government in the event of a financial meltdown. Obama preaches about obscene salaries and the need for companies to share their profits, but he is in bed with the cartel and embraces corporatism instead of true free-market capitalism.

* His selection of General Electric chief executive Jeffrey Immelt to be his business guru is telling. GE is one of the largest nonblank financial institutions in the country, a result of taking cash from its industrial businesses for decades to fund its financial arm of GE Capital. During the recent financial meltdown, GE Capital was able to issue billions of dollars in new debt at below-market interest rates because the debt was backed by the federal government’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program--or more accurately, it was backed by you and other taxpayers. Even the industrial side of GE engages in corporatism by lobbying for subsidies for “green” initiatives.

* Obama used his political connections to land a $200,000 job for his wife Michelle in public relations at a Chicago hospital when they lived in the Windy City. Later as president, he lambasted the profits and executive salaries of the health care industry, an industry that is half-socialist and half-corporatist.

In closing, it’s difficult to decide what’s worse: what Obama said to the Chamber of Commerce or what he didn’t say. Either way, he should have worn a black uniform during his address in honor of Mussolini, whose corporatism he emulates.

SOURCE

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Billions spent on programs without knowing if they work

One of Washington's biggest lies about federal spending will be endlessly repeated in coming weeks by President Obama, congressional Democrats, special interest advocates and the liberal mainstream media. The myth is that the federal budget really cannot be cut except on the margins because government programs are managed efficiently, with minimal waste, fraud and abuse, and they deliver essential services that cannot be provided any other way.

Two reports focusing on federal job training programs -- one from the Government Accountability Office and the other from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. -- that were made public Wednesday put the lie to such claims.

Nine federal agencies simultaneously operated at least 47 work force training programs at a cost of $18 billion in 2009. That total represented a $5 billion increase since 2003, thanks to added funding from Obama's economic stimulus program. Here are some examples from among many Coburn cited on how those tax dollars were spent:

* Grants to an admitted thief: In West Virginia, Martin Bowling -- an admitted thief with a long rap sheet -- was the main beneficiary of a $100,000 federal worker training grant, and was put up for another federal job training grant worth $1 million by his mother, a state official at the time.

* Tampa Bay binge: The Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance in Florida used federal job training funds for lunches at Hooters, valet parking for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (topped with $9 dollar slices of cheesecake), $20 delivery fees for cupcakes, $443.99 on flowers, 300 koozie drink holders and more.

* $4 for bureaucrats, $1 for workers: A Montana trade union that was supposed to manage a half-million-dollar federal job retraining grant spent four times as much on salaries as it did training displaced workers.

* Ghost employees: A U.S. Department of Labor official approved fraudulent invoices for ghost employees in exchange for cash bribes and a vehicle paid for by a Jobs Corps contractor.

* Job training executives frequent casinos during work hours: Iowa work force executives conspired to enrich themselves with $1.8 million in bonuses -- paid for with federal funds -- while engaging in sexual relationships and frequenting casinos during work.

Do any of the 47 programs achieve their goals? The government doesn't know, according to GAO: "Only five programs have had an impact study completed since 2004 to assess whether outcomes resulted from the program and not some other cause. Almost all federal employment and training programs, including those with broader missions such as multipurpose block grants, overlap with at least one other program in that they provide similar services to similar populations."

These results emphasize the truth of Coburn's observation that "we create new programs with great fanfare, then never bother to measure their effectiveness." So politicians and others who claim in the weeks ahead that a $4 trillion annual federal budget can't be cut by hundreds of billions of dollars simply aren't telling the truth.

SOURCE

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Deliberate Leftist blindness

The arrest of abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell at his grisly Philadelphia abortuary “wasn’t about abortion.” Feminists and other liberals insist there’s no association and if you say there is, you’re a hateful, misogynist bigot who would deny women their constitutional rights.

Gosnell and others are charged with murdering seven babies by cutting their spines with surgical scissors. Clinic workers familiar with Gosnell’s habits testified to the grand jury that he killed hundreds of babies by this method or just by “slitting their necks.” He’d been doing this for decades and would be still if federal agents hadn’t burst into his clinic. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“The investigation began last February, after federal and state drug agents and Philadelphia police raided the clinic at 3801 Lancaster Avenue on suspicion that Gosnell was illegally dispensing narcotic painkillers. (The federal drug-trafficking investigation is ongoing.) What they found, according to the report, was ‘filthy, deplorable, and disgusting’: Blood on the floor. The stench of urine. Cat feces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women moaning in the waiting or recovery rooms, covered with blood-stained blankets. Broken equipment. Blocked or locked exits.”

Abuses at the clinic were reported over and over for decades, but regulatory agencies ignored them. For some macabre purpose, Gosnell preserved amputated feet of the babies he killed. There were lines of them on shelves throughout the “clinic.” Investigators found little corpses in freezers. One worker at the clinic said Gosnell tried to joke as a baby squirmed while he cut its throat saying it acted like a chicken with its head cut off. How could abortion clinic inspectors fail to act all those years? The Sargent Shultz routine of politically-correct liberals in government and the mainstream media for whom abortion is sacrosanct: “I see nothing. I know nothing.”

If you can believe abortion Doctor Gosnell isn’t about abortion, you can believe radical Muslim Doctor Malik Hasan shooting forty-three US soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas while shouting “Allahu Akbar!” wasn’t about Islam. Liberals insisted fifteen months ago when the massacre occurred that there was no association. If you still insist there was, you’re an intolerant, hateful, racist, Islamophobic bigot.

The denial reached absolutely unbelievable proportions. According to a report by US Senators Joseph Lieberman and Susan Collins, the federal government knew Hasan exchanged emails regularly with radical imam Anwar Al Awlaki of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula and ignored it. Fellow officers knew of his radical Muslim beliefs because he was anything but secretive about them, but he was not arrested. He was not imprisoned. He was not courtmartialed. No. He was promoted! He was actually promoted by politically-correct, multicultural officers afraid of giving offense to a Muslim. We’re talking about our senior military here in a state of war with radical Islam. If we’re afraid even of offending them, how are we going to defeat them?

As the Lieberman/Collins report puts it: "The officers who kept Hasan in the military and moved him steadily along knew full well of his problematic behavior . . . They collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan's radicalization to violent Islamic extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it.”

Are you with me so far? Okay. Let’s take it one step further. If you can believe Dr. Gosnell isn’t about abortion and Dr. Hasan isn’t about Islam, then you’ll also believe that hundreds of homosexual priests raping thousands of altar boys for decades wasn’t about homosexuality. If you still believe it was, you’re a hateful, homophobic bigot. In spite of report after report after report that upwards of forty percent of Catholic priests were homosexual and 85% of their victims were adolescent boys, the mainstream media outlets like The Boston Globe, which broke the story, insist homosexuality had nothing to do with it.

Abortion, multiculturalism, homosexuality. Are there three more sacred cows in politically-correct America? I don’t think so. Whenever they report on these things, we can expect our mainstream media’s Sargent Shultz routine to continue for as long as most Americans remain willing to accept it.

SOURCE

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ObamaCare Is Starting to Unravel

The egg that is the president’s health care reform legislation is starting to crack. A court has ruled the bill unconstitutional. The Senate has moved to repeal by a huge margin the onerous paperwork nightmare the bill imposes on small businesses. More significantly, a select group of Democrat senators are looking for ways to legislatively roll back the individual mandate provisions of the law -- undermining key partisan unity that is keeping the law in place.

Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) (aka the “vulnerable caucus”) -- all of whom are up for tough re-election battles in 2012 and who represent states Obama lost in 2008 -- are poised to give Republicans the votes necessary to decimate a major provision of the legislation.

Republicans are at a critical strategic juncture. Repeal of the individual mandate is like breaking a leg of a three-legged stool -- the chair will topple.

Facing the reality that outright repeal is not possible in the Senate this year, Republicans should begin breaking the bill up, forcing critical votes on its most unpopular provisions. The Senate vote on repealing the onerous 1099 provision on small businesses found 17 Democrats willing to defend the provision. Other provisions are harder to support.

It’s a strategy that has succeeded before. In 2000, Republicans tried to pass a major tax-cut bill to send to the president but had trouble getting it out of the House, due to unified Democrat opposition. Democrats railed against “tax cuts for the rich” and held together on the big package. Instead, the Republican leadership broke up the provisions of the bill and brought them to the floor individually.

Each provision passed with large number of Democrat votes -- the same provisions Democrats had voted against in the larger context. The time has come to do the same with health care. Start with the individual mandate. Then move on to rationing.

More HERE

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

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

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

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Obama's contempt for the constitution

An administration that has no respect for Congress, the courts or the Constitution has been found in contempt for reissuing a drilling moratorium that a U.S. district judge found overly broad.

The Obama administration's trouble with the courts has continued with a judge's ruling last week that the Interior Department's reinstating of a drilling moratorium followed by a de facto moratorium via an overly restrictive permitting process constituted contempt.

The administration had issued a drilling moratorium in May in waters deeper than 500 feet after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off Louisiana that resulted in the spill of more than 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In June, Martin Feldman of the Eastern District Court of Louisiana struck down Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's original moratorium, saying it was overkill based on flawed reasoning. "If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are?" Feldman asked in his ruling. "That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed and rather overbearing."

Feldman further asked: "Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines?" The administration's answer still seems to be yes, as offshore oil rigs find their way to other shores, and communities dry up along with the oil business that sustained them.

So the administration went back, rearranged a few words and a few deck chairs, and reissued its moratorium. That one was officially lifted in October, although the permitting process, which mysteriously includes shallow-water wells, has had the effect of continuing the moratorium.

Feldman was not amused. "Each step the government took following the court's imposition of a preliminary injunction showcases its defiance," the judge said in his ruling. "Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the reimposition of a second moratorium . .. provides this court with clear and convincing evidence of its contempt."

Feldman even accused the administration of outright lying, pointing out that "at the hearing on the first moratorium, in response to a question by the court, the government's answer then was wholly at odds with the story of the misleading text change by a White House official, a story the government does not now dispute."

As we have noted, now-departing climate czar Carol Browner's office edited a May 27, 2010, report to President Obama by a panel of experts brought together by the administration to review offshore drilling safety. The report was altered to make it seem like the panelists supported the administration's six-month drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico when they did not.

It is not so much that the Obama administration differs with the law, but that it considers itself above it — even above the Constitution. Successive smack-downs by the courts on ObamaCare's health insurance mandate as unconstitutional are a result of its overreach. It's also being challenged in its use of EPA regulations to go around the will of Congress and the sovereignty of the states.

We remember last year's State of the Union address in which Obama lectured the justices of the Supreme Court sitting in front of him that they had "reversed a century of law" by lifting restrictions on corporate and union spending in federal elections. Justice Samuel Alito visibly shook his head and mouthed the words, "Not true."

As Feldman noted in his original ruling, the drilling moratorium was groundless on both the law and the facts. The moratorium is driven by ideology and not safety. Its purpose was to further the administration's war on domestic energy production, including a seven-year ban on offshore drilling off both coasts and the eastern Gulf.

It includes putting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits and designating oil- and gas-rich Alaskan waters as critical polar bear habitat in the face of an exploding bear population. It continues to place energy-rich lands in the West off-limits in a nation starved for energy and jobs.

In 2012 the American people should also hold the Obama administration in contempt.

SOURCE

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Passenger Trains: Clearly the Change We've Been Waiting For

At last month's State of the Union, President Obama said America needs more passenger trains. How does he know? For years, politicians promised that more of us will want to commute by train, but it doesn't happen. People like their cars. Some subsidized trains cost so much per commuter that it would be cheaper to buy them taxi rides.

The grand schemes of the politicians fail and fail again. By contrast, the private sector, despite harassment from government, gives us better stuff for less money -- without central planning. It's called a spontaneous order. Lawrence Reed, of the Foundation for Economic Education, explains it this way:

"Spontaneous order is what happens when you leave people alone -- when entrepreneurs ... see the desires of people ... and then provide for them.

"They respond to market signals, to prices. Prices tell them what's needed and how urgently and where. And it's infinitely better and more productive than relying on a handful of elites in some distant bureaucracy."

This idea is not intuitive. Good things will happen if we leave people alone? Some of us are stupid -- Obama and his advisers are smart. It's intuitive to think they should make decisions for the wider group.

"No," Reed responded. "In a market society, the bits of information that are needed to make things work -- to result in the production of things that people want -- are interspersed throughout the economy. What brings them together are forces of supply and demand, of changing prices." Prices are information.

The personal-computer revolution is a great example of spontaneous order.

"No politician, no bureaucrat, no central planner, no academic sat behind a desk before that happened, before Silicon Valley emerged and planned it," Reed added. "It happened because of private entrepreneurs responding to market opportunities. And one of the great virtues of that is if they don't get it right, they lose their shirts. The market sends a signal to do something else. When politicians get it wrong, you and I pay the price.

"We have this engrained habit of thinking that if somebody plans it, if somebody lays down the law and writes the rules, order will follow," he continued. "And the absence of those things will somehow lead to chaos. But what you often get when you try to enforce mandates and restrictions from a distant bureaucracy is planned chaos, as the great economist Ludwig on Mises once said. We have to rely more upon what emerges spontaneously because it represents individuals' personal tastes and choices, not those of distant politicians."

Another way to understand spontaneous order is to think about the simple pencil. Leonard Read, who established the Foundation for Economic Education, wrote an essay titled, "I, Pencil," which began, "(N)o single person on the face of this earth knows how to make (a pencil)."

That sounds absurd -- but think about it. No one person can make a pencil. Vast numbers of people participate in making the materials that become a pencil: the wood, the brass, the graphite, the rubber for the eraser, the paint and so on. Then go back another step, to the people who make the saws and machinery that are used to make the materials that go into a pencil. And before that, people mine iron to make the steel that makes the machines that make the materials that go into a pencil. It's all without central direction, without these people even knowing they are all working ultimately to make pencils. Thousands of people mining, melting, cutting, assembling, packing, selling, shipping -- and yet you can buy pencils for a few pennies each.

That's spontaneous order, and it's replicated with every product we buy, no matter how complex. The mind boggles.

SOURCE

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Planned Parenthood, Spiked

Those censorious liberals who truly hate the very existence of the Fox News Channel denounce it for being a political organization, not truly a news network. Behind that line is decades of liberals being able to strangle, smother and spike news stories they didn't like. Liberals defined what "news" was and what it wasn't. They're still at it today.

Take the pro-life group Live Action. On Feb. 1, they released shocking videos showing what they found when they brought hidden cameras into Planned Parenthood clinics, with a man and woman posing as pimp and prostitute. An office manager was taped telling the "pimp" how to evade the law, such as lying about prostitutes' ages if they were children 14 or over. Any younger, and the clinic would be obligated to report to the authorities. "We want as little information as possible," she said conspiratorially.

That matches very nicely with the mindsets of ABC, CBS and NBC, which absolutely refused to acknowledge the existence of this damning video. (Fox News did cover it, and so did CNN.)

The same gaggle of broadcast TV watchdogs that has mustered endless outrage over the notion that the Catholic Church would fail to alert authorities about sexual abuse of minors is utterly uninterested in the sexual abuse of minors when someone more pleasing to secular progressives -- like that abortion factory Planned Parenthood -- is caught on camera.

Live Action has been exposing Planned Parenthood since 2007. You would think that by 2011, their clinic personnel would be more careful. It is just the opposite. Their disinterest toward statutory rape and child sexual abuse is shocking.

The latest Live Action exposes began with a visit to a clinic in Perth Amboy, N.J. The office manager advised the "pimp" that underage girls should lie about their age to get around any troublesome questions about statutory rape. She also insisted an underage girl is "entitled to care without mom knowing what the hell is going on."

This woman has now been fired. But lying and squashing information is apparently Planned Parenthood policy. Another video broke, this time from Falls Church, Va., where a clinic worker told the man, "We don't necessarily look at the legal status, like I said. Abortion appointments do require photo ID. It's nothing as far as records. It's just photo ID that's ever going to be required."

In Roanoke, Va., a Planned Parenthood staffer suggested the man consider going to the Health Department with his little girls, since it would be cheaper and easier: "They're discreet. They're confidential. They, you know, don't tell people what's going on, because -- frankly -- it's nobody's business."

The video exposes continued. In Charlottesville, Va., another clinic worker sympathized with the pimp: "Anybody here can help you. Everything here is confidential. We can't give any information out."

The networks refused to acknowledge these stings. But it's not a matter of journalistic principle, objecting to hidden cameras. It's all about politics.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Job openings fall for second straight month: "Employers posted fewer job openings in December, the second straight month of declines. That's a sign hiring is still weak even as the economy is gaining strength. The Labor Department said Tuesday that employers advertised nearly 3.1 million jobs that month, a drop of almost 140,000 from November. That's the lowest total since September. Openings have risen by more than 700,000 since they bottomed out in July 2009, one month after the recession ended. That's an increase of 31 percent. But they are still far below the 4.4 million available jobs that were advertised in December 2007, when the recession began."

House seen blocking healthcare funds: "The U.S. House of Representatives is likely to vote to block funding for President Barack Obama's signature healthcare overhaul when it takes up a budget plan next week, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said on Tuesday. "I expect to see one way or other the product coming out of the House to speak to that and to preclude any funding to be used for that," Cantor said at a news conference, referring to an effort to block implementation of the health-care law. House Republicans aim to pass a spending measure next week that would immediately cut at least $32 billion from the government's $3.7 trillion budget"

Probe clears Toyota electronics over runaways, lawsuits remain: "A U.S. government probe cleared Toyota Motor Corp's electronics of causing unintended acceleration, a big victory for the world's top automaker as it seeks to recover from the hit it took over runaway vehicle accidents. The findings vindicated Toyota's position that it had identified and fixed the only known safety problems with popular vehicles like the Camry by focusing on mechanical issues with accelerator pedals and the risk that floormats could trap the pedal in the open position."

IL: ACLU slams Chicago’s surveillance system: "A vast network of high-tech surveillance cameras that allows Chicago police to zoom in on a crime in progress and track suspects across the city is raising privacy concerns. Chicago's path to becoming the most-watched US city began in 2003 when police began installing cameras with flashing blue lights at high-crime intersections. The city has now linked more than 10,000 public and privately owned surveillance cameras in a system dubbed Operation Virtual Shield, according to a report published Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union."

The drug war is expanding: "There is no question that the war on drugs is a failure. In spite of decades of prohibition laws, threats of fines and/or imprisonments, and massive propaganda campaigns, drugs are available and affordable. The Mental Health Services Administration — a government agency — has reported that marijuana, ecstasy, and methamphetamine use has recently increased."

Regulation without representation: "Regulatory agencies enact more than 3,500 new regulations in an average year. A new federal rule hits the books roughly every two hours, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Compare that with Congress, which passes fewer than 200 pieces of legislation per year. Only Congress has the power to legislate in the American system of government, but Congress never actually votes on most regulations."

The Wallison dissent: "Wallison, as you may know, is one of the few experts wanting to put most of the blame for the crisis on government pressure on Freddie, Fannie, and the banks to reduce lending standards. One of the criticisms leveled at this view is that it is impossible to blame U.S. housing policy for foreign housing bubbles. As you can see, Wallison's comeback is that foreign housing bubbles did not produce as much financial devastation, because mortgage credit standards were not as heavily compromised as in the U.S."

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, February 09, 2011

Another wonderful story about the Gipper

The 100th anniversary of his birth has brought to the fore many stories about him. The one below is from "Dr Sanity", a female psychiatrist

I vividly recall the day I met President Reagan almost exactly 20 years ago. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I was at the Johnson Space Center memorial service for the Challenger astronauts on the Friday after the Challenger accident. The President had come to JSC to honor the fallen crew and to heal the nation.

As the crew surgeon for that mission, I accompanied the families of the crew to a private meeting with President and Mrs. Reagan before he spoke to the large crowd of employees and officials. I felt a little out of place at this private meeting, so I tried to stay off to the side as, one by one, Reagan greeted all the immediate family members and talked with them.

Much to my surprise, after he visited with them for a while, he walked over to where I was standing. Apparently he had asked who I was, because he addressed me as "Doctor" and held out his hand, saying, "It must be especially hard for you today to have lost those who looked up to you as their doctor and who put their trust in you." He said it very quietly and his sincerity and genuine concern for what I was experiencing resulted in bringing tears to my eyes. Until that moment, I had managed to keep it all together and not show my feelings in public.

The next thing I knew, the President of the United States had put his hand on my shoulder and was comforting me; telling me that he understood my loss and that he knew I had been trying to be strong and take care of all the family members of the crew; but that he could see I was suffering too.

I had voted for Reagan in both the '79 and '84 elections (it was the first time I had voted Republican instead of Libertarian), but it wasn't until that moment that I truly understood the personal power of the man; his genuine warmth and the depth of his concern for someone he didn't even know. He instinctively seemed to understand that I had deliberately put aside my personal feelings about the tragedy because I had the awesome responsibility of taking care of all the crew family members (who were also my patients).

It crossed my mind even then, that he was telling me how much he identified with my situation and the responsibilities of my job. He had an entire nation to take care of, but it didn't mean he didn't personlly mourn for those who had died. It could be that I read too much into what he said, but I don't think so. He could have ignored me since I was standing off to the side from all the family members. But he went out of his way to find out who I was and then chose to come over to me.

I remember telling him in a choked voice how much his understanding meant to me and he looked at me with those clear, direct eyes of his and said, "You will be able to handle it. I know you will."

It seemed that I stared into those eyes for a long time (but it was probably only seconds) and then he turned away and signaled to the others that it was time to start the memorial service.

I actually got to stand on the platform while he spoke. This had been the spot prearranged for me to be so I would be able to observe the families in the front row and be ready to respond if they needed me. I couldn't have been more than ten feet or so away from the President during his remarks.

I never spoke to President Reagan again, but at the end of the ceremony; after the missing man formation of T-38's had flown overhead, I accidently caught his eye, and he winked at me.

I will always remember his kindness and strength.

SOURCE

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The End of the Imaginary Age of Civility

After the Tucson shooting, liberals lectured America, and especially conservatives, on the alleged need for more civility (even though there was no evidence that the shooter was influenced by any uncivil political rhetoric, and the shooter was not a conservative).

But the new era of civility didn't last long, if it ever existed at all. Some of the very people who loudly demanded civility from others quickly returned to their own deeply-ingrained habit of trash talk and hate-filled vitriol.

Liberal actor and activist Richard Dreyfuss set up a project to promote "civility in political discourse" after the shootings. When he was asked about a liberal radio host's yearning for the death of the "dirtbag" Dick Cheney, he praised it as "beautifully phrased," endorsing an intemperate diatribe that also branded Cheney as an "enemy of the country," and a "freakin' loser."

The liberal lobbying group Common Cause, which had hectored America about the need for civility, helped organize a demonstration outside a conference in California where participants called for the lynching of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Liberal Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) helped usher in the new Age of Civility by likening Republicans to Nazis like Joseph Goebbels.

The Washington Post and New York Times enlisted two prominent practitioners of trash talk to lecture America about the need for civility. Al Sharpton preached about the "dangers of inflammatory rhetoric" in the Washington Post, despite his own past history of helping incite a deadly race riot, and a court judgment against him for defamation arising out of the Tawana Brawley hate-crime hoax.

Ex-congressman Paul Kanjorski (D) lectured about the need for "civility" in the Times, despite his October 2010 statement that Florida governor Rick Scott (R) should be shot.

The Post op-ed writers who endorsed the calls for civility then paved the way for yet more civility, both by branding conservatives as spiteful lobotomy patients, and by insinuating that opponents of gun control are collectively guilty of subversion and nativism, writing that "the descriptions of President Obama as a `tyrant,' the intimations that he is `alien' and the suggestions that his presidency is illegitimate are essential to the core rationale for resisting any restrictions on firearms."

Even as it prattled about the need for civility, the New York Times editorial board directed readers to its earlier diatribe that baselessly accused Republicans, the Tea Party, and conservative media of creating a climate of "division" and "anger" that made the Tucson shootings possible. The Times did so even though a column by its own David Brooks had earlier pointed out that there was "no evidence" that the shooter was influenced in any way by conservatives.

While the Post and the Times don't seem at all concerned about the death threats recently made by liberal activists against Republican lawmakers in Florida and in Wisconsin, they are very up in arms about factual references to the health care law as being "job-killing" (a claim based partly on Congressional Budget Office findings that Obamacare would reduce the size of the American labor force by perhaps 800,000 people).

The Post's Dana Milbank seems to think that criticizing the killing of an inanimate object (like a job) is violent rhetoric, and he recently wrote a long, sanctimonious editorial devoted almost entirely to the alleged incivility of referring to Obamacare as "job-killing," which he regards as rhetorical "poison."

Since the big-government policies they favor typically wipe out jobs (like the $800 billion stimulus package, which wiped out jobs in America's export sector, while subsidizing foreign green jobs, and which the CBO admitted would shrink the size of the U.S. economy in "the long run"), it's not surprising that liberal journalists like Milbank would want to squelch discussion of "job-killing" policies.

SOURCE

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How About More Freedom at Home First?

Watching the wave of unrest in the Middle East, there are lessons to consider regarding how we view the world and how we manage our lives here at home. I'd call it getting perspective on what you can control and what you can't.

Washington is filled with "experts" who are more than ready to tell us the future and how to control it, whether we are talking about health care, retirement, energy, environment, or what have you. The fact that they are wrong 100 percent of the time never seems to discourage us from going down the same path again and again.

On the other hand, there are things we can do that are far more useful ways to use our brains. We can identify the correct principles by which to live and allow those to guide how we conduct our affairs.

Getting back to the Middle East, the most effective thing we could have been doing, and can do now, is set an example. If we want to promote freedom, how about starting at home?

The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal publish annually an Index of Economic Freedom in which they rank 179 nations by economic freedom -- size of government, regulations, tax and trade policy, monetary policy, etc. The Index rankings correlate almost perfect with prosperity. The more a nation is economically free, the more prosperous it is likely to be.

When the Index was published in 2010, it showed that the nation with the biggest drop in economic freedom among the world's 20 largest economies was none other than the United States. The drop was so large that the U.S. was re-categorized from the top tier of "free" economies and dropped to the second tier of "mostly free."

It turns out that the most important thing we could have been doing -- staying free ourselves we haven't been doing.

If we'd been doing what we should have, we'd set an example for others, we'd have better judgment regarding what is wrong with them, and we'd be more prosperous and therefore stronger and more influential.

If we can't solve our own problems, how can we solve those of others? If we don't know what freedom is here, how can we know what it is elsewhere?

It's time to get perspective about what we can do, what we can't do, and get our own house in order.

SOURCE

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Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

My concern (as well as that of many others who are watching this revolt go down in real time) is this: if Mubarak splits then who, pray tell, is going to fill that governmental vacuum? ElBaradei? George Washington? George Michael? Rumpelstiltskin? Ron Paul's Egyptian cousin Abdul Rafiki Paul? Who? I won't even venture to guess what unlucky person gets that temporary gig, but I will go out there on a limb and tell you what political party, I believe, is going to rule that roost. Y'all ready? Drum roll, please: The Muslim Brotherhood. They seem to be the only polity over there that has their crap together. And I do mean crap.

So, who is this Muslim Brotherhood? Well, if you listen to the wizards on the Left they're just some dudes in the Middle East trying to make sense of it all politically and create a better tomorrow "for the people."

Now, I'm not an expert on Egypt, or all things Islamic, but I can use Google. When the news feed started pouring in and the eager Egyptian "freedom fighters" started "freeing" Cairo and demanding that Mubarak get the hell out of Dodge, I heard the Muslim Brotherhood's name get dropped on FOX News, so I opened my MacBook, went to Google, and typed in MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD to see if there was something funky about these folks.

From a prima facie standpoint, the name "Muslim Brotherhood" sounds innocent enough. I mean, they're not named the Muslim Mother Snatchers, or the Islamic Incinerators, but rather the Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood sounds sweet enough, don't it now? Who could find anything wrong with an organization whose name connotes acting with warmth and equality toward one another.

So I Googled `em up, and here's what I found: First of all, their flag is kind of a disturbing amalgam of swords, a Koran and squiggly writing. I wonder what the squiggly writing says under them swords? Hmmm.

Then secondly, and more importantly, Shariah: The Threat to America (thanks to Frank Gaffney) states the following:

* "The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928. Its express purpose was two-fold: (1) to implement Sharia worldwide, and (2) to re-establish the global Islamic State (caliphate). (DG: Uh, that doesn't sound democratic to me-especially if I were a chick, happened to be boinking my neighbor, or if I were a homosexual. Sharia, I hear, has zero democratic policy toward the aforementioned, as in, "Silence! I kill you!")

* "Therefore, Al Qaeda and the MB have the same objectives. They differ only in the timing and tactics involved in realizing them." (DG: Still not getting the democratic vibe.)

* "The Brotherhood's creed is: `God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.'" (DG: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

* "It is evident from the Creed, and from the Brotherhood's history (and current activities) . that violence is an inherent part of the MB's tactics. The MB is the root of the majority of Islamic terrorist groups in the world today." (DG: The NYT never told us this.)

* "The Muslim Brotherhood is the `vanguard' or tip-of-the-spear of the current Islamic Movement in the world. While there are other transnational organizations that share the MB's goals (if not its tactics)-including al Qaeda, which was born out of the Brotherhood-the "Ikhwan" is by far the strongest and most organized. The Muslim Brotherhood is now active in over 80 countries around the world." (DG: I wonder if they're in America? Nah.)

Yikes. It appears the Brotherhood's history isn't democratic and that they put the "ick" in radical Muslim fundamentalism. When I say they're fundamentalists, I mean that in the classic sense of the word: namely, no fun, mostly dumb, and quite mental.

I'm sure many who are stuck in Egypt want true freedom. And when I say freedom, I mean from all forms of oppression, including the worst form of subjugation: Sharia law. However, I fear those who really want freedom from Mubarak's dictatorship are going to quickly become slaves of Sharia, via the Muslim Brotherhood, whether they like it or not. Call me judgmental, but I smell Sharia all over this thing, and I believe life is really going to begin to suck for secular Egyptians, Israel, America and the rest of the world that wants nothing to do with Islamic enslavement.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

FL: Gov. Scott unveils plan to cut $5 billion in spending: "New Republican Gov. Rick Scott received wild applause from about 1,000 tea party activists when he said the $65.9 billion budget proposal he rolled out Monday would cut government waste and lower taxes. Scott is proposing $5 billion in spending cuts in the next budget year beginning July 1 and another $2.6 billion more the following year."

The US is NOT the freest country in the world: "Whether you take a holistic approach to freedom or analyze any number of specific categories the United States of America consistently is proven not to be the freest country. Countries in Scandinavia, Western Europe [and] the English Speaking Far East do much better comparatively when examined either way but often still prove far from ideal. Americans can and should see the assaults on their freedoms as an opportunity to improve and live up to the legend we all grew up believing"

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Why Genesis chapter 1?

Genesis chapter 1 tends to be something of an embarrassment to Christians because of the quite false claim that it represents the earth as having been created in 7 periods of 24 hours. That is simplistic. In the Hebrew scriptures the word for "day" was from time to time used metaphorically (e.g. Genesis 31:40), just as it is in modern English. It can refer to any period of time. When old guys like me say: "In my day ... ", we are not referring to 24 hours -- more like decades.

There is however some cause for embarrassment if one knows what Genesis chapter 1 really is. I have forborne from mentioning it so far out of respect for my Christian readers but in the end I think it is important that knowledge buried in scholarly publications should be brought into public view. So I am now breaking my self-imposed embargo. Readers at this point may wish to decide if they should continue reading.

For a start, it is clear that chapter 1 (plus the first three verses in chapter 2) is a late tack-on, and a glaring one at that. It is the first of two different accounts of creation and has major textual differences from the original account given from Genesis 2:4 onward. The really glaring difference is the use of the divine name. In the rest of the Torah, the divine name (Yahveh; Jehovah) is used freely in the original Hebrew text. Eventually, however, pietism took hold and use of the divine name came to be regarded as disrespectful. "Elohim" (God) and "Adonay" (Lord) came to be used instead. We see something similar among modern Jews, where the usage "G-d" is now common.

So what do we see in Genesis 1? Complete avoidance of the divine name. And from chapter 2 onwards the name is used freely. So chapter 1 is clearly from a later era.

But what could have motivated something as serious as a distortion of the original creation account? Sun worship. It was an attempt to explain why Israelites had accepted the 7 day week of the sun worshippers.

The 7 day week originated in ancient Babylon (or perhaps earlier) in recognition of the 7 movable objects in the sky: The 5 movable stars (planets) plus the sun and the moon. Something as exceptional as stars that moved indicated to ancient minds that those stars must be gods -- so each star had to have a day dedicated to him. And the biggest object in the sky -- the sun -- had to have a day too. And as he was obviously the boss, his day had to be particularly holy. And to this day many of us regard Sunday as holy.

The Israelites didn't go down without a fight, however. They resisted the sun worshippers by saying in effect: "OK. If you celebrate the first day of the week as holy, we will celebrate the last day of the week as holy". And so they did and so they still do.

They were however stuck with the fact that everybody by then divided up the week into 7 days and they also knew perfectly well why. So they had to invent another story about how the 7 day week arose. Hence Genesis chapter 1. And the new story, of course, explained why the 7th day was particularly holy.

So it's all rather simple if you know your ancient history. What saddens me a little is that Christians have reverted to the old sun-worshippers day as their holy day.

Footnote: The account above is a basic outline but there are also some interesting details. Although Genesis chapter 1 is a late addition, it did not of course spring out of the blue. It would in fact seem to be the product of a very long debate.

The seven-day creation story is of course also mentioned in the ten Commandments of Exodus. And in that passage, the divine name IS used. So clearly, the story itself is much older than Genesis chapter 1. The Hebrews had to deal with sun-worshippers from the beginning so their retort to the sun-worshippers went back a long way too.

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Civility: A Two-Way Street

With civility all the rage now, many of us who participate in daily discourse are imposing speech codes on ourselves. CNN will no longer say “crosshairs,” of course (I feel safer already), and news outlets across the country are monitoring the content at their online message boards.

One could argue that the Internet could stand a fumigation regimen, but the knee-jerk reaction to Tucson (and, let’s face it, the November elections) has been to shame the citizenry into tempering their dialogue. But does anyone shake their fingers at our elected officials who far too often express contempt for the very Americans they purport to serve?

Congressman Jim Moran (VA) recently summed up the 2010 elections to much the same pro-slavery, anti-black sentiments prevalent during the Civil War. Numerous other examples abound, with far too many to recount here, from candidate Barack Obama lamenting the suspicions of the “typical white person” to his famous “private” comment concerning fearful Americans clinging to their guns and religion.

There exists a significant degree of animus among the ruling class toward ordinary Americans, even among some on the right, but the preponderance festers on the left. Who would be more likely to enjoy a down-home barbeque with a factory worker, Sarah Palin or Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer? Who invests more faith in the industriousness of average Americans, Rush Limbaugh or the smarmy Bill Maher?

Indeed, leftist power holders and their champions in the media consider the passions of ordinary Americans a nuisance. Consider Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik after the Tucson tragedy, blaming the country’s heated rhetoric for the actions of one dangerous, disturbed individual. To liberals, their words and policies don’t merely match the public orthodoxy, they define it.

Power in general and liberalism in particular are always in fashion — thought-control chic — and to question their edicts is akin to wearing white socks with a tuxedo. Isn’t it liberals who typically inform the public that debate on certain subjects, such as the teaching of evolution, global warming and the inherent evil of corporate CEOs is now closed?

Like an exclusive society founded on admiration for their own benevolence and intellectual superiority, ruling class elitists know that if everyone can join their country club, then what have they got? Harry Reid once famously complained of the smell of visitors to the capital in the summer. The affinity they feign for average Americans only puffs up their own sense of self-importance, and they maintain their grip by shaming the ingrate masses into silence.

If, as a self-governing people, we decide to soften the tenor of public debate, then the burden falls on the servants of the people as well as on the nation at large. We don’t bow to autocrats in this country, nor do we take marching orders from the haughty neighbors up the road. Ideally, the nation’s wealth and power belong to the producers and not to smooth-talking snake-oil salesmen whose dominance in public life hinges on charisma over substance and tactic over principle. Only as long as everyday Americans assert their voice will we reclaim our heritage as a Constitutional republic governed by and for the people.

Someone once noted that a society is defined not by the aspirations and pretenses of its leaders but by the character of its everyday citizens. Their hopes and values define a great nation that candidate Obama vowed to “transform,” but we don’t need the pieties of arrogant rulers to prosper, only a heightened belief in ourselves as a free people and a resolve that our leaders will try to emulate us and not the other way around.

SOURCE

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Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged - Future Fact Disguised as Fiction

The downhill spiral into an entitlement abyss has been so gradual, so subtle at times, it was difficult to see. We have gone from “those who do not work, do not eat” to “a chicken in every pot” to a mindset of entitlement. People wait for tax “refunds” of money they didn’t pay, or a food and rent subsidy paid “courtesy” of Uncle Sam, based merely on the fact they woke up this morning.

Having grown up in a household where we were taught to achieve through hard work and education, I have struggled for years with the mentality of the union worker whose job security is not based upon the ability of his mind and muscle, but upon his ability to pay his union dues. I have grown increasingly frustrated with parents and grandparents whose children and grandchildren are taught how to fill out an entitlement application, not a job application. The words “entitled”, “free” and “deserve” are my three most hated words in the English language. The phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” has lost its meaning as the hardworking taxpayer, home owner and parent are put through the mechanisms of guilt to provide the “free lunch” (substitute health care, education, transportation and housing).

Recently, on an unusually chilly weekend, I curled up with “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. The book has been touted for years as a primer on rational, conservative thought. Settling in for what I thought would be a dry, outdated tome of philosophy dressed up as an out-dated, dark tale, what I got was “future fact disguised as fiction”. The storyline of Dagny Taggart’s quest to find the designer of a motor, a stroke of genius that would save her railroad, laced with the romance between Taggart and d’Anconia and Taggart and Reardon, was one I could not pull away from. It was the entwined philosophy, the basis for which the story was wrapped around, that made a roller coaster of emotions and renewed understanding. It was frustrating and exhilarating, as it mirrored life in its current form, whether it is government handouts to other nations, government entitlements to its own citizens – designed to make them more dependent upon government, to the mindset of people I come across in my daily life. At one point, I threw the book at the wall.

Much like the government Rand characterized in “Atlas Shrugged”, the “public” has become a populace of mind-numbed robots unable to think for themselves. Government attempts to dictate our actions right down to how much salt to put on our baked potatoes. Free enterprise is collapsing under the weight of government regulations, union demands and taxes. Income is redistributed between the producers and the moochers via “taxes”, fees and fines. The “free” government funded education system has created not independent-minded, industrious graduates, but a generation of “progressive” sheep, chanting the mantra of big government.

It is the absurdity and reality of what we have become on a national and industrial level that so many focus on when they read Atlas Shrugged. However, it was another facet of the story that sent the book hurling at breakneck speed towards the living room wall, sending my dachshund scrambling for cover. The book is filled with characters who are a product of the government, colleges, public schooling and media mind-numbing indoctrination. Phillip Reardon believed, along with his mother, that he was entitled to his “fair share” of his successful brother’s income for no other reason than he felt “entitled” to Henry Reardon’s charity through guilt.

I recently read a letter from a young woman and mother of two, addressed to her father. She blamed him for her failures, which stemmed from being raised to believe she was “entitled” to cars and a weekly allowance because, like Phillip, she lacked the ambition to gain an education and she refused to work for “minimum wage”. The constant demands ruined two businesses before he finally closed and sealed the checkbook, walking away. Her failures in life stem not from failed efforts, but, in her own words – and those of her mother, grandmother and aunt – from not getting her “fair share” of everything her father worked for. It is a cradle to the grave mindset that “progressives” – from grandparents to your child’s university professor – have produced, creating a generation of non-producers who have no concept of a hard day’s work. These wait for their unearned “entitlement”, without a clue where the funds for the “entitlement” come from. Yes, parents, many of you are as responsible for this moocher mindset as professors and politicians.

In today’s guilt-ridden society, nothing is anyone’s fault and everyone should pay for the theoretical injustices done to them. Think you are a descendent of a slave – a normal practice of the day? Demand your check. Live an irresponsible lifestyle that produced children you cannot provide for? Demand your check. Digging ditches and washing dishes “cramp your style”? Find a disability and demand your check. Government programs pay more than any job you are qualified to fill? Demand your check. Government coffers running dry? Demand that those working pay more and the industries pay more until the entire entitlement system is turned upside down and collapses upon itself.

With a compelling philosophy and gripping story that not only captivates and entertains, Rand provokes individual thought. There is a light at the end of the train tunnel for the Dagney Taggarts, the Hank Reardons and the Francisco d’Anconias of the world. There is a glimpse into the dismal future that awaits the looters and moochers and the answer to the most quoted question of the last seventy years: “Who is John Galt?”

SOURCE

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Sens. Hatch and Enzi call for Obama to rescind nomination of former AFL-CIO, SEIU lawyer to NLRB

Sens. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, and Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, are calling on President Barack Obama to rescind the nomination of former top AFL-CIO and SEIU employee Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In a joint letter to Obama obtained by The Daily Caller, Enzi, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and fellow committee member Hatch, wrote that Becker’s conflicts of interest with his previous union employers have led them to believe he is incapable of being a fair arbiter of labor relations.

In their letter, Enzi and Hatch wrote that Becker has abused his power since his recess appointment and urged the president to reconsider his nomination.

“He has led the Board to re-open and reverse settled decisions, made discrete cases a launching point for broad changes to current labor law, and used an 18 year-old petition to initiate a rulemaking proposal that likely exceeds the Board’s statutory authority,” the letter reads. “At the same time, the NLRB is threatening four states with lawsuits based on constitutional provisions protecting secret-ballot union elections that were adopted by the voters of those states. Yet, the Board has ignored provisions in other states that conflict with federal law but benefit unions over employers, including state laws that restrict employers’ free speech rights during the union organizing process.”

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

MA: More get waivers of health insurance: "Massachusetts regulators granted more exemptions last year to residents who said they could not afford the health insurance required by the state, waiving the tax penalty for more than half of those who appealed, according to state data. Of the 2,637 people who applied, 63 percent received an exemption with 107 cases pending, up from 44 percent the previous year."

Simpson: Entitlements on autopilot = economy crush: "President Obama's calls for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, as well as Republican demands to turn back the budget clock to 2008 spending, will save 'peanuts' and do nothing to turn around the country's 'sacrosanct' entitlement culture, one head of the president's deficit commission said Sunday. Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who was appointed by Obama along with former Bill Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles to lead the president's panel for reducing the nation's debt, said leaving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on auto pilot will crush the U.S. economy."

Another TSA nightmare: "The writer Andrew Ian Dodge shares his painful experience at the hands of the TSA at this link. The TSA inflicted prolonged pain on him through completely unnecessary 'kneeding and prodding' of his scar from a 'colon cancer operation that went from' his crotch to his sternum. He still hurt a day later. Dodge wrote about the TSA’s recent decision to block competing private companies from performing airline security screening, even though private airport screeners do better on customer-satisfaction and passenger-happiness measures than TSA employees."

Why can’t Obama do the math on jobs?: "President Obama has a message for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today: You have an obligation to start creating jobs. The government has done what it needs to do and any failure lies with the private sector. Indeed, the job numbers are bleak. Unemployment fell last month, but only because Americans have given up looking for work in record numbers. On net, 319,000 quit looking for work and left the work force in December. In November, it was even worse, 434,000. Over 1.5 million American have left the workforce since August."

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, February 07, 2011

Why Reagan Triumphs Over Other Presidents, Even Today



What always strikes us is how comfortable and secure Ronald Reagan was in himself, on the trail, in the Oval, in meetings with strangers in the Roosevelt Room, in the general give and take of a public life. This authentic wholeness of life made the 'communicating' so compelling, the reducing to core principles so constant, effortless and nearly automatic. His humor, self-reflection and self-deprecation all natural, healthy, transparently honest. A mature man at home with himself and his country, seamlessly.

People of a certain persuasion took this to be the mark of a simpleton, or at best a simple person, too dumb to be properly awed and humbled by the great minds and their received high wisdom. Someone whose norm was to take decisions, indeed about quite complex matters, without protracted debate, or sonorous, self-inflating or lecturing tones must be a cretin or someone’s puppet. These were people who had not read the record, the writings, the early Reagan, the whole biography along the way, and finally the diaries. Intellectuals and wannabes (certain editorialists and anchors come to mind), who could not bother. They could not actually deal with the accumulated facts -- nor with the larger fact that, first California, and then virtually the entire country disagreeably disappointed them by checking the Reagan box, repeatedly!

At the end, Americans turned out in probably unprecedented numbers, all over the country, from every corner, class, age and political party of the American tapestry. From coast to coast, at every overpass, intersection, sidewalk and window, and in the Capitol Rotunda line for days and nights they stood. The press was astonished, but ever mindful of the ratings, managed to bite their tongues and give it solid coverage. They had little choice. The people were checking the Reagan box one last time. Not out of habit or instruction, but out of deep respect -- the resonation in them of the authentic voice that had led and inspired them, as it also had hundreds of millions around the world, the free and the newly freed.

This was the man who believed in them as he believed in himself -- a man of confidence not trimmed by fear. By every indice we have he lifted the country, its confidence, its standing, its economy, productive capacity and innovation, its social mobility and its national security. These two things are not unrelated.

What strikes us by starkest contrast is the degree to which many recent presidents, notably Clinton and Obama (and the angry scold Jimmy Carter too, just because he’s too self-righteous to go away), are deeply wounded people, insecure -- in need of office for themselves, as psychological salve, not as service. A sort of self-medicating at our expense; it verges on the sociopathic at times (not only with interns). There is an unsettled need to prove or expunge something personal (we don't mean birth certificates or donor records).

Among other things, this makes their expressions relating to patriotism, the military, American exceptionalism, values and history; freedom, markets and the whole American project and prospect seem to ring hollow to the common ear. The required expressions come out of them sounding stingy and, strained, not generous or heartfelt -- or in the current case, not even personally believed.

For this sort of politician (most?) it all is principally about themselves. The focus is on their imagined exceptionalism, their personal struggle and triumph. In their mind, the nation pales in comparison and fails to live up to their expectation. The dissonance becomes clear, regularly -- not only in times of performance of Presidential duties, speeches, times of national tragedy or pressured decisions -- but in the off-hand remarks, the flip answers, the bizarre strained analogies (Sputnik?).

These are not whole men; they may not be "hollow men" -- but they are not the man in full. And they are not Ronald Reagan, nor can they play him on a podium, no matter how much mid-term reading they do, hunting uncomprehendingly for clues.

SOURCE

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Sarah channels Reagan to combat 'road to ruin'

Sarah Palin opened a celebration of what would have been Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday by declaring that the United States was lurching towards a "road to ruin", saying the nation had become so weighed down by debt and excess government that a new direction was urgently needed in Washington.

For Mrs Palin, a speech on Friday at the Reagan Ranch Centre offered an opportunity to connect herself to the late president, the "Great Communicator" and Republican icon.

She used the appearance - one of the highest-profile Republican platforms in months - to rally conservatives by drawing parallels between government expansion under President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s and Mr Obama's administration. "Reagan saw the dangers in LBJ's Great Society," Mrs Palin said. "He refused to sit down and be silent as our liberties were eroded by an out-of-control centralised government that overtaxed and overreached in utter disregard of constitutional limits."

Mrs Palin spoke on Friday night to about 200 people at a banquet of the Young America's Foundation, a group that owns Rancho del Cielo, which served as the Western White House in the Reagan administration.

She reprised themes of Mr Reagan's 1964 speech "A Time for Choosing," which he gave two years before being elected governor of California. She reminded her audience that he, too, was "mocked, ridiculed and criticised" before his conservative vision became accepted Republican doctrine. But she stopped short of casting herself explicitly as his heir.

"No, there isn't one replacement for Reagan, but there are millions who believe in the great ideas that he espoused," Mrs Palin said. "There's a whole army of patriotic Davids out there, across this great country, ready to stand up and to speak out in defence of liberty."

SOURCE

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January's Unemployment Report Was A Snow Job

The January employment report was a complete snow job. Abominable winter blizzards across the country caused 886,000 workers to report “not at work due to bad weather,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is 600,000 more than the normal 300,000 not at work for the average January of the past decade.

So the bad weather has distorted the numbers. The actual 36,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls and the 50,000 gain in private payrolls really don’t have a snowball’s chance at being accurate. The 1 million people in January who wanted a job but didn’t look for one because of “other” reasons hints again at the bad-weather distortion. So does the 4.9 million jump in the part-time workforce.

As for the 9 percent unemployment rate, it’s not likely to last as more people are recorded reentering the labor force in the months ahead. The household employment survey (on which the unemployment rate is based) increased 117,000 in January, following a near 300,000 gain in December.

On the plus side (if anything can be believed in these numbers), average hourly earnings increased by four-tenths of 1 percent -- a much bigger gain than in recent months. Over the past year, wages are rising 1.9 percent.

But here’s a key point: Manufacturing jobs in January rose by nearly 50,000. That’s consistent with the blowout ISM manufacturing report for January published a few days ago. Manufacturing has been the biggest surprise in the recovery. Additionally, the ISM non-manufacturing services report was also gangbusters for January.

These reports are more accurate and more significant than today’s jobs calculation. And if you piece them together with record-breaking profits, which are the mother’s milk for stocks, business, and the whole economy, it’s hard not to conclude that the pace of recovery is actually picking up steam -- despite the lackluster jobs performance.

The downside of the upside is mounting inflation pressure. Both ISM reports registered very strong prices paid. Those outsized price increases are picking up the huge commodity-price increases that Ben Bernanke continues to ignore.

Bond-market rates have moved up to 3.64 percent for the 10-year Treasury and 4.73 percent for the 30-year. Those rising yields are signaling inflationary growth. Along with soaring commodity prices, the abnormally steep Treasury yield curve is signaling the Fed to stop creating new dollars with its QE2 pump-priming.

Right now, stronger economic growth, higher profits, and rising inflation continue to help the stock market, which actually increased today after the weird jobs report. But the risk here is that reported inflation for the CPI may rise faster than anyone thinks. And that could take a bite out of stocks and the recovery.

SOURCE

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The NYT has a glass jaw

Leftists can't cope with being told that they are wrong (rage is the normal response) so we must not be too surprised to hear that the NYT "Letters to the Editor" policy is that you can't say that they are wrong

A colleague of mine at Mayer Brown — Andy Pincus, generally a liberal fellow and a big fan of the New York Times — reported to me an interesting fact about the New York Times letter-to-the-editor policy, and I thought it was worth mentioning.

Pincus represents the petitioner in AT&T v. Concepcion, a pending Supreme Court case regarding the Federal Arbitration Act. The question in the case is whether it violates the Act for California to refuse to enforce arbitration clauses that don’t permit either class arbitrations or class actions in court, but include incentives that help plaintiffs vindicate their own individual claims. (The briefs are here.)

Three weeks after oral argument, the New York Times editorialized against Pincus’s position, and asserted that “courts applying law of at least 19 other states have reached the same conclusion as California, including five federal appeals courts.” Pincus and his co-counsel sent a letter to the editor addressing this and other statements in the editorial (complying with the Times’ 150-word limit). Two sentences read:

"The Times is just wrong in asserting that 19 states ruled arbitration agreements like AT&T’s unenforceable. Courts in six of those states upheld AT&T’s provision; courts in four others upheld agreements less fair than AT&T’s"

A week passed with no response. In the meantime, the Times published a letter from counsel for the other side expressly agreeing with the editorial (“As your editorial correctly explains ....”). Still, no opposing views appeared. Then the Times did get back to Pincus, asking for approval of an edited version of the above sentences:

"You assert that 19 states ruled arbitration agreements like AT&T’s unenforceable. Courts in six of those states upheld AT&T’s provision; courts in four others upheld agreements less fair than AT&T’s."

This revision deleted the statement that the Times was wrong in its interpretation of the views of 19 States on the issue. Pincus responded that the revision was unacceptable and suggested a slight modification to soften the sentence in question (substituting “The Times incorrectly asserts” for “The Times is just wrong”).

The Times: “We cannot say ‘incorrectly’ because that is the province of corrections, in which case I would forward the letter to the corrections editor and it could not be considered as a letter. We prefer to consider your letter a clarification on the editorial. OK to go with what I sent?”

Pincus: “Our letter’s key point is that the editorial was wrong in what it said about the cases. I’m happy to think about other ways to say that — but it is the key point.” Too bad, said the Times: “In that case, I think you should forward the letter to Carla Robbins, the deputy editorial page editor, for possible correction. We won’t be able to consider it as a letter.” And that was that.

Pincus didn’t seek a “correction” because it seems unlikely that the Times would have issued a correction with regard to matters of opinion about interpreting judicial opinions (and of course corrections appear in a generally little-read section; letters to the editor appear on the editorial page). He wanted to argue to readers that the Times was wrong, not persuade the corrections editor of that (since such persuasion was highly unlikely). Yet the Times policy appears to say that such arguments that the Times is wrong are off-limits to the editorial page.

Now the Times is of course entirely free to publish or not publish any letter to the editor it wishes; and naturally, it can publish only a small fraction of those it receives. Still, it seems to me that a “no saying we’re wrong” policy with regard to letters to the editor is not a wise exercise of editorial judgment. And in any case, readers might find it useful to know that this is indeed the Times policy.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

The real Reagan rises: "Martin Anderson works in an ivory tower -- literally. From high above Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Anderson contemplates Ronald Reagan's legacy as his centennial arrives on Feb. 6. Asked if he thinks Reagan's stature has risen since he left office in 1989, Anderson says, 'I don't just think so. I know so.' Reagan's reputation has grown, largely thanks to the scholarship of Anderson and his wife, Annelise, both former Reagan aides and Hoover colleagues of mine."

Go down, pharaoh: "What a pathetic old brute Hosni Mubarak has become. Here he is telling ABC that he'd love to give up power, really he would, but he's afraid Egypt would collapse into chaos without his steady hand at the wheel. Meanwhile, the country has been doing a pretty good job of keeping order while Mubarak's state withers away, as neighbors band together to direct traffic, clean the streets, treat the wounded, and protect lives and property. It's Mubarak and his mobs who have been the fountainhead of chaos: Again and again, protesters have captured a looter, a vandal, or a stone-throwing, machete-wielding goon, only to discover he was carrying police ID."

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

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

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

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

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