Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hatred: The Hallmark of the Progressive-Left

Frank Salvato

Just over a month ago, President Obama took to a stage in Arizona to decry what he perceived as the caustic nature of political discourse in our country. On this issue, and very few others, we agree. But Mr. Obama was delinquent in pointing out the individuals and organizations – the factions – responsible for stoking the fires of discontent and, dare I say, hatred. The unspoken reason for this omission is because most – if not all – of the caustic rhetoric – the unbridled hatred – comes from the Progressive Left and there are myriad examples to prove the point beyond argument.

Hate of the Person

Recently, amid the chaos and violence of the Egyptian upheaval, CBS News’ Lara Logan, a seasoned war correspondent, was brutally beaten and sexually assault for a period of time. It wasn’t until a group of Muslim women and approximately 20 Egyptian soldiers came to Ms. Logan’s aid that the assault was stopped. Ms. Logan was hospitalized for her injuries and evacuated to the United States where she was hospitalized further.

In the face of this unacceptable attack on a woman who was trying to report to the world the events taking place in a land in turmoil, Nir Rosen, an alleged journalist who has been published by Time Magazine, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine – liberal and Progressive publications, one and all, submitted the following “Tweets” upon hearing the news of Ms. Logan’s assault:

“Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger." “Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women.”

Mr. Rosen, who was forced to immediately surrender his title of Fellow at New York University’s Center on Law and Security for his hatred, later offered the “Sorry, I was insensitive” defense.

The fact remains, that was the initial response by Mr. Rosen and, thus, we all must understand that his “Tweeted” sentiments are, in fact, his true sentiments. The hate – the misogynistic hate – he spewed toward a woman who was sexually assaulted and beaten at the hands of a vicious mob cannot be erased and must be recognized for what it is: It is who Mr. Rosen is, period. He is a hater...and he is a Progressive.

Recently, at a rally to protest the Koch Brothers – two people who spend a considerable amount of money to champion Conservative causes, but nowhere near what George Soros spends to advance the cause of Progressive globalism – occasional New Media Journal contributor Christian Hartsock asked people in the crowd how they felt about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Their answers demonstrated a hatred for Justice Thomas that rivaled the hatred of those who celebrated the Ku Klux Klan:

“Put him back in the field...He’s a scumbag, he’s a dumb-sh*t scumbag. Throw him back in the field.” “We cut off his toes, one by one, and feed them to him.” “I don’t know, I’m all about peace, but I say torture.” “What do we do with him? String him up! And his wife too, let’s get rid of Ginny...[Then we can] start all over...Scalia...who are the other assholes? String him up...Thomas...his wife...Scalia...Roberts, oh my god...” “Hang him.”

While these people were protesting two American citizens, natural born American citizens, who observe their right and obligation to engage the governmental process – incredible, in and of itself – they called for the lynching, torture and maiming of a United States Supreme Court Justice, his wife and his fellow Conservative Justices simply because they held a different political opinion than they did. The racial hatred speaks for itself.

I could go into every instance where the Progressive-Left smeared, defamed and lied about President George W. Bush over the years but there isn’t enough space here to do justice to the injustice incurred by Mr. Bush and his family.

The ironic thing about the hatred of the Progressive-Left is that it is the Progressive-Left that not only professes the need for tolerance (no, that’s not a laugh line) but they are the ones that insisted on advancing hate-speech legislation, yet the powers that be never inflict that non-freedom of speech on any of their transgressions.

Hate of the Country

That the Progressive-Left hates the United States of America – and everything it stands for less their right to wreck havoc over the US Constitution – is more than evident. From President Obama’s continuous apology to the world for perceived wrongs committed by our country, to the elitists in higher education who systematically brainwash as many students a possible against the opportunity presented by Capitalism and a free market system, to Progressive-Leftists like Code Pink, so devoid of reality that they believe radical Islamist violence is caused by US foreign policy (please explain the Islamist violence in Indonesia, Africa, China and Russia please), the Progressive-Left’s hatred for our country leaves at least me asking: Why the hell do you want to live here if it is so horrible a place?

The truth of the matter, when it comes to hate, is this: The Progressive-Left is very good at screaming that Conservatives or the Tea Party or people who practice their faith are budding with repressed hatred; that they are intolerant, uninformed, mean-spirited, organized and hate-filled. But over the years I have come to understand one very important thing. If the Progressive-Left accuses you of something, it is out of guilt; it is because they, themselves, are guilty of the charges. If you don’t believe me, just ask Lara Logan, Clarence Thomas, Sarah Palin or George W. Bush.

Maybe that’s why they hate religion so much...it facilitates a conscience.

More HERE

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Obama kowtows to China

VOA radio broadcasts to China signing off, while Beijing boosts propaganda

The Obama administration will cancel shortwave radio broadcasts by Voice of America into China this year, as Beijing is expanding its propaganda operations in the United States and around the world.

Critics of the broadcasting cuts, announced Monday, said major reductions in staff and shortwave broadcasts will sharply curtail an important outlet for unfiltered news and information for large numbers of people in China, especially areas such as Tibet and western Xinjiang province, where pro-democracy forces are opposing Chinese rule.

“This is another alarming sign that America is cowering before China‘s gangster regime,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The Chinese people are our greatest allies, and the free flow of information is our greatest weapon.”

The cuts were outlined as a cost-cutting measure in the fiscal 2012 budget report of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA’s parent agency. The plan calls for shifting the focus from shortwave to digital media, such as Internet broadcasts.

If Congress approves the plan, all shortwave VOA radio and television broadcasts in Chinese, under way since 1942, will end on Oct. 1.

The U.S. government will continue to operate Radio Free Asia, a less official and smaller news operation that will continue broadcasts into China and other closed states in Asia. It also is facing budget cuts that officials say will limit its effectiveness.

However, Voice of America has a much wider audience and larger reach that will be sharply curtailed by the shift to the Internet because many Chinese in rural areas or regions facing central government punishment do not have access to the Internet or cell phones.

More HERE

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The Film That's "Too Hot" for Public TV

As Congress debates federal funding for public TV and radio, Mary Grabar has written a column for Pajamas Media about how telling the truth about the Castro regime in Cuba is not an assignment that the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has wanted to take on.

She focuses on how Agustin Blazquez, a Cuban exile, ran into a series of roadblocks from PBS and its parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), when he requested funding for films on life under the Castro dictatorship and Castro’s murderous accomplice Che Guevara. Not only did public TV refuse to fund the anti-communist films, public broadcasting would not consider airing them.

His new documentary,“Che: The Other Side of an Icon,” also got the label “too hot” for public TV. It is a response to what Blazquez calls “the pro-Che propaganda in the popular press.” He explains, “It profiles the life of the man killed in Bolivia, as well as ‘Che,’ the icon, who lives on today. It presents the real man behind the myth, his legacy and why he has become so popular among the youth, revolutionaries and terrorists of the world. It explores the dangers of believing in Che’s carefully constructed fake public image.”

The film includes interviews with people who worked directly with Che, knew his family in Argentina and Havana, and who were knowledgeable about his personal background and philosophy. It documents how Che was not a hero but a sadistic killer.

Grabar’s column takes a look at the film and examines how Blazquez faced opposition from public TV to telling the truth about Castro’s communist revolution. She reports,

“He learned that grants and prizes for documentaries in his series ‘Covering Cuba’ would not be forthcoming. The latest, and seventh, titled “Che: The Other Side of an Icon,” was produced on a budget of $14,000. Only about $4,000 of that was from a non-profit that he had started himself. He had submitted a more typical budget of $494,000 to CPB-PBS (Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Broadcasting System). Blazquez had no success with the publicly supported organization, nor did he with the taxpayer-supported American Film Institute in his other projects. In fact, he could not even get an airing on POV (Point of View), the program created by PBS specifically for the purpose of airing ‘controversial’ films.”

Blazquez provided me with some additional details, saying about the Che film offering, “I mailed the 104-page proposal to CPB on Monday, April 2, 2007. On Tuesday, May 8, 2007, John Prizer from CPB called me about 6:35 p.m. to notify me that they rejected my project. The next day Prizer talked to my proposal advisor and told him, ‘PBS won’t do a project like that.’”

Grabar describes the interference he gets on college campuses. “Dead silence is what mostly greeted Blazquez when he contacted over 100 campuses for the screening of his first film,” she says. “Subtle impediments in the form of last-minute room changes and announcements torn off walls were placed in his path at the two campuses where he did manage to get permission to air his documentary.”

Disgusted by the pro-Castro bias of public TV, Blazquez has some advice, which is pertinent since taxpayer funding for public TV and radio is now a big issue on Capitol Hill. “My advice to the American public in general is not to donate a penny” to the CPB or PBS, he says, and “to demand all taxpayer funds be denied” to public broadcasting.

SOURCE

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No Laughing Matter

According to Barack Obama’s ten-year budget, the $14 trillion national debt will increase every single year and never be repaid.

But don’t believe your lying eyes. When Obama delivered his budget to Congress, he boldly suggested that “[B]y the middle of this decade our annual spending will match our annual revenues. We will not be adding more to the national debt.” Everyone laughed.

A fourth grader could easily calculate that on average the White House promises to add $1.088 trillion to the national debt every year for ten straight years. It will hit $15.459 trillion the end of this fiscal year, and then rise to $26.346 trillion by the end of FY 2021. So, what is Obama talking about?

He was using an accounting gimmick, called the “primary deficit,” that does not count the average annual $572.6 billion of net interest owed on the public debt. Nor does it count the average $275.8 billion owed in interest on the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

All told, by not counting interest, the White House is attempting to avoid talking about some $848.4 billion being added to the debt every year. Neat trick.

Of course, the only way interest payments can be avoided is if the principal balance on a debt is paid early. Otherwise, those payments are simply added to the gross debt — the total owed.

The hilarity carried forward into the White House briefing room. There, the White House’s pretense that we are not adding to the debt was easily exposed by ABC News’ Jake Tapper in an exchange with Obama’s green, new Press Secretary, Jay Carney.

Tapper said, “The president seems to think that borrowing money to pay the interest on the debt is not adding to the debt. I don’t understand that math.” He wanted Carney to explain it to him. Now, the whole White House press corps was laughing at the Administration.

Carney replied, “What the president made clear is that we need to get to a place — and his budget absolutely does this — where we are no longer spending more than we’re taking in.” Except, making interest payments is spending. Everyone knows that. It’s a real obligation that must be paid, or the nation would default.

Tapper tried again, saying, “I assume when the president calls for an adult conversation, he means that conversation should be forthright and politicians shouldn’t be hiding behind cute language such as ‘We will not be adding more to the national debt,’ even if hundreds of billions of dollars are being added to the national debt in interest — paid on debt that President Obama helped, himself, create.” Ouch.

Now, Tapper was questioning the White House’s maturity to carry on an “adult conversation” as promised with the American people. Carney dodged, simply regurgitating the tired line to Tapper that the debt “has been created over a number of years, as you know. And we came in here with an economic crisis, the likes of which, I daresay, I think nobody in this room has ever seen, and which threatened to head straight into a depression if we didn’t act.”

Now, the White House was making excuses. Carney’s very first press conference was not going well. Tapper was eating him for lunch, and then went in for the kill, finally asking of Carney, “Just to button this, you think that, ‘We will not be adding more to the national debt,’ is a statement that stands [up] to scrutiny?”

Carney quickly replied with a straight face, “Absolutely, absolutely.” Really?

More like absolutely absurd. What a lousy liar. A better campaign commercial could not have been contrived by the Republican National Committee for 2012.

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 18, 2011

Revolutionaries with American Passports

In the excerpt below Peter Berger attempts to explain why some Americans fall in love with authoritarian regimes. His explanation may well be part of the story but I think that for many young Leftists it is rather simple: They hate America and need to find some alternative to it. So they look to regimes that are most unlike America.

That those regimes are in most ways very unattractive explains why most American Leftists don't emigrate to their nirvana but rather remain safely at home. That way they can build castles in the air about their supposed "alternative" society without having to face all the realities of it.

The fools who do put their money where their mouth is generally don't stay for long. The famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein migrated to Soviet Russia in 1935 but lasted less than three weeks there

But why do American Leftists hate America? There are a variety of reasons which I set out here but both political stance and tendency to happiness are highly hereditary -- so many are simply born whiners whom nothing suits -- JR


For over fifty years now, cohorts of young, well-educated Americans have become supporters of a long string of bloody revolutions and tyrannical regimes, united by the two traits of socialist ideology and hostility to the United States. What is one to make of this?

Any identity is better than none.

For reasons which are not mysterious and which can be analyzed sociologically, modernity undermines taken-for-granted identities. No longer an unavoidable destiny, an individual’s identity increasingly becomes a matter of choice. This can be experienced as a great liberation, especially in its early phases. It can also be experienced as a burden. There is a deep human longing for certainty concerning the things that matter most —among which, as Immanuel Kant classically formulated it, is an answer to the question “Who am I?”

As a result, there is a market for any movement that purports to provide a certain identity, one that can be relied upon beyond the precarious products of individual self-construction. That is the great attraction of all totalitarian movements. It is the psychological benefit of all fundamentalisms —religious or secular. The promise is always the same: “Come and join us. And we will give you what you have longed for —you will know who you really are.” The promise is kept —if and as long as the individual adheres to the ideology of the movement. Part of such adherence may be the denial of realities that contradict the ideology.

I think that the psychology of the Westerners who convert to radical Islamism is quite similar to that of the leftists discussed above. Of course this type of Islamism has distinct disadvantages, not only the unpleasant possibility of being killed in Waziristan if one takes the conversion to an active conclusion, but also a rigorous sexual code that has little appeal for those raised in post-1960s Western societies.

Leftist [loyalties] rarely get you killed. Very few Americans have volunteered to join guerrillas in the jungles of Latin America. And, even while wearing Che Guevara T-shirts, these “soldiers of the revolution” can enjoy the sexual freedom allowed in Western democracies. They also have the freedom to proclaim their new identity with impunity. In important sectors of elite culture this identity can even be a passport to prestige and tenure.

Despite the poor prospects, reason should not be discarded in efforts to pry individuals out of the St. Vitus dance. It is comforting to recall Freud’s view, that “the voice of reason is quiet but persistent.” But I know of one contingency that has a good chance of de-converting these revolutionaries with Western passports —if they actually reside for a while in the totalitarian society they had admired from afar.

More HERE

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Mitch Daniels, Indiana's Republican governor, says what must be done to rescue America from stagnation and decline

America, he said, faces "a survival-level threat," a new "Red Menace" consisting of ink. No enterprise, public or private, "can remain self-governing, let alone successful, so deeply in hock to others as we are about to be." Some people accept or "even welcome" a "ballooning of the state" that consigns America to "a gray parity" with other profligate nations. Such people believe history is controlled by a "leftward ratchet," always -- never mind "the Reagan Interruption" -- moving toward a more powerful state.

For such people, the task now is merely defensive: The Obama administration's spending commitments -- e.g., the health care law is designed to "engulf private markets and produce a single-payer system or its equivalent" -- will produce a leviathan state and reduce the American world pre-eminence some people deplore.

Focusing on earmarks (a "pernicious practice" but a "trifle") and "waste, fraud and abuse," says Daniels, trivializes the task of administering "bariatric surgery" to a "morbidly obese" government. He favors restoring to presidents the power to impound appropriated funds ("you'd be amazed how much government you'll never miss"). But the big twofold task is to reform entitlements and produce economic growth -- "a long boom of almost unprecedented duration."

Americans must say "an affectionate thank-you" to the last century's major social welfare programs -- then sunset them, after those Americans "currently or soon to be enrolled" in them have passed from the scene. Social Security and Medicare should be updated to conform to Americans' "increasing longevity and good health." Medicare 2.0 should respect Americans' dignity and competence by empowering them to make "their own decisions" by delivering its dollars directly to individuals, and expecting them to "pay for more of their routine care like the discerning, autonomous customers we know them to be."

To spur economic growth, we must "untie Gulliver": "The regulatory rainforest through which our enterprises must hack their way is blighting the future of millions of Americans." Barack Obama's recent executive order to prune the forest was, Daniels said, akin to the world's leading rap music producer suddenly expressing alarm about obscenity. And Daniels thinks conservatives' "first thought" should be about "those still on that first rung of life's ladder":

"Upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise, and the stagnation of the middle class is in fact becoming a problem, on any fair reading of the facts. Our main task is not to see that people of great wealth add to it, but that those without much money have a greater chance to earn some."

Author of the most succinct characterization of the Obama agenda ("shock-and-awe statism"), Daniels has practiced the lean government he preaches. Under him, Indiana has its fewest state employees since 1978, the nation's lowest state government employment per capita, the lowest effective property taxes and the third-lowest per capita spending. So he has the credentials to counsel conservatives about the need to compromise in the interest of broadening the constituency for difficult reforms.

"Change of the dimension we need," says Daniels, "requires a coalition of a dimension no one has recently assembled," including people who "surf past C-SPAN to get to SportsCenter." Which may mean ideological dilution: "Purity in martyrdom is for suicide bombers" and "King Pyrrhus is remembered, but his nation disappeared." Daniels has "no interest in standing in the wreckage of our Republic saying 'I told you so' or 'You should've done it my way.'"

He reminded his listeners that when he was serving Ronald Reagan, the president admonished him and others that "we have no enemies, only opponents." The case for less strident conservative rhetoric is practical: "As we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit."

Do not, Jefferson warned, undertake great departures on "slender majorities." Conservatives criticized Democrats for doing just that regarding health care. Big changes, Daniels knows, will require a broad majority, perhaps one assembled after 2012 by someone with his blend of accomplishments, aversion to pandering and low-key charisma of competence.

SOURCE

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Liberty, 21st Century-Style

Jonah Goldberg

Finally, the national conversation about democracy is relatively mature and serious. Save for some TV news anchors, just about everyone seems to understand that democracy is a tricky thing.

That skepticism was hard earned. The last decade provided painful lessons for everyone, on both sides of the ideological aisle. Liberals, who were once naively optimistic about democracy promotion, turned dour when President Bush became naively optimistic about it. And then supporters of Bush's freedom agenda learned a tough lesson from, among other things, the disastrous-but-democratic elections that put a terrorist junta in charge of the Gaza Strip.

Hence the irony of so many small-"d" democrats quietly celebrating the fact that Egypt is living under undemocratic martial law, rather than democratic Islamic law as interpreted by a Muslim Brotherhood caliphate.

This new consensus -- that democracy is about more than mere lever-pulling on Election Day -- is progress.

Democracy is essential to a liberal order, but it is less important than the rule of law, honest courts, individual rights (including property rights), and the institutions -- legal and cultural -- that nurture them.

George W. Bush famously proclaimed that the desire for freedom burns in every human heart. I'm sympathetic to such notions and the statecraft that drives such pronouncements. But that doesn't get us very far. What drives the urge for liberty?

The notion that we all crave personal liberty is a fairly new notion, historically. Most of the calls for freedom over the centuries have been in the context of national, not personal, liberation. The 20th century began with an atrocious war allegedly fought over something called "self-determination," but the "self" in question wasn't the id, ego or super-ego, or the individual soul. The "self" in "self-determination" referred to the captive nations of Europe.

Freedom fighters have generally battled for the collective right to fly a national flag, not the individual right to burn one. Conservatives loved the movie "Braveheart," with all of its beautiful language about freedom, but it's worth remembering that the freedom the Scots fought for was the freedom to replace the authoritarian traditionalism of the English with the authoritarian traditionalism of the Scots.

The great change, as Francis Fukuyama chronicled in his book "The End of History and the Last Man," has been the evolution of individual self-determination. Fukuyama borrows a term, "thumos," from the ancient Greeks to explain the transformation. Thumos, or "spiritedness," encompasses the instinct for justice, respect, integrity.

"People evaluate and assign worth to themselves in the first instance, and feel indignation on their own behalf," Fukuyama writes. "But they are also capable of assigning worth to other people, and feeling anger on behalf of others."

Indignation, the driving passion of all revolutions, shares a root with "dignity," a person's -- and a people's -- sense of self-worth. A major cause of Middle Eastern political stagnation, for instance, has been that Arab and Muslim dictators have linked their people's self-respect with the Palestinians' plight.

More positively, in our own country, the Civil Rights movement and the women's movement were, at their core, what Harvard philosopher Harvey Mansfield calls "honor-seeking movements."

To understand continuity between the old conception of liberty and the modern one, you need to understand that freedom in the West mostly means "free to be me." Freedom in much of the rest of the world remains "free to be us."

The genius of liberal democracy is that it allows both conceptions to flourish simultaneously, often in healthy tension. Far from perfect, liberal democracy offers the most people the most respect possible.

The tumult in Egypt and throughout the Middle East is a generational conflagration between different conceptions of thumos -- old and modern, Muslim and nationalist, collective and individual. In the long run, I'm not too worried about liberal democracy's prospects in the Middle East. Modernity brings prosperity, and prosperity fuels an insatiable appetite for respect, and that demand for respect is what topples tyrannies.

I'm more concerned about what is happening here. Thumos continues to evolve in Western democracies, which is not the same thing as saying it continues to improve.

Our current fiscal woes, not to mention the riot of dysfunction that often goes by the name "political correctness" and the thumos-on-the-cheap that we call the self-esteem industry, are in no small part attributable to the perversion of our sense of self-worth. For millions of Americans, it seems that respect must be paid in the form of cash tribute. How else to explain the inviolable sanctity of our aptly named "entitlement" system?

Great civilizations die when the people believe their personal dignity demands more than the society can possibly provide. Sadly, that conversation has barely begun.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Sweden overtakes US in competitiveness: "Sweden is the world’s second most competitive country, the World Economic Forum said in its annual ranking, hailing the Scandinavian country for its transparent institutions, efficient financial markets and the world’s strongest technological adoption. Switzerland topped the overall ranking in The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011. Sweden overtook the US and Singapore this year to be placed 2nd overall." [Sweden has had a conservative government for some time]

Poll: 51% of GOP primary voters believe Obama born abroad: "In a shocking finding, more than half of GOP primary voters believe President Barack Obama was not born in the United States, according to a new poll. Fifty-one percent of 400 Republican primary voters surveyed nationwide by Public Policy Polling said they ascribe to the controversial birther conspiracy theory — despite the fact that the state of Hawaii has posted [a computer printout of] Obama’s certificate of live birth."

Proof of government inefficiency: "Over the past 40 years, the manufacturing sector has more than doubled production while cutting one-third of the workforce, whereas government adds more and more personnel without actually making government services more effective. Imagine, then, how much money government can save, and how much more the private sector can produce, if those 12.4 million excess government workers were in the private workforce."

Obama’s sea of red: "In the days and weeks leading up to the release of his budget, President Obama and his spokesmen warned us that it would contain 'tough choices' and 'painful cuts.' Having increased government spending by 21.4 percent during his first two years in office, Obama would now be intent on imposing 'fiscal discipline.' Hah! By the administration's own estimates, Obama's $3.7 trillion budget would raise this year's budget deficit to $1.65 trillion, the largest pool of red ink since the end of World War II."

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 17, 2011

The GOP's Paul problem

There's a fantastical "this can't be really happening" feeling to the continued extent and power of Ron Paul's popularity among the most dedicated young activists within the Republican Party, not only to those like me who've been largely cheering him from the margins of the margins of American political power for decades, but also for those who have been actively trying to drive him off even those margins.

Herewith, a survey of some recent flailings at Ron Paul's repeat CPAC poll victory, and the ever-larger impact of Pauls--both Ron in the House (and the prospective GOP presidential field) and now Rand in the Senate.

* Young Americans for Freedom follows in the kicking-out-of-the-Right spirit of their founding father William Buckley and boots Paul from their advisory board; as Dave Weigel notes at Slate, internal division results, including YAF's own "coordination intern" quitting, and a public dustup with rival right-youth group Young Americans for Liberty, more reliably Paulite.

* Right-wing radio dude Kevin McCullough sputters at Fox News's site about the "bizarre nature and overall oddity" of a right-wing political gathering that gave so much play to Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, accusing the libertarian leaning of disrespectfully "hijacking" CPAC's "mission," moaning about an "unabated" libertarian streak.

Look, if the excited politically motivated younger folk who actually show up at conventions about politics and activism dig Paul and Johnson, it just might behoove the GOP powers to mind them rather than distance themselves from something as apparently unconservative as limited government--but something there is about a libertarian that makes even simple political horse sense go out the window; as McCullough declares: "libertarians are the worst form of political affiliation in the nation."

* Bernie Quigley at The Hill thinks that the more palatable Johnson rather than Ron Paul will be the ultimate successful standardbearer for the libertarian tinge of the GOP on the national stage, but notes that hysterical reactions against them (though he is focusing on prog-liberal angst, the same is true of trad-right angst) are "prelude to a nervous breakdown." And he sums up the surprising rise of Paul Power:
"What the Pauls have achieved was unimaginable just five years ago, when Ron Paul’s diatribes before Congress were dutifully transcribed only in small, esoteric libertarian journals. Today, if this week’s CPAC convention in D.C. is any indication, libertarianism is the creative rising karma in the Republican Party."

* Right-wing thought leader Donald Trump accuses Paul of un-electability; Paul asks, how many elections has Donald Trump won? (That the anti-Ron Paul forces are actually using an argument that depends on admitting there is any scintilla of a possibility of a hope he could win the presidential nomination is kind of staggering.)

* Ron Paul makes it clear that he's more radical than the right-wing's Tea Party populist troops on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," complaining that:
some Tea Partiers aren’t measuring up when it comes to the tough defense and entitlement program cuts he believes are needed to save the United States from economic cataclysm. “They don’t want you to touch Social Security. They don’t want you to touch anything but Obamacare,” Paul says. “Some of them are real Republicans and they wouldn’t dare touch Bush’s increase in medical care costs, you know, prescription health programs.” “They treat the symptoms and they don’t look at it philosophically,” he adds.

* Jim Antle reported in the Guardian on the tensions between the Paulite CPACers and the others, including Paul fans booing Bush-era GOP heroes Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld:
The event attendees were mostly social conservatives. The audience was more willing to contemplate Pentagon budget scrutiny – but still more hawkish than not and very concerned about radical Islam. The boycotts did not hurt attendance: the conference attracted more than 11,000 conservative activists and its DC venue was packed with people.

But the hostility between Ron Paul's supporters and everyone else was palpable. When Paul won the straw poll, about half the crowd shouted "Ron Paul!" – but the other half booed. When Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who is being targeted for a possible Tea Party challenge in 2012, attempted to defend his vote for the Wall Street bailout, Paulites cried out, "Liar!" This prompted a Hatch supporter to sternly remind the audience, "As conservatives, we can disagree without being disagreeable."

Like I noted after his last CPAC poll victory, there's a strong likelihood that if you didn't vote for Paul, you hate him--he was likely few people's second choice (except maybe Johnson voters).

Why can't the powers that be of the Right handle Paul? I explained this last year after his unexpected first CPAC poll victory, and nothing has changed except his continued and expanding popularity, and that of his senator son, make it all the more ominous:
There’s a very good reason anyone with any skin in the game of the status quo—politician, commentator, or citizen—has to find it very difficult to take Paul seriously. That so many citizens and activists in the Tea Party movement are taking him seriously is scaring the establishment for good reason.

Paul doesn’t just represent an opposition politician, he represents an absolute denial that “the system” makes any sense, has any justice, or is sustainable. It is this radical oppositionism that makes it so easy for standard issue pundits to just write his fans off as nuts and a bit scary.

Newsweek started to get at this important aspect of the Paul phenomenon, noting that “tea-partiers, Paulites, etc. seem less interested in finding practical solutions to Washington's endemic problems than in tearing down Washington itself. As the 2010 elections approach, this nihilistic feeling will only grow stronger.”

That’s because the radical solutions that the Paul worldview demands—an end to overseas military adventurism, ending government’s ability to manipulate paper currency, severe cuts in spending on all the myriad income-shifting promises Washington has made the past 80 years—don’t register as “practical solutions” to (for lack of a better word) the establishment. They seem like nihilism, though they are actually a belief in the American Constitution.

Any standard Republican or movement conservative really can’t take Paul seriously without massive cognitive dissonance. You mean, we really really have to obey the Constitution, we really can’t keep borrowing and inflating forever?

Signs like the CPAC vote of a significant number of politically active youngsters believing in Ron Paul are indeed a sign of an apocalypse of sorts for the world that most politicians and pundits know. If Ron Paul is right, then everything they know is wrong.

Matt Welch will be on MSNBC tonight about all this Ron Paul business. Nick Gillespie on libertarian power at CPAC. More from Gillespie on Paul's CPAC speech.

SOURCE

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ObamaCare and the Medicaid Mess

States need relief from the program's inflexible rules and escalating costs

Facing growing resistance to Medicaid costs, the Obama administration's Health and Human Services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, sent a letter to states last week noting the "urgency of your State budget concerns" and suggesting some minor program changes to save money. They aren't enough.

At roughly 21% of total state spending, Medicaid is already the single largest item in state budgets, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. Between 2008 and 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available), annual spending growth on the program nearly doubled, growing to 9% from 4.9%.

Medicaid currently covers 53 million people at an overall cost of $373.9 billion (states are responsible for about half). But starting in 2014, ObamaCare rules will add about 20 million more, according to Richard Foster, the program's chief actuary.

Yet state budgets are already being squeezed. Washington state, facing a $5.7 billion budget hole, has ordered the Medicaid program to cut its budget by 6.3%. The state cannot reduce eligibility to enroll without jeopardizing federal funding altogether. Its only option is to eliminate "optional benefits" (not federally required) such as dental services and speech therapy—one of the options suggested in Ms. Sebelius's letter. That sounds good, but it's not enough. "Even if we eliminate every single optional benefit, we still don't get there," Doug Porter, the state's Medicaid director, told Governing magazine.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, center, and Massachusetts Health and Human Secretary Judy Ann Bigby in Boston in 2009. The overhaul of the Massachusetts health-care system included significant expansion of Medicaid, and the overhaul is costing the state far more than expected.

In response to Arizona's projected $1.1 billion deficit, Gov. Jan Brewer has announced she will seek a special waiver from Health and Human Services allowing her state to remove 250,000 childless adults and about 30,000 parents (with incomes between 50% and 100% of the poverty line) from the 1.3 million individuals currently on its Medicaid rolls. The state estimates the savings at $545 million—assuming the feds grant the waiver.

To consider what the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare might do to the states, take a look at Massachusetts and Tennessee. In 2006, Massachusetts overhauled its entire health-care system, including a significant expansion of Medicaid. This expansion is costing the state far more than expected. Gov. Deval Patrick approved a record-setting $9.6 billion to cover its share of Medicaid costs last July. It wasn't enough. He's already gone back to the legislature twice, adding almost $600 million in additional funds.

Tennessee's experience is also illuminating. Between 1994 and 2004, it expanded its Medicaid program, called TennCare, to cover roughly one in four residents. The price tag reached a quarter of the state budget by 2004, and the consulting firm McKinsey projected that the program would consume 91% of state revenues by 2008. Ultimately, Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, declared the program a failure and kicked approximately 200,000 people off the rolls.

A number of Medicaid reforms are being discussed, especially replacing federal matching revenues with block grants. The grants would cover only mandatory services such as hospital and physician costs—and would come without any other federal strings attached.

Medicaid also could be transformed from a permanent entitlement into a temporary assistance program, much like the welfare reform of 1996. States could provide premium support for health insurance but put a time limit on benefits, and they could expect enrollees to prove that they are either working or on the hunt for employment.

Critically, Medicaid reform should allow states to experiment with the eligibility for and design of their health-care services. In 2007, for example, Gov. Mitch Daniels created the Healthy Indiana Plan, which funded 95% of the cost of consumer-directed health savings accounts for low-income residents. Healthy Indiana now covers about 43,000 low-income people not otherwise eligible for Medicaid under federal rules. The program is also popular among state employees. It's funded by cigarette taxes and Medicaid dollars thanks to a federal waiver. Mr. Daniels has asked the Obama administration for permission to use Healthy Indiana as a way to expand the state's Medicaid program.

Medicaid has been a joint federal-state mess for so long that we don't know exactly what states would do if allowed to innovate. But we certainly know what the consequences and the costs will be if they aren't.

SOURCE

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Dead by the Hand of Labor

The long term impact of the labor movement on the U.S. economy is now becoming clearer with each passing day and it can best be described as an ugly blot on our republic. What should be evident to all is that widespread unionization of the workforce has not been a positive influence on our economy or on our political institutions. A quick inventory tells us that labor unions have all but destroyed the steel industry, the auto industry, the movie industry, the teaching profession, the construction trades, and the legal profession and have seriously damaged many others.

It’s time everyone understood that, to interfere with the smooth and efficient operation of an employer’s business is, in the strictest sense of the word, theft; that there are no constitutional protections that allow one man to acquire the property of another through coercion; that there is no right to interfere with or dictate the rules or methods by which an employer conducts his/her business; and that there is no right to cause the property of another to decrease in value through work stoppages or boycotts. If workers are unhappy with their pay or with the conditions of their employment, they do have another right to rely on… they have a right to find work elsewhere.

In his book, And the Wolf Finally Came: The Decline of the American Steel Industry, John Hoerr, of BusinessWeek, describes what happened to the U.S. Steel industry at the hands of I.W. Abel and the United Steelworkers of America. Hoerr tells us, “By the early 1980s, American steelworkers were the best-paid industrial workers in the world. From 1967 to 1979, total hourly employment costs in the steel industry rose 180 percent, or an annual rise of 12.1 percent, while the industry's productivity grew barely 2 percent a year. When this cozy, anticompetitive world was punctured by lower-cost foreign steel, the union had only one answer: import barriers."

Now that once-great industry, the symbol of American economic superiority, is gone, and so are hundreds of thousands of its jobs. It was strangled to death by the steelworkers union.

What steelworkers have done to the steel industry, autoworkers have done to the auto industry. As Robert J. Dewar, a former Ford Motor Company general foreman tells us in his book, A Savage Factory: An Eyewitness Account of the Auto Industry’s Self-Destruction, “the UAW arsenal easily outgunned management. Production was sabotaged. Critical employees were absent when high production was most needed. Tools mysteriously disappeared. Bad quality was run purposely. The weakest, least desirable employees were protected with the full power of the labor contract. When management and the UAW stood eyeball to eyeball, management always backed down – they had to – productivity and profitability hung in the balance.”

The only unionized sectors of our economy that have continued to grow and prosper, through good times and bad, are defense-related industries and government bureaucracy… sectors of our economy that are unaffected by the same economic realities that govern decision-making in other sectors of our economy. But there is little mystery to it.

So long as the world remains a dangerous place for freedom-loving people and the United States must maintain a prohibitive military machine, the amount of money spent to support the defense industry will remain sacrosanct and defense contractors will pay whatever their unions demand.

So long as unions continue to soak their members for hundreds of millions of dollars in dues, they will continue to purchase the loyalty of liberals and Democrats who will support every uneconomic advantage that unions demand.

So long as Democrats continue to expand the size and scope of government, expanding the bloated bureaucracy and creating jobs for hordes of unionized government workers, we have little hope of controlling spending or reducing our national indebtedness.

So long as the unholy alliance between labor unions and the Democrat Party exists, and so long as liberals and Democrats continue to put the interests of union bosses ahead of the national interest, our economy will continue to suffer and our nation will continue on the decline.

So long as the docile American taxpayer remains willing to pick up the tab for this incestuous relationship, and so long as unions are allowed to function as if they have no responsibility for the national interests, we have little chance of leaving anything of value for future generations. Unless we bring labor unions under control, as Governor Haley is attempting to do in South Carolina, the epitaph on our national tombstone will read, “Dead by the hand of labor.”

More HERE

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

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

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

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Moral conservatism makes fiscal conservatism possible

Conventional political wisdom tells us that there are social conservatives and then there are fiscal conservatives. This is a canard. Though we appear determined to learn this lesson the hard way, the tenets of conservative philosophy cannot be split down the middle.

A moral, productive people are necessary to maintain a healthy society - you cannot have one without the other. They are wholly dependent upon one another, not upon government. At the end of the day, there simply is no adequate substitute for personal responsibility. Man cannot achieve as a dependent what he can achieve for himself.

Not only are the social and the fiscal inseparable, to a large extent it is social conditions that are directly driving our economic dilemma. America has been fundamentally transformed (disintegrated) by progressive fashions and trends. Within the last several decades these trends broke up the family unit, said it wasn't needed anymore. Fathers were driven away for larger welfare payments. Mom was "liberated" and sent back to work. The stigma once connected to divorce and abortion was removed. Within all these shifts, we find the deliberate weakening of morality and an absence of personal responsibility at the heart of the matter.

With our tacit consent the progressives consequently built a dependent class, a permanent underclass demanding an ever-growing safety net. Today, the plague has grown so severe that we send children to public schools during the summers just to insure they are fed.

As a result of society's supposed "enlightenment" our families are both smaller and more fractured, increasing the demand for public care of the elderly in lieu of the greater family involvement that was instilled in the society of our past. All along the way we continue to dip into a bottomless public treasury that is non-existent.

The public education racket

Then there's the damage to our public education system. Though we have thrown unprecedented sums of money at our education problems, data proves that the more we are forced to pay the less we actually get.

The nation suffers from too much extortionist college loan debt, even though not all students should be directed to higher degrees, too many students lacking basic "life skills", and the escalating costs of remedial courses required to deal with declining skills.

Many states and locales are finally dealing with the harsh reality that there's no longer enough money to go around. Though a myriad of problems contribute to driving up costs in public education the factor that no government agency or amount of tax-dollars can overcome is the utter lack of basic values a child is taught at home.

Paying for the sins of others

We all pay more for the lack of morality exercised by a few. Many retail items we consume are necessarily marked-up to cover losses from shoplifting. Similarly, insurance premiums, credit card interest rates and banking fees are higher due to irresponsible behavior. In the financial arena everything from greedy financial executives to growing trends such as bankruptcy and foreclosure cost everyone.

Progressive trends have even pressured local and federal law enforcement to abdicate its responsibilities, leading to a nation over-run with 12 million undocumented aliens. So many that we're told we could not possibly shoulder the expense of effectively dealing with the problem. This too is a moral issue because it is a breach of social contract and public trust. Worse yet, it is the attempted removal of the stigma of illegality.

Hand-in-hand with our laze-faire attitudes on immigration we have subsequently experienced increasing demands on our systems of education, health care, law enforcement and incarceration.

America has become collectively conditioned to ignore the pain, suffering and emotional scars that come with immoral behavior. While we may have learned to bear the social costs, there are growing concerns that the accompanying economic price may prove insurmountable.

The next time someone tells you they are a fiscal conservative, ask them to explain just how that line of thinking works.

More HERE

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Dodd-Frank 'help' hurts bank customers

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." Ronald Reagan called those "the nine most terrifying words in the English language" – and with good reason. Nowhere do we see good intentions go awry more regularly than in the hallowed halls of government. Case in point: bank fees. You'll likely be paying more in the coming months, if you're not already, for many ordinary transactions.

Banks are looking at how they can slap additional fees on credit cards and checking accounts, as well as ways to make more money from ATMs and debit-card purchases. Why? No, it's not old-fashioned greed. After all, these institutions are competing with each other for your business. They want to attract customers.

Unfortunately, though, they're coping with the fact that last year's much-heralded financial "reform" legislation – better known as Dodd-Frank, after its congressional champions – is dictating what they can and can't charge for certain transactions.

As part of Dodd-Frank, The Wall Street Journal recently noted, the Federal Reserve has proposed limiting what banks can charge for debit-card purchases, from an average rate of 44 cents a transaction, to seven to 12 cents – a drop of as much as 84 percent. Great, you may be saying, I'd like to pay less.

But banks can't, and won't, just kiss this revenue goodbye. The amount being reduced goes to the financial institution that issues the card, and the loss of this income may cause certain card issuers to either drop their cards or limit their availability.
That's why these institutions are looking at other ways to make up the lost funds. "We don't want to raise fees on our customers, but unfortunately, regulation is forcing us to do it," a spokeswoman for Chase bank told the Journal.

One of the stated purposes of Dodd-Frank was "to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices." Debit-card fees aren't fun, but they're hardly abusive. And even if they were, now we have government trying to "protect" us in typically inept fashion. We'll wind up paying as much as before, if not more, just at different times and for different reasons. Thanks for the "help," Uncle Sam. Government to the rescue, huh?

The problems with Dodd-Frank don't end there. The law also created a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, which, we were told, would protect consumers from unfair practices. But the new bureau is no mere watchdog. It has broad powers to limit the financial products and services that banks can offer consumers. Yes, the government will "protect" you by limiting your access to certain financial products, even in situations where you know and understand the risks.

Making credit more expensive and harder to get is not exactly a help to consumers. But that's the practical effect of Dodd-Frank.
Worse, we won't know the full impact of the legislation for some time to come. It required nearly a dozen government agencies to write hundreds of rules, reports and studies – and, as they say, the devil's in the details.

In an effort to get some handle on the impending costs, House Republicans recently asked nine of these agencies to detail how much it will cost them to enforce Dodd-Frank. "It is our responsibility to ensure that federal agencies have the tools they need to carry out congressional mandates," House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., and Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, told regulators. "In addition, it is our responsibility to ensure that mandates are not overly burdensome or wasteful of taxpayer money."

Indeed it is. Here's another tip: Stop being so "helpful." Our wallets really can't take much more.

SOURCE

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America's nonsensical tax system

Take my situation as an example. First, in an income tax system that made sense, I would be expected to pay the same percentage of my income in taxes as everyone else. That is the only fair way to operate an income tax system in a free country where everyone is supposed to be equal under the law. If the tax rate is 10 percent, then the person making $1 million would pay $100,000 and the person making $10,000 would pay $1,000. That is called fairness.

Unfortunately, our income tax system is a so-called “progressive” system where the more you make, the higher percentage you have to pay. Not very fair, but that is what we have.

My gross salary, then, puts me in the 25 percent marginal tax bracket. In a tax system that makes sense, I would be expected to pay 25 percent of my salary in taxes.

But no. The federal government decided to use the tax code to punish those who are not married. Because I am married, I actually drop into the 15 percent tax bracket. I should be expected, then, to pay 15 percent of my gross salary in taxes.

Not so fast. There are a gazillion tax deductions, exemptions and credits. Many of these have nothing to do with sound fiscal policy and exist merely for political reasons to achieve some social engineering result, which is certainly no way to run an income tax system.

After applying all the deductions for which I am eligible, I dropped into the 10 percent tax bracket. So, again, in a fair and sane system, I should be expected to pay 10 percent of my income in taxes.

Wait, now we add in the credits, which drops my tax burden to zero. While it sounds insane that someone with my salary would not owe any federal income taxes, it gets worse.

My employer, acting as a tax collector for the federal government, took $14 out of my paycheck in 2010 to cover any potential income tax I might owe. In a sane system, I would get a check from the government for $14 and we would call it even. Not so in 21st century America.

Instead of me paying the federal government a percentage of my income, the government is sending me a check not only for the $14 it took from me but for an additional amount equal to 12.04 percent of my gross pay.

Instead of me paying 25 percent in taxes, the government is paying me 12.04 percent. That is simply backward and there are probably millions of taxpayers similarly situated as I am.

Liberals want to increase taxes on the rich. That makes no sense. According to the IRS, in 2008, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 38 percent of all federal individual income taxes, more than the bottom 95 percent, but earned only 20 percent of adjusted gross income.

Yet, a middle-class wage earner such as myself in a household near the national median for income, netted a 12.04 percent windfall.
Where is the fairness in that?

Perhaps, instead of taking more money from the rich and giving it to workers such as myself, why not stop the tax giveaway? No matter how many credits or deductions a person has, the federal government should not be returning more than it took for that year.

It is insane for the federal government to send millions of people thousands of dollars every year as part of its tax system. It is supposed to be tax collection, not a tax giveaway.

I fear for the future of any government that thinks sound fiscal policy includes borrowing $1.5 trillion every year while passing out free money to a large percentage of its citizens.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

"Senior" journalist, Elizabeth Drew, has a carping article in The NY Review of Books telling us how good old sincere Obama is being persecuted by the evil GOP. Keith Burgess-Jackson takes her apart. He starts out: "Elizabeth Drew fancies herself a journalist, but she is little more than a political hack".

A reminder that most Egyptians are Muslims: "Top CBS foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered a "brutal" sexual assault at the hands of a mob in Egypt while covering the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak, her US network says. "She and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy," CBS said in a statement. "In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. "She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers." [Western women are fair game to Muslim extremists]

Iranian regime suppresses Communist demonstration: "Iranian riot police fired tear gas and paintballs at protesters holding anti-government demonstrations in Tehran on Monday, websites and witnesses said, while an Iranian news agency reported that a gunshot killed a bystander. The report by the Fars news agency said a number of people were also wounded by the gunfire and blamed the outlawed former rebel group, the People's Mujahedeen of Iran"

The state never apologizes: "The federal law allowing for attorney fees limits recovery to individual and corporate defendants under a certain net worth. Congress intended the law to encourage small businessmen to challenge unfair regulatory actions. The FTC’s decision in Isely’s case effectively nullifies this. ... Leibowitz’s precedent sends a clear signal that no small businessman has any hope of winning anything more than a Pyrrhic victory against the FTC: Even a person who prevails in litigation will face financial ruin to pay their attorney fees."

A growing burden: Taxes and fees on wireless service: "Wireless users across the United States continue to face excessive and discriminatory federal, state, and local taxes and fees on their wireless bills. After several years in which taxes and fees on wireless users stabilized and even fell slightly, the trend toward higher impositions resumed between 2009 and 2010. Wireless users now face a combined federal, state, and local tax and fee burden of 16.3 percent, a rate two times higher than the average retail sales tax rate and the highest wireless rate since 2005."

Secret sex offender list: Is your kid on it?: "Other sex offender lists, as horrific and unjustified as they may be, at least wait until someone is convicted of a crime, even if the law itself is ludicrous. But this list requires no conviction, only a faceless bureaucrat who thinks their conclusion is 'reasonable.'"

High-speed pork: "Far from serving 80 percent of Americans, Obama's trains will serve only about 8 percent. High-speed rail's main market is downtown-to-downtown travel. But little more than 7 percent of Americans work in big-city downtowns, and fewer than 1 percent live there. Few aside from this fairly wealthy elite will regularly ride high-speed trains. For the few who use it, high-speed rail will substitute an expensive form of travel for much more affordable forms."

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

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

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

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On Egypt the Left are all neo-cons now

The Left are consistent only in their hatred of the society in which they live

The future of Egypt following the departure of president Hosni Mubarak remains opaque.

No one can currently predict whether it will end up as a democracy with free elections, a military dictatorship, or an Islamic theocratic tyranny.

But the Western Left has known one thing for certain from the very start of the protests: that the tyrannical dictator Mubarak had to go, that the protesters in Tahrir Square were all on the side of freedom and that the convulsions presaged a joyous new dawn of democracy and human rights.

This was despite the serious risk of an Islamist takeover in Egypt, with the consequent extinction of human rights for the Egyptians worse than anything under Mubarak's clearly repressive regime. And it was also despite the fact that opinion polls have suggested that many, if not most Egyptians harbour Islamist, anti-Western and ferociously anti-Jewish ideas.

Nevertheless, Western progressives were shouting for regime change. At which point it began to seem that, like Alice, one had somehow been transported through the looking-glass.

For during the past seven years, Western liberals have fulminated without remission that George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Tony Blair were criminally out to lunch to pretend that democracy could ever come to Iraq through ousting a dictator.

The neo-con article of faith, that the Arab or Islamic world, could or should embrace democracy and human rights, was held up as an example of cultural imperialism, racist bigotry or insanity, or all three.

But suddenly everyone in the bien-pensant world has apparently become a neo-con.

The US, they now fulminated, had been criminally obtuse in propping up the dictator Mubarak rather than helping turn Egypt into a democracy.

So what was the difference? Simple. Saddam Hussein was an enemy of the West; Mubarak was an ally. So progressives claimed that getting rid of the former was a crime against humanity, while not getting rid of the latter was a crime against humanity. Got that?

It would doubtless be uncharitable to add that, throughout this supposedly diabolical Mubarak presidency those same liberals saw no problem taking vacations rubber-necking round the Pyramids or steaming up the Nile. No boycott, divestment or sanctions movement there; such censure is never applied by the Left to any of the tyrannies of the Middle East, of course, only against the sole democracy in the region: Israel.

Nor do the double standards stop there. When the people of Lebanon made their pitch for democracy against the crushing oppression of Hezbollah, Western bien-pensants were totally indifferent. When the people of Iran made their pitch for democracy against the savage cruelties of the Islamic regime, the bien-pensants were totally indifferent. But when the Egyptians took to the streets, the bien-pensants all but wetted themselves with excitement.

What was the difference? If the Lebanese and Iranians had succeeded, the West would have been strengthened. But the risk still remains that the canny Muslim Brotherhood will bide their time before pouncing and coming to power in Egypt, which would of course furnish another major threat for the free world.

And this is the most frightening thing of all in this back-to-front universe: the way in which the West has sanitised the Muslim Brothers and even, in the case of the Obama administration, actually tried to push them into power.

When it wasn't flip-flopping over whether Mubarak should stay or go, the White House first said it wouldn't mind if the Muslim Brothers became part of the Egyptian government.

Then it urged the inclusion of "important non-secular actors" - code for the Muslim Brothers - in a "more democratic" Egypt. And then it was revealed that its proposal for the immediate transfer of power called for the transitional government to include the brotherhood.

What madness was this? The Muslim Brothers' goal is to Islamise the world. They are religious fascists. While certainly there are millions of Muslims around the world who do want to live under democracy, the Brothers are totally against any secular rule at all and stand for an extinction of human rights. They are fanatical Jew-haters. In the 1930s they were effectively created as a political force by the Nazi Party, with which they formulated a final solution for Palestine by ridding it of its Jews, an agenda continued today by their offshoot, Hamas.

Today, they are no less the mortal enemies of the free world. Their leaders have declared war on America, gloating that the US is "experiencing the beginning of its end and is heading towards its demise", and that "resistance is the only solution".

They support al-Qa'ida terrorism "against the Americans and the Zionists". They declared that after Mubarak they would dissolve the peace treaty with Israel.

They support Hezbollah, make overtures to Iran, and openly employ a strategy of simulating moderation to gain power though democratic means in order to destroy democracy.

If Egypt is eventually taken over by the brotherhood, Jordan will be next, and both will turn into Iran/Gaza in a matter of a few years. Oh, and the Brothers are also busy Islamising Britain and America. Yet on both sides of the pond, significant elements of the political and defence establishment have decided that the Muslim Brothers are basically peace-loving, sensible, pragmatic chaps who are useful allies against the men of violence.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that the double standards of the Left result from its deep hatred of the Western society whose basic values they wish to overturn. Whether during the French Revolution or the Stalinist purges, the Left has repeatedly sided with the extinction of human freedom and refused to accept the monstrous evidence of its own credulousness.

Among political and defence elites, moreover, the stranglehold of multicultural victim culture, the influence of revisionist "scholars" such as John Esposito or Karen Armstrong who sanitise Islam, and the deep desire to take the path of least resistance - plus the reflexive view that the real threat to the world is not the Islamic jihad but the state of Israel - means that the establishment meets the Left on the same side of the looking-glass.

Has there ever been a civilisation more bent on collective suicide than the contemporary West?

SOURCE

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The Great Jobs Recession Goes On

The recession is officially over but unemployment remains high

There is no life in our jobs market. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but the Great Jobs Recession continues apace. Not since the government began to measure the business cycle has a deep recession been marked by such high levels of unemployment and underemployment, and followed by such anemic job growth. More jobs were lost in the recession of 2007-09 than in the previous four recessions combined—and this time it is an agonizingly slow business to replace them. Of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the downturn, roughly 900,000 were recovered in 2010, and many of these were temporary census positions. Since last June, employers have added a net of only about 284,000 jobs.

The recent headline news that the unemployment rate has fallen by 0.4 percentage point to 9 percent reflects somewhat more activity in manufacturing and retail, but less work in construction, transportation, and warehousing. The 9 percent was thus not bad news, but it was not good news either, since we need 130,000 new jobs each month just to meet the needs of new entries to the labor force and we gained only a dismal 36,000 in January. That comes on top of last year's disappointing monthly job creation rate of only 75,000 on average. Altogether, the 9 percent headline figure is an illusory portrait of the situation across the country, representing 13,863,000 men and women out of work. What happens if you add to that the 8.4 million "involuntary" part-time employed, whose hours have been cut back? Then you get a household unemployment rate slightly under 17 percent.

Turn the percentages into people again. In January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we had 2.8 million people only "marginally attached" to the labor force. A million or so of these are counted as the "discouraged," people who have given up altogether. The other 1.8 million have looked for work in the last 12 months without success but are not counted in the labor force because they haven't tried to get a job in the last four weeks for any number of personal reasons, such as family sickness, school responsibilities, weather, and travel problems. While the headline unemployment figure is down, the number of "marginally attached" increased by 300,000, and the decline in the rate from 9.4 to 9 percent is primarily because these workers have just dropped out of the market. But they haven't dropped out of life in America. They represent a colossal waste of energy and talent, as well as a loss of spending power.

It all adds up to a shocking figure: More than 25 million Americans are now either jobless or underemployed. That's nearly twice as many Americans out of work as there were in the black year of 1933—13 million then. (Only in one year before 1940 and the war did unemployment dip below 8 million.) Of course, the labor force was much smaller then, so the unemployment rate was higher. In the Great Depression, between one third and one quarter of the working population didn't have jobs.

Our real unemployment rate in 2011 is almost twice what it was before the onset of the recession in 2007, and at the current pace, it looks as if it will take until late 2016 to make up for the net job loss to date of 7.5 million. What is normal at this stage of the typical recession cycle is not only that job losses would be reversed, but that a new record high would be reached. As the economist David Rosenberg points out, after the dot-com bubble burst and with far less government stimulus in the last so-called jobless recovery, we had already recouped 62 percent of the aggregate decline in unemployment. This time around we have managed to recoup a mere 12 percent, despite the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policy in the history of America.

More HERE

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TSA Thugs at work again

By Mary Theroux

I am frequently stopped on the street and asked for directions. In my volunteer stints I quickly establish an easy rapport with the diverse people with whom I come in contact. I get warm returning smiles in shops and restaurants. In short: most people apparently view me as non-threatening. It has thus been surprising to learn that in the eyes of the TSA I am viewed as but a common criminal, and may be treated accordingly, with impunity and without recourse.

My adult stepson and I traveled together last week to the Midwest. As we made our way through security at the Oakland airport, I was directed towards one of the new, “enhanced” screening machines. Being aware of the health concerns these untested machines have raised—especially given my having undergone medical X-rays earlier in the week—I refused. As the TSA agents held me in waiting for the “female assist,” for the “pat-down,” I advised them that they might, in the interest of their own health and safety, want to investigate the dangers of working near the machines.

My stepson had preceded me through security through the regular screening machine, and as I was ordered to “assume the position,” took out his camera phone to record the proceedings. A TSA Officer told him to stop, and when my stepson asked on what authority, was told that it is against TSA “procedures.” I advised my stepson to not argue with the agent and he quit recording. Meanwhile, from the moment I was stopped to go through the enhanced screening machine, throughout the “pat-down,” and as we left the area, I carried on an extremely loud, running verbal protest against the proceedings as invasive and unconstitutional, attracting the attention of other passengers in the area—most of whom looked uncomfortably away.

Once “cleared,” my stepson and I went to the boarding area, then boarded our flight and settled down in our seats near the rear of the plane. Ten minutes prior to take-off, a blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor, accompanied by two men wearing brown uniforms (21st-century Brownshirts?), and a man in a plain suit came down the aisle and told my stepson he had to go with them. I explained that he had simply been trying to provide loving support as I resisted being treated as a criminal, and outlined the urgency of our trip. The plain-suited official told the TSA Supervisor that all they needed was name and flight information, so I handed him our boarding passes, bearing both. The TSA Supervisor officiously insisted we had to leave the plane with him. With take-off time growing ever closer, we accompanied the four agents to the jetway, where a large, second plain-suited man and an airport employee also waited. Both left as I launched into a protest of the proceedings.

The four men who had boarded the plane encircled us on the jetway just outside the plane. The plain-suited official reiterated that all they needed was name and flight information—which they had in hand—but the TSA Supervisor insisted he needed our drivers licenses. As he recorded our information from these on his clipboarded form, I recorded the names of the officials present from their ID badges: the blue-uniformed TSA Supervisor Darrel Robinson and plain-clothed Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Michael Simmons.

After Supervisor Robinson had returned our drivers licenses, I asked if we were free to reboard, to which he gruffly replied “In a minute.” After a few more moments, we were “released,” and reboarded the plane without further ado. As I later learned, this constitutes being under arrest, and I guess time will tell to what extent I now have a “record,” since I was advised of nothing, provided no information as to why we had been summarily ordered off of our flight, or to what use our identification information was going to be made.

Yet the entire incident made absolutely no sense: following our having cleared security, my stepson and I had spent at least 25 minutes in the waiting area of the small Oakland airport, on a day with few passengers travelling, and thus could have been easily approached well before we boarded the flight. We had already been cleared—even through their enhanced security techniques—and had thus established, by their own standards, our innocence and the safety of the other passengers. We had violated no laws: TSA’s own website says:

TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down.

My stepson was sitting, 6 feet away from where my person was being violated during the “pat-down,” and turned off his cell camera when told to by a male TSA agent not involved in the procedure—if this slowed down their process it was by their discomfort with having their actions recorded, not our interference.

Yet this uniformed contingent chose to board the plane after all of the flight’s passengers had been seated, to make an extremely public show of escorting us from the plane, enacting proceedings heretofore understood to be those reserved for suspected criminals, in front a captive audience.

What other possible purpose, then, than a very deliberate, public show of force making it clear to all witnessing the spectacle that those who will not submit quietly will be made examples of?

But such bullying is not the least unpredictable. Investing petty clerks with arbitrary and unchecked powers always leads to their visiting ever-increasing humiliations and violence on the politically impotent. As this past 10 years of escalating “homeland security” well confirms, thuggery not resisted grows ever more bold. Tunisia’s recent uprising may have been sparked by a young man who set fire to himself after being harassed by a low-level government official, as Egypt’s was by three policemen killing a young man posting evidence of their petty corruption on YouTube, but the fuel for each had been built up over decades of tyrannies small and great. The only question here is how far down the road we blessed with a heritage of security in our own persons and property will quietly submit before turning on “our” Brownshirts and saying “No. Go.”

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Why are Obama's policies so destructive?

Obama knows that his economic policies are productive of neither liberty as traditionally conceived by Americans nor prosperity. He would have to be, not just the most incompetent president ever, but among the most dense of human beings, for given the extensive exposure that he has had to both Keynesian and neo-Marxian philosophy -- anyone who takes the time to read his memoirs, particularly his first, and who considers the worldview of the people with whom he has surrounded himself for most of his life would know this -- he could only know by now full well the fruits that these policies promise to reap.

But from this it doesn't follow that Obama anticipates the ruination of America as such. There can be no doubt, I think, that he wants to preside over an America that is morally superior and, hence, better, than the country that elected him two years ago. The problem, though, is that the America of Obama's imaginings is radically unlike the America to which most of its citizens have an acquired affection and even more unlike the America within which their ancestors made their home. That is, the "fundamental transformation" that Obama wants to visit upon America demands nothing more or less than the death of America as it is currently constituted; only once America as a living reality is eliminated can America as Obama's ideal be substituted for it.

The philosopher Ronald Dworkin once said that "a more equal society" -- a society the resources of which are equally "distributed" -- is better than the contrary, even if its citizens prefer inequality. Anyone who has paid any attention at all to Obama must know that he couldn't agree more with this thought.

So, our president does indeed think that as a people, Americans will be "better" in the wake of the "fundamental transformation" that he wants to impose upon us. So the O'Reillys and Medveds are correct in this respect. However, neither Rush, myself, nor the large numbers of Americans who love the liberties which our forefathers labored indefatigably to bequeath to us are likely to receive much consolation from this. After all, the fact remains that his intentions aside, our president is determined to see the historic nation that is the real America go the way of the dinosaur.

SOURCE

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States Cutting Medicaid, Fear ObamaCare's Mandate

With many states facing serious budget strains, Medicaid programs face some of their toughest cuts ever. But states will have even tougher choices to make in 2014 when ObamaCare forces states to vastly expand Medicaid rolls.

Medicaid already has become a bigger and bigger share of state government spending. So even though the federal government provides about two-thirds of the total funding — the share differs widely from state to state — governors and legislatures still have to pare the program to close big budget shortfalls.

But President Obama's policies are making that harder. The 2009 stimulus package provided short-term cash to states to shore up Medicaid. But in exchange, states had to agree to never cut their Medicaid eligibility levels or risk losing all of the federal funding for Medicaid. That's just the appetizer. When ObamaCare fully kicks in, states will have to expand Medicaid to 133% of the federal poverty level.

Medicaid has been slowly eating up a greater portion of state budgets. In 2000, it averaged just over 19% of state spending; in 2010 it was just under 22%. It now exceeds state primary and secondary education spending, which is about 20.8%.

States can cut reimbursement rates to providers. But they are already extremely low. Fewer and fewer doctors and other providers accept Medicaid patients. So states are increasingly looking at ways to cut benefits.

• Arizona recently cut the organ transplants that Medicaid pays for.

• In California, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed limiting Medicaid beneficiaries to 10 doctor visits per year and 6 prescriptions per month.

• In Georgia, GOP Gov. Nathan Deal proposed eliminating Medicaid coverage of dental, vision and podiatry care for adults.

• South Carolina will not only do that, but is also cutting back on many other services such as hospice care and insulin pumps for Type 2 diabetes, and reducing annual home health visits from 75 to 50, among others.

• Washington state is reducing home-based health care reimbursement.

• In New York and Florida, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican Gov. Rick Scott have proposed steep Medicaid cuts. New York's Cuomo has yet to release details, while Scott proposed moving Medicaid into managed care plans.

"States can't reduce eligibility, so they are going to be reducing provider rates and slashing benefits," said Brian Blase, a health policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "When Medicaid expands in 2014, this will get worse for states because it is estimated that an additional 20 million people will be enrolled in Medicaid."

But others see the possibility of even further benefit cuts when ObamaCare's Medicaid mandate kicks in.

"We were already looking, before ObamaCare, at a Medicaid budget that was unsustainable," said Ashley Landess, president of the conservative South Carolina Policy Council. "This has compounded the problem times 10."

More HERE

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Liberals in the Helping Professions

Hopefully no federal grant money was elicited in order to discover that most psychologists and social workers are politically liberal democrats. This was the conclusion posited by Professor Jonathan Haidt at the annual conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology and it’s one of those truisms that often get funded as a “study” in order to prove what’s already obvious.

The notion that liberalism is the more compassionate political bent is a classic case of cognitive dissonance. It was after Lyndon Johnson’s very liberal Great Society programs that black family life began to seriously deteriorate. In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 40 percent; today that has climbed to over 70 percent and 90 percent in the inner city.

Children being raised without a father is the key prognosticator for failure in school, subsequent un-employment and a host of other problems, notably addiction, crime and incarceration. The unintended consequence of Johnson’s liberal welfare allocations and other support systems was the growth of a nanny state to replace the role of fathers in black families, plunging them into cultural as well as financial disarray. The loss of incentive and personal responsibility has proved to be chaotic and intractable for the black underclass yet the canard that liberals are more caring about minorities remains.

When psychologists and social workers deal with hard core addicts, they understand the benefits of tough love and the hindrance that enablers pose. Yet when it comes to public education, the remedy is usually to throw more money at a failing system. The liberal conception of what has caused the deterioration in our public school systems is a string of excuses such as: insufficient funding, lack of infra-structure, unqualified teachers, bloated class size – everything but the obvious change in the student and parent bodies in the schools and the change in what is demanded of them.

Before we introduced instruction of English as a second language, children from other countries were immersed in English and usually learned it within the year. The policy of allowing Hispanic students to remain in ESL classes indefinitely has been an abysmal failure, doing nothing more than guaranteeing overpayment to adjunct teachers who would not qualify for any other academic instruction.

Our standards of acceptable schoolwork have plummeted to below failure as students get promoted from grade to grade without proficiency in rudimentary English or math. Yet the very liberal Teachers’ Union insists on maintaining the status quo as if the current annual Dept of Education budget of 21 billion dollars is not an outright insult to every taxpayer who pours his hard-earned money into a slough of despond.

Liberals are responsible for the abandonment of the core curriculum and rote learning in favor of progressive, more creative approaches such as team work instead of individual accountability. Liberals favor portfolios and projects over tests, though recent studies have shown that testing is the most effective way to solidify the retention of information.

Liberals stress students’ rights over teachers’ rights and have made it overly complicated, if not impossible, to discipline both students and teachers. The traditional pedagogic methods incorporated by parochial schools drawing from the same poor neighborhoods of New York produce an almost perfect graduation rate whereas our public high schools graduate less than half of their student bodies. Is this a boon to the disadvantaged?

Aside from Catholic schools, the institution that has probably done the most to turn around the lives of poor, unskilled young people is the Armed Services which for the past fifty years has provided education, training and transformative lessons to empower young men and women to build their own lives.

Yet this is the institution most maligned on elite campuses which profess concern for countering the forces of discrimination and leveling the playing field through affirmative action.

Unions, a liberal concept designed to protect the workers are now sometimes the most hostile to including minorities so that certain trades that would be within their reach remain closed to them.

Professor Haidt was able to persuade the psychologists and social workers that they should set a goal of being more welcoming to conservative thinkers within their fold so as to encourage true diversity of thought.

I would add that giving credence to successful precepts of religious insititutions, the military and conservative political thought would be a welcome addition to all the professions comprising our lopsidedly liberal, often unhelpful, helping professions.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Egypt sets six-month target for elections: "Egypt's new military rulers tried to reassure protesters they were sincere about political reform, announcing they were suspending the constitution, dissolving parliament, and setting a six-month target for full elections. But after the army sent shock waves through the remaining protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square by sending in troops to clear them away early Sunday morning, the Council also reasserted that it had seized power only to give it up. It announced a new constitution would be drawn up and subjected to a referendum. The current constitution, effectively set aside on Friday when Hosni Mubarak's resignation left the country without a president, made it virtually impossible for independent political parties to challenge the ruling National Democratic Party."

All aboard the money train: "The reality of the grand plan for high-speed rail, packaged with all of its 'helping hand for the worker' rhetoric, is very much at variance with the Vice President’s statement today. Although a meaningful transference of wealth will accompany this prodigious public works project, it’ll manifest as the same kind of regressive redistribution that the state’s intervention consistently creates. Billions will be siphoned from the average worker, and, sure, some will go card-punching, construction union wage-earners, but on balance the managers will reap the windfall of our contemporary patronage."

The death of bookshops?: "Stricken US bookseller Borders, which has struggled with a long-term shift towards digital sales in the publishing industry, is poised to declare itself bankrupt after failing to reach a deal with bankers over liabilities of more than $1bn (£625m). Shares in Borders dived 32% on Wall Street on Friday as reports emerged of a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as early as [Monday] or Tuesday. The prospect of insolvency at the chain, which has 674 US stores employing 19,500 people, comes 14 months after Borders' UK arm went bust, with a loss of 1,100 jobs."

Japan eclipsed by China as world’s second economy: "Japan lost its 42-year ranking as the world's second-biggest economy to China in 2010, with data out Monday showing a contraction in the last quarter due to weak consumer spending and a strong yen"

GOP propose cuts to US State Department, UN: "A Republican budget plan would cut billions of dollars in spending on the State Department and foreign programs, including US contributions to the United Nations. The proposed cuts, announced Friday, are part of an overall Republican effort in the House of Representatives to reduce spending by $100 billion over the next seven months. Leaders in the Democrat-controlled Senate say the proposals are unrealistic. The planned cuts to State Department and foreign operations amount to $3.8 billion, or an eight percent reduction from last year."

Ron Paul popular among conservatives: "Texas Rep. Ron Paul won the CPAC straw poll Saturday, taking 30 percent of the vote in a huge and divided field for his second victory in as many years. In second place was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who took 23 percent of the vote. ... After Paul and Romney, no candidate received more than 6 percent of the vote. Former New Mexico Gary Johnson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie both hit that mark, tying for third place."

“Paranoid Lawyer Syndrome” or, how tort liability is destroying America: "Tort liability is the biggest problem in America that is almost never mentioned. On the rare occasion that it is, it is considered a 'side issue' instead of recognizing that it is the mountain of lawsuits, and the insurance needed to 'protect against them' that America’s economy and society are being smothered beneath. Our economy, our open society and our basic Freedom is either threatened, already damaged or destroyed by this nightmare."

Federalism in action: "One of the benefits of federalism is that it allows the various states to experiment. If Texas wants to try fiscal discipline while California engages in fiscal incontinence, the rest of the states can watch and judge which fiscal policy is most productive of wealth and happiness for citizens generally. We see this happening now before our very eyes, as most of the states grapple with budget deficits."

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

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

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

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

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

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