Saturday, April 02, 2011

Racism in Muslim Pakistan

By a Pakistani woman

In recent European debates, one can detect palpable tension when the issue of racism comes up. The topic arises in connection with a wide spectrum of phenomena: it’s one thing, after all, to deny young people of Asian origin entry into a hip nightclub in Copenhagen, and it’s entirely another to murder one’s daughter because she married a Kashmiri Muslim instead of a Punjabi Muslim. My opinion is that it’s very important for us here in Pakistan to address racism in our own society before we start railing at Europeans for being racist.

The first cry that goes up from the Muslim side when the issue of niqab or hijab is raised in Europe is that Europeans are racists, and that their criticism of certain aspects of Muslim “culture” amounts to a blatant swipe at a Muslim woman’s identity and religion. Yet when you actually look at the history of these pieces of cloth, it becomes clear that they originated as a symbol of class. Reference needs to be made to the fact that the veil was worn in pre-Islamic Arab society as a way of differentiating women of high social standing from slaves and prostitutes.

This brings me to one of the main problems which lead to violence and oppression in the Muslim world – racism. Yes, we Muslims are certainly not devoid of racism towards those we deem “lower” than us.

Growing up in Pakistan and being dark-skinned, I have experienced racism on the part of my peers. Even if they express it in a joking way, it’s there; it’s real. I’ve even been told by a close friend (a male who is Pathan in origin, hence very pale) that my features are beautiful – if only I were fair-skinned! I’m lucky enough to live in a subculture in which such things don’t matter. But the masses are constantly being fed with the idea that the lighter your skin colour, the more beautiful you are.

On any given day, one need only browse the Pakistani television channels for 30 minutes or so to get an idea of how deep-rooted this notion is. Because you’ll run across (for example) an advertisement showing you how a certain beauty crème entirely changed some girl’s life because it lightened her skin! In some cases the crème helped the girl to bag a husband; in other cases it snagged her the ideal job.

My own beautiful mother was told time and again by my father that she was lucky he married her, because she was dark-skinned. Racism, in short, is a stark reality of day-to-day life in Pakistan. It’s always there, in everything that goes on. If it isn’t about how light-skinned or dark-skinned you are, it’s about your actual racial origins.

Most honour killings of young couples are carried out because the victims married ‘out of the caste’. Syyeds (people who claim to be the direct descendants of the Prophet) are at the top of the hierarchy here. The bottom rung in Pakistan seems to be occupied by the Christians. They’re openly discriminated against, and are often referred to as “Chooras” – a disgusting term that is at once a slur against dark-skinned people and against Christians.

I remember clearly one time when a friend, who was also unlucky enough to be born brown in Pakistan, walked over to me at a party in tears. The reason? Her boyfriend had introduced her to his aunt, who was inebriated, and who said, “This is the girl you’re madly in love with? She looks like a Choori!” In one fell swoop the girl’s self-image was reduced to nothing. It didn’t matter that she was so beautiful that she could have been walking the ramp at international fashion shows, or that she had done brilliantly at school. No, what mattered was that she was dark, period.

Similarly, talking to an Arab of Jordanian origin once, I was blown away by the blatant racism in his interaction with anyone who was non-Arab. He proudly stated: “We’re brought up in an atmosphere in which we’re told that anyone who isn’t an Arab just isn’t as good as us.” The same individual had an American girlfriend for years. Then one day he came back from a visit to his country married to a young Arab girl. What was his explanation to our mutual friend, his girlfriend? “I always told you how I felt; I could never have children with a woman who isn’t an Arab!”

The problem is that racism prevails in our society. It’s ingrained. We feel that we’re better than anyone. It’s something we’re raised to believe. The racism doesn’t just pertain to skin colour. I’ve even heard mothers shout at their children for eating too fast with the admonition, “Stop eating like a bhooka [starving] Bengali!” Because we don’t even think that the Bengalis are as good as us, and clearly it’s okay to make your children feel the same way and to teach them that it’s a lowly thing to be poverty- stricken.

Someone once said that the prevailing problems in a society can easily be deciphered by analyzing the worst of the worst insults in its native languages. In Pakistan the worst insults are either misogynistic or racist, because nothing can be as bad as being “different”. This mentality coming from a nation of (mostly) converts! Yet most Pakistanis will proudly proclaim that they’re of divine decent – that they’re the children of the first Muslim armies that came to the subcontinent in A.D. 712. Of course, it’s not possible that that “pure” blood has been diluted since!

I’ve heard people in Pakistan – people with educated and wealthy backgrounds – refer to people of African origins as “Kalay”, meaning black in a derogatory way; to people of oriental origins as “Chaptay”, meaning flat-faced; and the list goes on. Sitting at the Norwegian embassy once, waiting for my turn to submit my visa papers, I heard one old man say to another, “I’m just going to visit my son. You can’t expect me to go and live forever in this suuar khanay walee qaum (pig-eating nation).” A young woman I know who recently returned from a holiday in Thailand said, “It was a nice place, but I just couldn’t stand it after a while – all Thai people have a particular stink!”

Take a look at the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who is on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy. The whole argument began when she offered a few Muslim women a glass of water from which she had been drinking while they worked. The Muslim women refused to drink from the same glass, which angered Asia. What she said after that no one knows, since you cannot repeat blasphemy in Pakistani courts to prove or disprove it, but she was given the death sentence for it.

At this point I must bring up the fact that the most racist white person could not make me feel as bad for being a Muslim or Asian as a number of people have in Pakistan for being brown. It’s ironic to me that there’s so much hue and cry about racism supposedly taking over Europe. I don’t see it. What I do see is a lot of people using the word racism to derail important debates about rising crime statistics and about the abuse and oppression of women in Muslim communities. One thing I know from living in Pakistan is that there’s enough real racism in the world – especially in the Muslim world – to invent it where it doesn’t exist.

SOURCE

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Corrupt Elections are Undermining Governance

One of the most surreal experiences of our lives was watching an unelected bureaucrat pick and choose what ballots she wanted to count in the closely contested election featuring pseudo-Republican Lisa Murkowski and Tea Party Favorite Republican Joe Miller in Alaska. Having spent decades watching ballots be counted in hundreds of elections, and never once have we seen a situation with such outrageous manipulation of the vote.

But I guess we weren't in Colorado. Hot off the presses is a report that documents 5,000 non-citizens voting in that states highly contested elections. According to a report in The Hill, the "Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican, told the panel that his department's study identified nearly 12,000 people who were not citizens but were still registered to vote in Colorado.Of those non-citizen registered voters, nearly 5,000 took part in the 2010 general election in which Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet narrowly defeated Republican John Buck. Colorado conducted the study by comparing the state's voter registration database with driver's license records."

In state after state corruption is beginning to undermine the credibility of the fairness of elections. We all remember the election officials in Florida holding up ballots looking for hanging chads in the Presidential race between Al Gore and George W Bush. The presidential race in 2000 was sadly decided in the US Supreme Court, and it undermined the credibility of President Bush until his more convincing re-election victory in 2004. To his day, we still see bumper stickers that say re-elect Gore in 2008.

In Washington State Dino Rossi lost a Governor's race in 2004 only after the ballots were counted three times. Every new count featured the Liberal King County election officials discovering votes that were not counted the first time. These votes just appeared from nowhere weeks after the election was over.

All citizens left, right, center, Republican, Green, Democrat, and Libertarian should be able to have confidence in the integrity of the voting process. Without faith in the process, the illegitimate election results undermine the ability to govern.

Let us suggest some reforms.

1. Identification should be required to vote. No American should be offended for having to produce identification to prove residency and citizenship. This will give us all confidence in the outcome, and we will be confident that some activists are not attempting to vote in multiple jurisdictions.

2. Every time someone votes it should produce a paper record of the votes cast. Machine tabulation is open to hacking and manipulation by the individuals running the election. If every vote produces a paper ballot, it leaves an audit trail that will insure integrity. A laser printer could be attached to voting machines and the print out could be reviewed by the voter for errors. Every ballot could feature a control number to keep it from being miscounted.

3. Write in voting should be eliminated in this era of instant information. Instead of write in candidates, the actual ballots should adjust to allow additional candidates on the ballot. Filing deadlines could be extended to accommodate multiple participants and parties. Systems that limit the number of candidates in any race should be eliminated. A wide open process with maximum participation is best.

4. Ballots not entered into the counting process during a pre-approved voting period would not me counted. Officials could say if a ballot is not found within a week of the election it would not be valid.

SOURCE

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An overview of the Great Depression

In Depression, War, and Cold War, Robert Higgs divides the Great Depression into three phases. The Great Contraction occurred during the Hoover years and went from 1929 to 1933. During this period private investment fell by about 84 percent. This set the stage for the Great Duration, 1933–1945. As Higgs shows, GDP and private investment increased during the early years of the New Deal, but as the 1930s wore on, President Franklin Roosevelt became ever bolder about undermining property rights. This delayed complete recovery. Finally, there was the Great Escape, which occurred after and in spite of World War II, not because of it. Higgs argues that the Great Escape occurred as a result of a partial dismantling of the regulatory infrastructure that had grown up during the Depression and the war; in effect, it was a rediscovery of the market and a new birth of freedom for entrepreneurs and workers.

In discussing the Great Duration, Higgs introduces the term "regime uncertainty" to argue that the Roosevelt administration's aggressive interventions produced considerable uncertainty in the entrepreneurial environment. Investors did not know whether they would enjoy the fruits of their investments. One of my mentors in graduate school, a Keynesian, pointed out once that firms will not produce what they do not expect to sell. I would generalize this to say that they will not invest in what they do not expect to control. The possibility of incurring the costs of an investment without enjoying any of the benefits made private investment much less attractive.

How do we know that regime uncertainty was responsible for the lack of recovery? Higgs brings several types of evidence to bear on the issue. First, business leaders who were polled expressed uncertainty about the entrepreneurial climate. Second, and more convincingly, Higgs shows that the risk premiums on long-term corporate bonds were substantial, suggesting fear of expropriation. A firm that wanted to borrow long-term had to pay much higher interest rates than firms that wanted to borrow short-term. This spread increased dramatically during the Roosevelt years.

The Great Depression did more than chill the investment climate. In Crisis and Leviathan, Higgs argues that during a crisis a "ratchet effect" produces net increases in government discretion that are not completely reversed after the crisis. Two things happen when government intervenes. First, the bureaucracy naturally tends to expand beyond its stated goals — mission creep. Second, intervention alters incentives; that is, the creation of a bureaucracy to address some problem also spawns a rent-seeking pressure group with interests that will prevent reversion to the status quo ante.

Roosevelt's advisers saw in his program not merely a road to recovery but the opportunity to remake society. In FDR's Folly, Jim Powell, echoing an idea advanced by Milton Friedman, suggests that they "never appear to have considered the possibility that more power would magnify the harm done by human error or corruption."

Their intellectual approach was to contrast "actual capitalism with ideal government," with intervention judged not on the basis of its effects but of its intentions. Further, the intellectual program of the New Deal was inconsistent and often contradictory. Powell argues that pragmatism and political expediency ruled the day:

"It didn't bother [Roosevelt] that New Deal policies contradicted one another. When an adviser gave FDR two different drafts of a speech, one defending high tariffs and the other urging low tariffs, FDR told the adviser: "Weave the two together." The Agricultural Adjustment Act forced food prices above market levels, in an effort to help farmers, but higher food prices hurt everybody who wasn't a farmer. The National Recovery Administration forced up prices of manufactured goods, hurting farmers who had to buy farm tools and equipment. Agricultural allotment policies cut cultivated acreage, while the Bureau of Reclamation increased cultivated acreage. Relief spending helped the unemployed, while corporate income taxes, undistributed profits taxes, Social Security taxes, minimum wage laws, and compulsory unionism led to higher unemployment rates. New Deal spending was supposed to stimulate the economy, but New Deal taxing depressed the economy."

SOURCE

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Chartist says the Dollar Will Collapse Within 3-4 Months

(Charts are commonly used in attempts to predict share prices)



The US Dollar's inflationary death spiral continues. We've now taken out the 2010 low leaving only two more lines of support before we're in completely uncharted territory.

At its current rate of collapse, the US Dollar will do this within the next 3-4 months. This means the greenback will break into a new all-time lows by 2H11, which will precipitate the coming inflationary collapse.

Small wonder then that both Gold and Silver recently hit new highs for their current bull markets. With the greenback dropping like a rock, and rumors of QE 3 swirling around the financial community, what sane investor would bet against inflation?

On that note, now is the time to be shifting capital into inflation hedges.

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, April 01, 2011

The ADL hearts the enemies of Israel

Proving that its Leftism trumps its mission to Jewry. The latest caper? A furious article defending the extension of Sharia law to America! Excerpt follows:

One of the driving forces behind Shari'a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari'a law in American courts is David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.

In recent years, Yerushalmi has created a characterization of Shari'a law (i.e., Islamic law) that declares there are "hundreds of millions" of Muslims who are either "fully committed mujahideen" or "still dangerous but lesser committed jihad sympathizers" who, because of Shari'a law, would be willing to murder all non-believers unwilling to convert, in order to "impose a worldwide political hegemony." Meanwhile, Yerushalmi asserts, the U.S. government itself has consciously chosen to turn a blind eye to this threat.

To combat this alleged threat, Yerushalmi has vigorously opposed all perceived "inroads" of Shari'a law in the United States, even entirely innocuous measures such as American financial institutions creating financing packages designed to be compatible with Islamic restrictions against loaning money at interest.

"American Laws for American Courts"

Yerushalmi's latest weapon is model anti-Shari'a legislation he has titled "American Laws for American Courts," developed for a group called the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA). The group claims that "one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties today" comes from "foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines," including "Islamic Shari'ah law," that have been "infiltrating our court system."

Yerushalmi's proposed legislation, which claims to "protect American citizens' constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shari'ah Law," has been the basis for anti-Shari'a measures introduced by state lawmakers in several states in recent years.

For example, a bill introduced by Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz in Florida to outlaw Shari'a (and other non-secular or foreign laws) in March 2011 is strikingly similar to Yerushalmi's model legislation. Both Tennessee and Louisiana actually passed variations of Yerushalmi's legislation in 2010.

On its Web site, the APPA cites 17 cases where it claims that Shari'a has been introduced in state courts; this is its evidence of "creeping" Shari'a law within the United States.

Yerushalmi has testified in support of the anti-Shari'a legislative efforts based on his proposal. For example, in a hearing before the Alaska House State Affairs Committee in March 2011, Yerushalmi claimed that "today, we are far more likely than ever before to have foreign laws in American courts…There are plenty of occasions in which foreign law informs what Alaskan law could be."

More HERE. Yerushalmi's "anti-black" statements appear to be mentions of the high rate of black crime, which DOES exist. See here for a defense of Yerushalmi and mention of some of the inconvenient facts about Islam in America that the ADL "overlooks".

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Quisling is still alive and well in Norway

Vidkun Quisling was chief Nazi collaborator in Norway during WWII

"People told me when I came to Norway that the country has a long tradition of anti-Semitism. They were wrong. It is not history. It is happening here and now.” Top Harvard lawyer Alan Dershowitz had excellent reasons to make this statement when he visited Norway last week. He had offered free lectures on Israel and international law to the universities of Oslo and Trondheim (NTNU). Both schools turned him down.

This refusal by the University of Trondheim is an example of the profound anti-Israel feelings at its top.In 2009, its Rector Torbjørn Digernes financed a number of lectures given by anti-Israelis such as Stephen Walt and Ilan Pappe. This series was organized by university teachers in order to lay the groundwork for a campaign to have NTNU boycott Israeli universities. The campaign failed at board level due to significant foreign pressure.

A third university, Bergen, answered that it was only willing to host Dershowitz provided he change his topic to an analysis of the O. J. Simpson trial, the American star football player who became a criminal. They did not want him to speak about Israel. Dershowitz rightly refused. The student unions of the three universities then quickly organized lectures by him, thus saving a little bit of the country’s honor.

Dershowitz told the small Christian daily Dagen that the refusals by the Norwegian universities to let him speak reminded him of his visits to the Soviet Union, and South Africa under the apartheid regime. He called the Norwegian universities propaganda tools, with leaders who are smart yet ignorant. Dershowitz added that Norwegian government policies were a hindrance to the peace process, as their double standards helped Hamas.

One should never focus on a single case of anti-Israelism or anti-Semitism in Norway, as one risks ignoring many others. They come to the fore with great regularity. The state owned TV NRK is highly biased against Israel. It has now announced that it will screen the movie “Tears over Gaza.” The film’s director, Vibeke Løkkeberg, said in an interview, “I cannot see any difference between the Israeli warfare in Gaza and the massacres Gaddafi is conducting against Libyan insurgents.” She expressed the hope that the West would intervene in Israel like it did in Libya.

Also in March, Sidsel Wold, NRK’s former correspondent in Israel, received the Best Journalist’s prize from the Norwegian Refugee Council. This is particularly interesting considering that in 2010, the Media Watch organization Honest Reporting selected Wold for a special dishonorable mention among journalists all over the globe. She had once broadcast an interview with me, the content of which she had invented. It was full of remarks attributed to me, I never said.

Norway hurting Israel

There are many examples of anti-Israel hate mongering, anti-Semitism and unethical journalism in Norway in recent years. The pioneering of anti-Semitism in Norway has a long tradition. Typically, it was the last country in Europe to admit Jews, which happened in 1851. In 1929 its parliament forbade by great majority, ritual slaughter - well before Germany did so when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Yet up until this day, the cruel hunting of whales is still permitted in Norway.

In Norway during the war, the Jews to be murdered were arrested and robbed by Norwegians and not by the Germans. It is not by chance that the name of wartime Prime Minister Quisling became a generic international term for traitor.

Nowadays, Norway is also a leader in initiating anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic actions. One example among many: Norwegian trade union LO was, together with the Danish one, the first in Europe to propose a boycott of Israel in 2002. Such boycotts have slow spillover effects elsewhere. A few weeks ago one major Norwegian member union of LO accepted the most far-reaching boycott resolution against Israel anywhere.

Norwegian society is dominated by a left of center elite group of politicians, journalists, academics, NGOs and some bishops. Among these elites one finds many anti-Israeli hate mongers, obsessed with a small country thousands of kilometers away. One among many examples of how distorted the views of this elite group is that 9% of Norwegian journalists voted for the minute extreme left Red party. Almost none however, support the pro-Israeli Progress party, one of the two major opposition parties, or the smaller Christian Democrats.

Jay Nordlinger of the National Review is the only foreign journalist who is occasionally interested in Norway. He captured the country’s mood well when he wrote about Progress party leader Siv Jensen: “There are two items of particular interest in Jensen’s office: a little Israeli flag and a bust of Reagan. It would be hard to convey how extraordinary these symbols are in the traditional Norwegian political culture. An American politician might be less scandalous for having kiddie porn in his office.”reaction is: “Why bother? What is this country’s influence? Norway is not even a member of the European Union. Hardly anyone can read their papers. Even Swedes and Danes who understand the language don’t care about Norway. And how much impact can anti-Semitism have in a country where the organized Jewish community has at most 800 members?”

This neglectful attitude has already cost Israel dearly. In a global environment, even thinly populated Norway - a country with a far too favorable international public image - causes substantial damage to Israel. While the overall atmosphere in Norway is hostile to Israel, it is not as if it has no allies there. One finds them mainly in the Progress party, the smaller Christian Democrat party and among a certain number of Christians, mainly Christian Zionists. Seeking ways to make their sympathy more effective in combating the elitist hate propagandists would be a very worthwhile effort for Israel.

SOURCE

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Don't discredit Israel

March has become a month when Israel's enemies are most visible, especially in academia and in the political arena. It is a period that includes two weeks of lie-filled, anti-Israel events on university campuses throughout the United States, Canada and the world.

Named "Israeli Apartheid Week," this offensive against Israel culminates on March 30 with a planned international boycott of all things Israel.

This "BDS campaign" stands for "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" -- three separate prongs of attack against Israel. These three combined are a deliberate, concentrated effort to isolate Israel, tarnish its world standing, discredit and hobble its people, and cause economic harm.

Those who love and support Israel have an opportunity to cancel out some of the boycotters' harm -- not only on their targeted day, but each and every day, by buying items from Israel. There are a host of available goods from Israel to enjoy. Some are readily available on grocery shelves while others take a little effort to find, but all are worth it not only for their taste and quality, but also to help Israelis (www.buyisraelgoods.org).

Israel's strong economy is important to the nation's overall health and status. Her enemies are all too aware of this and so attack it relentlessly. We can each do our part to neutralize some of their damage by spreading the word to others and encouraging them to "Buy Israel."

The boycott, divestment and sanctions instigators persistently spread false accusations against Israel -- claiming it is oppressing or harming Palestinian Arabs. Anti-Israel boycotters send letters to government officials, actors, musicians and authors labeling Israel an apartheid society that commits war crimes and steals "Palestinian" land.

These false claims harm Israelis of every profession. Many Israelis have been barred from international events open to others. Many performers have canceled their bookings in Israel because of anti-Israel inflammatory lies.

Anti-Israel boycotters lobby businesses not to carry Israeli items. In some stores, boycotters have gone in and pulled Israeli products off the shelves. In our area, at Trader Joe's in Center City and in the Fresh Grocer in West Philadelphia, they gave out leaflets to shoppers urging them not to buy anything from Israel.

These anti-Israel activists urge large banks and pension-fund managers to divest financially from Israel, not to buy Israel Bonds or make investments in Israeli companies. By claiming that Israel violates international laws, companies are told that investing there violates ethical business practices.

Then there are the attempts to sanction Israel, decrying actions taken in self-defense as deliberate aggression and "war crimes."

Boycotters are pushing to get the U.N.'s Security Council to implement sanctions against Israel and embargo important items. Their aim is to prevent Israel from acquiring necessary weapons and other goods -- to wreak enormous economic damage.

We cannot sit on the sidelines and let these anti-Israel activities go unopposed. We must check the Internet regularly to see who Israel's foes are targeting, and send e-mails or make calls to those firms, institutions, local governments or embassies and tell them not to divest or to implement sanctions. Our voices in support of Israel are counted, too.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia's Zionist Organization of America chapter hosted an event to introduce people to different wines and cheeses from Israel. This was part of an ongoing "Buy Israel" project that was first started in November 2009.

Organizations and individuals can host similar events or find other ways to promote the purchase of goods from Israel. Some refer to this as a "buycott" to fight the boycott. Whenever you can, look for the Israeli label. It is the least we can do.

SOURCE

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Former British Health System Director Dies After Hospital Delays Life-Saving Operation Four Times

A tragic story and a cautionary tale regarding government-run healthcare and the rationing it inevitably requires. A chilling preview of things to come under Obamacare:
A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation - at her own hospital. Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery. Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust - the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.

He said: 'I don't really know why she died. I did not get a reason from the hospital. We all want to know for closure. She got weaker and weaker as she waited and operations were put off.'


SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Biden resigns; Obama appoints Paul to vice-presidency: "US Vice-President Joseph Biden resigned Thursday on grounds of permanent incapacity after being rushed to George Washington University hospital with symptoms of adult onset anencephaly, a condition in which a vacuum between the oral and brain cavities causes the cerebrum to be swallowed and digested. President Barack Obama nominated US Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to fill the vice-presidential vacancy "because he'll probably beat my ass in 2012 anyway and continuity is a good thing." Paul's appointment was approved unanimously by an emergency session of the US Senate"

Federal plan would streamline Medicare: "Health and Human Services proposed new regulations Thursday that it hopes will reduce Medicare costs and improve care by focusing funds on prevention and quality, rather than the number of times a patient sees a doctor. Affordable care organizations could save Medicare $960 million over the next three years, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said." [I wish this were an April fool's joke too. Despite the urban legend to the contrary, preventive health measures are expensive and the payoff is small]

Food inflation is here!: "Next time someone tells you that only the left side of the aisle cares about feeding hungry Americans, remind them that it’s green special interests and Michelle Obama’s size-awareness campaign that’s making it harder for Americans to feed their families. Food inflation is here, folks. Food costs the same; there’s just less of it."

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, March 31, 2011

President Obama's Most Amazing Libyan Achievements have been in America

Proof that Democrats have no principles -- only tribal loyalties

By bombing Libya, President Obama accomplished some things once thought absolutely impossible in America:

a) War-mongering liberals. Liberals are now chest-thumping about military "progress" in Libya. Even liberal television and radio cite ingenious reasons why an optional, preemptive American intervention in an oil-producing Arab country, without prior congressional approval or majority public support -- and at a time of soaring deficits -- is well worth supporting, in a sort of "my president, right or wrong" fashion. Apparently liberal foreign policy is returning to the pre-Vietnam days of the hawkish "best and brightest."

b) Europe first. Many Americans have long complained about the opportunistic, utopian Europeans. Under the protective U.S. defense shield, they often privately urged us to deal with dangerous foreign dictators -- while staying above the fray to criticize America, at the same time seeking trade advantages and positive global PR. But now the wily Obama has out-waited even the French. He has managed to shame them into acting with a new possum-like U.S. strategy of playing dead until finally even Europe was exasperated -- almost as if the president were warning them, "We don't mind the Gadhafi bloodletting if you, who are much closer to it, don't mind." The British Guardian and French Le Monde will be too knee-deep in the Libyan war, busy chalking up Anglo-French "wins" and worrying about European oil concessions, to charge America with the usual imperialism, colonialism and militarism. We are almost back to the 1956 world of the Suez crisis.

c) Iraq was just a Libyan prequel. Conservatives have complained that past opposition -- especially in the cases of then-Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- to George W. Bush's antiterrorism policies and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was more partisan than principled. Obama ended that debate by showing that not only can he embrace -- or, on occasion, expand -- the Bush-Cheney tribunals, preventative detentions, renditions, Predator attacks, intercepts and wiretaps, and Guantanamo Bay, but now preemptively attack an Arab oil-exporting country without fear of Hollywood, congressional cutoffs, Moveon.org "General Betray Us"-type ads, Cindy Sheehan on the evening news, or "Checkpoint"-like novels. In short, Obama has ensured that the exasperated antiwar movement will never be quite the same.

d) Monster-in-recovery. The Gadhafi clan has been wooing Westerners through oil money and multicultural gobbledy-gook. In the last few years, the British released the Lockerbie bomber, a native of Libya; Saif Gadhafi, the would-be artist and scholar and the son of Col. Muammar Gadhafi, essentially bought a Ph.D. from the prestigious London School of Economics; the creepy Harvard-connected Monitor Group hired out cash-hungry "scholars" to write on-spec tributes to Gadhafi's achievements; and singers Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, Beyoncé and other entertainers earned a pile of petro-dollars for crooning before the Gadhafis. Then, suddenly, Obama spoiled the fun and profits by turning Gadhafi from a rehabilitated monster back into Ronald Reagan's old "Mad Dog of the Middle East."

e) Stuff happens. Many supporters of the Iraq war condemned Abu Ghraib as the poorly supervised, out-of-control prison it was. Lax American oversight resulted in the sexual humiliation of detained Iraqi insurgents. It was a deplorable episode in which, nonetheless, no one was killed, and yet it took an enormous toll on the credibility of administration officials. But while the media covered the Libyan bombing and the Middle East uprisings, a number of Afghan civilians allegedly were executed by a few rogue American soldiers. That was a far worse transgression than anything that happened at Abu Ghraib under Bush's tenure -- but apparently an incident that in the new media climate, can legitimately be ignored. Obama made "stuff happens" a legitimate defense for those doing their best to run a war from Washington.

f) War really is tiring. The media serially blamed a supposedly lazy Ronald Reagan for napping during military operations abroad. George W. Bush was criticized for cutting brush at his Texas ranch while soldiers fought and died in Iraq. Obama rendered all such presidential criticism as mere nitpicking when he started aerial bombardment in the midst of golfing, handicapping the NCAA basketball tournament and taking his family to Rio de Janeiro.

g) The road to Damascus? After Bush's interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, many war-weary Americans believed that we would never again get involved in a Middle East war. But now, with Obama's preemptive bombing of Libya, giddy American interventionists are again eyeing Iran, Syria -- and beyond!

In short, Obama turned America upside down when he bombed Libya -- and in ways we could have scarcely imagined.

SOURCE

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More on the blind Jewish allegiance to the Democratic party

Jay D. Homnick writes ...

Every so often someone asks me my greatest strength as a columnist. But no one needs to ask me my greatest flaw; I wear it on my sleeve. It is that there is one person in government whom I despise so utterly that mere mention of his name makes me spew all over the page. My poor reasonable readers all scurry for cover in fear of getting acid burns from my invective.

By the same token, he is the reason I felt compelled to enter this field. By a weird quirk of fate, I was present as a sixteen-year-old boy at a local meeting of well-meaning Jews who were gulled into making him State Senator for the neighborhood where I grew up, in Brooklyn, New York. The same boobs later bought his malarkey and promoted him to the United State Congress. I saw the sleaziness, the deception, the insincerity, the manipulation -- and to cap it off, the absolute disdain for the people whose vote he sought.

Now he is ensconced in the United States Senate, beyond the reach of the naïve Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn and Queens to call back the monster they created. He learned early that these people who strive for morality and integrity in their lives are gullible about things taking place in faraway Washington, D.C. So he learned to attend every synagogue dinner and every major bar-mitzvah and wedding. He had a driver zipping him back and forth on Saturday nights from event to event, shaking hands and mouthing a few words in Yiddish or Hebrew. Burning the midnight snake oil: all style, no substance.

Then he took their votes, the votes of people being faithful to their families, people who spend their heart-blood on religious education, on protecting their children from base influences, often living without televisions in their homes, imagining themselves to be conducting lives of holiness -- and he spent their votes on advocacy for every immoral practice imaginable. If you want to promote some corruption, some indecency, some nastiness, you could always count on the vote of good old Charles Schumer.

After all, he was in the safest seat of all, bestowed upon him by all those sweet ingenuous rabbis. Even when he left, he handed it off to his protégé, Anthony Weiner, who does the identical dog-and-pony show at all the synagogues and then hands his vote to Satan as a tribute.

As you may have guessed from my tirade, Schumer is back in form. He was recorded by reporters instructing a quartet of Democrat Senators how to game the budget debate. For once his finagling is exposed: even a snake cannot wriggle away when it is stuck on the tape. He tells his henchmen to hammer away about the "extreme" cuts by the radical Tea Party Republicans. Tell everyone that Democrats want to negotiate but the Republicans are refusing to be reasonable.

I don't suppose this is too much creepier than other political machinations, but I can't help seeing red and black and blue. This man does for Judaism what Harry Reid does for Mormonism: portray it as the province of selfish, grasping, conniving leeches who are willing to bulldoze the moral edifice the Founders built. They do it to advance the cause of a pseudo-progressive remaking of society into a state of moral anarchy.

Please accept my apology. I know I cannot be coherent about this very sore subject. To me he is the Bernie Madoff of moral capital. He got all the Orthodox Jews to invest their moral capital with him and he cleaned them out. My only consolation is that they were sold out but they did not sell out; they got nothing in return. (In fairness, staffers at his neighborhood offices -- including my cousin's cousin -- were always solicitous of the needs of constituents and helped wherever possible.)

Until he leaves public office, I will never be fully able to accept the model of government as a force for good. My dream of seeing Jews in Congress associated with probity and integrity, wisdom and prudence, is all focused on one man right now: Eric Cantor. Somehow I believe against all odds that in the long run the Cantor will lead the congregation in a noble direction. Hey, Schumer, is that extreme enough for ya?

SOURCE

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Louisiana Is Ninth State To Seek Waiver From ObamaCare’s Medical Loss Rules

IBD has just gotten word that Louisiana will become the ninth state to request a waiver from ObamaCare’s medical-loss-ratio regulations.

An MLR is the share of health premiums spent on medical costs. Under ObamaCare, insurers in the individual and small group market must have an 80% MLR, which means that 80% of premiums are spent on medical care, leaving 20% for things like salaries, advertising, fraud prevention and profits. Violate that minimum and an insurer must rebate the difference to policyholders.

Many insurers have MLRs considerably lower than 80%, which means that they will have to rebate the difference. Of course, if they can’t afford to do that they will simply drop out of the market. Since states would rather not let that happen given that people losing their policies can turn into angry voters, they have begun requesting a reprieve from ObamaCare’s MLR regulations.

Louisiana makes similar arguments in its official waiver request:
"A review of the language of the Affordable Care Act has raised concerns that there may be unintended yet harmful provisions included. These provisions will, if implemented as written, be disruptive and detrimental to Louisiana’s market.

As currently proposed, implementing the 80% loss ratio in the individual market will act to decrease consumer choice, make coverage more expensive and less readily available, and work to drive valuable trained producers out of the market just when they are needed most."

Prior to Louisiana, eight states had requested waivers. One other state is in the process of putting together a waiver, five others are considering it, and three are keeping it as a future option.
The Obama administration recently granted Maine’s MLR waiver.

If this keeps going, it will mean that there is another set of waivers -- showing how ObamaCare is not workable.

SOURCE

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Bill Maher's obsession with Sarah Palin reaches new low

And that's quite a feat given this dude's despicableness. Last week, he called Sarah Palin "a dumb twat". Over the weekend, he decided to use the "C" word... you know the one... it rhymes with punt. Class act eh?

There was a time, long since past, where peckerheads like this were dealt with by men with spines, men with class, men who treated ladies like ladies and a**hole misogynists like the scum that they are.

Bill Maher needs to have his butt kicked. I've got to believe that many women out there could do it. But there ought to be a man out there, a real man, who'll stand up for ladies and punch this guy straight in his kisser. And yea, as someone who's recently returned to the Catholic church and who's trying his damndest to walk the straight line and be a role model worth modeling... I realize that what I'm calling for here goes against the grain.

But hey... I'm a sinner. The apostle Paul called himself Chief Sinner. And I'm telling you that if Bill Maher and I were to run across each other, I might just wrestle that title away from St. Paul. I think it'd be worth it.

For Sarah Palin and all decent women maligned by this butt-munch pantywaist poor excuse for a human being... one punch is all I'd need.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Times paywall: Savior of journalism or confusing debacle?: "On Monday, The New York Times rolled out its newest plan to entice readers to pay for web-based stories. For an industry whose very existence could depend on finding ways to raise revenues from online content, the Times scheme is being watched closely by media consultants eager to see if this might be a model that providers of online content can emulate. In short, the Times will let readers access 20 articles a month for free, but further reading will require a monthly subscription."

Government "protection": "The other day I mentioned in passing that 'official' maps of the danger zones around Mt. St. Helens were so misleading that they probably got people killed. Indeed, I’ve learned since that they did. In fact, almost everybody killed in the 1980 eruption was in an area that government agencies had officially designated as 'safe' — despite evidence to the contrary. ... The saddest fools, unfortunately, were those who trusted the government."

OH: House panel OKs anti-union bill: "A panel of Ohio lawmakers made a bill to limit collective bargaining rights for 350,000 public workers even tougher for unions yesterday, as the state moved closer to Wisconsin-style restrictions. A Republican-controlled House labor committee voted 9 to 6 along party lines to send the bill to the full House. Its approval of the legislation was met with chants of 'Shame on you!’ from the several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the hearing room. 'I don’t hear your supporters out there!’ one man inside the room shouted to lawmakers."

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, March 30, 2011

More on the antiquity of Judaism

I love my Jewish readers. When I post something about Jews and Judaism, I always get ten times the response to what I get on any other topic -- and all well-reasoned responses too, unlike the tantrums from Leftists.

I posted a couple of days ago a provocative article that did something very naughty. I questioned the continuity between the Judaism of Old Testament times and the Jews of today. It is a tribute to Jewish good manners that my post was greeted with some politeness, albeit with great disagreement.

And, of course, it is all a matter of degree. It is probably safe to say that all religions change all the time. Nonetheless I think there is a step-change after the destruction of Herod's temple. For instance, Jews no longer put homosexuals to death (as the Torah requires) and no longer burn animals on an altar in the belief that so doing will ingratiate themselves with their god.

How often Jews did those things is beside the point. The point is that their religion required those things, whereas now it does not.

It is true that the diaspora started long before the Roman onslaught and that Jews outside Israel had already abandoned the two practices I mentioned. But the temple was still there and its centrality to Jewish practice and belief cannot be doubted by any reader of the Hebrew scriptures. Jews abroad were still in a position to feel that all the requirements of their religion were being met where that mattered: In Israel.

So it is still my conclusion that post-temple Judaism and Christianity are two different and contemporaneous adaptations of the original Hebrew belief system. And we call Christianity a different religion, so why not present-day Judaism?

A point that may have slid past some of my Jewish readers is that Jesus did a very good job of rooting his teachings in the Torah. He quoted it repeatedly and insisted that he did not question it. He was a good Israelite of his times and his adaptation of the traditional teachings provided a good foundation for what later became known as Christianity to be likewise rooted. Which is why the Hebrew scriptures are an important part of Christianity to this day.

Update: In case it is not already clear, I should perhaps note that I am speaking of Jewish RELIGION. There is also of course a substantial claim that modern Jews are RACIALLY related to the ancient Hebrews.

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Mike Church: The Most Radical Man on the Radio

I think this guy has something. I wouldn't go as far as he does but I think every Federal department that has an overlapping function with a State Dept. should be abolished. Who needs Federal Depts. of Health, Education etc. when States also have such Depts? Out with OSHA, DEA, EPA etc. too. Eliminating the duplications would not only save the taxpayer a bundle but would remove a lead weight of bureaucracy off everybody -- JR

The King Dude is shuffling papers, clearing his throat. The revolution he leads will not be televised, but it will be patched in by satellite during the morning drive. The King Dude is bouncing in his seat, his feet dangling about a foot above the floor. His voice is beamed into space from Sirius XM’s studio in Washington, D.C., then back to earth and through your dashboard where it explodes, pops, and fizzes in your skull like a fireworks show dangerously out of control. In approximately the next 45 seconds he will reference “The Matrix,” The Lord of the Rings, the “Virginia Debate on Ratification of the Constitution,” and “Idiocracy” before concluding that the Union should be busted up and the federal government drowned in the Potomac.

When Sirius took off, Church had the first talk show on it. He pioneered a motor-mouth style, dubbed political opponents “citizens of Libtardia,” and filled the air with political song parodies performed by actual musicians rather than hack producers with a karaoke track. The King Dude was cruising until 2007, when he had on author Kevin Gutzman to discuss The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. “He was saying things I never heard before,” says Church. “You get a lot of books when you do talk radio. I never read them. I read that one.”

Shortly after this Church watched Ron Paul stand up to Rudolph Giuliani in a presidential debate, where Paul put 9/11 in the context of blowback. “I started thinking about what I had learned from Gutzman, and it started to make sense,” Church says, “and that’s the hardest conversion. That’s the one that the Hannitys, Becks, Limbaughs, and Levins will never come to. Either for financial reasons or for pride reasons, they will never come to that view of the minimalist foreign policy.”

Suddenly the show and the man had a new sense of purpose. Church began reading the debates and letters of the Founding Fathers, even memorizing large excerpts. He developed solidly Anti-Federalist leanings. “Patrick Henry and his guys were right, it all came to pass. Madison and his guys were wrong, none of that came to pass. There is only one intellectually honest way you can approach it.” And if Church couldn’t find guidance for some issue in the Founding Fathers, he looked to a succeeding generation.

Between comments on Lady Gaga or Donald Trump, Church will sprinkle excerpts from floor speeches by George Frisbie Hoar, a Massachusetts senator who opposed U.S. imperialism in the Philippines. “Frisbie Hoar was saying then the same things Ron Paul is saying today,” Church avers.

Church has become what he calls a “paleoconservative,” believing in liberty underpinned by an enduring moral order. While he still teases liberals, he just as often tells his listeners to live virtuously if they want to live as free men and women. “I’m no longer in the business of demonizing people who disagree with me,” he said as an aside on a recent broadcast. “People are socialized or educated into their views,” he explained later, so he has opened up a side business as an educator, producing two animated films about the Founding Fathers, “The Road to Independence” and “The Spirit of 1776.”

His listeners have been catching on. “The most rewarding thing is when someone calls you and repeats it back to you,” he says, “Someone who says ‘Mason says, such and such.’ They embrace it and internalize it themselves.” Almost imperceptibly, Church is conducting a seminar on the Founders tucked within a laugh-out-loud conservative talk show. And it is a close fidelity to the Founders and their thought that leads him to his radical conclusions.

He finished a recent segment with a flourish: “Is there any doubt in your mind that if we reanimated the Founding Fathers and they came here today they would look at what we’re doing and say, ‘When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to DISSOLVE the political bonds which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them.’

“We had 213 really good years,” he concludes, “can’t we just settle this amicably? You get the kids, I’ll get a couple of the cars. This is sanity. That doesn’t mean Kentucky is not going to make partnerships with Tennessee, Oklahoma. … That means that this particular political experiment is over. It is a failure. The Constitution is dead; bury the goddamn thing and get over it.”

More HERE

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The Koch Brothers and the power of ideas

Institution-building is important for libertarians too

Of the brothers, Charles is the ideas man, and his idea has always been to build a set of complementary institutions [e.g. the Cato Institute] which, once mature, can thrive without his (or his brother's) financial help. That said, I have no doubt that these institutions either would not have existed, or would have existed in a very different form, were it not for the Kochs' institution-building philanthropy. Having committed about a decade of my life to a few of these institutions, I'd like to think that those labouring within them have had some affect on American culture and politics—have had some small success in increasing awareness of and strengthening the public case for the value of individual rights, free markets, limited government, and peace. I don't think there's been a huge effect, but surely there's been an effect...

In this sense, the left is smart to target the Kochs. They have been absolutely essential in the libertarian project to create a set of institutions that together constitute a mild countervailing force against both progressive and conservative statism in America's economy of political influence. However, progressives seem to me to neglect this channel of influence compared to much less important ones, such as campaign spending, rendering their favoured account of the effects of money on democratic politics badly incomplete.

The progressive master narrative is that inequalities of income and wealth are easily translated into inequalities of political power, and that the rich as a class exploit this unequal power to shape the basic structure of our public institutions to their permanent advantage, in effect disenfranchising the less-wealthy and leaving their rights and interests without the protection of authentically democratic institutions. I think the channel through which the Kochs have most influenced American politics illustrates several problems with this narrative.

First, money is not all that easily translated into effective political influence. Most rich people just thoughtlessly fling cash at causes and candidates they happen to like to little real effect. Indeed, a good deal of political spending is part of moneyed status-signaling games; whether the money makes a difference to anything but the donor's reputation is beside the point. In any case, much effort is devoted simply to neutralising the spending of opposed ideological teams, and the whole racket largely amounts to redistribution from the rich to somewhat less rich political consultants and nonprofit managers.

The most interesting thing about the Kochs is not that they have spent so much of their fortunes on politics, because they haven't. What's interesting is that they seem to have spent their money so much more efficiently and effectively than most rich people interested in politics manage to do. And I suspect this is not unrelated to the farseeing strategic intelligence that has made Koch Industries America's largest privately-held corporation. This suggests, among other things, that some rich people are better than others at converting money into influence, and that inequalities in wealth and inequalities in influence sometimes have a common cause.

Of the money the Kochs have spent on politics, broadly construed, the portion directed to campaigns really is negligible. Most of their money and attention has gone to ideological institution-building, and this form of spending has not been a traditional target of progressive regulatory zeal. Progressives often argue that restrictions on campaign spending are justified by the need to sustain the relative equality of "voice" or influence required for a fair and legitimate democratic process.

However, few progressives have pursued the idea that limits must be placed on the amount wealthy individuals are allowed to spend building and supporting civil-society institutions meant to shape public opinion and politics over time. But why not? It is through this channel, not through lobbying or campaign spending, that the Kochs have most affected American politics. (I've asked a similar question in the past about the left's wariness of limiting private media ownership, which, like institution-building, has hugely more to do with inequality of voice than does under-regulated campaign finance.)

Other than the proposal to end the tax-deductibility of certain classes of charitable gifts, progressives have shied away from proposing regulations on this kind of spending in the economy of influence. The reason this is so, I think, is that any move in this direction logically tends toward clearly unconstitutional, ideologically-loaded limits on speech.

Suppose I want to spend $250m to start a conservative Christian college. Or suppose I want to donate $10m to my alma mater to fund an endowed chair in sociology for study of the causes of American inequality. If you ask me, both of these count as political spending, in the broad sense. Suppose I want to spend millions on institutions that will aid the poor in my hometown. Will this not affect voter demand for overlapping taxpayer-funded public programmes? Is there any way of neutrally regulating large philanthropic gifts? I don't think so. Even a total ban is not really neutral; it simply redistributes power to those with the greatest influence over government spending, and I highly doubt this ends up redounding to the benefit of the lower and middle classes.

In the absence of any remotely intelligible or feasible proposal to limit the unequal ability of wealthy people such as the Koch Brothers or Peter Lewis or George Soros to affect opinion through ideological institution-building, progressive commentators at ideologically progressive institutions are left mainly with the opinion-shaping tools wealthy progressive patrons have put at their disposal. That's why, I think, we see very little principled criticism of ideological institution-building in general, but many breathless attempts to characterise Koch-style free-market, limited-government libertarianism as ideological cover for plutocracy or oligarchy or whatever. This stuff is about as serious as the idea that Barack Obama is some sort of crypto-Marxist, radical Kenyan anti-colonial egalitarian, but it serves its low purpose.

Although the premise that the wealthy conspire to promote their class interests is part of the progressive master narrative, many progressives—especially those in the can for the Democratic Party—don't act like they believe it. They act as if there are good, progressive rich folks and bad, anti-progressive rich folks. In most tellings of the master narrative, progressive commentators opportunistically use class-interest rhetoric to discredit the small minority of wealthy people who build and support institutions ideologically opposed to the causes favoured by the wealthy people who build and support progressive institutions. Those wealthy people and their expensive repudiation of class interest are honoured by going unmentioned.

A truly coherent telling of the progressive master narrative would reveal how the apparently hot antagonism between, say, the American Progress Action Fund and Americans for Prosperity conceals a deeper, perhaps-unwitting symbiosis by which the Koch brothers and John Podesta's mysterious billionaire paymasters in the Democracy Alliance combine to secure their advantages and thereby the demise of true democracy. I would be pretty excited to hear about that.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

New EEOC rules: We’re all “disabled”: "New regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offer fresh guidelines on the issue of how to define 'disability' under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Millions of Americans may be disabled and not even know it, according to some legal experts. That's because sweeping new regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offer new guidelines on the issue of how to define 'disability' under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA, originally passed in 1990 and updated by Congress in 2008, originally defined disability as 'a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.'"

SCOTUS revisits campaign finance: "The Supreme Court returned to the controversial issue of campaign finance today, hearing a constitutional challenge to Arizona's public financing system for political campaigns. Several of the conservative justices on the bench seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the Arizona Citizen's Clean Elections Act."

Trump a birth skeptic: "He off-handedly questioned President Obama's birthplace last week -- a comment that drew strong rebukes from some quarters -- but now business mogul Donald Trump says he's more concerned than ever that the president was, in fact, not born in the United States."

Obama and the ghost of ’68: "Liberal doves are feeling a deep sense of betrayal after watching their champion of peace drop bombs on an Arab country. If the war drags on inconclusively, or if Obama feels compelled to expand our involvement, their discontent will grow. Then what? Then he could face what Lyndon Johnson faced in 1968: a Democratic primary challenger appealing to those tired of war and mistrustful of their president."

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The meaning of "soul" in the Bible

Jesus said: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8: 36).

How can you lose your soul? Is not your soul YOU? Is it not your immortal essence? Sadly, although the idea that we have an immortal soul in us is an old pagan one, it is not Biblical -- as the text shows.

The Bible in fact mentions nothing like an immortal soul. The word "soul" does appear in most translations of the Bible but it does not mean what Christians assume it to mean. In the original Greek of the New Testament, the word used in Mark 8: 36 and elsewhere is "psyche", the basic meaning of which (according to the authoritative Liddell & Scott Greek Lexicon) is "breath", or, metaphorically, "life".

So when you're dead, you're dead, brother -- as Ecclesiastes chapter 9 tells you so emphatically. Your only hope is to be resurrected at the coming of the Messiah.

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There Is a Method to Obama's Libya Madness

On both sides of American politics, there is a great deal of disquiet about Obama's bombing of Gaddafi & Co. As a libertarian, however, I rejoice at seeing tyrants deposed. And Gaddafi is as ugly a tyrant as any. So if there is even a chance that deposing Gaddafi will bring less tyrannical government to Libya, I think it is worth a few bombs.

David Limbaugh below states the "No" case with a view to Obama's actual motivations and he may well be right. I think even Limbaugh lacks perspective though. Obama's actions are very similar to Bill Clinton's in Serbia and the interventions by Woodrow Wilson and FDR in World Wars I and II. Democrats just like bombing or shooting at villains. It makes them look good, and, in their childish way, that motivation trumps almost everything else -- JR


As I argued in my most recent column, this is just the foreign policy outworking of Obama's campaign to fundamentally transform America. Notice the common thread. He is using domestic policies to effectuate "economic justice" at home, trying to cut "wealthy" Americans down to size. Now he is using foreign policy to diminish America's role and stature in the international community to cut wealthy, imperialistic America down to size.

I don't want to get bogged down here in a discussion of whether his motive is thus to sabotage America. In my view, that's the effect of his policies, but I suppose that in his view, America will be a better nation if it uses government coercion to come closer to equalizing everyone's share of the pie -- even if it results in the pie's shrinking -- and if America operates less in its own self-interest in foreign affairs. It's a bizarre mindset and one that most Americans probably don't understand -- so bizarre that they don't believe it despite the proof in front of their faces.

Think about it. Obama's secretary of defense, Robert Gates, admitted on national television Sunday that Libya poses no actual or imminent threat to the United States and that it is not a vital national security interest. This was no gaffe. Surely, Obama's team is not so incompetent and undisciplined that it didn't anticipate this question and carefully prepare the answer.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton damaged the administration's credibility even more by opining that as long as international bodies approved of America's kinetic military action, the president didn't even need to pick up the phone to call Congress. Consider what that reveals concerning the administration's mindset about America's sovereignty and prerogatives.

In terms of philosophy, ideology and motivations, the administration's approach to foreign policy can further be understood by Obama's position from the outset. He has been adamant that America is seen as imperialistic by foreign nations, especially Arab and Muslim nations, and must radically reset its image to ingratiate itself to the world community. He believes terrorism is in large part fomented by the world's negative perception of the United States -- a perception he shares to some extent and one he is obsessed with changing.

That's why he went on his world apology tour, threatened (recklessly and unrealistically) to dismantle multiple components of Bush's anti-terror policies (later reneging) and promised to negotiate with dictators on even terms -- "engagement." If you doubt this, then explain Gates' assertions that America's chief interest in Libya is "the engagement of Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans" and, he threw in, "the general humanitarian question."

There's more. In trying to distinguish between the Libyan and Syrian situations, Clinton said the Syrian situation isn't as severe yet. Then she got to the crux of it: "But in Libya, when a leader says 'spare nothing, show no mercy' and calls out air force attacks on his own people, that crosses a line that people in the world had decided they could not tolerate."

As liberal writer William Saletan points out, "the key phrase isn't no mercy or air force. It's they could not tolerate. Not we, but they. We're outsourcing our standards for intervention." But Saletan noted it is "worse than outsourcing." Outsourcing is hiring someone to do your bidding, but in Libya, "we're hiring ourselves out to do what somebody abroad wants." Indeed, one might consider our military the new mercenaries for foreign governments.

If you understand Obama's thinking, it all makes sense. He obviously believes it is in our interests to act in ways that don't fit the conventional definition of national self-interest. In his worldview, our conventional self-interest is selfish and imperialistic. For too long, America has looked out for its own interests and has exploited the world, its people and its resources. With these unrelenting overtures denying our self-interest, Obama hopes to show the world that the new America -- Obama's America -- is different and moral.

In the meantime, we may very well be propping up coalitions of jihadists in both Egypt and Libya and who knows where else, but that's OK because Obama and his fellow liberals have "good intentions."

SOURCE

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The Syrian Spring

Caroline Glick

The anti-regime protests in Syria are a welcome departure from the grim choices posed by Egypt and Libya because supporting the protesters in Syria is actually a good idea.

Assad is an unadulterated rogue. He is an illicit nuclear proliferator. Israel’s reported bombing of Assad’s North Korean-built, Iranian-financed nuclear reactor at Deir al-Zour in September 2007 did not end Assad’s nuclear adventures. Not only has he refused repeated requests from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the site, commercial satellite imagery has exposed four other illicit nuclear sites in the country. The latest one, reportedly for the production of uranium yellowcake tetroflouride at Marj as Sultan near Damascus, was exposed last month by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security.

Assad has a large stockpile of chemical weapons including Sarin gas and blister agents. In February 2009 Jane’s Intelligence Review reported that the Syrians were working intensively to expand their chemical arsenal. Based on commercial satellite imagery, Jane’s’ analysts concluded that Syria was expending significant efforts to update its chemical weapons facilities. Analysts claimed that Syria began its work upgrading its chemical weapons program in 2005 largely as a result of Saddam Hussein’s reported transfer of his chemical weapons arsenal to Syria ahead of the US-led invasion in 2003.

The Jane’s report also claimed that Assad’s men had built new missile bays for specially adapted Scud missiles equipped to hold chemical warheads at the updated chemical weapons sites.

As for missiles, with North Korean, Iranian, Russian, Chinese and other third-party assistance, Syria has developed a massive arsenal of ballistic missile and advanced artillery capable of hitting every spot in Israel and wreaking havoc on IDF troop formations and bases.

Beyond its burgeoning unconventional arsenals, Assad is a major sponsor of terrorism. He has allowed Syria to be used as a transit point for al-Qaida terrorists en route to Iraq. Assad’s Syria is second only to Iran’s ayatollahs in its sponsorship of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders live in Damascus. As Hezbollah terror commander Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination in Damascus in February 2008 exposed, the Syrian capital serves as Hezbollah’s operational hub. The group’s logistical bases are located in Syria.

If the Assad regime is overthrown, it will constitute a major blow to both the Iranian regime and Hezbollah. In turn, Lebanon’s March 14 democracy movement and the Iranian Green Movement will be empowered by the defeat.

Obviously aware of the dangers, Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces and Hezbollah operatives have reportedly been deeply involved in the violent repression of protesters in Syria. Their involvement is apparently so widespread that among the various chants adopted by the protesters is a call for the eradication of Hezbollah.

Mention of Lebanon’s March 14 movement and Iran’s Green Movement serves as a reminder that the political upheavals ensnaring the Arab world did not begin in December when Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia. Arguably, the fire was lit in April 2003 when jubilant Iraqis brought down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

The first place the fire spread from there was Syria. Inspired by the establishment of autonomous Kurdistan in Iraq, in May 2004 Syria’s harshly repressed Kurdish minority staged mass protests that quickly spread throughout the country from the Kurdish enclaves in northern Syria. Assad was quick to violently quell the protests.

Like Gaddafi today, seven years ago Assad deployed his air force against the Kurds.

Scores were killed and thousands were arrested. Many of those arrested were tortured by Assad’s forces.

The discrimination that Kurds have faced under Assad and his father is appalling. Since the 1970s, more than 300,000 Kurds have been stripped of their Syrian citizenship. They have been forcibly ejected from their homes and villages in the north and resettled in squalid refugee camps in the south. The expressed purpose of these racist policies has been to prevent territorial contiguity between Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds and to “Arabize” Syrian Kurdistan where most of Syria’s oil deposits are located.

The Kurds make up around 10 percent of Syria’s population. They oppose not only the Baathist regime, but also the Muslim Brotherhood. Represented in exile by the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, since 2004 they have sought the overthrow of the Assad regime and its replacement by democratic, decentralized federal government. Decentralizing authority, they believe, is the best way to check tyranny of both the Baathist and the Muslim Brotherhood variety. The Kurdish demand for a federal government has been endorsed by the Sunni-led exile Syrian Reform Party.

This week the KNA released a statement to the world community. Speaking for Syria’s Kurds and for their Arab, Druse, Alevi and Christian allies in Syria, it asked for the “US, France, UK and international organizations to seek [a] UN resolution condemning [the] Syrian regime for using violence against [the Syrian] people.”

The KNA’s statement requested that the US and its allies “ask for UN-sponsored committees to investigate the recent violence in Syria, including the violence used against the Kurds in 2004.”

The KNA warns, “If the US and its allies fail to support democratic opposition [groups] such as the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria and others, [they] will be making a grave mistake,” because they will enable “radical groups to rise and undermine any democratic movements,” and empower the likes of Hezbollah and Iran.

Led by Chairman Sherkoh Abbas, the KNA has asked the US Congress to hold hearings on Syria and allow representatives of the opposition to state their case for regime change.

Opponents of regime change in Syria argue that if Assad is overthrown, the Muslim Brotherhood will take over. This may be true, although the presence of a well-organized Kurdish opposition means it may be more difficult for the Brotherhood to take charge than it has been in Egypt.

Aside from that, whereas the Brotherhood is clearly a worse alternative in Egypt than Mubarak was, it is far from clear that it would be worse for Syria to be led by the Brotherhood than by Assad. What would a Muslim Brotherhood regime do that Assad isn’t already doing? At a minimum, a successor regime will be weaker than the current one. Consequently, even if Syria is taken over by jihadists, they will pose less of an immediate threat to the region than Assad. They will be much more vulnerable to domestic opposition and subversion.

Even if Assad is not overthrown, and is merely forced to contain the opposition over the long haul, this too would be an improvement over what we have experienced to date. In the absence of domestic unrest, Assad has been free to engineer and support Hezbollah’s coup d'etat in Lebanon, develop nuclear weapons and generally act as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sub-contractor.

But now, in a bid to quell the anti-regime protests, Assad has been forced to deploy his military to his own towns and villages. Compelled to devote his energies to staying in power, Assad has little time to stir up fires elsewhere.

The first beneficiary of his weakness will be Jordan’s King Abdullah who now needs to worry less about Assad enabling a Hamas-Muslim Brotherhood-instigated civil war in Jordan.

Depressingly, under the Obama administration the US will not lift a finger to support Syrian regime opponents. In media interviews Sunday, not only did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rule out the use of force to overthrow Assad, as his troops were killing anti-regime protesters, Clinton went so far as to praise Assad as “a reformer.”

The US retreat from strategic rationality is tragic. But just because President Barack Obama limits American intervention in the Middle East to the places it can do the most harm such as Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian conflict with Israel, there is no reason for Israel not to act independently to help Assad’s domestic opponents.

Israel should arm the Kurds. Israeli leaders and spokesmen should speak out on behalf of Syria’s Kurds from every bully pulpit that comes their way. Our leaders should also speak out against Assad and his proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should ask the UN to speed up the release of the indictments in the investigation of the late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should call on the UN to behave honestly and indict Assad for ordering Hariri’s murder.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak should release information about Syria’s transfer of weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah. The government should release information about Syria’s use of terror against the Druse. Netanyahu must also state publicly that in light of the turbulence of the Arab world generally, and Assad’s murderous aggression against his own people and his neighbors specifically, Israel is committed to maintaining perpetual sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

We are living through dangerous times. But even now there is much we can do to emerge stronger from the political storm raging around us. Syria’s revolt is a rare opportunity. We’d better not squander it.

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, March 28, 2011

How ancient is Judaism?

At some risk to my "Goy" self, I occasionally write something about Jews and Judaism. So far, however, I have escaped unscathed (I think) so here goes another foray:

It is a common and proud claim among Israelis that they are still living in the same place and speaking the same language and (sort of) following the same religion as they did 3,000 years ago. That thought gives them great pride and helps make up in some way for the horrendous travail Jews have had to go through to get to today.

But, to be blunt, it is nonsense. After the Roman triumph and the expulsion of most Jews from Israel, Jews had to change their religion radically. Judaism had been a temple-focused religion -- so once the temple was gone, huge changes in thinking and custom were needed.

And the changes took two forms: Those who accepted the ideas of the greatest rabbi (Jesus Christ) and those who laboured to stick more closely to traditional ideas. Even among the latter group, however, the surrounding pagan culture took over to a degree. The modern form of the seder, for instance, is said to be strongly influenced by the form of the Hellenistic symposium.

So Judaism as we know it today is in fact no older than Christianity. They are two branches that had to put out fresh growth after the original tree was cut down. And just as Christian thinking underwent all sorts of disputes in its development (e.g. the Arian/Athanasian controversy) so Jews waited a long while for their new ideas to coalesce -- in the form of teachings by great rabbis such as Rashi and Maimonides.

Christian thought in fact probably coalesced more rapidly that did post-temple Jewish thought. Rashi and Maimonides both wrote over 1,000 years after the fall of the temple but have been immensely influential. And by the time they wrote, they lived in a Christian world so were undoubtedly influenced in various ways by Christian ideas -- and Christianity had itself taken on a pretty heavy load of pagan ideas by that time. So I am sure that the Christian/Egyptian concept of the triune God was the subject of much private hilarity among Jews.

So we in fact have two religions of ancient Jewish origins that are quite contemporaneous -- with the Christian variant more successful in most ways. And while Christianity/Judaism precede Islam, Sikhism and Bahai, they are themselves preceded by Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shinto. And I'm inclined to think that Shinto has the best hats -- despite formidable competition from the gold crowns of Russian Orthodoxy and the shtreimel of orthodox Judaism.

I guess I'll get a few zingers over all that! I'll hear about the Talmud and the Midrash and so on. As an atheist who is sympathetic to religion, however, I may be in a position to be more impartial than most.

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The Paranoid Style in Liberal Politics: The Left’s obsession with the Koch brothers

In case anybody misses it, the title above is an allusion to "The Paranoid Style in American Politics", a supercilious 1964 essay by Richard J. Hofstadter that attacked conservatism as psychologically deranged. It was pure projection, claiming that it was conservatives who had angry minds! Paranoia is an irrational and obsessive feeling of being persecuted or under attack, often accompanied by conspiracy theories

David Koch’s secretary told him the news. This was in February, during the rowdy standoff between Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and demonstrators backing 14 Democratic legislators who’d fled to Illinois rather than vote on a bill weakening public employee unions. Koch’s secretary said that an editor for a left-wing website, the Buffalo Beast, had telephoned the governor posing as David Koch and recorded the conversation. And Walker had fallen for it! He’d had a 20-minute conversation with this bozo, not once questioning the caller’s identity. But then how could Walker have known? Sure, David Koch was a billionaire whose company had donated to his campaign. But Koch (pronounced “Coke”) had never talked to Walker in his life.

Yet here were the media reporting that he and his brother Charles were behind Walker’s push against public employees. Anger washed over David like a red tide. He’d been victimized by some punk with a political agenda. “It’s really identity theft,” he told me a month later, during an interview at Koch Industries’ headquarters. “And I think it’s extremely dishonest to misrepresent yourself. I think there’s a question of integrity. And the person who would do that has got to be an incredibly dishonest person.” Up until Walker’s showdown with the Democratic state senators, Koch had never seen a photograph of the governor. He didn’t know him at all. But now the protesters occupying the Wisconsin state capitol were calling Walker a “Koch Whore.”

Why? Because the Koch Industries PAC had given $43,000 to Walker’s campaign. That was less than one half of one percent of Walker’s total haul—but still enough for the left to tie Koch Industries to the battle royal in Wisconsin. David found the whole affair disturbing. “One additional thing that really bothered me,” he said, “was that the press attacked me rather than the guy who impersonated me! And I was criticized as someone who’s got a death grip on the governor and his policies. And that I control him—I mean, that’s insane!”

Ah, but such is life when you and your brother are suddenly two of the most demonized men in American politics. For decades David and Charles have run Koch Industries, an energy and manufacturing conglomerate that employs around 50,000 people in the United States and another 20,000 in 59 other countries. Depending on the year, Koch Industries is either the first- or second-largest privately held company in America—it alternates in the top spot with Cargill, the agricultural giant—with about $100 billion in revenues. David and Charles are worth around $22 billion each. Combine their wealth and you have the third-largest fortune in America after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Like most billionaires, the brothers spend a lot of time giving their money away: to medical and scientific research, to educational programs, to cultural institutions, and to public policy research and activism.

That last part has caught the attention of the left’s scouring eye. For unlike many billionaires, the Koch brothers espouse classical liberal economics: They advocate lower taxes, less government spending, fewer regulations, and limited government. “Society as a whole benefits from greater economic freedom,” Charles wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. Judging by the results of the 2010 elections, there are millions of Americans who agree with him.

Over the years the Kochs have flown beneath the radar, not seeking publicity and receiving little. But then the crash of 2008 arrived, and the bailouts, and the election of Barack Obama, and pretty soon the whole country was engaged in one loud, colossal, rollicking, emotional argument over the size, scope, and solvency of the federal government. Without warning, folks were springing up, dressing in colonial garb, talking about the Constitution, calling for a Tea Party. Some of them even joined a group called Americans for Prosperity—which the Kochs helped found and partly fund.

For progressives confused at the heated opposition to their do-gooder agenda, the Kochs became convenient scapegoats. Invoking their name was a way to write off opposition to Obama as the false consciousness of racist rubes stoked by greedy businessmen. In the liberal imagination the Kochs ascended from obscurity to infamy in record time. Starting in the spring of 2009, whenever you turned on MSNBC or clicked on the Huffington Post you’d see the Kochs described in terms more applicable to Lex Luthor and General Zod.

As last year’s midterm elections approached, the White House singled out the Kochs for attack. President Obama relied on innuendo: “They don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are,” he said in August. “You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. You don’t know if it’s a big oil company, or a big bank.” Obama’s lieutenants were more direct. Also in August, an administration official, later identified as the economist Austan Goolsbee, delivered a background briefing to reporters in which he falsely alleged that Koch Industries paid no corporate income tax. (An inspector general is now investigating whether anyone in the Obama administration accessed confidential tax information prior to the attack.) The Kochs, former White House adviser David Axelrod wrote last September, are “billionaire oilmen secretly underwriting what the public has been told is a grass-roots movement for change in Washington.”

But that was just for starters. Liberals in the media turned into Koch addicts. They ascribed every bad thing under the sun to the brothers and their checkbooks. Pollution, the Tea Party, global warming denial—the Kochs were responsible. The liberals kneaded the facts like clay until the Kochs resembled a Lovecraftian monster: the Kochtopus! Its tentacles stretched everywhere. “Their private agenda is really the eradication of the federal government in almost all of its forms, other than the parts of it that protect personal rights,” New Yorker writer Jane Mayer told NPR’s Terry Gross. Anonymous, the hackers’ collective, accused the Kochs of attempting to “usurp American Democracy.” The Koch brothers manipulated the Tea Partiers, according to Keith Olbermann, by “telling them what to say and which causes to take on and also giving them lots of money to do it with.”

More HERE

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Federalism gives options -- and the Texas option is the most attractive

The Census Bureau last week released county and city populations for the last of the 50 states from the 2010 Census last week, ahead of schedule. Behind the columns of numbers are many vivid stories of how our nation has been changing -- and some lessons for public policy, as well.

Geographically, our population is moving to the south and west, to the point that the center of the nation's population has moved to Texas County, Missouri.

That sounds like the familiar story of people moving from the Snow Belt to the Sun Belt, but that's not exactly what's happening. Instead, the fastest growth rates in the 2000-10 decade have been in Texas, the Rocky Mountain states and the South Atlantic states.

We're familiar with the phenomenon of people moving to the West Coast. But the three Pacific Coast states -- California, Oregon and Washington -- grew by 11 percent in the last decade, just 1 percent above the national average, while the South Atlantic states from Virginia through the Carolinas and Georgia to Florida grew by 17 percent.

In 2000, the South Atlantic states had 121,000 more people than the Pacific Coast states. In 2010 they had 2.8 million more.

What's been happening is that people from the Northeast and the Midwest have been flocking to the South Atlantic states, not to retirement communities but to Tampa and Jacksonville, Atlanta and Charlotte and Raleigh, which are among the nation's fastest-growing metro areas. The South Atlantic has been attracting smaller numbers of immigrants, as well.

Coastal California, in contrast, has had a vast inflow of immigrants and a similarly vast outflow of Americans. High housing costs, exacerbated by no-growth policies and environmental restrictions, have made modest homes unaffordable to middle class families who don't want to live in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods or commute 50 miles to work.

California for the first time in its history grew only microscopically faster than the nation as a whole (10 percent to 9.7 percent). Metro Los Angeles and San Francisco increasingly resemble Mexico City and Sao Paulo, with a large affluent upper class, a vast proletariat and a huge income gap in between.

Public policy plays an important role here -- one that's especially relevant as state governments seek to cut spending and reduce the power of the public employee unions that seek to raise spending and prevent accountability.

The lesson is that high taxes and strong public employee unions tend to stifle growth and produce a two-tier society like coastal California's.

The eight states with no state income tax grew 18 percent in the last decade. The other states (including the District of Columbia) grew just 8 percent. The 22 states with right-to-work laws grew 15 percent in the last decade. The other states grew just 6 percent. The 16 states where collective bargaining with public employees is not required grew 15 percent in the last decade. The other states grew 7 percent.

Now some people say that low population growth is desirable. The argument goes that it reduces environmental damage and prevents the visual blight of sprawl.

But states and nations with slow growth end up with aging populations and not enough people of working age to generate an economy capable of supporting them in the style to which they've grown accustomed. Slow growth is nice if you've got a good-sized trust fund and some nice acreage in a place like Aspen. But it reduces opportunity for those who don't start off with such advantages to move upward on the economic ladder.

The most rapid growth in 2000-10, 21 percent, was in the Rocky Mountain states and in Texas. The Rocky Mountain states tend to have low taxes, weak unions and light regulation. Texas has no state income tax, no public employee union bargaining and light regulation.

Texas' economy has diversified far beyond petroleum, with booming high-tech centers, major corporate headquarters and thriving small businesses. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of Americans and immigrants, high-skill as well as low-skill. Its wide open spaces made for low housing costs, which protected it against the housing bubble and bust that has slowed growth in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The states, said Justice Brandeis, are laboratories of reform. The 2010 Census tells us whose experiment worked best. It's the state with the same name as the county that's the center of the nation's population: Texas.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

SCOTUS to consider Arizona’s Incumbent Protection Act: "The state's Citizens Clean Elections Act, which provides candidates with public campaign funds as long as they don't accept private donations, is being challenged. Legal experts say its chances of survival aren't good. ... On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a constitutional challenge to the Arizona law brought by the conservative Goldwater Institute and the libertarian Institute for Justice."

Innovation requires economic freedom: "A civilization is the product of a definite worldview, and its philosophy manifests itself in each of its accomplishments. The artifacts produced by men may be called material. But the methods resorted to in the arrangement of production activities are mental, the outcome of ideas that determine what should be done and how. All the branches of a civilization are animated by the spirit that permeates its ideology."

A sample of government at work: "Where I live there’s no mail delivery. All USPS mail has to be picked up at the post office. And at the post office the address is, well, a P.O. Box with its number. If one sends a piece of mail to the house address, the zip code must contain the post office box number at the end of the regular five digit number. And it is usually no problem to do this! Except, of course, with some government bureaus."

Why we really, really, don’t want planning of the food market: "It isn't just that planners will, as we've seen, fail to recognise efficiencies in what is already produced. It's also that they can have absolutely no idea whatsoever of what we might start to produce. Chocolate covered pickles are always going to be a minority taste of course (although they sound worth trying: choccie and salt, or if vinegar pickled, sweet and sour, worth a nibble at least) but take a step up to pickles themselves. You can draw a line through Europe. To the east and north, they are normally salt pickles, in brine. To the west and south in vinegar. With the new movements of people of the past decade, those hundreds of thousands from the east moving west, how should production of pickles change?"

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

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

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

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

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