Saturday, June 04, 2011

Will Afghanistan be Vietnam all over again?

Vietnam was a casualty of American politics, not a loss by the troops in the field

Most Americans don’t realize how far President Obama has bowed down to the Taliban – and that he is potentially setting them up to rule Afghanistan.

While the fact that we are negotiating with the Taliban has been fleetingly covered here in America, a search of Lexis-Nexis shows that the rest of the story about the concessions we have offered them has been virtually blacked out by the mainstream media in the US. Things are so bad that we now aren’t even requiring that they renounce their ties to al-Qaida before we negotiate with them.

You’d have to read British newspapers to learn that, and about how they have humiliated our president and British Prime Minister David Cameron on the national stage in negotiation.

The Obama administration is so desperate to appease the Islamist savages and cut a peace deal with them that US negotiators no longer require preconditions of Taliban fighters we negotiate with -- like that they halt the killing of innocent civilians and our troops or break with al Qaida, The Telegraph of London reports.

Apparently, terrorist attacks on US soil aren’t off limits either. Incredibly, these “negotiations” with the Taliban began last fall, just five months after the attempted Times Square bombing attack by Faisal Shahzad, which was funded by the Taliban.

US negotiators and their British counterparts aren’t even requiring that the Taliban embrace the Afghan constitution our troops and many Afghans paid for with blood. Worse yet, they are aiming to turn control of the county at least partly over to the Taliban in a “shared power” deal, essentially throwing the Afghan people to the wolves.

Meanwhile our troops continue to die fighting for what the Obama administration is giving away at the negotiating table as they take bullets enforcing the Afghan constitution. The Taliban killed four US soldiers and 42 innocent civilians in bombings at hospital and construction sites this month, and were recently caught attempting to smuggle suicide bombers as young as nine years old into the country.

If the American public got the full story on this, they’d be outraged. The Taliban, meanwhile, are so emboldened that they have even demanded we release 20 prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay holding facility as part of negotiations, one of the few details of these negotiations that have actually been reported by the US press.

Then last week the Taliban humiliated Obama and Cameron during their European summit on Afghanistan. Despite our over- the-top concessions, upper level Taliban leaders refused to show up to highly publicized “peace” talks in Germany after deciding they didn’t want to well, talk. (Talks thus far talks had been with mid- level leaders.) News that the Taliban jilted Obama at the negotiating table filled European papers just as Obama’s entourage hit the continent.

They way the Taliban see it, The Telegraph reports, “they can simply sit it out and wait for victory in 2014,” when troops are scheduled to exit.

An aide to Taliban leader Mullah Omar explained the group’s position in November.

“All of these reports of peace talks are nonsense,” Mullah Aminullah told NBC News. “This is just propaganda by the U.S. and its NATO allies to hide their defeat on the battlefield. We are winning, why should we negotiate?”

The Taliban have been laughing since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first proposed negotiating with the “moderate” members of the Taliban in 2009.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called this a “lunatic idea,” insisting that there were no moderate Taliban. “They have to go and find the moderate Taliban, their leader, and speak to them,” he told Reuters.

It’s baffling as well to many British observers why we would want or need a make a deal with the Taliban at all as part of exiting Afghanistan. "British and US strategy should be about containing terrorism, not brokering a final peace,” Tory MP Rory Stewart told the paper.

Still Obama and Cameron plow ahead, pushing for what the British papers call a “political solution.” By that they mean one that will make Obama look great … to America’s enemies.

SOURCE

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Obama is borrowing and printing money like there is no tomorrow

Responsible government finance has vanished

The U.S. has already defaulted on its debts. We’re just all politely pretending that we haven’t. But we have.

According to Pimco, last year, the Federal Reserve — a central bank printing press — bought 70 percent of Treasury debt. The year before, it bought 80 percent. Where did the money come from? Out of thin air.

This is the “pretended payment” on sovereign debt that economist Adam Smith warned against, which he wrote in The Wealth of Nations “has gradually enfeebled every state which has adopted it.” To him, increasing the money supply to pay the debt was substantively no different than a public bankruptcy.

So, while the Fed dresses up its actions as targeting unemployment or maintaining its balance sheet, the real reason for QE2 has been to prop up the U.S. Treasury from a catastrophic default, just as the European Central Bank (ECB) has been propping up Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.

And as the bank assures the American people it will not be engaging in QE3, its treasuries holdings will continue to rise from their current $1.5 trillion level after QE2 ends in June. It’s already the world’s largest lender to the U.S. government, more than China or Japan. So how can it become an even larger sovereign lender?

It still has $922 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) left over from its $1.25 trillion bailout to financial institutions all over the world. It has been slowly selling them off, and replacing them with more treasuries purchases. So, we should continue to expect more of that over the next year. The Fed will continue monetizing the debt — i.e. printing money to pay principal and interest owed on the $14.3 trillion national debt.

More HERE

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Obama rewrites history in pursuit of making Muslim friends

Barack Obama is clearly obsessed with currying favor with the Muslim world. This obsession prompts Obama to periodically insult Israel (the only democracy in the Middle East and America's only real ally there) and, more egregiously, misrepresents America's history with the Muslim world. This reduces America's standing abroad and weakens our security.

Obama's misrepresentation of America's history with Muslims is best exemplified by his first television interview as president in January 2009 and his June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt.

Obama's first television interview as president was with the Saudi-funded Arabic network Al Arabiya. During this interview, Obama told the Muslim world that America is not their enemy, America has made mistakes, America has not been perfect, and that America needs to re-establish the respect and partnership that it had with the Muslim world 20 or 30 years ago.

Obama ignored that our history with the Muslim world since 1979 is replete with Islamic terrorist attacks on America, including:

1979 - Iranian terrorists held American diplomats hostage in Tehran, the government of Iran was (and still is) a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran's leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared war on the United States, and thousands of Iranians paraded through Tehran shouting "Death to America."

1983 - Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine Headquarters in Beirut, killing 257 Americans and 58 French soldiers.

1993 - al Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center, killing six.

1998 - al Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa, killing 224.

2001 - the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda killed 2,977.

Conversely, over the last 30 years America has repeatedly come to the aid of threatened Muslims. Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan are some examples.

Why didn't Obama ever mention this?

In his Cairo speech, Obama called for a new beginning in relations between America and the Muslim world. Obama then said that Western democratic colonialism was the root cause of the problems with Islamic countries in the Middle East.

Actually, Islamic authoritarianism and corruption are the real root causes of the problems that have plagued the Middle East for centuries.

Even more egregious was Obama's misrepresentation of the conflict between Islam and the West. Obama said that Islam has a tradition of tolerance and used the conduct of Muslims in Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition to illustrate this point. However, Obama ignored that both cities were governed by Christians during the Inquisition, not Muslims, and Islam was the aggressor during the Middle Ages, not Christianity. It is often overlooked that the much-criticized Crusades were a Christian self-defense effort.

Obama also claimed, "In the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American-Muslims to ensure they can fulfill zakat."

Obama is wrong for two reasons.

First, there are no American laws that make it harder for Muslims to give to charity. America has laws against material support of terrorism - against using charities as fronts to channel money to jihadists. Those laws are not directed at Muslims. They apply to everyone but are applied most often to Muslims - because Muslims carry out most anti-American terrorism.

Second, Obama's claim that the religious obligation of zakat is the equivalent of "charitable giving" is incorrect. Zakat is every Muslim's obligation to contribute to the fortification of the ummah, the theoretical worldwide Islamic nation - which includes the funding of violent jihad against non-Muslims.

So what has the misrepresentation of America's history with the Muslim world produced? Nothing.

There has been no change in the Muslim world's relationship with and perception of America. The governments of Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Palestine, among others, are still openly hostile to America. Iran is openly developing nuclear weapons to use against the U.S. and Israel. Muslim extremists are attempting to take control of Egypt, Libya and other nations currently experiencing uprisings.

America does not need more outreach to the Muslim world by Obama. Instead, America needs Obama to support Israel and stand up to the Muslim world and demand that it takes action against its extremists and terrorists to stop their murderous and destructive activities against America and our allies.

SOURCE

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Obama's Job Recession

Political advantage can be fleeting. A couple of months ago, during the winter quarter, job gains looked to be picking up, unemployment was easing lower, and President Obama’s reelection hopes looked more secure. But things sure have changed.

In recent weeks, a whole bunch of new economic stats have been pointing to a sputtering economy -- maybe even an inflation-prone, less-than-2-percent-growth recession. Stocks have dropped five straight weeks, as they look toward slower growth, jobs, and profits out to year end. And Friday’s jobs report didn’t buck these trends.

“Anemic” is the adjective being tossed around the media. According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls increased a meager 54,000 in May, while private payrolls gained only 83,000. A week or two ago, Wall Street expected 200,000-plus new jobs. Didn’t happen.

Perhaps the most telling weakness in the jobs report comes from the household survey, which is made up of self-employed workers. Think of mom-and-pop owned stores and small businesses. Think of the Main Street entrepreneurial families who make up the backbone of the economy, and for the matter the country. And they vote, too.

Well, household jobs increased a paltry 105,000 in May, after falling 190,000 in April. The jobless rate is determined by the household survey, and you really need a couple hundred thousand new household jobs a month -- at least -- to lower unemployment. And you really need about 300,000 household jobs a month to put a little torque behind the Main Street economy. But with the lackluster May report, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent from last month’s 9 percent and March’s 8.8 percent.

Suddenly President Obama has gone from reelect to big trouble. The economic rug has been pulled out from underneath him.

So what changed in the last couple of months or so? Answer: A nasty oil-, gasoline-, and commodity-price shock. It’s eating away at economic growth and jobs. It’s stalling the economy. And it has cut into consumer real incomes and business profits.

Much of this problem can be traced to the failure of the Federal Reserve’s QE2 pump-priming campaign. QE2 has not produced growth, but it has produced inflation. In fact, the consumer price index over the past four or five months has been running close to 6 percent annually.

And most of that new Fed money has served merely to depreciate the dollar. And most of those cheaper dollars are on deposit at the Federal Reserve, where banks are earning 25 basis points for safety and risk aversion. In other words, the majority of that new money is not circulating throughout the economy. It’s a boneheaded Fed stimulus, and it has done more harm than good.

That said, in a larger sense, the failure to ignite small-business job creation has to be laid at the doorstep of the Obama administration, and the economic policies that threaten higher taxes and regulations virtually across the board. On Thursday this week, the president again promised House Democrats to raise taxes on successful top small-business owners. What a great new idea.

So mom and pop don’t feel like taking a risk in this environment. Higher tax-and-regulatory costs have put these entrepreneurs in survival mode. They’re playing their economic cards so close to the vest, business activity has buttoned up tight.

What you want is for people to take their suit jackets off, roll up their shirt sleeves, and go out there and build. But people are hunkering down, not building.

Bear with me for few more jobs stats.

Since the household-survey employment peak back in November 2007, 6.8 million jobs have been lost. Since the so-called end of the recession in June 2009, 199,000 jobs, on balance, have disappeared. And so far this year, household employment has increased by a total of 573,000, which is about 115,000 a month. That’s only one-third of what’s needed to bring down unemployment significantly.

The bottom line is that there hasn’t really been a jobs recovery. President Obama is going to have to own that. But the question is, both in Congress and on the campaign trail, does the GOP have a pro-growth jobs program that will get Main Street mom and pops to roll up their sleeves once again?

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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Friday, June 03, 2011

Disease Causes Autocracy?

One of the best established facts in economics is that a reduction in government power and control leads to an increase in economic prosperity. See post-Thatcher Britain or Post-Deng China for obvious examples. And because the loosening of control PRECEDES the prosperity we have good grounds for saying which one causes the other.

In the "research" below however we have no such clear causal arrow. All they have to report is correlations. They show an association between autocracy and poverty and arbitrarily assert from that that poverty causes autocracy. But they have no evidence to support that assertion. It could be the other way around.

Since the good causal evidence we have from (say) Britain and China points to the arrow of causation working the other way around they are really pissing into the wind. Not only is there no evidence FOR their assertion but there is clear evidence AGAINST it!

But why should I point that out? Why should I argue against the claim that autocratic people are poor, stupid, unhealthy and worm-infested? I suspect that the researchers below mean to imply that it is conserrvatives who are autocratic but the truth is of course the reverse. All the great autocrats of the 20th century, from Lenin, through Hitler to Mao and Pol Pot were socialists! So if the research shows anything, it shows that Leftism is produced by poor health, worm infestations etc! And it is certainly true that the poor and worm-infested countries of Africa are almost aways dictatorships.

You will however note in the report below a lot of emphasis on ethnocentrism and xenophobia -- and that is the old Leftist race-card again. Leftists are sure that conservatives are racists so the fact that autocratic societies tend to be suspicious of foreigners makes them conservative! But is there any parallel in conservative-run countries to the Russia's mass murder of Kulaks, Hitler's mass-murder of Jews or the late Soviet regime's discrimination against Jews? There is none. Leftist talk the talk about the "fear of others" but they don't walk the walk. Conservatives just get on with judging people by their individual merits.

So it's all rather fun below but proof of anything it is not


A group of researchers led by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Sachs recently noted that a billion people live on less than a dollar per day and “are roughly as poor today as their ancestors were thousands of years ago.” Why?

The researchers suggest that high disease burdens create persistent poverty traps from which poor people cannot extricate themselves. High disease incidence lowers their economic productivity so that they can’t afford to create the resources needed to improve sanitation and medical care, which in turn leaves them vulnerable to more disease. And so it goes.

University of New Mexico anthropologists Randy Thornhill and Corey Fincher pushed the disease thesis further with their “parasite hypothesis of democratization,” arguing that disease not only keeps people poor, but it also makes them illiberal. The two researchers test this hypothesis “using publicly available data measuring democratization, collectivism–individualism, gender egalitarianism, property rights, sexual restrictiveness, and parasite prevalence across many countries of the world.” The idea is that the lower the disease burden, the more likely a society is to be liberal.

Thornhill and Fincher argue that the risk of infectious disease affects the willingness of elites to share power and resources, the general social acceptance of hierarchal authority, and the openness of innovation. Their central idea is that ethnocentrism and out-group avoidance function as a kind of behavioral immune system. Just as individuals have immune systems that fight against pathogens, groups of people similarly evolve with local parasites and develop some resistance to them. People who are not members of one’s group may carry new diseases to which the group has not developed defenses. “Thus, xenophobia, as a defensive adaptation against parasites to which there is an absence of local adaptation, is expected to be most pronounced in regions of high parasite stress,” assert Thornhill and Fincher.

In another study, they find that where disease prevalence has been historically high, cultures tend toward collectivist values such as ethnocentrism and conformity. Why? Because these inward-looking cultural values inhibit the transmission of diseases.

Using prevalence data for 22 diseases, the researchers find a correlation with a number of cultural values, including democratization, property rights, gender equality, and sexual liberalization. Where disease prevalence remains high, autocracy reigns, property rights are weak, women have fewer rights, and sexual behavior is restricted.

Disease prevalence lessens the further one gets away from the equator. Thus, Thornhill and Fincher argue that it is not surprising that the development of democratic institutions began in high latitude Western Europe and North America. In 1820, Britain’s average life expectancy of 40 years was the highest in Europe; France's was 37 years and Germany's 32 years. (Britons and American colonists had more available calories per capita which also boosted their ability to fight off disease.)

Furthermore, Thornhill and Fincher assert that more recent advances in medicine and public health are similarly implicated in the post-1950s wave of liberalization that swept over the United States and Western Europe. The advent of penicillin, polio vaccines, the elimination of malaria, chlorination of drinking water, and the reduction in foodborne illnesses all combined to dramatically reduce disease prevalence.

The authors suggest that if people actually experience few infections as they grow up, they perceive strangers and novel ways of life as safe. Tolerance and the embrace of social, economic, and technological innovation follow. They note that areas of the world in which disease rates remain high have not experienced this trend toward liberalization.

A new study led by University of Maryland psychologist Michele Gelfand published last week in Science looks at the “differences between cultures that are tight (have many strong norms and a low tolerance for deviant behavior) versus loose (have weak social norms and a high tolerance for deviant behavior).” In this case, Gelfand and her colleagues consider a wider number of possible threats including disease prevalence, but also population density, resource scarcity, and territorial conflicts.

Again, adversity correlates with higher levels of social conformity, autocratic rule, religiousness, and media control. Of the 33 countries in Gelfand’s survey, Pakistan scored highest on tightness (12.3 points) while the least tight country was Ukraine (1.6 point). The United States scored a pretty loose 5.1 points.

Disease causes autocracy, in turn causing poverty, resulting in more disease, producing continued autocracy, and so on. However, if Sachs, Thornhill, Fincher, and even to some extent Gelfand is right, then reducing disease burdens in a country would promote the rise of liberal institutions. In fact, Fincher and Thornhill explicitly conclude, “If the parasite hypothesis of democratization is supported by additional research, humanitarian efforts to reduce human rights violations and to increase human liberties and democracy in general will be most effective if focused on the most fundamental causal level of infectious disease reduction.” Unfortunately, ignorant ethnocentrism has gotten in the way of eradicating diseases like polio.

More HERE

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If A Liberal And A Tea Partier Had Been Aboard The Titanic

Tea Partier: Alert the captain! There's a huge iceberg up ahead and we're headed straight for it! If we don't turn the ship aside now, we're doomed!

Liberal: Well, that's not a very popular message. I mean, turning the ship aside would require interrupting the shuffleboard tournament.

Tea Partier: The whole ship is going to be shuffling off to the bottom of the ocean if we don't change course!

Liberal: You're probably just saying that because the captain's black.

Tea Partier: What? That's crazy!

Liberal: That's exactly what a racist would say in this situation.

Tea Partier: What does not wanting to hit an iceberg have to do with hating our captain because he's black?

Liberal: For someone who doesn't hate black people, you sure do talk about racism and the captain being black a lot....

Tea Partier: But, I was just defending myself from you....look, nevermind. Do you know what that iceberg will do to this ship? It will sink us to the bottom of the ocean! We've got to steer around it.

Liberal: Sink us? That's so overblown. I mean, conceivably it could sink us, but it would probably just scratch the paint.

Tea Partier: Hitting an iceberg? Scratch the paint? Do you know that...okay, forget that, you admitted it could conceivably sink us. So, you agree we need to do something about it now?

Liberal: I don't know. People have really been looking forward to that shuffleboard tournament.

Tea Partier: Are you crazy? What happens if the iceberg sinks us?

Liberal: It would all work out. Somebody would take care of it.

Tea Partier: Who? Who would take care of it?

Liberal: Somebody or another.

Tea Partier: We're in the middle of the ocean. There's no one around to help us. Even if there were another ship nearby, we're so big that other ships couldn't handle rescuing us.

Liberal: It would have been nice if you'd mentioned this before. You know, back when the ship had a white captain.

Tea Partier: I did! I pointed it out over and over again and when no one would listen, I got louder about it. Then, when we got closer to the iceberg and speeded up instead of slowing down, I started really trying to get people to do something.

Liberal: Oh, yes, how convenient. Right when we got a black captain, you conveniently got upset about it. You worried this big old ship will hurt your WHITE iceberg?

Tea Partier: Are you out of your mind? That iceberg is going to tear this ship in half.

Liberal: I'm not very comfortable with the violent language you're using. "Tear this ship in half" -- I mean, what if somebody overheard you and that language got their primitive psycho brains all excited?

Tea Partier: Let me repeat this very slowly so that you'll understand. We're. Headed. For. An. Iceberg. If. We. Hit. It. We'll. Sink. We've. Got. To. Change. Course.

Liberal: Okay, okay, let's call the other passengers over. (Yells) Everybody come on over here. We've got a bit of a situation.

Crowd of Passengers: We're here. What's the problem?

Liberal: This guy I'm talking to here? Yes, him. He hates black people, he hates shuffleboard, and he's trying to incite violence, all for no reason whatsoever.

Crowd of Passengers: That's terrible!

Tea Partier: Wait a second -- none of that's true. Folks, we're headed towards an iceberg! The ship is going to sink. We've got to change direction right now if we don't want to hit it. Even he admits that we're in trouble!

Crowd of Passengers: An iceberg? On no! Maybe we better do something!

Liberal: Hey, everybody, there's nothing to worry about and we don't want to miss the shuffleboard tournament, do we? If there was something to be alarmed about, surely I wouldn't be acting as if it were no big deal, would I? Tell you what, drinks are on me at the bar! Let's go have the night of our lives! (Everyone except the Tea Partier goes to the bar. He heads to a rowboat)

(2 hours later, the liberal and the Tea Partier are sitting on a rowboat)

Liberal: Wow, I can't believe that iceberg sunk the ship! If only someone could have seen it coming...

Tea Partier: I SAW it coming. I tried to warn you.

Liberal: Yes, yes, we all agreed that icebergs could be a danger. But, everyone wanted to play shuffleboard instead of dealing with it.

Tea Partier: No, YOU wanted to play shuffleboard! I wanted to change course!

Liberal: Come on, change course? That was completely impractical.

Tea Partier: No, it wasn't impractical. We could have done it. If you'd listened, the ship would be fine!

Liberal: Wow, in a situation like this, you're looking for someone to blame? That's terrible. How about we set aside politics, stop pointing fingers, and start figuring out how to deal with this disaster?

Tea Partier: Well, I guess we could...

Liberal: Besides, it's obvious the corporations are responsible for this. They build a boat, they cut corners to make more obscene profits, and who gets screwed? The little guys! We need more regulations to prevent this sort of thing and obviously we have to sue.

Tea Partier: Sigh...while you're planning that out, let's go pick up those women on that wreckage over there.

Liberal: That's not something we should do personally, is it? I mean, that's really more of a job for the crew, isn't it?

Tea Partier: Well, since you dressed like a woman to make it on this lifeboat, it seems fair that we should actually pick up some real women in distress, doesn't it?

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ELSEWHERE

Unemployment Hits 9.1%: "The unemployment rate increased to 9.1% in the month of May. “There should not be any remaining doubters that Obama’s big government spending and the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policies are two of the most disastrous economic policies in American history. “Almost 14 million people who want a job can’t find one, as the number of unemployed jumped by 167,000 people in the past month. Almost 20 percent of the workforce is either unemployed or working part time when they want a full-time job. Obama’s economic plan has been tried and has failed.

Obamacare’s Big Brother: Accountable Care Organizations: "Suppose President Obama declared he would tackle rising food prices by forcing everyone to eat at government-supervised restaurant chains. Small restaurants would be nudged to merge with national ones. Bureaucrats would monitor menu items and prices. Restaurants would record orders in a central database to ensure meals adhered to federal nutrition guidelines. Most Americans would be outraged at such infringements of their basic freedoms. Yet this is precisely the approach the Obama administration is taking by pushing doctors and hospitals into government-supervised Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)."

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, June 02, 2011

There IS a way to get both Greece and the USA out of bankruptcy

Though no-one says it would be popular

Martin Hutchinson

In the endless negotiations about Greece’s approach to bankruptcy, EU leaders suggested last week that a “fund of experts” might take over $200 billion or more worth of Greek state assets, with a view to speeding their privatization and repaying much of Greece’s staggering debt load. The idea has some merit, as it reverses the recent erosion in creditors’ positions in national defaults. It would also be applicable in much larger cases, notably including that of the United States.

Whereas national bankruptcy laws have for centuries provided creditors with solid rights against individuals and corporations (though the U.S. 1978 Bankruptcy Act damagingly weakened those rights) enforcement in bankruptcy against sovereign states has always been more problematical, because of the military power those states possess. Mediaeval monarchs in both Britain and France took aggressive action against creditors who pressed their claims too vigorously. In the seventeenth century, Charles II’s 1672 Great Stop of the Exchequer bankrupted several leading London goldsmiths, although notably on that occasion the state paid much of the claims in full, albeit with lengthy delays.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries however, with Britain both a leading naval power and the center of the world’s money market, creditor attitudes were admirably robust. When Venezuela defaulted in 1902, it believed that the Monroe Doctrine would bring U.S. protection to bear against any aggressive action by its creditors, primarily British and German banks. However President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed “if any South American country misbehaves toward any European country, let the European country spank it.” After Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Sandringham, Anglo-German agreement was reached and a naval flotilla from both nations sailed for the Venezuelan coast, blockading the country for four months and bombarding coastal forts adjacent to Caracas and Maracaibo.

The postwar Keynes-White architecture of international finance, with the IMF and World Bank involved in most defaults, sapped the robustness of creditor attitudes. By the 1970s, creditors were in denial with Citibank chairman Walter Wriston notoriously proclaiming that “countries don’t go bust.” Needless to say this was nonsense, and the 1980s Latin American defaults came close to sinking Citibank itself, even though the lending banks under Citi’s Bill Rhodes were able to retain overall control of the debt restructuring. More recently, as IMF participation in defaulting countries has become larger and the IMF’s own attitudes less reliable, creditors have found themselves pushed way down the totem pole by massive loans from the IMF and other agencies, all of which are deemed to take precedence in bankruptcy.

The IMF’s $40 billion loan facility to Greece is an extreme example of this tendency; by it the position of European banks who lent to Greece has been irrevocably weakened. In today’s world, defaults are negotiated by the international agencies, and private commercial banks’ positions are far worse than in even a U.S. private bankruptcy. Only the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies, where the newly inaugurated Obama administration fiddled the legalities to favor the automobile unions over private lenders, were equivalent to state defaults and restructurings in their playing field tilt.

You can see the effect of this in the Greek negotiations. The Greek government, admittedly newly elected but with a strong connection (the prime minister being his son) to the most dishonest and spendthrift of all Greece’s postwar prime ministers, was allowed to promise modest reforms in return for huge dollops of money, and was then permitted to water down these reforms still further in the face of violent protests by the bloated beneficiaries of the country’s public sector excess. Consequently a year later Greece’s finances remain unreformed, and “austerity fatigue” has set in, with the country making only minimal gestures towards further reform.

The real problem is that massive EU subsidies allowed Greece’s living standards to soar far beyond the productivity of its ill-educated and idle citizens, so that only by imposing truly draconian cuts of 30-40 percent in living standards, as well as increasing the Greek retirement age close to 70 from what currently appears to be an average of little more than 50, can the books be balanced. Whereas in 1900 creditor action would probably have knocked a few more chips off the Parthenon, today the Greek debtors are allowed to continue their extravagant lifestyle to the detriment of the remaining value of the creditors’ holdings.

The one possibility for repaying some of Greece’s debts is a sale of state assets. In the original bailout deal, Greece had promised to sell $70 billion of these by 2015, but in the intervening year no progress has been made, as sale would upset too many vested interests. The EU proposal would now transfer to a “fund of experts” control of these state assets, which may be (but probably aren’t) worth as much as $300 billion, a substantial fraction of Greece’s debt obligations. By forcing Greece to accept a creditor committee as manager of these assets, the EU could in principle produce a genuine restructuring, selling perhaps $150-200 billion of the assets over the next 3-4 years, thereby eliminating close to half Greece’s debt obligations.

In reality of course, any committee appointed by the EU would be likely to contain the same kind of socialist bureaucrats as got Greece into trouble in the first place, and so its control would provide very little additional security for creditors. However in principle, if the international bureaucracies would back genuine creditor control of Greek state assets, the country’s debt problems could be resolved and the legal position of creditor interests strengthened to a level at which rational lenders would provide funding.

The other obvious candidate for creditor intervention if current conditions continue is the United States. There are two possible scenarios for this. One is a political scenario in which the current Congressional impasse continues through the date in August when the debt ceiling is reached, causing a technical default on U.S. debt and (more dangerously) a massive loss of confidence in the Treasury bond markets. The other is an economic scenario in which the deficit remains unaddressed, real interest rates start to rise and the bond markets eventually panic, preventing the Treasury from funding the ongoing deficit.

The conventional approach following such an occurrence would be a massive roundup of international banks and aid institutions to provide the U.S. with bailout funds. However the amount of funds required would be very large and the major creditor nations, China and Japan, may be unwilling to fund the profligacies of the U.S. political system any further. Presumably in the second scenario if they had been willing to provide further funding, they would have already done so through the ordinary Treasury bond market. In the first scenario their refusal to provide funding might be caused simply by cool Asian exasperation with U.S. woolly-mindedness and ineptitude.

In either scenario, the only approach would then be a sale of U.S. assets. Unlike in Greece there are few U.S. nationalized industries, although there are certain assets such as the air traffic control system that might be valuable. Other public assets, such as airports and subway systems, are generally owned by states and municipalities rather than by the national government directly, so would not readily be available for sale. Still others, like Amtrak and the Post Office, would fetch very little money because of their chronic loss-making status – Britain managed to sell its nationalized industry “dogs” in the 1980s, but they had first been given a period of firm management to bring them back to profitability. This has not been done, or even seriously attempted, in the United States so a sale in the short-term would be impossible. Naturally, if creditor management were imposed for a period of several years, even the Post Office (which should be managed by Chinese cost-cutters) and Amtrak (maybe run by German management, ruthlessly upgrading the efficiency of the system while closing unprofitable lines in key Congressional districts) could be forced into profitability.

However the greatest “quick hit” realization from creditor management would come in financial assets. According to their latest financial statements, there are $3.1 trillion in mortgage assets on Fannie Mae’s balance sheet and $2.1 trillion on Freddie Mac’s (these totals are sharply up over the past year, as both institutions have been buying mortgage debt to support the market.) Of course, the government guarantee on this $5.2 trillion of long-term paper would be worth very little. However, each asset represents a housing loan, and even today the great majority of these housing loans are perfectly solid credits. With firm management from retired senior executives of British building societies, the good quality paper could readily be sold back into the private market at only a modest discount, since “prime” mortgages are as they always have been an attractive banking asset. By realizing say $4 trillion from these sales (while retaining outstanding the long-term Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt, which would remain backed by the government guarantee) the liquidity position of the U.S. government would be revolutionized.

Provided appropriate budget cuts were then made under the watchful eye of Singaporean fiscal managers, the United States would emerge from the process humbled but solvent. Even more important, it would have learned the advantages of a private un-securitized housing market from the British building society managers, how to run a railroad from the Germans, the uses of cheap sweated labor from the Chinese and sound fiscal management from the Singaporeans.

SOURCE

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Get Ready for more money printing

Failed ideas are all that the American Left has got

The New York Times has launched its trial balloon for the Federal Reserve to begin yet another round of so-called “quantitative easing” to, it thinks, help the economy. In its May 30 editorial, “The Numbers Are Grim,” the Times calls for the Fed to, among other things, “be prepared to continue measures to bolster the economy as needed, even if that means looser policy for longer than it originally planned.”

It may not be long before the wonks over at the Fed come to the same conclusion, under pressure from the Obama Administration and its allies at the Times. So far, the central bank has said it is not considering such a move, but that could change if the bad economic data continues to come in, with growth at a dismal 1.8 percent in the first quarter.

The Times also calls for unemployment welfare to be extended yet again, for an easing of rules for refinancing, “bolstered foreclosure relief and more fiscal aid to states,” job “retraining,” and even tax increases to, it says, “help cover needed spending.” You know, all of the stuff government has already been doing without any success to facilitate this so-called “recovery”.

Times columnist Paul Krugman too jumps into the fray for his part. He wants “W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads… a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners… [and] [w]e could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate”.

Basically, the Left wants more of the same — more “stimulus”—which has already failed. We know that because of the 4.2 percent decline in home values in the first quarter as measured by the S&P/Case Shiller home price index.

We are now officially in a double dip downturn in housing. Home values are now at their lowest point in the current recession — lower than even April 2009. The Obama Administration promised that if trillions of dollars in fiscal and monetary “stimulus” were injected into the economy, that it would turn the housing market around.

Specifically, when Barack Obama signed the $826 billion “stimulus” into law he promised to “stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans”. So much for that.

Zillow reported last month that 28.4 percent of homeowners are underwater, a number that is likely to keep rising the more overall home values continue to plunge. The problem of negative equity has likely been compounded, ironically, by the $22 billion homebuyers tax incentive program.

3.3 million people utilized the program, which temporarily juiced the market, and have now seen prices depreciate again just as the government was saying the recovery was at hand. Whoops.

Coupled with rising foreclosures and persistently high unemployment at 9 percent, including a youth unemployment rate (i.e. those under 25) over 17.2 percent, Keynesians like Krugman, the Times editorial board and those at the Obama Administration can only come to one conclusion: Not enough money was spent, borrowed, and printed by the government. They can’t believe their lying eyes.

That is because their ideology does not allow for another possibility: That the financial crisis caused by government “stimulus,” too low interest rates by the Fed, and loose underwriting policies by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration, not to mention the Community Reinvestment Act regulations that weakened lending policies, lowered down payments, and otherwise pushed risky loans on individuals who could not afford them.

Government created the bubble. And when it popped, the resultant correction was unavoidable.

Obama has simply prolonged the recession he swore to pull us out of, as shown by Case-Shiller’s data. After the “stimulus” programs ended, the temporary spike in home values did too. Under the theory, the “recovery” should have been self-sustaining. Instead, values went down anyway.

We should have just let prices hit the bottom in the first place. Instead of bailing out banks, it would have been better to let investors that bet poorly on housing to fail. If government had just gotten out of the way, we would already be in recovery. That is the path Iceland has followed, and compared to Ireland, which did bail out its banks, is speeding more rapidly into recovery, and without the burdensome, excessive public debt accrued.

The American people have wasted over $2 trillion on a lie. Obama has been given everything he wanted — everything he said would turn the economy around. The “stimulus”’ has failed. He has failed.

Now is the time for a new direction for America, and that will only come with new leadership on the economy, before we go bankrupt trying to “stimulate” it. It is also time for Fed head Ben Bernanke not to heed the calls to throw another trillion dollars from a helicopter. But based upon the past three years of experience, there is little reason to doubt that under pressure he won’t cave.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

TSA pays out token sum to Texas woman whose breasts were exposed during patdown: "An airline passenger who sued the TSA after her breasts were exposed during a patdown has received a settlement of just $2,350. Lynsie Murley, 24, sued the TSA for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress after she was humiliated at Texas's Corpus Christi airport in May of 2008. Miss Murley, of Amarillo in Texas, claimed an agent pulled her blouse completely down, exposing her breasts to everyone in the area, after she was 'singled out for extended search procedures'. The agents 'joked and laughed' for an 'extended period of time', she said."

FL: Scott signs “drug tests for welfare” bill: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Tuesday a bill that requires Floridians to be tested for drugs if they want cash benefits from the state. People must pay for drug testing of samples of their urine, blood or hair before they receive state benefits. If people pass the drug test, taxpayers will reimburse them for $10 to $25 that such tests usually cost. They are not reimbursed if they fail the test and they are banned for six months from receiving benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. A second failed test results in a three-year ban."

Commerce Nominee is a crony capitalist: "John Bryson, President Obama's nominee to head the Commerce Department, is well-qualified, knowledgeable and practiced in the ways of business. If anything, he might be too practiced. The Senate's confirmation scrutiny of Bryson sometime this summer could be lively, judging from his CV and the California policies and politics that gave him his start. To some Republicans, Bryson's outspoken pronouncements about curbing climate change, his enthusiasm for tough California regulations that actually gave his company competitive advantages, and his support for left-leaning nonprofit organizations -- plus his generous contributions to Democratic candidates -- are all unsettling."

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, June 01, 2011

Obama's dictatorship via regulation

The fact that Barack Obama is working “under the radar” to strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights is truly disconcerting. But is it really all that surprising?

Obama – who successfully rammed socialized medicine, bureaucratic bailouts and a Wall Street takeover through Congress during his first two years in the White House – is employing a new strategy now that America’s elected leaders have cooled to his radical agenda.

It works like this: When Congress doesn’t bend to his will – Obama simply appropriates its power unto himself. That’s why as anti-American as it is – it should come as no surprise that Obama’s Justice Department is currently looking at ways to bypass Congress and restrict gun ownership through executive orders.

Like a spoiled monarch, totalitarian fascist or petty third world dictator, Obama has reacted to the public’s rebuke of his socialist overreaching by actively seeking to subvert their will. This trend was evident even before last fall’s decisive Democratic defeat – which was fueled by freedom-loving Tea Party members and fiscal independents frustrated by Washington’s non-stop avalanche of deficit spending.

When Congress refused to pass the president’s energy tax hike (disguised as a “cap and trade” marketplace on carbon emissions), Obama simply ordered his Environmental Protection Agency to start regulating carbon under the Clean Air Act. As a result, American power plants and refineries are now being hit with new environmental mandates that Congress has explicitly rejected.

When the state of Texas objected to this unauthorized regulatory putsch, the EPA responded by stripping the state of its authority to issue required air permits for new power plants. Apparently these strong-arm tactics are part of the “unfinished business” that Obama’s EPA administrator Lisa Jackson believes is necessary to promote “environmental justice” not only in America, but around the world.

Meanwhile, Obama’s organized labor appointees on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are making an unprecedented assault on the free market by telling Boeing where it can build its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In true gangster style, the NLRB has told Boeing that it will permit the new planes to be built at a facility in South Carolina – a right-to-work state – as long as Boeing first agrees to expand its union work force in Everett, Washington.

It’s not exactly the Plata O Plomo (“silver or lead”) technique employed by the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, but it’s close. In fact, Obama’s war on Boeing has been described by one South Carolina lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, as “government by mafia.”

On health care, the environment, gun control, energy policy and a host of other issues, Obama is seeking to use the regulatory process to impose a radical agenda that he could have never gotten through Congress – even if it were still controlled by Democrats.

Not only that, Obama is seeking to insulate his radical policies from judicial review – appointing a Supreme Court nominee who previously helped his administration craft the legal defense of “Obamacare.”

This dangerous assault on the constitutional separation of powers clearly puts the onus on Congressional leaders. Their choice? Move aggressively to block Obama’s usurpation of their authority – or watch as our nation falls further under the thumb of this “thugocracy.”

How can legislative leaders block Obama? One way is to leverage the power of the purse strings. In other words, if Obama’s EPA is going to defy Congress, then its funding should be zeroed out. In fact, if lawmakers are serious about eliminating unnecessary government and cutting deficit spending – Obama is giving them a perfect excuse to do just that with respect to multiple agencies.

One thing is clear, though: Lawmakers are going to have to target much more than the paltry cuts they sought in the run-up to the government shutdown debate last month. More importantly, they are also going to have to learn how not to fear the threat of a government shutdown.

Each day, Obama is advancing his socialist agenda – whether Congress or the American people like it or not. The only question is when our elected leaders are going to stand up and say “enough is enough” by cutting off the spigot?

SOURCE

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Chasing Sarah: The Boys Behind the Bus

In the 1970s, "The Boys on the Bus" exposed how a clubby pack of male political reporters ruled the road to the White House and shaped the news. Four decades later, an outsider gal from Alaska has commandeered the 2012 media bus -- and left Beltway journalism insiders eating her dust. We've come a long way, baby.
Amid frenzied speculation over her potential presidential campaign plans, former GOP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin launched an all-American road trip with her family this Memorial Day weekend. Establishment media types didn't get reserved seats or advance notice of her itinerary. Palin rubbed the Washington media mob's institutional sense of entitlement right back in its face. "I don't think I owe anything to the mainstream media. I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this," she jabbed.

Robbed of the reflexive genuflection customarily paid by publicity-seeking candidates to the political press, scribes, cameramen and producers on the campaign trail began howling louder than the Rolling Thunder Harleys that Palin rode along with on Sunday in Washington, D.C. One miffed CBS News producer, Ryan Corsaro, pouted that the O.J. Simpson-style media caravan giving chase to Palin had created hazardous working conditions for all the intrepid news correspondents.

"I just hope to God that one of these young producers with a camera whose bosses are making them follow Sarah Palin as a potential Republican candidate don't get in a car crash, because this is dangerous," Corsaro said. Puh-lease. As if traveling America's highways to historic tourist spots were akin to driving in an armored tank on Baghdad's road of death.

In Philadelphia, a pair of news helicopters braved treacherous conditions to monitor the enemy on the ground. Soon, editors tracking the story from their cubbies will be filing workers' comp claims asserting exposure to secondhand exhaust fumes from Palin's bus. And I'm counting the minutes until some cub reporter double-parks somewhere in hot pursuit of Team Sarah and demands that she pay his ticket. I mean, how dare Palin "make them follow" her!

As my friend and blogging colleague Doug Powers put it: "Reporters whining about Palin are like kids who can't reach the cookie jar because she keeps moving it."

For more than two years, Palin-bashing journalists (on the establishment left and the right) have mocked the conservative supernova while milking her for headlines, circulation, viewership and Web traffic.

They lambaste her as trivial, while obsessing over her shoes, glasses and hair -- and turning one of her misspelled words on Twitter into Watergate.

They label her a grievance-monger for calling out media double standards and then kvetch, moan and wallow in a pool of self-pity when she doesn't spoon-feed them coveted political scoops.

They call her dumb and then run around in circles trying to figure out her "mystery" tour and blame her for "faking them out."

They blast her for incompetence, but grudgingly acknowledge that she is a master of social media who has changed the rules of the presidential campaign game.

The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta griped that "reality TV star Palin" was "treating pol reporters like paparazzi -- needing and hating, inviting and making chase." Perhaps Franke-Ruta needs a reminder of what a truly parasitic press-pol relationship looks like. I have stacks of Obama 2008 profiles exulting over his glistening pecs and soaring oratorical skills, followed by countless spurned-lover laments from reporters disappointed about the control freaks who stage-manage his every press appearance.

What makes Sarah stand out in the national GOP field is that she is beholden to no one and controls her own destiny. She doesn't need media kingmakers to make her. They need her. She doesn't need newspaper or TV producers to drive her story. She drives them. Crazy.

The unhinged reaction of the Palin-hating convoy reveals what its attendants fear most: a politician who doesn't fear them.

SOURCE

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Hollywood Hates Conservatives

Ben Shapiro

Discrimination is not a pleasant accusation to level at anyone. In particular, conservatives have a tough time stomaching such allegations -- we tend to think that for the most part, people treat each other rationally. After all, that assumption is the foundation of laissez-faire economics, which states that the market will ruthlessly weed out all those who practice non-rationality-based decision-making.
Sometimes, however, discrimination is very real. And in today's America, Hollywood is its epicenter.

There's a reason the product produced by the television industry is overwhelmingly biased to the left: Hollywood generally won't let anybody to the right get a job. As I show in my new book, "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV," Tinseltown is populated almost entirely by liberals who are motivated to use your television to propagandize on behalf of their favorite political causes. No matter what you watch -- "Sesame Street" or "Glee," "Sex and the City" or "Friends" -- television's creators are using your entertainment choices to proselytize you.

If conservatives get in the way -- and they always do -- the left simply cuts them out of the loop.

Just last week, Patricia Heaton, star of "The Middle" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," announced that she knows "for a fact there are some people who have said they wouldn't want to work with [me] because of [my] politics." Heaton told me the same thing a few months back when I interviewed her for "Primetime Propaganda" -- only at the time, she asked me to remove her from the book because she was afraid of losing work. Kelsey Grammer of "Cheers" and "Frasier" agrees that discrimination is a habit in liberal Hollywood. So do Dwight Schultz ("The A-Team"), Gary Graham ("Star Trek: Enterprise"), Evan Sayet (formerly a writer for Bill Maher), Andrew Klavan (author of "True Crime"), Lionel Chetwynd ("The Hanoi Hilton"), Michael Moriarty ("Law & Order"), and dozens of others with whom I spoke.

What's more, Hollywood's top non-conservative names admitted to me that such discrimination takes place on a regular basis. The producer of "Chicago Hope" and "Picket Fences," Michael Nankin, justified discrimination by stating that "scripted television is very liberal ... that's the personality that you need to succeed in that business." Allan Burns, co-creator of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," talked down to conservatives, explaining that artists are "the intellectual community, that's why [they're liberal]." David Shore, creator of "House," admitted that Hollywood was overwhelmingly leftist, and that discrimination happened on a regular basis: "I think people look at [conservatives] somewhat aghast, and I'm sure it doesn't help them," he said. Top executives admitted it. Top producers admitted it. Top writers admitted it.

Some even celebrated it.

Vin Di Bona, producer of "MacGyver" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," told me that the widespread perception of anti-conservative bias in Hollywood was "probably accurate and I'm happy about it, actually. ... If the accusation is there, I'm OK with it." Nicholas Meyer, director of "The Day After," as well as "Star Trek II" and "Star Trek VI," said he hoped conservatives were discriminated against.

The impact in the industry is breathtaking. Conservatives in Hollywood meet in the shadows, afraid to step into the sunlight for fear of being recognized and blacklisted. Liberals feel free to force their politics down the throats of moderate and conservative Americans. Discrimination against some has consequences for all, and discrimination against conservatives in Hollywood is no exception.

Over the coming days and weeks, we're going to be releasing audio of top Hollywood figures admitting to their industry's discriminatory practices. We're going to be releasing tape of them owning up to using their entertainment for propaganda. We are going to force them to recognize that their willingness to discriminate is a symptom of a deeper ill: Their willingness to fight a culture war against non-liberal Americans on a daily basis and to turn our favorite evening activity into "Primetime Propaganda."

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

SCOTUS rejects witchhunt against Bush officials: "The Supreme Court, unanimously throwing out a suit against former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft from someone arrested but never used as a material witness in a terrorism case, has now erected a broad shield protecting the government and Bush administration officials for their conduct in the war on terrorism. ... Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, in a key concurring opinion joined by three liberal justices, said judges should be wary of allowing suits targeting 'national officeholders' working 'in the area of national security.' ... Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the lead opinion, said it did not matter whether Ashcroft was falsely claiming that Kidd and others like him were valuable witnesses."

AZ: Group protests SWAT murder of Tucson Marine: "The death of a former Marine near Tucson continues to stir controversy. A group spent this Memorial Day protesting the SWAT raid which led to his death. Investigation documents reveal officers seized guns, banking documents and other items from the home but did not find drugs or cash. The original search warrants, along with other documents relating to the investigation, remain sealed. ... When they arrived to serve the search warrant, Guerena reportedly grabbed a gun. He didn't aim it at officers but they opened fire, shooting him 60 times. The Pima County Sheriff's Office maintains the officers followed protocol during the raid."

US home prices in double dip: "US house prices are in a double dip that has erased all of their bounce since the recession and threatens to derail a stuttering economic recovery. The S&P/Case-Shiller house price index fell by 4.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, breaking through a 2009 low to hit its weakest level since 2002. Declining house prices may cause households to rein in both consumption and home buying plans, leading to further falls in house prices and overall weakness in the economy. House prices are now 33 per cent below their peak in 2006 – a sharper fall than the 31 per cent drop recorded during the Great Depression, according to analysts at Capital Economics."

Political hacks: "Suppose you’re the owner of a taxicab company in a largish metropolitan area. One day you notice some taxis tooling around town — and they’re not yours. They belong to an upstart competitor. His cars are newer, his drivers are nicer, and his fares are lower. Pretty soon your profits start shrinking. What are you going to do about it? You have a couple of choices. Option A: Invest a lot of money in new vehicles, customer-service training for your drivers, GPS systems to map faster routes and so on. A lot of expense. A lot of effort. So you go for Option B: Invest a little money in a few politicians, who adopt a medallion law: Only licensed operators with city-issued taxi medallions may operate cabs."

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, May 31, 2011

Seductive Beliefs

Thomas Sowell

One of the painfully revealing episodes in Barack Obama's book "Dreams From My Father" describes his early experience listening to a sermon by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Among the things said in that sermon was that "white folks' greed runs a world in need." Obama was literally moved to tears by that sermon.

This sermon may have been like a revelation to Barack Obama but its explanation of economic and other differences was among the oldest-- and most factually discredited-- explanations of such difference among all sorts of peoples in all sorts of places. Yet it is an explanation that has long been politically seductive, in countries around the world.

What could be more emotionally satisfying than seeing others who have done better in the world as the villains responsible for your not having done as well? It is the ideal political explanation, from the standpoint of mass appeal, whether or not it makes any sense otherwise.

That has been the politically preferred explanation for economic differences between the Malay majority and the more prosperous Chinese minority in Malaysia, or between the Gentile majority and the Jewish minority in various countries in Europe between the two World Wars.

At various other times and places, it has been the preferred explanation for the economic differences between the Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, the Africans and the Lebanese in Sierra Leone, the Czechs and the Germans in Bohemia and numerous other groups in countries around the world.

The idea that the rich have gotten rich by making the poor poor has been an ideological theme that has played well in Third World countries, to explain why they lag so far behind the West.

None of this was original with Jeremiah Wright. All he added was his own colorful gutter style of expressing it, which so captivated the man who is now President of the United States.

There is obviously something there with very deep emotional appeal. Moreover, because nothing is easier to find than sins among human beings, there will never be a lack of evil deeds to make that explanation seem plausible.

Because the Western culture has been ascendant in the world in recent centuries, the image of rich white people and poor non-white people has made a deep impression, whether in theories of racial superiority-- which were big among "progressives" in the early 20th century-- or in theories of exploitation among "progressives" later on.

In a wider view of history, however, it becomes clear that, for centuries before the European ascendancy, Europe lagged far behind China in many achievements. Since neither of them changed much genetically between those times and the later rise of Europe, it is hard to reconcile this role reversal with racial theories.

More important, the Chinese were not to blame for Europe's problems-- which would not be solved until the Europeans themselves finally got their own act together, instead of blaming others. If they had listened to people like Jeremiah Wright, Europe might still be in the Dark Ages.

It is hard to reconcile "exploitation" theories with the facts. While there have been conquered peoples made poorer by their conquerors, especially by Spanish conquerors in the Western Hemisphere, in general most poor countries were poor for reasons that existed before the conquerors arrived. Some Third World countries are poorer today than they were when they were ruled by Western countries, generations ago.

False theories are not just an intellectual problem to be discussed around a seminar table in some ivy-covered building. When millions of people believe those theories, including people in high places, with the fate of nations in their hands, that is a serious and potentially disastrous fact of life.

Despite a carefully choreographed image of affability and cool, Barack Obama's decisions and appointments as President betray an alienation from the values and the people of this country that are too disturbing to be answered by showing his birth certificate.

Too many of his appointees exhibit a similar alienation, including Attorney General Eric Holder, under whom the Dept. of Justice could more accurately be described as the Dept. of Payback.

SOURCE

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Mediscare: The Surprising Truth

Republicans are being portrayed as Medicare Grinches, but ObamaCare already has seniors' health care slated for draconian cuts

The Obama administration has repeatedly claimed that the health-reform bill it passed last year improved Medicare's finances. Although you'd never know it from the current state of the Medicare debate—with the Republicans being portrayed as the Medicare Grinches—the claim is true only because ObamaCare explicitly commits to cutting health-care spending for the elderly and the disabled in future years.

Yet almost no one familiar with the numbers thinks that the planned brute-force cuts in Medicare spending are politically feasible. Last August, the Office of the Medicare Actuary predicted that Medicare will be paying doctors less than what Medicaid pays by the end of this decade and, by then, one in seven hospitals will have to leave the Medicare system.

But suppose the law is implemented just as it's written. In that case, according to the Medicare Trustees, Medicare's long-term unfunded liability fell by $53 trillion on the day ObamaCare was signed.

But at what cost to the elderly? Consider people reaching the age of 65 this year. Under the new law, the average amount spent on these enrollees over the remainder of their lives will fall by about $36,000 at today's prices. That sum of money is equivalent to about three years of benefits. For 55-year-olds, the spending decrease is about $62,000—or the equivalent of six years of benefits. For 45-year-olds, the loss is more than $105,000, or nine years of benefits.

In terms of the sheer dollars involved, the law's reduction in future Medicare payments is the equivalent of raising the eligibility age for Medicare to age 68 for today's 65-year-olds, to age 71 for 55-year-olds and to age 74 for 45-year-olds. But rather than keep the system as is and raise the age of eligibility, the reform law instead tries to achieve equivalent savings by paying less to the providers of care.

What does this mean in terms of access to health care? No one knows for sure, but it almost certainly means that seniors will have difficulty finding doctors who will see them and hospitals who will admit them. Once admitted, they will enjoy fewer amenities such as private rooms and probably a lower quality of care as well.

Seniors attend a "Medicare Monday" seminar in Centennial, Co., to learn how federal health care reform will affect Medicare and their personal health insurance plans.
goodman
goodman

Are there better ways of solving the problem? The graph nearby shows three proposals, including the new law, and compares them to the current system. For the past 40 years, real Medicare spending per capita has been growing about two percentage points faster than real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Since real GDP per capita grows at just about 2%, that means Medicare is growing at twice the rate of our economy—and is clearly unsustainable. If nothing is done, we'll see a doubling of the Medicare tax burden in less than 20 years.

There are currently an array of proposals to slow Medicare spending to a rate of GDP growth plus 1%. These include a proposal by President Obama's debt commission, chaired by Bill Clinton's former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, and former Sen. Alan Simpson; one by former Clinton budget director Alice Rivlin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.); and another by former Sen. Pete Domenici and Ms. Rivlin. Unlike the Medicare Trustees, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also scores ObamaCare at GDP plus 1%.

Of greater political interest is the House Republican budget proposal, sponsored by Mr. Ryan. This proposal largely matches the new law's Medicare cuts for the next 10 years and then provides new enrollees with a sum of money to apply to private insurance (premium support). Even though the CBO assumed premium support would increase with consumer prices (price indexing), the resolution that House Republicans actually voted for contains no specific escalation formula. A natural alternative is letting premium support payments grow at the annual rate of increase in per-capita GDP (GDP indexing).

In light of the heated rhetoric of recent days, it is worth noting that for everyone over the age of 55, there is no difference between the amount of money the House Republicans voted to spend on Medicare and the amount that the Democrats who support the health-reform law voted to spend. Even for younger people, the amounts are virtually identical with GDP indexing.

The law's spending path depends on making providers pay for all the future Medicare shortfalls. But since no one can force health-care providers to show up for work, short of a health-care provider draft this reform ultimately cannot succeed. The House Republican path, on the other hand, would make a sum of money available to each senior to choose among competing private plans—much the way Medicare Advantage provides insurance today for about one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries.

That's a good starting point. But we believe that a truly successful overhaul of Medicare will require at least three additional elements.

First, there must be general system reform. You cannot credibly hold senior health-care spending way below everyone else's spending, nor can we make taxpayers pay for all the future elderly's health care. We must create a reform that reduces the rate of growth of health-care costs for everyone—young and old.

The best reform proposal for the non-elderly, interestingly, is a health plan Mr. Ryan has cosponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.). It would give all Americans the same tax relief for health insurance and encourage market forces to constrain costs.

Second, if federal spending is to be contained, young people need to be able to save in tax-free accounts during their working years in order to replace the dollars they will not be getting from Medicare.

Finally, providers need to be able to repackage and reprice their services under Medicare in ways that lower costs and improve quality. Anyone who saves Medicare a dollar should be able to keep 25 cents (or some other significant amount). Once that happens, private-sector innovations will spring up overnight.

SOURCE

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A Time for Truth

My hope for a GOP Presidential candidate next year is of course Sarah Palin but the media appear to have put her offside with centrist voters by misrepresenting her enthusiasm as naivety so we may have to look at other candidates -- JR

"This is a brilliant and passionate book by a brilliant and passionate man. It is a profound analysis of the suicidal course on which our beloved country is proceeding – so clearly and so simply written, with such eloquence, such obvious sincerity, such a broad base in recorded fact and personal experience, that it is hard to see how any reasonable man who wishes his fellow citizens well can fail to be persuaded by it."

The book, about which Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman felt so passionately, was written in 1977. At the time, we were told gas prices would never come down, the American dream was on the decline, unemployment in America would perpetually be at high levels, and big government was the only answer.

The parallels to our current time are striking. The book was William E. Simon's A Time for Truth. In the course of a presidential campaign, getting the message right is one challenge. It's easier than following through with policies that match the rhetoric. But give former Governor Tim Pawlenty credit for having picked a campaign theme that rises to the level of our nation’s challenges: A Time for Truth.

Simon detailed how “irrational edicts” from the federal government "paralyzed and partially destroyed our energy industries, leading to shortages, [and] danger to the welfare of the citizens."

Three decades later, these words still hold true. The election of President Barack Obama saw a rapid increase in regulations and irrational edicts. His overhauls of the financial, energy and health care industries shifted the balance of power toward government and away from the entrepreneurial spirit that Simon advocated and our nation’s founders envisioned.

If any Republican nominee is to succeed, he or she must adopt Simon’s vision. America needs a staunch defender of what our nation’s founders proposed who will continuously speak out against President Obama’s takeover of our country. The need for clarity and conviction cannot be understated either, because there is one profound and frightening difference between Simon’s era and now.

As Simon notes, despite the politics of his era, there was "a substantial awareness in our political leadership that our fiscal and economic policies have gone awry and that the multiple promises of cradle-to-grave security for our citizens can no longer be responsibly expanded."

Now, of course, the Washington Establishment is intent on creating new entitlements (see Obamacare) and centralizing power. The Establishment leads the charge in vilifying any serious attempt to reform the very programs that threaten to bankrupt our country. With government-dependency in America at record levels, the country is at a crossroads.

Simon, reflecting upon his interaction with Soviet officials, explained there was a "deep, unnamable difference between…men who have never known freedom and men who were born free." It was then that Simon "understood down to my very roots how important my liberty was to me." If the government successfully lays the "groundwork for an economic dictatorship," our children and grandchildren will never know the freedoms previous generations took for granted.

Simon concludes “the overriding principle to be revived in American political life is that which sets individual liberty as the highest political value – that value to which all other values are subordinate and that which, at all times, is to be given the highest 'priority' in policy discussions.”

From Simon's book to Pawlenty's campaign, it is indeed a time for truth. And kudos to Tim Pawlenty for taking on some of presidential politics most sacred cows. He deserves credit for his recent speeches in Iowa, Florida, and at the Cato Institute. In Iowa, Pawlenty discussed the need to end ethanol subsidies.

Considering the biofuel industry accounts for nearly one-tenth of Iowa’s economy, this was the opposite of political pandering. Pawlenty spoke in Florida about the need to reform entitlements. In a state with the largest population of senior citizens in the country, and one that plays a significant role in both the Republican primary and general elections, Pawlenty's proclamation defies conventional political wisdom, but rises to the challenges we face.

Last week, at the libertarian Cato Institute, Pawlenty was asked about our nation's defense budget. "I’m not one who is going to stand before you and tell you we should cut the defense budget," Pawlenty said. Good for him. As our military's responsibilities are increasing, it is simultaneously being hollowed out. This is the truth we need to hear.

Pawlenty is coming out of the woodwork as a mild-mannered conservative with clear solutions. He will have to fully develop those solutions and demonstrate his conviction, but at a time where demagoguery and political grandstanding are rampant, a candidate who speaks the blunt-honest truth about the crisis we're in and the tough decisions ahead might be what the country needs. He has plenty of blemishes on his record that will need to be explained, but that is what the next year will be about.

For now, after years of Washington giving easy answers and passing on difficult decisions, it is indeed a time for truth. Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign is off to a great start.

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, May 30, 2011

The Great Disappointment

Dr. Jack Wheeler

Mr. and Mrs. Zero visited Westminster Abbey on their trip to London this week (5/24), and signed the guestbook. Mrs. Zero just signed her name. Mr. Zero wrote a message - "It is a great privilege to commemorate our common heritage, and common sacrifice" - then signed and dated it: 24 May 2008.



Yes, 2008. You can see for yourself. There's no way around it. This is a teachable moment that goes far beyond pointing out what massive ridicule would have befallen George Bush or Sarah Palin had they made such a stupid mistake, yet is ignored and brushed aside by the OPM - Obama Propaganda Media - and the worshippers of the Cult of Zero..

There are two lessons to be taught and learned, one about Zero himself, the other about his followers.

Regarding the first, it is now no longer deniable that the current occupant of the White House is not very bright. There have been too many boneheaded stupidities - "57 states," "Austrian" is a language, on and on. Not knowing what year it is - 2008??? - clinches it.

Yet dumb gaffes only hint at the problem. The stunning ignorance he displayed in demanding Israel return to its 1967 "borders" - he didn't even know they weren't borders but cease-fire lines - is far scarier.

There is simply no evidence that this man is really smart or has any real grasp of history, geography, and the world as it is. It's a myth carefully constructed and maintained by the lib media that he's oh-so-brilliant - which is why he won't permit his college transcripts to be released (Occidental, Harvard, Columbia) because they'd show such mediocre grades.

What the Westminster Abbey guestbook gaffe provides is a marvelous opportunity for any Pub pres-aspirant with the moxie to exploit it.

It is a fabulous visual which anyone can instantly see and laugh at. The aspirant could hold up the photo of it in a campaign television ad, point the goof out and note, "We have a president who does not know what year it is," then ask the viewer:

"Mr. Obama is very skilled at reading a carefully scripted speech off a teleprompter. But his reputation for intelligence may be a myth. Is, for example, the reason he will not allow his college transcripts from Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard because they show him to be a C student with poor grades? My grades from college are available for all to see. I challenge Mr. Obama to do the same." Such an ad by, say, Herman Cain, would go YouTube viral in a New York second.

Thus the first lesson of "24 May 2008" - we need a Republican presidential candidate willing to ridicule Zero.

Every day since January 20, 2009 has brought fresh evidence of Zero's malfeasance, mendacity, and mediocrity. The evidence is by now as massive as Mount Everest, and keeps mounting. The Chicago thug corruption is blatant for all to see - the ZeroCare Waivergate scandal being just one example. There are dozens of others.

As the economy continues to go south, as tens of millions of people remain unemployed, with all of us facing record inflation - especially with food and energy prices - while enduring ever more rules and government intrusion into our lives, the numbers of true believers in the Cult of Zero will steadily dwindle.

And thus we can predict the exact date of The Great Disappointment to be experienced by members of the cult: November 6, 2012.

The prediction is conditional. It is entirely possible that the Republican candidate will be a nebbish afraid to go for Zero's jugular, or allow the Dems to get away with the gigantic nation-wide voter fraud they are planning.

Much more HERE

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Israel: Obama shows once again how little he understands

Where he has failed so dramatically is in the arena he himself has so frequently identified as vital: the search for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. His record of grotesque, humiliating and total diplomatic failure in his dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has few parallels in American history. Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed. This last defeat — Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties — may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla — or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.

The Prime Minister mopped the floor with our guy. Obama made his ’67 speech; Bibi ripped him to shreds. Obama goes to AIPAC, nervous, off-balance, backing and filling. Then Bibi drops the C-Bomb ["City on the Hill", I assume -- JR] demonstrating to the whole world that the Prime Minister of Israel has substantially more support in both the House and the Senate than the President of the United States.

President Obama’s new Middle East policy, intended to liquidate the wreckage resulting from his old policy and get the President somehow onto firmer ground, lies in ruins even before it could be launched. He had dropped the George Mitchell approach, refused to lay out his own set of parameters for settling the conflict, and accepted some important Israeli red lines — but for some reason he chose not to follow through with the logic of these decisions and offer Netanyahu a reset button.

As so often in the past, but catastrophically this time, he found the “sour spot”: the position that angers everyone and pleases none. He moved close enough to the Israelis to infuriate the Palestinians while keeping the Israelis at too great a distance to earn their trust. One can argue (correctly in my view) that US policy must at some level distance itself from the agendas of both parties to help bring peace. But that has to be done carefully, and to make it work one first needs to win their trust. Obama lost the trust of the Israelis early in the administration and never earned it back; he lost the Palestinians when he was unable to deliver Israeli concessions he led them to expect.

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more. The President has significantly less capacity to act than he did a week ago. The Bin Laden dividend, already cruelly diminished by what The Daily Caller said was the administration’s “victory lap in a clown car”, is now history. The GOP, in trouble recently as voters recoil from what many see as Republican extremism on issues like Medicare and public unions, will be able to use the national security card in new and potent ways.

As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.

It means more. The existence of Israel means that the God of the Bible is still watching out for the well-being of the human race. For many American Christians who are nothing like fundamentalists, the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land and their creation of a successful, democratic state after two thousand years of oppression and exile is a clear sign that the religion of the Bible can be trusted.

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God. Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value. Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: “I think it’s clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace.”

President Obama probably understands this intellectually; he understands many things intellectually. But what he can’t seem to do is to incorporate that knowledge into a politically sustainable line of policy. The deep American sense of connection to and, yes, love of Israel limits the flexibility of any administration. Again, the President seems to know that with his head. But he clearly had no idea what he was up against when Bibi Netanyahu came to town.

As a result, he’s taking another ride in the clown car, and this time it isn’t a victory lap.

More HERE

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Obama's Regulatory Reform Sham Continues

President Obama's much-praised efforts at regulatory reform remain a sham. This past week, while the President traveled overseas, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in conjunction with rolled out its review of proposed changes to government regulations.

The reform will affect at least 30 federal agencies and is designed to "always consider costs and ways to reduce burdens for American businesses when developing rules; expand opportunities for public participation and public comment; and ensure that regulations are driven by real science." An elegant White House web page, accompanied by an online, explanatory video, supported by an in-person appearances from OMB Director Jacob Lew and Cass Sunstein, and countless, premature victory laps around Washington cannot disguise the emptiness of many of the proposed reforms. For, what has been released is just the plan for the plan.

According to the hype, after 120 days of effort, federal agencies have come forward with "groundbreaking" ideas--not for ways to cut costs to taxpayers by reducing regulations--but with ideas on how to generate ideas on how to implement potential regulatory review and reform.

What a lot of hullabaloo about something that hasn't happened, and which, if the timelines identified in the 30 agency plans are anything to go by, will not happen until 2012--long after the current debt ceiling has exploded and too late to provide significant contributions to the federal budget and deficit debate.

Any talk from Sunstein about billions in savings is premature at best and possibly constitutes a deliberate attempt at fraud since changes will be proposed to be implemented in 2012 or later--so that it will be difficult to measure accountability and results until long after the November 2012 presidential election.

Reading some of the agency plans housed on the White House website shows that much of what the White House is calling an "unprecedented, government-wide review" is little more than a rehash of policies, planning and strategies proposed during the Clinton and Bush Administrations. Many of those actions, which were identified by Obama's predecessors, have been left languishing during the Obama Administration because they called for tough actions.

Every time it seems is if the Obama Administration cannot sink any lower in its efforts to deceive the American taxpayer, the limbo stick comes out, and Americans get to see, once again, just how low the Obama Administration can go. Team Obama's Regulations Review seems to be a colossal fraud, during the course of which, agencies are actually increasing the regulations affecting individuals and businesses.

The Regulations Review process is adding to the size of government by creating new review committees, adding to the cost of government because none of these review bodies operate free of cost, and Sunstein and his team seem to be banking on the fact that few will read the hollow reports, so that the Obama Administration can present their "savings" howsoever they choose.

Then there is the issue of transparency. For example, the Department of Education's report along with 29 others listed on the White House site can only be commented on by providing personal Facebook information, thus eliminating commenter anonymity, which will certainly affect the content of the feedback, and forcing non-Facebook users to search for alternative means to provide comments to the Obama Administration.

In another example, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) report of regulatory reform spends almost approximately 9 pages of its 12-page report discussing the plan for the plan and spends less than three pages listing recommended regulations considered for regulatory reform. Of the five reforms listed, three of the five comprise regulation reforms were begun and completed during the Bush Administration.

One of the recommendations (#4, p.10) a review of the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) pricing clause was an idea conceived, a Blue ribbon commission formed and funded and with findings completed during the previous Administration. These findings from the independent commission have been waiting for the current GSA Administrator to act upon for the past two years.

Instead, at no small expense to the American taxpayer, the current team at GSA seems to be saying: let's just kick that can down the road because confronting the challenges of this out-of-date, ineffective rule is just too scary. So, in this plan for the plan, the current team at GSA promises to look at the pricing clause problem with a date uncertain in 2012 for possible resolution. In the case of GSA's blatant misrepresentation, claiming credit for proposing new and "unprecedented" regulatory reform reviews based partly on a recommendation that the Obama Team will launch the Pricing Clause review is nothing other than a fraud, and an easily exposed one at that.

By contrast, the Department of Education report and the Department of Homeland Security report identify in their reports that much of the to-be-discussed regulatory reform was initiated during the Bush Administration.

For the Obama Administration to claim that the Regulatory Review chicanery comprises a "defining moment" is an insult to the American taxpayer who has to foot the bill, and the folks in government who have put their names on these reports should be ashamed.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Democrats afraid to propose a Budget: "Let's see it," a frustrated Sen. Jeff Sessions said on the Senate floor recently. "Let's bring it forward." By "it," Sessions meant a Democratic proposal for a 2012 federal budget. In recent days, Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, has been asking, pushing, pleading, cajoling and begging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to put forward a Democratic plan. So far, Reid has steadfastly refused. Passing a yearly budget for the federal government is a fundamental responsibility of Congress. Lawmakers do not have to spend their time naming post offices or passing healthcare reform. But they do have to pass a budget. In 2010, neither the House nor the Senate did so."

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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