Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Expanding Catalogue of Obamacare Fables

Michelle Malkin

Is there a health insurance horror story disseminated by the White House and its allies that ever turned out to be true? Obamacare advocates have exercised more artistic license than a convention of Photoshoppers. Now, a prominent sob story shilled by President Obama himself about his own mother is in doubt. It's high past time to call their bluffs.

The tall-tale-teller-in-chief cited mom Stanley Ann Dunham's deathbed fight with her insurer several times over the years to support his successful push to ban pre-existing condition exclusions by insurers. In a typical recounting, Obama shared his personalized trauma during a 2008 debate: "For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that."

But there was something fundamentally wrong with Obama's story. In a recently published biography of Obama's mother, author and New York Times reporter Janny Scott discovered that Dunham's health insurer had in fact reimbursed her medical expenses with nary an objection. The actual coverage dispute centered on a separate disability insurance policy.

Channeling document forger Dan Rather's "fake, but accurate" defense, a White House spokesman insisted to the Times that the anecdote somehow still "speaks powerfully to the impact of pre-existing condition limits on insurance protection from health care costs" -- even though Dunham's primary health insurer did everything it was supposed to do and met all its contractual obligations.

No matter. Expanding government control over health care means never having to say you're sorry for impugning private insurers. Democrats have dragged every available human shield into the contentious debate over Obama's federal takeover of health care. Personal anecdotes of dying family members battling evil insurance execs deflect attention from the cost, constitutionality and liberty-curtailing consequences of the law. The president's Dunham sham-ecdote is just the latest entry in an ever-expanding catalogue of Obamacare fables:

-- Otto Raddatz. In 2009, Obama publicized the plight of this Illinois cancer patient, who supposedly died after he was dropped from his Fortis/Assurant Health insurance plan when his insurer discovered an unreported gallstone the patient hadn't known about. The truth? He got the treatment he needed in 2005 and lived for nearly four more years.

-- Robin Beaton. Also in 2009, Obama claimed Beaton -- a breast cancer patient -- lost her insurance after "she forgot to declare a case of acne." In fact, she failed to disclose a previous heart condition and did not list her weight accurately, but had her insurance restored anyway after intense public lobbying.

-- John Brodniak. A 23-year-old unemployed Oregon sawmill worker, Brodniak's health woes were spotlighted by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof as a textbook argument for Obamacare. Brodniak was reportedly diagnosed with cavernous hemangioma, a neurological condition, and was allegedly turned away by emergency room doctors. Kristof called the case "monstrous" and decried opponents of Democrats' health care proposals as heartless murderers. The truth? Brodniak not only had coverage through Oregon's Medicaid program, but was also a neurology patient at the prestigious Oregon Health and Science University in Portland (a safety-net institution that accepts all Medicaid patients). Kristof never retracted the legend.

-- Marcelas Owens. An 11-year-old boy from Seattle, Owens took a coveted spot next to the president in March 2010 when Obamacare was signed into law. Owens' 27-year-old mother, Tiffany, died of pulmonary hypertension. The family said the single mother of three lost her job as a fast-food manager and lost her insurance. She died in 2007 after receiving emergency care and treatment throughout her illness. Progressive groups (for whom Marcelas' relatives worked) dubbed Marcelas an "insurance abuse survivor." But there wasn't a shred of evidence that any insurer had "abused" the boy or his mom. Further, Washington State already offered a plethora of existing government assistance programs to laid-off and unemployed workers like Marcelas' mom. The family and its p.r. agents never explained why she didn't enroll.

-- Natoma Canfield. The White House made the Ohio cancer patient a poster child for Obamacare in 2010 after she wrote a letter complaining about skyrocketing premiums and the prospect of losing her home. After Obama gave Canfield a shout-out at a health care rally in Strongsville, Ohio, and promised to control costs, officials at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, which is treating her, made clear that they would "not put a lien on her home" and that she was eligible for a wide variety of state aid and private charity care.

Since Obamacare passed, the amount workers pay in health care premiums has soared an average of nearly 14 percent; thousands of businesses have sought waivers in search of relief from the law's onerous mandates; medical device makers have slashed jobs and research; and the private individual health insurance market is in critical condition. Post-Obamacare truth is bloodier than pro-Obamacare fiction.

SOURCE

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The One Becomes The Jerk

Obama finally solved the budget crisis the White House really cares about yesterday when he announced that he hauled in $86 million in campaign contributions for the three months ended June 30th.

The budget crisis facing the rest of us? Obama’s really mad at the rest of us because we are all acting very immaturely by withholding a blank check for the bills he’s run up.

The White House reacted to the breakdown in budget talks at the White House yesterday in characteristically ironic fashion: They scolded Republican Whip Eric Cantor’s “juvenile behavior” after Obama stormed out of debt negotiations, saying that Cantor must "let the grown-ups get to work."

Earlier this week the Leave-it-to-Beaver president told us all we’d have to “eat our peas,” like good children, when the GOP didn’t cave in by giving him his most cherished goal: tax increases and more tax increases.

Clearly the GOP hates Santa Claus, puppies, nuns, children, all animals you can’t eat, flowers and clean running water.

Word from the White House is that Obama’s considering grounding us all and taking away our cell phones for a year to force the GOP back to the negotiating table.

If that doesn’t work, Obama has vowed that “he’ll turn this economy right around” if we don’t start sitting up straight.

“When President Obama took an active role in the talks aimed at addressing the nation’s debt ceiling, the tone he used to describe the closed-door negotiations…was a marked departure from his campaign theme of Hope and Change,” writes Steve Berglas on Forbes blog.

“Now, since realizing that the buck stops on his desk, he is chiding, critical, and quite pessimistic. Obama’s once wildly optimistic promises have been replaced by threats…. His first order of business…was to reprimand Democrats and Republicans as though they were behaving like unruly, obstreperous children, in not agreeing to a plan that would put us deeper in debt.”

Word to the O’man:

It’s one thing to try to act like an adult in the room, but when you try to act like the only adult in the room by holding your breath and stomping your feet, your cover’s been blown.

To be the kind of Eddie Haskell jerk that Mark Halperin describes Obama to be would be a big step up from the petulant, childish, temper-prone jackass he’s acted like since he became the One.

Maybe he was that way before too. He probably was, even before the mass idolatry subsumed what was left of his fragile ego that gets snappish with reporters.

But none of that should really surprise us after he literally and deliberately gave Hillary Clinton the finger in public during the presidential primary. No other American political figure has ever been granted the type of exemptions from right behavior as Obama has, not even Bill Clinton.

Even Clinton’s supporters deplored his actions. Obama’s supporters just encourage him in his finger waving.

For a long time, people, especially the press- after all, they are people too, mostly- have looked at Mr. Cool as remote, often standoffish and arrogant.

But perhaps there is another explanation for his behavior.

Karl Rove tried to explain it to us back in 2008, but he narrowly missed it.

"Even if you never met him, you know this guy," Rove said, per Christianne Klein of ABC News. "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."

No; he’s not that guy exactly. He’s that guy’s son.

SOURCE

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Background to David Mamet's Conversion

Hollywood mocks capitalism, which seems odd because the people who make movies are such aggressive capitalists -- competing hard to make money. But Hollywood's message is that capitalism is shallow and cruel.

Take the 1992 movie "Glengarry Glen Ross" (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play). It's about cutthroat real estate salesmen who work for a heartless company. It was written by the celebrated playwright David Mamet, author of "American Buffalo," "Spanish Prisoner," and more than 50 other plays and movies.

I assumed that Mamet was another garden-variety Hollywood lefty, but then a few years ago, I was surprised to see an article he wrote titled, "Why I'm No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." Now he's followed up with a book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture."

I asked Mamet what turned a "Hollywood liberal" into a conservative. Was he a brain-dead liberal? The newspaper, not Mamet, put that headline on his article. "I referred to myself as one," Mamet told me. "Political decisions I made were foolish." Foolish because he wasn't really thinking, he said. Since everybody around him was liberal, he just went along.

What changed? "I met a couple conservatives, and I realized I never met any conservatives in my life. ... (O)ne started sending me books. His books ... made more sense than my books." Mamet was suddenly exposed to ideas he had never encountered before.

"Shelby Steele's 'White Guilt,'" he said, "led me to the works of Tom Sowell and through them (F.A.) Hayek and Milton Friedman." Two things hit him especially hard: the benefits of economic competition and the limits of leaders' ability to plan society.

"If you stop licensing taxi cabs, tomorrow you will see guys and women on every street corner saying, 'Who wants to go to XYZ address?' (The cabbie) will put five people in the car and drive them to that address. ... When the guy drops them off, if he's smart, he'll say: 'Tomorrow -- same thing, right? What do you guys want to drink for breakfast?' There will be cappuccino and ice tea and glass of milk. After X months, he will have three cars; after X months, he will have a fleet. And everyone will be competing to meet the needs of the commuters, which also is going to reduce traffic. Why are they allowed to compete? Because the government got the hell out of the business."

Mamet also read Hayek's last book, "The Fatal Conceit."

"What Hayek is talking about is that we have to have a constrained vision of the universe. The unconstrained vision, the liberal vision, is that everything can be done, everything is accomplishable," he said. "We don't have the knowledge. ... There is only so much that government can do. ... It would be nice if giving all of our money to the government could cure poverty. Maybe, but giving money to the government causes slavery."

For Hayek, the "fatal conceit" is the premise that politicians and bureaucrats can make the world better -- not by leaving people free to coordinate their private individual plans in the marketplace -- but by overall social and economic planning.

Imagine trying to plan an economy, Mamet said, when we barely know enough to raise our kids. "(T)he guy in government can't know everything."

As you can imagine, when Mamet went public, he bewildered many of his showbiz peers. A Los Angeles Times critic called his book "a children's crusade with no understanding of real politics." The Nation called Mamet a "great playwright, (but a) moronic political observer."

Mamet said to his wife: 'Isn't it funny? ... The New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record that has been reviewing my plays for 40 years, isn't even going to review this book.' "She says: 'Dave, grow up. The purpose of all newspapers is political."

Maybe the Times thinks it's insignificant that a celebrated cultural "liberal" now questions his faith in the supposed healing power of government. But as we sit mired in this endless jobless "recovery," with the wreckage of government failure all around, we should ask ourselves which one is out of touch with reality.

SOURCE

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The Great Reawakening

What started as a murmur has become a media refrain: “America is in decline.” Stated euphemistically the twenty-first century will not be an American century. Based on a dispassionate analysis of conditions at the moment, this sentiment seems accurate. Debt is crushing the American economy. Unemployment is steady at near double digits. And a mood of despair has captured the national capital.

But the Cassandras in our midst invariably overlook national resilience, the ability of Americans to rise to the occasion especially when conditions are most bleak. One such American is U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, a man who looks squarely at our problems and sees solutions.

In his new book, The Great American Awakening: Two Years That Changed My America, Washington and Me, DeMint points to the grass roots movement across the nation to reclaim our principles. Tea Partiers are on the march. Despite various media efforts to besmirch this homegrown movement, these average men and women are eager to restore fiscal sanity to the nation and in the process restore hope for our children and grandchildren.

Senator DeMint explains how this movement captured him and changed the dialogue in Washington. On one occasion speaking in California, DeMint had an epiphany. Even in a state suffering from insolvency, there is hope inspired by young people viscerally opposed to the intrusiveness of big government. Reading about Ronald Reagan DeMint notes, “The longer I live, the more I believe there are no great men, only average men who occasionally do great things.” Indeed it is these average men who influenced Senator DeMint.

Of course, there are detractors, those who are committed to the status quo. When the number of state employees increases geometrically and when 49 percent of Americans do not pay personal income tax, there is a constituency that believes government should be large and taxes high. But sensible people realize this arrangement is not sustainable.

If the United States is to remain a world power offering unprecedented liberty to its citizens, responsible financial measures must be taken. Tea Partiers get it and, after the experience Senator DeMint has had over the last two years, he gets it. The task ahead for conservatives is “to restore the Republican Party to its core principles” and “reearn the trust of the American people.” This mission is the partisan stance for national restoration. And if this book is any indication Senator DeMint is unquestionably in a leadership position.

More HERE

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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, July 15, 2011

A recovering Obama voter



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America's Leftist destruction machine grinds on regardless

The Justice Department is now extorting multimillion dollar settlements from banks, by accusing them of racial discrimination because they use traditional, non-racist lending criteria that minority borrowers are, on average, less likely to satisfy, such as having a high credit score, or being able to afford a substantial downpayment. Its Civil Rights Division chief, Tom Perez, “has compared bankers to Klansmen.” The “only difference, he says, is bankers discriminate ‘with a smile’ and ‘fine print,’” calling their lending criteria “every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood.”

As Investor’s Business Daily notes in “DOJ Begins Bank Witch Hunt”:
In what could be a repeat of the easy-lending cycle that led to the housing crisis, the Justice Department has asked several banks to relax their mortgage underwriting standards and approve loans for minorities with poor credit as part of a new crackdown on alleged discrimination, according to court documents reviewed by IBD.

Prosecutions have already generated more than $20 million in loan set-asides and other subsidies from banks that have settled out of court rather than battle the federal government and risk being branded racist. An additional 60 banks are under investigation, a DOJ spokeswoman says. Settlements include setting aside prime-rate mortgages for low-income blacks and Hispanics with blemished credit and even counting “public assistance” as valid income in mortgage applications.

In several cases, the government has ordered bank defendants to post in all their branches and marketing materials a notice informing minority customers that they cannot be turned down for credit because they receive public aid, such as unemployment benefits, welfare payments or food stamps. Among other remedies: favorable interest rates and down-payment assistance for minority borrowers with weak credit. . .

Such efforts risk recreating the government-imposed lax underwriting that led to the housing boom and bust, critics fear. “It’s absolutely outrageous after what we’ve just gone through,” said former Rep. Ernest Istook, a Heritage Foundation fellow. “How can someone both be financially stable enough to merit a mortgage at the same time they’re on public assistance? By definition, you don’t have the kind of employment that can support such a loan.”...

In the new prosecutions, Justice acknowledges in every case it did not prove charges of intentional discrimination, while banks have denied any wrongdoing. Many, in fact, earned outstanding ratings from anti-redlining regulators enforcing the Community Reinvestment Act. Istook calls Holder’s crusade an “egregious overreach by the government.” He says many of the targets are smaller banks without the resources to fight a protracted legal battle. . .

As part of settlement deals, prosecutors have required banks to sign “nondisclosure agreements” barring them from talking about the methods used to allege discrimination. Bank lawyers contend the prosecutors are trying to hide the shaky legal grounds on which the cases are built. “It’s horrible what they’re doing at the civil rights division,” said Reginald Brown, a partner at Wilmer Hale in Washington, who has represented banks in connection to recent race-bias investigations. “They don’t have any proof, just theories.”

He added, “They want you to sign something saying you agree, under the condition of any settlement with them, that you won’t disclose what their theories were. That’s because their theories are loopy and wouldn’t stand the light of day.” One such theory — “disparate impact” — holds that merely a difference in loan application outcomes is enough to prove racial discrimination — even if no intent exists on the part of loan officers to contrast based on the color of applicants, and even legitimate business factors — such as credit scores and down payments — help explain disparities in loan outcomes between white and black applicants.

We wrote earlier about how the Obama administration is supporting lawsuits based on a “disparate impact” theory even in circumstances when the Supreme Court has said that the theory cannot be used, using such lawsuits to pay off liberal special-interest groups and trial lawyers with millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

The Investor’s Business Daily story illustrates two outcomes of this pressure to avoid “disparate impact”: lenders will make loans to people with bad credit — increasing future default rates and harming banks’ ability to stay afloat — and will make loans to minorities on preferential terms, engaging in racial discrimination.

Such lower lending standards can have disastrous results. A recent book co-authored by The New York Times‘ Gretchen Morgenson chronicles how federally-promoted lower lending standards spawned the financial crisis, and put minority borrowers into homes they could not afford.
“This is a story, the authors say, ‘of what happens when Washington decides, in its infinite wisdom, that every living, breathing citizen should own a home.’ Encouraged by politicians to expand home lending—not least to minorities and to households with few assets—[government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae] ignored reasonable standards of underwriting and piled up fugitive profits almost as fast as it increased risk to taxpayers.

The disaster is now measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars. As for the borrowers who were supposedly to benefit from Fannie’s mortgage-industrial complex, Ms. Morgenson and Mr. Rosner write that home ownership ‘put them squarely on the road to personal and financial ruin.’”

Banks and mortgage companies have long been under pressure from lawmakers and regulators to give loans to people with bad credit, in order to provide “affordable housing” and promote “diversity.” That played a key role in triggering the mortgage crisis, judging from a story in the New York Times. For example, “a high-ranking Democrat telephoned executives and screamed at them to purchase more loans from low-income borrowers, according to a Congressional source.”

The executives of government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “eventually yielded to those pressures, effectively wagering that if things got too bad, the government would bail them out.”

Clinton-era affordable housing mandates were a key reason for the risky lending. A recent study by Peter Wallison, who had prophetically warned about Fannie and Freddie, found that two-thirds of all bad mortgages were either “bought by government agencies or required to be bought by private companies under government pressure,” a finding echoed by other recent studies.

Another law designed to prod banks to make loans in low-income communities, the Community Reinvestment Act, also contributed to the financial crisis, say the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, bankers, and economists. Yet Obama has sought to expand its reach.

But there is another way for banks to eliminate such perceived racial “disparities”: Refusing to make loans to whites who would otherwise receive them, curtailing the flow of available credit. Given a choice between making bad loans to minorities, and refusing to make a few good loans to whites, a bank may choose the latter, since profit on a good loan is smaller than the loss on a defaulted loan. This, too, causes economic harm.

Cutting off the flow of credit to businesses can deprive them of capital needed to operate and expand, causing a recession and mass unemployment. For example, the Roosevelt Recession of 1937 is linked by some economists to the Federal Reserve’s increase in reserve requirements, which left banks with less money to lend, causing a contraction in the money supply and drying up the flow of credit for businesses that otherwise would have employed people.

(That recession was also the product of Supreme Court rulings that upheld anti-business measures passed during the New Deal, like the National Labor Relations Act, which had previously been struck down by lower courts, but which the Supreme Court upheld beginning in 1937 in cases like NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.)

Unemployment is already very high, thanks to Obama administration policies.

SOURCE

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Close the door on public-sector unions

by Jeff Jacoby

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNMENT is almost a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, so there was no chance that a law limiting collective bargaining for municipal employees would resemble the recent laws passed in Wisconsin and Ohio. The measure approved this week by Governor Deval Patrick and the state Legislature will hold down the cost of providing health benefits to teachers, firefighters, and other local workers by modestly curbing their unions' right to veto changes to employee health plans. For the ultrablue Bay State, that was a notable accomplishment. But it was hardly the "Union Busting, Massachusetts Style," that a Wall Street Journal headline hopefully predicted back in April.

The new laws in Wisconsin and Ohio prohibit collective bargaining over public-sector pensions and health benefits, and allow government employees to opt out of paying any union dues or fees. The Wisconsin law requires annual re-certification of all public employee unions; in Ohio, negotiated wage increases will have to be approved by voters if they would result in higher taxes. Nothing that sweeping was ever on the table in Massachusetts. Government unions may no longer have quite as much clout on Beacon Hill as they used to, but they still have enough to make Democrats think twice about confronting them.

No surprise, then, that the collective bargaining changes ultimately adopted were watered down significantly from the version approved by the state House of Representatives in April. That House vote reflected public sentiment -- a majority of Massachusetts voters believe government unions have too much power -- but in the face of union outrage, policymakers quickly promised to protect the unions' "seat at the table" and "meaningful voice" in setting health benefits for government employees. In April, the head of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO vowed to "fight this thing to the bitter end." This week, he happily acknowledged that the final language preserved "all we ever wanted, [which] was to have a voice."

That's too bad. Ensuring a "voice" for organized labor in government policymaking may sound reasonable, especially when those policies affect government workers. But collective bargaining in the public sector is in reality not reasonable at all. It is emphatically not like bargaining in the private sector, where unions representing labor contend with management representing owners for a share of the profits that labor helps create.

In the public sector, there are no profits to share. There are only taxpayers' dollars, which neither government employees nor government managers create. As for the taxpayers who do create those dollars, they have no seat at the table when public unions negotiate over wages and benefits. Instead, government sits on both sides, negotiating with itself over how to spend the people's money.

So unlike their counterparts in the private sector, public-sector unions are rarely constrained by market forces. There are limits to the wages and benefits that labor can demand from private employers. Corporations have to make a profit to stay alive, and both sides know that if costs rise too high, the results may be lost sales, eliminated jobs, or -- if worse comes to worst -- bankruptcy. Consequently, union negotiators cannot insist on the moon, and corporate managers dare not lose sight of the company's bottom line.

But that check and balance doesn't exist in public-sector collective bargaining. Teachers' or firefighters' or library workers' unions don't have to worry about jeopardizing the government's profits or driving away its customers: Government agencies can't go bankrupt, and their "customers" can't switch to a cheaper brand. So why not insist on the moon? Especially when the government managers on the other side of the table generally have little incentive to keep costs down. After all, if the pay, perks, and pensions of public workers send budgets through the roof, what choice do taxpayers have but to foot the bill?

At bottom, collective bargaining in the public sector is profoundly antidemocratic: It denies voters final say over the public policies they must live under, by forcing their elected representatives to shape those policies in concert with unions. In effect, it transfers to union officials -- interested parties not chosen by the people -- decision-making authority that they have no legitimate right to. That is why until just a few decades ago, it was universally understood that collective bargaining was incompatible with government employment.

Gradually it is becoming clear that throwing the door open to public-sector unions was a serious and costly mistake. It will take years to undo that mistake, but the process has begun. Even, if ever so slowly, in Massachusetts.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Bush years imposed crushing regulatory burdens: "Among the biggest lies told by liberals over the past few years is that the administration of President George W. Bush was some sort of deregulatory cascade, where rule after rule was rolled back, putting the public in more and more danger. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bush years saw a massive bloating of the regulatory state, with more and more rules being issued by an out-of-control executive branch that didn't seem to care what it's only elected member thought about it."

TSA: Too Stupid for America: "Or maybe it stands for "Thousands Standing Around." Under the guise of making us safer, government has greatly expanded its role in airport security. But according a report released today, we're not very much safer. Since November 2001, there have been 25,000 security breaches in our nation's airports. And these are just the breaches that we know about. A few days ago, a man managed to fly from Boston to Newark with a stun gun. Like most failed government programs, many people think that the solution is to throw more money at the problem, even though the first version of the TSA spent far more than the private screeners they replaced, and since then the TSA's budget has increased from $4.7 billion in 2002 to $7.8 billion in 2011."

Fueling freedom: "Cries of outrage reverberated across the country when House Republicans, led by Rep. John Mica of Florida, chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, proposed a 30 percent reduction in federal surface-transportation spending. Never mind that all Mr. Mica's plan does is limit spending to no more than the gas taxes and other highway user fees that fund federal surface-transportation programs. Still, cyclists and transit advocates are having hissy fits because Republicans would reduce subsidies to their favored forms of travel — subsidies paid, for the most part, by people who rarely ride a bike or use transit."

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, July 14, 2011

US too dumb to know Obama is always right

"Mussolini is always right" was a popular slogan in Fascist Italy -- JR

When President Obama started talking at his news conference Monday, I listened intently for 15 minutes or so. Then I got fidgety as his half-truths about the debt grew into full-blown whoppers. As he droned on, I did something I never did before during an Obama appearance: I turned off the TV.

Enough. He is the Man Who Won't Listen to Anybody, so why should anybody listen to him? Tuning out and turning off the president does not fill me with gladness. He cannot be ignored. But for now, I will leave that unhappy duty to others. I am tired of Barack Obama. There's nothing new there. His speeches are like "Groundhog Day."

His presidency is a spectacular failure, his historic mandate squandered by adherence to leftist ideology and relentless partisanship. His policies are crushing the prospects for growth and dooming the hopes of 24 million Americans who are unemployed or working part-time. Yet he is not going to change. He listens only to his own voice, which is why he has lost virtually his entire economic team.

The biggest media myth is that he is a centrist. Oh, please. It's a theory without evidence, for there is not a single example on domestic issues where he voluntarily staked out a spot in the American middle.

Sure, on occasion, Obama will be to the right of the far, far left, but that is not the center. That just means he's not Michael Moore. Nor is he a centrist because he'll make a deal under duress with Republicans, as he did last December. All politicians have a pragmatic streak, otherwise they couldn't get anything done in a divided government.

But Obama's default statist position remains unmolested by facts or last year's landslide that was a rebuke to his first two years. He continues to push bigger and bigger government, higher and higher taxes and more and more welfare programs. He will compromise if he must, but he still wants what he wants and will come back for it again and again.

That's the subtext of the debt-ceiling talks and his press conference. He voted against raising the ceiling as a senator, calling the need for an increase a "failure."

Now he is not embarrassed to demand a hike of about $2.5 trillion, and more hair of the spending-and-taxing dog. He reveals his belief that your money is really the government's and it will decide how much you can keep. The only cut he is comfortable with is in the defense budget.

He says it's time to "pull off the Band-Aid" and "eat our peas." Translation: It's time for Republicans to give him everything he wants. That's his definition of being an adult and acting in the national interest.

His only concession to public will is to pretend he's got religion about the fiscal problems and wants a "big deal." What he really wants is to get through the election.

In answering a question about a poll showing that two-thirds of voters don't want the debt ceiling raised, he blew off 70 million Americans by saying they aren't paying attention.

There's a novel campaign theme: Elect me because you're too dumb to understand how smart I am. Harry Truman ran against a "Do-Nothing" Congress. Obama is running against a "Know-Nothing" nation.

He can never be wrong. You always are, unless you agree with him. That's the story of his presidency. That's who he is.

SOURCE

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Don't Compromise On Taxes

In discussing the debt talks Monday, President Obama repeatedly stressed the need for "compromise." Funny, since it's his refusal to budge on his big-government vision that caused the talks to break down.

Republicans seemed warily confident that they might get a deal over the weekend on cutting future spending without raising taxes — a deal that would likely lead to smaller future deficits, the possibility of badly needed tax reforms and the resumption of economic and jobs growth.

No such luck. Not only did Obama not really put any specific major cuts on the table, he reportedly surprised negotiators by asking them to agree to a "balanced approach" to deficit-cutting by including a job-killing $1.7 trillion in potential new tax hikes.

This is part of a "Grand Bargain" to cut deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years in exchange for Republicans agreeing to raise the debt ceiling from the $14.3 trillion. But what kind of "bargain" contains $1.7 trillion in tax hikes plus at least $500 billion in new taxes to pay for ObamaCare?

Even the Associated Press notes that, while Obama talks a lot about taxing the rich, "proposals under consideration include raising taxes on small business owners and potentially low- and middle-income families."

As a new Heritage Foundation study shows, the government's tax take under Obama's current budget plans,will "increase rapidly" from its long-term average of about 18% of GDP to a ruinous 26% of GDP in coming decades. That's why he seemed desperate, saying we need to "tear the Band-Aid" off and "eat our peas" to get a deal done by Aug. 2, the phony deadline established by Democrats for fiscal Armageddon.

Sorry, but contrary to the White House's assertions, this is not a "balanced approach." Nor is it a "compromise." It's just more of the same.

During the press conference Monday in which he made his case for "revenue increases" — that is, tax hikes — in deficit talks, Obama suggested why: He wants to spend even more in the future.

He's not shy about airing his many ideas for this, among them what he calls "investments" in Head Start and student loan programs, more government funding of medical research, and even an "infrastructure bank."

Such programs aren't possible, Obama said, "if we haven't gotten our fiscal house in order."

This almost defies belief. This is how we got into the problem in the first place. Too much government, too much spending, too many regulations, too many taxes.

Is Obama really that out of touch with Americans? It seems so. In the latest IBD/TIPP Poll completed Sunday night, our proprietary Confidence in Federal Economic Policies Index plunged 13.2% to 33.4 — only the third time this gauge has been below 35 since its inception. The last was during the 2008 financial meltdown.

Our poll also shows that a solid 58% majority do not want the debt ceiling raised at all. Americans want their bloated federal government to cut both spending and deficits. This is far closer to the GOP's position than the Democrats'. So who really needs to "compromise"?

SOURCE

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Washington gets $200 billion a month, Social Security costs $50 billion a month, and Obama is threatening to starve Grandma?

President Obama told CBS News today that he "cannot guarantee that those [Social Security] checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

But wait just a minute. If Washington receives about $200 billion in monthly revenues and sends out roughly $50 billion worth of Social Security checks and the same amount of Medicare payments, why is Obama claiming the checks may not go out?

Isn't $200 billion minus $100 billion still $100 billion?

Because Obama is playing the demogogue, that's why. Pure and simple. He is trying to scare seniors into making panicked calls to their congressmen begging them to do whatever Obama and the Democrats want in order to keep the checks coming.

This is demogoguery of the worst sort because Obama has to know that what he is saying is false. When you and I say something we know to be false, it's called a "lie."

Clearly, it is of no matter to Obama that hiking taxes and raising the national debt limit very likely will keep millions of Americans unemployed and hobble the economy for years to come. All he has to do is scare enough voters long enough to get through the November 2012 election to get himself re-elected.

Here are the facts, as reported by MarketWatch and the Bipartisan Policy Center. You do the math:

* The federal government receives approximately $200 billion in revenues each month.

* Interest on the national debt in August will be approximately $29 billion.

* Social Security will cost about $49. 2 billion.

* Medicare and Medicaid will cost about $50 billion.

* Active duty military pay will cost about $2.9 billion.

* Veterans affairs programs will cost about $2.9 billion.

If you've been punching buttons on your calculator, you know that still leaves $39 billion each month. This is where Obama and the Democrats most fear to go. If Congress doesn't agree to raise taxes and the national debt limit, they will then have to make the tough choices about which of the remaining programs gets paid or cut and by how much:

* Defense vendors

* IRS refunds

* Food stamps and welfare

* Unemployment benefits

* Department of Education

* Department of Housing and Urban Development

* Department of Justice, etc. etc.

In sum, federal spending would have to be cut about 44 percent. For more on this, go here and here.

So the next time you hear Obama, or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, or Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, or any of the multiple Democratic echo chambers in the liberal mainstream media, remember - what they are saying is pure demogoguery.

SOURCE

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Constitutionalists, or Kooks?

One is reluctant to call any tactic in the liberal playbook new, but the latest salvo against conservatives and Tea Partiers could surely qualify as bizarre.

A liberal friend recently remarked that politicians who advertise their affection for the Constitution clearly don’t have the people’s best interests at heart. Ouch! And remember the outcry when the Constitution was read aloud at the convening of Congress earlier this year? Joy Behar of The View wondered if this Constitution-loving was not getting out of hand.

It appears that any citizen who calls himself a Constitutionalist or Constitutional Conservative will be relegated to the fringes of American thought, no less a nut job than a John Bircher. How long before weak-kneed Republicans assure polite society that, “I don’t buy all that Founding Fathers/limited government nonsense”?

According to enlightened thought, the right-wing’s hidden agenda typically consists of theocracy and a roll-back of 100 years of social progress. According to NewsCorpse.com “Tea Baggers are quick to gush their reverence to the original intent of the Constitution — slavery, sexism, and all”. A 2011 Newsweek piece entitled “How Tea Partiers Get the Constitution Wrong” quotes Thomas Jefferson, mocking men who “look to constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the Arc of the Covenant”.

So, not only do “Tea Baggers” and conservatives use the Constitution as a disguise for their sinister agendas, they really don’t understand it, either. True, many Americans, this writer included, don’t grasp the Constitution in its totality, and even Supreme Court justices disagree over its meaning and application.

Still, citizens with only a modicum of education can comprehend the Bill of Rights, fully appreciative that those ten amendments limit the power of the federal government and retain specific rights for individuals and states. That people are embracing the Constitution should swell the hearts of civic activists who are forever promoting greater participatory democracy, but when gun-owners in Mississippi and Tea Partiers in Virginia start horning in on the debate, it’s time for the saner heads to issue dire warnings about heated dialogue and (cue the fright music) hidden agendas.

Liberal regard for the Constitution is far less predictable — they boast of their tolerance when reminding the prudes that the First Amendment protects Hustler’s Larry Flynt no less than your right to rail against ObamaCare.

Conservatives recognize that, while any style of governance must adapt to changing times, the glory of the Constitution is its unwavering affirmation not merely of the rights of American citizens, but the yearnings of human beings everywhere. Social justice was won, yes, by amendment, but also by extending constitutional principles to everyone. How great a document that we didn’t have to tear it up and start all over.

A New Republic piece mentions the “monstrosities” that Michele Bachmann and others associate with ObamaCare, and their desire to reverse the New Deal. And there we have found the liberal equivalent of the Constitution. They want political discourse and action to proceed from their own lofty ideals and noble intentions. They consider the Constitution broad, fluid and evolving, but Social Security and the reformist aims of FDR remain almost sacrosanct.

Liberals tend to hide their agendas (yes, they have them, too!) behind incrementalism, nuance and intellectual finesse. The Constitution, by contrast, is a blueprint for truth and decisiveness now. They are concerned, and well they should be, for the very spirit they seek to stigmatize is not only inspiring, it is contagious.

SOURCE

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Overwhelmingly Vote to Ban Palin, Beck & Coulter Books at Book Fair in Obama’s Home Town

In June we attended the Printer’s Row Literature Festival in Chicago. City blocks were closed off for tents and booths full of all types of literature. We presented a board with a selection of well known book covers and asked visitors of the event if they could choose to ban any of the books on the board, which if any, they would in fact ban. They were allowed to choose any three of the eleven choices.

The authors of the books we offered to ban were Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Andrew Breitbart, Ayn Rand, Michael Savage, Bill Clinton, Michael Moore, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler and Barack Obama. While there were in fact less than two handfuls of individuals who did tell us they don’t think any books should be banned, unfortunately there were a shocking amount of guests at this book fair who were quite open to the idea, and in fact lined up quite excited for the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Participants overwhelming chose Sarah Palin who received 53 votes putting her at 36% overall, Glenn Beck at 23% and Ann Coulter at 22%.

More HERE

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

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

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

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weltbuergertum (World citizenship)

I remember reading about Weltbuergertum about 50 years ago in something or other by Hendrik van Loon. It struck me as a high ideal and a good idea at the time (in my teens).

The fact that Van Loon used the German term Weltbuergertum for the concept was unremarkable to me at the time as I already had a useful command of German by then but on thinking about it in more recent times it seemed obvious that the idea must go back to those two second-rate German philosphers, Karl Mark and his mentor, GWF Hegel. And in Mein Kampf Hitler also describes himself as originally being a Weltbuerger -- though he changed his tune on that later, of course

On checking, however, I found that the idea actually goes further back again -- to the classical German poet JW von Goethe. So the idea obviously has some simplistic appeal and now seems to be standard Leftist gospel. To the Left of today, patriotism is absurd and contemptible. Democrat politicians have to pretend otherwise in a country as patriotic as the USA but elsewhere on the Left -- particularly in the educational system -- Weltbuergertum is the only respectable stance, though not usually by that name

And as a means of avoiding war etc., the idea does have some appeal. Where it falls down, however, is in the composition of the world as we actually have it. Do I want to be a citizen of a polity that includes the corrupt and bloodthirsty tyrannies of Africa, the negligible civil liberties of China or the starvation of North Korea -- not to mention the corruption and hate of the Arab world?

I can quite cheerfully imagine myself as a citizen of a polity that comprised all the English-speaking democracies but until the rest of the world reaches that standard of civility and respect for the individual, leave me out of it

Walter Williams has some good comments on the matter below -- JR
The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that only 1 in 4 high-school seniors scored at least "proficient" in knowledge of U.S. citizenship. Civics and history were American students' worst subjects. Professor Damon said that for the past 10 years, his Stanford University research team has interviewed broad cross sections of American youths about U.S. citizenship. Here are some typical responses: "We just had (American citizenship) the other day in history. I forget what it was." Another said, "Being American is not really special. ... I don't find being an American citizen very important." Another said, "I don't want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country. I don't like the whole thing of citizen. ... It's like, citizen, no citizen; it doesn't make sense to me. It's, like, to be a good citizen -- I don't know, I don't want to be a citizen. ... It's stupid to me."

A law professor, whom Damon leaves unnamed, shares this vision in a recent book: "Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete. ... American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization." Instead of commitment to a nation-state, "loyalties ... are moving to transnational communities defined by many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation." This law professor's vision is shared by many educators who look to "global citizenship" as the proper aim of civics instruction, de-emphasizing attachment to any particular country, such as the United States, pointing out that our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice. To be patriotic to one's own country is seen as suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous "my country, right or wrong" vision.

The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28 percent of students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26 percent of students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country and celebrating our traditional American quest for liberty and equal rights removes the most powerful motivation to learn civics and U.S. history. After all, Damon asks, "why would a student exert any effort to master the rules of a system that the student has no respect for and no interest in being part of? To acquire civic knowledge as well as civic virtue, students need to care about their country."

Ignorance and possibly contempt for American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president. Obama spent 20 years attending the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's hate-filled sermons, which preached that "white folks' greed runs a world in need," called our country the "US of KKK-A" and asked God to "damn America." Obama's other America-hating associates include Weather Underground Pentagon bomber William Ayers and Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn.

The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his administration doesn't say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the intellectual elite.

SOURCE

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The First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government

Remember the "stimulus," or, as it was officially titled, the Recovery Act of 2009? It was President Obama's first major legislative initiative, enacted the month after he took office with only Democratic votes in the House and just three Republicans in the Senate (one of whom was a Democrat by that summer). The price tag was huge, some $800 billion, or 50 times the size (in nominal terms) of the stimulus Bill Clinton proposed at the outset of his presidency. Congress killed the $16 billion Clinton stimulus because it was too expensive.

Unemployment that January was 7.6%, and Obama's economic advisers warned that it could rise as high as 8% without the stimulus. With the stimulus, it rose as high as 10.2% in October 2009. Last month's rate was 9.2%, still 1.2 points higher than the level the stimulus was supposed to prevent us from ever reaching. By contrast, in January 1993 unemployment was 7.3%. Without the Clinton stimulus, it had declined to 6.5% by the end of that year.

Oh well, at least school janitors in Nebraska have "diversity manuals," as the Omaha World-Herald reports:
The Omaha Public Schools used more than $130,000 in federal stimulus dollars to buy each teacher, administrator and staff member a manual on how to become more culturally sensitive. . . .

The authors assert that American government and institutions create advantages that "channel wealth and power to white people," that color-blindness will not end racism and that educators should "take action for social justice."

The book says that teachers should acknowledge historical systemic oppression in schools, including racism, sexism, homophobia and "ableism," defined by the authors as discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities. . . .

The Omaha school board approved buying 8,000 copies of the book--one for every employee, including members of the custodial staff--in April.

Your tax dollars at work! Or rather, your tax dollars will be at work for years paying the interest on the money the federal government borrowed from the Chinese to pay Omaha's diversity-manual bill.

Now, one might reasonably object that this is but an anecdote. The law of averages makes it a certainty that some of the stimulus money found its way to less utterly appalling uses than this one. What it didn't do, however, was accomplish its stated objective: keeping unemployment from rising above 8%.

Here is how Obama, in a press conference this morning, described this failure: "We took very aggressive steps when I first came into office to yank the economy out of a potential Great Depression and stabilize it. And we were largely successful in stabilizing it. But we stabilized it at a level where unemployment is still too high and the economy is not growing fast enough to make up for all the jobs that were lost before I took office and the few months after I took office."

And Yasser Arafat is in stable condition.

One school of thought is that the so-called stimulus failed because it was, as former Enron adviser Paul Krugman puts it, "woefully inadequate." This is the economic analogue of the Kagan Principle, which liberal Supreme Court justices would use to limit freedom of speech: The more stubbornly corrupt the government is, the more justified it is in curtailing fundamental liberties in the name of preventing corruption.

It's a common refrain among those who lust to increase government's size and power: Every failed measure justifies more of the same. Poverty programs make it harder to escape poverty? We need more poverty programs! Racial preferences heighten racial division? We need more racial preferences! And a diversity manual for every janitor in the country! When ObamaCare ends up driving the costs of medicine up and the quality and availability down, you can bet the people who created that monstrosity will claim it failed only because it didn't go far enough.

Let's generalize this into the First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government. As Obama said today, complaining about Republican pressure to cut spending: "I'd rather be talking about stuff that everybody welcomes--like new programs." Fortunately for the country, the voters don't always agree.

SOURCE

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Government by secretive and unaccountable bureaucrats?

Even some Donks are not happy at going that far down the Soviet road

A rising chorus of repeal-mongers, outraged at the Obama administration's federal health care power grab, took over Washington this week. Nope, it's not the tea party. It's Democrats Against the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Yes, Democrats. What's IPAB? A Beltway acronym for subverting the deliberative process.

The 15-member panel of government-appointed bureaucrats was slipped into Section 3403 of the Obamacare law against the objection of more than 100 House members on both sides of the aisle. IPAB's experts would wield unprecedented authority over Medicare spending -- and in time, over an expanding jurisdiction of private health care payment rates -- behind closed doors.

Freed from the normal administrative rules process -- public notice, public comment, public review -- that governs every other federal commission in existence.

Without the possibility of judicial review. And liberated from congressional oversight except through an onerous accountability procedure.

Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted IPAB as a "key part" of Obamacare. The president himself crusaded for giving the board even more regulatory "tools" to usurp congressional power over health care allocations. And he has the audacity to blame Republicans for creating a "banana republic"? Hmph.

The conservative Arizona-based Goldwater Institute has filed suit in federal court to stop IPAB. "No possible reading of the Constitution supports the idea of an unelected, standalone federal board that's untouchable by both Congress and the courts," says the think tank's litigation director, Clint Bolick. But it's the growing opposition from members of the administration's own party that may yet doom these health care czars on steroids.

But look who's not biting: According to Politico, "New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, has zero interest in defending the board. 'I've never supported it, and I would certainly be in favor of abolishing it.'" If that's not clear enough, Pallone added that he's "opposed to independent commissions or outside groups playing a role other than on a recommendatory basis." Period.

Another House Democrat, Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, is one of seven Democratic IPAB repeal co-sponsors and is scheduled to testify Wednesday at a second House hearing blasting the board. And former Democratic House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt channeled the tea party in a recent op-ed when he decried IPAB as "an unelected and unaccountable group whose sole charge is to reduce Medicare spending based on an arbitrary target growth rate."

IPAB defenders demand an alternative, but that's why the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission already exists. And for those unsatisfied with its woeful results, there's the demonized GOP/Rep. Paul Ryan reform package that relies on individual choice and competition over bureaucratic diktats to reduce spiraling Medicare costs.

Opponents of GOP structural reforms have now resorted to decrying Ryan's choice of beverages as a way to discredit the plan. An apparently besotted Rutgers University economist and former Kerry/Edwards economic adviser, Susan Feinberg, accosted Ryan at a D.C. restaurant last week while he was dining with two financial experts over a pricy bottle of wine. "I wasn't drunk, but I was certainly emboldened to speak my mind," Feinberg told liberal blog Talking Points Memo. She gleefully described attacking Ryan for espousing government austerity while -- gasp -- dining out on his own dime.

It's the same unhinged and irrational sanctimony that has New York Times columnist David Brooks assailing entitlement reformers as moral degenerates; the Washington Post's Richard Cohen likening them to Jonestown cult killer Jim Jones; and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown decrying them as "suicide bombers." Ah, the days of whine and bozos.

The good news: Thanks to sober bipartisan criticism (Where are all the cheerleaders for bipartisanship when you need them?), Sebelius and company are now downplaying IPAB as a harmless "backstop mechanism" with limited powers to do anything at all to control costs. At a House hearing Tuesday, Sebelius tried to paint the board as just another run-of-the-mill dog-and-pony panel that would be "irrelevant" if Congress so chooses

It's not quite an under-the-bus moment, but it's certainly a nudge toward rolling back the Obamacare Republic.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Liberal snake oil: "If you’ve ever wondered what snake oil tastes like, just swallow a bit of what the liberals are prescribing for America’s economic ills. Too bad the FDA doesn’t make them put warning labels on that junk. Liberals are saying that the key to restoring economic health to America lies in (1) increasing federal spending, (2) stimulating the economy with newly printed Federal Reserve paper money, (3) taxing the rich, and (4) piling on more federal debt."

National scrutiny for Massachusetts labor law: "The White House took the unusual step this spring of calling Governor Deval Patrick to discuss his plan to curb the collective bargaining rights of public employees, an indication that the Obama administration may have been concerned about the potential for national political fallout. The call was made in late April, just after a tougher version of Patrick’s plan passed the House, sparking outrage from labor leaders who accused Massachusetts Democrats of launching a 'Wisconsin-esque' attack on workers’ rights."

Legalize it: "I don't use marijuana, medical or otherwise. I don't plan to take it up. Still, like an increasing number of Americans, I am vehemently opposed to the war on drugs. Several powerful arguments can be proffered in support of the notion that drug use is a poor life decision. It has a negative impact on health, like eating too much sugar or using tobacco."

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

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

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

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Obamaland, the Past is Irrelevant

President Obama inhabits a very special world. It's a world in which his entire slate of previous statements, policy preferences, and actions is apparently wiped clean every time he delivers a new speech or press statement. As my friend Mary Katharine Ham likes to quip, what Obama said -- or did -- last week, last month, or last year is regarded as irrelevant, so long as he's making himself "crystal clear" today. Call it a transcendent belief in "the fierce urgency of now." I'll illustrate this phenomenon shortly.

First, a few basic takeaways from today's lengthy presidential news conference, which made little actual news. The president said a debt deal is still a ways off, and stated that although he appreciates John Boehner's "good faith efforts" to help prevent a disastrous default, Republicans must "budge" on taxes for a workable compromise to materialize. He called on both sides to make concessions, arguing that it's time to "rip off the Bandaid" and "eat our peas." He forswore short-term extensions, vowing to reject any 30-to-90 day debt ceiling patches. "This is the United States of America, and we don't manage our affairs in three-month increments," he asserted. (Except when we do, of course). He also flatly stated that an accord will be forged by the August 2nd deadline. "We're going to meet every day until we get this thing resolved," he said. Negotiations are ongoing.

Now, back to mystical Obamaland: The president talked quite a lot about the pressing and imperative need to strike a comprehensive debt deal this morning. Largely reprising his hectoring performance of June 29th, Obama called on both sides to sacrifice their respective sacred cows to facilitate an agreement post-haste. Such a visionary pragmatist. Except...this latest incarnation of Barack Obama seems to have forgotten that a previous one was demanding a "clean" debt ceiling hike as recently as six weeks ago. Out: We must hike this debt ceiling without any grand deal immediately! In: We must reach a grand deal to hike the debt ceiling immediately! No matter; new day, new paradigm. Head spin.

To oppose a debt limit increase would be patently "irresponsible," today's Barack Obama intoned -- an apparent repudiation of 2006's Barack Obama, who did precisely that. "Revenue increases" are "fair" and essential, today's Barack Obama insisted -- contradicting 2009's Barack Obama, who noted that raising taxes is "the last thing you want to do" in a sluggish economy. Head spin.

The president also spoke passionately about the necessity of making tough choices to help control the swollen national debt. He assured us he's "willing to do hard things politically" to reach an agreement. What might those "hard things" be? He won't say. It's as if today's Barack Obama has forgotten that when presented with an obvious opportunity to offer leadership on this front, February's Barack Obama introduced a budget that was universally panned for its inadequacy and utter refusal to propose any "hard things." And that April's Barack Obama discarded February's Barack Obama's budget in favor of a laughably non-specific "vision," which still hasn't been fleshed out. And that 2010's Barack Obama appointed a bipartisan debt commission to devise exactly the sort of comprehensive solution that today's Barack Obama demands -- but that February's Barack Obama completely disregarded its recommendations in crafting his (later abandoned) budget proposal. Head spin.

Applying icing to his rhetorical cake, the president wrapped up his press conference by promising that his policies will help corral deficits and debt, eventually. Without missing a beat, he closed with an astonishing brainstorm: He encouraged Americans to envision a large-scale government program to spur job growth through major infrastructure projects as a solution to high unemployment. Today's Barack Obama clearly didn't know or care that the large-scale government program to spur job growth through major infrastructure projects -- championed by 2009's Barack Obama, then mocked by June's Barack Obama -- didn't even come close to meeting the expectations and projections 2009's Barack Obama established. Head spin.

No worries, though. Today is a brand new day. Problem: Today's Barack Obama will soon become yesterday's Barack Obama -- whose stated policies and preferences are liable to slide into obsolescence as soon as tomorrow's Barack Obama opens his mouth. What comes next is anyone's guess.

This cycle of presidential body-snatching may be a totally incoherent approach to governance, but it sure is exciting.

SOURCE

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What hope for the BRICs?

Financial writer and historian Martin Hutchinson gives his analysis below. I reproduce only his view of Brazil but in the full article he goes on to cover India, China and Russia. He sees them all headed for a crash

The 2008-9 Great Recession centered on the wealthy Western economies with emerging markets suffering significantly shorter, less painful downturns. Then in 2009-11 the emerging markets, particularly the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China -- so named by Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill in 2001) soared ahead of the wealthy West, leading to considerable talk of global economic realignment. However as we enter the second half of 2011 new doubts have emerged: are the BRICs overheating, and will they cease bringing growth to the rest of the world?

There has been a great deal of talk in the last few years that the Brazilian and Indian models of center-left social democracy could show the world that democracies with left-of-center governments were as efficient as truly free market administrations in generating growth. This column has warned on a number of occasions that the media admiration for both countries’ economic management was foolish, but until very recently this warning, like a number of this column’s doom-laden forecasts, appeared to have been overstated.

Now as often happens it is beginning to appear that the Bear may merely have been premature. Brazil in particular looks to be in deep trouble. Under Lula the country had an interesting mixture of an excellent monetary policy and an inferior fiscal policy, with interest rates firmly positive in real terms while the government persistently overspent. The fiscal problem was masked for a number of years by the relentless global increase in commodity prices, which improved Brazil’s balance of payments and allowed its public debt position to improve significantly as export revenues surged. Inflation, which would normally have become a serious problem in such a situation, was tamped down by the very high interest rates and the consequent strength of the real.

Then in 2010, as is often the case with center-left governments who have got lucky with the economy, Lula overdid the spending, as he attempted to secure election for his protégé Dilma Rousseff. Not only did the official budget deficit widen by about 2% of GDP, but the development bank BNDES went on a lending spree and the state corporate sector went wild with losses. The position was made to look respectable by the government extracting $50 billion from the unfortunate Petrobras, through selling the same oil reserves to it twice, but in reality overheating was inevitable, however sound the central bank’s monetary policy (12% interest rates – my kind of place, monetarily speaking!)

Rousseff has made only feeble attempts to control public spending, and has shown signs of meddling in Brazilian industry far beyond the official government companies, playing favorites recently in a retail takeover bid. Now Brazilian consumer borrowing is out of control, with consumer debt service at 28% of disposable income, compared with 16% in the U.S. at the height of the 2007 credit bubble. Admittedly high Brazilian interest rates (a mean 47% on consumer borrowing) make debt service greater than in the U.S. for a given amount of debt, but even so it seems likely that with both government and consumers overspending, Brazil is due for the father and mother of a credit crunch.

SOURCE

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Wisconsin's Controversial Budget Law Begins to Pay Off

"This is a disaster," Mark Miller, the Wisconsin Senate Democratic leader, said in February after Republican Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget bill that would curtail the collective-bargaining powers of some public employees. Miller predicted catastrophe if the bill were to become law -- a charge repeated thousands of times by his fellow Democrats, union officials and protesters in the streets.

Now the bill is law, and we have some early evidence of how it is working. And for one beleaguered Wisconsin school district, it's a godsend, not a disaster.

The Kaukauna Area School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect at 12:01 a.m. June 29, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health-insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now they'll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board president Todd Arnoldussen.

Of course, Wisconsin unions had offered to make benefit concessions during the budget fight. Wouldn't Kaukauna's money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective-bargaining powers?

"The monetary part of it is not the entire issue," says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna's outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health-insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective-bargaining agreement that we could negotiate only with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can negotiate with only one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now the collective-bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and, lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust but saving substantial amounts of money.

Then there are work rules. "In the collective-bargaining agreement, high-school teachers had to teach only five periods a day out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective-bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37-1/2 hours a week. Now it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

Teachers' salaries will stay "relatively the same," Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is about $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year -- summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.

It is impossible to overstate how bitter and ugly the Wisconsin fight has been, and that bitterness and ugliness continues to this day with efforts to recall senators and an unseemly battle inside the state Supreme Court. But the new law is now a reality, and Gov. Walker recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the measure would gain acceptance "with every day, week and month that goes by that the world doesn't fall apart."

In the Kaukauna schools, the world is definitely not falling apart -- it's getting better.

SOURCE

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Ingratitude, Thy Name Is South Korea

South Korea has joined with only two other countries in the world in dropping the name of the forthcoming film "Captain America" and using the subtitle, "The First Avenger." The other two countries are Russia and Ukraine. According to the New York Times report, "Although that country (South Korea) is one of Hollywood's top-performing territories, resentment about the continued presence of the United States military runs deep."

For years now, I have intended to write a column about the most glaring case of international ingratitude of which I am aware. The "Captain America" story has finally pushed me over the edge.

For decades, there have been anti-U.S. demonstrations in South Korea. And each time I wonder the same thing: Do these people have any idea what the living hell known as North Korea is like? Do these people understand that the United States is the reason they are so free and prosperous, completely unlike their fellow North Koreans who had the horrible luck not to be liberated by America? Do these people know how many Americans died to enable them to be free?

Whenever I confront someone who claims that America's wars abroad were fought for economic gain or to extend its alleged imperialist empire, I ask the person about the Korean War: What imperialist or economic reasons were there to fight in that country?

The answer I most often receive is, "Frankly I don't know too much about the Korean War." And it's a good thing for the critics of America's wars that they don't know much about the Korean War. If they did, they would either experience cognitive dissonance or have to severely modify their position on America's wars.

Just five years after a war-weary America celebrated the end of World War II, Americans were asked to fight the successor-evil to Nazism, communism, in Korea, a country most Americans could not identify on a map or did not know anything about. In an earlier version of what happened in Vietnam, the Soviet Union and China backed a communist attempt to take over the southern half of the Korean peninsula -- the northern half had been communist since the end of World War II -- and install a Stalinist tyranny over the non-communist southern half.

Over 36,000 Americans died in America's successful attempt to keep South Korea from becoming communist. And another 92,000 were wounded.

So, forgive me for the contempt I feel for South Koreans who demonstrate against the United States and for the two-thirds of South Koreans who, according to a 2002 Gallup-Korea poll, view the United States unfavorably. Whenever I see those anti-American demonstrators or read such polls, all I can think about are the tens of thousands of Americans who died so that South Koreans would not live in the communist hell their fellow Koreans live in.

Younger South Koreans want American troops to leave their country? Do these young people not know that on planet Earth no other country suffers the mass enslavement, mass incarceration, mass death or the deadening of the mind and soul that North Koreans endure because of the psychopaths who run that country?

And if they do know all this about North Korea, how do they explain why South Korea is so different?

Here is a suggestion: The South Korean government should conduct a national plebiscite on whether America should withdraw its troops from that country. Before the South Korean people vote, the United States should make it clear that if it withdraws its troops and North Korea later invades the South, we will send no troops to die again for South Korea -- but we will vote to condemn North Korea's aggression at the United Nations.

If a majority of the South Korean people wants us to leave, we should.

The beauty of such a plebiscite is that if a majority of the South Korean people wants American troops out, we have no moral obligation to stay there. And if a majority wants us to stay, the South Korean left and other ingrates in that country should shut up.

I have been to South Korea, and I live in a community with many Koreans. I have always admired their industriousness, work ethic and strong families. But South Korea is surely the most ungrateful country in the world. Which is all the more remarkable since it is also the luckiest.

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, July 11, 2011

Framers distrusted unfettered democracy

WALTER E. WILLIAMS

There's little that's intelligent or informed about Time magazine editor Richard Stengel's article "One Document, Under Siege" (June 23, 2011). It contains many grossly ignorant statements about our Constitution. If I believed in conspiracies, I'd say Stengel's article is part of a leftist agenda to undermine respect for the founding values of our nation.

Stengel says: "The framers were not gods and were not infallible. Yes, they gave us, and the world, a blueprint for the protection of democratic freedoms – freedom of speech, assembly, religion – but they also gave us the idea that a black person was three-fifths of a human being, that women were not allowed to vote and that South Dakota should have the same number of senators as California, which is kind of crazy. And I'm not even going to mention the Electoral College."

My column last week addressed the compromise whereby each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of determining representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College. Had slaves been counted as whole people, slaveholding states would have had much greater political power. I agree the framers were not gods and were not infallible, but they had far greater wisdom and principle than today's politicians.

The framers held democracy and majority rule in deep contempt. As a matter of fact, the term democracy appears in none of our founding documents. James Madison argued that "measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." John Adams said: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Stengel's majoritarian vision sees it as anti-democratic that South Dakota and California both have two senators, but the framers wanted to reduce the chances that highly populated states would run roughshod over thinly populated states. They established the Electoral College to serve the same purpose in determining the presidency.

The framers recognized that most human abuses were the result of government. As Thomas Paine said, "government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil." Because of their distrust, the framers sought to keep the federal government limited in its power. Their distrust of Congress is seen in the language used throughout our Constitution. The Bill of Rights says Congress shall not abridge, shall not infringe, shall not deny and other shall-nots, such as disparage, violate and deny. If the founders did not believe Congress would abuse our God-given, or natural, rights, they would not have provided those protections. I've always argued that if we depart this world and see anything resembling the Bill of Rights at our next destination, we'll know we're in hell. A bill of rights in heaven would be an affront to God.

Other founder distrust for government is found in the Constitution's separation of powers, checks and balances, and several anti-majoritarian provisions, such as the Electoral College, two-thirds vote to override a veto and the requirement that three-quarters of state legislatures ratify changes to the Constitution.

Stengel says, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so." That statement is beyond ignorance. The 10th Amendment reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Stengel apparently has not read The Federalist No. 45, in which James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, said: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."

Stengel's article is five pages online, and I've only commented on the first. There's also little in the remaining pages that reflects understanding and respect for our nation's most important document.

SOURCE

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What ‘constitutional conservatism’ means to me

By Rep. Michele Bachmann

I am a constitutional conservative. So what does that mean? I’ve earned a couple of law degrees, but defining “constitutional conservatism” shouldn’t require a legal scholar. Let me start by pointing out that the conservative movement, as Ronald Reagan believed, is a three-legged stool. One leg consists of peace-through-strength conservatives, another of fiscal and economic conservatives, and the third of social conservatives — the values voters.

Constitutional conservatism includes all three of those legs. My candidacy is based on the unity of the conservative movement — because each leg of the stool is vital.

I believe our founders knew what they were doing when they designed a limited government with specific, enumerated powers. I’m also convinced that many of our problems result from the federal government’s insatiable — and unconstitutional — grab for power and money. On issues ranging from light bulbs to bailouts, to the Dodd-Frank banking legislation, Washington has been on a destructive spree of bureaucratic empire-building. It’s time for that to stop.

Moreover, I believe in the unjustly neglected Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Instead of piling more costly mandates on the states and intrusive laws on the people, our federal government should respect all of the resources and responsibilities that properly belong to the states, to local governments, to private industry and, most of all, to the people.

James Madison cautioned that for a “government to control the governed” it must be obliged “to control itself.” A government that fails to exercise self-control and respect its own boundaries is a threat to the rights and liberties of its citizens. Among those rights is the right to life. I believe we must restore and respect the dignity of life for all, the born and unborn. As we read in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our Creator with rights, starting with the right to life.

Another essential right is embodied in the Second Amendment: the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Whether for self-defense, hunting or recreation, this right must be protected.

And of course, we must repeal Obamacare. We must pull it up by its roots for many good reasons, including the fact that the so-called personal mandate is unconstitutional.

In addition to individual rights, the Constitution establishes vital checks and balances among the branches of government. As Montesquieu argued, the separation of governmental powers stands as a roadblock to tyranny. We’ve seen President Obama stretch that separation with his unjustified military action in Libya.

SOURCE

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Some Things Just Don’t Scale

I’m writing this posting while riding the infamous Maryland MTA train. It’s a light rail, the kind of public transportation that we keep being told that we need. My friend and I just left the annual Shore Leave science fiction convention, and are traveling the roughly 22 miles (as the crow would fly) back to his home, where I am a guest of him and his family. And on Friday, he and I traveled to DC on another train and back.

This trip cost us $3.20 total, and he says it will last a bit over an hour. In his car, if he’d not left it for his wife, it would have cost us about $6.50 in gas, but saved us over half an hour of time. Not to mention the seats would have had more than a slight trace of padding over the hard metal/plastic/stone that’s currently numbing my butt.

This, in a nutshell, is why “high speed rail” simply won’t work in America. At least, not on a scale large enough to make it economically self-sustaining.

We are Americans. We are used to our independence, our freedom of movement. There simply aren’t enough Americans (outside of highly urban areas) who have to go to and from the same places at the same times, and are willing to put up with the inconveniences that go with the economic benefits.

Inconveniences as the aforementioned time factor. Or the (pardon me while I cover my ears yet again) the squealing of the steel wheels on the rails. Or the constant stopping and starting and having to keep track of which stop is yours. Or the occasional crowding and being cooped up with a bunch of people you quite possibly would rather not be around, for various and sundry reasons.

Likewise, public security. Israel’s airport security is touted as the ideal, the role model. But Israel has exactly one major international airport, and it’s considerably smaller than our biggest ones. The efforts that make Ben Gurion such a secure airport would be simply too expensive, too time-consuming, and too manpower-intensive to work on the scale we would need them.

But that doesn’t change how current security measures are an absolute joke. While in DC, I ran into several security screenings. One of them was so I could get some fast food.

No joke. My friend and I saw a sign indicating that the Ronald Reagan Federal Building had a food court, and we went in – and I promptly concluded that there was a covert airport installed in the building. It was the only explanation I could see – the food at the Subway was NOT a national secret.

My faith in the security process was further eroded by my observation that most of the security guards seemed to have the main duty of telling us not to believe the signs we saw. One guy in the Commerce Department informed us that we could not reach the National Aquarium through that building – while standing under a sign that said “NATIONAL AQUARIUM” and had an arrow pointing down a hall to the right. Other guards repeatedly told us that doors marked “EXIT” were not actual exits, but we had to find other ways out of various and sundry buildings.

The only reason I can see to push things as “high speed rail” is to exert control over people. To limit their options and force them to give up their freedom to just jump in their car and go where they wish, when they wish, for as long as they wish.

Yes, that’s not a freedom that all can exercise. A lot of people don’t have cars. But that hardly seems a reason to strip the right from all.

Unless, of course, your goal is to get people used to depending on an impersonal government to provide for their needs. To get them to stop doing for themselves, to even stop thinking that they can or should do for themselves.

That is one of our greatest strengths as a nation. And yeah, sometimes it’s not such a great strength, or can actually be a bit of a liability. (Cue the environmentalists to tell us how wasteful private cars are vs. mass transportation.)

But it’s indisputably American.

SOURCE

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America sneezes and the world catches cold

EUROPEAN shares fell sharply on Friday to end the week in the red after a surprising slide in U.S. job creation reignited fears over the pace of growth in the world's largest economy.

U.S. non-farm payrolls showed just 18,000 jobs added in June compared with a forecast for 90,000, adding to other data that suggesting the recovery there will be sluggish and uneven.

The surprise underpinned a spike in volatility and gave market bears, already unsettled by the euro zone sovereign debt crisis, another reason to take profits after what had been a fairly positive week until that point.

"It's certainly very disappointing and does raise questions whether this was a temporary slowdown or anything else. It will up the emphasis on the second-quarter reporting season," Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of European blue-chips ended down 0.8 per cent at 1114.44 points, for a weekly loss of 0.4 per cent, after being up as high as 0.5 percent before the jobs announcement. The index is down 0.7 per cent so far this year.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Tug-of-war over Iraqi Jewish trove in US hands: "A trove of Jewish books and other materials, rescued from a sewage-filled Baghdad basement during the 2003 invasion, is now caught up in a tug-of-war between the U.S. and Iraq. Ranging from a medieval religious book to children's Hebrew primers, from photos to Torah cases, the collection is testimony to a once vibrant Jewish community in Baghdad."

Five uncomfortable facts about the wonderful, horrible debt limit debate: "No less an authority than a Treasury Department fact sheet claims, 'If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, the government would default on its legal obligations.' This is simply not true. The two things are distinct, and it's unnerving as hell (though hardly surprising) that the government department in charge of minding the books either is wilfully misleading people or just out to lunch. When the debt limit is reached, that doesn't mean that the U.S. will default on its debt payments. Unless it chooses to. There's a huge difference between reaching your limit and not paying your bills."

America is declining before our very eyes: "Three things that caught my attention this past week have me weeping for the future of American freedom. The first was a June Gallup poll that showed that about half of Americans believe the proper role of government is to take money from those who earned it and give it to those who didn't"

Put not your faith in princes — even liberal ones: "Although the Democrats claim to be the party of ordinary working people (as opposed to the Republicans, who are the party of the rich and big business), it’s more accurate to say the two parties represent two partially opposed factions within the corporate ruling class. As Ralph Nader once put it, we have one corporate party with two heads."

California shoots self in foot: "It is already law that residents of the state are supposed to pay the sales tax for all internet purchases. There is a line on the state income tax forms for that purpose -- a line ignored by Californians. Frustrated by their inability to force Californians to pay yet another tax in one of the highest taxed states in the country, the idea was to 'close a loophole' and force internet businesses to do the same tax collection that stores physically located in the state collect -- a service they provide 'free' to the state. Already Amazon.com and Overstock.com are reacting to this new law. They are not collecting the sale taxes, though. They are pulling out of the state."

Maybe the New Deal was a class war after all: "FDR was fond of bashing 'money changers' and plutocrats, and of challenging major figures in business and industry — which is indicative, since he himself was engaged in … nothing. Nothing, that is, aside from politics. Really, his official White House biography speaks of college, law school and political office. Other biographies refer to a brief legal clerkship. But really, his family had lived off of inherited money for generations, and he didn’t have to work at anything that didn’t interest him. The man was a landed aristocrat."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He also has some extensive thoughts about the closure of the world's biggest circulation newspaper -- Britain's "News of the World"

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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