Friday, September 02, 2011

Early Obama Letter Confirms Inability to Write

The man is an impostor through and through -- enabled by a media obsessed with skin color

On November 16, 1990, Barack Obama, then president of the Harvard Law Review, published a letter in the Harvard Law Record, an independent Harvard Law School newspaper, championing affirmative action.

Although a paragraph from this letter was excerpted in David Remnick's biography of Obama, The Bridge, I had not seen the letter in its entirety before this week. Not surprisingly, it confirms everything I know about Barack Obama, the writer and thinker.

Obama was prompted to write by an earlier letter from a Mr. Jim Chen that criticized Harvard Law Review's affirmative action policies. Specifically, Chen had argued that affirmative action stigmatized its presumed beneficiaries.

The response is classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged. In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.

"Since the merits of the Law Review's selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues," wrote Obama, "I'd like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works."

If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that "merits ... have." Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone. He had vindicated Chen in his first ten words.

Although the letter is fewer than a thousand words long, Obama repeats the subject-predicate error at least two more times. In one sentence, he seemingly cannot make up his mind as to which verb option is correct so he tries both: "Approximately half of this first batch is chosen ... the other half are selected ... "

Another distinctive Obama flaw is to allow a string of words to float in space. Please note the unanchored phrase in italics at the end of this sentence:

"No editors on the Review will ever know whether any given editor was selected on the basis of grades, writing competition, or affirmative action, and no editors who were selected with affirmative action in mind." Huh?

The next lengthy sentence highlights a few superficial style flaws and a much deeper flaw in Obama's political philosophy.

"I would therefore agree with the suggestion that in the future, our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer who would even insinuate that someone with Mr. Chen's extraordinary record of academic success might be somehow unqualified for work in a corporate law firm, or that such success might be somehow undeserved."

Obama would finish his acclaimed memoir, Dreams from My Father, about four years later. Prior to Dreams, and for the nine years following, everything Obama wrote was, like the above sentence, an uninspired assemblage of words with a nearly random application of commas and tenses.

Unaided, Obama tends to the awkward, passive, and verbose. The phrase "our concern in this area is most appropriately directed at any employer" would more profitably read, "we should focus on the employer." "Concern" is simply the wrong word.

Scarier than Obama's style, however, is his thinking. A neophyte race-hustler after his three years in Chicago, Obama is keen to browbeat those who would "even insinuate" that affirmative action rewards the undeserving, results in inappropriate job placements, or stigmatizes its presumed beneficiaries.

In the case of Michelle Obama, affirmative action did all three. The partners at Sidley Austin learned this the hard way. In 1988, they hired her out of Harvard Law under the impression that the degree meant something. It did not. By 1991, Michelle was working in the public sector as an assistant to the mayor. By 1993, she had given up her law license.

Had the partners investigated Michelle's background, they would have foreseen the disaster to come. Sympathetic biographer Liza Mundy writes, "Michelle frequently deplores the modern reliance on test scores, describing herself as a person who did not test well."

She did not write well, either. Mundy charitably describes her senior thesis at Princeton as "dense and turgid." The less charitable Christopher Hitchens observes, "To describe [the thesis] as hard to read would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be 'read' at all, in the strict sense of the verb. This is because it wasn't written in any known language."

Michelle had to have been as anxious at Harvard Law as Bart Simpson was at Genius School. Almost assuredly, the gap between her writing and that of her highly talented colleagues marked her as an affirmative action admission, and the profs finessed her through.

In a similar vein, Barack Obama was named an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Although his description of the Law Review's selection process defies easy comprehension, apparently, after the best candidates are chosen, there remains "a pool of qualified candidates whose grades or writing competition scores do not significantly differ." These sound like the kids at Lake Woebegone, all above average. Out of this pool, Obama continues, "the Selection Committee may take race or physical handicap into account."

To his credit, Obama concedes that he "may have benefited from the Law Review's affirmative action policy." This did not strike him as unusual as he "undoubtedly benefited from affirmative action programs during my academic career."

On the basis of his being elected president of Law Review -- a popularity contest -- Obama was awarded a six-figure contract to write a book. To this point, he had not shown a hint of promise as a writer, but Simon & Schuster, like Sidley Austin, took the Harvard credential seriously. It should not have. For three years Obama floundered as badly as Michelle had at Sidley Austin. Simon & Schuster finally pulled the contract.

Then Obama found his muse -- right in the neighborhood, as it turns out! And promptly, without further ado, the awkward, passive, ungrammatical Obama, a man who had not written one inspired sentence in his whole life, published what Time Magazine called "the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician."

To question the nature of that production [i.e. to say it was written by Bill Ayers], I have learned, is to risk the abuse promised to Mr. Chen's theoretical employer. After all, who would challenge Obama's obvious talent -- or that of any affirmative action beneficiary -- but those blinded by what Obama calls "deep-rooted ignorance and bias"? What else could it be?

SOURCE

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Bill Keller, Christianity and fear of a past that never existed

Yesterday I was at the Border Grille for lunch to talk ads with the owner when I ran into an old friend of mine who I haven’t seen in a few years. We talked about the show a bit and our mutual love of gaming when the subject of the election came up and I saw a phenom that I’ve seen a lot lately in the Republican Party.

My friend is an educated man in his 40′s. Both he and his father owned small business and are longtime republicans. We were going through the potential GOP nominees when he declared he was afraid of Rick Perry because of his fundamentalist belief in the Bible (specifically on evolution). He argued that if he doesn’t believe in Evolution what OTHER science does he not believe in?

I’ve already said something in my gut doesn’t care for Rick Perry but this caused me to do a double take; I answered:

“Unemployment is 9.1%, the economy is in the tank and you’re worried about a candidate’s position on how old the planet is?”

This whole “The GOP candidates are religious nuts” motif has been a big theme for the left and the media culminating in Bill Keller’s piece at the NYT yesterday.

Byron York pointed out that there is a method in this belief in madness via a pair of tweets pointing out:

Also on Keller: Time spent discussing religious tests, Trojan horses and ‘fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity’…is time spent not discussing unemployment. With jobless rate at 9.1%, that’s a major Democratic goal.:

After all to a guy who has just finished his 99 weeks of unemployment and is on food stamps no issue is more vital than if the world is 6000 or 600,000,000,000 billion years old!

The distraction method is important to the Democrats trying to win, but there is something more visceral going on nationally that goes beyond mere party that is being missed. Lisa Graas (my guest on DaTechGuy on DaRadio this week) spotted a piece of the puzzle in this with interview with Rick Santorum in the Colorado Independent:

But at least today I think what you’d see is that Catholics are pretty much all over the board. I mean, when I was growing up as a kid, pretty much everybody I knew that was Catholic was Democrat. That’s not the case anymore.

The question is whether you’re church-going or not.

If you’re a church-going Catholic by and large you’re a Republican, just like if you’re a church-going Protestant by and large you’re a Republican. And if you’re not church-going by and large you’re not.

This goes back to something I wrote about years ago:

Since the 60′s two unifying forces, for good or ill, were removed from the country: the removal of Judeo/Christian values as the semi-official moral code of the public schools) and the death of the draft/aka Vietnam. (actually ending in the 70's). These two changes had one thing in common, it took two generations for them to have the following effect:

It is now unlikely that a student going to school today, had a teacher or parent who 1. Served in the military or 2. Was taught that moral code in school. To a whole generation now being born these are things that belong to outsiders. This makes the military and religious people outsiders and strange to one group and vice versa. Since the military draws predominantly from those two groups it will become more isolated from the rest of the public as time goes by.

There are now two parallel cultures in the US: One the culture born out of the 60′s that is secular and narcissistic. To that culture the primary sin is to …define something as sin or forbidden. The other is the Judeo-Christian culture that the country has lived under since its founding.

The distinguishing characteristic of the secular culture, driven by their lack of belief both in God and in themselves, is fear: Fear of salt in food, fear of traumatizing children by making rules, fear of offending anybody, fear of judgement calls. Simply put fear of being held responsible for anything. That is why it loves government control. Every responsibility and decision that government takes on is one less that they have to make for themselves or can be blamed for.

And Rachel Maddow wonders why we don’t build great things?

This brings us to Rick Perry and my friend’s fear of him. When I look at Perry the remarkable thing about him is how unremarkable he is. Anytime in the last 100 years his background and beliefs would be decidedly uncontroversial. In large swaths of the country where the traditional culture exists he is just another pol (with a good record on jobs).

The problem is in that parallel secular culture where so many of the left live, these views are totally alien and moreover the entertainment & news media that informs them (drawn primarily from that secular culture) alternates between mocking religious Americans as ignorant fools or painting them as murderous inbred fanatics.

It’s reached the point where the left fears the United States return to an imaginary past that only exists in their minds, bearing no resemblance to that time that still exists in living memory.

To them prior to Abington School District v. Schempp, the US lived in a Christian Theocracy where Jews and Gays are slaughtered and all culture was repressed. They are able to look at Pat Robinson and see Bin Laden while at the same time can look at Major Malik Nadal Hassan and see nothing. They look at the era before the sixties and see only segregation and repression while still calling the architects of that era “The Greatest Generation” without blinking an eye. It’s that cultural change that I noted before Obama’s inauguration:

Until 2008 a pastor like Rick Warren would never have been considered a controversial choice to be at any inaugural event. His inclusion wouldn’t have caused an eye to bat once.

Until 2008 a Bishop like Gene Robinson would have been impossible to include in any inaugural event without a massive uproar that would have been politically untenable.

So why all the panic about a Rick Perry now? Consider:

For just about 40 years the levers of our pop and media culture have been firmly in the hands of that secular culture. It was at its peak of power in the 90′s and seemed poised to fundamentally and permanently change the nation when it was hit by two giants jolts:

1. The internet which began the rise of alternate media and the demise of their monopoly on communication

2. 9/11 where reality caused the country to turn to the military, an institution overwhelmingly populated by members of the traditional culture that they feared and distrusted.

For a moment it looked like the nomination of Obama, a person deeply steeped in their own culture, might bring the nirvana they always dreamed of, but instead of the final nail in the coffin of traditional culture, his fecklessness, inability to lead and his multiple failures everywhere but, ironically, in war, threatens to turn the country right back in the direction they thought was totally purged.

Even worse it seems to confirm their culture’s inferiority complex. To a culture that decided to use everything from drugs, to politics to the earth itself to fill the empty space that religion once held the achievement of those who came before towers over them. I suspect they dub their grandparents the “Greatest Generation” because it excuses them from even attempting to achieve what their Grandparents & Great Grandparents did in much harder times. It’s why a person like Sarah Palin disgusts them so. She and people like her are a constant reminder of what they could have been but rejected.


More here

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Feds to Trucking Company: You Cannot Fire Alcoholic Drivers

"Anti-discrimination" at work -- and to hell with the safety of other road users

The federal government has sued a major trucking company for its firing of driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem.

Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the suit against the Old Dominion Freight Line trucking company on August 16, noted that while “an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.” The EEOC detailed the case on its website:
Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., a trucking company with a service center in Fort Smith, Ark., violated federal law by discriminating against at least one truck driver because of self-reported alcohol abuse, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. The company should have met its legal obligation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act while assuring safety, rather than permanently sidelining self-reporting drivers, the EEOC contended.

According to the EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:11-CV-02153-PKH in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas), the driver at the Fort Smith location had worked for the company for five years without incident. In late June 2009, the employee reported to the company that he believed he had an alcohol problem. Under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, the employer suspended the employee from his driving position and referred him for substance abuse counseling. However, the employer also informed the driver that the employer would never return him to a driving position, even upon the successful completion of a counseling program. During the investigation, the EEOC discovered drivers at other service centers whom the employer had allegedly subjected to similar treatment…

“The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace. Old Dominion’s policy and practice of never returning an employee who self-reports an alcohol problem to a driving position violates that law,” said Katharine Kores, director of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, whose jurisdiction includes Arkansas. “While the EEOC agrees that an employer’s concern regarding safety on our highways is a legitimate issue, an employer can both ensure safety and comply with the ADA.”

If the EEOC prevails, of course, it will mean that Old Dominion will still be liable both for any damage to life or property that results from a potential relapse by one of its recovering drivers – which in turn increases the risks involved in investment in the company – and for the cost of trying to ensure that such damage never occurs. All of these new burdens will raise Old Dominion’s cost of doing business, and hence the cost of everything they transport. And all of this can’t possibly ensure that a recovering driver does not relapse without the company’s knowledge.

The Cato Institute’s Walter Olsen notes that the EEOC has made a number of similar decisions:
For years the ADA has provided legal muscle to employees terminated for alcohol problems — just the other day, for example, a Florida State University administrator dismissed after frictions with staff sued the university for not accommodating his alcohol abuse. But that’s just the academic setting, where many administrators can glide by in a bit of a haze for years without causing real problems. (UCLA’s Steve Bainbridge quips that the college official’s description of drinking as a “handicap” is off base: “it’s always come in handy for me.”) Are we really required to take chances with 18-wheelers on the highway?

Despite the apparent precedent for alcoholism-related lawsuits, EEOC’s case might not be a slam dunk. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Hans Bader notes, a federal appellate court ruled in 1995 that employers can fire someone for problems caused by an ADA-qualified disability if that disability “poses a significant risk [to others] that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.”

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals established that standard when it ruled against an HIV-positive individual who sued the University of Maryland Medical System Corporation for firing him from its residency program for fear that he might inadvertently infect hospital patients with the virus.

SOURCE


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, September 01, 2011

You can't keep a good blogger down

My surgery went according to plan. I had two excisions of skin cancers close to my right eye. As anticipated, however, the result has been swelling in that area which has completely closed off that eye. And I don't see very well through my left eye. Ideologically appropriate!

So I won't be doing much reading for a day or two but before I went in I picked out three recent essays that seemed to make good points and I present them below

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Seduced by the Cult of Experts

Jonah Goldberg

When asked what posed the greatest challenge to statesmen, Harold Macmillan, the former British prime minister, responded, "Events, my dear boy, events."

That's because events tend to throw everybody off their plan. For example, Hurricane Irene ended President Obama's vacation early. And the hurricane's steady deterioration upset the plans of news producers who anticipated something more dramatic for their wall-to-wall coverage.

In a similar fashion, Obama and his advisors predicted the economy would do better -- much better -- than it has, and those predictions were wrong. The president blames events: the European debt crisis, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the political tsunami of the 2010 elections. Some of that is plausible, but the two years of anemic job and economic growth that preceded those events can hardly be blamed on them. An earthquake in Japan didn't make Obama's green-jobs initiative a bust, and the Euro crisis didn't render "shovel-ready jobs" a myth. And it's those failures that have scuttled Obama's plans for an easy re-election in 2012, and left him and his supporters stunned and shocked.

My National Review colleague Jim Geraghty has chronicled how, over the last few years, the media have greeted bad economic news by saying it is unexpected. For instance, Bloomberg reported "Sales of U.S. previously owned homes unexpectedly dropped in July." Reuters tells us that "Consumer spending unexpectedly fell in June." And so on.

Many who've been following the trend point to media bias. The press corps, writ large, wants Obama to succeed, argues American Enterprise Institute political analyst Michael Barone, so "they characterize economic setbacks as unexpected, with the implication that there's still every reason to believe that, in Herbert Hoover's phrase, prosperity is just around the corner."

I certainly think there's more than a little truth to that. The media get hooked on a story line -- hurricanes are getting worse because of climate change, Obama's a pragmatist doing the smartest things to fix the economy -- and when the facts contradict the story line, it's, well, unexpected.

But it can't be simply media bias because the experts whom reporters call for quotes also are surprised. As Geraghty notes, groupthink is a culprit too. The guys on Wall Street use the same Keynesian computer models as the folks in the White House.

There are no more devout members of the cult of expertise than mainstream journalists. They rely on experts for guidance about what is "mainstream" and accurate and what is not. Sometimes that's fine. Surgeons are extremely reliable sources to explain how a heart attack happens. They're not as reliable at telling you who will have one, save in a statistical sense, and even less reliable at telling you when a specific person will have one.

That's because prediction is hard. Experts -- in politics, economics, climate -- are very, very bad at telling people what will happen tomorrow, let alone next year or next century. How many of the economists who tell us what to do now failed to see the mortgage debt crisis coming? Nearly all of them.

Philip Tetlock's 2005 book, "Expert Political Judgment," documents that the predictions of even the most credentialed and experienced experts are often worse and very rarely better than random guessing. "In this age of academic hyperspecialization," he writes, "there is no reason for supposing that contributors to top journals -- distinguished political scientists, area study specialists, economists, and so on -- are any better than journalists or attentive readers of the New York Times in 'reading' emerging situations."

The cult of experts has acolytes in all ideological camps, but its most institutionalized following is on the left. The left needs to believe in the authority of experts because without that authority, almost no economic intervention can be justified. If you concede that you have no idea whether your remedy will work, it's going to be hard to sell it to the patient. Market-based ideologies don't have that problem because markets expect events in ways experts never can.

No president since Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt has been more enamored with the cult of expertise than Obama. That none of his economic predictions have panned out is not surprising. What is surprising is that so many people are surprised.

SOURCE

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The NYT still lies in its teeth

The Ari Goldman scandal is a gift that keeps on giving. Two weeks ago Goldman, formerly a religion writer for The New York Times, publicly confessed to having remained silent for 20 years about his paper's distorted coverage of the Crown Heights riots. For Goldman, it was up close and personal. He was on the phone, right there in Brooklyn, calling in reports from the streets where black mobs were attacking Jews, yelling "Heil Hitler" and "Kill the Jews!" But, he now tells us, his Times editor found this news not fit to print. There was to be no black anti-Semitism, and no anti-Jewish pogrom in the nation's "paper of record."

Instead, Goldman explained, the Times doctored the news by forcing inconvenient facts into story lines it preferred. In Crown Heights, a Hasidic Jewish driver mistakenly killed a black boy, Galvin Cato, in a car accident, and then blacks rampaged and murdered a Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum. The paper, unhappy with these clear and simple facts, instead told a tall tale: "Blacks and Jews clashed," it reported, implying there was blame on both sides, though neither Goldman - nor anyone else - saw any Jew attacking a black. "Clashed" was simply a lie that enabled the Times to treat the accident that killed Cato and the murder of Rosenbaum as morally equivalent tragedies. That's the "news" they wanted to publish.

Commentators explain that Times editors are disciples of post-modernist theory, now spoon fed to every one of our $25,000-a-semester children in their spa-like centers of "higher education." There is no "truth," you see. That's old-fashioned. There are only "narratives," and each side's version of reality must be given equal treatment (unless that side is the Judeo-Christian); otherwise, we'd all remain stuck for life as morally sick, white-skin-privileged xenophobes.

Goldman, now a journalism professor at Columbia University, has an opportunity to do more than set things straight by outing his paper for fabricating "news reports" 20 years ago; he can explore, as a serious student of journalism might, just how and why the mainstream media has become such a fraudulent enterprise, fulminating fibs, especially but not exclusively about Jews, Christians, Muslims and the Middle East. He could use his own experience in Crown Heights to probe the reasons today's editors rush to equate accidents with murders.

Students dissecting such a topic could almost do a daily lab: The Times concocts a lot!

Take its coverage of the latest round of Gaza-Israel clashes. On Thursday, Arab/Muslim terrorists from Gaza (merely "militants" in Times speak) crossed into southern Israel from Egypt and carried out a carefully laid plot that murdered Israeli men, women and children. The Israelis retaliated and, while killing some terrorist leaders, unfortunately hit and killed Palestinian civilians.

Channeling Crown Heights, the Times worked hard to shift blame to the Jews for the now widening violence. In a story August 21, the Times reported that the Israeli airstrike "ignited cross-border exchanges after months of relative quiet under an informal cease-fire with Hamas." As the media watchdog HonestReporting.com aptly put it, it was as though the clock only started when the Jews responded to attacks. Does there exist a Times editor who would publish the view that the non-Jewish side might be engaging in inexcusably criminal acts that logically should be deterred? Would a Times editor have the capacity to think such a thought?

On the other hand, Timesmen are linguistic magicians: "Cross-border exchanges" implies, as HonestReporting writes, "moral equivalence between Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilian targets and Israeli responses." Evenhandedness uber alles. The SS might have fared pretty well: "Deaths on both sides as Jews and Nazis clash in Warsaw."

Rubbing in the salt, the paper chose to headline its Sunday coverage, "Casualties on Both Sides as Israelis and Gazans trade fire." It's Galvin Cato/Yankel Rosenbaum all over again. Tragedies everywhere, oh my!

Earlier this month, the Times, channeling the old USSR, actually began airbrushing facts it no longer has use for. Last year, the whole world saw dramatic footage of Israeli soldiers, set upon and beaten with staves and pipes, as they slid down on ropes from helicopters onto a flotilla "peace" boat dispatched from Turkey. Even the Times reported it as it happened. But now as it covers Turkey's efforts to extract an apology from Israel, the Times transforms the thuggish attack from a clearly established matter of fact to that of one side's allegation.

CAMERA caught the Times in flagrante delicto: "Isabel Kershner recounted the incident as if it is unknown what happened. 'By Israel's account, the Israeli soldiers met with violent resistance as they landed on the deck,' she wrote." The New York Times," CAMERA explains, "is now "telling readers that maybe the soldiers were met with violence, or maybe they were not." CAMERA notes that even Kershner herself previously reported that "video images... showed Israeli commandos being set upon as they rappelled onto the ship's deck." Stalin, after he killed a former comrade, would have the man's image airbrushed out of published news photos. Et tu, comrade Kershner?

I'm reminded of the old joke: a man's wife catches him in bed with another woman. Without missing a beat, the adulterer screams: "I didn't do it! Who you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?!" The Times adulterates the truth. Jews should get a divorce.

SOURCE

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America's slow death by regulation

Once upon a time selling a chicken was fraught with few if any legal implications. Remodeling a shed was equally simple from a regulatory standpoint. Today, however, we live in more enlightened times. Protected from our wayward desires by an empowered bureaucracy, we can rest easier knowing that decisions like what we eat and where we build are being carefully managed by authorities.

Playing Chicken

Josh is a Mennonite friend who happens, by the grace of native talent and a powerful work ethic, to produce magnificent chickens. Raised on green growing pasture, they are never medicated, never fed artificial supplements or genetically selected to grow abnormally fast. They develop rich golden fat and a deep flavor, characteristics that have been more or less lost in modern, streamlined, highly efficient poultry production. Not surprisingly, Josh’s chickens are in high demand among food cognoscenti and fine restaurants. A couple of years ago I began bringing Josh’s chickens to my farmers’ market stand to sell alongside our equally popular grassfed beef. Josh and I, in a classic entrepreneurial endeavor, have made these wholesome chickens available to happy, discerning customers who would otherwise be unable to justify a three-hour commute to buy a bird for dinner.

Josh processes his chickens on his farm under a legal exemption allowing him to avoid industrial (and expensive) processing plants. Each chicken he produces is clearly labeled as to origin, method of production, and added ingredients (none); the label also cites the statute that allows him to operate unmolested.

Recently he was informed by the Food Safety Inspection Service, the regulatory arm of the USDA, that he faced a “situation.” They had discovered a chink in the otherwise protective “non-molestation” statute. Because he is marketing chickens to an intermediary (me), his product is therefore rendered illegal and he must desist. In a disturbing addendum the inspector also let slip that the USDA would be willing (“free of charge”) to take over inspection of his facilities and that they would be “more than happy to help him get going,” presumably in the chicken business.

The same authority willing to allow a company to distribute (and I’m not making this up) a neon-green sugar drink with the word “sweetener” (in quotes) on the ingredient list believes that customers cannot be trusted to buy a natural chicken from a reputable farmer.

Raising the Roof

I have an old shed I’d like to turn into an office. It’s a small, uncomplicated project. I do not intend to host conventions there or otherwise expose innocents to my construction acumen.

I could use a hand, so I called a man advertising his handyman services on a placard outside the feed store. We talked it over; he needed capital and I needed labor; we had a deal. I had expected to be hammering on joists this morning instead of this keyboard but for the fact that he didn’t show up today. Why? The county, vigorously addressing this “situation,” had torn down all his signs (including one in front of his home), citing him for neglecting to indicate his contractor’s license. Fair enough, you say; he knows the rules and got burned. So why the stink?

Well, here is a gentleman in his mid-50s with more than 25 years of construction experience who was a licensed contractor in Florida before moving to Arizona. For more than six months he has been fighting to gain the requisite licensing. He is obliged, among other onerous duties, to provide 25 references spanning his entire career and from across a continent before his application can enter the waiting list. He estimates his application will cost $10,000 and take another six months. He is afraid to work with me, even as a “tutor,” because he has been told that counties often set people up to entrap them.

Once again presumptuous authority has stepped between educated, intelligent adults to prevent free, fully cognizant transactions. Am I a pathological obediphobe to find such meddling unsavory?

Even if these cases turn out to be simple errors in communication or an innocent overstepping of authority, the damage has already been done. The perception alone is enough to chill behavior. In relaying these injustices I have now wasted hours that could have otherwise been spent creating outstanding beef; Josh is reducing his next order of chicks; and an out-of-work man with a lifetime of skills sits idle wishing for work.

Perhaps these are just the fickle vagaries, the marginalia of an otherwise appropriate regulatory regime. But I’m afraid they represent a deeper, metastasized, problem. The late Mr. Jefferson, that “intellectual voluptuary” according to his Big Government nemeses, explained that government’s only purpose is to secure natural rights. Governments, he believed, exist to protect life, liberty, property, and little else. It’s probably archaic of me to wish for a return to such a limited view, but I can’t help it. The kind of absurd oversight now considered standard practice feels fundamentally unjust.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where selling a chicken and remodeling a shed weren’t rife with official allegations or burdened with State prohibitions.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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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Possible hiatus

I will be going in for some rather unpleasant surgery later on this morning which will probably leave one eye temporarily out of action so I am not sure how much I will be able to put up later on today. I have never missed a day's blogging for nine years, however, so I will likely put up something.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Conspiracy of Counterfeiters

Pat Buchanan

"Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens."

"Lenin was certainly right," John Maynard Keynes continued in his 1919 classic, "The Economic Consequences of the Peace."

"There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."

Keynes warned that terrible hatreds would be unleashed against "profiteers" who enriched themselves through inflation as the middle class was wiped out. And he pointed with alarm to Germany, where the mark had lost most of its international value.

By November 1923, the German currency was worthless, hauled about in wheelbarrows to buy groceries. The middle class had been destroyed. German housewives were prostituting themselves to feed their families. That same month, Adolf Hitler attempted his Munich Beer Hall Putsch.

Today a coterie of economists is prodding Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to induce inflation into the American economy.

Fearing falling prices, professor Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, is pushing for an inflation rate of 5 to 6 percent while conceding that his proposal is rife with peril and "we could end up with 200 percent inflation."

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner and columnist for The New York Times, is pushing Bernanke in the same direction.

Bernanke, writes Krugman, should take the advice he gave Japan in 2000, when he urged the Bank of Japan to stimulate the economy with "an announcement that the bank was seeking moderate inflation, 'setting a target in the 3-4 percent range for inflation, to be maintained for a number of years.'"

And who inspired Bernanke to urge Tokyo to inflate? Krugman modestly credits himself. "Was Mr. Bernanke on the right track? I think so -- as well I should, since his paper was partly based on my own earlier work."

But Krugman is not optimistic about Bernanke's injecting the U.S. economy with a sufficient dose of inflation. Why is Ben hesitant? Two words, says Krugman: "Rick Perry." Krugman believes Bernanke has been intimidated by Perry's populist threat in Iowa after his first day of campaigning:

"If this guy (Bernanke) prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous."

Perry was indulging in Texas hyperbole, and the press came down hard on him for language unbefitting a presidential candidate.

Yet Perry has raised a legitimate series of questions. What should be done to high officials of the U.S. government who consciously set out to dilute and destroy the savings and income of working Americans? What should be done to those who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and then steal the wealth of citizens by secretly manipulating the value of the currency, the store of wealth upon which those people depend?

Is inducing inflation -- debauching the currency, the systematic and secret theft of the savings of citizens -- a legitimate policy option for the Federal Reserve? Has Congress authorized official thievery? Who do these economists think they are?

Inflation rewards debt -- and erodes savings. It is legalized counterfeiting, the deliberate creation of money with nothing to back it up.

If a citizen printed dollars bills, he would be tracked by the Secret Service, prosecuted and imprisoned. Why, then, is the Fed's clandestine printing of money with nothing to back it up a legitimate exercise and, according to Krugman & Co., a desirable policy for Bernanke and the Fed?

Schooled economists such as Rogoff, Krugman and Bernanke know how to shelter their wealth from the ravages of inflation -- and even to get rich. But what about widows whose husbands leave a nest egg of savings in cash and bonds? What are they supposed to do as the value of their savings is wiped out at 4, 5 or 6 percent a year -- or whatever annual rate of ruin the Rogoffs and the Krugmans decide upon?

This is not only an economic issue but a moral issue. To inflate a currency is to steal the money citizens have earned and saved and entrusted their government to protect. Any government that betrays that trust and steals that wealth is not only unworthy of support. It is worthy of being overthrown. On this one, as Keynes said, Lenin was right.

Perry and Ron Paul deserve the nation's gratitude for putting this issue of the unfettered power and the amorality of our unelected Federal Reserve on the political docket.

SOURCE

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David Gregory's Intolerance

On NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory grilled Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) on her political and religious views.

Near the end of the segment, Gregory asked Bachmann about her views on gays and lesbians. He played a clip of Bachmann saying that the gay lifestyle was “personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.”

“I am running for the presidency of the United States, I’m not running to be anyone’s judge,” Bachmann replied.

Video follows


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


By Lloyd Marcus

The liberal media are signaling that their mission to reelect Barack Obama is going to involve declaring Bible-believing Christians to be intolerant bigots, unfit for high office. The trigger issue is one of the liberal media's favorite causes: normalizing homosexuality.

Please, please, please understand, as we said in the '60s, "where I'm coming from." This article is not about bashing homosexuals. I have homosexual family and friends whom I love very much.

However, I found David Gregory's attack on Michele Bachmann for comments she made regarding homosexuality to be extremely disturbing and offensive. Bachmann is a Christian and simply compassionately espoused the biblical point of view. Just as Muslims live by the Quran, Christians strive to live by the Bible.
Here are a few Bible quotes about homosexuality.

Lev. 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

Lev. 20:13: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act;..."

Rom. 1:26-27, " ... for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts ... "

Whether you agree with the Bible or not is irrelevant. My point is that Bachmann did not "make up" her take on homosexuality. It came from a holy book considered sacred by mega-millions worldwide.

So, when Gregory beat up on Bachmann, he was really attacking Christians and the Bible. But most disturbing was Gregory's arrogant bullying and implicit threat to all who disagree. In effect, he announced: We, the media, have declared homosexuality normal -- period, end of subject. Any one of you Neanderthals daring to suggest otherwise will suffer the consequences.

Would Gregory have been so aggressive interviewing Muslim presidential candidates about their beliefs? I suspect not.

Most Americans accept homosexuals and are repulsed by anyone abusing them. However, America's acceptance of homosexuals is not good enough for the left. The left wish to bend our arms behind our backs until we cry "uncle," proclaiming homosexuality to be normal.

Even home improvement and cooking TV programs feature a high number of homosexual couples disproportionate to the population. Clearly, many TV producers have an agenda to normalize the homosexual lifestyle.

My dad has been in Christian ministry as a pastor for 50 years. Dad said he is being pressured to embrace the Gospel of Homosexuality. He added, "Those of us who disagree are being pushed into the closet."

Has the left won? Are we afraid to quote the Bible's rebuke of homosexuality?

Think about this, folks. According to the left, if you disapprove of acts forbidden by scripture, not only are you a "hater," but you are deemed mentally ill -- diagnosed as homophobic and in need of treatment.

During his Bachmann interview, Gregory kept referring to homosexuals as "gay Americans" in an attempt to make disapproval of a "sexual behavior" the same as discriminating against an ethnic group such as African-, Hispanic-, and other Americans.

The left reinforces the theme, calling opposition to the homosexual agenda "bigotry."

Black Civil Rights groups are offended by the left comparing their struggle to that of homosexuals.

I state again, "I have homosexual family and friends whom I love very much." However, loving them does not mean I must submit to dictatorial pressure from the media to embrace the homosexual lifestyle as being normal.

To get their way, the left always distort the discord, portraying all opposition to equal the extreme evil. For example, Americans welcome legal immigrants who obey our immigration laws with open arms. We oppose illegal immigration and all the crime and stress on our welfare system that comes with it. The left brands anyone seeking to protect our borders extremist, anti-immigration, and racist.

If you believe that elementary kids should not be forced to celebrate Gay Pride Day and not be encouraged to experiment with homosexuality, the left numbers you among the minority of nutcases seeking to harm homosexuals.

Regardless of the issue, the left, via their liberal media enforcers, slander the opposition, painting them to be haters and extremists. Former Obama supporters turned off by his unfolding socialistic agenda are suddenly redneck racists against a black president.

Patriots, I realize all of you are not Christians and my purpose is not to force my faith on anyone. This article is not about whether homosexuality is right or wrong. It is about the liberal media throwing down the gauntlet, saying, Hey, you Christians had better get with the program regarding the normalcy of homosexuality, or else!

The liberal media usurping ultimate authority to enforce their "ultimate consensus" on an issue, destroying anyone who dares think otherwise, is a serious assault on our freedom.

SOURCE

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An Unusual Economy?

Thomas Sowell

Many in the media are saying how unusual it is for our economy to be so sluggish for so long, after we have officially emerged from a recession. In a sense, they are right. But, in another sense, they are profoundly wrong.

The American economy usually rebounds a lot faster than it is doing today. After a recession passes, consumers usually increase their spending. And when businesses see demand picking up, they usually start hiring workers to produce the additional output required to meet that demand.

Some very sharp downturns in the American economy, such as in the early 1920s, were followed quickly by bouncing back to normal levels or beyond. The government did nothing -- and it worked.

In that sense, this is an unusual recovery in how long it is taking and in how slowly the economy is growing -- while the government is doing virtually everything imaginable.

Government intervention may look good to the media but its actual track record -- both today and in the 1930s -- is far worse than the track record of letting the economy recover on its own.

Americans today are alarmed that unemployment has stayed around 9 percent for so long. But such unemployment rates have been common for years in Western European welfare states that have followed policies similar to policies being followed currently by the Obama administration.

Those European welfare states have not only used the taxpayers' money to hand out "free" benefits to particular groups, they have mandated that employers do the same. Faced with higher labor costs, employers have hired less labor.

The vast uncertainties created by ObamaCare create a special problem. If employers knew that ObamaCare would add $1,000 to their costs of hiring an employee, then they could simply reduce the salaries they offer by $1,000 and start hiring.

But, since it will take years to create all the regulations required to carry out ObamaCare, employers today don't know whether the ObamaCare costs that will hit them down the road will be $500 per employee or $5,000 per employee. Even businesses that have record amounts of cash on hand are reluctant to gamble it by expanding their hiring under these conditions.

Many businesses work their existing employees overtime or hire temporary workers, rather than get stuck with unknown and unknowable costs for expanding their permanent work force.

As unusual as 9 percent unemployment rates may seem to the current generation of Americans, unemployment rates stayed in double digits for months and years on end during the 1930s. Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration followed policies very similar to those of the Obama administration today. He also got away with it politically by blaming his predecessor.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

House GOP targets “job-destroying” laws: "The House Republican agenda this fall will focus on repealing environmental and labor regulations that GOP lawmakers say are driving up the cost of doing business and discouraging employers from hiring workers. House majority leader Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia, said in a memo to his fellow Republicans that as soon as Congress returns to Washington next week he will start bringing up bills to repeal or restrict federal regulations."

West Bank: IDF training squatters ahead of expected “mass disorder”: "The IDF has conducted detailed work to determine a 'red line' for each settlement in the West Bank, which will determine when soldiers will be ordered to shoot at the feet of Palestinian protesters if the line is crossed. It is also planning to provide settlers with tear gas and stun grenades as part of the defense operation. The IDF is currently in the process of finalizing its preparations for Operation Summer Seeds, whose purpose is to ready the army for September and the possibility of confrontations with Palestinians following the expected vote in favor of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, August 30, 2011


How Canada avoided America's economic and financial problems

A similar story to that below could be told about Australia. Australia too ran budget surpluses right up until the GFC and Australia's banks at no time stopped making good profits. And Australia's unemployment rate is in fact much lower than the Canadian figure: 5.1% versus 7.2%

In a recent Bank of Canada survey, businesses reported the highest hiring expectations on record amid broad optimism about future demand. A quarter of the Canadian businesses that responded are facing labor shortages. Respondents also indicated plans to increase investment spending - a factor critical to economic productivity that is far too often overlooked in the misguided obsession over consumer spending.[10] All of this has contributed to a surging Canadian dollar, which has risen from a low of 0.77 USD/CAD to well above parity and is presently making record highs on a regular basis.[11] By any conventional metric, Canada's economic performance can thus be demonstrated to have surpassed those of its peers during and subsequent to the recession.

While the United States rose to the occasion with their monolithic trillion-dollar stimulus package and the rest of the world followed suit, Canada, as noted by many opponents of the ruling party at the time,[12] all but sat idly by, and what little it did in the way of spending did nothing to contribute to its aversion of disaster, as demonstrated by the Fraser Institute.[13]

When opposition parties finally prodded the Tories into putting forward a stimulus package, the result was quite the anticlimax. As Canada's leading left-leaning policy think tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives quite cogently pointed out, the government's stimulus package was "only one quarter the size of the U.S. package and half the amount advocated by the International Monetary Fund."[15] Clearly, Canada's "stimulus package" was about as ambitious as a homeless man. In effect it was little more than a clever display of political gamesmanship whereby the appearance of action was maximized, while the action itself was minimized in order to control the damage the stimulus would cause while absolving itself of any culpability in the event of any externally induced shocks.

That the ideal policy would have been to do completely nothing, rather than merely almost nothing, is a conclusion that would have been laughed to scorn by policymakers and the public at large at the time but is nevertheless a fact that has been made painfully apparent now that the results of massive government deficit spending have become manifest. And so, with reference strictly to the differences in policy following the financial crisis, the question as to how Canada managed to escape the fate of the United States and Europe is answered not by what Canada did but rather by what Canada failed to do. It is precisely in this abstinence that we find Canada's source of relative success.

As far as the immediate policy response following the crisis is capable of explaining the economic results that obtained thereafter, the foregoing provides the answer to the disparity between the Canadian economy and those of its counterparts. However, it should be understood that a debacle like Greece is not simply a product of the policies undertaken over the prior year. Likewise for the current predicament in the United States - it takes more than one political term to drive what was once the world's largest creditor nation into near-default.

The relative strength of Canada's balance sheet is thus not to be ascribed in whole to the Conservative Party and the seven years it has now been in power but rather to the oversight it received at the hands of its ruling authorities throughout the broader period encompassing both the Conservative administration, which took power just before the financial crisis and the administration preceding it. And here we find an unlikely protagonist in the Chretien-era Liberal Party.

Under the joint leadership of Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Finance Minister Paul Martin, Canada underwent one of the most fiscally responsible periods in its history. Debt reduction was a goal that figured prominently throughout the ten years of the Chretien administration and in the subsequent two years of the finance minister's administration. Taking power as Canada's debt levels were hitting record levels, Martin made it clear from the start that the priorities of the government would be fixed squarely on eliminating the deficit and the record of the following decade leaves little doubt that this was a commitment that was delivered upon powerfully.

Martin went to great lengths to bring the public on board, televising the lobbying efforts of interest groups and publishing dire reports on Canada's fiscal situation, and then embarked on what was in all probability the greatest reduction in government spending ever undertaken in Canada from its inception. Following a peak deficit of $42 billion in fiscal 1993-1994, the administration managed to reverse the deficit and produce a surplus by 1997-1998, and sustain the surplus over the following two years before posting a historical record of $17.1 billion in budgetary surplus in fiscal 2000-2001.

From that point, the government was able to produce a surplus every year up to 2007-2008, at times finding itself alone among G7 administrations in doing so. This was a period during which several significant tax cuts were implemented including a $58 billion tax-cut package in 2001[16] alongside the reintroduction of inflation indexing for personal income taxes. This paralleled the experience in the provinces, which themselves were able to achieve budget balance in the aggregate by 2000 while concomitantly applying substantial cuts in personal income and corporate tax rates.[17]

And thus effectively the whole of the fiscal turnaround in Canada, to the extent it was effected through endogenous factors, can be quite unambiguously attributed to cuts in government spending. Altogether, Chretien and Martin presided over more than $80 billion in surpluses[18] and there is no doubt that this is the single most enduring feature of their legacy.

Equally instructive is the counterexample of the preceding administration. Prior to the Chretien regime, the Mulroney-led Conservative Party had led Canada into a protracted period of economic decline due to its inability to shake off the prevailing Keynesian orthodoxy of deficit spending as a means of reducing unemployment.[19] Incidentally, the dramatic spending cuts implemented by Martin were accompanied and followed by a steep decline in the unemployment rate - from a high of 11.4 percent in 1993 to 6 percent in 2007.[20] Having raised Canada's level of debt-to-GDP to an unprecedented high of 67 percent,[21] the Mulroney administration is a typical example of the futility of free-market rhetoric in shaping the course of the economy so long as practice remains bound by the spell of Keynesian doctrine. Together, the two episodes form an addition to the endless wealth of historical instances of economic outcomes occurring in precisely the opposite manner from that predicted by Keynesian theory.

The lesson of the succeeding Harper government is largely the same. Following the example of Paul Martin and the Chretien administration, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the Conservative Party posted surpluses in their first two years in power, helping to bring down the debt-to-GDP ratio - a measure that had been as high as 68.4 percent in fiscal 1995-1996 - to 28.8 percent in 2009,[22] giving Canada the lowest ratio in the G7[23] and making Canada the only G7 country to post ten consecutive surpluses since 1960.[24] Although this quickly deteriorated into unseemly deficits in fiscal 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 due to the political jockeying of a vulnerable minority government, by that time it was too late to overcome the favorable impact of the policies of the preceding decade.

Thanks to Canada's own debt problems at the expiration of Mulroney's term, deficit spending by the government had acquired a bad taste in the mouths of Canadians and this negative association has persisted up until the present as announcing budget deficits has become almost anathema to the voting public. This goes far in explaining why the political developments in Canada leading up to 2007 were so markedly different from other developed countries and why the country is the fiscal envy of the world today.

No nation is exempt from the laws of economics and, as the United States and Europe are now learning, the ultimate bankruptcy of an unbounded government is just as inexorable in the developed world as it is in third-world countries.

The lesson of Canada can be summarized as follows: the size of a country's problems is directly proportional to the size of its government.

More HERE

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US Government Asset Seizures on the Rise

The Wall Street Journal published a disturbing article earlier this week entitled "Federal Asset Seizures Rise, Netting Innocent With Guilty."

You can already imagine the crux of the article. In the United States, there are hundreds of regulations which authorize dozens federal agencies to confiscate private property - homes, cars, bank accounts, gold, company shares, and even personal effects.

Ironically, most Americans still think that they live in a country where you're innocent until proven guilty. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it's just another clear example of how the US Constitution has become a worthless piece of toilet paper for the federal government.

The Fifth Amendment states that "No person shall be.deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Tell that James Lieto, a New York businessman who was relieved of $392,000 when the armored car company used by his check-cashing firm was taken down by the FBI.

Lieto was innocent and not implicated in any wrongdoing, but the FBI took his money regardless as it just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Last October, another businessman named Raul Stio was suspected of wrongdoing by the Treasury Department. The government seized over $150,000 from his account, yet in the 10-months that followed, Stio has still not been charged with a crime.

According to Justice Department statistics, the total value of confiscated property exceeded $2.5 billion in 2010, more than double from five years ago. The average take per case? $166,000.and the vast majority of cases were non-criminal.

It's truly staggering to think about how much can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye, all without any judicial oversight or right to a hearing.

The reason could be anything. Maybe you violated some arcane, meaningless regulation among the hundreds of thousands of pages of US Code (ignorance of the law is NOT an excuse!). Maybe you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe they had no real reason at all other than mere suspicion.

One minute you have money, the next you're completely locked out of your wealth and livelihood. They force YOU to prove to them that you aren't guilty, but they take away any means you had to defend yourself.

Look, this is the new reality in America. The entire country has become a nation of criminals - there isn't a single man, woman, or child alive who is not in violation of some obscure regulation or cannot be `suspected' of wrongdoing.

This is really just a form of cannibalism - a government feeding on its own citizens in order to keep the party going just a little bit longer. They'll raise taxes, seize assets, take over pension funds, erode freedoms, start wars and send people to die - whatever it takes to maintain the status quo.

I've long advocated for an internationalization strategy: diversifying various assets and interests overseas so that no one single government has total control over your livelihood.

Store your gold in Switzerland. Open a bank account in Hong Kong. Register your company in the BVI. Establish a `backup' residency in Chile. Expand your business in Brazil. Get a better job in Singapore. Obtain a second passport in Malta. Open a brokerage account in the Cayman Islands.

This approach is NOT just for the super rich. In fact, I've helped all kinds of people to internationalize, young and old, rich and poor.

Taking some simple steps to protect yourself will give you extraordinary peace of mind. You'll know that, without doubt, you have some savings socked away that NOBODY can touch. You'll know that you have a solid emergency backup plan. You'll know that everything you've worked for won't vanish in an instant.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Zogby Poll: More Bad Numbers for Obama, as 35% Say He Deserves Re-Election: "Majorities of likely voters continue to disapprove of President Barack Obama's job performance (60%) and say it is "time for someone new" (55%) in the White House. Among those who do approve of Obama's performance, 34% say they are disappointed by the president, but don't want to undermine him by saying they disapprove. The job approval and re-election results in the Aug. 25-29 IBOPE Zogby interactive poll are little changed from the last similar survey conducted Aug. 2-4."

Do we really need a national weather service?: "As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, news stations bombard our televisions with constant updates from the National Hurricane Center. While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm, federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America's past that have actually outlived their usefulness."

Leave the hurricane price-gougers alone: "Well, if it's hurricane season, it must be anti-price-gouging season. It's bad enough for people to be hit by a hurricane. You'd think that statists would show some mercy and spare people some economic idiocy during difficult times. Alas, it is not to be. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced that he would prosecute anybody engaging in price-gouging during Hurricane Irene."

President Obama, the Blamer-in-Chief: "I usually write songs and this is my first attempt at writing an op-ed piece. It always amazes me how most political commentators beat around the bush. Well, that's not how you write a song so let's just cut to the chase and get to the chorus: My song 'Obama Budget Plan' can be seen on YouTube. It indicates that President Obama's budget plan appears to be to spend as much of our money as he wants, on anything he wants and to pay for it by just printing more money. The fact is, President Obama doesn't really seem to have a plan at all."

Another criticism of "animal rights": "Any careful observation of the rest of nature will make it evident that applying moral criteria to how animals live is in error -- what philosophers have called a 'category mistake.' And at the same time and for similar reasons, ascribing rights to animals is also misguided, just as would be to ascribe guilt to them when they carry out their killings and maiming in the wilds"

Whose axe made your axe? You better find out: "For the second time in two years, federal agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have raided two Tennessee factories that make iconic Gibson guitars. The government alleges that Gibson imported woods in violation of the Lacey Act, a century-old law that makes it a federal crime to trade in plants, wildlife, or timber that have been harvested in violation of 'any foreign law.' While this seems simple enough, and the anti-poaching/conservation impulses behind the law are certainly commendable, the Lacey Act has become one of many federal statutes that create invisible minefields of federal regulations into which anyone can stumble unknowingly"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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, August 29, 2011


The end of the 20th century welfare state – and the death of social democracy?

By Greg Lindsay, Executive Director of Australia's "Centre for Independent Studies" (A market-oriented thinktank)

Readers of my occasional posts on e-PrĂ©CIS over the years will detect a theme that recent events have only reinforced: the end of one of the most costly social experiments in the history of mankind – the 20th century welfare state – and the death of social democracy. The CIS has been warning about this for the last couple of decades. Looks like a crisis or two is the only way to bring people to their senses, although I’m not especially hopeful on that front either.

The unfolding crisis broadly seems to be in two parts: fiscal crises as exemplified by the unfolding sovereign and banking disasters in Europe and the United States, and the social riots in the United Kingdom – with some other issues tossed into the mix such as failing families and education. They are both two sides of the same coin. This crisis for modern liberal democracy in the West is a serious problem and we’d better get it right.

The inexorable growth in entitlement welfare and its imperialistic intrusion into all facets of daily life is not only unsustainable but enfeebling and enslaving. The idea that a strong market economy could sustain increased social spending forever was a neo-socialist’s dream. It’s now turned into a nightmare fuelled by continued borrowing and wishful thinking.

Like rabbits in the headlights, the so-called leaders in politics and officialdom have proved to be no less mortal and fallible than the rest of us. And yet, an article in today’s Australian Financial Review ran with the headline ‘Politicians told to fix political crisis’. Blinded and unable to move, they have mortgaged the futures of our children. This is a scandalous moral catastrophe and a cause for shame and humiliation, but contrition is not part of their thinking. It may well end badly, but hopefully not.

Much of what we at CIS have argued for provides some solid analysis of the issues and also some signposts as to where we should be heading. Australia is in a better position than almost every other country. Perhaps our leaders have been listening to us.

Received via email

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Depraved but not deprived

By MARK STEYN

Unlike many of my comrades in the punditry game, I don't do a lot of TV. But I'm currently promoting my latest doom-mongering bestseller so I'm spending more time than usual on the telly circuit. This week I was on the BBC's current-affairs flagship "Newsnight." My moment in the spotlight followed a report on the recent riots in English cities, in the course of which an undercover reporter interviewed various rioters from Manchester who'd had a grand old time setting their city ablaze and expressed no remorse over it. There then followed a studio discussion, along the usual lines. The host introduced a security guard who'd fought for Queen and country in Afghanistan and Bosnia and asked whether he sympathized with his neighbors. He did. When you live in an "impoverished society," he said, "people do what they have to do to survive."

When we right-wing madmen make our twice-a-decade appearance on mainstream TV, we're invariably struck by how narrow are the bounds of acceptable discourse in polite society. But in this instance I was even more impressed by how liberal pieties triumph even over the supposed advantages of the medium. Television, we're told, favors strong images – Nixon sweaty and unshaven, Kennedy groomed and glamorous, etc. But, in this instance, the security guard's analysis, shared by three-quarters of the panel, was entirely at odds with the visual evidence: There was no "impoverished society." The preceding film had shown a neat subdivision of pleasant red-brick maisonettes set in relatively landscaped grounds. There was grass, and it looked maintained. Granted, it was not as bucolic as my beloved New Hampshire, but, compared to the brutalized concrete bunkers in which the French and the Swedes entomb their seething Muslim populations, it was nothing to riot over. Nonetheless, someone explained that these riotous Mancunian youth were growing up in "deprivation," and the rioters themselves seemed disposed to agree. Like they say in "West Side Story," "I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived." We've so accepted the correlation that we don't even notice that they're no longer deprived, but they are significantly more depraved.

SOURCE

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Greed, theft and envy are the hallmarks of socialism

The first virtue of socialism is greed. When most people hear the word “greed,” capitalism is the only economic system that comes to mind. There is no question, in the minds of many, that capitalism and greed are synonymous. However, one needs to step back and ask if greed applies to socialism as well. Greed, according to a dictionary, is the selfish desire for or pursuit of money, wealth, power, food, or other possessions, especially when this denies the same goods to others. So does this apply to socialism? Absolutely. The reason is this: those who want to “share the wealth” are themselves just as guilty as pursuing more money and wealth than they have earned. Though their pursuit of wealth is disguised by an agenda to make America socialist, if they get their wishes the government will automatically grant them wealth without effort. This is still greed, because they are driven by a desire for more money. In other words, you do not have to be rich to be greedy.

The second virtue of socialism is envy. Envy, according to a dictionary, is best defined as an emotion that occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it (Italics dictionary). This one goes hand in hand with greed, however, it seems more obvious than that. Wealth is a possession and if wealth is a possession, then envy applies to those who covet money. Socialism is about coveting money, namely the rich person’s money. Other things could also drive this coveting of wealth, like what one would do if they had more money. Of course, if they had more money they could live like the rich.

The third virtue is of socialism is theft. Theft occurs in socialism when the rich person’s money is forcibly taken from him by way of income taxation. First off, no one’s income should be taxed because everyone has a right to keep the money that they have earned. Taxation is legalized theft, but we do not all see it that way. To paraphrase what Ron Paul said in The Revolution: A Manifesto, if someone were to come in to our house and take our money with promises that they will do good with the money they are stealing from us, we would object to this behavior and notify the authorities. What are these taxes used for that are in the name of good intentions? Statist programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This all seems well and good, and not all of this money comes from the rich, but you get the point of the analogy. Another thing taxation is used for is war. Starve the government of taxation, and wars become much more difficult to fight without bankrupting the country.

The word that is paired with socialism, and perhaps its main principle, is fairness. It is only “fair” that the government makes sure that its people are taken are come by spreading the wealth, according to the socialist. But is it fair to steal from someone else? Is it fair to take the earnings of someone and give it to another person who did not earn it? Where is the motivation for the person to work hard or harder to maintain his standard of living? Where is the motivation of the person receiving the money to improve himself by becoming a hard worker?

Capitalism’s main virtue is one that many people need to understand, namely, that you have the right to keep what you earn. Also another principle of capitalism is that it is in my best interest to act in your best interest and your best interest to act in my best interest. This necessity allows for things like trade to occur. It also reminds us that the rich cannot oppress the poor, because if they do the poor will seek a way out and get find a way to get what they believe is in their best interest (usually better wages).

So when a socialist claims that he or she has a moral system and capitalism does not, there is no excuse for the capitalist not to argue against this point. If anything, socialism is a much more immoral system than capitalism could ever possibly be.

SOURCE

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"Temple denial"

Temple Denial is the belief that no Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem. This claim, despite being counter to Islamic tradition, became internalized within Palestinian academic, religious, and political circles following the 1967 Six-Day War. Since the 2000 Camp David Summit, during which Yasir Arafat asserted that the Jewish Temple never existed in Jerusalem, “Temple Denial” has spread with increased virulence in an attempt to deny both Jewish authority and access to the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

On the ninth day of the 2000 Camp David Summit, Yasir Arafat, then Palestinian National Authority President, told President Bill Clinton that “Solomon’s Temple was not in Jerusalem, but Nablus.”[1] Arafat’s remark, known as “Temple Denial,” shook the foundation of the negotiations, as the leading Palestinian figure denied the existence of Judaism’s holiest site. Temple Denial is historical revisionism that runs counter to classical Islamic tradition and archaeological evidence. Since the 1967 Six-Day War, after Muslim control over the Temple Mount was lost to Israel, the belief that no Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem has developed and become internalized within Palestinian academic, religious, and political circles. Since Camp David, Temple Denial has transformed into a virulent delegitimization campaign that attempts to deny both Jewish authority and access to the Temple Mount and Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem.

For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest place in the world. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount originates in the biblical narrative, as it is said to be the location of the binding of Isaac.[2] The Talmud, Judaism’s supreme canonical text, says that the foundation stone on the Temple Mount is the location from which the world was created.[3] In Samuel II 24:18-25, King David bought the bedrock for the Temple from Araunah the Jebusite. Subsequently, Solomon, David’s son, used the bedrock to build the First Temple.[4] Solomon’s Temple was eventually destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 586 BCE.

Following the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple, many Jews were sent into exile. However, under the Persian King Cyrus, the Jews were allowed to return and began to rebuild the Temple. The Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE and expanded by King Herod in 19 BCE. In 70 CE, the Roman Empire, led by Emperor Titus, laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. Jews have maintained an unbreakable connection to Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount since that time.

Classic Islamic literature also recognizes the existence of a Jewish Temple and its importance to Judaism. This makes Palestinian Temple Denial all the more puzzling.

In Sura 17:1 of the Koran, the “Farthest Mosque” is called the al-masjid al-Aqsa. The Tafsir al-Jalalayn,[8] a well-respected Sunni exegesis of the Koran from the 15th and 16th centuries, notes that the “Farthest Mosque” is a reference to the Bayt al-Maqdis of Jerusalem.[9] In Hebrew, the Jewish Temple is often referred to as the Beyt Ha-Miqdash, nearly identical to the Arabic term. In the commentary of Abdullah Ibn Omar al-Baydawi, who authored several prominent theological works in the 13th century, the masjid is referred to as the Bayt al-Maqdis because during Muhammad’s time no mosque existed in Jerusalem.[10] Koranic historian and commentator, Abu Jafar Muhammad al-Tabari, who chronicled the seventh century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem, wrote that one day when Umar finished praying, he went to the place where “the Romans buried the Temple [bayt al-maqdis] at the time of the sons of Israel.”[11] In addition, eleventh century historian Muhammad Ibn Ahmad al-Maqdisi and fourteenth century Iranian religious scholar Hamdallah al-Mustawfi acknowledged that the al-Aqsa Mosque was built on top of Solomon’s Temple.[12]

This is a small sample of the Islamic literature attesting to the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount. Innumerable other writings from other faiths attest to this fact, as well.

The modern phenomenon of Temple Denial began during the Palestine Mandate. During this period, the Temple Mount was under the authority of the Supreme Muslim Council, led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husayni. The Supreme Muslim Council published yearly guide books to the Haram al-Sharif (the Temple Mount). Drawing from those available, the 1924, 1925, 1929, and 1935 guide books all stated that the Haram al-Sharif’s “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”[13] The recognition of the Temple Mount’s importance to Jews in the guidebooks continued until 1950, two years after Israel’s establishment.[14] However, by 1954, the references to Solomon’s Temple disappeared. At some point between 1950 and 1954, the Muslim waqf (religious authority) that governed the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque inexplicably began to remove the references seen in earlier guide books.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE



The "fast unto death" still works in India: "A septuagenarian anticorruption activist ended a 13-day hunger strike Sunday with a glass of coconut water after India's Parliament bowed to his demands, agreeing to create a powerful, independent lokpal, or ombudsman, with authority to go after high-level corruption."

Israel: Seven wounded in Arab attack: "A Palestinian [Arab] attacker wounded seven Israelis near a Tel Aviv nightclub early Monday, hitting a police checkpoint with a stolen taxi and then stabbing others, police said. The attacker was a Palestinian in his twenties from the city of Nablus, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri."

Canada: Attack on author may be Islamist hate crime: "Halton police are treating an attack on a first-time author whose self-published book has been branded anti-Muslim as a possible hate crime. Raised Islamic, Paris Dipersico, 24, reported being dragged from his bicycle Aug. 17, tied up among trees, then beaten briefly unconscious by two Muslim men."

The state against the urban poor: "In the hands of those who know how to use it, the state is a weapon. Planning laws are a good example of its subtle use by powerful interest groups. They effectively control the supply of desirable property, so that the owners of those properties can earn monopolistic profits. As with the barrier-to-entry laws that protect established corporations, planning laws protect property owners."

Heavy hand: "It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that Washington’s intrusive, heavy-handed policies are not stifling economic growth across America, and particularly on Main Street. One might add that this is further evidence that liberty and prosperity (and their opposites) go hand in hand -- a point that Republican presidential candidates would do well to emphasize."

Doubling down in the drug war: "Why can’t the U.S. government ever learn lessons from any of its failed programs? The biggest lesson it fails to learn is the importance of ending programs that are obvious failures, especially ones that are inherently incapable of succeeding. Instead, in its usually bullheaded, headstrong fashion, the government maintains the program and, even worse, actually expands it."

More on Government Motors: "The suit, filed by one Donna Truska, argues that the Impalas -- made between 2007 and 2008 -- had defective rear spindle rods, leading to rapid tire wear. The plaintiff claims that GM has breached its warranty, and demands that GM fix the cars. But the new GM argues that since the cars were made by the Old GM, it is not liable for the repairs, and the 400,000 Impala owners should therefore go to hell."

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. 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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