Saturday, September 17, 2011

British women turning Right: Female voters back spanking in the home, armed police and teen curfews

Large majorities of women are calling for hardline measures to improve discipline in the wake of last month’s riots, supporting curfews on under-16s, the arming of police and smacking in the home.

A startling survey reveals that women voters have turned sharply against the culture of ‘children’s rights’ built up over several decades and want the Government to take radical steps to redress the balance.

The poll of 1,000 women by a new female-only polling company, HerSay, shows that 58 per cent now believe youngsters have too many rights and 67 per cent believe the rioters are the product of a ‘violent society’, described by some as Broken Britain.

Some 87 per cent support the naming and shaming of children found guilty of a criminal offence, 72 per cent want under-16s banned from going outside after 9pm and 76 per cent say rioters should be sent to army boot camps to be disciplined.

The poll found 40 per cent of women think parents should stop children wearing hoodies, 45 per cent support the use of the cane in schools and 49 per cent think parents of children caught rioting should have their benefits removed.

A startling 57 per cent of women support the arming of the police, and 52 per cent agree with the use of smacking in the home to instil discipline.

Some 41 per cent wish they could do something when other people’s children are misbehaving in public, while 37 per cent say that in the past they have felt threatened by children in their communities.

HerSay director Jo Tanner said: ‘This research clearly illustrates that UK women recognise the importance of personal responsibility in disciplining their children. ‘They are, however, looking for support from the wider community and the authorities, whether it be tougher measures in schools or curfews for under-16s. ‘This survey dispels the myth that British women are a soft touch on parenting and discipline.’

Tory MP Priti Patel said the findings of the poll were ‘clear and striking’. She added: ‘There has been a fundamental breakdown in society whenit comes to law and order and discipline. 'This poll shows women in this country want a restoration of discipline and responsibility. Women want more respect for figures of authority. ‘Schools should be able to do more to discipline their pupils and off the back of what has just happened with the riots, the police do need more power to take action.

‘The riots were terrible and unfortunate, but they have focused government thinking and energy as to how we can deal with a lot of these areas. 'We need people who step out of line to fear the full force of the law.’

SOURCE

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Now the TRUTH about education unions is starting to surface

And it's a lesson we all need to learn. Democrat politicians are one corrupt bag of manure using tax money to fund their elections

Dick McDonald

Remember the violent and disgusting demonstrations over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker doing away with collective bargaining for teachers' unions? The results are in. Some school districts went from a $400,000 deficit to a $1,500,000 surplus as a result. Why?

It seems that the insurance company that provided all the "so-called" benefits to the teachers was an insurance company owned and operated by the teacher's union. Since the outfit was guaranteed to get the insurance business from the teachers, and the State had to pay for it (not the teachers) the insurance company was increasing annual costs every single year to become the most expensive insurance company in the state. Then the company was donating millions and millions of dollars to its favorite democrat politicians who, when they got elected, guaranteed to keep funding the union's outrageous costs. In other words, the insurance company was a "pass through" for Wisconsin taxpayer money directly to the democrat politicians.

Nice racket, and this is the racket that is going on in every single State that allows collective bargaining.

No wonder the States are taking it away. Now the State of Wisconsin is free to put the insurance contract out for bids and, lo and behold, they have saved so much money it has turned deficits into surplus amounts. As a result, none of the teachers had to be laid off, everyone got a raise, etc., etc., and the taxpayers of Wisconsin don't have to pay more taxes to fund the union's political ambitions.

If you weren't aware of the reasons Gov. Walker was fighting to take away collective bargaining, it gives you an idea of the problem the Republican Party has. Outside of one or two, none of them know how to speak up and explain properly what the problem was. We could sure use a Ronald Reagan now, someone who could explain things for people to understand, since we know that people don't like to read anymore.

More details HERE

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More Democrat hate speech. "Civility" forgotten in a rush of foul and unsubstantiated allegations

James Carville: ‘There Were Enough Deaths at Stalingrad’ to make ‘Tea Party Collectively Orgasm’

In a recent article penned for CNN addressing President Obama, unabashed Democratic strategist James Carville revealed his true feelings about the Tea Party. Carville boldly asserted that its members harbor a deep seated blood-lust — a kind so egregious in fact that they would have orgasmically rejoiced over the deaths at Stalingrad.

The “Rajun’ Cajun“ also lamented the ”clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.”

“This may be news to you [Obama] but this is not going well. For precedent, see Russian Army 64th division at Stalingrad. There were enough deaths at Stalingrad to make the entire tea party collectively orgasm,” Carville blasted.

Strangely, the bizarre tirade appeared in a “letter” that was focused on Obama’s re-election strategy. For Carville, smearing conservatives and Obama’s re-election apparently go hand in hand. He continued:

“As I watch the Republican debates, I realize that we are on the brink of a crazy person running our nation,” Carville fretted. “I sit in front of the television and shudder at the thought of one of these creationism-loving, global-warming-denying, immigration-bashing, Social-Security-cutting, clean-air-hating, mortality-fascinated, Wall-Street-protecting Republicans running my country.”

SOURCE

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California Legislature Tries to Stop Cities From Privatizing Their Own Libraries

In the Orange County Register, Reason Foundation's Harry Kenny explains how library privatization has helped cities and why California Gov. Jerry Brown should veto a union-backed bill aimed at preventing cost-savings: "California's unemployment rate rose to 12 percent in July. More than 2 million Californians are out of work, and a third of those people have been unemployed for more than a year. So what is the state Legislature doing? It wants to prevent cash-strapped local governments from privatizing libraries.

Apparently, the folks in Sacramento believe that cities looking for ways to reduce expenses are better off with no libraries at all than with privately operated libraries.

Assembly Bill 438, sponsored by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk because Democrats in Sacramento voted to control local decisions and prevent cities from making choices about what is best for their own libraries.

The bill represents a dramatic overreach by Sacramento into local communities. Via AB438 the Legislature mandates that cities choosing to privatize are not allowed to reduce the size of their library staffs.

Further, the bill mandates that every single current library employee must keep his or her job in any future public-private partnership agreement, which explains why powerful unions have been pushing the bill. Cities will also be forced to spend time and money preparing and submitting studies and reports to Sacramento in order to obtain the state's permission to privatize."

See HERE

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An explanation of politics for Democrat supporters

The folks who are getting free shit don’t like the folks who are paying for the free shit because the folks who are paying for the free shit can no longer afford to pay for both the free shit and their own shit. And this is creating a shitstorm.

The folks who are paying for the free shit want the free shit to stop, and the the folks who are getting the free shit want even more free shit on top of the free shit they are already getting.

Now, the people who are forcing the people who pay for the free shit have told the people who are receiving the free shit that the people who are paying for the free shit are the problem.

So, the people who are getting the free shit resent the people who are paying for the free shit because of the smears by the people who are forcing other people to pay for the free shit.

Can you believe this shit? We have let the free shit giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free shit than paying for the free shit.

Now understand this, all great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figure out they could vote themselves free shit by electing people who promised to give them free shit in exchange for electing them.

The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 231 years ago. The number of people now getting free shit outnumber the people paying for the free shit. We have one chance to change that in 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.

ELECTION 2012 IS COMING. Vote the Shit Out. Vote a Conservative In

SOURCE

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Democrat lies hard to budge

One more proof that if you tell a big enough lie often enough people will believe it

I’ve only recently come to realize the nature of the hurdle this country faces in trying to turn around a stalled economy and horrendous deficit. Here it is: liberal Democrat politicians have fully convinced huge numbers of people that our economic/fiscal mess is the result of two principal demons: 1) “the rich” and 2) the Tea Party. The former, of course, has been a longtime liberal scapegoat; the latter is a new one.

I’ve realized this painfully in the last few weeks as a result of several commentaries I’ve done (USA Today, FoxNews, among others), viewed by a large portion of Americans from across the political spectrum. In these commentaries, I tried to stick to statistics and facts. I naively thought my approach would be convincing. It was not, as evidenced by the many people I continue to argue with in emails.

Here today, I’ll reiterate the one fact that I thought was irrefutable:

As I noted in an article titled, “It’s the spending, stupid,” the federal government, from 1965-2009, never cut spending one single year. That’s right, not one time—nope, nada, nothing. To repeat: from 1965-2009, the federal government never decreased annual spending. To see the figures on a chart is eye-opening. The annual rise in spending has been a steady, non-stop, unbroken, upward climb for over 40 years. To the contrary, revenues to the federal government have gone up and down, the result—not of tax rates on “the rich,” but—of the status of the economy from year-to-year, especially during recessions. It’s both amazing and depressing to see that the federal government, unlike you and your family and your household and your business and your anything and everything else, is apparently incapable of adjusting (i.e., decreasing) its spending based on available revenues. It used to do so, under both Democrat and Republican presidents, but that changed in 1965, when the federal government, starting with the Great Society, began an outright spending addiction.

As I noted in the article, seeing this for yourself is as easy as Googling “historical tables deficit,” where one can view two sources: CBO historical tables (Congressional Budget Office)and OMB historical tables (Office of Management and Budget). These are the official sources for data on federal budgets. In the OMB link, look at Table 1.1, titled, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits: 1789-2016.”

In my articles and emails, I even included hyperlinks (as I have here) to these tables, imploring people to look for themselves rather than accept my word. And yet, I can’t begin to recount the angry emails I got from people insisting that the reasons for our deficits/debt is not over-spending by the federal government but greed by wealthy people who don’t pay “their fair share” of income taxes and by dastardly “racist” “terrorists” in the Tea Party. And, yes, I actually got emails (many of them) from people insisting that Tea Party members are “terrorists.” To observe an American public, only a decade removed from September 11, somehow equating Tea Party members with “terrorists” leaves me almost speechless and hopeless.

I will not bother responding to that particular smear, but I would like to address the charge that the rich are not paying “their fair share.” Again, I will stick to data.

If you Google the words “Who pays income tax?” you will find a chart (click here) from the National Taxpayers Union. It includes these telling statistics:

The top 1 percent of income earners pay 38 percent of all federal tax revenue. The top 5 percent pay 59 percent. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. The top 25 percent pay 86 percent. The top 50 percent pay 97.3 percent. Conversely, the bottom 50 percent pay merely 2.7 percent of all federal tax revenue.

As the data shows, the rich are certainly paying their fair share. In fact, they pay the vast share. The poorest Americans, conversely, pay literally nothing in income taxes.

If anything, the system is disproportionately titled against the wealthy. Our “rich” are paying for the reckless behavior of politicians addicted to spending; they are subsidizing spending addicts. And to watch those addicts blame their mess on the rich for not paying enough? It’s downright obscene.

But the folks who have emailed me have the complete opposite opinion. It is an incorrect opinion.

Let me repeat: America’s deficit/debt problem is a spending problem. It is not the fault of rich people who pay too little income tax or Tea Party members guilty of “terrorism.” Don’t take my word for it. Look at the data.

My fear, however, is that the data just doesn’t matter to a huge number of followers of the party line. And that’s a very serious problem for this country, a giant propaganda hurdle that may be insurmountable.

SOURCE. (See the original for links)

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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Friday, September 16, 2011

Mark Twain conservatism

Attempting to categorize conservatism in the 21st century runs the risk of plunging into the briar patch of academic labeling or the fever swamp of left-wing vitriol. In the first category, one finds such designations as conservatism, neo-conservatism, and paleo-conservatism, while those things liberals say about conservatives may be relegated to the realm of overheated political rhetoric. But this still leaves those sympathetic to conservatism with the problem of self-definition, especially during a time when Tea Party enthusiasts have captured so much attention in the context of discussions about conservative views.

The word conservatism itself is usually and rightfully associated with political principles of the Founding Fathers, but the neo-conservative and paleo-conservative forms of conservatism seem puzzling to many. Not helpful on either score. And we have seen that even Tea Party metaphors can be dismissed with sound bites by liberal smear-aholics.

Here’s where Mark Twain comes to the rescue, especially since he was too busy mocking others to care about what others had to say about him, and his attitude toward politicians of every stripe pretty much says it all: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Likely his observations of today’s congressional shenanigans would leave him rolling on the ground with laughter—or breaking down in tears. Either way, he would make great fun of it, no doubt with incredulity, skepticism, and no small amount of contempt. But does this make Twain a conservative?

The answer, I believe, is yes, for the following reasons. First, unlike America’s current ruling class, Mark Twain lived a very rich and full life, filled with events that burned the lessons of experience into his soul, all of which reinforced his understanding of the reality principle: that is, the relationship between cause and effect and taking responsibility for one’s actions. For instance, one does not advance to the position of river-boat pilot on the Mighty Mississippi with no more experience than negotiating a rowboat on a stream. His considerable income did not prevent him from losing all of it in failed business ventures; he traveled throughout the world, met thousands of people, was swindled by a few of them, became personally familiar with life’s many vices and tried briefly to give up smoking, drinking, lying and swearing, but couldn’t. The best he managed was to control his drinking and write an essay that was “An Appeal Against Injudicious Swearing,” which is as far as he would go on this very important topic.

In short, does anyone for a moment think that this man would be fooled by starry-eyed appeals for hope and change, to remake America, or to believe anything proclaimed by members of what he regarded as America’s only known criminal class, the U.S. Congress? Not likely.

His excellent short story, “The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg,” was a brilliant statement on humankind’s self-righteousness and gullibility, and should be required reading for everyone, especially those contemplating a political career. He did not believe it possible that politics could alter fundamental tendencies of human nature, a view that has been a staple of progressive thought since the 19th century.

Further, Mark Twain had contempt for that redemptive embodiment of liberal-progressive thought, from the publication of Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” to (in modern times) Al Gore’s latest fulminations on climate change: the expert. After all, the experts responsible for the country’s current financial meltdown—for $1.5 trillion deficits—belong to the same type who, according to Twain, once figured that “just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of 1,300,000 miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod” (“Life on the Mississippi”). No doubt, Twain would be appalled by his country in its current condition, but he would not be surprised; after all, it was designed by that most despicable of creatures, the political expert, those who likely had learned the art of the hoax from Twain’s very own, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

All of which made Twain, and those who follow him, conservatives; that is, individuals who understand life by actually living it, who are skeptical of human nature and the pretensions of government, and who distrust the flimflammery of self-proclaimed experts. Call them Mark Twain conservatives, after the man who proudly claimed that he was not just “an” American. Like all true conservatives today, he was THE American: Mark Twain.

SOURCE

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Obama Looking for Love

Jonah Goldberg

"If you love me, you've got to help me pass this bill." That was part of Barack Obama's response to an exuberant fan who shouted "I love you!" at a campaign rally. And so it has come to this. "The One" has gone from messiah to pleading like a teenage boy on a date. "Come on, baby. If you love me, you'll do it."

A gossip website reports that the New York Times is working on a story that the president is depressed. That's unconfirmed. But if he isn't depressed, I'd hope the self-proclaimed "paper of record" would investigate why on earth he's not.

According to the standard calendar, autumn is fast approaching. According to the White House calendar, we're finishing up our second "Recovery Summer." But for the president, this is darkest winter.

When Obama unveiled his first stimulus, he promised it would lift 2 million people out of poverty. Instead, the Census Bureau announced this week that 2.6 million more people fell below the poverty line last year, pushing the number of poor people to the highest level in a half-century.

That stimulus was also intended to jump-start a new economy, fueled by high-paying clean energy jobs. The crown jewel of that multibillion-dollar effort was a solar power company called Solyndra, which not only closed its doors and fired its workers, but has exposed the White House as at best politically incompetent and ideologically blinkered.

Now, in fairness, the Department of Energy considers the bankrupt company a winner. "The project that we supported succeeded," Damien LaVera, a Department of Energy spokesman, told the New York Times. "The facility was producing the product it said it would produce, and consumers were buying the product. The company struggled because the market has changed dramatically."

That's true. If Obama had been able to pass cap-and-trade as the market once foolishly expected, things might have been different. He wanted to make electricity rates "skyrocket," which could have made Solyndra's expensive products profitable. As it is, Solyndra was only marginally more legitimate an enterprise than Paul Newman's bookie parlor in "The Sting." At least Newman only stung one mobster. With this green con job, we're all feeling the bite.

Indeed, Vice President Joe Biden was right when he said Solyndra is "exactly what the Recovery Act was all about." For instance, the Washington Post reported this week that $38.6 billion in loans have netted a "few thousand" jobs rather than the 65,000 Obama promised. So if the program had "succeeded," that would amount to nearly $600,000 per job in government-backed loans.

Then there's the politics. Tuesday afternoon, even as polls remained open in congressional elections in New York and Nevada, high-level Democratic donors and strategists gathered on a conference call. A participant in the discussion told Politico that the mood was "awful." "People feel betrayed, disappointed, furious, disgusted, hopeless," he added.

That was before the election results came in. In Nevada, the Republican crushed a top-flight female Democratic candidate by 22 points. In New York, the seat that once belonged to Geraldine Ferraro, Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner went to Republican Bob Turner -- the first time the seat since has gone Republican since 1923. A liberal strategist put a rosy spin on it: "The mine hasn't collapsed, but the loss in New York is definitely a dead canary."

In both races, the Democrats used their trump card: scaring seniors by telling them the GOP wants to take away their Medicare and Social Security. It didn't work.

This came against a backdrop of abysmal poll numbers showing Obama's approval falling with every constituency, including Democrats, Independents, Hispanics and African-Americans. That might be why congressional Democrats are openly balking at his must-pass stimulus do-over.

But, please. Don't share any of this with AttackWatch.com, the third and newest operation set up by this president inviting good and decent Americans to hand over the names of critics who say mean things about the president.

It seems ominous -- and would have been denounced as Orwellian if George W. Bush had done anything of the sort. But the truth is, it's sad. The aim, I'm sure, is to inspire liberals -- who now hate Obama's enemies far more than they love Obama -- to get involved in his re-election.

In 2008, the "politics of hope" campaign trained volunteers to testify about how they "came to Obama" the way one talks of "coming to Jesus." Now they ask supporters to help build a digital enemies list. Which they'll do, of course. But not because they love him.

SOURCE

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Cheney: Israel would strike Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney believes Israel would attack Iran to prevent it from achieving nuclear weapons capacity, he said in an interview aired Monday.

When asked about the possibility of an Israeli preemptive attack against Iran, Cheney told Newsmax TV that "Iran represents an existential threat, and [the Israelis] will do whatever they have to do to guarantee their survival and their security.”

Cheney said his assessment did not come from consultation with a particular Israeli leader, but was rather a reflection of a number of discussions with Israeli officials. “I can’t attribute it to any one particular Israeli leader. I wouldn’t want to do that," he said. Nevertheless, he added that he "had a number of conversations with a lot of Israeli officials, and I think they correctly perceive Iran as a basic threat.”

SOURCE

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What Job 'Training' Teaches? Bad Work Habits

A 1969 government study warned that teens in federal jobs programs 'regressed in their conception of what should reasonably be required in return for wages paid.'

Last Thursday, President Obama proposed new federal jobs and job-training programs for youth and the long-term unemployed. The federal government has experimented with these programs for almost a half century. The record is one of failure and scandal.

In 1962, Congress passed the Manpower Development and Training Act (MDTA) to provide training for workers who lost their jobs due to automation or other technological developments. Two years later, the General Accounting Office (GAO) discovered that any trainee in this program who held a job for a single day was counted as "permanently employed"—a statistical charade by the Department of Labor to camouflage its lack of results. A decade after MDTA's inception, GAO reported that it was failing to teach valuable job skills or place trainees in private jobs and was marred by an "overriding concern with filling available slots for a particular program," regardless of what trainees actually needed.

Congress responded in 1973 by enacting the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). The preface to the new law noted that "it has been impossible to develop rational priorities" in job training. So instead of setting priorities, CETA spent vastly more money, especially on job creation. Notorious examples reported in the press in those years included paying to build an artificial rock for rock climbers, providing nude sculpture classes (where, as the Pharos-Tribune of Logansport, Ind., explained, "aspiring artists pawed each others bodies to recognize that they had 'both male and female characteristics'"), and conducting door-to-door food-stamp recruiting campaigns.

Between 1961 and 1980, the feds spent tens of billions on federal job-training and employment programs. To what effect? A 1979 Washington Post investigation concluded, "Incredibly, the government has kept no meaningful statistics on the effectiveness of these programs—making the past 15 years' effort almost worthless in terms of learning what works."

After CETA became a laughingstock, Congress replaced it in 1982 with the Job Training Partnership Act. JTPA spent lavishly—to expand an Indiana circus museum, teach Washington taxi drivers to smile, provide foreign junkets for state and local politicians, and bankroll business relocations. According to the Labor Department's inspector general, young trainees were twice as likely to rely on food stamps after JTPA involvement than before since the "training" often included instructions on applying for an array of government benefits.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

Give thanks to “price gougers”: "Some things never cease to amaze me, for example, the willingness of state officials to vilify and prosecute those who dare to raise prices during an emergency. As far as superficial demagoguery and economic illiteracy go, those initiatives are right up there. Thirty-one states have some form of anti-price-gouging law, and a recent statement from North Carolina’s attorney general, Roy Cooper, is typical of the accompanying rhetoric."

DC: Food truck advocate fights on behalf of street food: "Food trucks have proliferated in D.C. in recent years, at such a rate that they can no longer be considered a fad. But their popularity has put them at odds with bricks-and-mortar restaurants and business improvements districts, and has left the city scrambling to update its regulations. One local attorney, seeing this tension, has started a nationwide fight in defense of street food."

AZ: Perry seeks endorsement of Sheriff Joe: "Gov. Rick Perry, who once said he was 'intrigued and open' to an amnesty program for Mexican workers in the United States illegally [sic], is now courting the support of a famous immigration hardliner: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona."

Will Obama and Congress slay the Sarbox job-killing monster?: "In the middle of trotting out the tired old 'solution' of stimulating by taxing, borrowing and even more spending, the president had one brief outline of a potential agenda item that was new and surprising. And if he indeed follows through with the initiative he hinted at, it will probably do more to boost job growth than the entire so-called American Jobs Act he dropped in Congress' lap on Monday"

It’s time to get rid of FEMA: "Unfortunately, FEMA’s failure in New Orleans went well beyond the blundered mistakes of a few inept bureaucrats. Their inability to be effective was a symptom of a much deeper problem. FEMA consistently responds to political influence rather than the victims’ needs."

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 15, 2011

Britain shows the way? 111,000 state jobs go in record losses as Government cuts public sector

I didn't think it was possible

A record number of public sector jobs were lost between March and June in the biggest cull of the State workforce since records began, official figures revealed yesterday. Some 111,000 state workers lost their jobs in that three-month period when the private sector workforce grew by 41,000.

Experts warned the problem is likely to get worse as the Government continues to cut the public sector, which accounts for one in five workers. Women will be hit particularly hard as around two-thirds of the state workforce is female. Already 1.06million women are unemployed – the largest number since 1988 – with another 450 a day becoming jobless.

The Office for National Statistics figures were published yesterday, which was described by Labour as ‘a day of misery’.

Nida Ali, economic adviser to the accountant Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said: ‘The labour market has turned for the worse. There is no good news in the figures.’ On all fronts, the figures are heading in the wrong direction. Between May and July, employment dropped by 69,000 people – and unemployment rose by 80,000 to 2.51million. It is only the second time since 1994 that unemployment has breached the landmark 2.5million level.

The number of job vacancies is falling, and there are 5.6 unemployed people chasing every opening, according to the figures.

To make matters worse, many of the women who do have a job are frustrated because they have been forced into part-time work. The ONS said the number of women who are working part-time only because they ‘could not find a full-time job’ has reached an all-time high of 701,000.

Young people are also being hit hard by the jobs crisis. The ONS said 20.8 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds are unemployed – the highest rate since records began. Between May and July, an extra 78,000 youngsters became unemployed, raising the total to 973,000.

Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, warned that the situation was unlikely to improve in the short-term. He said: ‘The storm clouds are gathering. It is difficult to see how this might reverse.’

Employment Minister Chris Grayling admitted yesterday’s figures ‘underline the scale of the challenge that we face.’

SOURCE

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What Jews Should Know About Christians

Barry Rubin tries to talk sense into his fellow Jews

Most Jews today (or should I merely say many?), even the most secular among them, have a tremendous fear of Christians—especially fervent believers of the type represented today by Evangelicals–and conservatives. There is a material basis for this fear based on past Jewish experience. But it is the year 2011; things have changed; and it is time to reconsider these assumptions and see if they still make sense.

Let me begin by mentioning two specific situations I have witnessed that show the foolishness of this blindness:

1. In a particular city a group of Jews organized a march for Israel. Several Christian groups wanted to participate. Since some elements among the Jews disagreed with the Christians on other political issues, they cancelled the march rather than participate alongside pro-Israel Christians.

2. In a particular other city, an Israeli speaker was invited to speak by the main pro-Israel Jewish group. He was also invited to speak by a respectable pro-Israel Christian group. The potential speaker was informed that if he spoke for the Christian group not only would the pro-Israel Jewish group refuse to have him as a speaker but its leaders would even refuse to meet with him privately.

This kind of behavior is simultaneously shameful and stupid. We are not speaking here of political sophistication but about a mode of thinking equivalent to a fear of catching cooties.

True, in general, for almost 2000 years many Christians and their institutions have often persecuted Jews, either materially or at least had very negative views toward Jews. In this short space I will not attempt to review that history or get beyond generalizations. Readers are able to do that for themselves.

For 200 years, modern conservative and nationalist thought in the West has also often persecuted Jews, in words, attitudes, and actions. A good starting point for that phase is the triumph of German nationalists over Napoleon and the reversal of the French revolution’s grant of rights to Jews in those lands. And of course the culmination was in the Nazi death camps.

It is understandable, then, that Jews supported parties of the liberal and left type where they were welcomed, where modernity was extolled, and where Jews believed they could integrate with the masses and thus defuse grassroots’ antisemitism. That strategy made perfect sense.

With Communism’s betrayal of the Jews, the contemporary tendency for the far left to take over traditional social democratic and liberal institutions, and the left’s romance with Third World (and particularly Palestinian, Arab, and Islamist radicalism), the world has changed. The left has largely abandoned Israel as a cause, often become antagonistic, and even evinces antisemitism.

There is still hope for reviving the social democratic and liberal tradition of being pro-Jewish and pro-Israel, but that won’t happen until the infiltration and seizure of intellectual hegemony of the far left is defeated.

Meanwhile, there has also been a change among many Christians (especially those called Evangelicals) and conservatives toward a greater friendship regarding Jews and Israel. A key reason for this shift—and proof of its authenticity—are a set of transformations in the thinking of these groups.

Before discussing the details, though, let me make it clear that Jews do not have to become conservatives or even agree with them—or with Evangelical Christians—on a wide range of issues. What is worthwhile, however, is to accept the offer of friendship on certain specific issues, respectfully disagree on others, and not demonize such people.

As noted above, many conservatives and pious Protestants have changed their view of Jews. Factors that once made for antisemitism have now been reversed. Here is a brief summary:

–Formerly, Jews were seen as subverting Christianity. Now, in an increasingly secular world, Jews (even only slightly religious ones) are seen as fellow believers, allies in preserving religiosity in the face of huge challenges.

–A key element in antisemitism were Christian documents of Jews as the “suffering servant” whose humiliation proved Christianity to be correct and “replacement theology” which says that Jews are no longer a “chosen people” but their role has been replaced by Christians. These ideas have been widely abandoned by Evangelicals. There is a new interest—and gratitude—at the Jewish roots of Christianity and a view of Jews as fellows in a Judeo-Christian religious community.

They are very much aware of Biblical verses that, for example, say that the creator of the universe will not bless those who attack or hate the Jewish people. There is also a real understanding of the history of the Holocaust and past antisemitism along with a desire to make amends. While there are those seeking converts, of course, and some who believe that supporting Jews will bring Armageddon, these are largely outdated concepts

–Conservatives tended to view Jews as cosmopolitan anti-nationalists, leftists, and pacifists. Today, however, the existence of Israel has given a different perspective on this. Jews, in the eyes of most conservatives, have created a model nation-state, a country that is willing and able to fight in its self-defense, where religion is respected as an important element in Jewish peoplehood.

–An especially important question has been how conservatives deal with the fact that there are so many Jews on the left, that is, among their political opponents and those who fight against religion in various ways. In the twentieth century especially, this was a huge source of antisemitism and a central element in Nazi doctrine.

Contemporary conservatives have, however, developed a new way of viewing this issue. First, of course, they have observed the left’s growing antagonism against Israel and even against Jews. Most importantly, they view leftist and anti-religious Jews as enemies of their own people. This neatly dispenses with a traditional core issue of antisemitism.

Someone like, say, Noam Chomsky is not seen as part of the Jewish conspiracy against America but as a person who has so broken with his Jewish roots and the interests of his people to be as much against the Jews as he is against his country or conservative values. In a sense, this concept parallels what most Jews—especially the religious and the pro-Israel majority—also think of such people.

In France and Italy, Holland and Spain, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, conservative parties are more pro-Israel than their counterparts on the left. This has less to do with Israeli or Jewish behavior—whatever claims are made to the contrary—than it does the philosophical and political evolution of politics within those countries.

Let me make this absolutely clear: to cooperate with liberals on supporting Israel one need not be a liberal; to cooperate with conservatives on supporting Israel one need not be a conservative. To cooperate with Christians on supporting Israel one need not be a Christian.

Of course, a distinction must be made between much larger conservative forces and smaller neo-fascist ones. The Le Pen party in France, the British National Party, and other forces continue the historic antisemitism of the right-wing. In the United States, right-wingers like Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul also still hold traditional antisemitic concepts.

Yet the Jewish people have always survived by a willingness to understand the world as it is and to act as necessary without sacrificing core principles. While working to maintain and rebuild relations with real liberal and moderate social democratic forces where possible, Israel and Jews should also shake the extended hand of conservatives and Christians which is so often sincerely offered.

SOURCE

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Liberty's resilience, even after 9/11

I think Jeff Jacoby is a bit optimistic below but he has a point. I am also reminded of the wise words of judge Learned Hand: "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it. While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it."

WAS THE 9/11 DECADE a disaster for individual freedom?

Within hours of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the noted libertarian activist John Perry Barlow warned that the night of totalitarianism was about to descend on American liberty.

"Control freaks will dine on this day for the rest of our lives," wrote Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a research fellow at Harvard Law School, in an e-mail to his followers. "Within a few hours, we will see beginning the most vigorous efforts to end what remains of freedom in America."

Barlow's voice was only the first in what would eventually be a deafening chorus denouncing the government's reaction to 9/11 as an assault on fundamental freedoms. George W. Bush, Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek, "thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator." John Ashcroft, attorney general for the first three years of the Bush administration, was accused by the American Civil Liberties Union of displaying "open hostility to protecting civil liberties." Former Vice President Al Gore slammed the White House for using the war on terrorism "to consolidate its power and escape any accountability for its use."

Nearly every change in domestic national-security policy over the past decade, from airline no-fly lists to the data-mining of telephone records, was portrayed as another step down the slippery slope to a police state. Most reviled of all: the Patriot Act, passed by Congress six weeks after 9/11 and reauthorized several times since. Feverish critics characterized the law as the gateway to an American gulag. Under the Patriot Act, cried the ACLU, "the FBI could spy on a person because they don't like the books she reads or . . . the web sites she visits." To Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, debating the law on the House floor, it was "crystal clear" that the administration was determined "to abuse, attack, and outright deny the civil liberties of the people of this country in defiance of our constitution."

Some of this uproar was partisan, of course. That is why it was never directed at Barack Obama, even though he extended nearly all of Bush's national-security legacy.

But in fairness, committed civil libertarians had reason to be uneasy. If the first casualty of war is truth, the second is often freedom. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the illegal harassment of political opponents during the Nixon administration, wartime governments have certainly been known to repress dissent and abuse individual rights. During the Civil War, the federal government rounded up thousands of civilians and shut down hundreds of newspapers because they publicly opposed the policies of the Lincoln administration. FDR ordered the internment of more than 100,000 loyal Japanese-Americans during World War II, though they were guilty of nothing but their ethnicity.

It was with historical precedents like these in mind that Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold voted against the original Patriot Act – the only Senator to do so. Explaining his opposition, he quoted Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who warned in 1963 that it is "under the pressing exigencies of crisis that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees."

Yet 10 years later American freedom thrives. To be sure, obnoxious security measures are more common, especially in airports and other public spaces, but political debate, dissent, and activism are as robust as they have ever been. As the New York Times acknowledged this week, the domestic legal response to 9/11 "gave rise to civil liberties tremors, not earthquakes." The Patriot Act, for all the hyperventilating, amounted to little more than "tinkering at the margins" of existing law. By historical standards, "the contraction of domestic civil liberties in the last decade was minor."

Sincere the Feingolds and Barlows may have been, but they were wrong. American history doesn't prove that once the government's "control freaks" get a taste of expanded power, it is only a matter of time before the concentration-camp gates swing shut behind us. If anything, it proves the opposite.

Congress and the president may restrict political liberties during wartime or a crisis, but when the crisis eases liberty rebounds – and then some. The balance between security and freedom shifts back not to where it was, but to even greater liberty and expanded individual rights. Thus, after the Civil War ended, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments made the United States an even freer country than it had been before. Following World War II, FDR's internment of the Japanese was rescinded – and is now so reviled that no mainstream political figure would dream of defending or emulating it.

Americans are more jealous of their freedoms than libertarians sometimes realize. For nearly 150 years, civil liberties in this country have been on the upswing. Ten years after 9/11, they still are.

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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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

US poverty rate highest since 1993

THE US poverty rate rose in 2010 to 15.1 per cent, the highest rate since 1993, the Census Bureau has reported in another sign of a sputtering economy following a deep recession. The report showed a sharp increase in poverty from 14.3 per cent in 2009, and a fourth consecutive rise in the number of people below the poverty threshold, to 46.2 million.

The number of people in poverty was the highest since data collection began in 1959, although the rate was 7.3 percentage points lower than in 1959.

The US definition of poverty is an annual income of $22,314 for a family of four, and $11,139 for a single person in 2010.

The survey showed struggles for the rest of Americans, with median household income falling 2.3 per cent to $49,445.

The poverty rate for blacks and Hispanics was much higher than for the overall population at 27.4 per cent and 26.6 per cent, respectively. Among regions, the South had the highest poverty rate at 16.9 per cent and the highest percentage without health insurance, 19.1 per cent.

The report, showing the first full year since the recession officially ended in June 2009, supports the notion that Americans have been losing ground economically. It showed real median incomes fell 6.4 per cent from pre-recession levels in 2007 and were 7.1 per cent below the peak in 1999.

SOURCE

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New footage reveals how Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis felt about Martin Luther King

IN early 1964 Martin Luther King was the unchallenged leader of America's civil rights movement, still basking in the glory of his "I have a dream" speech the previous summer.

According to former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, later Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, he was also a "phoney", a sex pest and a "terrible man".

Four months after her husband's death, the First Lady of Camelot sat down with a close friend and a tape recorder to give her calm, candid and brutal assessment of many of those she had met in the White House. The recordings are released today

No one who displeased Mrs Kennedy was spared. Charles de Gaulle was a spiteful "egomaniac". Indira Gandhi was a pushy, bitter "prune". Ted Sorensen, the legendary Kennedy speechwriter, had a "big inferiority complex" and Clare Booth Luce, the playwright and Republican politician, was quite possibly a lesbian.

It was Dr King, who the former First Lady believed had been drunk at her husband's funeral, who came off worst.

"I just can't see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man's terrible," she told Arthur Schlesinger, the former White House aide, during eight hours of intimate recollections recorded four months after the Kennedy assassination but kept secret at her request for 47years.

Mrs Kennedy said she had been told that secret FBI wiretaps of a Washington hotel suite occupied by Dr King the night before his most famous speech revealed that he had spent much of the evening telephoning women to invite them to a sex party.

In sections of the interviews, to be broadcast tonight in the US, she describes hearing from Robert Kennedy, the former US Attorney-General and her brother-in-law, how the civil rights icon "was calling up all these girls and arranging for a party of men and women, I mean, sort of an orgy".

Mr Kennedy also told his brother's widow that Dr King had been heard joking about being drunk and seeing the pallbearers almost drop the coffin at John F.Kennedy's funeral.

Allegations of Dr King's promiscuity are not new but such unvarnished language from one liberal figurehead about another may help to explain why the tapes have stayed under wraps for so long.

The New York Times, required reading for America's liberal establishment, devoted 19 words to the King sections in a 2,000-word front-page article on the tapes yesterday.

Such hesitancy is partly explained by doubts about the authenticity of FBI wiretaps conducted under J. Edgar Hoover, but Mrs Kennedy's views on Dr King are clearly her own. She is not much kinder to Lyndon Johnson, newly installed in the White House at the time of the interviews.

Her husband had dreaded the idea of a Johnson presidency and enlisted his brother to help find alternatives to be the next Democratic nominee, she told Mr Schlesinger.

The interviews do not touch on John F.Kennedy's own affairs, which were still a closely held secret at the time.

They scarcely mention his death but they dwell in detail on the idea of death during the Cuban missile crisis. "I said, please don't send me away to Camp David, you know, me and the children," Mrs Kennedy said. "If anything happens we're going to stay right here with you ... I just want to be with you. I want to die with you, and the children do, too."

SOURCE

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A lesson for now: How Britain escaped the worst of the Great Depression

By economic historian Martin Hutchinson

In the 1930s, those hoping for economic recovery got lucky in the British political cycle and unlucky in the American one (and even more unlucky in the German cycle.) In Britain, the economically capable National Government took office in August 1931. Chancellor of the Exchequer Neville Chamberlain promptly banished Maynard Keynes from the Treasury (condemning him to six years of inferior investment returns, since he had been cut off from his sources of information) and instituted an anti-Keynesian economic policy of public spending cuts and a modest Imperial Preference tariff that proved remarkably successful. By 1933, the British economy was recovering fast, and 1932-37 provided the fastest peacetime five year growth period since Lord Liverpool’s era over a century before.

A few weeks ago I carried out a Gross Private Product analysis for the United States, subtracting government spending from GDP and looking at trends in private sector output, from which all wealth and jobs ultimately derive. The same calculations can be done for Britain, using the helpful website ukpublicspending.co.uk, and taking figures from before 1950 with a pinch of salt.

As in the United States, the greatest falls in Britain’s GPP came during the two World Wars, as output was converted to military usage – GPP fell by 45% between 1914 and 1917 and by an astonishing 57% between 1940 and 1945. In both wars, private sector output fell to levels not seen since the nineteenth century, in the second war to the level of 1870.

However the British Great Depression was not all that Great -- GPP fell by 11.7% between 1929 and 1932. This fall has since been exceeded twice in peacetime, by the Heath/Wilson downturn of 1973-75 (14.1%) and the Gordon Brown one of 2007-09 (13.2%.) The Thatcher downturn of 1979-81 and the Thatcher/Major downturn of 1989-93, both of which caused endless angst among the chattering classes and the left, were barely half as severe. Thus while the Chamberlain policy of cutting public expenditure, even slightly (by a mere 2.1% in real terms, peak to trough) opened opportunities for the private sector and turned the Great Depression into rapid recovery, the Keynesian stimulus policies pursued in the much milder global downturns of 1973-75 and 2007-09 produced significantly deeper economic troughs.

In the United States, the political cycle in the Great Depression was as unlucky as that in Britain was lucky. The Republican elected just before the downturn began followed government-enlargement, protectionist and tax-increasing policies, thus making matters much worse. Then the Democrat elected at the bottom of the slump intensified the enlargement of government and added a heavy layer of regulation, ensuring that while output recovered from the appalling depths to which it had fallen, the recovery was only partial. Only when centrist policies were restored in 1939-40 did vigorous growth resume. In summary therefore, while the first year of vigorous growth in Britain was only four years after the beginning of the Great Depression downturn, in the United States there was a full ten years delay before recovery occurred.

From previous discussion in these columns, three things need to occur before we get a vigorous recovery. First, short-term and long-term interest rates need to be raised above the level of inflation. This will allow the U.S. capital base to recover through higher saving. Moreover, a higher cost of capital relative to the cost of labor will lead the corporate sector to refocus from outsourcing jobs by investing in emerging markets to creating jobs in existing U.S. facilities.

Second, the budget deficit, both short-term and long-term needs to be brought down to at most 3-4% of GDP ($500-600 billion) initially and balance thereafter, so that the private sector ceases to be crowded out. Ideally this will be achieved as it was by Chamberlain, simply by cutting out waste in government, but closing tax loopholes can help in this process if it appears necessary – removing the tax deductions for mortgage interest and state income taxes will have little adverse economic effect, while removing that for charitable contributions will have an economically positive effect.

Finally, the blizzard of regulations that has proved a substantial additional obstacle to economic growth in 2011 needs to be cut back. Ideally some of the most egregious new regulations must be repealed, and at least the flow of new regulatory activity must be halted.

More HERE

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Economies flourishes when government leaves them alone

Some more instructive history -- from economist Thomas Sowell

Some people are hoping that President Obama's plan will get the economy out of the doldrums and start providing jobs for the unemployed. Others are hoping that the Republicans' plan will do the trick. Those who are truly optimistic hope that Democrats and Republicans will both put aside their partisanship and do what is best for the country.

Almost nobody seems to be hoping that the government will leave the economy alone to recover on its own. Indeed, almost nobody seems at all interested in looking at the hard facts about what happens when the government leaves the economy alone, compared to what happens when politicians intervene.

The grand myth that has been taught to whole generations is that the government is "forced" to intervene in the economy when there is a downturn that leaves millions of people suffering. The classic example is the Great Depression of the 1930s.

What most people are unaware of is that there was no Great Depression until AFTER politicians started intervening in the economy.

There was a stock market crash in October 1929 and unemployment shot up to 9 percent -- for one month. Then unemployment started drifting back down until it was 6.3 percent in June 1930, when the first major federal intervention took place.

That was the Smoot-Hawley tariff bill, which more than a thousand economists across the country pleaded with Congress and President Hoover not to enact. But then, as now, politicians decided that they had to "do something."

Within 6 months, unemployment hit double digits. Then, as now, when "doing something" made things worse, many felt that the answer was to do something more.

Both President Hoover and President Roosevelt did more -- and more, and more. Unemployment remained in double digits for the entire remainder of the decade. Indeed, unemployment topped 20 percent and remained there for 35 months, stretching from the Hoover administration into the Roosevelt administration.

That is how the government was "forced" to intervene during the Great Depression. Intervention in the economy is like eating potato chips: You can't stop with just one.

What about the track record of doing nothing? For more than the first century and a half of this nation, that was essentially what the federal government did -- nothing. None of the downturns in all that time ever lasted as long as the Great Depression.

An economic downturn in 1920-21 sent unemployment up to 12 percent. President Warren Harding did nothing, except for cutting government spending. The economy quickly rebounded on its own.

In 1987, when the stock market declined more in one day than it had in any day in 1929, Ronald Reagan did nothing. There were outcries and outrage in the media. But Reagan still did nothing.

That downturn not only rebounded, it was followed by 20 years of economic growth, marked by low inflation and low unemployment.

The Obama administration's policies are very much like the policies of the Roosevelt administration during the 1930s. FDR not only smothered business with an unending stream of new regulations, he spent unprecedented sums of money, running up record deficits, despite raising taxes on high income earners to levels that confiscated well over half their earnings.

Like Obama today, FDR blamed the country's economic problems on his predecessor, making Hoover a pariah. Yet, 6 years after Hoover was gone, and nearly a decade after the stock market crash, unemployment hit 20 percent again in the spring of 1939.

Doing nothing may have a better track record in the economy but government intervention has a better political record in getting presidents re-elected. People who say that Barack Obama cannot be re-elected with unemployment at its current level should take note that Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected a record four times, despite two consecutive terms in which unemployment was never as low as it is today.

Economic reality is one thing. But political impressions are something very different -- and all too often it is the political impressions which determine the fate of an administration and the fate of a nation.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Republican wins Weiner’s former NY seat: "In a blow to Democrats, a Republican candidate captured the heavily Jewish New York City congressional district previously represented by Rep. Anthony Weiner. The Republican candidate, Bob Turner, beat his Democratic opponent, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin, in Tuesday’s special election. The Associated Press called the race for Turner shortly after midnight. The race was closely watched as a measure of attitudes toward President Obama, with the Jewish vote a particular focus of attention. Former New York City mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat, urged voters to support Turner in order to send a message of dissatisfaction to President Obama over his policies toward Israel."

Jobs speech: Back to the future: "Those who are impressed by words seem to think that President Barack Obama made a great speech to Congress last week. But when you look beyond the rhetoric, what did he say that was fundamentally different from what he has been saying and doing all along? ... If government spending were the answer, we would by now have a booming economy with plenty of jobs, after all the record trillions of dollars that have been poured down a bottomless pit."

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, September 13, 2011

The Leftist vision of man is up against reality

by MICHAEL SHERMER

Anyone who follows political commentary on a regular basis through the standard channels of talk radio and television, newspaper and magazine editorials, popular books, blogs, and the like knows the standard stereotype of what liberals think of conservatives:

Conservatives are a bunch of Hummer-driving, meat-eating, gun-toting, small-government promoting, tax decreasing, hard-drinking, Bible-thumping, black-and-white-thinking, fist-pounding, shoe-stomping, morally dogmatic blowhards.

And what conservatives think of liberals:

Liberals are a bunch of hybrid-driving, tofu-eating, tree-hugging, whale-saving, sandal-wearing, big-government promoting, tax increasing, bottled-water-drinking, flip-flopping, wishy-washy, Namby Pamby bedwetters.

Such stereotypes are so annealed into our culture that everyone understands them enough for comedians and commentators to exploit them. And like many stereotypes, both of them have an element of truth. Here, it is an emphasis on differing moral values, especially those we derive intuitively. In fact, research now overwhelmingly demonstrates that most of our moral decisions are grounded in automatic moral feelings rather than deliberatively rational calculations. We do not reason our way to a moral decision by carefully weighing the evidence for and against; instead, we make intuitive leaps to moral decisions and then after the fact we rationalize our snap decisions with rational reasons.

Our moral intuitions—reflected in such conservative-liberal stereotypes—are more emotional than rational. As with most of our beliefs about most things in life, our political beliefs come first, the rationalization of those political beliefs comes second. I suppose this is one reason why I am a libertarian. Libertarian? I know what you’re thinking:

Libertarians are a bunch of pot-smoking, porn-watching, prostitution-supporting, gold-hoarding, gun-stashing, Constitution-waving, secession-mongering, tax-revolting, anti-government anarchists.

Yes, like the other two stereotypes, there is some element of truth in this one as well. Yet basically, libertarians are for freedom and liberty for individuals, while recognizing that in order to be free we must also be protected. Your freedom to swing your arms ends at my nose. As John Stuart Mill explained in his 1869 book On Liberty, “The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”[1]

The development of democracy was an important step to defeating the tyranny of the magistrate that reigned for centuries in European monarchies, but as Mill noted, the problem with democracy is that it can lead to the tyranny of the majority: “There needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling, against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development and, if possible, prevent the formation of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own.”[2] This is, in fact, why our country’s founders produced the Bill of Rights. These are rights that cannot be taken away no matter how big the majority in a democratic election.

Libertarianism is grounded in the Principle of Equal Freedom: All people are free to think, believe, and act as they choose, so long as they do not infringe on the equal freedom of others. Of course, the devil is in the details of what constitutes “infringement,” but there are at least a dozen essentials to liberty and freedom that need shielding from encroachment:

The rule of law.

Property rights.

Economic stability through a secure and trustworthy banking and monetary system.

A reliable infrastructure and the freedom to move about the country.

Freedom of speech and the press.

Freedom of association.

Mass education.

Protection of civil liberties.

A robust military for protection of our liberties from attacks by other states.

A potent police for protection of our freedoms from attacks by other people within the state.

A viable legislative system for establishing fair and just laws.

An effective judicial system for the equitable enforcement of those fair and just laws.

These essentials also incorporate moral values embraced by both liberals and conservatives, and as such form the foundation for a bridge between the Left and the Right. Nothing new needs to be invented or introduced into the system. These are values deeply ingrained in our nature and thus will likely remain a relatively permanent part of future political patterns.

What is the evidence that these political values are part of our evolved nature? After all, democratic politics developed over the past couple millennia, far too short a time for evolution to have reworked our nature from the tiny bands of hunter-gatherers who lived without any form of centralized politics.

We begin with research by behavior geneticists on identical twins separated at birth and raised in different environments. For most traits measured, about 40-50 percent of the variance among people is accounted for by their genes, including both religious and political preferences.[3] Of course, just as genes do not code for particular religious faiths, we don’t inherit political party affiliation directly. Instead, genes code for temperament, and people tend to sort themselves into the left and right clusters of moral values based on their personality preferences, with liberals emphasizing values that involve care for the needy and fairness and equality of outcomes for all peoples, whereas conservatives underscore such values as group loyalty, respect for authority and the rule of law, and the moral sanctity of family, community, and nation.

This would explain why people are so predictable in their beliefs on such a wide range of issues that are seemingly unconnected—why someone who believes that the government should stay out of the private bedroom nevertheless believes that the government should be deeply involved in private business (liberals); or why someone who believes that taxes should be lowered nevertheless wants to spend heavily on military, police, and the judicial system (conservatives).

In his book A Conflict of Visions, the economist Thomas Sowell argues that these two clusters of moral values are intimately linked to the vision one holds about human nature, either as constrained (conservative) or unconstrained (liberal), and so he calls these the Constrained Vision and the Unconstrained Vision. Sowell shows that controversies over a number of seemingly unrelated social issues such as taxes, welfare, social security, health care, criminal justice, and war repeatedly reveal a consistent ideological dividing line along these two conflicting visions. “If human options are not inherently constrained, then the presence of such repugnant and disastrous phenomena virtually cries out for explanation—and for solutions. But if the limitations and passions of man himself are at the heart of these painful phenomena, then what requires explanation are the ways in which they have been avoided or minimized.” Which of these natures you believe is true will largely shape which solutions to social ills will be most effective. “In the unconstrained vision, there are no intractable reasons for social evils and therefore no reason why they cannot be solved, with sufficient moral commitment.

But in the constrained vision, whatever artifices or strategies restrain or ameliorate inherent human evils will themselves have costs, some in the form of other social ills created by these civilizing institutions, so that all that is possible is a prudent trade-off.” It’s not that conservatives think that we’re evil and liberals believe we’re good. “Implicit in the unconstrained vision is the notion that the potential is very different from the actual, and that means exist to improve human nature toward its potential, or that such means can be evolved or discovered, so that man will do the right thing for the right reason, rather than for ulterior psychic or economic rewards,” Sowell elaborates. “Man is, in short, ‘perfectible’—meaning continually improvable rather than capable of actually reaching absolute perfection.”[4]

In his masterpiece analysis of human nature, The Blank Slate, the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker re-labels these two visions the Tragic Vision and the Utopian Vision, and reconfigures them slightly: “The Utopian Vision seeks to articulate social goals and devise policies that target them directly: economic inequality is attacked in a war on poverty, pollution by environmental regulations, racial imbalances by preferences, carcinogens by bans on food additives. The Tragic Vision points to the self-interested motives of the people who would implement these policies—namely, the expansion of their bureaucratic fiefdoms—and to their ineptitude at anticipating the myriad consequences, especially when the social goals are pitted against millions of people pursuing their own interests.”

The distinct Left-Right divide consistently cleaves the (respectively) Utopian Vision and Tragic Vision along numerous specific contests, such as the size of the government (big versus small), the amount of taxation (high versus low), trade (fair versus free), healthcare (universal versus individual), environment (protect it versus leave it alone), crime (caused by social injustice versus caused by criminal minds), the constitution (judicial activism for social justice versus strict constructionism for original intent), and many others.[5]

Personally I agree with Sowell and Pinker that the unconstrained vision is utopian, which in its original Greek means “no place.” An unconstrained utopian vision of human nature largely accepts the blank slate model and believes that custom, law, and traditional institutions are sources of inequality and injustice and should therefore be heavily regulated and constantly modified from the top down. It holds that society can be engineered through government programs to release the natural unselfishness and altruism within people. It deems physical and intellectual differences largely to be the result of unjust and unfair social systems that can be re-engineered through social planning, and therefore people can be shuffled across socioeconomic classes that were artificially created through unfair and unjust political, economic, and social systems inherited from history. I believe that this vision of human nature can be achieved in literally No Place.

Although some liberals embrace just such a vision of human nature, I strongly suspect that when pushed on specific issues most liberals realize that human behavior is constrained to a certain degree—especially those educated in the biological and evolutionary sciences who are aware of the research in behavior genetics—so the debate turns on degrees of constraint. Rather than there being two distinct and unambiguous categories of constrained and unconstrained (or tragic and utopian) visions of human nature, I think there is just one vision with a sliding scale. Let’s call this the Realistic Vision. If you believe that human nature is partly constrained in all respects—morally, physically, and intellectually—then you hold a Realistic Vision of human nature.

In keeping with the research from behavioral genetics and evolutionary psychology, let’s put a number on that constraint at 40 to 50 percent. In the Realistic Vision, human nature is relatively constrained by our biology and evolutionary history, and therefore social and political systems must be structured around these realities, accentuating the positive and attenuating the negative aspects of our natures.

A Realistic Vision rejects the blank slate model that people are so malleable and responsive to social programs that governments can engineer their lives into a great society of its design, and instead believes that family, custom, law, and traditional institutions are the best sources for social harmony. The Realistic Vision recognizes the need for strict moral education through parents, family, friends, and community because people have a dual nature of being selfish and selfless, competitive and cooperative, greedy and generous, and so we need rules and guidelines and encouragement to do the right thing.

The Realistic Vision acknowledges that people vary widely both physically and intellectually—in large part because of natural inherited differences—and therefore will rise (or fall) to their natural levels. Therefore governmental redistribution programs are not only unfair to those from whom the wealth is confiscated and redistributed, but the allocation of the wealth to those who did not earn it cannot and will not work to equalize these natural inequalities.

I think most moderates on both the left and the right can embrace a Realistic Vision of human nature. And they should, as should the extremists on both ends, because the evidence from psychology, anthropology, economics, and especially evolutionary theory and its application to all three of these sciences supports the Realistic Vision of human nature. There are at least a dozen lines of evidence that converge to this conclusion:[6]

* The clear and quantitative physical differences among people in size, strength, speed, agility, coordination, and other physical attributes that translates into some being more successful than others, and that at least half of these differences are inherited.
The clear and quantitative intellectual differences among people in memory, problem solving ability, cognitive speed, mathematical talent, spatial reasoning, verbal skills, emotional intelligence, and other mental attributes that translates into some being more successful than others, and that at least half of these differences are inherited.

* The evidence from behavior genetics and twin studies indicating that 40 to 50 percent of the variance among people in temperament, personality, and many political, economic, and social preferences are accounted for by genetics.

* The failed communist and socialist experiments around the world throughout the 20th century revealed that top-down draconian controls over economic and political systems do not work.
The failed communes and utopian community experiments tried at various places throughout the world over the past 150 years demonstrated that people by nature do not adhere to the Marxian principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

* The power of family ties and the depth of connectedness between blood relatives. Communities have tried and failed to break up the family and have children raised by others; these attempts provide counter evidence to the claim that “it takes a village” to raise a child. As well, the continued practice of nepotism further reinforces the practice that “blood is thicker than water.”
The principle of reciprocal altruism—I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”—is universal; people do not by nature give generously unless they receive something in return, even if what they receive is social status.

* The principle of moralistic punishment—I’ll punish you if you do not scratch my back after I have scratched yours—is universal; people do not long tolerate free riders who continually take but almost never give.

* The almost universal nature of hierarchical social structures—egalitarianism only works (barely) among tiny bands of hunter-gatherers in resource-poor environments where there is next to no private property, and when a precious game animal is hunted extensive rituals and religious ceremonies are required to insure equal sharing of the food.

* The almost universal nature of aggression, violence, and dominance, particularly on the part of young males seeking resources, women, and especially status, and how status-seeking in particular explains so many heretofore unexplained phenomena, such as high risk taking, costly gifts, excessive generosity beyond one’s means, and especially attention seeking.
The almost universal nature of within-group amity and between-group enmity, wherein the rule-of-thumb heuristic is to trust in-group members until they prove otherwise to be distrustful, and to distrust out-group members until they prove otherwise to be trustful.

* The almost universal desire of people to trade with one another, not for the selfless benefit of others or the society, but for the selfish benefit of one’s own kin and kind; it is an unintended consequence that trade establishes trust between strangers and lowers between-group enmity, as well as produces greater wealth for both trading partners and groups.

The founders of our Republic established our system of government as they did based on something very much like this Realistic Vision of human nature, knowing full well that the tension between individual liberty and social cohesiveness could never be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, and so the moral pendulum swings Left and Right, and politics is played mostly between the two 40-yard lines of the political playing field. This tension between freedom and security, in fact, would explain why third parties have such a difficult time finding a toe-hold on the political rock face of America. Typically they crater after an election or cower in the shadows of the two behemoths that have come to define the Left-Right system.

I believe that the Realistic Vision of human nature is best represented by the libertarian political philosophy, and is what James Madison was thinking of when he penned (literally) his famous dictum in the Federalist number 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”[7]

SOURCE. See the original for references)

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ELSEWHERE

Privatization of post office long overdue: "Ronald Reagan tried to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. The effort was dropped after he left office in 1989. It's time to take up the idea again. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe testified last week before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the USPS, essentially, is broke. He said the USPS can't make a required $5.5 billion employee pension payment to the U.S. Treasury by the Sept. 30 deadline. 'We do not want taxpayer money,' he said. 'We have got to get our finances in order.' But the taxpayers are the only ones who could pay the tab."

Tax avoidance and money laundering: "Why are so many people involved in tax avoidance, tax evading and money laundering? The human being has a deeply entrenched desire to enjoy the fruit of his work: to consume it, to invest it and to make his assets grow. But taxpayers become disgruntled when they see their money handed out to people they don’t know and used for purposes they don’t agree with."


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, September 12, 2011

An amusing Leftist evasion about Christian faith and abortion

NPR has an article up titled: "Evangelical: Religious Right Has Distorted the Faith"

That immediately led me to expect a debate about Bible doctrine and I was figuratively rubbing my hands about that as I think I can say without boasting that I know my Bible extremely well. Check my Scripture blog if you doubt it.

Instead what I found in the article was a discussion about how evangelicals were slow to react to Roe vs. Wade. The article was a summary of discussions among various Protestant church leaders with nary a single reference to the Bible!

Now I for one take a considerable interest in early church history but anybody who knows anything about modern Protestant groups knows that trying to unify them or even sum them up is like herding cats. They are inherent individualistic and expecting ANY united action from them is extremely optimistic.

And that there was no immediate concerted protest against freely available abortion is the whole complaint of the NPR article.

But that ignores the fact that abortion is an extremely difficult issue for most conservatives and many Christians. The Left are all for abortion. When they get total power they murder people by the millions so who cares about a few unborn babies?

Conservatives however recognize and respect individual rights and perceive that both the mother and baby have rights. So how to resolve a conflict between those rights? To this day, different Christians take different positions on the issue.

But our Leftist NPR writer is so tone deaf to moral argument that he showed no recognition that there was any issue there and that it might take some time to feel a way through the dilemmas involved. Leftists really are morally illiterate, some to the point of psychopathy.

For what I think is becoming a mainstream Christian approach to the abortion issue, see here

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How to Reverse the West's Decline

By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

We don't know much about Ibn Khaldun in the West but we should. He was one of the truly great thinkers of the Middle Ages. He has every claim to be called the world's first sociologist. Not for another 300 years would the West produce a figure of comparable originality: Giambattista Vico. Both produced compelling accounts of the rise and fall of civilisations. Both knew what most people most of the time forget: that the greatest civilisations eventually fall. The reason they do so is not necessarily the rise of a stronger power. It is their own internal decay.

Most accounts of al-Qaeda focus on the intellectual influence of the 20th-century thinker and critic of the West, Sayyid Qutb. That influence was real. But the deeper story the leaders of al-Qaeda told in 1989, without which 9/11 is unintelligible, had less to do with Qutb and hatred of the West and its freedoms; and much more to do with the key precipitating event of the fall of Communism: the withdrawal, in 1989, of the Soviet army from Afghanistan.

It was that event that set in motion the rapid collapse of one of the world's two superpowers. It was achieved not by the United States and its military might, but by a small group of religiously inspired fighters, the mujahideen and their helpers. Ibn Khaldun's theory was that every urban civilisation becomes vulnerable when it grows decadent from within. People live in towns and get used to luxuries. The rich grow indolent, the poor resentful. There is a loss of asabiyah, a keyword for Khaldun. Nowadays we would probably translate it as "social cohesion". People no longer think in terms of the common good. They are no longer willing to make sacrifices for one another. Essentially they lose the will to defend themselves. They then become easy prey for the desert dwellers, the people used to fighting to stay alive.

That, so it seemed to those who read history that way, is what happened in Afghanistan. It was never possible for a small group to defeat a superpower by conventional means. But it could go on endlessly inflicting casualty after casualty until eventually the superpower - more like a lumbering elephant than a wounded lion - withdrew. The desert dwellers are hungrier, tougher and more ruthless than the city dwellers who long more than anything for a quiet life.

That was the calculation. The odd thing is, it worked. And those who had fought the Soviet Union looked on in wonder at the effect of their victory. For not only did the Russians withdraw. Within an extraordinarily short time their whole empire collapsed. Ibn Khaldun was right. The society had grown rotten from within. It had lost its asabiyah, its cohesion. It had lost the will to fight.

If that is what a small group of highly motivated religious fighters could do to one superpower, why not the other, America and the West? America could not be defeated on its own ground. But what if it could be tempted, provoked, into occupying the very same ground that had seen the humiliating withdrawal of the Soviet army, namely Afghanistan itself? To do so would require a truly massive provocation, one so shocking that it would make the Americans forget what everyone knew, that Afghanistan is a death trap that ultimately defeats all invading armies. That is when 9/11 was born.

The theory was that the Americans and the Russians might be unalike in every other respect, but this they shared: that they were advanced urban civilisations in which the social bond, asabiyah, had grown weak. They were no longer lean and hungry. They were overweight and lacked the capacity for sustained sacrifice. If America could be provoked into occupying Afghanistan, it could be defeated exactly as the Soviets had been, not by any decisive battle but by sustained asymmetric warfare. The proof was that American troops had withdrawn from Lebanon in 1984 and Somalia in 1994 under just such circumstances. They had no more staying power than the Russians. Like the Russians, within a decade they would be looking for an exit strategy. 9/11 was the attempt to lure the United States into Afghanistan, and it worked.

The aim of al-Qaeda never was the collapse of the West. It was the withdrawal of American troops from Saudi Arabia, together with larger aspirations for the revival of the Caliphate and the reemergence of the Umma as a world power. But the collapse of the West was foreseen. It was not an aim but a consequence, and it followed from Ibn Khaldun's theory of the decline and fall of civilisations.

Has it happened? Not yet. But ten years on, the United States has been humiliated into renegotiating its trillions of dollars of debt. Western economies, almost all of them, are ailing. The European Union is under strain, its future in doubt. There have been riots and looting on the streets of London and Manchester, just as there have been in recent years in France, Greece and Spain. The global economy looks far less stable than it did before the collapse of 2008. In Europe, following a series of scandals, bankers, politicians, journalists and even the police have been tried and found wanting. Those who read the runes of the future are turning their eyes eastward to India, China, and the fast-growing economies of south-east Asia. The West no longer looks invincible. As a narrative, the "end of history" has proved less predictive than the "decline of civilisations".

The real challenge of 9/11 is not what it seemed at the time: Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, Sayyid Qutb and radical Islam. These were real and present threats, to be sure, but they were symptoms, not cause. The challenge was the underlying moral health of Western liberal democracies, their asabiyah, their sense of identity and collective responsibility, their commitment to one another and to the ideals that brought them into being. The counter-narrative of 1989 and the fall of Soviet Communism saw it not as a victory for the West but as part of a law of history that says: all great civilisations eventually decline, and the West will be the next to go.

That view is not limited to enemies of the West. It was most recently stated by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson in his Civilization: The West and the Rest. It was most powerfully formulated by Alasdair MacIntyre in his masterwork, After Virtue. My favourite version of it comes from Bertrand Russell in the introduction to his History of Western Philosophy, speaking about the tendency of the most creative civilisations to self-destruct:

What had happened in the great age of Greece happened again in Renaissance Italy. Traditional moral restraints disappeared, because they were seen to be associated with superstition; the liberation from fetters made individuals energetic and creative, producing a rare florescence of genius; but the anarchy and treachery which inevitably resulted from the decay of morals made Italians collectively impotent, and they fell, like the Greeks, under the domination of nations less civilised than themselves but not so destitute of social cohesion.

Social cohesion is what Ibn Khaldun called asabiyah. And Russell's description of Renaissance Italy fits precisely the postmodern, late capitalist West, with its urge to spend and its failure to save, its moral relativism and hyper-individualism, its political culture of rights without responsibilities, its aggressive secularism and resentment of any morality of self-restraint, and its failure to inculcate the habits of instinctual deferral that Sigmund Freud saw as the very basis of civilisation. Sayyid Qutb hated the West. Ibn Khaldun would have pitied the West. The pity is more serious than the hate.

There is a simple choice before us. Will we continue to act in ignorance of this other narrative? If so, we will replicate the fate of Greece in the second pre-Christian century as described by Polybius ("the people of Hellas had entered on the false path of ostentation, avarice and laziness"), and that of Rome two centuries later, when Livy wrote about "how, with the gradual relaxation of discipline, morals first subsided, as it were, then sank lower and lower, and finally began the downward plunge which has brought us to our present time, when we can endure neither our vices nor their cure." If we carry on as we are going, the West will decline and fall.

There is, to my mind, only one sane alternative. That is to do what England and America did in the 1820s. Those two societies, deeply secularised after the rationalist 18th century, scarred and fractured by the problems of industrialisation, calmly set about remoralising themselves, thereby renewing themselves.

The three decades, 1820-1850, saw an unprecedented proliferation of groups dedicated to social, political and educational reform-building schools, YMCAs, orphanages, starting temperance groups, charities, friendly societies, campaigning for the abolition of slavery, corporal punishment and inhumane working conditions, and working for the extension of voting rights. Alexis de Tocqueville was astonished by what he saw in America and the same process was happening at the same time in Britain.

People did not leave it to government or the market. They did it themselves in communities, congregations, groups of every shape and size. They understood the connection between morality and morale. They knew that only a society held together by a strong moral bond, by asabiyah, has any chance of succeeding in the long run. That collective effort of remoralisation eventually made Britain the greatest world power in the 19th century and America in the 20th.

It is a peculiarity of the Abrahamic monotheisms that they see, at the heart of society, the idea of covenant. Covenantal politics are politics with a purpose, driven by high ideals, among them the sanctity of life, the dignity of the individual, the rule of justice and compassion, and concern for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the stranger. G.K. Chesterton called America a "nation with the soul of a church". Britain used to be like that too. In the 1950s there was no television at certain hours on Sunday so as not to deter churchgoing. Sundays helped keep families together, families helped keep communities together, and communities helped keep society together. I, a Jew growing up in a Christian nation, did not feel threatened by this. I felt supported by it - much more than I do now in an ostensibly more tolerant but actually far more abrasive, rude and aggressive society.

What is unique about covenant is its seemingly endless possibility of renewal. It happened in the Bible in the days of Joshua, Josiah and Ezra. It happened in America between 1820 and 1850 in the Second Great Awakening. It happened in Britain at the same time through the great Victorian social reformers and philanthropists. Covenant defeats the law of entropy that says that all systems lose energy over time. It creates renewable energy. It has the power to arrest, even reverse, the decline and fall of nations.

None of us should be in any doubt as to the seriousness of what is at stake. Europe today is pursuing the chimera of societies without a shared moral code, nations without a collective identity, cultures without a respect for tradition, groups without a concern for the common good, and politics without the slightest sense of history. Ibn Khaldun, were he alive, would tell them precisely where that leads.

The question is not radical Islam but, does the West believe in itself any more? Is it capable of renewing itself as it did two centuries ago? Or will it crumble as did the Soviet Union from internal decay. "We have met the enemy," said the cartoon character Pogo, "and he is us." That is the challenge of 9/11. It's about time we came together to meet it.

SOURCE

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Social Security is Not Sending a Thrill Down Chris Mathew's Leg

He Admits Social Security is a Ponzi scheme

On MSNBC’s Thursday broadcast of “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews committed the mortal sin — he nearly parroted the theory that mortified so many of the network’s hosts and guests throughout the day. Matthews called Social Security “a Ponzi scheme” the day after Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry doubled down on his previous statements echoing that sentiment in the Republican debate.

Matthews first put forth what he thought Social Security was originally intended to be: “You pay for it while you work. When you retired and have no other form of income, this will help you out. In fact, a lot were impoverished in the old days without Social Security. It’s a great anti-poverty program. But then people started to live past 65.

“Today, lots of people fortunately make it past 65,” he said. “They live into their 80s and 90s. They’re still getting checks. The system doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s not as healthy as it once was. So, how does a Republican deal with the fact it is a Ponzi scheme in the sense that the money that’s paid out every day is coming from people who have paid in that day. It’s not being made somewhere.”

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

FL: ACLU sues state for drug testing welfare recipients: "The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) to court, forcing him to defend his highly controversial law requiring all welfare recipients to be screened for drugs. The ACLU Tuesday sued the state of Florida on behalf of 35-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Luis Lebron, a single parent who lost his job in 2008 after his employer downsized. Lebron says he does not take illegal drugs but contacted the ACLU because 'it really hit hard when I had to go down there and go through this.'"

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. I don't share all of Chris's views but I applaud his "incorrectness".

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)

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

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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