Saturday, October 01, 2011

Debunking the Big Lie that American Conservatives are Like Fascists

This post is from a few months back but is worth re-posting here, I think

A popular narrative being promulgated in the left-wing blogosphere is that the terrorist who killed many innocent civilians in Norway is a “right-winger” who describes himself as a “Christian” and a “conservative” and thus shares many common characteristics with American conservatives.

This type of big lie has been a Stalinist smear of American conservatives since the end of World War II.It erects a false opposition between socialism and fascism that excludes the middle ground of Constitutional republican government and individual rights. Let’s debunk a few myths that drive this comparison.

1. American conservatives are for individual rights, not statism.

2. They believe individuals are ends in themselves, and not a means to an end.

3. They are for liberty, not totalitarianism.

4. They are for free markets, not corporatism or state capitalism.

5. They are for private property, not state property.

6. They are for a color-blind, legally equal society based on individual rights, not group rights.

7. They are for freedom of religion, not theocracy.

8. They are suspicious of government authority, not obeisant.

9. They tend not to deify political leaders, though they revere leaders like Ronald Reagan.

10. They are for less government intervention, not control over every aspect of life.

11. They are patriotic, not nationalist.

12. They are for federalism, not centralized government.

13. They are for checks and balances, not unification.

14. They support gun rights not because the seek to harm others, but to protect and defend themselves.

15. They display judgment in the context of moral and cultural relativism.

Not much “fascistic” about that, is there?

SOURCE

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Liberal Myths

Did you know that Paul Krugman is more compassionate than you are? Or so he says. In fact, just about everybody who is left of center is more compassionate than everybody who is right of center, Krugman explained in a recent New York Times editorial.

“American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions,” he wrote. If you identify with Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” vision you are today part of the “free to die” crowd.

That last bit is a reference to Republican presidential candidates foolishly stumbling over a Wolf Blitzer question about what should be done with a man who willfully chooses to be uninsured and then discovers needs lifesaving medical care. No, in case you are wondering, none of them said “let him die.” But Krugman would like you to believe that is the position of the entire Republican Party.

[Democrats, by the way, would also have trouble with that question. In fact there is nothing in Obama Care that guarantees health care for someone who ignores the government mandate and remains uninsured.]

Krugman is not alone. Writing at Health Affairs the other day, Princeton University economist Uwe E. Reinhardt described the current budget impasse in Washington by declaring that this country has been in:
…a long ideological war fought over the distribution of economic privilege in this country, a war that has been raging unabated for over three decades now.

One side in this war believes that the current distribution of income and wealth in this country is fair, as it rewards generously those who contribute commensurately to the economy and properly gives short shrift for those who do not — e.g., unskilled workers…

The opposing faction believes that the current distribution of income and wealth no longer is the product of a genuine meritocracy, and even if it were, that health care, education and legal care are so-called social goods to which rich and poor should have access on roughly equal terms, regardless of their own ability to pay.

Although Reinhardt doesn’t engage in the kind of ad hominem personal character attacks that are Krugman’s stock in trade, the message is still the same: one side cares about the unfortunate and the other side doesn’t.

Before going further, there is something you should know. There is no evidence whatsoever – zero evidence – that liberals are more compassionate than conservatives. In fact all the evidence points in the other direction. More about that in a moment.

Since Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist, I would like to turn first to the science of economics, just as Adam Smith did more than 200 years ago. What Smith realized was that it’s not compassion, or any other feeling that is going to eliminate most deprivation and suffering around the world. It’s sound economic policies, produced by rational thought.

Several years ago, I was at a conference at the Vatican and I heard another Nobel laureate, University of Chicago economist Gary Becker, make a remarkable statement. Becker said, “I believe in capitalism. The reason: capitalism confers its greatest benefits on those at the bottom of the income ladder. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be a capitalist. And Milton Friedman thinks the same way.”

Non-economists are generally unaware of how much evidence there is in support of the Becker/Friedman position. If you look around the world, you will find that the bottom 10% of the income distribution gets about the same percent of national income in countries with the least economic freedom (2.5%) as they do in the countries with the most economic freedom (2.6%). Whether a country is capitalist or socialist doesn’t seem to matter. But there is a huge difference in the absolute level of income. In fact, the bottom 10% gets almost ten times more income ($8,474 per persons per year vs. $910) in capitalist countries than in non-capitalist countries.

Given that disparity, what is the most compassionate economic system? It is the system advocated by the University of Chicago economists and other classical liberals: a system that leaves people free to use their intelligence, their creativity and their innovative ability to pursue their own interests. In other words, it is a system in which people are “free to choose.”

That freedom and free enterprise are good for poor people is a fact of economic science. It has nothing in particular to do with compassion. But since the issue has been raised, who are the most compassionate people? It turns out, they are not liberals. In an exhaustive study of this issue American Enterprise institute president Arthur Brooks discovered that:
In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than households headed by a liberal ($1,600 to $1,227). This discrepancy is not simply an artifact of income differences; on the contrary, liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich…

The differences go beyond money and time. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservative, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.

What about Krugman, personally? I don’t know him. But the next time he is on television, mute the sound and focus on the image on the screen. Is there anything about Paul Krugman that seems to be the least bit compassionate? Not to me.

SOURCE

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Unions: The Cause of Michigan's Malaise

The Great Lakes state's burgeoning right-to-work movement is a backlash against aggressive union demands

The Detroit Free Press’ front page a week ago was a rich display of irony. It featured two stories, one celebrating the quadrennial contract deal that GM and the United Auto Workers had reached, declaring that the “Deal Is a Victory for All.” And the other reported: “Right-to-Work Debate Fires Up in State.” That about sums up the state of the labor movement nationwide: Still a player, but no longer sacrosanct.

A right-to-work law, which would allow workers to join unionized companies without having to pay mandatory union dues, is far from a done deal in Michigan. But 22 states already have such laws, and that it is even on the table in the union capital of the country shows the new political reality confronting unions.

Union membership has dropped from 36 percent of the work force in 1945 to 11.9 percent now. To reverse this slump, unions pumped $400 million into President Obama’s campaign, hoping he would pass the so-called card check bill. This would allow labor bosses to avoid secret elections and unionize companies by getting a majority of workers to sign a card.

But Obama has proved a union dud, not a union dude: Far from pushing grand initiatives, his labor agenda has consisted of—in the words of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka—“little, nibbly things.”

This is not surprising. Aggressively pursuing a pro-union agenda with unemployment stubbornly stuck at 9.1 percent would work if Obama wanted to be a kamikaze president, hell-bent on self-destructing. Unions protect wages at the cost of jobs—the main reason they are in trouble in Michigan.

Michigan’s unemployment rate, consistently higher than the national average, soared above 15 percent between 2009 and 2010. No state, not even Katrina-stricken Louisiana, had seen this kind of unemployment in 25 years. Not all of this is Big Labor’s fault—but much of it is.

Grand Valley State University economist Hari Singh found that if Michigan had been a right-to-work state, the auto industry would have seen a 25 percent gain in jobs since 1965. Instead, it lost 56.6 percent just between 2002 and 2009, shrinking its work force by 165,777. In a functioning market, high unemployment would lead to lower wages. But in Michigan’s auto industry, Singh found, wages actually rose 18.1 percent during that time.

Unions congratulate themselves for protecting workers’ wages, but they have imposed a heavy price on everyone else. Not a single foreign automaker has ever taken advantage of Michigan’s legions of out-of-work but highly trained employees, preferring to train novices in right-to-work states.

The upshot is that the economies of these states grew on average 18.1 percent between 2001 and 2006, according to Paul Kersey of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan’s? It grew too—a grand total of 3.4 percent over the same five years.

Since jobs can’t come to Michigan, Michigan residents have followed the jobs. Michigan lost 11.7 percent of its 25-34 age group between 1993 and 2003—while right-to-work states gained 3.8 percent. Indeed, the 2009 Census revealed that Michigan had experienced the third-highest emigration in the country. Otherwise, Michigan’s unemployment situation would be even grimmer.

But the hidden costs of labor unions have become impossible to ignore, partly because Michigan’s collapsing real estate market has made it hard for homeowners to sell and relocate. There is a new desperation to do something to jumpstart job growth, which is why unions are in the cross hairs.

Various polls have found that 50 to 60 percent of likely Michigan voters support a right-to-work law. Several Republican gubernatorial candidates in the last election openly discussed making Michigan a right-to-work state, something previously unimaginable. Tea party rallies increasingly tout right-to-work among the top items on their agenda. The Michigan Senate and House, both of which are under Republican control along with the Supreme Court and the governorship, have sponsored right-to-work bills.

The only weak link is Gov. Rick Snyder, who has declared that he won’t push such a divisive bill, but will sign it if it comes to his desk. But even Snyder, emboldened by Indiana and Wisconsin, wants a right-to-work bill for teachers unions (whose demands have made it difficult for him to balance the state budget). If this goes through, however, it will become hard to force private companies to operate under different labor rules than the public sector, opening the floodgates to wider reform.

Either way, Michigan’s efforts will encourage other Rust Belt states, all of which are grappling with moribund economies and high unemployment. Unions could stop the trend by radically scaling back their wages to spur job growth. But the new auto contract, which pretends to be all about creating “jobs, jobs, jobs,” doesn’t hold much hope for that. The UAW gave up mandatory raises and cost-of-living adjustments, but got hefty bonuses. More to the point, the compensation packages of older workers—95 percent of the work force—remain higher than competitors and almost certainly too high for another economic dip.

The Great Depression launched the labor movement, which promised prosperity and jobs. But the Great Recession might spell its end because it can’t deliver, the jubilation about the new contract notwithstanding.

SOURCE

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Obama's Double Down on Stupid



Solyndra, the California energy company gone bust, was so cash strapped in December, 2010 that they defaulted on a loan payment to the government. That didn't bother the Obama Administration, though. In fact, DOE officials amended the loan agreement, allowing Solyndra to draw another $67 million, and subordinated the taxpayer's credit position to that of private investors.

There was an abundance of information and reasons why the Solyndra loan should never have been approved in 2009. But, the Obama White House rejected all the obvious warning signs preferring to pass out half a trillion dollars like party favors and to create campaign photo-ops.

The White House says this wasn't stupid. "That's just the way business works," according to the President's spokesman, Jay Carney. The next time Obama shows he understands how ANYTHING in business works, it will be the first time.

The White House still defends the $535 billion loan guarantee to Solyndra as an investment in "cutting edge technology." A less varnished assessment would conclude that it was a government investment in opulence designed to failed from the beginning.

The glitzy made-for-Hollywood 300,000 square foot plant, characterized by workers as the "Taj Mahal," had vastly greater manufacturing capacity than Solyndra ever commanded in market share and came with "robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms."

The Administration doubled down on stupid by not recognizing that failure was imminent by the end of 2010. In addition, the Energy Act of 2005 specifically prohibits subordination of the taxpayer's credit position – an apparently violation of federal law.

The DOE says it renegotiated the loan agreement and allowed Solyndra to draw down the additional $67 million because the government officials "thought it gave Solyndra a fighting chance to survive and the taxpayers their best chance to recover their loan."

What the DOE doesn't say is that the subordination of the taxpayer's position and the additional $67 million created an illusion of better financial condition than was reality. In other words, the DOE helped put a better-than-actual appearance on Solyndra, who then went to the private markets to raise additional investment capital. That prompted allegations that government officials may be guilty of fraud according to Andrew McCarthy, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney.

The Solyndra scandal has already prompted five high level investigations. What Obama thought would be government funded campaign props is likely to turn into a re-election season nightmare.

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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Friday, September 30, 2011

'Centrists' Are Abandoning Ship

Jonah Goldberg

President Obama's failure to fully achieve the liberal agenda and remain popular in the process is fueling dangerous radicalization in the oddest of places: the media establishment, which considers itself the guardian of the political center.

I should say "the so-called center," because one of those most tedious -- yet meticulously maintained -- fictions is the claim that the establishment is, in fact, "centrist."

If you've ever met these people and talked to them about how they see the world, heard them give a college commencement address, read their books or endeavored to find out the political views of their spouses, you'd have all the evidence you need to learn that the establishment's centrist facade is so much Potemkin poster board.

For example, remember the media obsession with the cockeyed fantasy that Obama was the next FDR? Go back and watch some of those late-2008 and early-2009 episodes of "Meet the Press." The guests were so giddy about the prospect they looked like 6-year-olds at a birthday party ordered to sit still while the clown got ready to make balloon animals.

But Obama is no FDR, nor a Lincoln, nor a liberal Reagan. At this point he's simply hoping to not be a Carter. And that's fomented establishment despair. Tina Brown editor of both the Daily Beast and Newsweek, recently let it slip on MSNBC (a trifecta of establishmentarian liberal media outlets!) that she thinks Obama "wasn't ready" for the job in 2008.

The establishment can't bring itself to blame liberalism (or themselves). So instead they blame the system. Obama's own re-election theme of running against "Washington" -- a town he had near total control over for two years and in which he is still the most powerful figure -- is a variant of the same argument. Obama can't blame the party he leads, so he blames the "system."

That idea -- that the system itself is to blame -- has now gone viral.

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who's been pushing and predicting a "geo-green third party" since 2006, is convinced there will be something like that in 2012. Why? Because his gut tells him so.

Friedman's gut is a terrifying thing. During the fight over "Obamacare," he didn't just think the political system "sucks" (to borrow Democratic wise man Tony Podesta's term), he found it demonstrably inferior to China's authoritarian regime.

Just last week, Bev Purdue, Democratic governor of North Carolina, declared, "I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make." She now says she was joking, an interpretation hard to square with the audio recording.

Similarly, former Obama aide Peter Orszag (now of Citibank, of course) also pinpoints democracy as the real problem. In the latest New Republic, he proposes that we empower more "depoliticized commissions" to make the important decisions.

Friedman likes "depoliticized commissions" too, like the Chinese politburo. That's why he's written how he wishes we could be just like "China for a day," so we could simply impose all the policies he likes.

At least Matt Miller, an avowed radical centrist, doesn't want to scrap democracy. He just wants to scrap the two-party system. Now, this isn't undemocratic. It's not even necessarily a terrible idea (though I don't endorse it).

But what's interesting about Miller's argument is how un-centrist it is. Writing for the Washington Post, Miller explains how he wants a new third party that will reject "the Democrats' timid half-measures and the Republicans' mindless anti-government creed."

The new centrism: No more half-measures, just full-blown liberalism.

As you go through Miller's platform, you can tell he's serious. He wants to spend vastly more money over "a couple years" to "fix the economy." Ever more taxpayer dollars will be poured into infrastructure, make-work service jobs and education. Once unemployment is lower, he wants to tax "dirty energy" and impose trade tariffs.

That's pretty much Friedman's ideal agenda too.

Come to think of it, it's also Barack Obama's! Perhaps not in every particular, but as several left-wing bloggers have noted, Miller's third party sounds an awful lot like the Democratic Party with a new coat of paint.

This is a fascinating departure from the usual pabulum from centrists who insist that they are neither right nor left. This is nothing less than a desperate abandonment of Obama and the Democratic Party in order to preserve the credibility of the ideas driving Obama and the Democratic Party.

There are few things more pathetic than rats deserting a sinking ship while claiming they're a superior breed of rat.

SOURCE

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Who Owns History?

The Southern Poverty Law Center is appalled by the results of a new study finding that states are not teaching the history of the civil rights era. The SPLC, which commissioned the study of state curricula, concludes that students in at least 35 states are missing out on important facts about our history. And even in states that include units on civil rights, "their civil rights education boils down to two people and four words: Rosa Parks, Dr. King and 'I have a dream.'"

On one hand, you want to welcome disgruntled liberals to the club of those worried about historical amnesia among the young. We conservatives have been worrying about it for decades. On the other hand, it's tough to believe that American students are being cheated of knowledge about civil rights, compared with say, knowledge about World War II, or the progressive movement or the nullification crisis. One of my sons, who has been educated in public schools most of his life, offered that in his experience, American history is taught as "the Revolution, the internment of the Japanese during World War II and the civil rights movement."

When Common Core, an advocacy group for educational standards, surveyed American teenagers in 2008, they found that nearly a quarter were not able to correctly identify Adolf Hitler, but 97 percent knew who delivered the "I have a dream" speech. Care to speculate about how many would know who Joseph Stalin was?

Teaching history is inevitably a somewhat political act -- which is why an effort during the 1990s to establish national standards foundered in acrimony and bitterness. Some textbooks in wide use in America devote pages and pages to the so-called "McCarthy era" while neglecting much else and are written in a tone of condescension toward our forebears. Fights over textbook content in leading states like Texas have become protracted tugs of war between competing visions of our nation.

One suspects that only Howard Zinn's version of history would meet with the approval of the SPLC, and there are perhaps some on the right who might want to airbrush Joe McCarthy out altogether. But if we cannot come to some meeting of the minds on teaching the fundamentals of our history, we will have a drastically diminished future. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found in 2010 that only 12 percent of high school seniors were proficient in history.

The founders believed that special skills were necessary for free, self-governing individuals. Our second president, John Adams, said, "Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom." Thomas Jefferson proposed a system of public schools to instill the necessary knowledge and attitudes, saying memorably "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

When Ronald Reagan reflected on his eight years as president in his farewell address, he mentioned that one of the things he was proudest of was the renewed spirit of patriotism in the country. "This national feeling is good," he said, "but it won't count for much, and it won't last unless it's grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge." Recalling that his generation had absorbed "almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation for its institutions," he noted that "Younger parents aren't sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children." And in what may have been the understatement of the decade, he said ". . . As for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style."

"We've got to do a better job," Reagan warned, "of getting across that America is freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It's fragile; it needs protection."

When liberals tell the story of America -- and they overwhelmingly dominate the education establishment -- they tend to focus excessively on our flaws and sins. By all means, our kids need to know about the civil rights movement, just as they should know all about slavery and Jim Crow. But they should also be taught that this country overcame an ugly history of slavery and racism to a degree unequaled by any other nation on Earth. Nations that have practiced slavery (some still do) and racism are in legion. Those that have managed to transform themselves -- to listen to the "better angels of their nature" -- are incredibly rare.

In this, as in so much else, the U.S. is exemplary. If the public schools could convey just that much, it would be progress.

SOURCE

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For the GOP, Romney and Perry Are Still the Guys to Beat

Thus far, the maddening Republican storyline in the presidential election cycle is complicating the party's prospects of winning back the White House in 2012.

A clear majority of the American people disapprove of the job President Obama is doing, particularly on jobs and the economy, but the GOP's rank-and-file remains deeply divided over who their nominee should be.

Actually, they are worse than divided, which is not unusual in a large field of candidates. Some Republicans, if not many, do not like the choices they have and are looking around for a new contender to enter the presidential primary race in the 13 months before our nation goes to the polls next year.

That has left many uncommitted Americans on the sidelines, including campaign donors whose contributions will be critical to any serious bid for the White House.

The postwar history of presidential politics is clear on what it takes to win: plenty of time, preparation and money to mount a nationwide organization in all 50 states. This is not a game where a candidate can jump in at the 11th hour -- especially a candidate, no matter how worthy, who is not widely known.

For all practical purposes, the Republican race for the nomination has come down to two contenders, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

But there are others with sizable followings, including Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, backed by his die-hard libertarian supporters, and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who draws strength from the Christian right, and even dark-horse business executive Herman Cain, who pulled an upset in the Florida straw poll, beating Perry and Romney by large margins.

Making the GOP's battle even more intense is the issue of party purity, which is expected in Republican primaries. But it has been become a more divisive issue this time, fueled in large part by the tea party conservatives who demonstrated their power in the 2010 midterm elections by toppling House Democrats from power.

In this case, though, it turns out that political purity, at least among the front-runners, is hard to find.

The newest example of this is Chris Christie, the blunt, tough-talking, take-no-prisoners New Jersey governor who made his reputation as a U.S. attorney who put a number of crooked officials -- Democrats and Republicans -- behind bars. In his first year and a half, he has balanced the state's budget, capped property taxes, cut retirement benefits for teachers and state employees, all without raising taxes.

However, he differs with his party on several fronts. He has suggested there ought to be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and that being here "without proper documentation is not a crime." He has supported some gun control laws as well as civil unions for homosexual couples.

But conservatives, who may not be aware of these positions, find his blunt speaking style appealing and are pleading for him to run, most recently when he spoke at the Reagan Presidential Library Tuesday night when he called Obama a "bystander in the Oval Office."

Even so, Christie has said he will not be a candidate for one big reason: He doesn't think he's ready. He wants to complete his term as governor, run for a second term, and show some major accomplishments before considering higher office.

Perry and Romney have problems with party purity as well.

Romney's biggest problem has been his enactment of a sweeping state health-care law that requires everyone who can afford it to buy private health insurance, as would Obamacare. He has said it is a state program dealing with a state problem, but has vowed to repeal one-size-fits-all Obamacare and to give waivers immediately to states to drop out.

His strength is his long business career as a venture capital investor whose company provided seed money for promising start-up businesses that, like Staples, grew into major job creators. His advisers think that the recession trumps all other issues. "I know how to fix the economy. I know how to create jobs," he says.

Perry, on paper, looked like the answer to conservatives who do not trust Romney. He is a longtime conservative governor of a major state with a booming oil economy, no individual income tax, low tax rates and a stellar record of job creation.

But then came his approval 10 years ago of an in-state college tuition break given to children of illegal immigrants, which he defended in a recent debate, saying that anyone who opposed helping these kids get an education was "heartless."

After stinging criticism for his disjointed, often rambling performance in his last presidential debate, a chastened Perry retreated somewhat. Calling his remarks "inappropriate," Perry said he had been "over-passionate" in his answer. "I probably chose a poor word to explain that."

Romney, by the way, said he vetoed a similar state law.

As things stand now, Perry and Romney remain the front-runners in a primary season that begins in just three months, and that seems unlikely to change as things stand right now.

Perry, who surged into the lead soon after he entered the race, has clearly been wounded by his performance in the debates. Romney has made no missteps yet and has stayed focused like a laser beam on the salient issue that will decide the outcome of this election: the jobless Obama economy.

Party purity, all things considered, takes a back seat in that equation.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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

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

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Key to Creating Jobs

By John Stossel

Politicians say they create jobs, but they really don't. Or rather, they rarely create productive jobs. Government has no money of its own. All it does is take resources from one group and give them to another.

The pharaohs might have claimed they created work when they ordered that pyramids be built, but think how much richer (and freer) the Egyptians would have been if they'd been allowed to pursue their own interests.

It's individuals in the marketplace who create real jobs -- when they have the protection of life and property under the rule of law.

Economic freedom is the key. The theory couldn't be more clear, and at this late date in human history, it shouldn't be necessary to rehearse the abundant evidence. Look at the various indexes that correlate economic freedom with economic growth. The healthiest economies are those with the most economic freedom. Unemployment is low in those places -- 3 percent in Hong Kong, 2 percent in Singapore, 5 percent in Australia. Alas, the United States places ninth, behind Canada, and those countries with the least economic freedom have few real jobs and no prosperity.

Unfortunately, most politicians still don't understand -- or have no incentive to understand -- that economic freedom, and therefore less government, creates prosperity.

Well, maybe that's changing. This year is first I've heard so many presidential candidates talk about the private sector. Indeed, one candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, told me he created "not one single job. ... Government does not create jobs."

The truth is we have too few jobs today because government stands in the way. If I'm an employer, why would I want to hire someone when Congress and the Labor Department have so many rules that I might not be able to fire that person if he can't do the job? Why would I take a risk on an investment when still-to-be-written rules about ObamaCare, financial regulation and the environment could turn my good idea into a losing venture?

Last week on my Fox Business show, I refereed a debate on whether government creates or impedes economic activity. "Government can spend and create jobs," said David Callahan, co-founder of Demos. "If government steps up and provides stimulus money to hire people, what we get is more people spending money in this economy, more hiring, and we get that virtuous cycle going."

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, replied: "It is ridiculous to assume you can tax the people that are working and give the money (to people) who are not working and somehow this creates economy activity. You are destroying as much by taking from those who are working and creating."

Callahan then invoked the magic I-word: "One place we need more government spending is for infrastructure. Drive down any road, go across any bridge, you are likely to see dilapidation. There was a bipartisan panel that said we need to spend $2 trillion or more on infrastructure."

"Don't pretend that stimulates the economy," Brook rebutted. "That money has to come from somewhere, that $2 trillion that you would want to spend on infrastructure is taken from the private economy."

"This is a fallacy," Callahan replied. "Twenty million jobs were created in the 1990s when we had higher tax rates than we do today. After World War II -- also a period of high tax rates, also incredible job growth.

And, by Keynesian logic, war can stimulate the economy: "World War II was the great stimulus. ... That kind of external crisis can inject a lot of new capital."

"This is one of the worst fallacies of economics," Brook said. "This is called the broken-window fallacy." The fallacy comes from Frederic Bastiat's story of the boy who breaks a shop window, prompting some to believe that replacing the window will stimulate a ripple of economic activity. The fallacy lies in overlooking the productive things the shopkeeper would have done with the money had the window not needed replacing.

"World War II did nothing to promote economy growth," Brook said. "Blowing things up is not an economic stimulus. Destruction does not lead to progress."

Don't expect most politicians to learn this any time soon.

SOURCE

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Strange maneuvers over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

Maybe because China is not a signatory -- which makes the whole thing futile anyway

Despite serious Constitutional concerns in the US, and significant legal questions in the EU, it appears that the US and the EU, along with most of the other participants in the ACTA negotiations are planning to sign ACTA this weekend in Japan. In the US, this may very well lead to a Constitutional challenge. President Obama, via the USTR, is ignoring the Senate's oversight concerning treaties, by pretending ACTA is not a treaty, but rather an "executive agreement." Pretty much everyone else agrees that ACTA is a binding treaty -- in fact, EU negotiators have been quite vocal on that point.

But even if this is considered "an executive agreement," the President does not have the authority to sign an executive agreement concerning intellectual property issues. Executive agreements can only be signed if they cover issues solely under the President's mandate. But intellectual property issues are clearly under Congress's mandate, and nowhere in the Constitution is the President given a mandate over IP issues. This is a clear end-run around Congress, and seems likely to be unconstitutional.

What I really don't get is why they're making such an end-run. As we've seen with things like PROTECT IP, most of the Senate seems to have no problem propping up the entertainment industry's legacy players with bogus laws and "greater enforcement." It seems likely that ACTA would probably sail through the Senate with little problem. But the administration seems to not even want to have the slightest debate on the topic -- which is greatly troubling, considering that the USTR negotiated the agreement in near total secrecy, refusing to allow public comment or debate (outside of leaks which it tried to block) until after the document was done.

The others that are listed as planning to sign the document are Japan, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and Switzerland. Basically all the countries who took part in the negotiations. The fact that Mexico is on that list is interesting, given that the Mexican Congress has already told the Mexican President that it will not ratify ACTA, and made it clear that Mexico needs Congress to ratify ACTA to have it go into effect. In other words, it sounds like Mexico is facing a similar executive run-around as in the US.

It's pretty amazing. This isn't even just about Presidents doing an end-run around the public, but around their own legislatures. And for what? A bailout of some legacy entertainment industry players who are unwilling to adapt.

SOURCE

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Elizabeth Warren's Voodoo Economics

The liberal Senate candidate sets fire to a straw man

Elizabeth Warren is cheesed off.

Received wisdom says conservatives are the ones driven by anger—Republicans took the House last year because 2010 was another “year of the angry white male,” and all that. But in August remarks about class warfare that have gone viral, the Democratic candidate for a Senate seat from Massachusetts is visibly seething.

That’s okay; everyone gets worked up now and then, and most of us are lucky enough not to be caught on camera at the moment. Funny thing is, Warren’s comments—her rage and resentment and sarcasm—have made her an overnight heroine.

In the video, she addresses an imaginary captain of industry:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she lectures. “Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory . . . .Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

A few points.

(1) This is a pretty powerful takedown—of a position nobody holds. Or at least nobody outside an Ayn Rand novel. If Warren can find someone who thinks he does not live in community with other people, then she might have an argument. But don’t sit on a hot stove waiting.

(2) For someone who objects to the term class warfare, she sure draws a mighty bright line between “you” and “the rest of us.”

(3) The question is not whether a captain of industry should pay taxes—but how much. Reasonable people can debate where to set marginal tax rates. But when the richest fifth of Americans pay 64 percent of federal income taxes while the bottom two-fifths pay less than 3 percent, the case for even greater progressivity is not beyond rational debate.

(4) Outside of a few anarchist collectives, there isn’t a soul around who minds paying taxes for roads, cops, firemen, or schoolteachers. It’s the jillion other things government does—from corporate welfare to the Iraq war—that people object to.

(5) Plenty of smart, well-meaning people also think even government’s core functions could be delivered better and for less—just as the Obama administration has used the Dartmouth Atlas to argue for greater efficiency in medical care. E.g., since 1970 inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in public K-12 education has doubled. Class size has been cut in half. Neither change has produced any substantial effect on academic performance. Why don’t we have the equivalent of a Dartmouth Atlas for public education?

(6) Warren’s remarks epitomize the caricature of a progressive as someone who loves jobs but hates employers. She implies the captain of industry is simply sponging off society and hoarding the proceeds. But hiring workers is a huge social good. So is providing a funding basis for pensions, which generally rely on stock returns. So is creating products people want. Five bucks says Warren has a smartphone and a DVR and a bunch of other modern conveniences, and that she didn’t buy any of them with a gun to her head. So why is she so mad at the people who offered to sell them?

(7) Warren suggests the principle of fair play means the industrialist owes society a debt, to be repaid in steep taxes because his other contributions do not count. But this argument is one of the weakest of all the arguments for political obligation, for reasons most people can figure out after a few minutes’ thought. (E.g., Suppose I mow your lawn without asking, then demand payment because it’s “only fair.”) Why hasn’t she given them any?

(8) Perhaps, like film critic Pauline Kael, who famously didn’t know anyone who had voted for Nixon, Warren doesn't know anyone who believes government and taxes should be small. And, therefore, perhaps she does not understand their reasoning. She certainly doesn’t give any indication that she does.

So for the record, the reason is that—as Sheldon Richman wrote recently in The Freeman—“government is significantly different from anything else in society. It is the only institution that can legally threaten and initiate violence; that is, under color of law its officers may use physical force, up to and including lethal force—not in defense of innocent life but against individuals who have neither threatened nor aggressed against anyone else.” Many of those who truly love peace prefer to live in a society where the use or threat of violence is minimized. Maybe that idea simply hasn’t crossed Warren’s mind.

Maybe that’s why she looks like she’s ready to haul off and hit someone.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Obama’s latest jaw dropper: "The latest gem out of the White House comes via Robert Pear of the New York Times, who reports that Obama wants to provide civil rights protection for people who are unemployed. Apparently, Obama believes that the reason that there are 14 million unemployed Americans is because employers are discriminating against them. His remedy? Allow an unemployed person to drag an employer who doesn’t hire him or her into federal court to prove that the reason they weren’t hired, and presumably, someone else was, is because they were unemployed. I’m pretty confident that threatening job creators with lawsuits by 14 million people who were not hired is not going to encourage opportunity. In fact, I’m pretty confident that threatening legal action against job creators for failing to hire someone who is currently unemployed is going to significantly reduce the willingness of that business to put out a help wanted sign at all."

The Fascist instinct rears its head again: "Republicans rebuked North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue after she suggested Congress suspend elections for two years so lawmakers can get to work stimulating the economy unencumbered by anxiety about what voters think. The governor's office has since claimed the remark was 'hyperbole.' But the North Carolina GOP isn't buying it."

Study: Health insurance costs up nine percent in year: "Company-provided health insurance, one of the largest costs of US businesses and households alike, rose nine percent over the past year despite the sluggish economy, according to a new study released Tuesday. The average cost for employer-provided family healthcare insurance has hit $15,073 a year, a burden that has more and more companies dropping coverage for employees, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's annual study of health insurance costs."

Once accused, forever guilty? "The Federal Bureau of Investigation is permitted to include people on the government’s terrorist watch list even if they have been acquitted of terrorism-related offenses or the charges are dropped, according to newly released documents. ... Inclusion on the watch list can keep terrorism suspects off planes, block noncitizens from entering the country and subject people to delays and greater scrutiny at airports, border crossings and traffic stops."

Freedom isn’t free at the State Department: "On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. The evidence of my crime? A posting on my blog from the previous month that included a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Web."

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 28, 2011

L'Shana Tovah to my Jewish readers

The Jewish new year starts today -- or one of them does, anyway. Judaism has several different New Years for different purposes

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Israel as the Dutch Republic in the Thirty Years War

by Spengler

A small country, its land reclaimed from a hostile nature, fights for survival against overwhelming odds for 80 years. Surrounded by enemies dedicated to its destruction, it fields the world's most innovative army and beats them. Despite three generations of war, the arts, sciences and commerce flourish. Its population grows quickly while the conflict empties the failed states that surround it. And it becomes a beacon of hope for the cause of freedom.

I refer not to Israel, but to the Dutch Republic of the 17th century, whose struggle for freedom against Spain set the precedent for the American Revolution. The final three decades of the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) coincided with the terrible Thirty Years War.

In 1600, a million-and-a-half Dutchmen faced an Austrian-Spanish alliance with more than 10 times their population; by 1648, the people of the Netherlands numbered two million, while the Spanish and Austrians had perhaps a quarter of their people. Holland had become the richest land in the world, with 16,000 merchant vessels supplying a global trading empire, graced by artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer and scientists like Huygens and Leeuwenhoek.

We might speak of the "isolation" of the Dutch at the outset of the Thirty Years War, although England backed them from the outset; that is why Philip II of Spain launched the Great Armada in 1588. Holland faced more formidable enemies than modern Israel; in place of the feckless Third World armies of Egypt and Syria, the Dutch fought Spain, the superpower of the 16th century, with the world's best professional infantry bought with New World loot. The superior Dutch navy disrupted Spanish lines of communication, and a new kind of mobile infantry defeated the static Spanish square with continuous musket fire.

Holland confronted a formidable adversary, determined to extirpate its Protestant religion; Israel faces a group of failed or gradually-failing states whose capacity to make war is eroding. Seven months after the start of the Arab uprisings, Israel's position is a paradox.

The prospects for a formal peace are the worst since 1977, while Israel's military position has improved. The Syrian army is too busy butchering protesters to attack the Jewish state, and the uncertain position of the Bashar al-Assad regime weakens its Lebanese client Hezbollah. Egyptian popular sentiment has turned nastily against Israel, but the last thing the Egyptian army needs at the moment is a war with Israel that it inevitably would lose.

Egypt is a failed state. It has no way out. Chinese pigs will eat before the Egyptian poor, as wealthy Asians outbid impoverished Arabs for grain. Egypt imports half its caloric consumption, and its foreign exchange reserves last week dipped below what its central bank called the "danger" level of $25 billion covering six months of imports, down from $36 billion before Hosni Mubarak was toppled.

The reported reserve numbers probably include Saudi and Algerian emergency loans. With no tourism and much of the economy in shambles, the country is sliding towards destitution; it barely can feed itself at the moment. What will Egypt do when its reserves are gone? Almost half of Egyptian adults can't read, and the 800,000 young people who graduate yearly from the diploma mills are qualified only to stamp each other's identity cards. It is not surprising that football rowdies attacked Israel's embassy in Cairo last week.

The rupture in Israeli-Turkish relations, in turn, reflects Turkish weakness as well as the fanaticism of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey faces a short-term squeeze and a long-term crisis. Erdogan won re-election last June more as an economic manager than as neo-Ottoman imperial leader, but his economic success rested on a 40% rate of bank credit growth, and a consequent current account deficit equal to 11% of gross domestic product, the same level as Greece or Portugal.

As I reported last month (Instant obsolescence of the Turkish model, Asia Times Online, August 10, 2011), Turkey's stock market has fallen by nearly half in dollar terms since late 2010, and its currency has lost 20% of its value. Erdogan's economic Cave of Wonders has dissolved into the Anatolian sand, and Turkey faces a long period of belt-tightening.

Turkey's economic problems are a discomfort; its ethnic problems, by contrast, present an existential threat in the long run. In a quarter of a century, Kurdish will be the cradle-tongue of nearly half of all Turkish children, as Kurds have four to five children per family while Turkish-speakers have just 1.5. At some point, Turkey in its present form will cease to exist. Kurdish nationalism is stronger than ever; as Omar Aspinar [1] of the Brookings Institution wrote on September 11 in Zaman Online:

"Kurdish political aspirations have reached unprecedented levels in the last 10 years ... Kurdish ethnic, cultural and political demands are fueled by a young and increasingly resentful generation of Kurds who are vocal and frustrated not only in Eastern Anatolia but also in Turkey's large Western cities including Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin and Adana. Turkey's nightmare scenario is Turkish-Kurdish ethnic violence in such western urban centers."

The Kurds know that the demographic future belongs to them, and that Erdogan's frantic calls on Turkish women to have more babies will do nothing to change matters. "The Kurdish issue," warns Aspinar," remains Turkey's Achilles' heel."

Rather than isolate Israel diplomatically, Turkey and Egypt have buttressed its diplomatic position. By declaring the United Nations' Palmer Commission report on the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident "null and void", Turkish President Abdullah Gul put his country in the position of the rogue state. Egypt's failure to prevent an attack on Israel's embassy was a gross violation of international standards. Diplomacy, though, makes little difference, because Israel requires only the support of the United States.

The most likely outcome is a prolonged low-intensity war in which Israel suffers more rocket attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, and occasional terrorist infiltration from Sinai and the West Bank, but no organized military threat from its immediate neighbors. Iran's nuclear program presents an existential threat to Israel, and remains the great unknown in the equation.

As Jonathan Speyer [2] wrote in a September 11 report for the Gloria Center, Iran's attempt to lead an anti-Israel resistance bloc "has fallen victim to the Arab Spring", particularly after Tehran aided the despised Syrian regime. But Speyer warns that this "should because for neither satisfaction nor complacency".

A country that knows it must fight daily for its existence may thrive under interrupted stress. That is unimaginable for the Israeli peace camp, which dwindled into political insignificance after the Intifada of 2000, as well as for America's liberal Jews. But most Israelis seem to have adapted well to a long-term war regime.

The Dutch certainly did. When the Thirty Years War began in 1618 over Bohemia's attempts to cast off Austrian rule, Holland knew that Spain would take the opportunity to settle accounts with its breakaway Protestant province. Expecting a Spanish invasion, the English Separatists living in Holland decided instead to become Pilgrims to the New World. ''The Spaniard,'' their leader William Bradford wrote in 1618, ''might prove as cruel as the savages of America, and the famine and pestilence as sore here as there.''

A year after the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth Rock in 1620, Spain sent an army into Holland, and in 1625 the Spanish took the great Dutch fortress of Breda, just 90 kilometers from Amsterdam; Velasquez's canvas depicting the city's surrender hangs in Madrid's Prado Museum. The Dutch defenders kept the Spanish army away from their coastal cities only by opening the dikes and flooding the countryside. Had the Pilgrims stayed and the Spanish won, the Pilgrims likely would have been burned as heretics.

Spain embargoed Dutch trade and succeeded in damaging its economy, although Dutch attacks on the Spanish fleets bringing treasure from the New World provided some breathing room. One by one, Holland saw its German and Danish Protestant allies beaten by Austro-Spanish alliance, and by 1625 was fighting alone. By the late 1620s, though, Holland was winning a war of attrition against overextended Spain, and could match the Spanish in the field.

The military balance remained precarious; in 1629 the Spanish army was within 40 kilometers of Amsterdam. The turning point came in 1632, when the Dutch took the Flemish city of Maastricht, breaking Spain's hold on the Catholic Low Countries. When Spain and France went to war in 1635, the victorious Netherlands dominated European trade and its "Golden Age" reached fruition.

Holland boasted the world's strongest navy and a dominant position in world shipping trade, and its home provinces became impregnable.

The Dutch were smart and tough, but they beat the Spanish empire in large part by being better than their adversaries. The Dutch republic offered Europe's first example of religious toleration. Iberian Jews and French Huguenot found refuge in Holland against religious toleration, and the skilled immigrants made invaluable contributions to the Dutch economic miracle - something like the Russian immigrants to Israel today.

When Dutch armies invaded the Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium) they offered religious freedom to the Catholics they absorbed. Countries that attract talented people have an enormous advantage over countries that drive them out.

Without stretching the analogy too far, the religious conflict that surrounded 17th century Holland have something in common with today's Middle East. Americans know almost nothing of the Thirty Years War; not a single Hollywood film nor one popular novel recounts its major events. It is a tale of unrelenting misery, of battles and marches and countermarches that left nearly half of Central Europe dead.

It degenerated into a duel between two powers who both acted out of the mystical conviction that they were God's chosen people: the France of Cardinal Richelieu and the Spain of the Count-Duke Olivares. It foreshadowed the neo-paganism that nearly conquered Europe in what British statesman Winston Churchill called "the second Thirty Years War" of 1914-1945.

The conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam may cause something like a Thirty Years War in the Middle East, as Arabs, Turks and Persians fight for the mantle of Divine Election. The difference is that Europe descended into the maelstrom from a peak of economic and cultural success; the Muslim nations of the Middle East are goaded by a profound sense of humiliation and failure.

What transpires may be even more horrific than the events of 1618-1648. The methods the American military employed to win a respite in Iraq might set such a conflict in motion, as I argued last year in "General Petraeus' Thirty Years War" [3]. Once again, the nation that embodies religious faith embedded in democratic values will prevail despite the chaos around it.

SOURCE

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Superman vs. warm body

By Thomas Sowell

One of the problems in trying to select a leader for any large organization or institution is the tendency to start out looking for Superman, passing up many good people who fail to meet that standard, and eventually ending up settling for a warm body. Some Republicans seem to be longing for another Ronald Reagan. Good luck on that one, unless you are prepared to wait for several generations. Moreover, even Ronald Reagan himself did not always act like Ronald Reagan.

The current outbreak of "gotcha" attacks on Texas Governor Rick Perry show one of the other pitfalls for those who are trying to pick a national leader. The three big sound-bite issues used against him during the TV "debates" have involved Social Security, immigration and a vaccine against cervical cancer.

Where these three issues have been discussed at length, whether in a few media accounts or in Governor Perry's own more extended discussions in an interview on Sean Hannity's program, his position was far more reasonable than it appeared to be in either his opponents' sound bites or even in his own abbreviated accounts during the limited time available in the TV "debate" format.

On Social Security, Governor Perry was not only right to call it a "Ponzi scheme," but was also right to point out that this did not mean welshing on the government's obligation to continue paying retirees what they had been promised.

Even those of us who still disagree with particular decisions made by Governor Perry can see some of those decisions as simply the errors of a decent man who realized that he was faced not with a theory but with a situation.

For example, the ability to save young people from cervical cancer with a stroke of a pen was a temptation that any decent and humane individual would find hard to resist, even if Governor Perry himself now admits to second thoughts about how it was done.

Many of us can agree with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's contention that it should have been done differently. But it reflects no credit on her to have tried to scare people with claims about the dangers of vaccination. Such scares have already cost the lives of children who have died on both sides of the Atlantic from diseases that vaccination would have prevented.

The biggest mischaracterization of Governor Perry's position has been on immigration. The fact that he has more confidence in putting "boots on the ground" along the border, instead of relying on a fence that can be climbed over or tunneled under where there is no one around, is a logistical judgment, not a question of being against border control.

Texas Rangers have already been put along the border to guard the border where the federal government has failed to guard it. Former Senator Rick Santorum's sound-bite attempts to paint Governor Perry as soft on border control have apparently been politically successful, judging by polls. But his repeated interrupting of Perry's presentation of his case during the recent debate is the kind of cheap political trick that contributes nothing to public understanding and much to public misunderstanding.

Those of us who disagree with Governor Perry's decision to allow the children of illegal immigrants to attend the state colleges and universities, under the same terms as Texas citizens, need at least to understand what his options were. These were children who were here only because of their parents' decisions and who had graduated from a Texas high school.

Governor Perry saw the issue as whether these children should now be allowed to continue their education, and become self-supporting taxpayers, or whether Texas would be better off with a higher risk of those young people becoming dependents or worse. I still see Governor Perry's decision as an error, but the kind of error that a decent and humane individual would be tempted to make.

I have far more questions about those who would blow this error up into something that it is not. Error-free leaders don't exist -- and we don't want to end up settling for a warm body.

Ultimately, this is not about Governor Perry. It is about a process that can destroy any potential leader, even when the country needs a new leader with a character that the "gotcha" attackers demonstrate they do not have.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

AL: Go to church or go to jail: "Bay Minette, Alabama is telling people convicted of small crimes to choose Jesus or choose jail. Starting this week, the city judge will implement Operation Restore Our Community (ROC), which gives misdemeanor offenders a choice between fines and jail or a year of Sunday church services. 'Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,' Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland told the Alabama Press-Register. 'It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.'"

On the buses: "The UK bus sector has prospered in recent years, despite all the prophecies of gloom when Lady Thatcher’s Conservative Government decided that competition was the best answer to reversing decades of under-investment, lousy service and poor time-tabling."

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 27, 2011

President Obama’s ‘Brownshirts’ May Be Closer to Smashing Down Your Front Door Than You Think

By Paul R. Hollrah

In a speech in Colorado Springs on July 2, 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) ignored his teleprompter for a moment and spoke from the heart:

“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” he said. “We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded (as the military)… People of all ages, stations, and skills will be asked to serve.”

It brings to mind scenes from the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, East Germany, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea and, more recently, Venezuela, where every city, town, village, and neighborhood had(has) groups of citizens, called cells, who keep tabs on each other and their non-cell neighbors.

Farfetched? Most Americans ignore the possibility that Obama might attempt to copy his leftist counterparts in the communist, fascist, and socialist world. But Obama’s “brownshirts” may be closer to smashing down your front door than you think. Consider just a few recent incidents.

On Wednesday, Aug. 24, heavily armed agents of the U.S. Department of Justice, carrying search warrants signed by a federal judge, raided facilities of the Gibson Guitar Company [See reports here and here] in Memphis and Nashville. The raid was similar to a previous raid carried out in November 2009 when more than a dozen federal agents, armed with automatic weapons, raided Gibson’s U.S. manufacturing facilities and confiscated more than $1 million worth of valuable wood products imported from Madagascar.

The Justice Department maintains that the wood confiscated in the 2009 raid was obtained in violation of Madagascan law. However, Gibson has in its possession documents from the Madagascan government, certifying that the wood seized in 2009 was legally exported under their laws and that no law has been violated.

This year’s raid appears to involve quantities of rosewood and ebony imported from India. According to Gibson, the Justice Department “has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of the law in India…”

What was Gibson’s crime? Inasmuch as many Gibson guitars are produced by U.S. craftsmen, using rosewood and ebony imported from India, the Obama Administration finds Gibson in violation of the Lacey Act. According to the Rainforest Alliance, “… the law makes it illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken or traded in violation of the laws of the U.S., a U.S. State, or relevant foreign law (emphasis added).”

Because the ban on illegal timber, as defined in the Lacey Act, has not been defined by a clear set of regulations, it leaves the Obama administration a wide range of discretion to persecute businesses that may have displeased them. The law is so broad and ill-defined that, according to Gibson officials, a user can run into trouble even though they have no knowledge of a law in force in a foreign country.

“We have letters from a very high-level government agency in India that says that this product was (an) allowable export,” argued Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz. “And in fact, we have been buying the same product for well over 17 years… Wood that we are buying is being bought by other companies in the industry and they have not had any kind of action… not so much as a letter or a postcard.” [Note: A glimpse at the pages of the CF Martin & Company catalog (above right) backs up what Juskiewicz said.]

What should give us all cause for concern, especially those of us who are among Obama’s most consistent critics, is the knowledge that C.F. Martin & Company, another leading guitar maker, uses the same imported woods. So exactly what is it that distinguishes Gibson from Martin? Chris Martin IV, CEO of the Martin guitar company, is reported to be a long-time Democratic Party contributor, donating tens of thousands of dollars to Obama and other Democrats. By contrast, Gibson’s Juszkiewicz has a long history of supporting Republican candidates.

In another recent case, 24 federal agents raided Atlanta-based A-440 Pianos, which had imported a number of antique Austrian Bösendorfer pianos outfitted with 855 keys made of old ivory. According to an Aug. 28 report in the Wall Street Journal, when A-440 was preparing to import the pianos, knowing that the piano keys were made of ivory more than 100 years old, they asked officials at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species how to prepare the necessary paperwork. Convention officials alerted U.S. Customs.

“There was never any question that the instruments were old enough to have grandfathered ivory keys,” according to the Journal. Unfortunately, A-440 executive Pascal Vieillard apparently did not have all of his paperwork in order when two-dozen federal agents swarmed into his warehouse. Facing a maximum sentence of one year in federal prison and a maximum fine of $100,000, Vieillard pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Lacey Act and was given a $17,500 fine and three years probation. His company faces a maximum fine of $500,000 and five years probation.

How long does it take for a piano importer, a small business, to earn $500,000 in net profits, and how many jobs will be lost because Obama’s “brownshirts” were unable to control themselves?

National Review Online was incredulous. Mark Steyn asked, “Two dozen federal agents? To raid a piano importer? Does the piano industry have a particular reputation for violent armed resistance? Or is it that the most footling bureaucrat now feels he has no credibility unless he’s got his own elite commando team? …But look at it this way: Imagine if, instead of 24 agents, the federal piano police had to make do with a mere dozen to raid a small importer.”

In Obama’s world, that would represent a real breakdown in law enforcement.

As a Republican activist who has experienced numerous threats on my life and on the lives of my wife and children, and as one who has been beaten unconscious by union thugs at a public political event, I have some sense of the level of violence that always exists just beneath the surface when Democrats and their leftist constituencies feel threatened. But all of those things happened at a time when the American people could have some faith that the rule of law was respected by the people and by law enforcement agencies alike.

We now live in a different era. We live at a time when the Attorney General of the United States feels no obligation to enforce the law against armed New Black Panther thugs who threaten and intimidate voters outside a polling place in Philadelphia… just because the thugs were there in support of Democratic candidates. We live at a time when violent union thugs are allowed to occupy the capitol building of a sovereign state… just because the Republican governor and the Republican members of the state legislature did the jobs they were elected to do. And we are living at a time when the executives of a failing “green energy” company can… after paying four visits to the White House… obtain a $537 million loan guarantee, and for no better reason than that Obama needed a “poster child” for his ill-conceived initiative.

Law-abiding citizens, I’m sure, held out some hope for justice when they saw televised reports of FBI agents hauling away dozens of cartons of documents from the headquarters of the failed Solyndra solar energy company in Fremont, Calif.. But what they fail to consider is that the FBI reports to Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, and that Holder reports to Obama, whose reelection chances are in jeopardy. What viewers saw as a collection of evidence of massive political corruption may have been, in fact, the confiscation and destruction of evidence of massive political corruption.

With memories of the Kennedy assassination, Wounded Knee, Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the Oklahoma City Bombing cover-up fresh in our minds, do we really trust the FBI to conduct a full and complete investigation of criminal conduct while they are under the direct supervision of political thugs such as Holder and Obama?

SOURCE

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Obama as an American imperialist?

The article below is from a libertarian source so is a bit hysterical about "imperialism" but the view that Obama is in fact a loyal American (in his own confused way) intent on expanding American influence abroad does have some cogency. It is certainly true that Obama has expanded American military committments overseas. He is no peacenik. During his run for the Presidency he was rather mocked for saying that he would expand the war into Pakistan -- but he has been doing just that for some time now, even catching Osama bin Laden in the process. Increased military engagements are of course also consistent with Fascism

Obama’s apparent inconsistency on several issues has helped fuel the public debate over his beliefs. But if anything in Obama’s rhetoric and policies has been constant, it is his devotion to the American empire. Throughout the presidential campaign, he promised to fulfill the mission of his heroes, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy: strengthening American influence across the world. Obama declared that, like the globalist American leaders of the past, “we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events.”

Many of the candidate’s most loyal supporters were veterans of the movements against U.S. interventions in Southeast Asia and Central America, but Obama himself flatly asserted that the United States “has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known” and therefore “must lead the world, by deed and example.” Before audiences who somehow saw him as a peace candidate, he lauded Franklin Roosevelt for building “the most formidable military the world has ever seen” and promised to continue the tradition. As lifelong peaceniks plastered his face on their cars and homes and made their children march in parades for him, the candidate made it clear, in speeches, articles, and the 2008 Democratic National Platform, that if elected he would seek to enlarge the Army and Marine Corps, increase military spending, and escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Similarly, 10 months after taking office, Obama used the Nobel Peace Prize to declare war on potentially most of the world. In his October 2009 acceptance speech, the president pledged to go “beyond self-defense”—with armed intervention when necessary—anywhere “the inherent rights and dignity of every individual” are denied. Moreover, he ominously asserted that economic development “rarely takes root without security” and that “military leaders in my own country” believe that “our common security hangs in the balance” so long as climate change is not swiftly and forcefully addressed. Seldom has a political leader delivered such a strident and comprehensive call for American hegemony.

As we now know, Obama’s imperial rhetoric was not empty. With the cooperation of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, he did in fact increase Pentagon spending and expand the Army and Marine Corps to create the largest and most powerful military in the history of the world, tripled down in Afghanistan and Pakistan, launched new military operations in Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, and maintained 50,000 troops in Iraq.

Clearly, anyone who saw Obama as a peacemaker simply did not listen to what he was saying. But his commitment to preserving and expanding the American empire should also be no surprise to anyone familiar with the facts of his childhood. Obama is, after all, the empire’s son. Neither New York Times reporter Janny Scott nor conservative public intellectual Dinesh D’Souza—the authors of books on Obama’s mother and father, respectively—understand this. But for anyone with knowledge of the involvement of the United States in Indonesia and Kenya during Obama’s childhood, the information Scott and D’Souza provide makes it clear that Obama is fundamentally a product of American imperialism.

Let us begin with a physical fact: Obama literally would not exist without the Central Intelligence Agency. His father and mother met at the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center, which was created by Congress and directed by CIA operatives. Obama’s father was brought to the University of Hawaii by the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation and the U.S. State Department at the request of Tom Mboya, a CIA-backed leader in the Kenyan independence movement. The dormitory where Obama Sr. lived at the East-West Center was funded by the Asia Foundation, also a creation of the CIA. According to a 1961 congressional report, the mission of the East-West Center was to inculcate pro-American sentiment in foreign students and thereby “win the battle for men’s minds.” John Witeck, a scholar who once worked at the center, has called it “a true cult of imperialism.”

More important than the CIA connections of Obama’s parents, the world in which he was raised was filled with people devoted to bringing American ways of life to the rest of the world. From Janny Scott’s biography of Stanley Ann Dunham, A Singular Woman, we learn that Obama’s mother built her life around a commitment to spreading American business practices to rural Indonesia. What we don’t learn from Scott’s book is the political context or meaning of Dunham’s state-sponsored secular missionary work.

Shortly after divorcing Obama’s father, Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, the son of an upper-class Javanese family and a lieutenant in the Indonesian army, who in 1962 was sent by the Indonesian government to study at the East-West Center. Scott tells this story but omits what made the liaison possible. At the time, the Kennedy Administration, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was sending tens of millions of dollars per year to the Indonesian government in an attempt to win its loyalty against similar bribery from the Soviet Union. Much of that funding was used to send elite Indonesian students, such as Soetoro, to American schools. In particular, to schools—such as the East-West Center—that worked directly with U.S. intelligence and security agencies and trained foreign students to teach American business methods and philosophies back in their home countries.

In 1966 Soetoro returned to Indonesia to work for the military, which had just carried out mass executions of communists and suspected communists. Scott does not mention that according to a congressional report, 1,200 of the Indonesian military officers who organized and led this purge, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, had been trained in U.S.-based counterinsurgency programs, or that many of the weapons used in the killings were supplied by Washington. The elimination of communists, who had violently protested U.S. influence in Indonesia, cleared the way for a greater influx of American and American-trained nation builders, such as Soetoro and Dunham. Obama’s mother and stepfather were the velvet glove of “development” covering the iron fist of state violence.

In 1967 Dunham moved with Obama to join her husband in Jakarta, and she soon took a job at a school operated by the USAID. Obama wrote in his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father that the move was part of “the promise of something new and important” for his mother, namely “helping her husband rebuild a country in a charged and challenging place beyond her parents’ reach.” Dunham taught English to Indonesian businessmen to prepare them for U.S.-sponsored training in American business schools. It is well documented that during this period the USAID and CIA worked together closely in developing pro-American elites in Indonesia and elsewhere. One of those pro-American elites was Obama’s stepfather, who sometime in the late 1960s or early ’70s began working as the governmental liaison in the Jakarta offices of the California-based Union Oil Company.

Obama’s mother spent several years at the USAID school, then took a series of jobs—all sponsored directly or indirectly by U.S. government agencies—studying and promoting American-style economic development in rural Indonesia. Through the 1970s Dunham worked on a string of projects funded by the USAID; then in 1981 she was hired by the Ford Foundation’s Southeast Asia regional office in Jakarta to help develop microfinance programs in rural Indonesia. The Ford Foundation’s entanglement with the CIA during this period has always been public knowledge, with journalists, academic scholars, and congressional investigators documenting a long history of covert funding and what the sociologist James Petras has called “a close structural relation and interchange of personnel at the highest levels between the CIA and the Ford Foundation.” A 1976 congressional investigation showed that close to half of the foundation’s international projects were funded by the agency. Dunham left the foundation in 1988 to work as a consultant and research coordinator for Bank Rakyat Indonesia, with her work again funded by the USAID. In narrating Dunham’s and Soetoro’s careers, Scott consistently fails to mention the intimate connections between Obama’s parents and U.S. agencies or, more important, to notice that an expansive U.S. foreign policy created Obama’s world.

More HERE

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 26, 2011

Intellectual Roots of Leftism

Can the laboratory of communism also shed light on the viability of a related political philosophy, which also relies on centralized governmental coercion to achieve its goals: modern liberalism?

The communists did all at once what stealthy left-liberals apparently intend to do piece by piece while we sleep. We just lived through a century in which liberals enacted several recommendations of the Communist Manifesto and transformed a night-watchman state into a welfare/warfare state with a continual flow of "progressive" legislation and various "Democrat wars" and crusades with the result that no one in my law school class in 1983 could identify, in response to Professor Henry Mark Holzer's query, any aspect of life that was not in some way regulated or controlled by the state. Seventeen years later, are they through?

Has liberalism closed up shop? Will they ever be through? Not until they have established an egalitarian utopia where virtually all responsibility for living has passed from the individual to the state. In the liberal utopia, if I may pilfer Paddy Chayefsky's words, "all necessities [will be] provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused."

If you think I exaggerate, consider that liberals and communists share five critical premises: egalitarianism, utopianism (the use of impossible "ideals" as a guide to policy), the efficacy of force in accomplishing positive goals, hostility to civil society (nonstate institutions, e.g., Boy Scouts, private schools), and the individual's inability to govern himself.

In light of the recent attempted coup d'√©lection, I am tempted to add a sixth similarity — willingness to win political fights at all costs. Further evidence of some basic affinity between communism and modern liberalism is the latter's frequent coverups and apologies for the former. Finally, communists and liberals share a tendency to expressly support "mass democracy" while they in practice concentrate power in secretive elite bodies such as politburos and appellate courts.

In that spirit of fascination with the enemy, I recently read The Black Book of Communism, a clinical and relentless dissection of the crimes of communism in the 20th century — defined by "the natural laws of humanity" — written by several ex–fellow travelers led by Stephane Courtois.

It is not a book to be read before, during, or after a meal. You would not want to spoil a good meal with the image of Bolshevik troops throwing live human beings into a blast furnace. The Black Book is a story of mind-numbing and mindless brutality. Mao Zedong, one of the stars of the book, said, "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

Communists killed all types of people but focused their most intense fury on entrepreneurs, community leaders, and the highly educated. They made some half-hearted efforts to abolish money and decried "speculators," "rich bastards," and, "shopkeepers." Lenin said that "speculators … deserve … a bullet in the head." As the Nazis later would, the communists recruited many of their murderous thugs from the dregs of society. Thus, communism may be defined as the execrable executing the exceptional.

Leaving aside being forced to read all three volumes of Das Kapital, the communists' means of torture included partial asphyxiation, burning with red hot irons, confinement in tiny cells without plumbing, systematic rape and forced prostitution of "bourgeois women," mock execution, beatings, near starvation, being forced to eat the flesh of recently executed family members, forced marches, electric shocks, kneeling on broken glass, being manacled in tight handcuffs, hanging by the wrists or thumbs, and prolonged sleep deprivation leading to madness.

When communists were not destroying individual persons, they were busy destroying individual personality. They made heavy use of concentration camps and transported prisoners there in cattle trucks (sound familiar?). Prisoners were deprived of all privacy and were forced to confess their innermost thoughts. Spies were everywhere. No one could be trusted. There was only the "brutish imposition of a heavy-handed ideology" and the "permanent saturation with the message of orthodoxy." The result was an "abdication of the personality."

To rationalize their mass murder and torture, the communists first used the technique usually associated with the National Socialists — rhetorically dehumanizing their enemies. The communists exhorted their thugs to "shoot them like dogs," and referred to the bourgeoisie as "vultures," "pygmies," "foxes," "lice," "insects," and "pigs."

Left-liberals, who on economic issues favor a dictatorship of the majority, would have been happy with socialized medicine, communal day care, and the total abolition of private firearms. Lenin, in a cautiously worded policy analysis, recommended "immediate execution for anyone caught in possession of a firearm." He understood that "gun control" means the control that an armed citizenry has over a tyrannical government. The Bolsheviks systematically disarmed the peasants before systematically starving millions of them to death. Peasant pitchforks proved no match for Bolshevik machine guns.

Liberals also would have been ecstatic over the enshrinement of their moronic slogan "People over Profits" by the communists. There was not a capitalist profit to be made in communist countries, other than a few rubles for waiting in line to buy toilet paper for a comrade.

I knew that the communists killed millions. There were surprises in the book, however. In the winter of 1939–40, many Polish Jews fled east to escape the advancing German army. They ran into the heroic Red Army, which five years later would boast of liberating the Jews from concentration camps. The Red Army greeted the fleeing Jews with bayonets and machine-gun fire. Many Jews returned to the German sector. Ultimately, 400,000 Polish Jews who ended up in Soviet-controlled territory died during deportation, brutal concentration camp life, and forced labor.

The Black Book of Communism is a brilliant description of the crimes of communism. Its concluding chapter, written by Courtois, which attempts to explain "Why?" faces a more difficult challenge. The "why?" will perhaps never be fully understood. Courtois points to a number of factors, many of which are related to the philosophical similarities between communists and left-liberals previously discussed.

The inability of the individual to govern himself without coercive direction from the state. Courtois locates the genesis of Leninist terror in the French Revolution. Robespierre ruled by fear and terror because the people "were not yet pure enough" to grasp the wisdom of the revolution. All left-wing thought is premised on the individual's inherent inability, intellectually and morally, to function without continual direction from the state.

Elitism. Of course, if people are incapable of successful living without external guidance, that implies the need for a small elite, the "moral guardians of society" — Courtois's words describing the Bolsheviks' self-image — to give them their marching orders.

Utopianism. This concept is critical to understanding the crimes of communism. Utopians posit some imagined, allegedly ideal state of affairs, which, not being grounded in human nature and the human condition, cannot be achieved. Yet, it must be achieved, and since it is the ultimate moral value, any and all means necessary to achieve this ideal are sanctioned. As Courtois writes:

"the real motivation for the terror … stemmed from … the utopian will to apply to society a doctrine totally out of step with reality. … In a desperate attempt to hold onto power, the Bolsheviks made terror an everyday part of their policies, seeking to remodel society in the image of their theory, and to silence those who, either through their actions or their very social, economic, or intellectual existence, pointed to the gaping holes in the theory. … Marxism-Leninism deified the system itself, so that categories and abstractions were far more important than any human reality"

Egalitarianism. The primary targets of communism were persons of accomplishment: businessmen, successful farmers, intellectuals, and priests. It was easy to harness the natural envy of the masses toward their betters, particularly when this age-old envy was dressed up in utopian and moralistic terms.

The efficacy of force. Naturally, at the heart of Leninism was a fervent belief in the use of force and violence. Society can be improved by killing, starving, torturing and generalized terror. Trotsky said it best: "only force can be the deciding factor … Whoever aims at the end cannot reject the means."

Violence begets violence. Courtois deems it significant that communism first emerged from the wreckage of World War I. The war "to make the world safe for democracy" made it safe for a murderous communist dictatorship in Russia. The senseless violence of the war habituated the Russian people to the senseless violence of Leninism and Stalinism. Later communist regimes were nurtured in the womb of other senseless wars. Courtois quotes Martin Malia:

"crime begets crime, and violence violence, until the first crime in the chain, the original sin of the genus, is expiated through accumulated suffering… it was the blood of August 1914, acting like some curse of the Atreidae on the house of modern Europe, that generated the chain of international and social violence that has dominated the modern age."

More HERE

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George Soros gives money to false prophet

THE global financial crisis, the latest episode of which boiled over last week, did more than destroy wealth and jobs, or embarrass the rating agencies. It exposed the malaise within the economics profession and the deep flaws in its orthodox theories.

George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, was among those who joined the search for new ideas.

Mr Soros funded a new organisation called the Institute for New Economic Thinking which for the past two years has handed out millions of dollars in grants, funding research projects that look at economics in fresh ways.

This month, the institute gave more than $125,000 to an Australian. Steve Keen, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance at the University of Western Sydney, has won a grant to turn his money-based model of the macro-economy - which draws on the theories of economists such as Hyman Minsky and John Maynard Keynes - into a computer program for students and economists.

Professor Keen says his program will make it easy to develop "dynamic" models of the economy that incorporate money and debt - something that orthodox models do not do.

Last year, Professor Keen had to walk from Canberra to Mount Kosciuszko after losing a bet with Rory Robertson, the then interest rate strategist for Macquarie Bank.

Professor Keen had bet in 2008 that Australian house prices would lose 40 per cent in value in the aftermath of the financial crisis.. [They showed only a slight fall overall]

More HERE

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"Campaign finance reform" is a crock designed to protect incumbents

Washington state provides a fresh example of the exhaustion of the "campaign finance reform" project, which tries to empower government to restrict speech about the composition and conduct of government.

The state law at issue is awful, but usefully awful: It perfectly illustrates how the political class crafts campaign regulations for the purpose of protecting the job security of members of that class – elected incumbents.

Pierce County, near Seattle, has an assessor-treasurer, Dale Washam, whose comportment in office has offended Robin Farris and others. The details about what Washam has done to stir a recall clamor need not concern us; courts consider whether the details are sufficiently grave before allowing a recall election to proceed. For the record, the Tacoma News Tribune says Washam's two-year tenure "has turned a minor government office into a fountain of perpetual controversy. ... Investigations state that Washam retaliated against his employees, wasted government resources, abused his power and hindered the inquiries. Costs of those investigations and other legal matters tied to Washam's office now exceed $108,000. Four damage claims – preludes to lawsuits – seek a collective total of $4.25 million."

The right of the people to vote to recall elected officials is a legacy of Western populism. Farris, a retired naval officer not previously politically active, and some kindred spirits have failed to gain enough signatures to force a vote to remove Washam – perhaps because of the impediments to signature gathering.

Not unreasonably, Washington state law, in order to prevent attempts to overturn elections for frivolous reasons, requires a superior court judge to have a "sufficiency hearing" to determine whether the charges against an official attain a threshold of seriousness by involving "malfeasance or misfeasance." This judge's opinion can be appealed to the state Supreme Court. So a recall campaign necessarily involves significant litigation expenses – even before beginning the efforts to collect sufficient signatures to get the recall question on the ballot.

What is, therefore, highly unreasonable – and unconstitutional – is the regime of restrictions on raising and spending money on recall campaigns. So say Farris and the Oldfield & Helsdon law firm, which ran afoul of state law when it volunteered to do pro bono work on behalf of Farris and the Recall Dale Washam Committee she helped to organize.

Farris and the firm are represented by the Institute for Justice – a public-interest law firm based in Arlington, Va. State law restricts individual contributions to most recall campaigns to $800. This low limit on the indispensable means of disseminating political speech is a huge impediment to buying newspaper advertising. Such advertising is necessary – see above – to collect the requisite 65,495 signatures in a county of 1,800 square miles.

And the $800 limit has a wee constitutional defect: The Supreme Court has held that the only permissible reason for any limits on political contributions is to prevent corruption or the appearance thereof – basically, quid pro quo transactions between candidates and their supporters. But who exactly can be corrupted by the spending of persons supporting the recall of an elected official?

It gets worse. Washington state says that lawyers who do pro bono work on behalf of a recall effort – who volunteer their time to help with litigation the state makes mandatory – must count their time as a financial contribution subject to the $800 limit. This, too, has the effect, surely intended, of crippling recall efforts.

You almost have to admire the audacity of Washington state's political class in writing a law that constitutes such a comprehensive attack on citizens' First Amendment rights of speech and of association – of assembling to petition for redress of grievances.

The law provides a right of recall – and then vitiates that right. It turns a de jure right into a de facto nullity by mandating an expensive process, then arbitrarily limiting the ability of participants to meet those expenses. It does this by placing low limits on monetary contributions to recall campaigns and, even more insidiously, it compels volunteer lawyers to monetize the time they contribute to litigation the state requires.

This rigging of a process threatening to the serenity of the political class is unambiguous proof that protection of that class is always a – in this case the – purpose of government regulation of politics in the name of "campaign finance reform."

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

The Constitution may not be perfect — but it is much better than what we have now!: "Our Constitution created a pro-property rights, pro-contract rule of law -- a system promoting entrepreneurial growth. On this 224th Anniversary of the creation of the Constitution, the business community should recognize its value and act to defend it. The Founders sought a balance between the need for a strong government (Madison’s observation that because men aren’t angels, governments are necessary) and George Washington’s warning that government, like fire, is a dangerous servant and a powerful master."

The Social Security reality: "Although Mr. Perry's Ponzi analogy is not technically correct, it has some validity in that Social Security benefits are financed by ever more subscribers -- that is, wage earners. But unlike a Ponzi scheme, Social Security is not fraudulent, and it doesn't pay large benefits relative to taxes. Indeed, it pays low benefits. A Ponzi scheme promises high returns. That's why people freely, although foolishly, play the game. Social Security promises low returns. That's why people are forced to play the game."

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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

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

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