Friday, October 14, 2011

The strange mind of a veteran British socialist politician

She even defends Britain's deplorable National Health Service (socialized medicine)

What a stroke of bad luck for Shirley Williams. At the very moment when the Lib Dems’ ‘Shirl the Pearl’ was on her feet in the Lords this week, mounting her dewy-eyed defence of the ‘altruistic’ NHS against the Government’s planned ‘money-based’ reforms, the Care Quality Commission was publishing the truth about what all this altruism actually means for patients.

The document makes horrifying reading. As this paper reported yesterday, in one in five of the hospitals they visited unannounced, the Commission’s inspectors found neglect of the elderly so serious that it breaks the law, while in nearly half of them staff were not doing enough to ensure patients didn’t go hungry or thirsty.

On some wards, they saw frail patients rattling their bedrails or banging on water jugs to try to attract the attention of staff. On many others, elderly invalids were forced to undergo the indignity of using commodes next to their beds, because staff were too busy to take them to the lavatory.

At Alexandra Hospital in Worcester, meanwhile, they found that some dehydrated patients hadn’t been given anything to drink for more than ten hours. Imagine that, Shirl the Pearl — and then tell us about the altruism that underpins the good old NHS.

In the words of the CQC’s chairman, Dame Jo Williams (no relation, as far as I’m aware): ‘Time and again, we found cases where patients were treated by staff in a way that stripped them of their dignity and respect.

People were spoken over, and not spoken to; people were left without call bells, ignored for hours on end, or not given assistance to do the basics of life — to eat, drink or go to the toilet.’

Meanwhile, over in the Lords, Dame Jo’s namesake, the bluestocking baroness, was burbling on in that deep, bossy voice of hers about the sacred founding principles of the NHS and this wicked Government’s attempts to dismantle what she described last month as ‘one of the most efficient public services of any in Europe’.

Before I explode with rage, I must acknowledge that, of course, there are thousands upon thousands of hugely dedicated doctors and nurses in the NHS, who are as angry as any of us about the unnecessary suffering they so often see around them, and who do what they can to relieve it.

Indeed, if there were an index of the milk of human kindness, graded from one to ten, I would guess the medical profession would top most, if not all, other occupations, with an average score of perhaps seven. I must also make it clear that I am not saying Lady Williams is a cruel woman. On the contrary, she has always struck me as very well-meaning. Give her a six-and-a-half on the scale....

For what has always struck me about Shirley Williams, and never more so than this week, is that like so many intellectuals, she is profoundly silly.

And although she is neither cruel nor ruthless herself, she has clung doggedly throughout her life to a Socialist belief system that taints everything it touches with cruelty and ruthlessness, causing misery to the very people she most wants to help.

The most maddening thing is that even when the evidence of Socialism’s failure is all around her — whether in the poverty of Soviet Russia in her youth or the black and white print of this week’s CQC report on the state of the NHS — she refuses to see it. In her eyes, it’s never the theory itself that’s wrong, it’s just the way that people have put it into practice.

So what if the health service, as it is presently constituted, cannot manage on £2billion a week of taxpayers’ money without subjecting old ladies to torture?

The answer’s simple, say the Williamses of this world. Just give it £4billion a week. Or if that doesn’t work, try £8billion. But don’t, whatever you do, whisper the blasphemies ‘private enterprise’ or ‘market economics’, or else the poor baroness will fall into a swoon.

Witness her horror over the Health Secretary’s plan to allow ‘any willing provider’ to supply services to the NHS. This is ‘stealth privatisation’, she says, as if no worse crime could be imaginable. ‘The NHS was always seen as the preferred provider. That is swept away.’ Can’t she see that those cruelly-abused patients, parched with thirst and rattling their bedrails to try to attract attention, would count it the greatest blessing on Earth if only a willing provider would hand them a glass of water?

Or take that entirely false contrast she seeks to draw between an ‘altruistic’ and a ‘money-based’ NHS. Doesn’t she remember what happened when the last government gave GPs hugely generous new contracts, with the option of skipping work in the evenings and at weekends? In their droves, they headed for the golf-course, abandoning their patients to strangers —some of whom couldn’t even speak English. Where’s the altruism in that?

And where’s the sense in Lady Williams’s ideological horror of a money-based health service? Leave aside that under the health reforms, care would remain free at the point of delivery. Forget, too, that much of the NHS has been money-based since its foundation, with drug companies and equipment suppliers selling their wares for hard cash.

Imagine that our bread was funded by general taxation and supplied to us on prescription, under the altruistic health service model. Does Lady Williams honestly believe, in her heart of hearts, that it would be cheaper, fresher, better than the bread we buy now, under the wicked money-based system operated by the supermarkets? Come off it! There would be queues round the block for a week-old, £10 bread roll.

But it’s not for her failed attempt to sabotage the NHS reforms that this well-meaning old biddy deserves a special place in the hottest circle of Hell. In my book, her greatest crime was to press ahead with the destruction of grammar [selective] schools in her days as Education Secretary (and yes, I know, though it grieves me to say it, her successor Margaret Thatcher was also guilty there).

The difference is that Lady Williams was driven by a blind ideological faith in the new comprehensive school system (though it was not so blind as to prevent her from sending her own daughter to a fearsomely selective London state school. Comprehensives may have been good enough for other people’s children, but not for hers).

So it is that she bears a large part of the blame for depriving bright working-class children of their surest chance of a leg-up in life, while condemning the not-so bright to empty lives in a new, unemployable underclass.

But of course she wouldn’t see it that way. Never mind the evidence of all our eyes. As far as she’s concerned, Socialist theory is never wrong. It’s just the facts that tend to be a bit awkward.



Two similar capitalists get very different treatment

Both provided popular products but one provided an ego boost and one did not. I am pleased to say that I have never owned an Apple product, never regretted it and never lacked any phone or computer capability I wanted -- JR

The passing of Steve Jobs saw a remarkable outpouring of appreciation for the man and the company he founded, and its many innovative products. The quality and user-friendliness of the products, combined with outstanding brand management and marketing, explain Apple’s loyal, even sectarian, following.

It is unusual for an entrepreneur to be appreciated this way. The obvious comparison is with Bill Gates. Gates and the company he founded have also had a profound impact on our everyday lives. Yet if Gates were to die tomorrow, it is hard to imagine people lighting candles outside computer stores. Gates is still seen as the grasping robber-baron of computing, even though his business strategies have been no more anti-competitive than Apple’s iTunes store. Gates’ success earned him prosecution by the US Justice Department and EU competition authorities for supposedly harming consumers.

Microsoft has bestowed benefits on the world rivalling those of Apple, but to the extent that Gates earns plaudits, it is mainly for his philanthropic efforts. Gates’ philanthropy is likely motivated, at least in part, by the desire to win the respect and appreciation he never found as an entrepreneur. Gates is a member of a group of billionaires who have signed up to the notion that they must give away the majority of their wealth. In Australia, Dick Smith threatens to ‘out’ the wealthy who fail to give, treading a fine line between moral suasion and public intimidation. Yet Gates has done more for humanity as an entrepreneur than he is ever likely to achieve as a philanthropist. It is only the entrepreneurship that made the philanthropy possible.

This is something Jobs understood very well. He showed little interest in philanthropy, not because he was uncharitable but because he recognised that it was not his comparative advantage. Jobs was consequently ‘named and shamed’ by the US philanthropic sector. This did not dent his reputation, perhaps because the public also recognised they were better served by his relentless focus on Apple’s product.

Adam Smith famously observed that ‘it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’ In 1985, Jobs told Playboy magazine ‘we think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves.’ Like Gates, Jobs was a self-interested and self-serving businessman and yet we are all much richer for their efforts.



Occupy Wall Street’s ACORN-related Rent-A-Mobs

by Matthew Vadum

Evidence suggests that ACORN, the Left’s premiere astro-turfing organization, has been paying people to participate in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Astro-turfing campaigns can generate big money, and ACORN’s lucrative protest-for-profit program is nothing new. As I note in my book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, ACORN has acquired great expertise in manufacturing so-called grassroots protests.

Left-wing loan sharks Herb and Marion Sandler​, the founders of World Savings Bank, gave ACORN affiliates close to $11 million to manufacture mobs to protest their competition in subprime mortgage lending. The United Federation of Teachers paid ACORN $500,000 to create a spontaneous uprising against charter schools in Manhattan.

The sleazy, SEIU-funded Working Families Party, a front group for ACORN, placed a want ad on the Craig’s List website dated Sept. 26. The ad indicates that WFP was recruiting activists to carry out “direct action,” leftist argot for a variety of activities aimed at forcing sociopolitical change. The line between direct action and violent terrorism can become blurry. Extreme forms of direct action can lead to bodily injury and sometimes death. The labor movement is no stranger to assault and killings. Left-wing activists David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin participated in an attack on an armored car that left two police officers and a security guard dead. Two anarchists tried to disrupt the 2008 GOP convention with Molotov cocktails. The eco-terrorist Sea Shepherd Conservation Society admits both to attacking whaling ships with acid and sinking them.

The WFP is seeking immediate hires.

You must be an energetic communicator, with a passion for social and economic justice.

Only outgoing, articulate dedicated, determined candidates will be considered for the positions.

For those candidates that qualify WFP offers substantial paid-training provided by senior leadership, on varied issues such as: advocacy, public speaking, mobilizing, fundraising, networking and organizing. We invest in passionate people with excellent communication skills and a full benefits package is offered to those candidates that qualify. In addition, there is opportunity for advancement and travel to our satellite chapters and out of state affiliates.

This is not a policy job! Through direct action you will be shaping NY state politics for the next 20 years.”

As previously reported, WFP has been involved in organizing the Occupy Wall Street protests since the beginning.

As radical journalist Laura Flanders reported, WFP organizer Nelini Stamp has “been here since day one and she is part of the organizing team and the outreach team that has managed to bridge the distance between that first day and this day and between the grassroots folks here and the labor movement.” Stamp said the protests are aimed at “trying to change the capitalist system” and bringing “revolutionary changes to the states.”

WFP organizer Matthew Cain also acknowledged the party’s involvement Oct. 5 and helpfully provided a photograph of party staffers bearing a blue and white WFP banner during a march in lower Manhattan. Across from Foley Square,
several WFP field staff were standing on the steps. For some of the staffers, it was their first time at the square, but for many others they had already spent nights sleeping in the park. Even those who have been there for two weeks or more have not seen their spirits diminished – they’re every bit as committed as they were when they first showed up.

Of course WFP executive director Dan Cantor, a longtime ACORN operative, is pleased with Occupy Wall Street so far. Cantor told supporters in an email that “the spirit of Wisconsin and Tahrir Square is alive and well in New York City.”




US Congress passes three trade agreements: "Congress approved free trade agreements Wednesday with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, ending a four-year drought in the forming of new trade partnerships and giving the White House and Capitol Hill the opportunity to show they can work together to stimulate the economy and put people back to work. In rapid succession, the House and Senate voted on the three trade pacts, which the administration says could boost exports by $13 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs."

Free vs. stealing: Do students know the difference?: "'Free,' as a grossly distorted concept, is not indigenous to the US but crosses international borders like any other disease. Exhibit A is a Yuma Sun article with a lead paragraph that begins, 'Chilean police used water cannons and tear gas to break up a student march for free public education ...'"

TN: TSA molestation victim’s mom’s case goes to Nashville grand jury: "A Nashville judge decided today that a grand jury should hear the case of a Clarksville mother who was arrested for disorderly conduct in July after a confrontation with security officers at Nashville International Airport. Senior Judge John P. Brown made his decision after a fiery preliminary hearing in Davidson County General Sessions Court to determine if there was probable cause for the charges. Officers said Andrea Abbott, 41, yelled and swore at Transportation Security Administration officers and airport police after her 14-year-old daughter was selected for a full-body scan."


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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)

Spot the difference


2012: Time for a common sense election

Want to annoy a liberal? Tell one that America needs a business-person as president to put our economic house in order. Most libs will, however subtly, react defensively, given that their experiment in “transforming” America has turned out — how to put it mildly? — disastrous, with even Democratic campaign officials using Titanic metaphors.

The standard reply (and we’re hearing it more and more) is that running the country and running a business are two different things. The responsibilities and consequences of leading a nation can be, and usually are, far graver than those of, say, running a fast-food empire.

There is some truth to that. As we are reminded, the president doesn’t enjoy the luxury of firing members of the opposing party. But the significant advantage of electing a business leader — or, at the very least, one who appreciates the dynamics of a free economy — is having someone who has been held accountable. Accountability, providing goods and services that people want, satisfying stockholders are the defining traits of a free economy. It isn’t complicated nor is it just one of many competing economic theories out there. It’s common sense.

That, in part, explains the appeal of Herman Cain. And the GOP’s flirtation with Donald Trump a few months back. And why Mitt Romney, a mere one-term governor, remains a front-runner. It’s his life-long devotion to business where common sense can mean the difference between solvency and shutting the doors for good.

Contrast Cain, Trump and Romney to Barack Obama in 2008. Our 44th president sailed into office on charisma, platitudes, an activist media, a GOP in ruins and a wafer-thin resume. Soon, he and his cabinet were lauded for their intellectual heft.

Today, by contrast, the American electorate expects reason over rhetoric and solutions over academic pedigree. One of our great common-sense presidents, Calvin Coolidge, said of experts that, “Whoever deals with current public questions is compelled to rely greatly upon the information and judgments of experts and specialists. Unfortunately, not all experts are to be trusted as entirely disinterested.”

Indeed, common sense forged this nation from the beginning. In his aptly titled essay Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote that the crises of his day served some good, in that “the mind grows through them and acquires a firmer habit than before.” Also, they “bring things and men to light which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. . . they sift out the hidden thoughts of man and hold them up in public to the world.”

Our founders knew that great leaders derive their power and inspiration from the common sense and goodwill of everyday Americans. They knew that it takes all of us to make this country work: labor and management, urban and rural, all races, creeds and colors. We now know that economic class is not set for life, with workers rising above their lowly circumstances even in the toughest of times.

A majority of Americans can easily discern the current Occupy Wall Street protests for the turgid, disjointed people’s-movement-wannabe that it is. Common sense values can easily contrast the rank class envy masquerading as discourse, and the moral (and physical) sloth disguising itself as a helpless victim of economic injustice.

2012 is all but crying out for an antidote to fear, pessimism and resentment — and to the politicians stoking the flames to fuel their own ambitions. Calm, cool reason, along with a passionate love for America’s founding ideals can rule the day, and common sense voters can well define 2012 the way values voters and soccer moms seemed to capture more recent elections.

The raucous leftists always fashion themselves the starry-eyed idealists, but we can’t even give them that one, for Calvin Coolidge also remarked that “economy is idealism in its most practical form.”



Notes on Sweden's welfare state

Most people are familiar with what I call the Swedish Fallacy – the reliance on Sweden by people on all sides of the spectrum to back up whatever policy proposal they're making, as if Sweden is a paradise on earth that everybody can emulate by adopting the same policies. It's especially common on the left: they have high taxes and a dynamic economy, so higher taxes must not be a bad thing! A new report from the Libera Foundation, a Finnish think tank, throws a spanner into those works:
One should remember that the golden age of Swedish entrepreneurship, where one successful firm after another was founded in the small country and gained international renown, occurred during a time where taxes and the scope of government were quite limited. Sweden shifted to radicalized social democratic policies in the 1960s, 1970s, and the 1980s. . . .

It is, however, important to remember that Sweden, like other Nordic nations, has compensated for these policies by improving economic liberty in other fields. Some reforms, such as the partial privatization of the mandatory pensions system and voucher systems in schools and health care surpass what has been possible to implement in most developed nations.

Swedish society is not necessarily moving away from the idea of a welfare state, but continuous reforms are implemented towards economic liberty within the scope of welfare. The rise of government has been stopped and even reversed in recent years. The nation is again returning to the free market policies which served it so well in the past.

This is a point that Tim Worstall has made in the past as well. The report also discusses the cultural factors that make such high taxes tolerable. Yes, Sweden is a high tax, high welfare country, but it's also remarkably free market by most other measures. Indeed, it might be that the only way they're able to pay for so much welfare is because in many other respects they take a more laissez-faire approach to their economy than we do.

That should be food for thought for socialists who want to take from the rich to give to the poor – if a free market maximises the money they have to redistribute in the medium-term, the most sincere socialist position might be to favour fairly high taxes and low regulation. It's not something I'd support – high taxes are still bad news for lots of reasons – but I'd prefer it to the primitive central planning that many on the left still favour. I don't think Sweden's a paradise, but it might still be able to teach the left a thing or two about how to pay for the welfare state they want.



SunPower: Twice As Bad As Solyndra, Twice As Bad For Obama

Congressman's son lobbied for failing solar panel company

How did a failing California solar company, buffeted by short sellers and shareholder lawsuits, receive a $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for a photovoltaic electricity ranch project—three weeks after it announced it was building new manufacturing plant in Mexicali, Mexico, to build the panels for the project.

The company, SunPower (SPWR-NASDAQ), now carries $820 million in debt, an amount $20 million greater than its market capitalization. If SunPower was a bank, the feds would shut it down. Instead, it received a lifeline twice the size of the money sent down the Solyndra drain.

Two men with insight into the process are SunPower rooter Rep. George R. Miller III, (D.-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee and the co-chairman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and his SunPower lobbyist son, George Miller IV.

Miller the Elder is a strong advocate for SunPower, which converted an old Richmond, Calif., Ford plant in his district to a panel-manufacturing facility.

The congressman hosted an Oct. 14, 2010, tour of the plant with company CEO Thomas H. Werner and Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar to promote the company’s fortunes.

“The path to a clean energy economy starts here, in places like SunPower’s research and development facility,” said Salazar during the tour. “The work that comes from these facilities transforms renewable energy ideas into a reality. When renewable energy companies continue to invest in places like California, the realization of a new energy future is within our reach,” he said.

Miller the Elder said he was grateful for Salazar's interest. “We’ve worked hard to make renewable energy a priority because it represents America’s future economic growth. Today, businesses like SunPower are moving forward, hiring 200 people for good clean energy jobs in the East Bay,” he said.

“By fostering a business climate that encourages companies like SunPower, even more good jobs will be created locally, we’ll reduce demand for dirty energy sources, and we’ll cut customers’ utility bills. That’s the right direction,” he said.

SunPower’s political action committee (PAC) was not shy about participating in the political process either.

According to the SunPower PAC filings for its activities in the 2010 midterm election campaign cycle, it donated more than $36,000. Of the $15,650 donated to House and Senate candidates, $14,650 went to Democrats, with these top recipients: $4,000 to Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), $3,000 to Rep. Gabrielle Gifford (D.-Ariz.) and $2,900 Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.).

The congressman was not forgotten either. The SunPower PAC remembered him with $500 for his 2010 campaign. While SunPower was a financial partner in the congressman’s reelection campaign, it straight-out hired his son.

Miller the Younger is not registered to lobby in Washington, but he is a member of its bar. He is not a member of the California bar, home of his lobbying firm, Lang, Hansen, O'Malley and Miller (LHOM), of which he is a founding partner.

According the firm's website LHOM specializes in providing advice to clients on larger macro political issues trends. “Utilizing our broad experience in California and Washington, D.C., we can furnish 'big picture' analysis of developing political and policy trends which may affect client interests and goals.”

What does Miller the Younger bring? Read here: “George Miller brings a lifetime of friendships, relationships, and contacts together with over 15 years of front-line advocacy experience. He’s an attorney with expertise that ranges from insurance and banking to transportation, taxation and gaming law,” according to the website. “Unlike most advocates, George is at ease working both the corridors of Sacramento power or the halls of Congress.”

What is the stated purpose of the SunPower’s DOE 1705 program loan guarantee?

SunPower has different lines of business. In addition to manufacturing solar panel and roof tiles, it builds solar panel ranches, which it then sells off, but retains the services contract.

The loan guarantee is earmarked for the job numbers for the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo County, which it has already sold to NRG Solar, but will continue to maintain.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE) website, the CVSR project will create 350 construction jobs during the two-year build and 15 permanent jobs—presumably those are the squeegee men for keeping the panels clean.

Capitol Hill powerbroker Rep. George Miller (D.-Calif.), center, hosted Interior Sec. Kenneth L. Salazar, left, on an Oct. 14, 2010 tour of SunPower's Richmond, Calif., plant. During the tour, Salazar said plants like SunPower's transform renewable energy ideas into reality. One month later, the company announced it had restated its 2008 and 2009 financial filings to correct for unsubstantiated accounting entries.

If $80 million per permanent job seems a little high, even for the current Obama administration, you are correct. In addition to the 350 construction jobs and the 15 squeegee men, there will an as-yet-undetermined number of jobs created building the panels for the CVSR—in Mexicali, Mexico.

The company is looking for a facility of up to 320,000 square feet, where it will build three different solar panel models and its solar roof tiles, according the company’s Aug. 5 statement.

Marty T. Neese, the company's chief operating officer, said, “Establishing our own manufacturing facility in Mexicali means we will be positioned to quickly deliver our high-efficiency, high-reliability solar products to a growing North American solar market.”

Mexicali Mayor Francisco Perez Tejada Padilla said he was thrilled. “Mexicali is rapidly becoming an industrial hub for high-tech companies, offering an educated workforce and a growing manufacturing area,” he said. “We welcome SunPower to our city and are pleased that they have chosen Mexicali to establish its solar panel manufacturing facility.”

The good news for Mexican jobs seekers did not affect the DOE's loan guarantee to SunPower. Hours before the DOE 1705 loan program expired at the end of Fiscal Year 2011 on Sept. 30, the $1.2 billion in loan guarantees was approved for the company.



Panderer in Chief: What would a Mitt Romney presidency look like?

Romney brazenly proclaimed, "One reason to elect me is that I know what I stand for, I've written it down. Words have meaning."

"I've written it down"—I love that. I'm put in mind of the great New Yorker cartoon, featuring a Washington bigwig behind an enormous desk, the Capitol looming through his office window. "I keep my core beliefs written on the palm of my hand for easy reference," he tells his visitor.

With New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie out and Perry floundering, it's looking ever more likely that the alternative to President Obama will be a candidate who needs a cheat sheet to remember his core beliefs.

Taking to heart the Stoic principle that we shouldn't lament what we can't control, I'm going to try to convince you—and myself—that things could be worse.

In their 2007 editorial endorsing Romney, National Review argued—hilariously—that the former Massachusetts governor was a "full-spectrum conservative."

But if there's any case to be made for Romney, it's that he's a full-spectrum panderer. Paradoxically, Romney's faults—his incessant flip-flopping and desperate quest for approval—might make him a less-dangerous-than-average president.

On the campaign trail, Romney has savaged Obama's proposed Medicare cuts—the sign "keep your hands off our Medicare" is "absolutely right," he insists—and he has attacked Perry for questioning the constitutionality of Social Security.

The good news, I suppose, is that there is no better reason to take Romney at his word here than there is anywhere else.

Romney's strategically timed ideological conversions are well-known. On the road to the presidency, he's had convenient epiphanies about stem-cells, gay rights, and immigration, and gone from being a staunch gun-controller to, in 2007, buying a lifetime NRA membership and awkwardly bragging about blasting rabbits with a single-shot .22 rifle (do those come with laser sights?).

But, having suffered through two ideologically charged presidencies in a row, to many Americans the poll-tested pandering of the Clinton era doesn't look so bad by comparison.

Our 42nd president wanted national health care, but the country wanted welfare reform and prosperous normalcy—and the country got what it wanted.



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


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


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Did Hitler escape to South America?

I am inclined to think that he didn't but the case is not as open and shut as you might imagine. Consider two things:

1). We only have the word of the Red Army for what they found in Hitler's bunker and the old Soviet apparatus told lies as easily as some people tell the truth. They even had a word for such lies: "Disinformation" -- with one of its more successful examples being the demonization of that great man of God, Pope Pius XII.

And it would have been a great disgrace for the Soviets if they had let Hitler slip through their fingers. So they would have claimed to have got him even if they had not -- reasoning quite cogently that Hitler would not blow the cover that they had conveniently provided for him.

2). It is undisputed that many Nazis, including some senior ones, DID escape to South America. So if them, why not the Leader himself? He would only have had to manage a night flight from somewhere in the Reich to Fascist Spain and all his troubles would be over. A transfer from there to one of the South American dictatorships could have been arranged in a variety of ways. And the Latin American elite were at that time (and to a considerable extent still are) apostles of Bolivarism -- which is just Fascism by another name, Fascism complete with a Fuehrerprinzip of course. So Hitler's welcome would have been warm, though secretive.

And a night flight would not even have been particularly dangerous. It would be assumed by all concerned that only Allied aircraft would be in the air by that time and the profile of some German military aircraft was similar to the profile of some Allied aircraft (e.g. the Junkers 88 could be mistaken for a Mosquito bomber) so any challenge would be unlikely.

But the reason I doubt that Hitler escaped is that I cannot see him ever shutting up for long. The man was a born preacher so I am sure that if he had survived we would have eventually heard something from him in some way.

But if you want to read an interesting article offering evidence that he escaped, see here or here


Government the Job Killer

John Stossel has some good stories:

President Obama says government will have to build the nation out of the economic trough.

"We're the country that built the intercontinental railroad," Obama says. "So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads?"

Ironic that he mentions the Chinese. Progressives used to complain that to build the railroad, bosses abused Chinese workers -- called them "coolies" and treated them badly. Now this is big success?

I guess Obama doesn't know that the transcontinental railroad was a Solyndra-like Big Government scandal. The railroad didn't make economic sense at the time, so the government subsidized construction and gave the companies huge quantities of the best land on the continent. As we should expect, without market discipline -- profit and loss -- contractors ripped off the taxpayers. After all, if you get paid by the amount of track you lay, you'll lay more track than necessary.

Credit Mobilier, the first rail construction company, made enormous profits by overcharging for its work. To keep the subsidies flowing, it made big contributions to congressmen.

Where have we heard that recently?

The transcontinental railroad lost tons of money. The government never covered its costs, and most rail lines that used the tracks went bankrupt or continued to be subsidized by taxpayers. The Union Pacific and Northern Pacific -- all those rail lines we learned about in history class -- milked the taxpayer and then went broke.

One line worked. The Great Northern never went bankrupt. It was the railroad that got no subsidies.

We need infrastructure, but the beauty of leaving most of these things to the private sector -- without subsidies, bailouts and other privileges -- is that they would have to be justified by the profit-and-loss test. In a truly free market, when private companies make bad choices, investors lose their own money. This tends to make them careful.

By contrast, when government loses money, it just spends more and raises your taxes, or borrows more, or inflates. Building giant government projects is no way to create jobs. When government spends on infrastructure, it takes money away from projects that consumers might think are more important.

When government isn't killing jobs by sucking money out of the private sector, it kills jobs by smothering the private sector with regulation. I talked to Peter Schiff about all this. Schiff is a good authority because he was one of the few people to warn of the housing bust. Now he's had a run-in with the federal government over job creation.

Schiff, who operates a brokerage firm with 150 employees, recently complained to Congress that "regulations are running up the cost of doing business, and a lot of companies never even get started because they can't overcome that regulatory hurdle."

Schiff claims he would have hired a thousand more people but for regulations. "I had a huge plan to expand. I wanted to open up a lot of offices. I had some capital to do it. I had investors lined up. My business was doing really well. But unfortunately, because of the regulations in the security industry, I was not able to hire."

So if he wants to hire an analyst, he can't just hire him? "I had to get permission to publish their research, which I didn't get for years. And so I can't pay analysts if I can't sell their research.

People don't appreciate the number of regulations entrepreneurs face. Schiff pays 10 people just to try to figure out if his company is obeying the rules.

"You can't just act very quickly, because everything has to be done through this maze of compliance. Even my brokers ... find out that maybe 20 percent, 30 percent of their day is involved in compliance-related activity, activity that is inhibiting their productivity. ... All around the country, people are complying with regulations instead of producing, instead of investing and growing the economy. They're trying to survive the regulations."

This is no way to create jobs or wealth. Keynesian pundits and politicians can't understand why businesses sit on cash rather than invest and hire unemployed workers. It's really no mystery. Government is in the way.



Morality, Not Theology

Jonah Goldberg

Robert Jeffress introduced Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit on Friday. He started a great big hullabaloo by asking, "Do we want a candidate who is a good, moral person, or one who is a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?"

Before we go on, let me just say, I'd probably go with curtain No. 1. Don't get me wrong -- I've got no problem with a born-again Christian being my president, my pilot or my chiropodist. But saying someone is a born-again Christian, for me at least, is not inherently synonymous with being a "good, moral person," never mind being transparently preferable to one.

In other words, I might vote for a born-again Christian on the assumption that his professed faith makes it more likely he's a good person. But if the choice is between someone we know is a good person and someone who just might be, why take the chance?

Jeffress was practicing "dog whistle politics" -- a term of recent Australian vintage that has caught on here and in Britain and that simply means trying to send a message to a certain constituency that the dog-whistler hopes won't be heard by anyone else. In this case, Jeffress wanted evangelical Christians to decode his remarks as an attack on Mitt Romney's Mormonism. And they got it. Alas, so did everyone else.

But apparently Jeffress couldn't take any chances. So after Perry's speech, Jeffress blew the dog whistle hard enough to give himself a hernia, telling reporters that Mormonism is a cult and that "every true, born-again follower of Christ ought to embrace a Christian over a non-Christian."

It's difficult to parse what's the most annoying thing about all this. Is it the bigotry, the intellectual incoherence or just the incredible lameness?

According to Jeffress, Mormonism's cult status merely disqualifies Romney when the rest of the field is evangelical Christians. "The reason I would probably select Mitt Romney over Barack Obama is, I do think being an evangelical, or Christian, is important, but it's not the only criteria by which we select a leader," he told Fox News. "I personally would rather have a non-Christian like Mitt Romney who embraces [my] principles than Barack Obama."

So why is he wasting everyone's time?

Just in case Jeffress still doesn't get it: It's not called the Christian Voter Summit but the Values Voter Summit. And yet Jeffress doesn't claim Romney doesn't share his values, only that he doesn't share the same theology.

Is Mormonism a cult? Yes, no, maybe, who cares. From a Jewish perspective, you could say that Mormonism is simply one of the more recent additions to a very long line of cults. From an atheist perspective, it's cults as far as the eye can see.

But from a moral perspective, contemporary Mormonism is squarely within the Judeo-Christian tradition, promoting decency, self-restraint, family values, etc.

The old Moral Majority had its flaws, but its core mission was admirable: to promote moral unity under the banner of theological pluralism. However you worship, if you shared the same "traditional values" you could work together. Jeffress turns all that on its head.

He also plays into the worst stereotypes about the Republicans as a bigoted and theocratic party for evangelical Christians alone. And that's ironic, too, because anti-Mormon prejudice is not a particularly acute problem on the right.

According to Gallup, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they'd never vote for a Mormon presidential candidate (27 percent compared with 18 percent). Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac poll of voters taken earlier this year says 68 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of independents are comfortable with a Mormon president, while only 49 percent of Democrats are.

It's good and right that Perry is distancing himself from Jeffress. Then again, maybe he put Jeffress up to this stunt in the first place so the idea would get out without him taking the heat for it.

Ironically, if Perry did goad the Dallas-based pastor to blow the Mormon dog whistle, or if he picks it up himself, it would only lend credence to Jeffress' insinuation that a choice between Romney and Perry is a choice between a "good, moral person" and "a born-again follower of the Lord Jesus Christ."


Jonah might have added above that it takes a "broad tent" person to win elections and the good pastor was advocating a very narrow tent. Strait and narrow may be the way to salvation but it is not the way to win American Presidential elections -- JR


Protesters Occupy the Liberal Media

When the Tea Party movement erupted in the spring of 2009, the media elites dismissed them as corporate-generated "Astroturf" noise. They found them barely worth covering, even to besmirch them.

But when the Occupy Wall Street protests began on Sept. 17, the liberal media was quickly bombarded with complaints from the left that the media were ignoring this massive "news" story. NPR Executive Editor Dick Meyer said the early protests "did not involve large numbers of people, prominent people, a great disruption, or an especially clear objective." So the protesters went out and blocked the Brooklyn Bridge and drew 700 arrests -- voila, a national story.

Contemplate this: The Occupy Wall Street folks drew more broadcast network stories in the first nine days of coverage (with 24 stories) than the Tea Party drew in the first nine months(with 19 stories).

NBC's Michelle Franzen was the first promoter - OK, she calls herself a reporter -- on the scene. "Protesters fed up with the economy and social inequality turned out en masse over the weekend," she announced on "Today" on Oct. 3. "Voicing their discontent and marching for change." Her expert source, Columbia professor Dorian Warren, dutifully proclaimed the Wall Street protests were "a liberal version of the Tea Party" that "could potentially carry over into the 2012 elections and get people to the polls."

So let's get this straight. The protests were like a stumbling little fawn trying to find its legs. They'd been in existence for about two weeks, and NBC was already suggesting the "potential" for what the Tea Party achieved in 2010 -- a massive Democratic wave election in 2012. Journalists are either easily impressed or very energetic practitioners of wishful thinking.

ABC's Dan Harris followed that night to offer his tributes. "This past weekend, 700 people were arrested when they stormed the Brooklyn Bridge. Now major unions are joining in, as are celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin, and similar protests are popping up across America." It might seem a little funny -- and noteworthy -- to have a protest against the mega-rich with mega-rich movie stars standing around, but it fits the media's "prominent people" standard, so never mind.

This provides a crystal-clear contrast with the first Tea Party events in 2009. "There's been some grassroots conservatives who have organized so-called Tea Parties around the country," NBC's Chuck Todd noted on the April 15, 2009, "Today," but "the idea hasn't really caught on." On ABC, Dan Harris warned viewers that "critics on the left (wonder who?) say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests."




Temporary employment: The new permanent?: "Uncertainties about future tax and health care costs could be inhibiting permanent job growth, shifting more of the labor force to temporary and part-time employment, say Pamela Villarreal, a senior fellow, and Peter Swanson, a Hatton W. Sumners Scholar, with the National Center for Policy Analysis. In 1956 there were only 20,000 temporary employees. By the early 1970s, there were 200,000 temporary employees, representing 0.3 percent of U.S. employment."

President Obama’s attack on the oil companies: "A widely recognized economic principle is that when you subsidize something, you get more of it, and when you tax it, you get less. Unfortunately President Obama's guiding economic principle is to impose more taxes on profitable companies and subsidize those that can't make a dime. It's no wonder the economy is struggling"

Hilda Solis, Secretary of Unions: "Lenin argued that communism is so obviously virtuous that any worker who resists it must be a victim of 'false consciousness.' He cannot think straight because his oppressors have muddled his brain. Hilda Solis, Obama’s secretary of unions -- oops, labor -- thinks a bit like Lenin. She thinks labor unions are so obviously virtuous that any worker who votes against unionization does so only because evil labor relations consultants have conspired with the worker’s malevolent employer to muddle the worker’s brain."


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


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


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The miracle of iCapitalism

By Michelle Malkin

Here is your high-resolution teachable moment of the week: anti-capitalist, anti-corporate extremists of "Occupy Wall Street" mourning Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs without a trace of irony. While the Kamp Alinsky Kids ditch school to moan about their massive student debt, parade around in zombie costumes and whine about evil corporations over poached Wi-Fi connections, it's the doers and producers and wealth creators like Jobs who change the world.

They are the gifted 1 percent whom the "99 percenters" mob seeks to demonize, marginalize and tax out of existence.

Inherent in the American success story of the iMac/iPhone/iPad is a powerful lesson about the fundamentals of capitalism. The "Occupiers" chant "people over profit." They call for "caring" over "corporations." But the pursuit of profits empowers people beyond the bounds of imagination.

I blog on an iMac. When I travel, I bring my MacBook Pro. I Tweet news links from my iPhone. My kids are learning Photoshop and GarageBand on our Macs; they use metronome, dictation, video and camera apps daily. I use the technology for business, pleasure, social networking, raising awareness of the missing, finding recipes and even tuning a ukulele.

None of the countless people involved in conceiving these products and bringing them to market "care" about me. They pursued their own self-interests. Through the spontaneous order of capitalism, they enriched themselves -- and the world.

One of my favorite economics essays from which I've drawn bottomless inspiration is Leonard Read's "I, Pencil." He turned a mundane writing instrument into an elementary study of free-market capitalism. What goes for the pencil goes for any of the products Jobs introduced.

"I have a profound lesson to teach," Read wrote in the voice of a metaphorical lead pencil. "I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because -- well, because I am seemingly so simple. Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me."

Read traces the family tree of the pencil from the Oregon loggers who harvest its cedar wood, to the California millworkers who cut the wood into thin slats, to Mississippi refinery workers, to the Dutch East Indies farmers who produce an oil used to make erasers. All of these people, and many more at the periphery of the process, have special knowledge about their life's work in their separate corners of the earth. But none by himself has the singular knowledge or ability to give birth to a pencil. Few will ever come in contact with the others who make the production of that pencil possible.

It's not because they "care about each other" that they cooperate to deliver any one good. It's the result of self-interest, multiplied millions of times over.

Read illuminates: "There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work." This spontaneous "configuration of human energies" is repeated endlessly in our daily lives. Think of the countless and diverse people involved in producing a Slinky, jump rope or baseball, a diaper, refrigerator or Boeing 747. And, of course, an iMac, iPhone or iPad.

Appreciating this voluntary configuration of human energies, Read argued, is key to possessing "an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith." Indeed. Without that faith, we are susceptible to the force of class-warfare mobs and the arrogance of command-and-control bureaucrats in Washington who believe the role of private American entrepreneurs, producers and wealth generators is to "grow the economy" and who "think at some point you have made enough money."

The progressives who want to bring down "Wall Street" will snipe that Jobs was one of "theirs," not "ours."

He belonged to no one. He was transcendently committed to excellence and beauty and innovation. And yes, he made gobs of money pursuing it all while benefiting hundreds of millions of people around the world whom he never met, but who shed a deep river of tears upon learning of his death this week.

From "I, Pencil" to iPhone, such is the profound, everlasting miracle of iCapitalism -- a triumph of individualism over collectivism, freedom over force and markets over master planning. To borrow an old Apple slogan: It just works.



Reverse Racism

Thomas Sowell

Among those who have been disappointed by President Barack Obama, none is likely to end up so painfully disappointed as those who saw his election as being, in itself and in its consequences, a movement toward a "post-racial society."

Like so many other expectations that so many people projected onto this little-known man who suddenly burst onto the political scene, the expectation of movement toward a post-racial society had no speck of hard evidence behind it -- and all too many ignored indications of the very opposite, including his two decades of association with the egregious Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Those people of good will who want to replace the racism of the past with a post-racial society have too often overlooked the fact that there are others who instead want to put racism under new management, to have reverse discrimination as racial payback for past injustices.

Attorney General Eric Holder became a key figure epitomizing the view that government's role in racial matters was not to be an impartial dispenser of equal justice for all, but to be a racial partisan and an organ of racial payback. He has been too politically savvy to say that in so many words, but his actions have spoken far louder than any words.

The case that first gave the general public a glimpse of Attorney General Holder's views and values was one in which young black thugs outside a voting site in Philadelphia were televised intimidating white voters. When this episode was broadcast, it produced public outrage.

Although the Department of Justice's prosecution of these thugs began in the last days of the Bush administration, and the defendants had offered no legal defense, the case was dropped by the Justice Department after Eric Holder took over. One of the lawyers who were prosecuting that case resigned in protest.

That lawyer -- J. Christian Adams -- has now written a book, titled "Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department." It is a thought-provoking book and a shocking book in what it reveals about the inner workings of the Department of Justice's civil rights division.

Bad as the Justice Department's decision was to drop that particular case, which it had already won in court, this book makes painfully clear that this was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Despite the efforts of some in the media and in politics to depict the voter intimidation in Philadelphia as just an isolated incident involving a few thugs at one voting place, former U.S. Attorney Adams shows that these thugs were in fact part of a nationwide organization doing similar things elsewhere.

Moreover, the civil rights division of the Justice Department has turned the same blind eye to similar voter intimidation and corruption of the voting process by other people and other organizations in other cities and states -- so long as those being victimized were white and the victimizers were black.

This is all spelled out in detail, naming names and naming places, not only among those in the country at large, but also among those officials of the Justice Department who turned its role of protecting the civil rights of all Americans into a policy of racial partisanship and racial payback.

The widespread, organized and systematic corruption of the voting process revealed by the author of "Injustice" is on a scale that can swing not only local but national elections, including the 2012 elections. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder has not only turned a blind eye to blatant evidence of voter fraud, it has actively suppressed those U.S. Attorneys in its own ranks who have tried to stop that fraud.

Even in counties where the number of votes cast exceeds the number of people legally entitled to vote, Eric Holder's Justice Department sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil -- if the end result is the election of black Democrats. It has become the mirror image of the old Jim Crow South.

This is an enormously eye-opening book which makes painfully clear that, where racial issues are concerned, the Department of Justice has become the Department of Payback. A post-racial society is the last thing that Holder and Obama are pursuing.



Obama Is Occupying America

David Limbaugh

Rational people realize that President Obama's policies have been an abysmal failure, which is why his only hope for re-election is to try to sow confusion among the voters, such as those populating "Occupy Wall Street."

People often say the success of democracy depends on an informed electorate. Given his record, that's the last strategy Obama can afford to embrace. Short of a fortuitous economic miracle falling into his lap, his only hope for re-election is that enough voters are misinformed.

From day one, Obama has been savaging George W. Bush for bequeathing him "the worst economy since the Great Depression." But he hasn't scapegoated Bush alone. He also impugned "fat cat bankers" on Wall Street and other evil corporations for "creating the mess" and for being its primary beneficiaries while everyone else was hurting. Conveniently, he didn't point his accusing finger at the real culprit, the liberal affordable housing policy that he supported.

He leveraged his vague slander against Wall Street to bolster his case against free markets and "crony capitalism" and to lubricate the public for his statist remedies across the board.

His goal was to fundamentally change America -- almost overnight -- with an accelerated push toward socialism, all while insisting he was a "fierce advocate of the free market" and committed to the American ideal. He just loved capitalism, but it couldn't possibly work when all the powerful and moneyed interests were loading the dice.

The scope of Obama's undertaking has been breathtaking, as has been his level of deceit in promoting and implementing it. Borrowing from both the Saul Alinsky and Cloward-Piven models, he excused the real culprits and demonized false ones to saddle the nation with historically reckless spending programs.

He didn't just give us his stimulus bill on the heels of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which he decried despite having his fingerprints all over it. He loaded his omnibus spending bill with earmarks after promising he'd radically reduce them, took over auto companies, crammed through socialized medicine and pushed through a staggeringly problematic financial reform bill that further empowered the government to engage in the same types of tyranny that led to all this. Though he failed to pass his cap-and-trade measure, his Environmental Protection Agency has engaged in a systematic pattern of circumventing Congress to impose further smothering regulations on American businesses.

Despite his profound incompetence on many levels, Obama has been an adept propagandist who has blamed capitalism for problems caused and magnified by socialist remedies to justify further socialist solutions. He's now doing the same thing all over again as his new socialist solutions are failing.

Obama not only eschews responsibility for his primary role in the nation's economic and debt catastrophes but also is using class warfare to foment unrest in his malcontent leftist base and marshaling union thug muscle to attach a veneer of authenticity to Occupy Wall Street, a largely AstroTurf-like phenomenon. Indeed, Obama practically expressed common cause with the protesters at his recent presser and certainly did nothing to calm their ostensible fears.

To appreciate the surreal nature of Occupy Wall Street, you have to watch a few video interviews of some of the protesters and review a laundry list of their complaints. These misguided people are like probation violators castigating their probation officers for catering to their pleas for leniency.

They are taking up all the popular causes of liberalism as they protest against problems spawned by those very causes. They shake their fists at Wall Street, banks, corporations and the wealthy "1 percent," which had little to do with our national nightmare. But they give a complete pass to government and even demand that it be given more power to further destroy what still does work in America.

Nothing illustrates their collective cluelessness more than their fulminating against the national debt while demanding a redoubling of the policies and programs that caused it and will make it immeasurably worse.

Obama is laughing all the way to the evil bank, hoping he can continue to capitalize on this very type of chaos and class envy to eke out re-election in 2012. Obama's protesters are occupying Wall Street while he is occupying America.



Occupy Wall Street is a Misinformed Fraud

Am I pissed off about executives of banks walking away with golden parachutes and huge bonuses after running banks into the ground? You bet. But I am smart enough to realize that the Federal Government gave them the ammo to kill their companies via Fannie and Freddie, and then saved them with TALF and TARP. You might also remember that government forced companies like Bank of America ($BAC) to merge with Merrill Lynch ($ML), and that going back to 1998, it was President Clinton and Treasury Secretary Rubin that pushed hard for ending Glass-Steagall.

So yeah, I wouldn’t have bailed out the banks. I doubt many Tea Partiers would have. We aren’t happy about the outcome either. We don’t like Dodd-Frank and think it should be repealed. But it doesn’t mean we should nationalize and socialize the entire banking system. That would cause a worse train wreck than we already have.

The OWS crowd is really ticked off about education and student debt. So am I. Why the heck do we have so many subsidies for education? It simply drives up the cost. Education is one gigantic bloated bureaucracy. However, the OWS answer is “free education and forgiveness of student loans.” Well, screw that.

Why not offer competition in education? By the way, no one put a gun to your head an told you to borrow massive sums of money for school. You could have worked your way through, went to a community college the first two years and then a four year school. Did it occur to any of you to check out how much money a typical sociology graduate degreed person made before you ponied up more than 100K to get that sociology masters? Economics work. Used correctly, they help you make good decisions. Used poorly, you do stupid things.

Which politicians are using bigotry and hate? It’s not the right that is consistently playing the race card. Right now it’s the man in the oval office. He plays it as much as he can. I don’t hear cries of racism coming from the right. Were the OWS people in Atlanta racists for not letting a former civil rights activist turned Congressman speak? Just asking.

You guys embrace Obamacare. Yet, you don’t look at how other countries have fared with socialized medicine. Canada is starting to scrap it. England is considering it too. Entitlements eat up our budget. Why not more transparency and a free market targeted to individuals in health care?

OWS wants organic produce. They want green farming. No one takes better care of their land than the guy who owns it. We also can’t feed the world using organic means. OWS would rather see children starving than people eating. There is plenty of organic produce out there. All you have to do is buy it. Why take away freedom from people that don’t want to pay for it?

On energy policy you want green energy. Don’t we all. Problem is, the stuff doesn’t work and its too expensive. The greenest, most powerful energy source out there is nuclear and I don’t see you guys campaigning for more nuclear plants. Have you seen the damage to wildlife that wind energy has created? Energy is about economics. Increase the supply of energy and all prices will come down. But, from your statements I don’t think anyone from OWS spent a lot of time in a free market economics lecture. Google this, TINFL. Understand it. Live it.

You OWS people seem to be upset at corporations that pay no tax. Me too! But, you want to tax them more. I got news for you. Corporations never pay taxes. They are simply tax aggregators. They pass the cost to their consumers. We would be better off charging companies 0% in corporate taxes and incenting them to create jobs here in the US. Then you guys could go to work, pay off your student loans and stay out of the parks so everyone could go and enjoy them.

Most of the problems in the US stem from bad public policy and big government. Governments are awfully hard to put out of business. But it’s easy to put companies out of business. Don’t buy their product. Don’t use their services. Elect Tea Party people, they’ll shrink the size of government and give you more freedom.

We can disband all the companies if you want. We can blow up Wall Street and the capital markets. We can round up all the capitalists and send them to a camp. But, sooner rather than later the totalitarian paradise you envision will be ripped apart by economics. Black markets will tear at the fabric of your structured society. Markets eliminate transaction costs, increase transparency and make things cheaper!

Why? Because earning a profit and building economies of scale and scope are part of the human condition. Mankind has done it since the beginning of time. Our lives are easier, better and our standard of living is raised. All we really need is to get big government out of the way. The sooner you embrace that the better off you will be.



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


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

The left, the race card, and Herman Cain

by Jeff Jacoby

THE DAY AFTER Herman Cain's dazzling victory in the Florida straw poll, I commented to a Republican neighbor -- and where I live, there aren't many of those -- that with Cain as a GOP rock star, liberals who have been so ready to smear President Obama's critics as racist would have to come up with a new shtick.

What was I thinking? Racial McCarthyism has been a staple of left-wing political rhetoric for years, but it went into overdrive with the rise of Barack Obama. Former president Jimmy Carter, for example, claimed that much of the backlash to the president's policies was explained by "the fact that he is a black man." Janeane Garofalo, the movie actress and liberal activist, called Tea Party protesters "racist rednecks" with one motivation: "This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up." Obama himself has sometimes played the race card; as a candidate in 2008 he predicted that Republicans would "try to make you afraid of me" by focusing on his color: "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"

Of course such accusations are grotesque canards. But cynics and partisan ideologues have never been terribly squeamish about trafficking in ugly innuendoes to win votes, especially when a complacent media lets them get away with it. Still, you might have thought that surging Republican support for a proud black entrepreneur -- an up-from-segregation business star who summarizes his identity as "ABC: American first, black second, and conservative third" -- would make it tough even for cynics and ideologues to keep singing from the same racial hymnal.

Not a chance. "Herman Cain is probably well-liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party, conservative movement, and tea party movement," Garofalo theorized in a recent a TV appearance. "Cain provides this great opportunity so [Republicans] can say, 'Look, this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look, we have a black man.'"

In other words, if Republicans or conservatives oppose a public figure who happens to be black, it's because they're racists. And if they support a public figure who happens to be black? That's also because they're racists.

Needless to say, there is no point arguing with such "logic." If Garofalo discovered that Tea Partiers are inordinately fond of applesauce, she would presumably attribute that to racism as well. It would almost be funny, except that there is nothing funny about racial calumny.

Four years ago, the emergence of the Democratic Party's first charismatic, credible black presidential candidate was regarded across the political spectrum as something to celebrate. Even Republicans who strongly opposed Obama because of his positions and outlook -- even John McCain! -- rejoiced in what Obama's success said about America's capacity for self-redemption.

Shouldn't the emergence of Herman Cain -- potentially the GOP's first charismatic, credible black presidential candidate -- evoke similar feelings? Especially if you think the Republican Party has a poor racial record, shouldn't you be encouraged that so many Republicans are excited about Cain? (As a matter of brute historical fact, it was the Democratic Party, not the GOP, that used to be the racist stronghold of American politics. But that's a separate column.)

Whatever his political prospects, Cain's story is exhilarating. Born into poverty in the Jim Crow South, where his mother was a maid and his father a janitor and chauffeur, Cain rose to become a mathematician in the US Navy, a successful business executive, the chairman of a federal reserve bank, and now a Republican star. Liberals should rejoice in his success, even if they disagree with his politics.

Yet on AlterNet, a prominent left-wing website, Cain is jeered as a "black garbage pail kid," a "monkey in the window," and a minstrel performer playing to "white conservative masters." Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist who polled for the Obama campaign, blasts Cain as "racist and bigoted" for saying that many black voters have been "brainwashed" into rejecting conservatism. In a new memoir, Cain writes of being slurred as an "Oreo" and an "Uncle Tom" because he is an unabashed Republican conservative.

Love Cain or loathe him, it should be possible to talk about his candidacy without resorting to racial pejoratives. Like Lester Maddox's axe handle, the political race card ought to be by now nothing but an ugly memory -- something no decent voter, activist, or candidate would dream of brandishing.



More From the Culture of Narcissism

I wouldn’t think it would be worthwhile to draw attention to the Occupy Wall Street “movement,” or its list of demands that wouldn’t pass muster in an average kindergarten class. But if America’s president and vice president choose to talk about it, and give it credibility, then it’s news.

According to VP Joe Biden, demands such as free college, pay independent of work, a $20 minimum wage (why not $100 or $1000?), and a nation with open borders have legitimacy and “a lot in common with the tea party movement.”

President Obama sees these demonstrations against corporate America as reasonable protest toward “the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this situation to begin with.”

This should provide perspective to what our most fundamental problem is today. We have an endangered species in America whose loss threatens our future. That species is called the American adult.

Can someone please explain to our vice president the difference between a screaming infant not getting what he wants, when he wants it and an adult who understands personal responsibility, humility, work and service to others?

A functioning free society requires citizens who are adults capable of overseeing and administering a government which enforce laws that protect life and property.

Once government simply becomes a playpen for those who believe they run the universe and make its basic laws, and that the rest of us must submit to their hallucinations about what is just, we wind up where we are today.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that, according to the latest census data, 48.5 percent of American families now are on the receiving end of some sort of government program, the highest percentage in our history. To provide some perspective, this figure was 10 percent in the 1920’s and a little over 30 percent in 1980.

During the 1960’s, a watershed decade when the infantile culture of narcissism began to subsume free adult culture in America, more government programs were born than in any other period. By 1980, four of these programs of the 1960’s – food stamps, Pell grants, Medicare, and Medicaid – accounted for 164 billion dollars in annual spending. Today these four programs swallow almost an additional trillion dollars.

In all our history, there is only one instance of major reform of a government spending program and that was the welfare reform that was passed in 1996.

These government programs are pure monopolies driven by political power, not efficiency or whether they are serving the real needs of citizens. They don’t change, they only grow.

This contrasts with America’s corporations, who Wall Street protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge, and America’s president and vice president, would like us to believe control everything.

But if big corporations did control everything, they would, like government programs, never change or lose power. But large firms regularly come and go, because, in contrast to government programs, they only remain powerful as long as they are serving consumers.

Of today’s list of 30 major corporations that constitute the Dow Jones Industrial Average firms, only 8 of them were on the list in 1980. The 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average firms have changed 45 times since the average was started 115 years ago.

No, Mr. Biden. Occupy Wall Street has nothing in common with the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party Movement is protest against abuse of political power and the increasing marginalization and disrespect for truths, such a protection of life, liberty, and property, that define American freedom.

Occupy Wall Street is about lust for political power, about defining what others should have, and redistributing and spending what belongs to some else.



The Real Problem with Solyndra

Sifting through the Administration-Solyndra emails it is clear that President Obama’s taxpayer investment in Solyndra was not random. Bureaucrats and political appointees spent significant time evaluating the company and debating the merits of the soon-to-be-wasted taxpayer guarantee. And that is exactly the problem!

Thanks to the diligence of various House committees, we now have an inside look at the decision-making process and ongoing conversations related to the Solyndra loan guarantee. Much of the reporting has focused on the political motivations behind the boondoggle, but the real focus should be on the email threads that are more suited for a private corporation than the Executive Branch of the United States.

Vice President Joe Biden’s then-chief of staff Ronald Klain emailed, “Putting my oId private equity hat on, I would say that these guys [Solyndra] are no different than a lot of stage two companies: they are burning capital, perhaps a bit fast, and are dependent on a break or two to be viable outside of the 18 - 24 month window.”

Mr. Klain’s analysis may be fine in the private equity world – you take calculated risks with private money expressly for that purpose. But in government, that is not the case. Americans do not work so their government can take risks, calculated or otherwise, with their tax dollars and discuss burn rates and business development stages.

Another email took a deep dive into Solyndra’s economics: “While debt coverage is robust under stress conditions, the project cash balance goes to $62,000.00 in September 2011.” The email went on to discuss “working capital,” a “funding shortfall” and a “negative cash balance.”

Taken in isolation, you would be tempted to think the email was from an investment advisor. Of course, any investment advisor worth his salt would warn you to stay far away from a company is such a downward spiral.

Matt Rogers, a senior advisor to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, seemed to understand the dire warnings. About the future of the Solyndra, he emailed, it “needs more capital to keep going long-term, which is why they are planning to tap the public markets.”

In email after email, we can find the same thing, bureaucrats and political appointees “putting on hats” and analyzing a private company’s economic viability to determine if they should invest taxpayer money into that company.

This is not the government our founders intended, nor the one we learned in civics class. Rather, this governing style is more suited for a bad Hollywood movie depicting incompetent crony capitalism in a country on the decline.

Ironically, the absurdity of the entire “green jobs” investment scheme was pointed out in an email to Larry Summers, who was the director of the National Economic Council. The snippet is a bit long, but instructive:

The allocation of spending to clean energy is haphazard; the government is just not well equipped to decide which companies should get the money and how much. That is, after all, what my industry does, and there are lots of mechanisms in place to see that it is done right. One of our solar companies with revenues of less than $100 million (and not yet profitable) received a government loan of $580 million; while that is good for us, I can't imagine it's a good way for the governement (SIC) to use taxpayer money (I'd prefer my opinion about that specific company be between us). Every administration seems to feel like it knows better than the private markets how to allocate capital, and I've just never seen that be true.

That email was from Brad Jones, the founding partner of Redpoint Ventures, and the company he referenced was Solyndra. Amusingly, in subsequent emails, Mr. Summers appeared to agree with him, emailing, “I relate well to your view that gov is a crappy vc [venture capitalist] and if u were closer to it you'd feel more strongly."

Another blacked out email warned that the Energy Department’s “‘system’ for monitoring loans is quite problematic…and does not seem to be a program priority.” So, not only were bureaucrats and political appointees acting like investors with our money, they knew they were doing a “crappy” job of it all.

Americans understand that Solyndra is just the most tangible symptom of a much deeper problem. The Washington Establishment’s faith in the power and expertise of government knows no limits. When given nearly unchecked power and money, bureaucrats and political appointees will use taxpayer money however they please, even if they recognize they do it poorly.

Right now, it is Solyndra. But until we get our government out of the daily ins-and-outs of the private sector, we can expect similar boondoggles.




Insurance is the cause — not the cure: "Insurance providing full coverage for every ailment and every medical procedure is the main reason why the cost of healthcare is spiraling out of control. Obamacare will only add to the rising costs by mandating that everyone have full coverage benefits. When everyone has full coverage without exclusions the costs can only go up."

Obama, the soaring sofa: "Cliches are an inexhaustible subject. I’ll always have more to say about them. It’s interesting to watch them come and go -- preferably go. Take 'soaring rhetoric.' (Please!) I don’t know who started that, but once somebody did, it became the phrase almost universally employed in speaking of Candidate Obama’s speeches. I could never understand this phenomenon. His speeches sounded to me like nothing but a tissue of ... well, cliches. And not very good cliches."

The thief of Caracas: "No nation dominated by the politics of socialism has long endured. After an initial frenzy of pillage and theft the inhabitants slide into an inevitable condition of apathy, poverty, and despair. There is no incentive to produce, no private property, no competition, no reason to get ahead of the next fellow. All fruits of effort beyond the minimal are quickly confiscated for consumption by others. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is once again proving the point."

Important new evidence on regime uncertainty: "The idea of regime uncertainty had sound economic theory and substantial empirical evidence to support it from the beginning, and a great deal of additional evidence has accumulated over the past three years. Yet critics have continued to dismiss it either as Republican bunk bought and paid for by Obama-hating billionaires or as a sort of 'just so' story concocted by flaky think-tank nobodies, such as yours truly. Now, however, the research reported by Baker, Bloom, and Davis knocks the ball firmly back into the critics’ court."

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


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


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


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Elizabeth Warren and liberalism, twisting the ‘social contract’

Batty Elizabeth Warren thinks the government builds America's roads. Roads are in fact built by American workers who are paid by the American taxpayer. The government is merely a ham-fisted intermediary. And almost all income taxes are paid by "The Rich" -- defined as the top 50% of income earners. So it is in fact "The Rich" who have built the roads! -- JR

By George F. Will

Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and former Obama administration regulator (for consumer protection), is modern liberalism incarnate. As she seeks the Senate seat Democrats held for 57 years before 2010, when Republican Scott Brown impertinently won it, she clarifies the liberal project and the stakes of contemporary politics.

The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty. The regulatory state, liberalism’s instrument, constantly tries to contract that zone — for the individual’s own good, it says. Warren says:
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. 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 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.”

Warren is (as William F. Buckley described Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith) a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds.

In “The Affluent Society” (1958), modern liberalism’s symptomatic text, Galbraith, a Harvard economist, baldly asserted that corporations’ marketing powers — basically, advertising — are so potent they can manufacture demands for whatever goods and services they want to supply. Corporations can nullify consumer sovereignty and vitiate the law of supply and demand. Galbraith asserted this while Ford’s marketers were failing to create a demand for Edsels.

Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders. This means subordination of the bovine many to a regulatory government staffed by people drawn from the clever minority not manipulated into false consciousness.

Because such tutelary government must presume the public’s incompetence, it owes minimal deference to people’s preferences. These preferences are not really “theirs,” because the preferences derive from false, meaning imposed, consciousness. This convenient theory licenses the enlightened vanguard, the political class, to exercise maximum discretion in wielding the powers of the regulatory state.

Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable — that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others — misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity.

Society — hundreds of millions of people making billions of decisions daily — is a marvel of spontaneous order among individuals in voluntary cooperation. Government facilitates this cooperation with roads, schools, police, etc. — and by getting out of its way. This is a sensible, dynamic, prosperous society’s “underlying social contract.”



The ‘Injustice’ Department: J. Christian Adams’ New Book Exposes DOJ Defending Racism, Islamic Extremism

There is something terribly wrong with our Justice Department. Under Barack Obama, it is no longer interested in justice at all but instead has become a base used by far-left ideologues and race baiters to destroy the American idea of the equality of rights of all people before the law.

J. Christian Adams is the heroic former election lawyer who served in the Voting Rights section at the U.S. Department of Justice. He blew the lid off the Black Panther case of voter intimidation that Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder refused to prosecute. Now he is exposing the Obama administration’s secret (or not-so-secret) race war and complete abandonment of individual rights.

In his new book, Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department (Regnery), Adams, who worked inside the DOJ for five years, tells the whole shocking story about how Obama has allowed – or commanded – the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department to be politicized. For his efforts to expose the corruption of the Obama Justice Department, Adams was my co-recipient of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Annie Taylor Award for Courage in 2010. And that honor was richly deserved. As Adams shows in this book, if you’re not a member of one of the groups that the Obama administration considers to be its constituency, there’s no justice for you. But if you are a black militant or a member of one of Obama’s other favored groups, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done: you won’t pay any penalty, no matter how serious your crimes.

Adams resigned from the DOJ after Obama’s cronies in the Justice (!) Department dropped the charges against the New Black Panther Party for its violation of voters’ rights on Election Day 2008, when menacing and threatening Black Panthers patrolled polling places in Philadelphia. During the actual voting, New Black Panther Party members threatened voters at the polls with deadly weapons and blocked poll and campaign workers from polling places with threats. Despite that, Obama, our Chicago political boss-in-chief, refused to prosecute the Panthers with their nightsticks and billy clubs.

In Injustice, Adams tells the whole story of that sorry episode for the first time and provides details of Obama’s public appearance with the Panthers in 2007. The New Black Panther Party offered Obama vocal support. New Black Panther Party support for Obama’s candidacy was posted loudly and proudly on Obama’s website back in March 2008, as I showed at the time at my website. Blogs like Atlas Shrugs that shined the light on the ugly underbelly of Obama’s campaign of race baiting and anti-semitism got the Obama campaign to take down a Panther-created support page. Nevertheless, as Adams shows in Injustice, their support for Obama has paid off big-time.

If the politicization and corruption of the Justice Department were limited to this one incident, that would be bad enough. But Injustice shows that the rot has spread much farther. Adams reveals how Obama and Holder have actually changed the hiring standards at the DOJ so they could pack the department with more radical leftists.

Adams also sheds new light on the case of Safoorah Khan, the Muslim teacher in a Chicago middle school who demanded three weeks off to make the pilgrimage to Mecca and whose case was taken up by Obama’s DOJ. Who starts a teaching job and demands close to a month off for hajj? What teacher would leave her students in the lurch for a month? And who pushed a Justice Department to “examine” the case of this hajj pilgrim in a move completely at odds with its goals and objectives? Islamic supremacists seeking to impose religion on the public square, that’s who.

And what Justice Department would sue on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood-tied Islamic supremacists? That of Iran? Malaysia? Egypt? No, the one in Obama’s America. Obama has made this the mission of his presidency. This was hardly the first case of the DOJ suing to impose Islam on the secular arena.

Obama’s attempts to mine America’s racial divide and pander to Islamic supremacists, and his use of the Department of Justice to do it, are despicable. This ugly racism and shilling for Islamic extremism ought to be obliterated and shunned by society. Instead, this man revels in it. Obama’s ties to radicals and seditious, America-hating groups is disturbing and dangerous. And as J. Christian Adams shows in this essential new book, those ties have now thoroughly corrupted the Justice Department.



"Mandates" to be trimmed back under Obnamacare?

At last a still, small voice of reason: Health-care law benefits must be limited to ensure affordability, panel says

An advisory panel of experts on Thursday recommended that the Obama administration emphasize affordability over breadth of coverage when it comes to implementing a key insurance provision of the 2010 health-care law.

Obama officials charged with stipulating what “essential benefits” many health plans will have to cover should make it a priority to keep premiums reasonable, even if that means allowing plans to be less comprehensive, counseled the committee of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM).

“The question is what is the fairest, most transparent way to get a reasonable set of benefits and still keep it affordable for both the user and for the taxpayers,” said committee member Marjorie Ginsburg. “We don’t want to say that one is more important than the other..... But the limiting issue obviously is affordability.”

The findings highlight the difficult balancing act the administration faces in carrying out one of the the health-care law’s most sweeping, yet ambiguous, mandates. The statute sets out 10 general categories — ranging from hospitalization to prescription drugs — that all new insurance plans for individuals and small businesses must offer starting in 2014. It also states that the scope of the essential benefits package should be equal to that of a “typical employer plan.”

But Congress did not specify whether this referred to the more generous plans sponsored by large employers or the more minimalist versions bought by many small businesses. And it gave Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius ultimate authority to decide both how much more detailed to make the package and what to include in it.

If she adds little to the legal requirement, the market could end up split between cheap, bare-bones plans of use only to the healthy, and exorbitantly priced full coverage plans financially out of reach of many sick people who need them most.

If she adds too many requirements, premiums for all plans could soar — with consequences for not just individuals but the success of the law as a whole. That’s because many healthy people could decide to pay a penalty instead of buying pricey insurance, skewing the risk pool toward the sick and causing premiums to spiral higher.

That would also cause a spike in the subsidies for health insurance premiums, which the law requires the federal government to offer low-income people, hammering the national budget.

Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, said the recommendations were “very helpful to the discussion.”



The Power of Civil Society

Conservatives and liberals clash frequently on a wide array of issues, from taxes to trade, from deficits to defense. But their greatest conflict may lie in their contrasting attitudes toward civil society.

Conservatives regard the institutions of civil society -- families, churches and communities -- as sources of hope and renewal. Self-styled "progressives" see these institutions as seedbeds of prejudice and ignorance.

Conservatives believe that poverty stems largely from a lack of spiritual resources, resources that are typically transmitted through private, voluntary groups. Progressives view poverty as a simple lack of resources.

Conservatives believe that social justice is best pursued through the restoration of community, familial love, self-respect and responsibility -- all products of a robust civil society. Progressives believe that social justice requires that we redistribute material wealth.

Consider, too, how both groups react to the Tea Party movement.

For conservatives, this movement is a classic example of civil society in action: Ordinary Americans, appalled by the sudden, massive expansion of Big Government, and by the equally sudden, explosive growth of the national debt, have spontaneously organized into associations demanding change.

The great French author Alexis de Tocqueville would surely applaud the Tea Party movement. He would see in it an example of how a vigorous civil society, by serving as a check on the centralizing ambitions of the state, is vital to the health and well-being of democracy.

But progressives support the centralizing ambitions of the state. Thus, they've attacked the Tea Party movement with a fury that might have reminded Tocqueville of the French Revolution's hatred of religion. Prominent progressives have denounced Tea Party members as "terrorists," "racists" and "Nazis" who deserve to be "taken out."

The depth of progressive hatred of the Tea Party movement is startling. But I suppose this is how the "ruling class" invariably reacts whenever the "lower orders" start acting uppity.

Make no mistake: although today's "ruling class" calls itself progressive, it is in fact profoundly reactionary.

By undermining civil society, strengthening the state, and even trying to pin a smiley face on Big Government by renaming it "the federal family," it is laying the groundwork for the democratic despotism that Tocqueville foresaw, and warned against in his landmark book, Democracy in America.

Progressive hostility to the Tea Party movement has reinforced my conviction that strengthening civil society is more urgent today than ever before. We Americans need to regain something of Tocqueville's sense of awe and wonder at the power, ingenuity and creativity of those vital institutions.

Several years ago, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a Heritage Foundation audience how a vibrant civil society contributed to a more just society in the rural Georgia of his youth:

"When someone down the road fell upon hard times," Justice Thomas recalled, "or when sickness beset a family, or when a hurricane or fire destroyed or damaged someone's house, people instinctively helped in whatever way they could. Not helping was unthinkable."

We need to remember that we are not helpless, ignorant masses desperately clinging to our guns or religion, as President Obama once said on the campaign trail. Nor are we anxiously awaiting the arrival of a messiah-president to deliver us from what Tocqueville called "the trouble of thinking and the cares of living."

Rather, we are the American people. We remain strong and resourceful. And we must open our minds to the untapped potential of freedom, to the hidden strengths of civil society, and to the indomitable power of the American spirit.



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


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