Saturday, December 10, 2011

Obama's destructive and ignorant class warfare comes under attack

Self-made billionaire Leon Cooperman sent a straightforward and scathing letter to President Obama Monday.

Amidst the Occupy Wall Street movement, Capitol Hill's super committee flop, and the 2012 presidential election's focus on the debt and tax reform, the United States is struggling to find a successful solution to economic woes and political failures. Cooperman contributed his opinion to the mix in an open letter calling for reform and more accountability from President Obama.

In the letter, Cooperman outlines a number of grievances with the Obama administration. He criticizes Obama for dividing the country and promoting class warfare as a political strategy. He also claims a willingness to pay more taxes and supports productive policy debates in Congress; however, he demands Obama leads the nation and his party, rather than "pandering" to certain interest groups.

Cooperman is currently the CEO and Chairman of Omega Advisors. He worked as a banker at Goldman Sachs for 25 years before becoming CEO of Goldmans Sachs Asset Managment. He founded Omega Advisors in 1991. Cooperman was born to a plumber in the South Bronx, but now has an estimated net workth of $1.8 billion. Cooperman and his wife are signators of the philanthropic, Giving Pledge.

Full text of Leon Cooperman's Open Letter to President Obama Sent Nov. 28, 2011:
Dear Mr. President,

It is with a great sense of disappointment that I write this. Like many others, I hoped that your election would bring a salutary change of direction to the country, despite what more than a few feared was an overly aggressive social agenda. And I cannot credibly blame you for the economic mess that you inherited, even if the policy response on your watch has been profligate and largely ineffectual. (You did not, after all, invent TARP.) I understand that when surrounded by cries of "the end of the world as we know it is nigh", even the strongest of minds may have a tendency to shoot first and aim later in a well-intended effort to stave off the predicted apocalypse.

But what I can justifiably hold you accountable for is your and your minions' role in setting the tenor of the rancorous debate now roiling us that smacks of what so many have characterized as "class warfare". Whether this reflects your principled belief that the eternal divide between the haves and have-nots is at the root of all the evils that afflict our society or just a cynical, populist appeal to his base by a president struggling in the polls is of little importance. What does matter is that the divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them. It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents. And it is an approach to governing that owes more to desperate demagoguery than your Administration should feel comfortable with.

Just to be clear, while I have been richly rewarded by a life of hard work (and a great deal of luck), I was not to-the-manor-born. My father was a plumber who practiced his trade in the South Bronx after he and my mother emigrated from Poland. I was the first member of my family to earn a college degree. I benefited from both a good public education system (P.S. 75, Morris High School and Hunter College, all in the Bronx) and my parents' constant prodding. When I joined Goldman Sachs following graduation from Columbia University's business school, I had no money in the bank, a negative net worth, a National Defense Education Act student loan to repay, and a six-month-old child (not to mention his mother, my wife of now 47 years) to support. I had a successful, near-25-year run at Goldman, which I left 20 years ago to start a private investment firm. As a result of my good fortune, I have been able to give away to those less blessed far more than I have spent on myself and my family over a lifetime, and last year I subscribed to Warren Buffet's Giving Pledge to ensure that my money, properly stewarded, continues to do some good after I'm gone.

My story is anything but unique. I know many people who are similarly situated, by both humble family history and hard-won accomplishment, whose greatest joy in life is to use their resources to sustain their communities. Some have achieved a level of wealth where philanthropy is no longer a by-product of their work but its primary impetus. This is as it should be. We feel privileged to be in a position to give back, and we do. My parents would have expected nothing less of me.
I am not, by training or disposition, a policy wonk, polemicist or pamphleteer. I confess admiration for those who, with greater clarity of expression and command of the relevant statistical details, make these same points with more eloquence and authoritativeness than I can hope to muster. For recent examples, I would point you to "Hunting the Rich" (Leaders, The Economist, September 24, 2011), "The Divider vs. the Thinker" (Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, October 29, 2011), "Wall Street Occupiers Misdirect Anger" (Christine Todd Whitman, Bloomberg, October 31, 2011), and "Beyond Occupy" (Bill Keller, The New York Times, October 31, 2011) - all, if you haven't read them, making estimable work of the subject.

But as a taxpaying businessman with a weekly payroll to meet and more than a passing familiarity with the ways of both Wall Street and Washington, I do feel justified in asking you: is the tone of the current debate really constructive?

People of differing political persuasions can (and do) reasonably argue about whether, and how high, tax rates should be hiked for upper-income earners; whether the Bush-era tax cuts should be extended or permitted to expire, and for whom; whether various deductions and exclusions under the federal tax code that benefit principally the wealthy and multinational corporations should be curtailed or eliminated; whether unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut should be extended; whether the burdens of paying for the nation's bloated entitlement programs are being fairly spread around, and whether those programs themselves should be reconfigured in light of current and projected budgetary constraints; whether financial institutions deemed "too big to fail" should be serially bailed out or broken up first, like an earlier era's trusts, because they pose a systemic risk and their size benefits no one but their owners; whether the solution to what ails us as a nation is an amalgam of more regulation, wealth redistribution, and a greater concentration of power in a central government that has proven no more (I'm being charitable here) adept than the private sector in reining in the excesses that brought us to this pass - the list goes on and on, and the dialectic is admirably American. Even though, as a high-income taxpayer, I might be considered one of its targets, I find this reassessment of so many entrenched economic premises healthy and long overdue. Anyone who could survey today's challenging fiscal landscape, with an un- and underemployment rate of nearly 20 percent and roughly 40 percent of the country on public assistance, and not acknowledge an imperative for change is either heartless, brainless, or running for office on a very parochial agenda. And if I end up paying more taxes as a result, so be it. The alternatives are all worse.

But what I do find objectionable is the highly politicized idiom in which this debate is being conducted. Now, I am not naive. I understand that in today's America, this is how the business of governing typically gets done - a situation that, given the gravity of our problems, is as deplorable as it is seemingly ineluctable. But as President first and foremost and leader of your party second, you should endeavor to rise above the partisan fray and raise the level of discourse to one that is both more civil and more conciliatory, that seeks collaboration over confrontation. That is what "leading by example" means to most people.

Capitalism is not the source of our problems, as an economy or as a society, and capitalists are not the scourge that they are too often made out to be. As a group, we employ many millions of taxpaying people, pay their salaries, provide them with healthcare coverage, start new companies, found new industries, create new products, fill store shelves at Christmas, and keep the wheels of commerce and progress (and indeed of government, by generating the income whose taxation funds it) moving. To frame the debate as one of rich-and-entitled versus poor-and-dispossessed is to both miss the point and further inflame an already incendiary environment. It is also a naked, political pander to some of the basest human emotions - a strategy, as history teaches, that never ends well for anyone but totalitarians and anarchists.

With due respect, Mr. President, it's time for you to throttle-down the partisan rhetoric and appeal to people's better instincts, not their worst. Rather than assume that the wealthy are a monolithic, selfish and unfeeling lot who must be subjugated by the force of the state, set a tone that encourages people of good will to meet in the middle. When you were a community organizer in Chicago, you learned the art of waging a guerilla campaign against a far superior force. But you've graduated from that milieu and now help to set the agenda for that superior force. You might do well at this point to eschew the polarizing vernacular of political militancy and become the transcendent leader you were elected to be. You are likely to be far more effective, and history is likely to treat you far more kindly for it.

Sincerely,

Leon G. Cooperman Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

SOURCE

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

Will “International” Norms Override Civil Liberties and Protections Against Violent Crime?

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear challenges to life sentences without parole for teenage murderers, in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, two cases in which teen killers argue that such sentences always violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, no matter how horrible the crime.

In Graham v. Florida (2010), the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 vote citing “international opinion,” outlawed life imprisonment without parole for juveniles who commit rape, torture, and other non-homicide crimes, ruling that such sentences violate the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty for juveniles in all cases, including homicide cases, citing the “overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty,” although its ruling cited the existence, as a reasonable alternative to the death penalty, of the “punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” which was “itself a severe sanction.”

Left-wing lawyers would like to ban life sentences even for adults who repeatedly torture other people to death. Earlier, New Zealand was pressured to end life without parole for adults who commit “the worst” murders, based on a supposed rule of “customary international law” against life imprisonment without parole. Citing Spanish law and supposed international human-rights norms, Spain now refuses to extradite terrorists who plot mass murder to the United States unless the U.S. agrees not to seek life imprisonment without parole.

In relying on “international opinion” to decide the case, the Supreme Court set a dangerous precedent for civil liberties, since foreign legal systems and international lawyers are often hostile to free speech, religious freedom, and other basic civil liberties, and the right of homeowners to defend themselves against criminals by wielding a knife or gun in self-defense. The U.N. Human Rights Council says there is no human right to self-defense, and that, quite the contrary, international human rights norms require “very severe gun control.”

The libertarian Cato Institute, which frequently files amicus briefs in the Supreme Court seeking to promote civil liberties and privacy rights, joined an amicus brief in the Graham case asking the court not to rely on “international norms,” since doing so would “undermine the democratic process and rule of law, casting considerable uncertainty over many U.S. laws.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute also joined that brief.

Opposition to life sentences is based heavily on snob appeal, sanctimony, and contempt for the unwashed masses. Eighth Amendment challenges to life sentences are based on supposedly “evolving” notions of decency that are not in fact shared by most contemporary Americans, who continue to support both life sentences and the death penalty in public opinion polls; and on “international” norms against life imprisonment that conflict with their own country’s traditional values.

Ultimately, even many liberals may come to regret their reliance on “international opinion,” which sets a dangerous precedent for civil liberties. In USA Today, liberal law professor Jonathan Turley discussed how international norms against blasphemy and the “defamation” of religions promoted at the United Nations are undermining freedom of speech and resulting in restrictions on speech perceived as inconsistent with Islam: “Around the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion. Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion.” Turley describes cases such as the arrest of a Dutch cartoonist for depicting Christian and Muslim fundamentalists as zombies; the investigation of an Italian comedian for joking that in 20 years, the Pope will be in hell; the exclusion of a Dutch politician from Britain because he made a movie describing Islam’s holy book as “fascist”; and the prosecution of writers for calling Mohammed a “pedophile” because of his marriage to 6-year-old Aisha (which was consummated when she was 9).

More HERE

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

Obama Takes Off the Gloves

After three years of expanding the federal government's cost and scope, the guy who campaigned on a "net spending cut" pushes for a newly activist Washington

Finally! "In Kansas," the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized this week, "Obama finally found his voice." By theatrically following Teddy Roosevelt's "New Nationalism" footsteps in Osawatomie, Kansas, the president had "finally seize[d] the moment," Michael Tomasky enthused at The Daily Beast. "With this speech, the President finally brings long-sought thematic and programmatic coherence to his many proposals and policy initiatives," Cornell University law professor Robert C. Hockett offered in an "expert available" press release.

The scent of sweet release wafted all over the media. "Obama appears finally to have recognized the fruitlessness of trying to govern in the post-partisan mode on which he campaigned for president," Bloomberg Businessweek columnist Joshua Green wrote. Former Bill Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich spoke for many when he said: "Here, finally, is the Barack Obama many of us thought we had elected in 2008.

This may well be true from the point of view of progressives. But the rest of us—a majority of Americans—are more apt to remember a candidate who won the election on an altogether different selling proposition.

The Teddy Roosevelt speech that Obama was attempting to update for the 21st century contained enough freedom-constricting, bureaucracy-enhancing verbiage to make libertarians shudder, but it did contain one formulation that the president would do well to heed:
[W]ords count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts. This is true everywhere; but, O my friends, it should be truest of all in political life. A broken promise is bad enough in private life. It is worse in the field of politics. No man is worth his salt in public life who makes on the stump a pledge which he does not keep after election; and, if he makes such a pledge and does not keep it, hunt him out of public life.

Arguably the most important economic policy pledge candidate Barack Obama made on the stump, repeatedly, was a vow to enact a "net spending cut" on the federal level. Here he is repeating the pledge, after the financial crisis of September 2008 and the introduction of the first major bank bailout:



Immediately after being sworn into office, President Obama obliterated this pledge, jacking up federal spending by a stunning 18 percent in fiscal 2009, to a then-record $3.5 trillion. As the Congressional Budget Office pointed out, federal spending that miserable year "rose even faster...than revenues fell." The "rate of increase was nearly three times the average growth rate of federal outlays over the previous 10 years."

Candidate Obama campaigned every day—and rightly so—against the "fiscal irresponsibility" of the Bush era. "When George Bush came into office, our debt—national debt was around $5 trillion. It's now over $10 trillion. We've almost doubled it," he complained in his second debate with Republican nominee John McCain. "We have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history."

As president, Obama tacked on another $5 trillion in debt in record time. In every measure of basic budgetary incompetence, the last three years have dwarfed the previous eight, despite the candidate convincing a majority of voters of his superior credentials as a fiscal steward. United States debt zoomed through the 100-percent-of-GDP threshold around Halloween, and as the Baby Boomers get ready to scoop up their old-age entitlements, there isn't even a proposed end to the budget leakage in sight.

And it's not just the size of government, it's the scope. Obama has given historical leeway to regulators on health care and financial reform, and (like presidents before him) is increasing his influence on executive branch enforcement at a time when his sway over the congressional branch continues to wane. All of which begs a question: If we just finished three years of a cautious and centrist Obama, what in the name of government vigor will the next 12-60 months look like?

SOURCE

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

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

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

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)

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

Friday, December 09, 2011

You can keep your not-so-new nationalism

I’ve always found Teddy Roosevelt to be among the more repugnant of the already repulsive batch of grifters and autocrats we’ve been unfortunate enough to call “Mr. President.” He managed to combine militarism, authoritarianism and economic collectivism with a cult of the state that he called “new nationalism.” As presidential scholar Richard M. Abrams puts it in his discussion of the 26th president, “He spoke righteously for freedom but placed individual liberty in the context of a greater obligation to the nation. He acknowledged that most individuals probably preferred business as usual, to be left to cultivate their own gardens and to pursue modest livelihoods and comforts, but he viewed such an outlook with scorn.”

In economic terms, TR was obsessed with “national efficiency” — a principle he expounded in his (in)famous new nationalism speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. He called for powerful federal and state governments, with all-encompassing powers that allow for no “neutral ground” where people might hide from the government. Said he, “I do not ask for the over centralization; but I do ask that we work in a spirit of broad and far-reaching nationalism where we work for what concerns our people as a whole.”

People who disagreed with his views, he implied (or explicitly stated) were unpatriotic.

If he’d made his speech 20 years later, Teddy Roosevelt’s views could have comfortably clothed themselves in brown shirts (as could those of his cousin who was actually in office at that time).

So, when Barack Obama tramps back to Osawatomie to deliberately echo TR’s speech and views, color me nauseated. “[I]n America, we are greater together – when everyone engages in fair play, everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share. … [A]s a nation, we have always come together, through our government, to help create the conditions where both workers and businesses can succeed.”

Once again, the appeal to tribal identity, the call to submerge individual interests in the name of the greater good of the group — as identified by the speaker. And if you don’t agree with the speaker’s very specific idea of what’s good and right? Well, Teddy Roosevelt called you a “reactionary”; Obama, in our psychologized age, insists you and your co-dissidents have “collective amnesia.”

But we live in an age that’s not just psychologized, but fact-checked, and even the Washington Post called bullshit on much of Barry’s supporting evidence for his exhumed not-so-new nationalism.

On Obama’s insistence that “expensive” tax cuts for the “wealthy” are responsible for the current economic mess:
Obama certainly inherited an economic mess, and we have argued he does not deserve blame for the massive loss of jobs early in his administration. But it seems odd to keep blaming poor job growth on the Bush tax cut, especially because Obama himself pushed through a nearly $1-trillion stimulus and took other actions that have affected the economy, for better or worse.

Finally, Obama blames the Bush tax cuts for “massive deficits.” It is certainly true that the Bush tax cuts helped blow a hole in the budget. But they did not do it all by themselves. We looked at length at this issue earlier this year, assisted by new Congressional Budget Office data.

The data showed that the biggest contributor to the disappearance of projected surpluses was increased spending, which accounted for 36.5 percent of the decline in the nation’s fiscal position, followed by incorrect CBO estimates, which accounted for 28 percent. The Bush tax cuts (along with some Obama tax cuts) were responsible for just 24 percent.

And on the president’s insistence that the uber-wealthy are even more successful at tax avoidance than even the Occupiers have charged in their wildest fever-dream accusations:
“Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent — 1 percent. That is the height of unfairness.”

This is a striking statistic. But the only evidence that the White House could offer for it was a TV clip of a conversation on Bloomberg TV, in which correspondent Gigi Stone made this assertion during a discussion about the tax strategies that the very wealthy use to avoid paying taxes. The TV clip was promoted by the left-leaning website Think Progress.

Stone quoted from a Bloomberg News article last month that reported on such tax strategies, which mostly involve complicated ways to defer paying capital gains taxes. But the article never made the one-percent claim. It also noted that the IRS had gotten more hostile to such transactions in recent years.

An administration official conceded the White House had no actual data to back up the president’s assertion, but argued that other reports showed that some of the wealthy pay little in taxes.

The Post even quoted Judge Learned Hand pointing out that “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury.”

So, calls for authoritarianism founded on appeals to tribal identity, based on manufactured data. Thanks anyway, but I’ll pass.

SOURCE

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

Some things Obama left out of his speech

Jonah Goldberg

In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama insisted that the coming presidential primary and general election campaigns "shouldn't be about making each other look bad, they should be about figuring out how we can all do some good for this precious country of ours. That's our mission."

"And in this mission," he continued, "our rivals won't be one another, and I would assert it won't even be the other party. It's going to be cynicism that we're fighting against."

I guess I missed the moment when Obama hung his "Mission Accomplished" banner. Because from where I'm sitting, it looks more like the president not only lost his battle against cynicism, he defected to the other side.

In his remarks this week in Osawatomie, Kan. -- the site of Theodore Roosevelt's famous 1910 "new nationalism" speech -- Obama laid out the themes for his re-election campaign.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denies it was an "election speech," but Obama's own campaign manager, Jim Messina, touted it as one in a fundraising email.

But such is the way of this White House. Facts are dependent variables, history the president's Pool of Narcissus, reflecting his own glory. Hence, Obama cherry-picks TR's "new nationalism" as a justification for his own agenda and proof that today's Republicans are extreme.

After all, was not TR a "Republican son of a wealthy family," as Obama put it?

Well, yes, he was. And then, he wasn't. TR left the Republican Party to promote his new nationalism philosophy and run as a Progressive - a "super socialist," in the words of The New York Times in 1913.

As a Republican president, Roosevelt had been a "trust buster." As Progressive gadfly, Roosevelt believed in making the trusts bigger, stronger and more entwined with the federal government, orchestrated by an all-powerful "Federal Bureau of Corporations."

"Concentration, co-operation and control," he explained in his acceptance speech at the 1912 Progressive convention, "are the key words for a scientific solution of the mighty industrial problem which now confronts this nation."

It's no surprise Obama would find the progressive Teddy so reasonable. Nor is it shocking that Obama would fail to explain to today's generation the true intentions of that "Republican son of a wealthy family."

And no wonder Obama thinks that low tax rates in the 1920s were a significant cause of the Great Depression. Or that he sees income inequality as the chief problem during the 1930s -- and today.

"Now, this kind of inequality -- a level that we haven't seen since the Great Depression -- hurts us all," he declared. "When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom."

Except inequality isn't the cause of these problems, stagnating wages and unemployment are. But Obama wants to talk about inequality because it puts him on the convenient side of populist anger.

Sounding as if he's still running against George W. Bush, Obama laid the blame for our problems on the "most expensive tax cuts for the wealthy in history." Of course, he leaves out that those tax cuts also went to the middle class.

He also forgets his own favorite metric of jobs "created or saved." It's a bogus, unprovable gimmick, used to defend his failed stimulus, but who is he to say Bush's tax cuts didn't save millions of jobs after 9/11?

Obama describes the Bush years as a libertarian dystopia of "'you're on your own' economics," when we ignored vital spending on things like education and poverty programs. This is Obama's favorite straw man, and he's a kung fu master when it comes to defeating it.

He leaves out that Europe already has his preferred policies and is about to go under.

More significantly, Obama leaves out that under "compassionate conservatism," Bush was the first president to spend more than 3 percent of GDP on anti-poverty programs. Under Bush, federal spending on education grew 58 percent faster than inflation. Obama forgets that Bush fought for the biggest expansion of entitlements since the Great Society (Medicare Part D). He airbrushes away Sarbanes-Oxley, a new Cabinet agency, faith-based initiatives, etc.

"Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent," Obama barked. "That is the height of unfairness." Except, when the Washington Post asked the White House for evidence to support the claim, an official confessed they "had no actual data to back up the president's assertion."

That's OK. Who cares about the facts when you're fighting to make America safe for cynicism again?

SOURCE

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

The Orwellian American Left

As I heard Barack Obama and his propaganda minister, Jay Carney, endorsing tax cuts as a vehicle for economic growth, I was reminded, again, of George Orwell's "1984" and the striking similarities between his Oceania and the American left's vision for America.

Oceania's Big Brother regime had "four Ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided," the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Love and the Ministry of Plenty. Each department was dedicated to the opposite principle suggested by its title. "Truth" disseminated lies. "Peace" promoted war. "Love" enforced uniformity of thought. And "Plenty" manipulated the economy to impoverish the people while enriching the ruling class. God was expelled and absolute truth abolished, while "doublespeak" was promoted.

Oceania's Thought Police was the Ministry of Love's enforcement arm, while the Ministry of Truth undertook the task of rewriting history in service to the Party slogan, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

Today the left has a Ministry of Truth, because it knows that twice as many Americans identify themselves as conservatives than as liberals and so has to disguise its policies to deceive the majority. Its Ministry of Peace would be better-named the Ministry of Bipartisanship, which, in the name of reaching across the aisle with a friendly hand, slices it off with a partisan dagger. Its Ministry of Love is more aptly named the Ministry of Tolerance, which dictates one way of thinking and demonizes dissenters. The Ministry of Plenty is alive and well in the Obama administration's cadre of economic advisers.

The liberal establishment's Ministry of Truth extends throughout our culture, having taken over our educational institutions, the arts and the sciences. How slavishly our academics hew to the Party slogan. They have planted themselves in positions of cultural influence to "control the present," in order to rewrite the past (to conform to their dogma), for purposes of "controlling the future."

Our professors of history, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, philosophy, journalism, law, the hard sciences and other fields deride Western civilization and characterize our founders as Christian-mocking deists devoted to enlightenment principles of the philosophers. They speciously tie our unique freedoms to our "secular" founding to argue that we must banish God from the public square, lest we lose our liberties. In the name of academic inquiry, these academic and cultural "Thought Police" indoctrinate and intimidate students who dare deviate from their thought mandates.

Their textbooks tell us that Franklin D. Roosevelt not only was not a domestic liberal but also saved capitalism through socialism. (Talk about "doublespeak.") They say his New Deal spent us out of the Great Depression, while current historians not housed in the Ministry of Truth tell us it exacerbated our economic woes. Based on the ministry's revisionism, Keynesian economists were empowered to reflect those myths in their textbooks for a half-century. Armed with their revised lessons from history, Obama's Ministry of Plenty advocated passage of the "stimulus" bill, which was doublespeak for "rampant redistribution to its allies, sucking the oxygen out of the private sector and suppressing the economy."

The left's Ministry of Truth, with the full-throated support of the "unbiased" mainstream media, has given us such Orwellian originals as "pro-choice" while suing an 80-year-old prayer-warrior for standing outside Planned Parenthood's abortion factory to share important information with pregnant mothers to help them make a fully informed choice. The ministry seeks to shut down conservative talk radio, with the "Fairness Doctrine." It forbids private ballots for employees to vote anonymously on union membership for the purpose of intimidating them to join -- in the name of the "Employee Free Choice Act." It boasts of "budget cuts" when it slightly reduces the rate of increases in spending. It calls the budget-busting Obamacare legislation the "Affordable Care Act." It calls a bill that would further expand unemployment a "jobs bill." It fabricates and manipulates a consensus on "climate change" and ostracizes dissenters as science-averse. (In Oceania, science had "almost ceased to exist.") It conspires with its Ministry of Tolerance to describe political dissent from its effort to legalize homosexual marriage as "hate" and to brand political conservatism as "racism." While the rapacious Obama administration recklessly squanders our national wealth in its lust for power, its ministries of Plenty and Bipartisanship vilify the wealthy -- who are paying a disproportionate share of taxes -- for not paying their fair share. The Ministry of Plenty, while presiding over the destruction of the private sector, castigates job creators for hoarding all the wealth.

2012 won't be so much about two competing visions as it will be a contest of truth. Without the left's Orwellian ministers and their deputies in the press and academia, it would be a historic blowout and rejection of their vision. I'm betting it will be anyway.

SOURCE

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

ELSEWHERE

The Road to Canadian Citizenship: "When we think about second passports, exotic locations such as Singapore or Uruguay often come to mind. But could it be that an American's best bet for second citizenship lies just north of the border? In the last few years, Canada has become more attractive as a destination for would-be immigrants. The country invariably scores near the top of various international life-style country rankings. For starters, Canada has a very stable political and financial system, which stood up well during the 2008 Credit Crisis. Canada is also widely recognized for its health care system (accessible to all its residents), yet it boasts the lowest corporate tax rate among the G-8 nations. Among those who have been increasingly looking at Canada as an option for residency and citizenship are high-net-worth Americans. As the U.S. debt grows to unmanageable heights and the government is increasingly applying new force and security measures, Americans are seeking refuge for safety and a chance at future prosperity."

CA: Homosexual marriage challenge: "The sponsors of California's gay marriage ban renewed their effort Thursday to disqualify a federal judge because of his same-sex relationship, but they met a skeptical audience in an appeals court panel. It's the first time an American jurist's sexual orientation has been cited as grounds for overturning a court decision."

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 08, 2011

For Arab Christians, a wintry 'spring'

IN THE FIRST ROUND of Egypt's parliamentary elections, the hardline Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6 percent of the vote -- a plurality -- and the even harder-line Salafist party, Al-Nour, won 24.4 percent. The Egyptian Bloc -- a coalition of liberal, social-democratic, and secular parties -- drew only 13.4 percent. So now we know what the "Spirit of Tahrir Square" looks like when it's put to a vote: In the world's largest Arab nation, the forces of sharia and jihad are winning in a landslide.

The credo of the Muslim Brotherhood is explicitly illiberal and theocratic: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Abdel Moneim el-Shahat, a Salafist sheik and Nour Party candidate, demands a society in which "sharia is obligatory" -- an Egypt, as he explained in a public debate, with "citizenship restricted by Islamic sharia, freedom restricted by Islamic sharia, equality restricted by Islamic sharia."

Sad to say, these are the fundamentalist blooms of the Arab Spring. The Islamist ascendancy – in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt this year, as in Gaza and (non-Arab) Turkey previously -- bodes ill for the region's moderate and tolerant Muslims. Whistling past the graveyard, the editor of The Daily Star in Beirut exhorts the world to "Celebrate the Democratic Arab Moment," and declares that the commitment of Arab societies to democratic openness and pluralism "now seems firmly affirmed." Indeed, he says, it "was never in doubt, except perhaps in the minds of lingering colonialists and racists." The anti-Islamist liberals getting wiped out in Egypt's elections might beg to differ.

Even more ominous are the prospects for the Arab world's Christians, who have been undergoing not a springtime of toleration but an increasingly frightful winter of suffering and persecution. Since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Coptic minority has been repeatedly victimized – churches have been destroyed, homes have been vandalized, and jihadist mobs have rampaged through Christian neighborhoods. In October, Egyptian troops in Cairo's Maspero district slaughtered Christians as they protested the burning of churches in Upper Egypt. Even before the Maspero pogrom, Christians by the tens of thousands had been fleeing post-Mubarak Egypt. You don't have to be a "lingering colonialist and racist" to fear there may be even worse to come.

Egypt isn't the only Arab country whose Christian communities are being decimated by Islamist brutality.

Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, The Wall Street Journal noted on Monday, "at least 54 Iraqi churches have been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence. . . . Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled." The archbishop of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Kirkuk and Sulimaniya calls the emigration a "hemorrhage," warning that "Iraq could be emptied of Christians." In Syria, meanwhile, Catholic and Orthodox communities are terrified of what awaits them if the current regime is overthrown. According to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, the country's archbishops were summoned to the presidential palace soon after the uprising against Bashar al-Assad began, and bluntly warned: "Either support me, or your churches will burn."

John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, has issued a genocide warning for Christians in the Middle East.

The harrying of non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East is hardly a new phenomenon – nearly all of the Arab world's Jews were driven out long ago – but the rise of radical Islam has lethally intensified the problem. Last month, Christian Solidarity International, a respected human-rights organization with deep experience in the region, warned that Christians there may be facing genocide. "The crisis of survival for non-Muslim communities is especially acute in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Iran, and Pakistan," the group's CEO, John Eibner, wrote in a letter to President Obama, imploring him to act urgently to prevent the kind of "religious cleansing" that eradicated Turkey's "once-thriving Christian communities" a century ago.

It takes more than voting to sustain decent democratic values. Totalitarians from Hitler to Hamas, after all, have come to power via the ballot. Revolts and demonstrations may topple Arab dictators, and their replacements may be chosen in elections. But there will be no Arab Spring worthy of the name without pluralism, freedom, and tolerance.

"Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion," Obama declared last May – so important that America would defend it with "all of the diplomatic, economic, and strategic tools at our disposal." Fine words. But with Islamists sweeping to power around them and human-rights activists warning of genocide, the beleaguered Christians of the Middle East need more than words.

SOURCE

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

Behind Income Inequality

Walter E. Williams

Benefiting from a hint from an article titled "Is Harry Potter Making You Poorer?", written by my colleague Dr. John Goodman, president of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, I've come up with an explanation and a way to end income inequality in America, possibly around the world. Joanne Rowling was a welfare mother in Edinburgh, Scotland. All that has changed. As the writer of the "Harry Potter" novels, having a net worth of $1 billion, she is the world's wealthiest author. More importantly, she's one of those dastardly 1-percenters condemned by the Occupy Wall Streeters and other leftists.

How did Rowling become so wealthy and unequal to the rest of us? The entire blame for this social injustice lies at the feet of the world's children and their enabling parents. Rowling's wealth is a direct result of more than 500 million "Harry Potter" book sales and movie receipts grossing more than $5 billion. In other words, the millions of "99-percenters" who individually plunk down $8 or $9 to attend a "Harry Potter" movie, $15 to buy a "Harry Potter" novel or $30 to buy a "Harry Potter" Blu-ray Disc are directly responsible for contributing to income inequality and wealth concentration that economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says "is incompatible with real democracy." In other words, Rowling is not responsible for income inequality; it's the people who purchase her works.

We just can't blame the children for the unfairness of income inequality. Look at how Wal-Mart Stores generated wealth for the Walton family of Christy ($25 billion), Jim ($21 billion), Alice ($21 billion) and Robson ($21 billion). The Walton family's wealth is not a result of ill-gotten gains, but the result of Wal-Mart's revenue, $422 billion in 2010. The blame for this unjust concentration of wealth rests with those hundreds of millions of shoppers worldwide who voluntarily enter Wal-Mart premises and leave dollars, pounds and pesos.

Basketball great LeBron James plays forward for the Miami Heat and earns $43 million for doing so. That puts him with those 1-percenters denounced by Wall Street occupiers. But who made LeBron a 1-percenter? It's those children again, enabled by their fathers or some other significant male. Instead of children doing their homework and their fathers helping their wives with housework, they get into their cars, drive to a downtown arena and voluntarily plunk down $100 for tickets. The millions of people who watch LeBron play are the direct cause of LeBron's earning $43 million and are thereby responsible for "undermining the foundations of our democracy."

Krugman laments in his Nov. 3 New York Times column "Oligarchy, American Style," "We have a society in which money is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people, and in which that concentration of income and wealth threatens to make us a democracy in name only." I'd ask Krugman this question: Who's putting all the money in the hands of the few, and what do you think ought to be done to stop millions, perhaps billions, of people from using their money in ways that lead to high income and wealth concentration? In other words, I'd like Krugman to tell us what should be done to stop the millions of children who make Joanne Rowling rich, the millions who fork over their money to the benefit of LeBron James, and the hundreds of millions of people who shop at Wal-Mart.

SOURCE

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

Sprung from prison, tort-bar king back raising money for Dems

See if you can guess which member of the infamous "1 percent" is the subject of this invitation to a holiday fundraiser: "For the second year in a row, the _________ will be hosting our holiday event at the stunning cliff-side estate of ____ and _____, longtime supporters of ________ candidates and causes. Guests last year were wowed by incredible architecture, panoramic views, food and drink, and tours of the ______ art collection. We are delighted to be working with them and the _______ club again. Ticket price included hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine, and non-alcoholic beverages. Proceeds will help _____ prepare for next year's elections."

Obviously, with a "stunning" estate offering "panoramic views," and a tour-worthy art collection, the couple hosting this high-dollar event are wealthy, have been politically active for a long time, and surely must command significant power and influence in one of the nation's two major political parties. And since the GOP is "the party of the rich," they must be Republicans, right? Well, guess again, because the power couple being described in the preceding paragraph, which comes from an invitation to Dec. 18 fund raiser are William and Michelle Lerach. The Lerachs are long-time Democratic contributors. Bill Lerach has been close to President Clinton, both when he was in the White House and in the years since. The Lerachs have given nearly $1.5 million to Democratic candidates, committees and causes since 1990. That total is half-a-million more than was given during the same period by George Soros.

There is another big difference between Bill Lerach and George Soros. Soros did not recently spend two years in a federal prison. It should not be forgotten that Lerach served time and repaid $7.5 million after being convicted in federal court of participating in a long-running fraud scheme hatched by him and three of his senior partners at the infamous Milberg Weiss class-action lawsuit factory in New York and California. The scheme involved bribing plaintiffs who bought stock in a corporation targeted by the law firm in return for making it lead counsel in federal court. Millions of dollars in such bribes helped produce an estimated $250 million in fees for the corrupt firm during a three-decade period that began in 1981, according to the Justice Department. The long-running bribery was so outrageous that Milberg Weiss was the first law firm ever sued by the government under the RICO organized crime statute.

When Lerach finished serving his brief time in the federal pen, he returned to his Cliffside estate in San Diego to enjoy a fortune estimated at $200 million. And as evidenced by the upcoming fundraiser there, he picked up right where he left off as a key cog in the Democratic money machine. But considering that much of Lerach's fortune was earned by breaking the law, why would any Democratic incumbent, candidate or committee accept his tainted money?

SOURCE

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

USPS' Cost-Cutting Plan Shows Need for Privatization

The Postal Service has announced how it plans to fight increased competition for First Class mail — by providing worse service. If the USPS doesn't want to deliver the mail, Congress should let others give it a try.

On Monday, the Postal Service said it will shut almost half its mail processing centers and largely eliminate next-day delivery for first-class mail. That's on top of a 1-cent postage stamp hike that goes into effect next month.

It's all part of an effort to cut $20 billion in annual costs, staunch the flood of red ink and avoid bankruptcy. Still, it's hard to see how charging more for worse service is a credible plan for success.

Even if it were, the postal service has been down this road many times in the past. In previous cost-cutting efforts, for example, it dramatically shrank the areas in which it would even strive for next-day delivery.

The result has been an ongoing deterioration of its business, a trend vastly accelerated by faxes, e-mail, online billing and new communication technologies.

But what choice does the USPS have?

On the one hand, it's weighed down by unions that control 85% of its workforce, impeding reasonable efficiency improvements. Example: In just the first six months of this year, the Postal Service spent $4.3 million paying postal workers to do literally nothing, thanks to labor agreements that require the service to keep workers on the payroll even when mail volume is low or machinery breaks down.

At the same time, lawmakers often scuttle cost-saving plans that might affect their districts. After congressmen screamed, for example, the USPS cut the list of post offices it planned to close from 3,200 to a mere 162.

The postmaster general had it right this week when he said that the USPS is in dire straits because "we are expected to operate like a business but don't have the flexibility to do so."

But the solution isn't to mindlessly cut costs or trot out more piecemeal reforms like the one working through the Senate, which will only prolong the agony. Instead, we should follow the lead of many other countries and privatize the Postal Service.

A Cato Institute report finds the consistent result abroad has been improved productivity and lower costs, without a decline in quality. Selling anything less than privatization as the solution to the Postal Service's problems would constitute mail fraud.

SOURCE

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

ELSEWHERE

Blago finally nailed: "Ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for trying to auction off President Barack Obama's vacated US Senate seat and a host of other corruption charges. The Democratic governor was arrested in the midst of what prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spree" just weeks after Obama's historic November 2008 election. He was convicted of 17 corruption counts in June after his first trial resulted in a hung jury on all but one of the charges. While Obama managed to emerge untainted, the scandal shone a spotlight on the state's corruption-filled political scene and cast a shadow on his early days in office. Five of the past nine Illinois governors have been indicted or arrested for fraud or bribery"

Pearl Harbor was FDR’s back door to war: "Given that today is the anniversary date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, we’ll no doubt be treated to standard interventionist articles stating what a great thing World War II was. The American people were overwhelmingly opposed to entry into World War II. That’s not surprising given the consequences of World War I. There was absolutely no reason for the United States to intervene in that war."

Our broken medical system: "Dr. Donald Berwick is the guy who ran Medicare and Medicaid for the past 17 months, and he quit last week. In his parting remarks, he said that 20 to 30 percent of health care spending is waste, yielding no benefits to patients and further clogging up a system that is, by its very nature, sluggish and tortuous. He listed five reasons that accounted for the majority of the waste he had seen ..."

Eurocracy run amuck: "We must re-establish the primacy of politics over the market.' That sentence, spoken a little while ago by Germany’s Angela Merkel, sums up the startlingly unoriginal character of the approach adopted by most EU politicians as they seek to save the common currency from what even Paul Krugman seems to concede is its current trajectory towards immolation"

The greed fallacy: "We're never greedy. Only others are greedy. This unrecognized hypocrisy allows us to use the word greed in a greedy way, to manipulate others to get what we want. But most of what people call greed is simply other people trying to honor their responsibilities."

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

China, Taiwan and North Korea

China has repeatedly and belligerently advertised their “concern” about every plan the US has made to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons. To imagine Taiwan as the aggressor, as a risk to mainland China, is pure sophistry. The reverse however is everywhere evident. Yet General Liang of the People’s Liberation Army has often in the past emphatically denounced U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as seriously damaging China’s core interests.

Clearly China feels it’s their absolute right to liberate Taiwan from its successfully functioning democracy of 14 years (it originally obtained effective independence in 1945); and to do so by force. Otherwise why focus like a laser on primarily weapons deals?

The White House approach is now unlimited negotiating ladled with a liberal amount of pandering. China’s unambiguous snubs show how little this approach means to them. Yet we seem to repeat the same mistakes, again and again with Iran, Russia, China and others. They understand our weaknesses only too well and we seem to now effectively hide our strengths in order to gain international acceptance and favor.

A most simple resolution to the White House’s quandary is to call China’s bluff. Let’s drag North Korea into the discussion and link increased arms sales to Taiwan and South Korea to conducive Chinese leverage in denuclearizing North Korea – finally and transparently. Since North Korea is totally dependent on China for energy, raw materials and its economic “life blood”, China could turn off the tap and achieve critical North Korean accommodations instantaneously.

Yet it refuses. Why? Because China, not the U.S., makes demands, communicates threats and acts the Asian bully. If they refuse the U.S. demands then we still get to shore up militarily our good friends and allies Taiwan and South Korea and further help balance our budget with much needed exports. All to the good; and if they alternatively participate in pushing recalcitrant North Korea towards denuclearization – fantastic. There is no downside.

Why is the White House so oblivious to that simplicity?

SOURCE

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

Loathing Conservative Christian Candidates

Time magazine didn't mind ruffling feathers in religious America with a cover this summer that asked "Is Hell Dead?" Never mind that America is overwhelmingly Christian. Then Time found only one letter worth plucking out to feature in large, bold type from a man in Dallas: "Hell is easy to define. It would be spending eternity with evangelicals."

That sums up the secular, liberal media attitude toward America's Christian majority, and it explains why they find Republicans so objectionable when they make their religious faith part of their campaign for the presidency. Matthew Philbin and Erin Brown of the Media Research Center's Culture and Media Institute have written a new report called "Baptism By Fire" that analyzes coverage of the presidential candidates and their religious faith. Does it surprise anyone that they found a huge difference in coverage of Republicans and Democrats?

In the first ten months of 2011, network morning and evening news stories mentioned the religious faith of GOP presidential challengers more than seven times as often (143 stories to 19 stories) than they had for Democratic challengers in the first ten months of 2007. They've been 13 times more likely to be critical of the Republicans' religious beliefs than they were of Democrats just four years ago.

Did I mention Rev. Jeremiah Wright? In the first ten months of 2007, there were just six instances where stories challenged or negatively highlighted the faith of liberal White House hopefuls. The networks almost entirely avoided questions about Barack Obama's upbringing in a Muslim country and his two decades of attendance of a radical Chicago church. Likewise, audiences were reassured that Hillary Clinton's faith was important -- but only as it saw her through her husband's reckless infidelities. Primary candidates Joe Biden and Chris Dodd were never asked about their fervent voting record in favor of abortion -- even partial-birth abortion -- in full opposition to their Catholic faith.

SOURCE

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

Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?

It's always been pretty obvious that the Democrat hero forced Japan into war with the USA by cutting off their oil but now we have extensive documentation of FDR's scheming -- JR

Pat Buchanan

On Dec. 8, 1941, Franklin Roosevelt took the rostrum before a joint session of Congress to ask for a declaration of war on Japan. A day earlier, at dawn, carrier-based Japanese aircraft had launched a sneak attack devastating the U.S. battle fleet at Pearl Harbor. Said ex-President Herbert Hoover, Republican statesman of the day, “We have only one job to do now, and that is to defeat Japan.”

But to friends, “the Chief” sent another message: “You and I know that this continuous putting pins in rattlesnakes finally got this country bit.”

Today, 70 years after Pearl Harbor, a remarkable secret history, written from 1943 to 1963, has come to light. It is Hoover’s explanation of what happened before, during and after the world war that may prove yet the death knell of the West.

Edited by historian George Nash, “Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath” is a searing indictment of FDR and the men around him as politicians who lied prodigiously about their desire to keep America out of war, even as they took one deliberate step after another to take us into war.

Yet the book is no polemic. The 50-page run-up to the war in the Pacific uses memoirs and documents from all sides to prove Hoover’s indictment. And perhaps the best way to show the power of this book is the way Hoover does it -- chronologically, painstakingly, week by week.

Consider Japan’s situation in the summer of 1941. Bogged down in a four year war in China she could neither win nor end, having moved into French Indochina, Japan saw herself as near the end of her tether.

Inside the government was a powerful faction led by Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoye that desperately did not want a war with the United States.

The “pro-Anglo-Saxon” camp included the navy, whose officers had fought alongside the U.S. and Royal navies in World War I, while the war party was centered on the army, Gen. Hideki Tojo and Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, a bitter anti-American.

On July 18, 1941, Konoye ousted Matsuoka, replacing him with the “pro-Anglo-Saxon” Adm. Teijiro Toyoda.

The U.S. response: On July 25, we froze all Japanese assets in the United States, ending all exports and imports, and denying Japan the oil upon which the nation and empire depended.

Stunned, Konoye still pursued his peace policy by winning secret support from the navy and army to meet FDR on the U.S. side of the Pacific to hear and respond to U.S. demands.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph Grew implored Washington not to ignore Konoye’s offer, that the prince had convinced him an agreement could be reached on Japanese withdrawal from Indochina and South and Central China. Out of fear of Mao’s armies and Stalin’s Russia, Tokyo wanted to hold a buffer in North China.

On Aug. 28, Japan’s ambassador in Washington presented FDR a personal letter from Konoye imploring him to meet.

Tokyo begged us to keep Konoye’s offer secret, as the revelation of a Japanese prime minister’s offering to cross the Pacific to talk to an American president could imperil his government.

On Sept. 3, the Konoye letter was leaked to the Herald-Tribune.

On Sept. 6, Konoye met again at a three-hour dinner with Grew to tell him Japan now agreed with the four principles the Americans were demanding as the basis for peace. No response.

On Sept. 29, Grew sent what Hoover describes as a “prayer” to the president not to let this chance for peace pass by.

On Sept. 30, Grew wrote Washington, “Konoye’s warship is ready waiting to take him to Honolulu, Alaska or anyplace designated by the president.” No response. On Oct. 16, Konoye’s cabinet fell.

In November, the U.S. intercepted two new offers from Tokyo: a Plan A for an end to the China war and occupation of Indochina and, if that were rejected, a Plan B, a modus vivendi where neither side would make any new move. When presented, these, too, were rejected out of hand.

At a Nov. 25 meeting of FDR’s war council, Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s notes speak of the prevailing consensus: “The question was how we should maneuver them (the Japanese) into ... firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.” “We can wipe the Japanese off the map in three months,” wrote Navy Secretary Frank Knox.

As Grew had predicted, Japan, a “hara-kiri nation,” proved more likely to fling herself into national suicide for honor than to allow herself to be humiliated.

Out of the war that arose from the refusal to meet Prince Konoye came scores of thousands of U.S. dead, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the fall of China to Mao Zedong, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the rise of a new arrogant China that shows little respect for the great superpower of yesterday. If you would know the history that made our world, spend a week with Mr. Hoover’s book.

SOURCE

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

Where Have Our Cojones Gone?

Last week in Boston, a seven-year-old boy named Mark got into a fight with a bully. The bully put his hands around the boy's throat and began to squeeze. That's when Mark fought back; he kicked his aggressor right in the family jewels. In a normal society, we'd celebrate Mark. Throw him a ticker tape parade or something. Bullies need a sharp kick to the testicles. That's how you convince them that bullying is wrong.

But in Boston, Mark was charged with sexual assault.

Just to get this straight: Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank's gay lover can run a homosexual prostitution ring from his apartment and Frank will not be prosecuted. But a boy kicks a bully in the berries and he faces expulsion from school.

It's not the bully who lost his chestnuts. It's our country.

At some point in the recent past, America moved from the Gilded Age to the Gelded Age. It's no longer considered polite to beat up bullies -- that's simply not "tolerant." All this chatter from the left about the problem of bullying -- Lady Gaga is visiting the White House this week to tell her subordinate, President Obama, what to do about it -- is so much nonsense. The left has no idea how to solve the bullying problem. They treat all violence as equal -- Mark and the bully are on the same moral plane -- and so they recommend counseling and training, as though a little classroom instruction can solve boys' basic biological urge toward aggression.

Have these people ever met little boys?

Apparently not. Lady Gaga has only met her "little monsters," androgynous pantywaists with no distinguishing sexual characteristics. She thinks that homosexual boys are "born this way," but bullies can be changed by a few sensitivity training sessions. The sad truth is that biology can only be overcome by real conditioning, not by nattering. And in the case of bullies, conditioning equals physical violence.

But in our country today, that solution is considered as bad as the problem. The left has instead come up with an alternative solution: eunichism. If male biology drives violence, we have to wash that man right out of the young boys' hair. We will train them not to use toy guns but to play with dolls. We will teach them that heterosexuality and homosexuality are equals, since all sexes are the same. We will teach them that fighting bullies is the same as being a bully. No wonder the left isn't all that upset about female genital mutilation in Muslim countries, they're busily removing the testes of our young boys right here at home.

There's only one problem with this beautiful new world of asexualism: It's idiotic. All we do is train good boys to be pansies; bullies, meanwhile, continue to be bullies. Jerry Sandusky wasn't going to stop raping little boys based on taking a few seminars -- but Mike McQueary was going to avoid reporting that rape to police if he was trained into spinelessness by the surrounding culture. The Muslim Brotherhood isn't going to stop its aggressive pursuit of worldwide Shariah if we offer its members free Lady Gaga tickets and a shopping spree at Sephora. But Western civilization will let them do it if we spend enough time decrying our own aggressive instinct.

The fact is that males' aggressive instinct is good for the world, if channeled properly. Without it, Hitler goes unpunished. Without it, millions continue to starve in the Soviet Union. The key to the aggressive instinct is training it to act along proper moral lines, not eradicating it.

The American people know that down deep. A few months back, a video went viral of a young Sydney boy, Casey Heynes, being bullied by a younger attacker, Richard. Richard punches the much larger Heynes in the face. Then he punches him again. Finally, Heynes can stand it no longer: He picks up Richard and body-slams him to the ground. Richard gets up and wobbles around, off camera. End video.

Elites of the world decried Heynes' behavior. "We don't believe that violence is ever the answer," said John Dalgleish, head of research at Kids Helpline and Boys Town. But tribute sites went up on the Internet to Heynes; videos celebrating his heroics became common fodder. As everyone who has ever faced down a bully knows, the only way to stop a bully is to show him that physical force won't get him anywhere. The only way to show him that is to beat the hell out of him.

We live in a world of bullies. So long as we continue to psychologically castrate our own boys, the bullies of the world will continue winning. We will continue asking why they hate us, and they will continue choking the life out of us. Only if we re-learn to kick them in the cojones rather than removing our own will we emerge victorious.

SOURCE

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

ELSEWHERE

Invisible Americans: Overlooked millions inside job numbers: "Some politicians are saying that the latest unemployment report is good news, but it's not. It shows us that this country is still in crisis. It shows us that the government needs to act quickly and aggressively to create jobs, and to restore the lost earning power of the average American who has a job. Most of all it shows us that millions of struggling people are still invisible in the Nation's Capitol."

What free market?: "If America is indeed a free-market fundamentalist nation, it sure has a funny way of showing it. Federal, state, and local governments combine to spend roughly 40 percent of GDP. Washington indirectly spends another 12 percent of GDP by forcing businesses and consumers to comply with $1.75 trillion worth of federal regulations."

The golden years really are golden: "Despite occasional lurid stories about a grandmother eating cat food shortly before being wheeled off a cliff, the wealth gap favors ... the old! And the gap is enormous. Census data reveal that households headed by someone 65 or older have an average net worth 47 times greater than that of households headed by someone under 35."

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My Fourth Statement

Bryan Caplan

When I was promoting Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, one of the most common questions I heard was, "Are you going to have any more?" I always avoided a definite answer. But now I'm pleased to announce that my wife and I are expecting our fourth child, a baby girl, in April. She'll be named Valeria, middle name TBD (though I'm partial to Ayn and Fanya).

Back in the Baby Boom, having four kids was roughly average. But nowadays, it verges on counter-cultural. As Jonathan Last observes, "When you meet couples with more than three children today, chances are they're making a cultural and theological statement." I'm irreligious, but Last still has my number. I am indeed making a cultural statement. Having lots of kids is my way of saying all of the following:

1. People should feel grateful to be alive - and people who give the gift of life do a great thing.

2. People in the First World today should be incredibly grateful to be alive; they have a golden opportunity to build a joyful life free of mankind's historic troubles. (Corollary: People should take most of the energy they spend on complaining and reallocate it to self-improvement).

3. More people make the world a better place. Our culture greatly overblows the social costs of population - especially on the environment - and severely neglects the social benefits - especially on innovation and choice.

4. Parents' most meaningful effect is on their kids' appreciation - how their kids feel about and remember them. The key to being a great parent isn't sacrifice and suffering on your kids' behalf. It's treating them with kindness and respect, and having fun together.

5. Parental sacrifice and suffering are usually a waste of time in any case. At least in the modern First World, your kids' future depends primarily on their genes and their free will, not your "investment." (Corollary: Our four kids will be roughly as successful in school and work as they would have been if they were only children who enjoyed our undivided time and resources).

6. You can have the pride and joy of being a parent without losing the pride and joy of being an individual. While many parents would work themselves to death taking care of four kids, there's no reason to do so.

7. Kids are cute and fun. Especially my kids.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

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

Obamacare is already destroying jobs

In 1941, Carl Karcher was a 24-year-old truck driver for a bakery. Impressed by the large numbers of buns he was delivering, he scrounged up $326 to buy a hot dog cart across from a Goodyear plant. And the war came.

So did millions of defense industry workers and their cars. And, soon, Southern California’s contribution to American cuisine — fast food. Including, eventually, hundreds of Carl’s Jr. restaurants. Karcher died in 2008, but his legacy, CKE Restaurants, survives. It would thrive, says CEO Andy Puzder, but for government’s comprehensive campaign against job creation.

CKE, with more than 3,200 restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s), has created 70,000 jobs, 21,000 directly and 49,000 with franchisees. The growth of those numbers will be inhibited by — among many government measures — Obama­care.

When CKE’s health-care advisers, citing Obamacare’s complexities, opacities and uncertainties, said that it would add between $7.3 million and $35.1 million to the company’s $12 million health-care costs in 2010, Puzder said: I need a number I can plan with. They guessed $18 million — twice what CKE spent last year building new restaurants. Obamacare must mean fewer restaurants.

And therefore fewer jobs. Each restaurant creates, on average, 25 jobs — and as much as 3.5 times that number of jobs in the community. (CKE spends about $1 billion a year on food and paper products, $175 million on advertising, $33 million on maintenance, etc.)

Puzder laughs about the liberal theory that businesses are not investing because they want to “punish Obama.” Rising health-care costs are, he says, just one uncertainty inhibiting expansion. Others are government policies raising fuel costs, which infect everything from air conditioning to the cost (including deliveries) of supplies, and the threat that the National Labor Relations Board will use regulations to impose something like “card check” in place of secret-ballot unionization elections.

CKE has about 720 California restaurants, in which 84 percent of the managers are minorities and 67 percent are women. CKE has, however, all but stopped building restaurants in this state because approvals and permits for establishing them can take up to two years, compared to as little as six weeks in Texas, and the cost to build one is $100,000 more than in Texas, where CKE is planning to open 300 new restaurants this decade.

CKE restaurants have 95 percent employee turnover in a year — not bad in this industry — and the health-care benefits under CKE’s current “mini-med” plans are capped in a way that makes them illegal under Obamacare. So CKE will have to convert many full-time employees to part-timers to limit the growth of its burdens under Obamacare.

In an economic climate of increasing uncertainties, Puzder says, one certainty is that many businesses now marginally profitable will disappear when Obamacare causes that margin to disappear. A second certainty is that “employers everywhere will be looking to reduce labor content in their business models as Obamacare makes employees unambiguously more expensive.”

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, by 2008 the cost of federal regulations had reached $1.75 trillion. That was 14 percent of national income unavailable for job-creating investments. And that was more than 11,000 regulations ago.

Seventy years ago, the local health department complained that Karcher’s hot dog cart had no restroom facilities. He got help from a nearby gas station. A state agency made him pay $15 for workers’ compensation insurance. Another agency said that he owed more than the $326 cost of the cart in back sales taxes. For $100, a lawyer successfully argued that Karcher did not because his customers ate their hot dogs off the premises.

Time was, American businesses could surmount such regulatory officiousness. But government’s metabolic urge to boss people around has grown exponentially and today CKE’s California restaurants are governed by 57 categories of regulations. One compels employees and even managers to take breaks during the busiest hours, lest one of California’s 200,000 lawyers comes trolling for business at the expense of business.

Barack Obama has written that during his very brief sojourn in the private sector he felt like “a spy behind enemy lines.” Puzder knows what it feels like when gargantuan government is composed of multitudes of regulators who regard business as the enemy. And 22.9 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or too discouraged to look for employment know what it feels like to be collateral damage in the regulatory state’s war on business.

SOURCE

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

That good ol' double standard again: What Did The Corzine Democrats Say About Abramoff?

Jon Corzine, former CEO of collapsed brokerage MF Global, has become a major embarrassment to his friends on Capitol Hill.

The former senator and governor of New Jersey has not only donated money recently to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Democratic National Committee, he has also contributed to the following U.S. representatives, the Hill notes: New Jersey’s Rush Holt, Donald Payne Frank Pallone, and Steve Rothman; California’s George Miller; New York’s Kathy Hochul, Nita Lowey, Jerrold Nadler and Charlie Rangel and Massachusetts’ Ed Markey.

Republicans are calling on Democrats to return the money. Top blogger Instapundit suggested that someone should look up what these lawmakers said in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, where considerable pressure was brought to bear on the GOP to return contributions from Abramoff and those affiliated with him.

So, Capitol Hill did some searching, dug into the archives, and came up with some rather choice morsels. Here’s Rep. Holt, on Jan 18, 2006:
Rep. Rush Holt returned to Washington today to join House and Senate Democrats in unveiling their “Honest Leadership, Open Government” Act, an aggressive reform package to reverse Republican excesses and protect the public trust.

“The Abramoff debacle has joined Teapot Dome and the Keating Five in the lexicon of Congressional corruption scandals,” said Rep. Holt. “As long as Congressional rules allow this kind of corruption to go on unabated, public cynicism about government will only grow. Our action today is designed to deal with this problem head on.”

(The Legislation) will fix the gift and travel rules that allowed the Jack Abramoffs of the world to buy Republican influence in Congress, ensuring that legislation will never again be written in back rooms by industry lobbyists.

Where has Holt been during the Solyndra mess?

On April 6, 2006, Rep. Nadler said the following at a Judiciary subcommittee hearing on lobbying reform:
The recent indictments, convictions and resignations of leading members of Congress and their staff, up to and including the former majority leader, Mr. DeLay, have cast a pall over this institution and over every one of us, whether we like it or not, whether any of us has done anything improper or not.

Unless this Congress acts and acts effectively and with credibility, the public will rightly judge this institution and its members harshly. The public will become only more cynical.

I do not believe that members are corrupted by a $50 or $75 dinner. They are corrupted by the necessity to raise large sums of campaign finance from private sources.

Any reporter out there who could ask Nadler how he feels about Corzine?

Oh, and this part of his statement wasn’t related to Corzine, but was ironic in view of what happened in subsequent years:
Bills hundreds of pages long, written in the dead of night, and brought to a vote with little or no examination by the members will always be an invitation to disaster and to corruption, because they are an invitation to payoffs for campaign contributions when no one is looking.

There was a time when legislation was actually the result of a deliberative and bipartisan process. That is, regrettably, becoming the exception, rather than the rule in this Congress. It creates bad policy and innumerable opportunities for mischief.

Do you recall Nadler protesting during the stimulus debate or during ObamaCare? Me neither.

Rep. Miller said the following after the Senate Indian Affairs Committee released its report on Abramoff on June 22, 2006:
Today, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee released a report on some of Jack Abramoff’s many contributions to the Republican culture of corruption. The report is an important contribution to our understanding of Abramoff’s illicit activities, but it is not complete. Congress must get more answers about Abramoff’s influence over its legislative affairs — in particular with regard to sweatshops in the Northern Mariana Islands.”

Let’s hope Miller will be calling for a thorough investigation into Corzine’s activities. Hope, but don’t hold your breath.

More HERE

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

Obama Administration Denies Federal Drug Price Controls are Killing Americans

While Americans are dying because of a drug shortage problem serious enough to call a national emergency, the Obama Administration is denying that Medicare price controls are the cause.

Two hearings now have been held on the government induced prescription drug shortage in the House and another has been requested by ranking members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The Senate will hold a hearing of its own on Wednesday.

In a nation as prosperous as our own — how can we have such drug shortages? That was the question the minds of congressmen in a hearing on Nov. 30, 2011 before the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Health.

Four out of the five expert witnesses before the Subcommittee agreed that a Medicare price control policy has disincentivized the production of certain drugs and is at least part of the reason we now have the drug shortages that are killing Americans.

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 introduced the “average sales price” repayment method for certain drugs. Instead of paying drug manufacturers based on the “wholesale acquisition cost,” Medicare pays based on the average price of the medication six months ago plus six percent. So, if the costs of producing the medicines increases more than 6 percent in six months, the manufacturer will have to take a loss.

The fifth expert agreed that Medicare’s price controls might be a factor, but refused to say so without further evidence.

However, the Obama Administration denies that Medicare pricing policies are a major problem. Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services , said as much in Congressional testimony House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health on September 23, 2011.

Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) asked Dr. Koh the following question: "I had a group of oncologists in the other day … and they say they literally have to make choices about who they take care of because they don’t have the drugs available. So I asked kind of the question, “I can’t believe a company won’t make them if you have the demand for them.” And they told me that this particular type of drug–a generic—[is] priced differently in the federal government. So Medicare actually prices these drugs different than other drugs. Is what they were saying true?"

Dr. Koh’s response: "We have a role of Medicare here that reimburses according to what’s called the average sales price. So that is one factor here but we don’t view that as a significant issue in driving the shortages we’re seeing here."

Unfortunately, we have bureaucrats in the Obama Administration that believe the solution is more government control and not removing government restraints on the marketplace. Here’s a dialog between Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Dr. Koh from the same hearing:

Shimkus: "Why doesn’t the shortage of a product in this sector then send an increased price signal to manufacturers for them to then produce the good?"

Koh: "Well, we have come to learn that the standard economic principles of supply and demand…"

Shimkus: "And the question is why is that distorted? That . . . I think that is the basic fundamental question of this problem. What has distorted the fundamental principles of supply and demand? . . . but I think that is the heart of this issue." ...

Koh: "First of all, these agreements are made often through these long term contracts, and so also this whole process involves multiple stakeholders–especially and including the pharmacy benefit managers and the group purchasing organizations. So it complicates this environment and sort of does not make relevant the sort of standard supply and demand economic principles that we would see in other businesses."

So the economic principles of supply and demand are not relevant? ....

More HERE

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

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

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

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)

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

Monday, December 05, 2011

Civil Society or Dictatorship?

Put aside all other issues for a moment, and ignore the trivialities that dominate the airwaves and what passes for national debate in this country. The Senate this week ratified a defense authorization bill containing an amendment cosponsored by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and Republican Sen. John McCain that would empower the military to detain American citizens captured on U.S. soil indefinitely without civil process, in addition to expanding the post-9/11 Authorization to Use Military Force and making it harder to transfer detainees out of Guantánamo.

Ten years of the war on terror, decades of the war on drugs, and a century of growing government power in general, particularly in the presidency and various police authorities, have perhaps desensitized Americans to what is at stake here. As the proverbial frogs in the pot of water, we are accustomed to rising temperatures and so do not notice when our flesh begins to boil. Yet when the Senate overwhelmingly accepts the principle that the military should displace civilian courts even for citizens captured on American soil, it has adopted a standard of justice remarkably tyrannical even compared to America’s very rocky history.

In the Civil War, the Lincoln administration detained American citizens without trial. Parts of the country constituting the United States were actually battlegrounds, littered by many thousands of bodies. Congress formally suspended habeas corpus. This was a dramatic move that has been criticized to this day. Yet the Supreme Court ruled in Ex parte Milligan (1866) that even the suspension of habeas corpus did not preclude the federal court system from intervening in the military trial of U.S. citizens, and that such military commissions of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil were unconstitutional so long as the civil courts were operating. Neither Congress nor the president could overturn this constitutional protection, the Court found.

Ah, but those were quaint times. Defenders of the kind of despotic military law being proposed today often say that even citizens do not deserve due process if they are at war with their own country. This is 100% false, at least as far as the Constitution is concerned. Indeed, the founding document of this government requires additional due process to try someone for treason:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court

But this kind of talk seems awfully soft on terrorists, doesn’t it? It is not as though the framers of the Constitution had ever confronted a formidable foreign enemy. It’s only been ten years since 9/11. Of course, by the time the Constitution was ratified, the American Revolution had been over just six years, and in that war about one percent of the American population perished—the proportional equivalent of three million Americans today, or one thousand 9/11s.

Still, this is a new kind of war, as the majority of Senators clearly believe, including almost everyone from the supposed opposition party. An amendment to remove the Levin/McCain language was rejected 61 to 37. Only two Republicans—two!—Rand Paul and Mark Kirk—voted against this blatantly unconstitutional measure for military dictatorship. If anything demonstrates that the leaders of this party claiming to stand for liberty and the rule of law are in fact almost unanimously and adamantly opposed to these principles in the most important imaginable areas, this demonstrates it beyond a reasonable doubt. Indeed, the fact that John McCain, characterized in the 2008 presidential election as a “moderate” among Republicans on questions like torture, backed this bill, should reveal beyond question that had things gone differently in that election, we would not have likely gotten any sort of reprieve from the steady descent toward total tyranny that has characterized the Obama years.

And indeed Obama, for his part, offers no true alternative to the McCain-Republican line of the war on terror. The substance of this bill is essentially in line with everything Obama has done, and, for that matter, what Bush did for eight years, although without formal Congressional codification. Glenn Greenwald notes that the horrifying reality portended in this legislation “more or less describes the status quo. Military custody for accused Terrorists is already a staple of the Obama administration.” Greenwald also helpfully explains that the media’s coverage of the Obama White House’s indications that it might veto this legislation has tended to mischaracterize the situation:
[W]ith a few exceptions, the objections raised by the White House are not grounded in substantive problems with these powers, but rather in the argument that such matters are for the Executive Branch, not the Congress, to decide. In other words, the White House’s objections are grounded in broad theories of Executive Power. They are not arguing: it is wrong to deny accused Terrorists a trial. Instead they insist: whether an accused Terrorist is put in military detention rather than civilian custody is for the President alone to decide.

The United States is not a free country, not even close. There are plenty of worse places in the world, for sure, but a key characteristic of something resembling a free society that adheres to something resembling a rule of law is that the executive branch cannot use the military to indefinitely detain people, regardless of citizenship or location, indefinitely without ever explaining itself to a court or affording the detainee some process to challenge his detention.

Even with such protections, a free country requires more—a functioning legal system that respects property rights and free exchange; civil liberties including free speech and freedom from lawless search and seizure; the freedom of people to control their own bodies, homes, and businesses; protections against involuntary servitude; and a general respect for freedom of association. In all of these areas, America has lost some of its liberties, and they all must be restored if the country is ever going to deserve the label of a “free country.”

Yet one freedom without which the whole concept of liberty is a total mirage, befitting of a black comedy and best affirmed only in Orwellian doublespeak, is the freedom from unjust, lawless, indefinite imprisonment. Since 9/11, the United States has abandoned this principle in many respects. Predictably, it was war—threat of a foreign enemy—that allowed this fundamental freedom to be destroyed, initially in large part for foreigners whose rights and dignity were never even given a significant consideration as thousands were rounded up, many tortured, many killed, many detained to this day for no crime at all but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, whether seized by Pakistani war lords in exchange for American dollars or declared terrorists by a presidential military legal system several of whose own military prosecutors have resigned in disgust with the blatant injustice of the whole enterprise.

American citizenship doesn’t guarantee due process either, of course—it did not for Jose Padilla for almost four years of detention, nor for the citizens currently targeted for assassination by the Nobel Prize-winning Constitutional law professor sitting in the Oval Office. Today we are on the verge of seeing the last bits of this retreat from civilized standards of justice codified into law. Our political culture has degenerated so much that should the courts strike down these developments, I would not be surprised to see the court decisions ignored altogether or, alternatively, a successful effort to amend the Constitution and finally give the president and his military full dictatorial power over the United States.

And for what, may I ask, did Americans finally relinquish this last claim to living under a qualitatively different kind of government from the absolutist monarchies or third-rate communist despotisms that now dot our history books as artifacts of political failure and vast human misery? Oh, that’s right. Because the terrorists hate us for our freedom.

SOURCE

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

Secretary of Defense Panetta Shows How the Obama Administration Is Selling Out Israel… and US Interests

In a major address on U.S. Middle East policy to the Brookings Institution U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta gave us a clear picture of the Obama administration’s view of the region. When taken along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech on the same subject, we now know the following regarding Obama’s policy:

It is dangerously and absurdly wrong. This administration totally and completely, dangerously and disastrously for U.S. interests misunderstands the Middle East. They are 180 degrees off course, that is heading in the opposite direction of safety.

Despite the satisfactory state of relations on a purely military level, the Obama administration is not a friend of Israel, even to the extent that it was arguably so in the first two years of this presidency.

It is now an enemy; it is on the other side. Again, the issue is not mainly bilateral relations but the administration’s help and encouragement to those forces that are Israel’s biggest enemies, that want to rekindle war, and that are 100 percent against a two-state solution. And I don’t mean the Palestinian Authority, I mean the Islamists.

And the Obama administration is also a strategic enemy of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. It is also a strategic enemy to the democratic opposition forces in Iran, Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt.

Having analyzed and studied the Middle East for almost four decades I say none of this lightly. And these conclusions arise simply from watching what the administration says and does.

In his speech, Panetta has bashed Israel based on a ridiculously false premise. Here it is:

“I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view.” Nevertheless, Israel needs to take risks and particularly, “The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences.”

First, there is a peculiar phrase that I have not seen used even once to describe the Middle East events of 2011, “Arab awakening” instead of “Arab Spring.” This apparently comes from the title of a new book about these events.

But what is the origin of this phrase? The Arab Awakening was the famous book written by George Antonius (subsidized by a U.S foundation to do so, by the way) advocating Arab nationalism and opposition to Zionism in 1938. The Arab Awakening began a half-century pan-Arab struggle against Israel’s creation or existence. Might this not give us a hint of what the new “Arab Awakening” is going to do? Oh, and 1938 marks the year when Great Britain desperately tried to sell out the Jews in order to gain Arab support (for the coming war with Germany and Italy). Within two years of Antonius’s book the form the Arab Awakening took was an alliance with Nazi Germany. One of the main allies of Berlin was the Muslim Brotherhood, now coming into power in Tunisia and Egypt.

Interesting parallels. But there are three other major questions raised in Panetta’s statement.

First, does the current “Arab Awakening” imperil Israel? Yes, of course it does. By changing a reasonably friendly Egyptian government into a totally hostile Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi dominated political system closely allied with Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruler, and by helping establish Islamist regimes in Tunisia and Libya allied with this Muslim Brotherhood International; the changes create a four-member alliance intent on wiping Israel off the map.

Add to that Islamist domination of Lebanon by Hizballah, an Islamist regime in Turkey, and the continuing threat from Iran and you’ve got quite a regional situation.

Second, and more interestingly, why is the above true? The answer is as follows:

Democracy in theory is admirable but when you have masses imbued with very radical views, strong Islamist movements, and weak moderate ones, the election winners will be extremely radical Islamists. By winning massive victories, facing a weak (even sympathetic) United States, and seeing even more extreme forces becoming so popular (the Salafists in Egypt), the Islamists are emboldened to be even more radical in their behavior. Who’s going to stop them?

We are thus not facing a springtime of democracy but a springtime of extremism. The Islamists don’t want peace with Israel on any terms. They want its destruction.

More HERE

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

Dear Left: Corporatism Is Your Fault

Dear members of the moderate left,

America is suffering from rampant, run-away corporatism and crony capitalism. We are increasingly a plutocracy in which government serves the interests of elite financiers and CEOs at the expense of everyone else.

You know this and you complain loudly about it. But the problem is your fault. You caused this state of affairs. Stop it.

Unlike we libertarianish people, you people actually hold and have been holding significant political power in the US over the past 50 years. What have you done with this power? You’ve greased the corporatist machine every chance you’ve gotten. You’ve made things worse, not better. Our current problems are your fault. You need to stop.

We told you this would happen, but you wouldn’t listen. You complain, rightly, that regulatory agencies are controlled by the very corporations they are supposed to constrain. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create power—and you people love to create power—the unscrupulous seek to capture that power for their personal benefit. Time and time again, they succeed. We told you that would happen, and we gave you an accurate account of how it would happen.

You complain, perhaps rightly, that corporations are just too big. Well, yeah, we told you that would happen. When you create complicated tax codes, complicated regulatory regimes, and complicated licensing rules, these regulations naturally select for larger and larger corporations. We told you that would happen. Of course, these increasingly large corporations then capture these rules, codes, and regulations to disadvantage their competitors and exploit the rest of us. We told you that would happen.

It’s not rocket science. It’s public choice economics. You recognized, rightly, that public choice economics was a threat to your ideology. So, you didn’t listen, because you didn’t want to be wrong. Public choice predicted that the government programs you created with the goal of fixing problems would often instead exacerbate those problems. Well, the evidence is in. You were wrong and public choice theory was right. If you have any decency, it is time to admit you were wrong and change. Stop making things worse.

You spent the past fifty years empowering corporations and the most unscrupulous of the rich. You created rampant moral hazard in the financial sector. You created the system that socializes risks but privatizes profit. You created the system that creates a revolving door between Obama’s staff and Goldman Sachs. There’s a reason why Wall Street throws money at Obama. It’s because you, the moderate left, are Wall Street’s biggest supporters. Oh, I know you complain about Wall Street. But your actions speak louder than your words.

SOURCE

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

ELSEWHERE

Depression-era labor laws harmful in modern global economy: "Chalk up another 'victory' for unions as American Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday. The reason? High labor costs compared to its competitors. It seems the unions were demanding things such as a 10 percent signing bonus followed by 7 percent raises in each of the next three years for pilots"

The regulatory thicket: "In the seemingly endless debate about how to put Americans back to work, one solution dare not speak its name: deregulation. Yet if implemented correctly, it would provide an almost cost-free stimulus of a trillion dollars or more. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the regulatory burden on our economy is a staggering $1.75 trillion annually. The Obama administration is apparently in denial over that figure."

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

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

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

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

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)

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