Saturday, December 17, 2011

De mortuis nil nisi bonum?

I am afraid I am going to disregard that bit of Roman wisdom. The recently deceased Christopher Hitchens has been rather eulogized in the press and elsewhere so I think the other side needs to be put.

His virulent outpouring of hate towards Christians deprives him of any right to respect in my view. If I were a Christian, I think I would see the hand of the Lord in moving him prematurely to his final destination.

Since I am an atheist, however, I note that his death from esophageal cancer was almost certainly the result of his lifelong heavy drinking and smoking. And if he had had the comfort of religion he might not have needed such props to his mood.

His brother Peter, who is very close to him in age and appearance, appears to have no particular health problems but Peter is a committed communicant of the Church of England

Peter also abandoned Leftism much sooner and more completely than Christopher. Chistopher moved towards conservatism on many issues in his later years but that inner fountain of Leftist hate never left him and he vented it on Christians. In my view atheism makes religion a matter of no concern but if you are a Leftist atheist, it seems to be grabbed as an opportunity for hate.

Despite their many differences, Peter has written a generous tribute to his brother here. I think it shows that Peter lacks the hate that drove his brother.

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Should it be Newt?

His past policy positions render most conservatives unenthusiastic about Gingrich so I thought the following endorsement of him by Dick McDonald might be of interest

Let’s face it the 2012 presidential race is going to be brutal. The GOP candidate will have to be magician to overcome the resistance to massive benefit cuts in the 185 Federal welfare programs. As so many in America presently enjoy those benefits the prospect of losing them will be a major pocketbook issue. The Democrats and their pillow boys in the media will scare everyone silly with their billion-dollar ad campaign focused on “heartless” Republicans.

The GOP essentially has two potential presidential candidates - Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Both men are famously successful; Romney in the private sector as a venture capitalist and hedge fund manager at Bain Capital, savior of the Salt Lake Olympics and Governor of Massachusetts; Gingrich in the public sector as the leader of the Republican resurgence in 1994, welfare reformer, cost cutter and creator of surpluses.

The question the voters will have to answer is which man can beat Obama and then fix the economy. It is pointless to rehash their negatives – they both have too many. Therefore let’s concentrate on the two important issues.

Who Can Beat Obama?

As we are learning in the present GOP debates the people are really responding to both style and content. The people are desperately looking for the one who can be believed, presents evidence of past success in major governmental accomplishments and measures up to Obama’s level of oratory.

Although I believe Romney has improved in the debates I still find him stiff and defensive underneath his controlled demeanor. When push comes to shove I believe he would be a stiff Nixon type to Obama’s Kennedy. He doesn’t settle in for the fight and enjoy it like the historian Gingrich does. Edge to Gingrich.

Fix the Economy

Unfortunately for Romney he can’t hold a candle to Newt’s success in 1994-1988. Although he was working with a Democrat legislature and vetoed 500 bills Romney still ushered in the precursor to Obama care. Newt on the other hand was working against an immensely popular Democrat President. Romney’s popularity with moderates and independents bespeaks of a compromiser. He often speaks of sitting down with Democrats to save Social Security by extending the age of retirement and applying means testing. In my opinion the last thing the GOP needs is a compromiser to fix the economy. The problem is much bigger than one that can be reached by compromise.

Newt proved in 1994 to 1998 that he was the real deal. He was a gunslinger that faced down his opponents and did really big things – things like we face today. Many say this election is a seminal event in America. They fear that America will slide into a European nanny state unless we stop the Alinski, Cloward and Piven-train in its tracks. I agree that we have to stop it; if not now then soon. Edge to Gingrich

I believe Newt is the gun we should hire. His promise to follow up within four hours every whistle stop speech Obama makes with an opposition response until Obama agrees to Lincoln-Douglas type debates is priceless. Every time I hear Obama speak I want to go right through the TV set too. In this day of social networking this tactic will destroy Obama until he lays down on Newt’s operating table for dissection just like Douglas did for Lincoln.

The American people demand confrontation just like they do in sports. They want to see the players battle it out in front of them. The in-pocket media won’t be able to stop this tactic – they can’t cede this affair to the web.

I don’t think the final battle will go to the unsuccessful street organizer but to the historian. A historian who knows what is at stake. He will temper his demeanor, actions and proposals to create his own history of success. To do that he must make it our success first.

Via email

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Congress Approves watered-down Defense Bill

The civil rights protections are a bit nebulous but they should provide a basis for appeal against any abuses. I have highlighted that part in red

Congress passed a massive $662 billion defense bill Thursday after months of wrangling over how to handle captured terrorist suspects without violating Americans' constitutional rights.

A last-minute compromise produced a truce but lawmakers said the fight's not over.

The Senate voted 86-13 for the measure and will send it to President Obama for his signature. The bill would authorize money for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and national security programs in the Energy Department for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Two provisions have created the most controversy.

One would require military custody for foreign terrorist suspects linked to Al-Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in plotting or attacking the United States. The suspects could be transferred to civilian custody for trial, and the president would have final say on determining how the transfer would occur. Under pressure from Obama and his national security team, lawmakers added language that says nothing in the bill may be "construed to affect the existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other domestic law enforcement agency with regard to a covered person, regardless whether such covered person is held in military custody."

The attorney general, in consultation with the defense secretary, would decide on whether to try the individual in federal court or by military tribunal. The president could waive the entire requirement based on national security.

The second provision would deny suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation's borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. It reaffirms the post-Sept. 11 authorization for the use of military force that allows indefinite detention of enemy combatants.

The provision includes a Senate-passed compromise that says nothing in the legislation may be "construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States."

Conservative Republicans, Democrats and civil rights groups have warned that the provision would allow the government to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely.

"If these provisions deny American citizens their due process rights under a new, nebulous set of directives, it not only would make us less safe, but it will serve as an unprecedented threat to our constitutional liberties," said Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she and several other lawmakers, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., would introduce legislation to ensure that no U.S. citizen is held indefinitely without trial.

More HERE

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Government Already Blocking Internet Access

By Robert Romano — Since being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) has drawn strong opposition from Internet companies large and small, as well as civil libertarians and grassroots organizations. One of the major criticisms is that the legislation would give the government power to restrict access to websites that are deemed to be engaged in Internet piracy or other forms of copyright infringement.

But one thing that the American people may not be aware of is that the government, under existing forfeiture laws, is already blocking access to domestic websites in the name of protecting copyright. And in some cases they are being seized prior to any trial or even a hearing taking place.

That’s what happened to www.dajaz1.com, a popular music blog that was seized by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency for over a year, only to be returned just this month without any criminal charges being filed. ICE had to admit there was never any probable cause for the seizure in the first place.

And despite turning off the website for over a year, www.dajaz1.com has not received any compensation as a result, even though the Fifth Amendment provides for such payment.

The allegation apparently originated from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) itself, even though it turned out in the end that the allegedly infringing material had, the website says, been pre-released by music artists and record labels themselves.

Now, Congress wants to take this show on the road, and force search engines, social networks, file-sharing sites, and other Internet service providers to block access to sites overseas that it says would otherwise qualify for seizure under existing domestic forfeiture laws. Again, without any trial, a hearing, or even any notice.

In fact, the provisions of SOPA, even with the manager’s amendment, provide even less of an opportunity to challenge the decision than even the numerous domain seizures executed by ICE to date. They pivot off a mere court order without any hearing, and then result in a string of actions being taken, including blocking the website, targeting payment and ad services for the site, and removing the site from search engines.

Service providers are supposed to simply take the word of the Attorney General, and the judge who rubber-stamped the court order, that the material on the site is in fact infringing — even though it has not been proven in a court of law. Nor will it ever be proven in the case of foreign websites, since in most cases they will lack access to U.S. courts. The site overseas is simply supposed to take it in the shorts.

But, as in the case of www.dajaz1.com, what if the Attorney General gets it wrong?

The application of forfeiture laws to the seizure of Internet domain names is a fairly new practice, and was not intended under the original construction of the laws. It may not be the best first step to take.

For example, why not simply require a cease-and-desist takedown notice to the owner of a website from the intellectual property holder himself prior to civil or criminal actions being taken, or property being seized? In the case of social networks or any website that allows users to upload content, the owner of a website may not even be aware that infringing content is being posted.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) already provides safe harbor provisions for websites that provide easy takedown procedures. But even those are apparently being abused, as in the case of Megaupload, which posted a video on YouTube promoting its site, only to have Universal Media Group order it removed — even though Megaupload says the video, “The Mega Song,” the artwork, and the music contained therein were all original, and the celebrity endorsers all provided signed agreements to have their likenesses used.

Megaupload has now sued in federal district court in the Northern District of California to affirm its rights to the video and to restrain Universal from issuing any more takedown orders. For its part, Megaupload has joined the fight against SOPA.

Said Megaupload CEO David Robb, “After this demonstration of the abuse of power by UMG, we are certain that such an instrument of Internet censorship should not be put into the hands of corporations.”

If intellectual property holders are already abusing DMCA takedown procedures and federal forfeiture laws, what will stop them from abusing SOPA? Nobody likes Internet piracy, but censoring activities otherwise protected by the First Amendment in the name of copyright is a travesty.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

CA: Chuck E. Cheese’s fined … for child-labor violations: "Nine Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants -- known for their motto 'where a kid can be a kid' -- have been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor for allowing young workers to operate dangerous equipment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nine Bay Area branches were fined a total of $28,000 for violating federal child labor laws. The restaurants allowed minors to operate trash compactors and run dough-mixing machines, a breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act." [Note: These "children" are in their late teens, in order to be allowed to work there at all. It sounds more about union work-rules than protecting kids!]

Muslim grenade attack kills five, injures 119 in Belgium: "A grenade and gun attack in this eastern Belgian city [Liege] left five people dead, including the attacker, and 119 wounded Tuesday, authorities said. ... [Nordine] Amrani was on an elevated walkway above the square when he began throwing grenades down into the crowd and then firing, before shooting himself in the head with his revolver, the source said."

Engineer: Iran hijacked US drone: "Iran guided the CIA's 'lost' stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran. ... Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible."

France: Chirac convicted of corruption: "In a landmark decision, a French court convicted former president Jacques Chirac on Thursday of embezzling government money while he was mayor of Paris and handed him a two-year suspended sentence. The ruling against Chirac, at 79 a grandfatherly figure who is widely admired in the polls, stained a long record of political service that started under Charles de Gaulle and included two terms as president, from 1995 to 2007."

FDR’s noble lie: "Most historians when pressed on the matter now grudgingly concede that Roosevelt lied when he told the American people that he would never send their boys to fight into foreign wars, but they excuse his treachery as a 'noble lie,' a deception perpetrated against the public by the political elite to achieve a supposed greater good."

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

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

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

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Israel, Isaac and the Return of Human Sacrifice

Why have liberal Westerners turned their backs on the Jewish state?

By DAVID MAMET

As Iran races toward the bomb, many observers seem to think the greater threat is the possibility that Israel might act against its nuclear program. Which raises the question: What should it mean if, God forbid, militant Islam through force of arms, and with the supine permission of the West, succeeds in the destruction of the Jewish State?

1) That the Jewish People would no longer have their ancestral home;

2) That they should have no home.

At the Versailles Peace Conference, Woodrow Wilson stated as an evident moral proposition that each people should have the right to national self-determination. The West, thereafter, fought not for empire, nor national expansion, but in self-defense, or in defense of this proposition. But, for the Jewish State, the Liberal West puts the proposition aside.

Since its foundation Israel has turned the other cheek. Eric Hoffer wrote that Israel is the only country the world expects to act like Christians. Some Jews say that the Arabs have a better public relations apparatus. They do not need one. For the Liberal West does not need convincing. It is thrilled merely to accept an excuse to rescind what it regards as a colossal error.

The Liberal West has, for decades, indulged itself in an orgy of self-flagellation. We have enjoyed comfort and security, but these, in the absence of gratitude and patriotism, cause insecurity. This attempted cure for insecurity can be seen in protestations of our worthlessness, and the indictment of private property.

But no one in the affluent West and no one among the various protesters of various supposed injustices is prepared to act in accordance with his protestations. The opponent of "The Corporation" is still going to use the iPhone which permits him to mass with his like. The celebrities acting out at Occupy meetings will still invest their surplus capital, and the supposed champion of the dispossessed in the Levant will not only scoff at American Indian claims to land he has come to understand as his—he will lobby the City Council to have the homeless shelter built anywhere but on his block.

The brave preceptors who would like to end Poverty, War, Exploitation, Colonialism, Inequality and so on, stop at the proclamation. How may they synchronize their wise fervor with their inaction?

How may they still the resultant anxiety? The Left's answer is the oldest in the world: by appeal to The Gods. But how may The Gods be appeased? The immemorial answer is: By human sacrifice.

What is the essence of the Torah? It is not the Ten Commandments, these were known, and the practice of most aspired to by every civilization. Rabbi Lawrence Kushner teaches they are merely a Calling Card; to wit: "remember me . . . ?"

The essence of the Torah is the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. The God of Hosts spoke to Abraham, as the various desert gods had spoken to the nomads for thousands of years: "If you wish me to relieve your anxiety, give me the most precious thing you have."

So God's call to Abraham was neither unusual nor, perhaps, unexpected. God had told Abraham to leave his people and his home, and go to the place which God would point out to him. And God told Abraham to take his son up the mountain and kill him, as humans had done for tens of thousands of years.

Now, however, for the first time in history, the narrative changed. The sacrifice, Isaac, spoke back. He asked his father, "Where is the Goat we are to sacrifice?" This was the voice of conscience, and Abraham's hand, as it descended with the knife, was stayed. This was the Birth of the West, and the birth of the West's burden, which is conscience.

Previously the anxiety and fear attendant upon all human life was understood as Fear of the Gods, and dealt with by propitiation, which is to say by sacrifice. Now, however, the human burden was not to give The Gods what one imagined, in one's fear, that they might want, but do, in conscience, those things one understood God to require.

In abandonment of the state of Israel, the West reverts to pagan sacrifice, once again, making a burnt offering not of that which one possesses, but of that which is another's. As Realpolitik, the Liberal West's anti-Semitism can be understood as like Chamberlain's offering of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, a sop thrown to terrorism. On the level of conscience, it is a renewal of the debate on human sacrifice.

SOURCE

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The fifth horseman of the apocalypse

Spengler's gloom below stems from an assumption that present population trends will continue. He could be right. But such straight-line extrapolations are usually wrong

Population decline is the elephant in the world's living room. As a matter of arithmetic, we know that the social life of most developed countries will break down within two generations. Two out of three Italians and three of four Japanese will be elderly dependents by 2050. If present fertility rates hold, the number of Germans will fall by 98% over the next two centuries. No pension and health care system can support such an inverted population pyramid. Nor is the problem limited to the industrial nations. Fertility is falling at even faster rates - indeed, at rates never before registered anywhere - in the Muslim world. The world's population will fall by as much as a fifth between the middle and the end of the 21st century, by far the worst decline in human history.

The world faces a danger more terrible than the worst Green imaginings. The European environmentalist who wants to shrink the world's population to reduce carbon emissions will spend her declining years in misery, for there will not be enough Europeans alive a generation from now to pay for her pension and medical care. For the first time in world history, the birth rate of the whole developed world is well below replacement, and a significant part of it has passed the demographic point of no return.

But Islamic society is even more fragile. As Muslim fertility shrinks at a rate demographers have never seen before, it is converging on Europe's catastrophically low fertility as if in time-lapse photography. The average 30-year-old Iranian woman comes from a family of six children, but she will bear only one or two children during her lifetime. Turkey and Algeria are just behind Iran on the way down, and most of the other Muslim countries are catching up quickly. By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe. The Islamic world will have the same proportion of dependent elderly as the industrial countries - but one-tenth the productivity. A time bomb that cannot be defused is ticking in the Muslim world.

Imminent population collapse makes radical Islam more dangerous, not less so. For in their despair, radical Muslims who can already taste the ruin of their culture believe that they have nothing to lose.

Conventional geopolitical theory, which is dominated by material factors such as territory, natural resources, and command of technology, does not address how peoples will behave under existential threat. Geopolitical models fail to resemble the real world in which we live, where the crucial issue is the willingness or unwillingness of a people inhabiting a given territory to bring a new generation into the world.

Population decline, the decisive issue of the 21st century, will cause violent upheavals in the world order. Countries facing fertility dearth, such as Iran, are responding with aggression. Nations confronting their own mortality may choose to go down in a blaze of glory. Conflicts may be prolonged beyond the point at which there is any rational hope of achieving strategic aims - until all who wish to fight to the death have taken the opportunity to do so.

Why do individuals, groups, and nations act irrationally, often at the risk of self-destruction? Part of the problem lies in our definition of rationality. Under normal circumstances we think it irrational for a middle-aged man to cash in his insurance policy and spend money as fast as possible. But if the person in question has a terminal illness and no heirs, we think it quite reasonable to spend it all quickly, like Otto Kringelein in Grand Hotel or his updated equivalent, Queen Latifah's character in The Last Holiday. And if we know that we shall presently die of rabies, what is to prevent us from biting everyone we dislike? Countries sometimes suffer the equivalent of terminal illness. What seems suicidal to Americans may appear rational to an existentially challenged people confronting its imminent mortality.

Self-immolation of endangered peoples is sadly common. Stone-age cultures often disintegrate upon contact with the outside world. Their culture breaks down, and suicides skyrocket. An Australian researcher writes about "suicide contagion or cluster deaths - the phenomenon of indigenous people, particularly men from the same community taking their own lives at an alarming rate". Canada's Aboriginal Health Foundation reports, "The overall suicide rate among First Nation communities is about twice that of the total Canadian population; the rate among Inuit is still higher - 6 to 11 times higher than the general population." Suicide is epidemic among Amazon tribes.

But are these dying remnants of primitive societies really so different from the rest of us? Mortality stalks most of the peoples of the world - not this year or next, but within the horizon of human reckoning. A good deal of the world seems to have lost the taste for life. Fertility has fallen so far in parts of the industrial world that languages such as Ukrainian and Estonian will be endangered within a century and German, Japanese, and Italian within two.

The repudiation of life among advanced countries living in prosperity and peace has no historical precedent, except perhaps in the anomie of Greece in its post-Alexandrian decline and Rome during the first centuries of the Common Era. But Greece fell to Rome, and Rome to the barbarians. In the past, nations that foresaw their own demise fell to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Plague, Famine, and Death. Riding point for the old quartet in today's more civilized world is a Fifth Horseman: loss of faith. Today's cultures are dying of apathy, not by the swords of their enemies.

The Arab suicide bomber is the spiritual cousin of the despondent aboriginal of the Amazon rain forest. And European apathy is the opposite side of the coin of Islamic extremism. Both apathetic Europeans and radical Muslims have lost their connection to the past and their confidence in the future. There is not a great deal of daylight between European resignation to cultural extinction at the hundred-year horizon, and the Islamist boast, "You love life, and we love death." Which brings us to Spengler's Universal Law #2: When the nations of the world see their demise not as a distant prospect over the horizon, but as a foreseeable outcome, they perish of despair. Like the terminally ill patient cashing in his insurance money, a culture that anticipates its own extinction has a different standard of rationality than does conventional political science.

Situations of this sort have arisen frequently in history, but never as frequently as today, when so many of the world's cultures are not expected to survive the next two centuries. A people facing cultural extinction may well choose war, if war offers even a slim chance of survival. That is just how radical Islamists view the predicament of traditional Muslim society in the face of modernity. The Islamists fear that if they fail, their religion and culture will disappear into the maelstrom of the modern world. Many of them rather would die fighting.

More HERE

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Class Consciousness Is Back

It's very rare for me to reproduce something from a Leftist source but what is said below is factual -- as all academic students of social class (of whom I am one) will attest.

The difference is that the writer below probably thinks something can be done about it. I do not. As Jesus said: "The poor ye always have with you". Most of the factors producing poverty are hereditary. From Bismarck and Disraeli on, however, conservatives have always supported some measures to alleviate the burdens of poverty


Class position affects everything: access to healthcare, education, where you live, careers, income, tax breaks, who you marry (and when), who fights and dies for our country, and on and on.

Multiple times and on multiple days, my local NPR station actually used the “c” word on the air. No, not that “c” word–it was “class.” Yes, that most unmentionable of topics: socio-economic class and how it determines the fate of millions of Americans.

Our vernacular obscures the country’s very real class divisions, with crippling–even lethal–consequences. The term “middle class” is used capaciously in the United States to include almost everyone, while the term “working class” is eschewed (it sounds way too Marxist). Even the “99%” signs and chants of Occupy protesters occlude the multiple and often stark divisions within that 99%.

Class position, of course, affects everything: access to healthcare, education, where you live, what restaurants you eat in, nutrition, careers, income, tax breaks, how much credit costs you, who you marry (and when), who fights and dies for our country, and on and on. But with our media’s national obsessions about gender, race and ethnicity, class may be the most under-covered feature of structural inequality in the country. In November, NPR-affiliate Michigan Radio aired an 11-part series called “Culture of Class,” which rolled back the stone, showing what lurks in America’s cave of inequities.

Let’s start with the legal system. “There, perhaps, is no moment in life when the difference in class is more apparent than when you are accused of a crime,” reporter Lester Graham notes in his piece on class and the courts. If you’re upper-middle class, or even truly middle class, you hire a lawyer, and the richer you are, the more choices you have.

But if you’re a low-income person and are assigned a public defender, you are especially screwed in Michigan: The state ranks 44th in public defense funding. The report also noted that in Detroit, five part-time public defenders handle caseloads up to seven times the national average for full-time public defenders; they get to spend an average of 32 minutes on each case. Graham then put a public face on these statistics: David Tucker, whose public defender was totally unprepared for court. The result? Tucker lost four years of his life in jail before his conviction was finally overturned.

In the Michigan Radio installment on military service, we were reminded (and we need to be) that we’ve been at war for the last decade. People sign up for the military, of course, out of patriotism, but many also do so because they can’t find work, especially in Michigan. And once they get out? The unemployment rate for veterans is just over 13 percent, and higher for post-9/11 vets.

We also like to think that debtor’s prison is a relic of the 19th century. Not so for the down and out. Let’s say you’ve become disabled, or lost your job, and owe child support that you can’t pay. A mother in Michigan who found herself in that situation was thrown in jail for 43 days until the Michigan Innocence Project and the ACLU got her out.

Exposés about racial segregation in housing, and especially about redlining­–banks refusing to lend money to residents of low-income, primarily African-American neighborhoods–made that practice illegal (although it still persists). But segregation based on class? Perfectly legal and widely practiced. It is low-income people who have to live next to odor and pollution-spewing factories, incinerators and garbage dumps, with the often-deadly health costs that accompany living near heavy industry. One woman living in southwest Detroit counted 17 neighbors who have died of cancer.

Indeed, the report noted that while racial segregation in housing is on the decline, between the rise of walled communities on one end of the spectrum and foreclosures on the other, class segregation is increasing. Another effect? As the series noted, “These days in many areas people end up only seeing and talking to people who make the kind of money they do, live in the size of house they do, have the cares and concerns of people just like them. They don’t interact with people of other classes. With no interaction, there’s no basis for empathy for those ‘others.’”

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Senators Who Love the Government But Hate America

Within days after my article on due process and presumption of innocence, the U.S. Senate voted to empower the U.S. military to apprehend and detain indefinitely anyone in America, based on the whim of the soldier or military commander, and it will probably eventually include any armed agent of government including local police. As Jacob Hornberger noted, this new provision will codify the U.S. as just another one of many dictatorships throughout world history.

But, even though al Qaeda is virtually non-existent, the Washington imbeciles want to expand and extend the "War on Terror" anyway and include the entire U.S. territory as a "battlefield." How can we explain this? As Justin Raimondo speculated, the real reason for this new dictatorial power may be because these senators know that America is headed for economic collapse and civil unrest. But as I pointed out in my article on martial law, whether there are terrorists or not, or whether there is a prosperous or collapsing economy, all human beings have inalienable rights, among them the right to presumption of innocence and due process. Any government violations of those rights are crimes against the people, pure and simple.

Sen. Lindsey Graham commented that, "If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer," in his un-American opposition to due process and his approval of apprehending and detaining innocent civilians indefinitely. But, as I asked in my earlier article: Who will determine whether or not one has "betrayed one’s country"? Graham and the other pro-dictatorship government bureaucrats do not seem able to distinguish between someone who actually has acted (or been found guilty of acting) against one’s fellow Americans and someone who is accused of doing so.

Graham wants to empower all military personnel (and probably any armed government official) to detain indefinitely those who are merely accused of doing something, without evidence brought forward, without having a lawyer, without access to their families, no due process whatsoever. This is a banana republic dictatorship, and it is thoroughly un-American, thoroughly anti-liberty.

Additionally, Graham hinted at curtailing political expression as protected by the First Amendment, and thus, given past examples of government censorship since 9/11, Americans who criticize the U.S. government’s "war on terror" could be declared as "enemy combatants," and apprehended and detained without charges or trial. If these senators have their way, merely questioning the government’s actions and questioning the legitimacy of these wars would be considered "terrorism."

The senators are now turning the military against the American people. That is treasonous, according to the U.S. Constitution, as turning the military against the people would be the federal government’s "levying war" against the "United States," that is, the various states of the union, and thus against the people of the states. I have noted before that such treasonous acts have already occurred in America.

SOURCE

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Poverty Doesn't Make Thieves -- Liberalism Does

Ben Shapiro

This week, the Los Angeles Times reported a wave of theft plaguing area high schools. The objects at stake? Tubas. According to South Gate High School music teacher Ruben Gonzalez Jr., thieves broke into the band room and stole nothing but tubas. A few weeks before, thieves took eight sousaphones from a Compton high school. Either the original cast of "The Music Man" is criminally eager for a revival, or these thieves are selling the horns on the black market.

Now the left loves to claim that crime waves like this are caused by poverty. If you're poor, the logic goes, you'll have to steal a loaf of bread -- or a trombone -- to feed your child. Criminality thus becomes a moral act.

There's only one problem with this logic: It's absolutely wrong.

During the Great Depression, levels of crime actually dropped. During the 1920s, when life was free and easy, so was crime. During the 1930s, when the entire American economy fell into a government-owned alligator moat, crime was nearly non-existent. During the 1950s and 1960s, when the economy was excellent, crime rose again.

In Britain, where the social safety net is more like a social swaddling cloth, crime rates other than murder are significantly higher than in the United States. Actually, the highest rate of car theft in the world is in peaceful, socialist, unicorn-riding Switzerland. Next comes New Zealand. Then Britain, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Scotland, Italy, Canada and Norway. That's right -- the U.S. isn't even in the top ten.

Why is that? It's not that these other countries are impoverished -- far from it. It's not that their poor are Dickensian urchins following the advice of newfangled Fagins. It's that these countries have bred generations of people who think they are entitled to the property of others.

That mentality predominates in poor areas more than rich ones. There's a reason for that: Those who succeed economically in a free market system do so based on the notion that they don't deserve anyone else's property unless they work for it. They don't sit back waiting for someone to take care of them. They don't wait for welfare checks. They go out into the world and earn their way forward.

In poor areas, the opposite is true. Spend five minutes with many poor inner city kids and the sense of entitlement drips from them. Many of these folks are refugee thugs from "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre": "Work? We ain't got no work. We don't need no work! I don't have to show you no stinkin' work!" And, by the way, they don't need no stinkin' badges, either -- because the people with the badges work for them, teaching them that sense of entitlement, impoverishing hard workers on behalf of those who think they're owed something by the world.

Persistent poverty, in short, is more often than not a moral problem, not an economic one -- stealing springs from that same moral failing. That is why affordable housing, provided for free by the government, is usually covered in graffiti, trashed and burned out. You'll never see a private, single-family home treated like that by its owner.

There's a basic rule in business: If you tell people that a product is free, they treat it like it has no value. We've spent the last 70 years in this country telling our poor that money and property are free. Of course, they don't attribute any value to money or property, then. Of course, they treat others' property as though it's valueless, to be stolen or taken at whim.

The liberalism of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and President Obama hasn't turned thieves into sudden lovers of big-band swing. It's turned more and more Americans into thieves. Don't blame poverty. Blame morality. And blame a government and a society that have abandoned the notion of responsibility for juvenile delinquency.

SOURCE

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Job Creators Fighting Back

John Stossel

Some politicians claim that politicians create jobs. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says, "My job is to create jobs."

What hubris! Government has no money of its own. All it does is take from some people and give to others. That may create some jobs, but only by leaving less money in the private sector for job creation.

Actually, it's worse than that. Since government commandeers scarce resources by force and doesn't have to peddle its so-called services on the market to consenting buyers, there's no feedback mechanism to indicate if those services are worth more to people than what they were forced to go without.

The only people who create real, sustainable jobs are in private businesses -- if they're unsubsidized.

Some CEOs are upset that people don't appreciate what they do. So they formed a group called the Job Creators Alliance.

Brad Anderson, former CEO of Best Buy, joined because he wants to counter the image of businesspeople as evil. When he was young, Anderson himself thought they were evil. But then he "stumbled into a business career" by going to work in a stereo store.

"I watched what happens in building a business. (My store,) The Sound of Music, which became Best Buy, was 11 years (old) before I made a dollar of profit." In 36 years, he turned that store into a $50 billion company.

Tom Stemberg, founder of Staples, got involved with the Job Creators Alliance because he's annoyed that the government makes a tough job much tougher.

He complains that government mostly creates jobs -- that kill jobs. "They're creating $300 million worth of jobs in the new consumer financial protection bureau," Stemberg said, "which I don't think is going to do much for productivity in America. We're creating all kinds of jobs trying to live up to Dodd-Frank ... and those jobs don't create much productivity.

Now, Stemberg runs a venture capital business. "I helped create over 100,000 jobs myself," he said. "Pinkberry and City Sports and J. McLaughlin are growing and adding employment."

To do that, he had to overcome hurdles placed in the way by government. "All that we get is grief and more hoops to jump through and more forms to fill out and more regulations to comply with," complained Stemberg. "Fastest-growing investment segment in venture capitalism: compliance software."

Compliance is the big word in business today. Every business has to have a compliance department. But resources are scarce, so these departments suck away creativity. It's one reason that these successful businesspeople don't think they could do today what they did in the past.

Mike Whalen, CEO of Heart of America Group, said he got started with loans from banks that took a chance on an unknown: "It is not an underwriting standard that can be dictated by Dodd-Frank with 55 pages. It's kind of a gut instinct."

But John Allison, who built BB&T Corp. into the 12th biggest bank in America, says that "gut instinct" is now illegal. "It would be very difficult to do what we did then today. It was semi-venture capital thing. The government regulations (today) are so tight, including setting credit standards, particularly since the so-called financial crisis and since they ... changed the credit standards in the banking industry, making it very hard for the banks to finance small businesses."

These successful businessmen realize that in one way, they profit from the regulatory burden. They can absorb the costs. That gives them an advantage over smaller competitors.

"Somebody who wants to compete with us can't because we can afford to hire the guys that can read this stuff and to keep us in compliance with the law. They can't," Anderson said.

Politicians rarely understand this. One who learned it too late was Sen. George McGovern. After he left office, he started a small bed-and-breakfast and hit the regulatory wall he helped create. Later, he wrote, "I wish during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties businesspeople face. ... We are choking off business opportunity."

Wish they learned that before leaving office.

SOURCE

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Port Whine: Big Labor's Occu-Punks

Michelle Malkin

Scruffy progressive protesters locked themselves together across railroad tracks, blocked traffic and shouted profanities at police on Tuesday in a coordinated "West Coast Port Shutdown." Truckers lost wages. Shippers lost business. This is what the Occupy Wall Street movement calls "victory."

Aging Big Labor bosses toasted one another from the sidelines as they declared the "rebirth of the labor movement." What's really going on? It's an old-school power grab by a decrepit union wrapped in self-deluded social media do-goodism.

Peace-loving agitators wielding guitars and iPhones may earnestly believe they stood up to corruption and stood up for workers this week. A socialist website promoted the port shutdown as an expression of "solidarity" for the workers' "struggle." One Oakland, Calif., agitator decried "exploitation by capitalism" as the shiftless busily divided their work blockages into what they called -- chortle -- "shifts."

In reality, it's the young Occupiers who are being exploited as human shields for the economy-strangling agenda of the violence-prone International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). These ignorant punks are putting the "front" in "waterfront."

Few remember now that the left's three-month-long "Day of Rage" festivities kicked off in September at the Port of Longview, Wash. -- a far cry from Goldman Sachs and the rest of New York's financial district. Unionized longshoremen stormed the port there and took a half-dozen guards hostage. They damaged railroad cars, dumped grain, smashed windows, cut rail brake lines and blocked a train for hours while the ILWU and AFL-CIO cheered them on.

The violence followed a similar outburst in July, when longshoremen tore down a chain link fence on EGT's private property and blocked railroad tracks to prevent a grain delivery -- a clear violation of the 1946 Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime to employ robbery or extortion to impede interstate commerce.

Despite breaking federal law, violating a judicial restraining order and committing systematically planned sabotage and trespassing, most of the union thugs got away with wrist slaps. The ILWU received a $250,000 fine to cover damages from the vandalism -- a fine that will be paid with rank-and-file workers' hard-earned dues money.

So, what's their beef? No, it's not about the "right" of unions to "organize." It's not about the welfare of the "99 percent." It's about one union losing its seven-decade-old grip on West Coast port operations. It's about six-figure-salaried union suits at the ILWU, established by bloody radical Marxist Harry Bridges, throwing a lawless tantrum against economic efficiency and technological progress.

The ILWU is trying to break the will of EGT Development, a multinational agribusiness that recently built a $200 million grain terminal in Longview. It's a state-of-the-art facility with unprecedented automation features that will speed unloading, increase shipping capacity and bring in tens of millions of dollars in lease and tax payments alone to the region.

EGT needs a nimble 21st-century workforce. The entitled overlords of the ILWU, who have ruled West Coast ports since the 1930s, are demanding a monopoly on the company's master control system, control over the work hour structure, excessive mandatory breaks and extortionist man-hour "premiums" to bail out the union's underfunded pension. "We've worked these elevators since 1934, and we've always been in that master console," local ILWU President Dan Coffman told public radio.

EGT refused and instead brought in an outside contractor with a different union to fill about 50 jobs. But the ILWU water-carriers in the Occupy movement don't care about those workers. Or the American farmers who have been hurt by the port saboteurs. Or the independent non-union truckers who were forced to forgo work in the name of worker empowerment. Trucker Hai Ngo of San Leandro, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle: "The Occupy people handed out flyers to us, but never asked what we thought before they planned this. I will lose about $350, and at holiday time that hurts. It's just a waste of our time and money, and won't accomplish anything."

Unfortunately, Ngo and blue-collar workers like him are collateral damage in the ILWU's ruthless battle for Big Labor survival. Coffman, who has stoked violence for months, vowed earlier this year that "we will fight to the end to secure what is rightfully our turf."

And now the gasping longshoremen's union has a whole new set of Occu-tools to do the dirty work for them.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Catholic Bishops: Congress Has a ‘Moral Obligation’ to Protect the ‘Life & Dignity’ of the Unemployed

The bishops are for once being loyal to church doctrine. What they say is in accord with encyclicals from "De rerum novarum" to "Centesimus annus" -- both of which take a middle way between capitalism and socialism.

But it is the old welfare controversy all over again. Britain has welfare payments of unlimited duration for all and has ended up with a large population segment that is simply unwilling to work. In some families no-one has worked for generations. British employers constantly complain that they have to hire immigrants as no locals are interested in taking the jobs on offer. So the GOP are right to be very hesitant about falling into that trap


A new letter that was released on Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops calls on Congress to extend unemployment insurance, while seemingly claiming that such protection falls under the “right to life and subsistence.”

The letter, which was sent through Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, chairman of the Conference’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, says that it is Congress’s “moral obligation” to protect the “life and dignity” of the unemployed. In a press release, the USCCB writes:
Bishop Blaire wrote that the current “pervasive economic pain” includes a median length of joblessness of 10 months, and over four job seekers for every opening. He wrote that Pope John Paul II called such conditions in “a real social disaster” and that the pope said the “obligation to provide unemployment benefits” to workers and their families is a fundamental principle of “the right to life and subsistence.”

The timing of the letter, as Commonwealth notes, is going to make it that much more contentious. House Republicans are hesitant to extend unemployment benefits, as some feel that doing to encourages people not to go out and look for employment.

A current measure under consideration that was introduced by House GOP leaders last week would reduce unemployment eligibility from 99 weeks to 59 weeks. The Hill has more regarding how some Democrats are reacting to the proposal:
At a procedural committee hearing on Monday night, Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) warned his GOP colleagues that Democrats were furious about provisions in the must-pass measure to extend the current payroll tax rate holiday and extend and reform unemployment benefits.

“We’re headed for a confrontation on the Floor tomorrow,” Levin said in response to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-Mich.) statement on the 369-page bill up for consideration.

The veteran lawmaker pulled no punches in a preview of Tuesday’s 90-minute floor debate, calling the provisions related to phasing back the current 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits a “heartless, and I think mindless and reckless way to proceed.”

This most recent letter from the Bishops follows a back and forth between Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a Catholic, and the Bishops back in May. Paul had apparently written a letter to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan expressing his desire to provide facts about his budget to the faith leader (his note was in allegedly in response to a previous critique from Bishop Blaire). “We believe human dignity is undermined when citizens become passive clients living on redistributions from government bureaucracies,” Ryan wrote.

Dolan’s response to Ryan didn’t take an official stance on the House budget. “A singularly significant part of our duty as pastors is to insist that the cries of the poor are heard, and that the much needed reform leading to financial discipline that is recognized by all never adds further burdens upon those who are poor and most vulnerable, nor distracts us from our country’s historic consideration of the needs of the world’s suffering people,” Dolan wrote.

SOURCE

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Internet piracy bill: A free speech 'kill switch'

What began as an attempt to restrain foreign piracy on the Internet has morphed into a domestic “kill switch” on First Amendment freedom in the fastest-growing corner of the marketplace of ideas.

Proposed federal legislation purporting to protect online intellectual property would also impose sweeping new government mandates on internet service providers – a positively Orwellian power grab that would permit the U.S. Justice Department to shut down any internet site it doesn’t like (and cut off its sources of income) on nothing more than a whim.

Under the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) the federal government – which is prohibited constitutionally from abridging free speech or depriving its citizens of their property without due process – would engage in both practices on an unprecedented scale. And in establishing the precursor to a taxpayer-funded “thought police,” it would dramatically curtail technology investment and innovation – wreaking havoc on our economy.

Consider this: Under the proposed legislation all that’s required for government to shutdown a specific website is the mere accusation that the site unlawfully featured copyrighted content. Such an accusation need not be proven – or even accompanied by probable cause. All that an accuser (or competitor) needs to do in order to obtain injunctive relief is point the finger at a website.

Additionally, SOPA would grant regulators the ability to choke off revenue to the owners of these newly classified “rogue” websites by accusing their online advertisers and payment providers as co-conspirators in the alleged “piracy.” Again, no finding of fact would be required – the mere allegation of impropriety is all that’s needed to cut the website’s purse strings.

Who’s vulnerable to this legislation?

“Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs,” writes David Sohn, senior policy council at the Center on Democracy and Technology. “(Internet Service Providers) would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior. Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rights-holders allege hasn't done enough to police infringement.”

SOURCE

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America's parasitical political class

Two stellar books have been published this year examining the "Political Class," that group of people which includes politicians and bureaucrats, but also and the businesses and labor unions that enable and benefit from them. They are Stealing You Blind: How Government Fat Cats Are Getting Rich Off of You by Iain Murray and Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison by Peter Schweizer. They make excellent books for Christmas even though they are far more likely to generate outrage than good cheer.

Murray's book focuses largely on the bureaucracy and why they have become an increasing threat to our freedom and our pocketbooks. Bureaucrats have a huge incentive to increase costs. In government, a bureaucrat's success -- his pay raises and promotions -- is determined not by solving problems but by finding more problems to justify ever larger budgets and staff.

Murray, a Brit by birth, saw this first hand when he went to work for the Department of Transport. "In government, performance is judged by increases in funding. The cost-cutting boss is viewed with suspicion, even outright hostility, by his peers, as letting his side down," Murray, who works at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes.

The success that the political class has had is evidenced by the fact that the wealthiest Congressional District in America is not in Manhattan or Beverly Hills, but in Northern Virginia. It is Virginia's 11th District, a suburb of Washington, D.C. that is home to many top-level federal workers. The district has a median household income of $80,397, nearly double the national average of almost $42,000.

Bureaucrats are now paid, on average, more than the private sector, have top-notch health and retirement benefits, and virtually iron-clad job security. The justification for this is that such people are in "public service" and good wages and benefits are needed to attract good people. But it is a myth that so-called public servants are any less self-interested than anyone else. Indeed, they often serve themselves at the expense of the public.

Murray provides numerous examples, from the federal down to the local level. One agency that looks like a disaster waiting to happen is the Transportation Safety Administration. "TSA is a reactive security operation, always fighting the last battle. Yet it doesn't even fight those battles particularly well," Murray writes. Post 9/11, TSA failed to detect Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and Umar Farouk, the underwear bomber, both of whom were fortunately subdued by passengers on their planes. But TSA's failure means more inconvenience for passengers, as we now have to take off our shoes and go through either body-scan machines or pat downs on our private areas. Despite this, testing has found that TSA screeners may miss up to 60%-75% of simulated explosives. Testing at airports that employ private security companies perform much better, with a failure rate of 20 percent. The reason is that screeners from private companies "know they will be picked on with constant covert tests and are therefore 'more suspicious.'"

TSA has grown into a 67,000-employee bureaucracy, and in February of this year the Obama administration gave TSA the right to unionize. A unionized TSA could mean even more headaches for travelers as unionized government employees are nearly impossible to fire and union contracts tend to favor pay scales based on seniority rather than performance. Some members of Congress have urged airports to take their "opt-out" option and hire private security firms. But that requires TSA approval, and like any bureaucracy protecting its turf, the agency has declared that "unless a clear and substantial advantage to do so emerges in the future, the requests will be denied." TSA Administrator John Pistole has said that he doesn't think there's any advantage to private security firms.

On the local level, there is no better example in Murray's book of the lengths to which a union will go to get its way than the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association in New York City. A major blizzard hit New York in December 2010. Wanting to send a message to the mayor about staff cutbacks and reduction in the ranks of supervisors, union heads told snow crews go slow in snow cleanup. Several neighborhoods such as Borough Park and Middle Village were targeted for poor snow removal since the residents there are wealthier and have more influence with their politicians. This may have led to the death of one three-year-old boy as the ambulance could not get to him in time. However, priority cleanup was given to the neighborhoods of agency heads and other city bigwigs.

Schweizer looks at another part of the political class: politicians and crony capitalists. Schweitzer, who works for the Hoover Institution, dubs this group "the Government Rich" for whom "insider deals, insider trading, and taxpayer money have become a pathway to wealth. They get to walk this exclusive pathway because they get to operate by a different set of rules from the rest of us. And they get to do this while they are working for us, in the name of the 'public service.'"

Members of Congress are often privy to private information, such as the likelihood that a bill that impacts a particular industry will pass, or that the SEC will approve a merger, or which private companies are in trouble. They can turn this information into lucrative stock transactions. Studies have shown, for example, that members of Congress increased their net worth by 84 percent from 2004-2006, while the rest of America averaged about 20 percent. Another study found that the average hedge fund beats the market by 7-8 percent a year, while the average Senator beats it by 12 percent.

The two examples of this behavior that have received the most press attention upon the release of Throw Them All Out are Republican Spencer Bachus, now chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Nancy Pelosi, House minority leader. During 2008, Bachus was ranking member of the Committee. Since all of the bailout legislation had to pass through his committee, he was intricately involved in discussions regarding which financial institutions were in trouble and the likely impact on the economy. According to Schweizer, Bachus used his inside information to make thousands on stock options, betting that stocks would go up or down at various times.

A good reason to read Throw Them All Out is to arm yourself against the distortions about the book promulgated by various media outlets. To his credit, 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft reported on Schweizer's finding that in 2008 Pelosi was able to buy VISA stock at its initial public offering (IPO) while credit card legislation that was troublesome to VISA was making its way to the House floor. Pelosi delayed the legislation so that it would not come up for a vote on the House floor in 2008.

More HERE

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Obama’s math works only in BizzaroEcon World

Last night on “60 Minutes” (HT IndianaJim) President Obama said to interviewer Steve Croft about tax cuts: "Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else."

This answer reveals a deplorable understanding of either economics or math or both.

Revenues are the product of the “price” per unit (for example, the tax rate on a dollar of income) multiplied by the number of units for which that price is paid. If the percentage cut in the price per unit is smaller than a corresponding percentage increase in the number of units for which the now-lower price is paid, revenues don’t fall; they rise. The math, indeed, is the math.

Obama’s math works only in a bizzaro economic world – a world where changes in prices have no, or never more than a de minimis, effect on people’s behavior.

In that bizzaro world producers would never lower prices. (Why do so if lowering prices won’t result in a larger sales volume and higher revenues?) In that bizzaro world McDonald’s would charge $1,000 for each Big Mac. (Why not, if prices don’t affect people’s consumption choices?) In that bizzaro world no one would propose taxing cigarettes to discourage smoking. (Why do so if higher prices don’t affect behavior?) And in that bizzaro world no one would ever call for higher tariffs to protect domestic producers from foreign competition. (Why do so if raising tariffs does not reduce the number of imports that people buy?)

It’s one thing to question a claim’s empirical relevance; it’s quite another to dismiss it categorically as being an alleged violation of the laws of mathematics.

What sorry testimony about the “reality-based” political community that the current President of the United States believes it to be simply a matter of “math” that lower tax rates necessarily result in lower tax revenues.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

Cheney calls for air strike on Iran over captured drone: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday that President Barack Obama should have ordered an 'air strike' on Iran after they recently captured a U.S. drone. Earlier on Monday, President Barack Obama had explained that U.S. officials asked Iran to return the RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone. 'The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it,' Cheney told CNN’s Erin Burnett."

US Congress freezes $700 million in Pakistan aid: "A US Congressional panel has frozen $700m (£450m) in aid to Pakistan until it gives assurances it is tackling the spread of homemade bombs in the region. ... the freeze in aid -- part of a defence bill that is expected to be passed by Congress later this week -- could presage even greater cuts, correspondents say."

Big government scares more Americans: "Gallup just released a poll asking Americans who they fear most: big government, big business or big labor. Government terrifies more Americans than the other two combined, by a two-to-one margin."

Getting to medical freedom: "To improve medicine in the United States, we’ll first need to explain that we are far from a free market in healthcare."

Medicare Whac-A-Mole: "It is often said that you can’t put a price on health. But for decades that is exactly what the federal government has attempted. Since the birth of the entitlement, a parade of legislators and bureaucrats has been playing billion- and trillion-dollar games of Whac-A-Mole with Medicare, knocking down spending with an elaborately constructed set of technocratic payment schemes in one area only to see it rise back up in some other part of the system. Obama is merely proposing to try it one more time."

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

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

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

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Land of the Envious and Home of the Victim

President Obama laid out his vision of America in Osawatomie, Kansas. We are no longer, in our president’s take on things, land of the free and home of the brave. America now is land of the envious and home of the victim.

We are a land, as our president explains it, where the success of one American comes at the expense of another. Where the poor are poor because the rich are rich. And where the role of government is not to ensure “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” but to tax away wealth from those it deems to have too much and determine how to invest our nation’s resources.

The president chose to give this speech in Osawatomie because President Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, spoke there in 1910 and made a plea for more government in American life. How clever.

But in 1910 the federal government was extracting less than five cents from every dollar produced by the American economy. It was not until the 1930’s, except for the period of World War I, that this doubled to 10 cents of every dollar. After World War II, this doubled again to 20 cents.

Now, after three years under President Obama’s vision, the federal government takes 25 cents of every dollar produced by the American economy. If we throw in the costs of state and local government, barely 50 cents of each dollar of our economic output remains in the private economy.

But President Obama thinks we’re languishing because we’re still too free. The idea that “the market will take care of everything” may look good on a “bumper sticker” according to our president, but, in his words, the idea of free citizens and free markets “…doesn’t work” and “…never worked.”

Perhaps our president ought to wake from his dream, and our nightmare, and take a closer look at the country he is living in.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in studying entrepreneurship, almost all net new jobs created in our country come from firms less than five years old.

Net new job growth in American comes from entrepreneurs. Not from government bureaucrats and not even from corporate monoliths. This entrepreneurial activity takes place at considerable risk. According to one study from Case Western Reserve University, only 30 percent of new business start-ups are still operating after ten years.

Entrepreneurs start and build their businesses with personal savings, credit cards, funds from family and friends, and loans and investments from banks and venture capitalists.

But what entrepreneur will take these risks if there isn’t upside as well as downside? Who will do it if success is punished rather than rewarded? If power seeking politicians decide that certain successful entrepreneurs have become too wealthy?

Our president cannot seem to grasp that freedom and entrepreneurship is not about “doing your own thing” but is the essence of what he calls “we’re greater together than we are on our own.”

Businesses grow by competing to serve customers.

It is also not about, to the president’s confusion, “making up your own rules.” It works when we don’t make up our on rules and live by eternal truths which prohibit theft and protect private property. Our problems start when government stops doing its job to enforce those rules and starts making up its own.

Where President Obama was correct was to say that “This is the defining issue of our time.”

Whatever solutions Republicans propose to deal with issues like government spending, taxation, healthcare, and education must flow from a core vision of what America is about.

Whoever emerges as the Republican presidential nominee in 2012 must be ready to offer a dusted off and clear vision of America that will restore our understanding of and faith in the freedom that made and makes this country great.

SOURCE

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Is This What Democrats Want For Our Future?

Terrorist threats are on the rise, government debt threatens the world, and the value of our currency is being questioned almost daily. Is this the “fundamental change” that Democrats wanted from President Barack Obama?

Like it or not, President Obama sets the agenda for the Democrats. And it’s time for every elected Democrat – especially those in Congress – to answer some questions. Is this your idea of the American future? Is this your vision for the United States? We should be asking these questions in light of two broad areas of domestic policy:

National security policies that ignore trends of murderous behavior:

Within the first eighteen months of the Obama presidency, the United States sustained no less than three terrorist attacks on American soil. The first one quickly became known as the “Ft. Hood Massacre,” an inside job wherein Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army Major, a psychiatrist – and a devout Muslim - killed 13 Army service members and wounded 29 others, all within the confines of the otherwise “secure” Fort Hood Army Base in Killeen, Texas.

At the memorial service for the murdered service members, President Obama noted that “no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts” – implying that the Islamic faith had nothing to do with Mr. Hasan’s murderous behavior – this, despite the fact that Hasan himself claimed that he was acting in accordance with his religion.

Weeks later Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was permitted to board a Northwest Airlines jet in Amsterdam and fly to Detroit on Christmas Day, despite repeated warning signs that the passenger intended to do harm in the U.S. While the explosives that the now-famous “underwear bomber” was able to smuggle on to the flight did not detonate to their intended extent, they did nonetheless cause an in-flight explosion.

After the attack – and after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared that “the system worked” (she admitted a day later that our air security system had failed), we were to learn that the man about whom repeated warnings were ignored was a “devout Muslim” and claimed to be operating at the direction of Al-Qaeda.

On May 1st 2010, NYPD officers were able to disarm an ignited bomb planted in a parked vehicle in Times Square. Two days later federal authorities arrested Faisal Shahzad in connection with the attack, whereupon federal agencies rushed to point out that Shahzad was an American citizen and that the attack was “home grown.” The authorities also tried to downplay the fact that Shahzad had only been a U.S. citizen for 14 months, was originally from Pakistan, and was also a self-described Muslim.

While seemingly ignoring the proliferation of terrorist attacks carried-out by people who call themselves Muslims, President Obama and members of his Administration have largely refused to acknowledge the pattern. Even this past week the Obama Administration officially classified the Fort Hood Massacre as merely a matter of “workplace violence,” as though the immense security breaches of a military compound were to be taken no more seriously than an angry outburst at any other business establishment.

Economic policies that encourage dependency and malign productivity:

President Obama’s speech at Osawatomie high school in Kansas last week is being heralded by some as his most profound speech thus far. But few of the President’s supporters have bothered to question if his rhetoric bares any resemblance to reality.

Prior to his inauguration, he claimed, America had been a nation where “those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments…but everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t.”

Really? Do the President’s supporters realize that over half of the American population has private investment and savings accounts, and that such items are not merely luxuries afforded only to those “at the top?”

Elsewhere in the speech, the President noted that the upcoming election will be, in part, about “whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure a retirement.” Yet the very fact that any of us can even hope for these things demonstrates the functionality of American-styled capitalism over the past many decades.

The President, of course, ignores these economic realities. Instead, he insists that our pathway to prosperity is higher taxes, and more governmental spending of our resources – in short, more of his control over our nation’s wealth. Policies of these sorts have been painful failures for years in Venezuela, Indonesia, and his father’s homeland of Kenya. Yet the President who has positioned himself as a de facto CEO of huge chunks of the economy – with authority over everything from banks to car companies – is still vying for more control. Is this what Democrats envision for another four years – an economy that revolves around the selfish needs and desires of one man?

SOURCE

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A "revisionist" view of the British empire

Though still a fairly mainstream view among Britons themselves

[One] might see in the experience of the British Empire some prescriptive remedies for what ails Western Civilization. How about, for instance, the idea of limited government? By my back-of-the-envelope calculations, in the 1920s the British government and its vast empire operated on a budget about 40 percent less, in constant dollars, than the state of California’s budget for 2012. Perhaps that’s not surprising when you consider that Britain ran the Sudan with a civil service of 140 men, and governed India’s then-300 million people with about 100,000 British soldiers and civil servants. (California has more than twice as many full-time state employees.)

The British Empire certainly did not go in for “nation-building” in the “let’s export the democratic welfare state” sense. The British believed they governed well, and did well for the people they governed, but they always had to ensure that the sum of benefits minus costs was in the black. The British had tremendous national interests, for instance, in Afghanistan (a potential Russian invasion route to India) and Iraq (oil), but they would never have spent a trillion dollars occupying these countries, as we have done. For the most part, they kept them in line with occasional punitive expeditions (Afghanistan) and the RAF supporting a British-imposed pro-Western monarch (Iraq).

The British Empire set a beneficial example in another sense too. It was tolerant. On issues that truly mattered — an independent judiciary, limited government, abolishing slavery and widow-burning — they enforced British standards of fair play, ordered liberty, and decency. But they were also quite content to let Arabs be Arabs, Masai be Masai, and so on. They did not politicize society or, another way of putting it, nationalize it.

They ruled with the lightest of authority, often through local elites, and had a famous affection for the “warrior races” (which they were keen to defeat and then bring on their side). As a Frenchman once marveled, “Wherever the British have penetrated we meet British officers who believe the Bedouins, the Kurds, the Ghurkhas, the Sikhs or the Sudanese, whichever they happen to command, to be the most splendid fellows on earth. The French do not share this passionate interest in other races — they only praise individuals or communities insofar as they have become Gallicized.”

George Santayana’s famous observation bears repeating: “Instinctively the Englishman is no missionary, no conqueror . . . he travels and conquers without a settled design, because he has the instinct of exploration. His adventures are all external; they change him so little that he is not afraid of them. He carries his English weather in his heart wherever he goes, and it becomes a cool spot in the desert, and a steady and sane oracle amongst all the deliriums of mankind.

Never since the heroic days of Greece has the world had such a sweet, just, boyish master. It will be a black day for the human race when scientific blackguards, conspirators, churls, and fanatics manage to supplant him.” How true. And between the British Empire and its enemies among the Bolsheviks, the National Socialists, the scientific blackguards, conspirators, churls, and fanatics, I know which side any true conservative should plant his colors.

SOURCE. See also: Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire

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Even Officials from the Clinton Administration Agree that the United States Should Have a Lower Corporate Tax Rate

Since the Clinton Administration turned out to be much more market-oriented than either his GOP predecessor or successor, this isn’t quite a man-bites-dog story.

Nonetheless, it is still noteworthy that Elaine Kamarck, a high-level official from the Clinton White House, has a column on a left-of-center website arguing in favor of a pro-growth, supply-side corporate tax reform. Here’s some of what she wrote.
Not only have the OECD countries reduced their corporate tax rates over the years to an average of 25 percent — members of the OECD are starting in on yet another round of cuts. Canada and Great Britain, two of our closest trading partners, are moving in this direction. America has the second highest corporate tax rate of any of the developed nations. We can’t sit by while our competition is changing. A 2008 report by economists at the OECD found that the corporate income tax is the most harmful tax for long-term economic growth. A 2010 World Bank study demonstrated that corporate tax rates have a “large and significant adverse” effect on investment. And investment and economic growth equals jobs. Wage data from 65 countries over 25 years shows that every one percent increase in corporate tax rates leads to a 0.5 to 0.6 percent decrease in wages.

There are things in the rest of the article that rub me the wrong way, but I agree with everything in the above passage.

The thing that’s most striking about Ms. Kamarck’s article is that she acknowledges the link between corporate tax rates and workers’ wages, thus agreeing with me – at least implicitly – about “trickle-down economics” and the deleterious impact of double taxation.

SOURCE

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"Stimulus" didn't work in Britain either

Labour's increased spending after the credit crunch actually harmed the economy rather than boosting it, according to a centre-right think tank.

A report by the Institute of Economic Affairs found that stimulus measures pursued by Western governments in response to the economic crisis did not work.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has repeatedly called on the Government to soften its deficit reduction plans and embark on a ‘Plan B’, which would include more public spending in an attempt to boost growth.

But the institute’s study said Plan B would be disastrous for the British economy, and that all Western economies needed drastic fiscal and tax reform if they were to overcome their sovereign debt crises.

Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: ‘We must resist the calls of those who say that one last, big spending push could get the economy back to meaningful growth.

'The opposite is true. ‘Many Western economies might well be tipping back towards recession partly because of these giant fiscal packages that were enacted in 2009, and the coalition Government must resist calls for any Plan B that involves more government borrowing and spending.

SOURCE

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

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

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

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Nigel Farage explains what is happening in Europe



Gingrich sticks by Palestinian comment, draws rebukes from GOP candidates

Gingrich is of course right. In the 19 century the Arab inhabitants of Eretz Israel were known as "Syrians"

Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich stood by his assertion that the Palestinians are an "invented people," drawing criticism from other GOP candidates.

"Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes," Gingrich said during a GOP debate Saturday night in Iowa. "We are in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States -- the current administration -- tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process."

"Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth,” he continued. "These people are terrorists, they teach terrorism in their schools." Gingrich added that "it’s fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to say enough lying about the Middle East."

He first made the "invented people" comment in an exclusive interview with The Jewish Channel.

In response to Gingrich's comments at the debate, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said, "That’s just stirring up trouble."

Many prominent Jewish Republicans view Paul as an isolationist whose opposition to tough anti-Iran actions and foreign aid, including for Israel, would be bad for the Jewish state. But Gingrich also drew criticism from GOP candidates with records of strong support for Israel.

Mitt Romney, who stands first or second in most polls, said he agreed with Gingrich's comments about Palestinian terrorism, but said the former House speaker went too far in publicly questioning Palestinian peoplehood.

"I happen to agree with most of what the speaker said," Romney responded. "Except by going and saying that the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part." Romney warned against throwing “incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot” -- and that doing so could make things harder for Israel.

Another candidate with strong pro-Israel credentials, Rick Santorum, followed Romney's comments with similar criticism of Gingrich.

In recent days, Gingrich's campaign issued a statement stressing that despite his comments on Palestinian peoplehood, he still favors the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. The statement, released by spokesman R.C. Hammond, declares that "Newt Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state."

Hammond added, "However, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated, you have to understand decades of complex history, which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with The Jewish Channel."

Gingrich's comment has been criticized in even stronger terms by an assortment of Palestinian spokesmen and liberal commentators.

SOURCE

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Gingrich Is Inspiring—and Disturbing

The first potential president about whom there is too much information.

I had a friend once who amused herself thinking up bumper stickers for states. The one she made up for California was brilliant. "California: It's All True." It is so vast and sprawling a place, so rich and various, that whatever you've heard about its wildness, weirdness and wonders, it's true.

That's the problem with Newt Gingrich: It's all true. It's part of the reason so many of those who know him are anxious about the thought of his becoming president. It's also why people are looking at him, thinking about him, considering him as president.

Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive—all true.

Do you want evidence he's a Burkean conservative? Start with welfare reform in 1996. A sober, standard Republican? Go to the balanced budgets of the Clinton era. Is he a tea partier? Sure, he speaks the slashing lingo with relish. Is he moderate? Yes, that can be proved. Michele Bachmann this week called him a "frugal socialist," and there's plenty of evidence of that, too.

One way to view this is that he is so rich and varied as a character, as geniuses often are, that he contains worlds, multitudes. One senses that would be his way of looking at it. Another way to look at it: In a long career, one will shift views, adapt to circumstances, tack this way and that. Another way: He's philosophically unanchored, an unstable element. There are too many storms within him, and he seeks out external storms in order to equalize his own atmosphere. He's a trouble magnet, a starter of fights that need not be fought. He is the first modern potential president about whom there is too much information.

What is striking is the extraordinary divide in opinion between those who know Gingrich and those who don't. Those who do are mostly not for him, and they were burning up the phone lines this week in Washington.

Those who've known and worked with Mitt Romney mostly seem to support him, but when they don't they don't say the reason is that his character and emotional soundness are off. Those who know Ron Paul and oppose him do so on the basis of his stands, they don't say his temperament forecloses the possibility of his presidency. But that's pretty much what a lot of those who've worked with Newt say.

Former New Hampshire governor and George H.W. Bush chief of staff John Sununu told The Wall Street Journal this week: "Listen to just about anyone who worked alongside Gingrich and you will hear that he's inconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy and unprincipled." In a conference call Thursday, Jim Talent, who served with Mr. Gingrich in the House from 1993 through 1999, said, "He's not reliable as a leader." Sen. Tom Coburn, a member of the House class of 1994, called the former speaker's leadership "lacking," and according to a local press report, he told Oklahoma constituents last year that Mr. Gingrich was "the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States."

Sen. Lindsey Graham told a reporter that Mr. Gingrich could be a historic president if he has "matured as a person and is, for lack of a better word, calmed down." That is as close as most of those who've worked with him get to a compliment.

Yet the reservations and criticisms of the politico-journalistic establishment are having zero effect on Gingrich's support. In a Quinnipiac poll this week he moved into a double-digit lead over Mr. Romney in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The antipathy of the establishment not only is not hurting him at this early date, it may be helping him. It may be part of the secret of his rise. Because establishments, especially the Washington establishment, famously count for little with the Republican base: "You're the ones who got us into this mess."

Republicans on the ground who view Mr. Gingrich from afar, who neither know nor have worked with him, are more likely to see him this way: "Who was the last person to actually cut government? Who was the last person who actually led a movement that balanced the federal budget? . . . The last time there was true welfare reform, the last time government was cut, Gingrich did it." That is Rush Limbaugh, who has also criticized Mr. Gingrich.

And that is exactly what I've been hearing from Newt supporters who do not listen to talk radio. They are older voters, they are not all Republicans, and when government last made progress he was part of it. They have a very practical sense of politics now. The heroic era of the presidency is dead. They are not looking to like their president or admire him, they just want someone to fix the crisis. The last time helpful things happened in Washington, he was a big part of it. So they may hire him again. Are they put off by his scandals? No. They think all politicians are scandalous.

The biggest fear of those who've known Mr. Gingrich? He has gone through his political life making huge strides, rising in influence and achievement, and then been destabilized by success, or just after it. Maybe he's made dizzy by the thin air at the top, maybe he has an inner urge to be tragic, to always be unrealized and misunderstood. But he goes too far, his rhetoric becomes too slashing, the musings he shares—when he rose to the speakership, in 1995, it was that women shouldn't serve in combat because they're prone to infections—are too strange. And he starts to write in his notes what Kirsten Powers, in the Daily Beast, remembered: he described himself as "definer of civilization . . . leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."

Those who know him fear—or hope—that he will be true to form in one respect: He will continue to lose to his No. 1 longtime foe, Newt Gingrich. He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, "Watch this!"

What they fear is that he will show just enough discipline over the next few months, just enough focus, to win the nomination. And then, in the fall of 2012, once party leaders have come around and the GOP is fully behind him, he will begin baying at the moon.

There are many good things to say about Newt Gingrich. He is compelling and unique, and, as Margaret Thatcher once said, he has "tons of guts." But this is a walk on the wild side.

SOURCE

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Why Do So Many People Automatically and Angrily Condemn Historical Revisionism?

Try pointing out that Hitler was a fairly mainstream Leftist by the standards of his day and you will know what this historian is talking about

Over the years, especially in writing for the general public, as opposed to my professional peers, I have been struck repeatedly by the frequency with which certain conclusions or even entire classes of conclusions elicit not merely skepticism, but angry denunciation. Again and again, I have been called a fool, a traitor, or an America-hater because of my commentaries on history and public affairs. Although I take no pleasure in these denunciations, I find myself not so much depressed by them as curious about them. I wonder why people react as they do, especially when my commentary rests—as I hope it generally does—on well-documented facts and correct logic.

I surely do not consider myself immune to errors, of course. But if my facts are incorrect, the critic has an obligation to say why my facts are incorrect and to state, or at least to point toward, the correct facts. If my logic has run off the rails, the critic has an obligation to state how I fell into fallacious reasoning. More often than not, however, the critic resorts immediately to name-calling and to wild characterizations of my statements and my person. Thus, I have often been called a socialist, a Marxist, a conservative, an apologist for corporations or the rich, a (modern left) liberal, or something else that by no stretch of the imagination properly describes me or my intellectual or ideological position.

Certain topics are virtually guaranteed to elicit such reactions. When I write about the welfare state and especially about government programs ostensibly aimed at helping the least-well-off members of society, I confidently expect that critics will assail me as a fascist or as an ivory-tower dweller who has no understanding of how poor people really live and no compassion for them. When I write about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in relation to U.S. economic warfare in 1939-41, I invariably attract angry personal abuse from people of delicate nationalistic sensibilities, from those chronically on the look-out for traitors, and from those who cannot imagine that the nation’s leaders, in general, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in particular, might have deliberately provoked a Japanese attack or refrained from warning U.S. commanders in Hawaii that an attack was coming.

When people are offended or otherwise greatly displeased by historical analysis, they often employ the term “historical revisionism” as a synonym for falsified, distorted, or doctored accounts that fly in the face of what they, their history teachers, and perhaps even the most respected university historians believe to have been the case.

The irony of such use of the term “historical revision,” which makes it practically a swear word, is that revisionism is and always has been an integral part of historical research and writing. As a rule, professional historians do not seek simply to pile up more and more evidence for what historians already generally believe. Historians who proceed in this way cannot expect to make much of a name for themselves. Instead, historians try to find new evidence and new ways of interpreting old evidence that change the currently accepted view. That is, they seek to revise the current orthodoxy. In doing so, they need not be ideological mavericks, although those who are may have an additional reason for their revisionist efforts. In short, revisionism is an unremarkable aspect of workaday historical research and writing. Why then do so many readers go ballistic about it?

One reason why revisionists are sometimes seen as subversives stems from the tendency of historians in general to accept the most fundamental aspects of their own society as right and desirable.

More HERE

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ELSEWHERE

North Korea warns south over Christmas lights: "North Korea has warned the South against erecting Christmas lights near the heavily fortified border, saying it would retaliate against what it calls 'psychological warfare.' ... The two Koreas in 2004 reached a deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda and the South stopped its annual Christmas illumination ceremony. But Seoul resumed the ceremony last December amid high military tensions with Pyongyang."

Airport sexual assault complaints prompt calls for on-site advocates: "Two New York politicians urged the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday to provide passenger advocates on site at airport screenings after four elderly women complained of intrusive searches by security agents in recent months. ... several elderly women came forward in the busy travel weeks around Thanksgiving to complain they were 'strip searched by TSA agents ...'"

CA: SFPD arrest 55 suppressing final Occupy camp: "Police cleared San Francisco's last remaining Occupy protest camp early today, arresting 55 people for illegal lodging. The encampment, on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve Bank at 101 Market St., was the original Occupy protest site established in early October, but police had cleared it several times. The camp sprung up again Thursday after police removed campers from Justin Herman Plaza a block away."

Private venture gets go-ahead for February space station trip: "The next chapter in commercial spaceflight is due to open in February when SpaceX launches its Dragon cargo capsule for the first linkup of a private-sector craft with the International Space Station .... NASA is paying private space ventures hundreds of millions of dollars to design and build new spaceships for its use, with cargo flights to the space station scheduled to begin next year."

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)

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