Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Colorado Shooting Gives the Media An Excuse to Ignore Real Issues

There was a shooting last night in Colorado, and already the gun control and concealed carry people are trying to score political points. No doubt, Obama will fly to Colorado because it’s a pivotal state in the election. The media will keep the story front and center. The media won’t talk about the Bulgaria bombing that was caused by the release of a terrorist from Gitmo, and they won’t talk about the economy.

The shooting just proves there are crazy people out there. I doubt seriously if a person had a revolver would have been able to shoot that guy in a dark theater. At the same time, he was nuts. No gun control law would have stopped him from getting an AK-47 and doing what he did. I don’t know if there is a solution to these sorts of problems.

Many social issues can be taken care of economically. Provide the right economic incentives and the issue will sort itself out. But in the statistical distribution that makes up the human race, not everyone falls within three standard deviations of the mean. That’s worth remembering when we think about crazy people that decide the best course of action to get attention is shoot as many people as they can.

We tend to anchor on the weirdness because the media reports it. It’s news. If the media reported on the ho hum average daily life of 99% of Americans, it wouldn’t be news. We wouldn’t watch. I have noticed that reporters want to really shape stories these days because there is so much competition for attention. Instead of letting the individual make up their mind, news has become very slanted.

Even when they report both sides of the story. For example, say 95% of economists believe we are in recession. The news media will dig up the 5% of economists that are on the opposite side, and when they air the debate it looks like all economists are split 50/50. It’s good they find the opposite side and give them air time, but they need to let the viewer know all the facts behind the story.

All weekend, we will hear about this tragic story. My heart goes out to the families of the people in that theatre-even if they came away unhurt. The mental scars will be horrible. But the real economic stories that came out this week will affect every American more than one terrible event. Check these out, and see if the mainstream media makes a peep about them.

1. Weekly jobless claims shot up to 386,000.

2. Foreclosures are hitting our most vulnerable citizens.

3. Factory activity contracted for a second month in a row.

4. Home sales dropped a whopping 5.4% — the biggest drop in nine months.

5. Retail sales dropped for the third straight month.

6. Consumer confidence dipped to 84.7.

7. U.S. business inventories increased by .3%…

8. …sales dropped .1%.

9. Food prices are skyrocketing.

10. More Americans are getting federal disability than jobs.

Add to that the $1 trillion dollar farm bill that is being mashed through Congress. The bill fosters more crony capitalism. That’s a story the media ought to be covering with all hands on deck.



Obama is just an old fashioned American Fascist

America's Progressive era predated and inspired the 20th century Fascists

"If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." -- Barack Obama

The president's defenders have claimed he either misspoke last week at a Roanoke, Va., campaign event or that what he said is true. Both defenses have merit. Obama surely didn't mean to say something that politically idiotic so plainly. And it's true that no man's accomplishments are entirely his own. We're all indebted to others, and we all rely on government to provide some basic things. Only the straw-men conservatives of Obama's imagination yearn for an America with no roads and bridges.

Meanwhile, what many conservatives don't appreciate is that Obama is not some otherworldly radical, importing foreign ideas, but that he in fact fits within an old American intellectual tradition. Indeed, you might even call him a reactionary progressive; he seeks to restore the assumptions and priorities of the Progressive Era.

Herbert Croly, the godfather of American progressivism, spoke for a generation of progressive intellectuals when he wrote that the "individual has no meaning apart from the society in which his individuality has been formed." For the progressives, society and government were almost interchangeable terms. John Dewey, the seminal progressive philosopher, believed that "organized social control" via a "socialized economy" was the only means to create "free" individuals. For the progressives, freedom wasn't the absence of government coercion, it was a pile of gifts from the state.

Progressives invented the idea of the "moral equivalent of war" as a means of inciting citizens to drop their personal priorities and rally around the state for a government-defined "cause larger than themselves." Obama came into office under the motto "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste" and has been looking for "Sputnik moments" ever since in a search for a way to rationalize his agenda.

To the extent Obama ever speaks the language of religion, it is to justify, even sanctify, the works of government. He often invokes the Hallmark-ized biblical teaching that "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper" as a means to rationalize not personal action but government action. (Obama's own half-siblings have received little attention from their very wealthy and famous relative.)

Progressive minister Walter Rauschenbusch famously declared that only the "God that answereth by low food prices" should be God. You might say that under the ObamaCare vision, only the God that answereth with free birth control should be God.

In the slideshow "The Life of Julia" (Google it), the Obama campaign celebrates a progressive vision of citizenship where all of a hypothetical young woman's accomplishments are co-produced by the state: "Under President Obama, Julia decides to have a child."

It's all of a piece with Obama's conviction that "a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans."

The problem facing Obama is that there's a reason the American people never fully embraced the progressive vision. The idea driving America is the individual pursuit of happiness. Just because the word "individual" appears in there doesn't make it a selfish ideal; it means it's a vision of liberty. We each find our happiness where we seek it. For some that's in business, for others the arts, or religion or family or a mix of them all. And very often our happiness depends upon the satisfaction we feel at having conquered problems on our own.

Under President Obama, that sense of happiness is a mirage, because everything is a co-production of the state.



Trashing Achievements

Thomas Sowell

There was a time, within living memory, when the achievements of others were not only admired but were often taken as an inspiration for imitation of the same qualities that had served these achievers well, even if we were not in the same field of endeavor and were not expecting to achieve on the same scale.

The perseverance of Thomas Edison, as he tried scores of materials before finally trying tungsten as the filament of the light bulb he was inventing; the dedication of Abraham Lincoln as he studied law on his own while struggling to make a living -- these were things young people were taught to admire, even if they had no intention of becoming inventors or lawyers, much less President of the United States.

Somewhere along the way, all that changed. Today, the very concept of achievement is de-emphasized and sometimes attacked. Following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard has made the downgrading of high achievers the centerpiece of her election campaign against Senator Scott Brown.

To cheering audiences, Professor Warren says, "there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You build a factory out there, good for you, but I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate."

Do the people who cheer this kind of talk bother to stop and think through what she is saying? Or is heady rhetoric enough for them?

People who run businesses are benefitting from things paid for by others? Since when are people in business, or high-income earners in general, exempt from paying taxes like everybody else?

At a time when a small fraction of high-income taxpayers pay the vast majority of all the taxes collected, it is sheer chutzpah to depict high-income earners as somehow being subsidized by "the rest of us," whether in paying for the building of roads or the educating of the young.

Since everybody else uses the roads and the schools, why should high achievers be expected to feel like free loaders who owe still more to the government, because schools and roads are among the things that facilitate their work? According to Elizabeth Warren, because it is part of an "underlying social contract."

Conjuring up some mythical agreement that nobody saw, much less signed, is an old ploy on the left -- one that goes back at least a century, when Herbert Croly, the first editor of The New Republic magazine, wrote a book titled "The Promise of American Life."

Whatever policy Herbert Croly happened to favor was magically transformed by rhetoric into a "promise" that American society was supposed to have made -- and, implicitly, that American taxpayers should be forced to pay for. This pious hokum was so successful politically that all sorts of "social contracts" began to appear magically in the rhetoric of the left.

If talking in this mystical way is enough to get you control of billions of dollars of the taxpayers' hard-earned money, why not?

Certainly someone who claimed to be part Indian, as Elizabeth Warren did when applying for academic appointments in an affirmative action environment, is unlikely to be squeamish about using imaginative words during a political election campaign.

Sadly, this kind of cute use of words is not confined to one political candidate or to this election year. The very concept of achievement is a threat to the vision of the left, and has long been attacked by those on the left.

People who succeed -- whether in business or anywhere else -- are often said to be "privileged," even if they started out poor and worked their way up the hard way.

Outcome differences are called "class" differences. Thus when two white women, who came from families in very similar social and economic circumstances, made different decisions and got different results, this was the basis for a front-page story titled "Two Classes, Divided by 'I Do'" in the July 15th issue of the N.Y Times. Personal responsibility, whether for achievement or failure, is a threat to the whole vision of the left, and a threat the left goes all-out to combat, using rhetoric uninhibited by reality.



Is America about to get Stalinist unemployment statistics?

Stalin's statistics were pure invention

Five months ago Barack Obama nominated union backer, liberal economist and Federal Reserve bureaucrat Erica Groshen to lead the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — the agency best known for calculating the nation’s unemployment rate each month. Obviously Groshen’s nomination was yet another sop to organized labor — which doled out big dollars and major manpower to help elect Obama in 2008 (and which has already been rewarded handsomely for its efforts).

It was also yet another endorsement of the failed Keynesian interventionism that Obama has continued to foist on our private sector ever since he was elected — with disastrous consequences for our nation’s economy.

But this particular appointment represents much more than just another lifetime left winger being tapped by Obama to fill a lofty taxpayer-funded perch. For starters, Groshen’s background is more explicitly linked to overt anti-American ideologies than any Obama appointee since his infamous “green jobs czar” Van Jones.

Such radical ideological moorings are cause for real concern given that Groshen is being asked to preside over an agency where the inviolability of hard, methodologically obtained data — not the specter of ideological influence — is vital to maintaining institutional neutrality and credibility.

In fact public confidence in BLS methodology and impartiality is much more essential than that — as this agency’s unemployment and job growth data consistently drive global financial markets and move public opinion like no other economic indicators.

Moreover Groshen is being asked to lead this agency at a time when its data is being compared and contrasted not only with more credible alternative measures of labor utilization but also prior unemployment promises from the Obama administration.

Every statistic counts — but we also must be able to count on the veracity of every statistic (particularly those that come stamped with the imprimatur of officialdom).

In other words, this is the absolute worst possible time to nominate a BLS commissioner with suspect associations — one who could easily be perceived as giving an unfair advantage to certain constituencies regarding the release of this information (or possibly even manipulating the presentation of the data itself to paint a more flattering view of the administration’s job creation efforts).

One of the most glaring ideological markers in Groshen’s background is her choice to send at least one of her children to Camp Kinderland — a communist-founded institution that used Soviet symbols and sang Soviet anthems during the mid-20th century while urging its members to “vote communist.”

Camp Kinderland’s own website brags that it, “is true to the vision of its founders,” so it is no surprise that its leftist advocacy continues to this day. The Camp mobilized dozens of campers, staff and alumni to participate in the Occupy Wall Street events — which their newsletter referred to as an opportunity for its supporters to “raise their voices and declare the power of the 99 percent.”



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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

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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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