Saturday, January 14, 2012

Everything Is At Stake, All Right

On this we can agree with President Obama: Everything he stands for is at stake in 2012

Obama told 500 fawning sycophants in Chicago that he is unrepentant about his policy agenda and intends to treat us to more of the same, much more, in a second term. Obama said, "Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election." Lest there be no mistake, he repeated the message in the smaller settings of private homes.

We can endlessly debate whether he is such a devoted ideologue that he's blind to his policy failures, whether he's willing to sacrifice the economy and the fiscal integrity of the United States for his perceived higher good of radical redistribution, or whether he really intends to do harm, but these are moot questions anymore. Under any of these possibilities, the fact remains that he is hellbent on accelerating his present course, not reversing it, on dictating, not working within his constitutional constraints, much less building a bipartisan consensus.

Hubris and defiance are his trademarks, not humility. He said, "If you're willing to work even harder in this election than you did in the last election, I promise you, change will come."

This should send cold chills up our spines. By "change," he means more of his unpopular, failed agenda. He has repeatedly indicated that he is frustrated with the process of republican government and that he would be much more comfortable as a dictator.

He has also said many times that he believes his goals are so important that he intends to implement them with or without Congress, through executive or administrative usurpations. He has done more than talk; he has acted in contravention of the Constitution and intends to continue in that vein.

What he might do in a second term is frightening to those who believe in freedom and equality of opportunity, that our current pattern of discretionary and entitlement spending is not just unsustainable but also guaranteed to destroy the country, and that we cannot preserve our freedom if we persist on a course of unilateral disarmament.

Just consider how brazenly Obama has pursued his unpopular agenda even while facing re-election. Think how he joked about having made a hollow promise of shovel-ready jobs when there is no such thing and how he is unchastened by the colossal waste of Solyndra and pursuing more of the same. Consider how he cavalierly refuses to account for his promise to keep unemployment capped at 8 percent and how he assured us, on his honor, that his designated stimulus cop, Vice President Joe Biden, wouldn't allow a dollar of waste to go unpunished in his stimulus plan. Chew on his refusal to listen to the public when it resoundingly rejected Obamacare, rebuffing his agenda in the U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts and again in the 2010 congressional elections. Ponder his petty partisanship, bullying, demonizing and class warfare and his frequent invocation of the race card. Can you conceive of how he'd act as a four-year lame duck?

You all surely heard Obama, thinking he was speaking only to friends, boast that he was for a single-payer plan but that it might take 15 years to implement it. Remember this when his supporters tell you Obamacare won't degenerate into socialized medicine. Those waivers he unilaterally issued to buy off companies now won't be available next time around when the full force of Obamacare rains down its dark waters.

Think about his Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will have 15 bureaucrats once Obamacare is up and running, when he won't have to worry about 2016. Before you pooh-pooh this, you'd better do your research on his health care mentors' (e.g., Tom Daschle, Donald Berwick) philosophy about the macabre rationing of health care for the aged.

So, call me an alarmist if you will, but I think it's almost irrational not to be very concerned about an Obama second term. Even if you don't subscribe to some of the horror scenarios of death panels and the like, how about his intention to continue to press forward with his radical green agenda despite the fact that it won't work to reduce global temperatures and despite the public's opposition to it?

More importantly, how about his absolute refusal to restructure entitlements or his refusal to lead his party's Senate to pass a budget after 1,000 days? Or his insistence on another stimulus package when unemployment -- even using the distorted metrics the administration is now using -- is still at 8.5 percent and it would add another half-trillion dollars to the national debt?

By rights, Obama shouldn't get 10 percent of the vote in November. Even those who want to punish the "wealthy" should understand that once you completely gnaw off the hand that feeds you, you will starve, too.



Gingrich attacks to help Romney

Believe it or not, Newt Gingrich is doing Mitt Romney a favor. Gingrich has spent the past week attacking Romney’s tenure as the head of Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney helped found in the 1980s. Through his own words and a propagandistic documentary produced by Winning Our Future, a well funded pro-Newt Super PAC run by a former campaign aid, Gingrich has attempted to paint Romney as a heartless, out of touch, capitalist monster—the King of Bain—whose firm made millions through mass firings and layoffs.

The campaign, however, has mostly backfired. Gingrich has united the conservative chattering class against him enough that Winning Our Future's major financial backer, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has distanced himself from the documentary, and Gingrich has called for its producers to either edit the film or "pull it off the air and off the internet entirely." In the process, Gingrich has managed to generate the one thing that the Romney campaign has failed to win or buy for itself: sympathy.

But what’s good for Romney may be bad for the rest of us. Gingrich’s attacks aren’t just helping to unite conservatives in defense of Romney, they’re distracting from the very real flaws in Romney’s record.

Gingrich’s criticisms of Romney’s time at Bain Capital have backfired in part because they’re straight out of the liberal playbook. Indeed, they amount to attacks on the essence of capitalism: creative destruction. That’s especially true of Romney’s Bain Capital, which was spun out of Bain and Co., an early player in the world of high-end management consulting, in the mid 1980s. Most private equity firms at the time relied primarily on financial engineering to increase the value of the companies they worked with.

But according to Stephen Kaplan, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, Bain Capital’s innovation was marshalling the tools of management consulting in hopes of transforming companies into entities that weren’t just better financed, but better run. Private equity firms, Kaplan wrote in a 2008 paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, “applied performance-based managerial compensation, highly leveraged capital structures, and active governance to the companies in which it invested.” Overall, the strategy seems to have been a success: The “evidence suggests that private equity activity creates economic value on average.” For all practical purposes, Gingrich is attacking Romney for having run a business that helped create value.

The attacks on Romney aren’t just misguided; they’re also inaccurate, relying on factual errors and quotes taken out of context. Here’s just one example: The half hour documentary funded by the Gingrich-supporting Super PAC Winning the Future tells the story of UniMac, a Florida company that made laundry equipment. The documentary leads viewers to think that UniMac was bought and shut down by Bain through another firm, Raytheon, that was Bain under a different name. But as CNN Money’s Dan Primack noted earlier this week, Bain and Raytheon weren’t the same thing. Raytheon bought UniMac in 1994, then merged it with other companies. Bain didn’t buy that unit until four years later.

Even the timing and delivery of Gingrich’s attacks will likely help Romney in the long run. If Romney wins the nomination, the Obama campaign will have a harder time using Bain’s record against him. Not only will they be old news, they’ll be associated with a disreputable, discredited Republican candidate.

Meanwhile, Gingrich’s attacks have distracted people from the true problems with Romney’s record—his long history of flip-flops, his enthusiasm for technocratic fiddling, his unimpressive Medicare reform proposal, his significant role in passing the Massachusetts health care overhaul that served as the model for ObamaCare, and the weakness of his plan to undo ObamaCare through federally granted waivers to the states.

Gingrich’s suicide run ultimately tells us more about his own desperate political narcissism than it does about Mitt Romney, whose business career is the best part of his record. There are plenty of reasons to complain about Romney, but his time at Bain isn’t one of them.



Voter ID: Necessary or Discriminatory?

You need a proper form of government ID to drive a vehicle, buy alcohol or tobacco products, and even to apply for welfare assistance, so why not require an ID to vote?

That’s the line of thinking of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who, along with South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, are filing suit against the U.S. Department of Justice, which recently rejected the state’s new Voter ID law, enforcing provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Last May, South Carolina state lawmakers passed a law requiring voters show a valid, state-approved photo ID before they cast a ballot. But the U.S. Justice Department rejected the law saying it discriminated against minority voters.

But when you need a valid form of government ID in so many other daily situations, how is it discriminatory to ask for one before exercising your right to vote?

States like Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Kansas, Tennessee and, if approved by the Department of Justice, Texas, all have strict photo ID voting laws. South Carolina hopes to join them.

Supporters of voter ID say it helps to prevent voter fraud. “Voting in this country is one of our most valuable honors and rights as U.S. citizens,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “If people lose trust in the voting system then our entire democracy and the framework of our government is lost. Requiring voters to show a valid ID is an easy step to take that keeps people’s trust in the system.”

On the other hand, many agree with the concerns coming from the U.S. Justice Department that voter ID can lead to discrimination.

When voter ID was passed in Mississippi last year, many felt it was an attack on non-whites. “Our analysis shows that Mississippi’s voter ID law is another example of a law with a racially discriminatory effect being implemented over minority voters’ strong objections,” Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the Huffington Post. “Seventy-five percent of minorities in the state said no to having to comply with what amounts to a modern-day poll tax in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

Voter ID is a contentious topic that clearly strikes a nerve with those who are adamantly against it as well as those who fully support it, which is likely why many states have no voter ID laws at all.

But despite the arguments for or against voter ID, America’s past does contain allegations and some possible shreds of proof of voter fraud.

One such controversial election was in 1984 in Indiana’s 8th district. The election battle was so tight between Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) and Republican-challenger Rick McIntyre that the results were decided upon in Congress. After a recount of votes by Indiana’s Secretary of State that ruled McIntyre the winner, the Democratic-controlled House refused to seat either candidate until it conducted its own investigation. With a task force leading the investigation composed of two Democrats and one Republican, McCloskey took his seat in the House where he was claimed the winner by only four votes. Republicans temporarily left the House Chamber in protest.

In another instance, during the 1996 Congressional elections, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) came under fire of Republicans as she took her place in the House replacing former incumbent Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-CA) in California’s 46th district.

House sources to this day say former Rep. Dornan’s seat was stolen from him. The House Oversight Committee, then led by Republicans, launched an investigation into the race and found that non-U.S. citizens voted in the election, possibly attributing to Rep. Sanchez’s lead over Dornan.

Speculation still ensues over recent elections such as now Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) winning over former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) in the 2008 Senate election in Minnesota State. Also, the Washington State governor’s race of 2004 was decided by 133 votes out of 2.8 million cast. Recounting the votes a third time was the ticket for Democrat Christine Gregoire who was declared a winner by a state judge even after losing in two separate recounts against Republican Dino Rossi.

These states that want a strict voter ID law want to protect the rights of voters and the honor of the voting system. Their objective is not to discriminate.

What happens when citizens lose trust in a nation’s government is they become subjects instead of citizens. In the words of Joseph Stalin: “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” Those words should never ring true in America.


Doubts about Harry Reid's most recent win might also have been mentioned above


U.S. Veteran’s unemployment rate soars above 13 percent

By Rebecca DiFede — In the 236 years since its birth, our great nation has been involved in a great many battles that have forever changed the course of history, both for us and for our allies and foes. Needless to say, America wouldn’t be what it is without the brave men and women who sacrificed everything to fight for our freedom.

Recently, President Obama ended the war in Iraq and welcomed home thousands of brave young Americans. However upon their return home and start of their transition into civilian life, they were faced with a startling realization: there are no jobs.

According to a press release from Generation Opportunity, a non-profit dedicated to helping Americans create a better future, unemployment around veterans aged 18-29 has increased to 1 in 3 for the last quarter of 2011, up from 1 in 5 in the last quarter of 2010.

The overall unemployment rate for young veterans rose to a whopping 13.1 percent at the end of December, and 43 percent of those employed are unsatisfied with their current employment. These are the people whose decision to serve helped ensure that our Constitution still has meaning, and meanwhile they struggle to find jobs in an economy that’s barely afloat.

Only 36 percent of veterans aged 18-29 believe that there is the right leadership in Washington, and a hefty 69 percent think current leadership fails to represent their interests. Yet another example that illustrates the tides of favor slowly beginning to pull away from the shores of our illustrious president.

2012 has begun, and the battle for control of the high seas of this nation is a tough one. With our captain failing to make good on his promises time and time again, it seems that the smell of electoral mutiny is in the air.

As more and more of our nation’s youths fall into unemployment — 77 percent of whom already have or will delay a major life change because of economic reasons — thus increases the already widespread dissatisfaction with the current administration.




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Friday, January 13, 2012

The New Authoritarianism

A firm hand for a “nation of dodos”

“I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer,” said President Obama this week as he claimed new powers for himself in making recess appointments while Congress wasn’t legally in recess. The chief executive’s power grab in naming appointees to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board has been depicted by administration supporters as one forced upon a reluctant Obama by Republican intransigence. But this isn’t the first example of the president’s increasing tendency to govern with executive-branch powers. He has already explained that “where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves.” On a variety of issues, from immigration to the environment to labor law, that’s just what he’s been doing—and he may try it even more boldly should he win reelection. This “go it alone” philosophy reflects an authoritarian trend emerging on the political left since the conservative triumph in the 2010 elections.

The president and his coterie could have responded to the 2010 elections by conceding the widespread public hostility to excessive government spending and regulation. That’s what the more clued-in Clintonites did after their 1994 midterm defeats. But unlike Clinton, who came from the party’s moderate wing and hailed from the rural South, the highly urban progressive rump that is Obama’s true base of support has little appreciation for suburban or rural Democrats. In fact, some liberals even celebrated the 2010 demise of the Blue Dog and Plains States Democrats, concluding that the purged party could embrace a purer version of the liberal agenda. So instead of appealing to the middle, the White House has pressed ahead with Keynesian spending and a progressive regulatory agenda.

Much of the administration’s approach has to do with a change in the nature of liberal politics. Today’s progressives cannot be viewed primarily as pragmatic Truman- or Clinton-style majoritarians. Rather, they resemble the medieval clerical class. Their goal is governmental control over everything from what sort of climate science is permissible to how we choose to live our lives. Many of today’s progressives can be as dogmatic in their beliefs as the most strident evangelical minister or mullah. Like Al Gore declaring the debate over climate change closed, despite the Climategate e-mails and widespread skepticism, the clerisy takes its beliefs as based on absolute truth. Critics lie beyond the pale.

The problem for the clerisy lies in political reality. The country’s largely suburban and increasingly Southern electorate does not see big government as its friend or wise liberal mandarins as the source of its salvation. This sets up a potential political crisis between those who know what’s good and a presumptively ignorant majority. Obama is burdened, says Joe Klein of Time, by governing a “nation of dodos” that is “too dumb to thrive,” as the title of his story puts it, without the guidance of our president. But if the people are too deluded to cooperate, elements in the progressive tradition have a solution: European-style governance by a largely unelected bureaucratic class.

The tension between self-government and “good” government has existed since the origins of modern liberalism. Thinkers such as Herbert Croly and Randolph Bourne staked a claim to a priestly wisdom far greater than that possessed by the ordinary mortal. As Croly explained, “any increase in centralized power and responsibility . . . is injurious to certain aspects of traditional American democracy. But the fault in that case lies with the democratic tradition” and the fact that “the average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities as a democrat.”

During the first two years of the Obama administration, the progressives persuaded themselves that favorable demographics and the consequences of the George W. Bush years would assure the consent of the electorate. They drew parallels with how growing urbanization and Herbert Hoover’s legacy worked for FDR in the 1930s. But FDR enhanced his majority in his first midterm election in 1934; the current progressive agenda, by contrast, was roundly thrashed in 2010. Obama may compare himself to Roosevelt and even to Lincoln, but the electorate does not appear to share this assessment.

After the 2010 thrashing, progressives seemed uninterested in moderating their agenda. Left-wing standard bearers Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation and Robert Borosage of the Institute for Policy Studies went so far as to argue that Obama should bypass Congress whenever necessary and govern using his executive authority over the government’s regulatory agencies. This autocratic agenda of enhanced executive authority has strong support with people close to White House, such as John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, a left-liberal think tank. “The U.S. Constitution and the laws of our nation grant the president significant authority to make and implement policy,” Podesta has written. “These authorities can be used to ensure positive progress on many of the key issues facing the country.”

Podesta has proposed what amounts to a national, more ideological variant of what in Obama’s home state is known as “The Chicago Way.” Under that system, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune explains, “citizens, even Republicans, are expected to take what big government gives them. If the political boss suggests that you purchase some expensive wrought-iron fence to decorate your corporate headquarters, and the guy selling insurance to the wrought-iron boys is the boss’ little brother, you write the check.” But the American clerisy isn’t merely a bunch of corrupt politicians and bureaucratic lifers, and the United States isn’t one-party Chicago. The clerisy are more like an ideological vanguard, one based largely in academe and the media as well as part of the high-tech community.

Their authoritarian progressivism—at odds with the democratic, pluralistic traditions within liberalism—tends to evoke science, however contested, to justify its authority. The progressives themselves are, in Daniel Bell’s telling phrase, “the priests of the machine.” Their views are fairly uniform and can be seen in “progressive legal theory,” which displaces the seeming plain meaning of the Constitution with constructions derived from the perceived needs of a changing political environment. Belief in affirmative action, environmental justice, health-care reform, and redistribution from the middle class to the poor all find foundation there. More important still is a radical environmental agenda fervently committed to the idea that climate change has a human origin—a kind of secular notion of original sin. But these ideas are not widely shared by most people. The clerisy may see in Obama “reason incarnate,” as George Packer of The New Yorker put it, but the majority of the population remains more concerned about long-term unemployment and a struggling economy than about rising sea levels or the need to maintain racial quotas.

Despite the president’s clear political weaknesses—his job-approval ratings remain below 50 percent—he retains a reasonable shot at reelection. In the coming months, he will likely avoid pushing too hard on such things as overregulating business, particularly on the environmental front, which would undermine the nascent recovery and stir too much opposition from corporate donors. American voters may also be less than enthusiastic about the Republican alternatives topping the ticket. And one should never underestimate the power of even a less-than-popular president. Obama can count on a strong chorus of support from the media and many of the top high-tech firms, which have enjoyed lavish subsidies and government loans for “green” projects.

If Obama does win, 2013 could possibly bring something approaching a constitutional crisis. With the House and perhaps the Senate in Republican hands, Obama’s clerisy may be tempted to use the full range of executive power. The logic for running the country from the executive has been laid out already. Republican control of just the House, argues Chicago congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., has made America ungovernable. Obama, he said during the fight over the debt limit, needed to bypass the Constitution because, as in 1861, the South (in this case, the Southern Republicans) was “in a state of rebellion” against lawful authority. Beverley Perdue, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, concurred: she wanted to have elections suspended for a stretch. (Perdue’s office later insisted this was a joke, but most jokes aren’t told deadpan or punctuated with “I really hope someone can agree with me on that.” Also: Nobody laughed.)

The Left’s growing support for a soft authoritarianism is reminiscent of the 1930s, when many on both right and left looked favorably at either Stalin’s Soviet experiment or its fascist and National Socialist rivals. Tom Friedman of the New York Times recently praised Chinese-style authoritarianism for advancing the green agenda. The “reasonably enlightened group” running China, he asserted, was superior to our messy democracy in such things as subsidizing green industry. Steven Rattner, the investment banker and former Obama car czar, dismisses the problems posed by China’s economic and environmental foibles and declares himself “staunchly optimistic” about the future of that country’s Communist Party dictatorship. And it’s not just the gentry liberals identifying China as their model: labor leader Andy Stern, formerly the president of the Service Employees International Union and a close ally of the White House, celebrates Chinese authoritarianism and says that our capitalistic pluralism is headed for “the trash heap of history.” The Chinese, Stern argues, get things done.

A victorious Obama administration could embrace a soft version of the Chinese model. The mechanisms of control already exist. The bureaucratic apparatus, the array of policy czars and regulatory enforcers commissioned by the executive branch, has grown dramatically under Obama. Their ability to control and prosecute people for violations relating to issues like labor and the environment—once largely the province of states and localities—can be further enhanced. In the post-election environment, the president, using agencies like the EPA, could successfully strangle whole industries—notably the burgeoning oil and natural gas sector—and drag whole regions into recession. The newly announced EPA rules on extremely small levels of mercury and other toxins, for example, will sharply raise electricity rates in much of the country, particularly in the industrial heartland; greenhouse-gas policy, including, perhaps, an administratively imposed “cap and trade,” would greatly impact entrepreneurs and new investors forced to purchase credits from existing polluters. On a host of social issues, the new progressive regime could employ the Justice Department to impose national rulings well out of sync with local sentiments. Expansions of affirmative action, gay rights, and abortion rights could become mandated from Washington even in areas, such as the South, where such views are anathema.

This future can already been seen in fiscally challenged California. The state should be leading a recovery, not lagging behind the rest of the country. But in a place where Obama-style progressives rule without effective opposition, the clerisy has already enacted a score of regulatory mandates that are chasing businesses, particularly in manufacturing, out of the state. It has also passed land-use policies designed to enforce density, in effect eliminating the dream of single-family homes for all but the very rich in much of the state.

A nightmare scenario would be a constitutional crisis pitting a relentless executive power against a disgruntled, alienated opposition lacking strong, intelligent leadership. Over time, the new authoritarians would elicit even more opposition from the “dodos” who make up the majority of Americans residing in the great landmass outside the coastal strips and Chicago. The legacy of the Obama years—once so breathlessly associated with hope and reconciliation—may instead be growing pessimism and polarization.



Cost of Obamacare Regulations Underestimated by Billions of Dollars

The Obama Administration underestimated the costs of Obamacare regulations by billions of dollars says the non-partisan Mercatus Center at George Mason University in a working paper it issued on Monday. The study examines eight Obamacare regulations issued in 2010 that became law before public comment was allowed because of the brief timeline Obamacare gave for their implementation.

Mercatus carefully studied the required cost/benefit analysis used by the Administration. And it found that the Administration’s cost estimates tended to be underestimated while its benefit estimates tended to be overestimated. The result is that the cost of implementing these eight regulations may be billions of dollars more than the Obama Administration is willing to admit.

For example, Mercatus says that, “For the ‘Early Retiree Reinsurance Program’ rule, costs were underestimated by $9-$10 billion over four years. More accurately calculated benefits might have been about one-third as high as estimated.”

This comes as no surprise to us at Americans for Limited Government. We’ve caught the Obama administration artificially inflating Obamacare’s benefits before.

For instance, on September 7, 2010 we submitted a public comment that criticized the Obama Administration for “describ[ing] [the preventive services regulation] as having a cost-savings benefit while supplying insufficient evidence to back such a claim and ignoring evidence to the contrary.”

The Mercatus study confirms our criticism: “The selective review of the literature provided in the RIA gives the uninformed reader a false impression of the extent to which preventive health services are cost-saving. Literature reviews consistently have concluded that most clinical preventive services typically are not cost-saving.”

While the Mercatus Center’s working paper does not scrutinize the paperwork burden analysis of these regulations (we hope they will consider doing so in the future), we’ve found that the Administration also underestimates how much it will cost Americans to comply with the paperwork these regulations generate.

Of the eight regulations examined by the Mercatus study, we commented on six of them, and in three of those six we flagged errors in the Obama Administration’s paperwork burden cost calculations.

One such error is the Administration’s estimate of what it costs per hour for legal services. The Administration estimates that it costs $119 per hour to hire an attorney. Using the Laffey Matrix we estimate that the average billing rate for a Washington, DC attorney is more like $427 per hour. In just one regulation this mistake could amount to tens of millions of dollars. But even the billing rate for paralegals of $155 per hour is well above the Administration’s estimate for attorneys.

By underestimating the costs of Obamacare’s paperwork burden, the Obama Administration is also underestimating Obamacare’s implementation costs which will have to be borne by the American public.

Before Obamacare’s passage Nancy Pelosi prophesized, “[W]e have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it….”

The Obama Administration can continue to paint rosy pictures of Obamacare, but the more we find out what’s in it, the more we see it for what it really is.




MS: Court blocks release of inmates pardoned by Barbour: "A judge has temporarily blocked the release of 21 inmates who'd been given pardons or medical release by Republican Haley Barbour in one of his final acts as governor. ... [Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood] said he believes Barbour might have violated the state constitution by pardoning some inmates who failed to give sufficient public notice that they were seeking to have their records cleared."

NJ: Lawmaker looks to update alimony rules: "Fairness must be put back into divorce court, an advocacy group in New Jersey is arguing, pushing legislation to update what it says are antiquated alimony laws that disproportionately favor the recipients of alimony, regardless of changing circumstances. 'Lifetime alimony and the family court system in New Jersey are driving real people to the brink,' Tom Leustek, president and founder of New Jersey Alimony Reform, told"

No, Bain did not get a “bailout”: "Left-wing blogs and Mitt Romney’s presidential-primary rivals -- and who can tell those apart this week? -- have charged that Bain & Company, the firm Romney once headed, was the beneficiary of not one but two bailouts: one from the FDIC, and one from the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. These allegations are nakedly false."

Hurting the poor, helping the rich: "Coming from Randian roots, I have a deep appreciation for the virtues of business, and of wealth that has been earned. I do not consider myself to be a liberal-tarian. I usually agree with the Right and disagree with the Left. But the more I look around, the more I see that socialism is really a tool by means of which millionaire elites keep the poor masses from rising up."



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Thursday, January 12, 2012

In New Hampshire, 'acceptable' is pronounced 'winner'

by Jeff Jacoby

FOR ANYONE gauging the Republican presidential contest, this week's most significant poll results weren't the ones tabulated in New Hampshire last night. They were the ones released by Gallup yesterday morning.

To say such a thing is heresy, I realize, given the long months of New Hampshire campaigning and the media's obsessive focus on the state over the last few weeks. But more telling than Mitt Romney's long-expected victory in the Granite State -- he drew about 38 percent of the vote, followed at a considerable distance by Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman -- was Gallup's finding that among Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) nationwide, only the former Massachusetts governor is regarded as an "acceptable" GOP nominee across the ideological spectrum.

A large majority of both conservative Republicans and moderate/liberal Republicans -- 59 percent in both cases -- told Gallup that a Romney nomination for president would be acceptable. No other candidate had majority support among moderate/liberals; and only Newt Gingrich (51 percent) and Santorum (50 percent) were deemed acceptable by at least half of the conservatives.

Granted, being seen as "acceptable" by most Republicans isn't the same as winning their hearts and minds. Romney has never fired the Republican base with enthusiasm, and the party's anyone-but-Romney contingent certainly hasn't thrown in the towel. According to Gallup's tracking polls, only 30 percent of Republican voters say that Romney is the candidate they would prefer to nominate. But that's after months in which conventional wisdom has insisted that Romney's ceiling of support was no higher than 25 percent. And it's significantly higher than anyone else in the field is drawing.

The old saw is that Democrats fall in love with their candidates while Republicans fall in line behind theirs. It's a dubious rule of thumb -- were Democrats in love with John Kerry in 2004? With Michael Dukakis in 1988? -- but this much is true: Conservative insurgents rarely win the GOP presidential nomination. The nod almost always goes to the party establishment's candidate.

This year that candidate is Mitt Romney. If Gallup's numbers are right -- and New Hampshire offers no reason to doubt them -- the GOP nomination is now his to lose.



Independents Sour On Obama Despite Improving Economy

Americans are feeling better about the economy, but they aren't giving President Obama credit as he seeks re-election, according to the latest IBD/TIPP survey.

The Economic Optimism Index shot up 11% in January to 47.5, still below the neutral 50 level but the fifth straight monthly gain and the best reading since February 2011.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Leadership Index fell 3.3% to 46.7, little changed over the last several months despite less gloomy views on the economy.

Most ominously for Obama, the president's support fell considerably among independents, with their presidential reading tumbling 9.7% to 41.7. They disapproved of his job performance by 52%-39% in January vs. 46%-44% in December.

Obama will find it very difficult to win in November without substantial support from this key voting bloc. He won them 52%-44% over GOP candidate John McCain in 2008. The IBD/TIPP poll shows that 40% of independents think Obama deserves a second term while 52% prefer a "different candidate." The re-elect numbers across all voters are 45%-49%.

January's economic bounce may reflect typical "New Year hopes," says Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD's polling partner.

However, recent data suggest that the U.S. economy is gradually firming, including manufacturing and jobs. It's unclear though if that can continue with Europe falling into recession and global growth slowing significantly.

Independents also reported improvement on the personal economic situation. Twenty-three percent of independents expected the quality of their life to improve in the next six months vs. 14% in December.

"There is a wide delta between how (independents) perceive their own economic situation vs. the nation's economic situation," said Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy at the center-left think tank Third Way. "They have a far sunnier view of their own personal finances than the nation's. That's something Obama needs to understand."

IBD/TIPP found mixed results on national issues. On the direction of the nation, 29% were satisfied vs. 69% unsatisfied, essentially unchanged from last month. On the issue of whether the U.S. economy will be better or worse in the next six months, a net 8% said it would be worse, though that's up from 22% in December.

Two other factors may be souring Obama's image among independents. Independents are worried about the deficit. In January, 55% of independents gave Obama a grade of D or F on handling the budget, up from 49% last month.

They also may have lost patience with the president on the economy. Independents were somewhat more satisfied with federal economic policies this month, 34%-64%, up from 30%-69% in December. But that is still a big deterioration from 44%-52% in January 2011.

It seems likely that for Obama's numbers to improve with independents, the economy will have to register some very strong growth in the next six months.

That becomes all the more crucial as the number of independent voters has grown over 320,000, or 3.4%, since 2008, according to a new Third Way study. The study shows that Republicans lost over 334,000 voters since 2008 while Democrats have lost over 834,000.

"This makes independents all the more important, more so than in any recent election," said Ellis. "The IBD/TIPP poll shows Obama has his work cut out for himself with independents. He hasn't yet closed the deal with them."



Supreme Court Rejects Obama Administration Power Grab Over Churches in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC

The Supreme Court has rejected the Obama administration’s argument that it can dictate who churches hire as ministers or clergy in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Obama administration unsuccessfully argued that the government can dictate who churches hire, as long as it also subjects secular employers to the same dictates regarding who they hire (so-called rules of general applicability).

Taken to its logical conclusion, this argument would allow the government to ban a church or synagogue from hiring based on religion (defeating the whole purpose of religious freedom, which is to allow churches to promote their own religion) or sex (preventing the Catholic Church from having a male priesthood). No Supreme Court justice bought the administration’s argument, made on behalf of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Supreme Court unanimously found that such government control over who churches can hire would violate the religion clauses of the First Amendment.

If federal antidiscrimination laws covered churches’ hiring of clergy, as the Obama administration demanded, they would have to not just avoid discriminating based on things like sex or religion, but would also have to radically alter sensible hiring criteria by eliminating longstanding, neutral church practices that have the affect of inadvertently screening out more members of a minority group than of other groups (so-called “disparate impact” or “unintentional discrimination”).

For example, some branches of the Lutheran Church have hiring criteria for religious broadcasters on their radio programs, such as “knowledge of Lutheran doctrine,” and “classical music training,” that few minorities satisfy (only 2 percent of all people with Lutheran training are minorities, and only 0.1 percent of people with both Lutheran training and classical music training are minorities), given the Lutheran Church’s historical roots in overwhelmingly white areas like Germany, Scandinavia, and Minnesota. Even though they are happy to have black applicants, and do not treat black applicants worse based on their race, the EEOC could easily sue them for racially disparate impact if the Obama administration’s argument had been accepted. (The religion clauses of the First Amendment not only protect who churches hire as ministers, but also other people who serve as “voices of the church,” such as theology professors, and religious broadcasters on behalf of a church.)

We previously wrote about ways that the Obama administration is attacking religious freedom and separation of church and state at this link. We described how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is wiping out jobs and discouraging hiring and job creation through onerous interpretations of federal employment laws, at this link.

The extreme position taken by the Obama Justice Department in the Hosanna-Tabor case is a reflection of ideologically-based hiring. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department has chosen to hire only liberal lawyers, not moderates or conservatives, for key Justice Department posts that are supposed to be non-political career appointments. Although many experienced lawyers are out of work in the current economic slump, the Obama Justice Department has hired many liberals who have no real-world legal experience, rather than hiring based on merit.

More commentary about the Hosanna-Tabor case can be found at this link. (The Obama administration suggested in its briefs that freedom of association could provide a theoretical check on government demands that institutions not hire based on specified criteria, even if — as it claimed — religious freedom does not limit the reach of employment laws that apply to both secular and religious employers. But this suggestion was disingenuous, since the administration and the EEOC have argued in other cases that free-association rights are outweighed and overridden by the government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination. And free-association defenses, unlike religious-freedom defenses, are generally losers, as the Supreme Court’s Hishon, Jaycees , and New York State Club Association decisions illustrate. Those rulings held that the government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination overrode the mere free-association rights of a law firm and various private clubs.)



Why Liberals Favor Campaign Season Censorship

If people can be totally convinced by a few campaign ads, then the real objection is not advertising—but democracy itself

Liberals are nearly united against Citizens United. This means they are nearly united in favor of censorship. But that has not stopped the Supreme Court decision from being roundly denounced by everyone with progressive DNA – from the elderly solons at The New York Times to the youthful idealists of Occupy Wall Street.

Cities from Missoula to Miami have condemned the ruling. Now the prestige press has gotten in on the act, again.

Media outlets across the country have begun airing stories about how 2012’s campaign ads are the unholy spawn of 2010’s ruling. Already The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and the LA Times have run such stories. NPR has run a half-dozen. (“Illegal During Watergate, Unlimited Campaign Donations Now Fair Game,” ran the headline on one fair-and-balanced look at the issue.)

Media corporations such as those, which spend huge sums of money talking about politicians, just can’t stand it when non-media corporations get to do the same thing.

And lest anyone forget that is precisely what the case was about. In 2008 a nonprofit, incorporated group called Citizens United wanted to distribute a documentary about Hillary Clinton. But doing so during an election campaign would have violated a 2002 campaign-finance law prohibiting “electioneering communications” within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election.

A law that forbids American citizens to urge the election or defeat of a political candidate raises some obvious First Amendment concerns. During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that book publishers are corporations. He asked the government’s lawyer if the law could prohibit publishing a book that said, “Vote for X.”

Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart said yes—the government: “could prohibit the publication of the book.” Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and former head of Common Cause, later agreed that “a campaign document in the form of a book can be banned.”

To its credit, the ACLU did not side with liberal censors. The provision in dispute is “facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment,” the ACLU said, “because it permits the suppression of core political speech.” And that is just how the high court ruled.

You won’t learn much of that from the scare stories about the new “super PACs.” Instead, you’ll get endless variations on a single theme: Citizens United has made possible a torrent of “negative ads” from “outside groups.”

The theme’s unstated premise is that ostensibly unfortunate results should trump the First Amendment. This is not a wise line of argument for anyone who values a free press to make, but never mind. Are the results really unfortunate? For instance, what is wrong with negative ads? Often they do just what journalists claim is their most noble task: speaking truth to power. As a general rule, “attack” ads from opponents contain more useful information than positive ads from candidates. Positive ads show Candidate X striding manfully across sun-drenched fields while he recites a script about how much he loves America and wants to make it great again. Negative ads tell you how the guy voted.

But the ads are made by (eek!) “outside groups.” Outside of what, exactly? The campaigns themselves—along with the political parties’ paid apparatchiks—which do not like to have their monologues about their candidates’ wonderfulness interrupted. But The New York Times is an outside group. So is the AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, the Brady Campaign, and—along with the Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, and the National Right to Life Committee. To term such organizations “outside” is to imply that elections are for the party pros, and everyone else should sit on the sidelines.

If this is the great unspoken wish of campaign “reformers,” then their great unspoken fear is that campaign ads might actually persuade. After all, if campaign ads never worked, then who spent what on them would not matter. This raises two possibilities. The first is that the people are so incredibly stupid a few 30-second spots can lead them by the nose. If that is the case, then the real objection is not advertising—but democracy itself.

The second possibility is that people are not stupid. They listen to competing cases from all sides and then choose according to their own interests and values. If that is the case, then the problem is, again, democracy itself. Why? Because every demand that A be prevented from speaking is, equally, a demand that all others be prevented from hearing. Hence the ultimate aim of rationing political speech is to make sure people who can think for themselves don’t have too much to think about.




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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now investors pay to lend money to Britain, which has become a safe haven thanks to the eurozone crisis

Investors paid for the right to lend money to the UK yesterday, amid fresh fears over the future of the eurozone. The Government sold £700million of bonds – long-term IOUs – in an extraordinary auction that saw it charge lenders to take on the debt.

Governments usually have to pay to borrow on international money markets, but Britain’s austerity measures mean it has emerged as a safe haven while the single currency crisis rages.

Once inflation is taken into account, the interest rate charged by lenders for 35-year bonds hit minus 0.116 per cent – meaning the Government will make rather than lose money on the deal. By contrast, debt-stricken countries in the eurozone are being charged higher and higher rates to borrow.

To make matters worse, ratings agency Fitch warned yesterday that a number of countries – including Italy – could see their credit ratings downgraded by the end of this month. It claimed that Italy is the biggest cause for alarm – and added that bailed-out Greece could crash out of the single currency by the end of the year.

Yet as fears grow about the ability of many European nations to pay their way, Britain and Germany are emerging as the countries of choice for investors seeking shelter from the financial storm.

A source close to Chancellor George Osborne said of yesterday’s events: ‘This reinforces how our plan is delivering fiscal credibility, which in turn is delivering low interest rates for families and businesses up and down the country. Labour would put all that at risk.’

Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets, said the negative yield – the situation whereby investors must pay to lend – was ‘unusual but indicative of the times we are trading in’. He added: ‘Our economy is not immune to the eurozone troubles, but the UK won’t default because the Bank [of England] will print more money. Whether it will be the same value is another thing, but you will always get your money back.’

Another City analyst, David Buik of BGC Partners, agreed that the auction was a testament to Britain’s strength. ‘It is another classic illustration of a flight to quality created by an immeasurable slew of fear of the unknown,’ he said.

David Miller, a partner at Cheviot Asset Management, said investors ‘view Britain as a safe haven and a beacon of sanity in Europe’. He continued: ‘The low borrowing rate will give us a firm foundation for economic recovery.’



As U.S. home prices fall, more borrowers walk away

When David Martin and his wife bought their north Seattle condo five years ago, they figured they had plenty of time to downsize if they needed to before they retired.

Now, with the property worth roughly $60,000 less than the balance of their mortgage, Martin, 68, has been giving serious thought to just walking away, a process lenders call "strategic default."

"Guilt and morality are one side, and objective financial analysis are on the other side," Martin said. "They're coming to two opposite conclusions. I wonder how many other people are struggling with the same question."

Strategic defaults like the one contemplated by Martin are on the rise. A survey last year by two Chicago-area finance professors, Paola Sapienza at Northwestern University and Luigi Zingales at the University of Chicago, found that roughly three out of 10 mortgage defaults in 2010 were by homeowners who could afford to make their payments, up from 22 percent in 2009.

Researchers point to a number of forces that are driving borrowers to walk away from their mortgages. At the top of the list is the estimated 12 million homes that are underwater, meaning the owners owe more than they are worth.

Until recently, borrowers like Martin and many industry analysts held out hope that a housing recovery would reverse the rising tide of "negative equity." But after stabilizing this summer, home prices began falling again, dropping 7.5 percent in the third quarter alone and leaving more homeowners underwater.

In the early stages of the housing bust, the main causes of defaults included unemployment or other financial setbacks and adjustable mortgages that reset to unaffordable levels, according to researchers. Now, five years into the housing recession, strategic defaults are growing as financially healthy borrowers learn of friends or family who have decided to walk away.

Researchers say strategic default is also more common among borrowers who feel no personal connection to the party on the other end of the transaction. Gone are the days when you walked into a bank and met with a lender who shepherded your application and congratulated you when the loan was approved, said Michael Seiler, a finance professor at Old Dominion University and a co-author of the MBA study.

"If you defaulted, it was like you were defaulting on your friend," he said. "Your kids might go to the same school. You all might go to the same church. And you're constantly reminded of who you're defaulting on."

That scenario is a far cry from the modern system of mortgage finance, where loans are sold over the phone or online, chopped up into pieces and then sold to multiple, anonymous investors. Many underwater homeowners who try to negotiate with their lender can't even find out who owns their loan.

"We're finding that people are much more willing to walk away when the other party is unknown or what you might call a 'bad bank,'" said Seiler. "Those are the ones that received a lot of bailout funds or were active in the subprime market, giving loans to people who couldn't afford them and they knew that."

The mortgage lending industry's widespread reluctance to modify loan terms has also changed homeowner attitudes about walking away, according to Maddux. "They feel much better about doing it if they've tried to contact the lender and the lender won't budge," he said. "They feel justified about it because they've tried to do their best to work it out."

Still, there are much more serious consequences to strategic default than pangs of guilt. Any loan default will damage a borrower's credit score. But some strategic defaulters are finding that the impact isn't as long-lasting as widely believed, according to Maddux. "You don’t destroy your credit, you wound your credit," he said. "Just like a wound, it heals over time."

Maddux said surveys of the roughly 8,000 customers who have signed up for his service in the last four years found that some strategic defaulters are able to restore their credit in as little as a year and a half.

"There's a process to strategic default and a lot of people don't know how to do it," said Kopcak. "They don't really know what their options are. People really need to talk to a lawyer who knows the process."



Leftism Makes You Meaner

Only a fool believes that all those with whom he differs are bad people. Moreover, just about all of us live the reality -- often within our own family -- of knowing good and loving people with whom we strongly differ on political, religious, social and economic issues. That said, I have come to believe that the more committed one is to leftism, the more likely one is to become meaner.

Two examples in just the past week offer compelling evidence.

Prominent left-wing commentators used the way in which Rick Santorum and his wife handled the death of one of their children to attack -- make that mock -- the former Pennsylvania senator.

In a lifetime of observing and participating in political debate, I have seen a lot of meanness. But one just assumes that some things -- not many, just some -- are off limits to political pundits and activists. Among these few things, one has to believe, is the death of a child. But I was wrong.

In 1996, Karen Santorum gave birth to a premature baby boy who died two hours later. After spending the night in the hospital with their baby son between them, the grieving parents brought the lifeless infant home for a brief period because, Santorum explained, it was important to them for their other children to "know they had a brother." The Santorums didn't want Gabriel Michael Santorum to be an abstraction to his siblings.

First, Alan Colmes on Fox News: "Once (voters) get a load of some of the crazy things he's said and done, like taking his 2-hour-old baby who died right after childbirth home and played with it for a couple of hours so his other children would know that the child was real ..."

Colmes was then interrupted by Rich Lowry: "You are mocking him. They lost a child, Alan. That's very serious and it's not something you should be mocking on national TV." Colmes' response: "I'm not mocking the losing of the child. But what I'm saying is I think it shows a certain unusual attitude toward taking a 2-hour-baby home who died to play with his other children."

In addition to engaging in a cheap and mean shot, Colmes simply made up the notion that the Santorums had brought the baby home for their other children "to play with."

The next day, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer-Prize winning left-wing columnist for The Washington Post, said on MSNBC, Santorum is "not a little weird. He's really weird. Some of his positions he's taken are just so weird that I think some Republicans are going to be off-put. Not everybody is going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child whose body they took home to kind of sleep with and introduce to the rest of the family. It's a very weird story."

Four times Robinson calls Santorum "weird," using the story about the death of the child as evidence. He was wrong on an important detail -- the child was not "stillborn." And, like Colmes, he made up a mocking detail -- that they took the child home "to kind of sleep with."

The meanness of these comments is self-evident, as Alan Colmes realized and later apologized to Santorum. Robinson, on the other hand, never apologized -- as RealClearPolitics, which has no political agenda, correctly reported -- even though repeatedly challenged to do so on MSNBC.

I raise these issues for only one reason: to provide further evidence of my belief that leftism makes more than a few of its adherents meaner people.

I have had many interactions with Alan Colmes, and while we always differ, I never found him to be mean-spirited. I still don't think he is mean-spirited, and though I am not the directly offended party, like Santorum, I accept his apology, because I believe he meant it.

So why did he say what he said? Because leftism fills many of its adherents with contempt and hatred. It takes a person of great character and self-control to continually imbibe and mouth the mantras of the left -- that everyone on the right is sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, islamophobic, racist and bigoted -- and not become a meaner human being. If I believed just about everyone with left-wing views was despicable, I would be meaner, too.

In a previous column, I wrote about Thomas Friedman making one of the classic anti-Semitic libels when he wrote that the reason the Senate and the House gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing ovations was because "that ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

How does a Jew write an anti-Semitic libel? Because he's on the left. That was the reason Rep. Andre Carson said that members of Congress who support the Tea Party want to see blacks "hanging on a tree." Because he's on the left.

Leftists' meanness toward those with whom they differ has no echo on the normative right. Those on the left need to do some soul-searching. Because as long as they continue to believe that people on the right are not merely wrong but vile, they will get increasingly mean. The problem for the left, however, is that the moment it stops painting the right as vile, it has to argue the issues.



Retiring Mississippi governor pardons four savage killers

A disgusting RINO. He's got a very mixed record as a Republican. More like an old Southern Democrat. A real "Good ol' boy"

Governor Haley Barbour, who is not seeking reelection, outraged victims' families by pardoning four murderers, one of whom had been denied parole just two weeks earlier.

All four convicted killers were trusties who worked in the Governor's Mansion, cooking, cleaning, and performing other tasks. According to MSNBC, Barbour said back in 2008 that pardoning criminals who worked in the governor's home was a long standing tradition in Mississippi.

Neither Barbour, who leaves office today, nor the Mississippi government publicized the pardons. But the families of the victims were notified by the Mississippi Department of Corrections that the men had been released last Sunday. It was family members who went to the media.

The pardon that caused the greatest controversy was that of David Gatlin, 40. Gatlin had applied for parole; an application that was just denied by the Mississippi Parole Board on Dec. 27.

In 1993, Gatlin broke into a residence, put a gun to the head of his estranged wife, Tammy Ellis Gatlin, and pulled the trigger, killing her. At the time she was shot, she was holding her 2-month-old son. Gatlin then shot Tammy's friend, Randy Walker, also in the head. Walker survived his injuries.

In 1994 Gatlin was convicted and was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. He was also sentenced to 20 years in jail for aggravated assault and 10 years for residential burglary. But apparently Barbour was pleased with the work Gatlin did in the Governor's Mansion so he pardoned him. According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Gatlin had been working at the governor's residence since Nov. 19, 2009.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger quoted Crystal Walker, Randy Walker's wife, as saying her family was notified last Friday that Gatlin had been denied parole. The next day they found out he was about to be pardoned. Said Crystal: "On parole he'd at least have to check in and have some supervision. Now he could live beside us, or we could run into him at Walmart. You're always looking over your shoulder."

Tiffany Ellis Brewer, Tammy's sister, said: "He shot her in the head while she was holding a baby. He's a cold-blooded murderer."

But according to Barbour, Gatlin "proved to be a diligent and dedicated workman."

The other three killers pardoned by the governor were Joseph Ozment, Anthony McCray, and Charles Hooker. All three men committed murder in the early 1990s. McCray killed his wife while Ozment killed a man in the course of a robbery.

The state's Democrats announced they will be introducing legislation to prevent future governors from doing what the outgoing Republican governor did. Under the proposals, public hearings would have to be held before someone with a felony conviction could receive a pardon.




Obama’s power grab sets precedent Democrats will regret: "What's next? Appointing executive branch officials when the Senate is taking a lunch or bathroom break? In November 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the Senate in pro forma session for the two-week Thanksgiving break. Every three days, a handful of senators would gavel the Senate into session and gavel it out just a few minutes later. ... Republicans were furious at this deliberate ploy to keep Bush from making recess appointments by never declaring a formal recess."

Why the movie studios and record companies want to kill YouTube — SOPA ain’t what you think it is!: "In 10 years it’s a dead cinch Freddie will be directing more and better full-blown movies. No question. Will there be a studio as his 'master?' I’d bet against it! He might well cut deals with direct-to-online outlets like Hulu, or sell exclusive-for-a-while rights to anybody from Netflix to DirecTV, and later break out completely into theaters. THIS is the threat the major media sees out of Youtube -- not piracy!"



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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Obama’s lost labor force

Or how to lie with statistics

Since Barack Obama assumed office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total population over age 16 has grown by 5.845 million to 240.5 million, and yet, since then, the civilian labor force has actually shrunk by 349,000 — from about 154.2 million to 153.8 million.

This is a startling contradiction, and it is at the heart of why the unemployment rate is much higher than the 8.5 percent being reported.

The problem is that the measured civilian labor force participation rate has fallen from 65.7 percent to 64 percent since Jan. 2009, reflecting people who have lost hope and simply stopped looking for work. If those people were still counted, the actual civilian labor force would be 4.176 million higher than is reported at about 158 million.

Based on this analysis, the number of unemployed is actually closer to 17 million instead of the 13 million reported jobless. That is simply astounding.

Instead of 8.5 percent, the effective unemployment rate should be closer to 10.9 percent, and the underemployed closer to 17.4 percent, or 27.3 million. This is what we mean when we say that the unemployment rate is no longer a valid economic indicator.

Propaganda is not going to get the real unemployed into jobs. It’s not going to help families keep their homes. It’s not going to help college graduates to enter the work force. We’re nowhere near where we should be, and it’s Obama’s fault.

It’s his regulatory burdens that are being imposed through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon endangerment finding and through Obamacare. It is he who is insisting on raising taxes on job creators, and playing class warfare to cobble together a constituency that wants to apparently take from their employers’ purses. It is Obama who has refused to get the nation’s crushing debt load under control, where the $15.2 trillion national debt is nearly larger than the entire economy.

To get the economy moving again, the government needs to slash corporate tax rates, which are the highest in the world of advanced economies. It is imperative that the regulatory overkill come to an end. The dollar needs to be strengthened to lower costs and stabilize energy and food costs. The debt needs to be paid down and retired, and the budget balanced. Onerous federal securities laws and state-by-state blue sky laws need to be repealed that make it cost-ineffective for new businesses to raise capital.

In short, it must become competitive to do business here in America again. And that will probably not happen so long as Obama is in office. It is clear the nation needs new leadership that is intent on actually creating jobs and restoring hope, instead of ignoring the despair of Obama’s lost labor force.



Obama Supports the Muslim Brotherhood

Not only is the Obama administration, as I’ve written for the last year, favoring radical Islamist forces — despite the fact that these are anti-Western, pro-terrorism, building dictatorships, and openly antisemitic and anti-Christian — but now even the establishment media is admitting it.

A friend of mine said, “Oh, they are probably saying that the Brotherhood is sounding radical publicly but privately reassuring U.S. officials that they are moderate.”

“No,” I replied. “That’s the old way of doing things when it was important to be, or at least to pretend to be, somewhat balanced. Now they say that the Brotherhood sounds moderate both publicly — ignoring all evidence to the contrary — and privately. Those who disagree are merely Republicans trying to defeat Obama in the election, and so should be ignored. The mass media today in such matters is worse than our worst nightmares of a decade ago.”

And so for the first time in U.S. history an American government, to the applause of the vast majority of the mass media, is backing an anti-American authoritarian movement. Here’s how the New York Times explains it:
The Obama administration has begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility as it seeks to forge closer ties with an organization [the Muslim Brotherhood] once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.

Any serious foreign policy analyst should see three red flags in the above sentence.

First, of course the U.S. government must deal with Egypt’s government, but that doesn’t mean it should publicly proclaim that the Brotherhood is a nice group and give what amounts to an unconditional endorsement of it.

Indeed, the Obama administration and media are using a cheap trick. They confuse the proper, responsible policy of dealing with those in power while doing something quite beyond that: a self-destructive policy of rushing to insist that sworn enemies of freedom and the United States are really nice guys and there’s no problem with having them in power.

As I’ve written before, it’s possible to elect a dictatorship. The Egyptian people have a right to do so, but that doesn’t mean the West should like it.

Doesn’t anyone remember that the Obama administration has been apologizing for all the bad regimes America supported in the past? Now Obama is using the exact same argument: claiming that we must be nice to them because they are in power. What’s the difference between that and the historic relationship to the Mubarak regime? At least Mubarak supported U.S. interests. These people don’t. They have openly supported murdering Americans, especially in Iraq!

In 1979, an Islamist revolution occurred in Iran. The United States quickly recognized that new regime and tried to be buddies with it. We all know how that worked out.

Second, why should the burden of reversing “decades of mistrust and hostility” be exclusively on the United States? Doesn’t the Brotherhood, which benefits from U.S. engagement, need to do that also or even beforehand? Why is there no conditionality here, no hint that the Obama administration or New York Times understands how hostile the Brotherhood has been and continues to be? If the U.S. president won’t demand a quid pro quo (something in exchange for his concessions), who is going to look after U.S. interests?

Third, by saying the Brotherhood was “once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests,” the author suggests this is no longer true. We know that the Obama administration thinks the Brotherhood has changed. Yet there is no evidence in terms of deeds, ideology, or statement made in Arabic that the Brotherhood has done so.

Thus, Obama has given away all U.S. leverage and assets beforehand, just as he did by announcing a year ago, during the revolution’s opening days, that he would be happy to accept a Muslim Brotherhood government.

So the Brotherhood’s moderation is assumed. The science is settled; the debate is over.
The reversal also reflects the administration’s growing acceptance of the Brotherhood’s repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.

Wow, yes that’s it. The Obama administration believes what the Brotherhood says and not what has been said by Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and others including many moderate Egyptians. No one has bothered to look at the actual radical record of Brotherhood lawmakers in the last parliament! Obama has chosen his friends and he’s on the wrong side.
And at the same time it underscores Washington’s increasing frustration with Egypt’s military rulers, who have sought to carve out permanent political powers for themselves and used deadly force against protesters seeking an end to their rule.

This is nonsense. Of course, the military has used force, though rarely deadly force. But what evidence is there that the military wants “permanent political powers”? On two occasions it put forth some demands and then retreated within a few hours when pushed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet even when moderates protested in the thousands, the army either ignored them or broke up the demonstrations.

Doesn’t this tell you something?

In fact, the administration has only criticized and pressured the army, not the Islamists. So here’s an understatement:
…As the Brotherhood moves toward an expected showdown with the military…over who should control the interim government — the newly elected Parliament or the ruling military council — the administration’s public outreach to the Brotherhood could give the Islamic movement in Egypt important support. It could also confer greater international legitimacy on the Brotherhood.

It only took a year to figure that out. Yes, the Brotherhood gains more support because of U.S. policy. Some Egyptians argue the Americans back the Brotherhood, so they might as well join the winning side. Others argue that the Brotherhood has intimidated the Americans, so they are heroes who should be supported.

In other words, Obama isn’t just observing but is affecting events. Now, note how the Obama administration avoids this issue:

“It would be `totally impractical’ not to engage the ‘Brotherhood because of U.S. security and regional interests in Europe,’ a senior administration official” said. But we are not talking about holding talks, we’re talking about becoming apologists for Islamism, a position announced and defended in a detailed explanation by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is entirely predictable that as the revolutionary Islamists take anti-American and dictatorial stances, the Western media will underreport them and the Obama administration will ignore them, if only to defend the mistaken ideas they hold and the mistaken policy Obama has staked out.

Notice the use of the word “engage.” Earlier, the Obama administration spent much of its effort engaging Iran and Syria, claiming this was necessary. One thing about this president, and the complicit media, is that they never examine past failures when the precise same strategy is repeated (domestic example: “stimulus” followed by “jobs bill”).

How do we supposedly know the Brotherhood is moderate? Because that is what it tells the Western journalists and diplomats. But that’s not what it tells the Egyptian people or its own members: “the official said.…`They’ve been very specific about conveying a moderate message’….” Indeed, the State Department tells us that the Brotherhood has pledged to maintain “universal human rights” and previous Egyptian government commitments, presumably the peace treaty with Israel.

And, of course, the Brotherhood would never lie to U.S. officials in secret, easily deniable and non-binding chats that run totally contrary to the policies its leaders have advocated every day for decades (including the same week as this New York Times article appeared) and that fit its ideology. The fact that they doubt Obama would do anything about it if they trampled those commitments also makes them less likely to keep such promises.

The fact that Senator John Kerry is leading this effort is even scarier. He has been wrong about every Middle Eastern issue, notably his failed engagement policy with Syria and Iran. Might Kerry learn something from this experience about how radical forces can lie to you and manipulate you into supporting their repressive regimes? Of course not.

Will anyone in the mass media compare Kerry’s positions on engaging Iran and Syria with his making the same mistake now by engaging the Arab Islamists?

Again, of course not. So the public won’t hear people say: Hey, hasn’t this policy already failed twice under this administration?

Kerry’s foolishness is endless. He told the reporter, “The Brotherhood’s leaders said they were eager to work with the United States and other Western countries, especially in economic areas.” Oh, they want American money. If that doesn’t prove they’re moderate, what does?

And here’s an interesting twist, the kind of thing that makes the New York Times the kind of newspaper it is:
“The administration’s willingness to engage with the Brotherhood could open President Obama to new attacks by Republicans who are already accusing him letting Islamists take over a pivotal ally. Some analysts, though, said the overtures amounted to a tacit admission that the United States should have begun such outreach to the region’s Islamist opposition long ago.”

Did you catch that? First, the Republicans (boo!) will criticize Obama without any basis and, second, the real mistake was that the United States (Bush?) should have engaged Islamists even sooner!

So the idea that Obama is wrong about the Brotherhood is dismissed as mere partisanship. Thus, there need be no actual discussion of whether this charge is true! The Times readers are conditioned to reject anything associated with Republicans. The idea that Obama let (I prefer the words “helped,” cheered,” and “declared harmless”) Islamists take over a pivotal ally is now officially banished. And if you hear someone say otherwise, know that he is a Republican trying to sabotage Obama so ignore that person. Immediately put hands over ears.

Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, is the person quoted as arguing that the United States missed chances to build ties to “moderate Islamists” earlier. Should America apologize for keeping the Brotherhood waiting? And what about the effort to build ties with “moderate Islamists” like Hizballah, the Iran regime, and Syria’s government which is not Islamist but allied with the Islamist bloc?

But here’s Hamid’s really interesting point: “Now the Brotherhood knows it is in a stronger position and it is almost as if the U.S. is chasing them and they are sitting pretty.”

Yes, that’s it. They view Obama policy not as one of friendship but of weakness. Thus, they will make no concession — except patience and mouthing soothing words in English — in the pursuit of their radical, anti-American agenda.



Bibi and Barack

Personality conflicts between the American president and the Israeli prime minister don’t bode well for the US-Israel relationship.

Barack Obama has an Israel problem. Almost three years in, the US president still can’t decide whether he wants to pander to the Israeli prime minister or pressure him. The approach of the 2012 elections makes the former almost mandatory; the president’s reelection may make the latter possible.

Buckle your seat belts. Unless Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu find a way to cooperate on a big venture that makes both of them look good, and in a way that allows each to invest in the other, the US-Israel relationship may be in for a bumpy ride.

The president’s view of Israel is situated in two fundamental realities. The first is structural and is linked to the way Obama sees the world; the second is more situational and is driven by his view of Netanyahu and Israeli policies. Together they have created and sustained a deep level of frustration bordering on anger.

Unlike his two predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama isn’t in love with the idea of Israel.

Intellectually he understands and supports the pro-Israeli trope – small democratic nation with dark past confronts huge existential threats – but it’s really a head thing.

Clinton and Bush were enamored emotionally with Israel’s story and the prime ministers who narrated it.

Clinton sat at the feet of Yitzhak Rabin – the authentic leader and hero in peace and war – as a student sits in thrall of a brilliant professor. (Some even said like a son to a father). “I had come to love him,” the former president wrote in his memoirs, ”as I had rarely loved another man.”

And George W. Bush, though often frustrated in the extreme with Ariel Sharon, loved his stories of biblical history and more contemporary war tales. Bush reacted – as he did on so many issues – from his gut, certainly when it came to Israel’s security. While flying with Sharon over Israel’s narrow waist, the then-governor said, “We have driveways in Texas longer than that.”

The tendency to look at Israel analytically instead of emotionally, and to view the conflict through a national-interest prism rather than some sort of moral filter, dovetails with Obama’s poisonous relationship with Netanyahu. Obama doesn't like him, doesn’t trust him and views him as a con man. The Israeli prime minister has frustrated and embarrassed Obama and gotten in the way of the president’s wildly exaggerated hopes for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he’s been pursuing with more enthusiasm than viable strategy since his inauguration. To make matters worse, when the president went after a settlements freeze, Netanyahu called his bluff and Obama backed down – a terrible humiliation.

In the end, the Barack-Bibi relationship is likely headed south because the trust and capacity to give each other the benefit of the doubt has long ago evaporated.




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Monday, January 09, 2012

The great American taboo again

I am glad I am not American. The way race must not be mentioned distorts thought even among very smart Americans. The article below fumbles around trying to explain why the American poor are more likely to stay poor than the poor in other countries. The obvious explanation that a large slice of the poor in America are blacks -- the great majority of whom lack the ability to rise in society -- is ignored. Any responsible social scientist should separate out statistics into separate groups for whites and blacks but that is largely taboo

“Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe.” That’s how the New York Times began a page-one news story yesterday.

It is a thoughtful story that offer a variety of explanations — some of them mitigating — for the so-called “mobility gap.” This subject merits attention because we should aspire to live in a society in which someone born in (relative) poverty can work his or her way up to better material circumstances, even if lower-income people are richer than their earlier counterparts.

Those who advocate the freeing of markets have no reason to receive the news of the gap defensively. If we are right about the breadth and depth of bureaucratic interference with the peaceful, creative activities of individuals, as well as the extent of government privileges for the well-connected – and we are – then drags on mobility are at least partly the consequence of that interference. In other words, the mobility gap can’t be the result of the free market because there isn’t one. The economy is systematically misshapen by intervention. (The Times cites concern about the gap among some conservatives.)

The Minimum Wage and Public Schools

When I think “limits to mobility,” two phrases immediately occur to me: minimum wage and public schooling. If you wanted to impede upward mobility, there could hardly be better ways than to scuttle job creation for the unskilled and to give poor people a bureaucratically produced “education.” Those are not features of the free market.

Nor are these the only ways government throws sand in the eyes of the those who start out with little. In the current issue of The Freeman, Gary Chartier discusses this matter at length: “Government Is No Friend of the Poor.” (For more, see Charles Johnson’s “Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It.”)

This will be readily conceded by free-market advocates, but some harbor a belief that the U.S. economy is much freer than Europe’s and Canada’s socialistic welfare states and so to make negative comparisons with those countries is to cast aspersions at freedom. Not so. The economies of America, Canada, and Europe are all variations of corporatism, in which government power primarily benefits the well-connected and well-to-do, with secondary interventions intended in part to ameliorate some of the harsher consequences of the primary interventions. As I wrote on another occasion:
In reality the debate [between America and Europe] is not between socialism and free enterprise. Rather it’s between two forms of corporatism, America-style and European-style. I don’t want either, but it’s not obvious to me a priori that the American variant is superior in every respect to the European variant. . . . One variant may indeed cushion the victims of political privilege-granting better than others. Considering who writes the rules over here, I see no grounds for thinking that we necessarily have it better than the Germans do in every possible way.

The Gap

Here are some particulars in the Times story:
At least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A project led by Markus Jantti, an economist at a Swedish university, found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. That shows a level of persistent disadvantage much higher than in Denmark (25 percent) and Britain (30 percent) — a country famous for its class constraints.

Meanwhile, just 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes. [The study, in PDF format, is here.]

Despite frequent references to the United States as a classless society, about 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths, according to research by the Economic Mobility Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Similarly, 65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths. [See PDF here.] . . .

While Europe differs from the United States in culture and demographics, a more telling comparison may be with Canada, a neighbor with significant ethnic diversity. Miles Corak, an economist at the University of Ottawa, found that just 16 percent of Canadian men raised in the bottom tenth of incomes stayed there as adults, compared with 22 percent of Americans. Similarly, 26 percent of American men raised at the top tenth stayed there, but just 18 percent of Canadians.

Not the Whole Story

As usual, the statistics don’t tell the whole story, and Timesman Jason DeParle acknowledges this.
Skeptics caution that the studies measure “relative mobility” — how likely children are to move from their parents’ place in the income distribution. That is different from asking whether they have more money. Most Americans have higher incomes than their parents because the country has grown richer.

. . . A Pew study found that 81 percent of Americans have higher incomes than their parents (after accounting for family size). There is no comparable data on other countries. [Emphasis added. PDF here.]

Higher U.S. rates of poor single motherhood and of incarceration could also help explain the relative lack of mobility.

DeParle notes further that 1) “[s]ince they require two generations of data, the studies also omit immigrants, whose upward movement has long been considered an American strength,” and 2) “The income compression in rival countries may also make them seem more mobile.”
Even by measures of relative mobility, Middle America remains fluid. About 36 percent of Americans raised in the middle fifth move up as adults, while 23 percent stay on the same rung and 41 percent move down, according to Pew research. The “stickiness” appears at the top and bottom, as affluent families transmit their advantages and poor families stay trapped.

Any way we slice it, the mobility gap impugns economic intervention by the bureaucratic State. We have every reason to think that mobility would be maximized in a freed market.



How Egalitarianism Increases Inequality

Bryan Caplan

All else equal, people in respected professions make less money. The mechanism is simple:

1. People like to be respected.

2. People know that if they enter a respected profession they will personally enjoy more respect.

3. This increases the supply of people in the respected profession, which in turn drives down their wages.

So what happens to inequality when one profession becomes more respected? It depends. If people in the profession currently earn less than average, then giving them more respect increases inequality. But if people in the profession currently earn more than average, then giving then more respect actually decreases inequality.

Now for the fun part. Imagine people become more egalitarian, to the point where they heap scorn on the rich and successful. What is the effect on inequality? By the previous logic, the effect is directly counter-productive. The more you scorn rich people, the more people you scare away from high-income professions. The more you scare away, the lower their supply. And the lower their supply, the higher their income!

Lesson: If you really want a materially more equal society, stop beating up on the 1%. Do a complete 180. Smile upon them. Admire them. Praise them. Sing songs about how much good they do for the world. The direct result will be to raise their status. But the indirect result will be to pique the envy of status-conscious people, increasing the competition among the top 1%, and thereby moderating income inequality.

On the other hand, if you want to increase material inequality, by all means heap scorn on the rich and successful. Try to fill them with guilt and self-loathing. The 1% who remain will find that living well is the best salve for their consciences.



Wisconsin points the way

Faced with a $9.2 billion budgetary shortfall next year, California Gov. Jerry Brown has not surprisingly reached for the only tool in the Democratic shed — more taxes. Via The New York Times:

Gov. Jerry Brown called on California voters Thursday to approve $6.9 billion in temporary new taxes, including a surcharge on big earners, as part of yet another bad-news budget proposal, this one for 2012. He warned that without those tax increases, California would be forced to impose severe cuts in public schools that could reduce the school year by three weeks.

There is another way to address budgetary woes, of course, the one taken by Wisconsin’s Scott Walker — structural reform. On January 5, Gov. Walker explained the success of his collective bargaining reform law passed last year to a gathering of journalists and academics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. As a result of these reforms, claimed Walker, Wisconsin is in far healthier fiscal condition than it was last year.

And it’s not just Walker touting the reform’s success. Even the editors of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who had opposed the law, on December 31 were forced to admit:

The governor did balance the budget with fewer gimmicks than in the past; he did reduce the structural deficit significantly; he did put a lid on property tax increases; he did give schools and municipalities more control over their budgets than they’ve had in years. And his efforts at economic development through corporate tax breaks and a revamped Commerce Department (now the public-private Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.) look promising.

And what has been Walker’s reward for righting his state’s fiscal ship without drastic cuts to government services or draconian tax hikes? Unions, furious over being asked to contribute more to their pension and health care plans, have vowed electoral vengeance, and are gathering signatures to force a recall election. Walker seemed calmly resigned to the fact that such an election will happen this summer. He did not give odds on his chances, but seems prepared for another tough fight.

The danger if Walker is recalled and his reforms overturned is this: Many local politicians may well conclude that the union grip on political power in this country is simply too strong to contest. They will look at Jerry Brown, who keeps getting reelected in spite of favoring policies that have transformed the once-great Golden State into a banana republic, and then look at Scott Walker, brutally punished for pursuing a reasonable, prudent course that resulted in a resounding success. Then they will look at the federal government’s $15 trillion worth of red ink, and ask themselves:

Why bother being brave?



NAACP Plantation Masters Play Race Card Again

Rick Santorum must be “racist” because he thinks all people, regardless of ethnicity, should have the dignity of self sufficiency. At least that’s how the NAACP sees it.

Talking about pushing back against those in government endlessly trying to expand welfare programs because they make money off them, Santorum said, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous called this “…outrageous...race-based stereotypes about public assistance.”

Santorum was talking about Medicaid. The more states expand their Medicaid programs, the more federal funds they get. So they have a perverse incentive to keep growing these programs. It is unfortunately analogous to drug pushers who get richer with each new addict.

If indeed Santorum did single out blacks, it’s not unreasonable because they are disproportionately on Medicaid. Blacks comprise 12 percent of the population but they constitute 30 percent of those on Medicaid.

Medicaid is government monopolized socialized medicine for the nation’s poor. Not surprisingly, its spending is out of control while delivering increasingly shoddy care. The program cost taxpayers $118 billion in 2000. By 2010 it was almost $300 billion and is projected to reach almost $500 billion by 2020.

Forty percent of physicians won’t see Medicaid patients because the reimbursements they get don’t cover their costs.

According to studies reported in the Wall Street Journal, the chances of a Medicaid patient dying in the hospital are double that of patients on private insurance and Medicaid patients are 59 percent more likely to have complications after heart surgery than privately insured patients.

Now it’s about to get worse. Despite over 60 million Americans now on this program that is bankrupting states and delivering substandard health care, Obamacare expands it to add another 16 million.

Given the disproportionate exposure of black Americans to this horrific program, wouldn’t anyone who cares about these folks want to seek better options for them? Not the NAACP.

The NAACP wants to keep Medicaid as it is and opposes efforts to reform it to improve its efficiency....

Any well meaning white conservative like Rick Santorum, honest enough to state the truth about the destructiveness of welfare state programs on black Americans, can look forward to a press release from the NAACP calling him or her “racist” or the equivalent.

They then have to spend weeks doing media to apologize and carry the stigma forever.

There is no reason to apologize for telling the truth. Failing to do only so, or apologizing, just hurts blacks and the whole nation and leaves the sharp weapon of racial intimidation always ready for use in the hands of the plantation masters.




Buchanan out indefinitely at MSNBC: "Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan has been suspended indefinitely from MSNBC, according to a statement from that network’s President Phil Griffin. An Associated Press article on blames reaction to Buchanan’s latest book Suicide of a Superpower for his ouster from the cable network, as well as a campaign by the advocacy group, Color of Change." [His defense of Christian civilization was intolerable, apparently]

Crony capitalism? Blame the Progressives: "The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has focused a lot of attention on private wealth creation through the exercise of government power -- what we might more familiarly call 'crony capitalism.' These protesters and I may differ on a whole lot of things -- perhaps even most things -- but we share the same disdain for this sort of individual enrichment through one’s access to government."

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



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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)