Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

As my scripture blog shows, the version of Christianity that has always impressed me most is the one I find in the New Testament. I have always been vaguely offended by the pagan accretions that have been tacked onto the original gospel: The Doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the immortal soul, the cross, Sun-day worship, Christmas, Easter etc.

But I think I was wrong. With the exception of the Trinity, those pagan accretions were deliberately adopted because they already had a power over the hearts of men. So they strengthened the religion and helped it to survive as a vehicle for the original teachings. Perhaps without those pagan accretions the original Gospel might have been lost. As it is the original first century documents (of the New Testament) have survived and are still there for us to read and accept or not as our hearts and minds guide us.

So the grand buildings, the splendid vestments, the ecclesiastical processions, the "bells and smells" of Catholicism and Anglicanism are probably something to be thankful for, far away though they be from the original Christian congegations of the apostolic era.


Who Won World War II?

Jacob G. Hornberger speaks some awkward truths

I’m always intrigued by those in the pro-interventionist crowd who trot out World War II to justify U.S. imperialist interventionism in the Middle East and the rest of the world. They always act as if the United States won World War II and also saved the Jews from the Holocaust. Nothing could be so ridiculous.

With respect to the European Jews, virtually all of them were dead by the end of the war. World War II did not save them from the Holocaust.

Equally important, the United States did not enter the war to save the Jews from the Holocaust. It entered the war because Germany declared war on the United States after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

If the Japanese had not attacked and had Germany not declared war on the United States, it’s not at all clear that the United States would have ever entered the war. Recognizing that World War I had entailed a total waste of American lives and resources, most Americans were steadfastly opposed to entering another foreign war in Europe.

They ostensibly included Franklin Roosevelt, who told Americans during his 1940 presidential campaign, “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars."

Of course, most people now concede that Roosevelt was lying and, in fact, was doing everything he could to thwart the will of the American people by provoking both the Germans and the Japanese into attacking first, thereby trapping Americans into entering the war.

We also shouldn’t forget about the U.S. government’s attitude toward Jews, including those living in Germany and Poland. Roosevelt’s government didn’t like them any more than the Hitler regime did. Indeed, when Hitler offered to let the Jews leave Germany alive, Roosevelt wouldn’t let them come to the United States. Immigration quotas was the excuse he used.

For that matter, don’t forget how Roosevelt’s government treated German Jews in the infamous “Voyage of the Damned,” when U.S. officials refused to permit Jewish refugees from Germany to disembark at Miami Harbor, knowing that the German ship captain would likely be relegated to returning them to Nazi Germany.

No, the sad truth is that U.S. entry into World War II did not save the Jews from the Holocaust, nor was that ever a goal of the U.S. government.

“But, Jacob, we beat the Nazis. Doesn’t that mean that we won World War II?”

Not exactly. You see, it turns on the meaning of the pronoun “we.” By “we” the interventionists mean “Great Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union.”

But if you break down that pronoun into its individual parts, you immediately notice a problem. Great Britain, France, and the United States didn’t win the war. The Soviet Union did.

Let’s think back to who declared war on whom. When Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, not the other way around. Why did they do that? Their announced goal was to free the Polish people from Nazi tyranny.

Why didn’t they also declare war on the Soviet Union, given that it too had invaded Poland? Good question! The interventionists never have an answer to that one.

So, what was the result at the end of World War II? Were the Polish people freed from Nazi tyranny? Well, yes, and interventionists love to point that out. But there is a problem here. While “we” celebrated our victory over the Nazis for the next several decades, the Poles didn’t.

Why not? Because they remained under the control of the Soviet Union for the next several decades! Remember: the Soviet Union is part of the “we” when interventionists exclaim that “we” won the war.

What’s wrong with remaining under the control of the Soviet Union? you ask. Well, the Soviet Union was governed by a communist regime, one that was as brutal as the Nazi regime. Thus, while U.S. interventionists convinced themselves that communist domination was somehow better than Nazi domination, the Poles knew that there wasn’t any difference at all.

So, World War II gave us Soviet communist control over Eastern Europe and East Germany along with an ever-burgeoning warfare state here at home, and interventionists continue to maintain that “we” won World War II. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that the post-war era also brought us to the brink of nuclear annihilation against our old World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, with whom “we” won World War II.

The interventionists say that if the United States hadn’t entered World War II, Germany would have invaded and conquered the United States. Oh? Are they referring to the nation that couldn’t even successfully cross the English Channel to invade and conquer England?

Moreover, there isn’t one iota of evidence that Hitler even desired to cross the ocean to invade and occupy the United States. Hitler’s intentions were always to move east — against the Soviet Union — yes, against the nation that would ultimately turn out to be the Cold War enemy of the United States — after serving as World War II partner and ally.

Moreover, if the United States could survive a world in which the Soviet Union controlled East Germany and Eastern Europe, why couldn’t it have done the same with a world in which Nazi Germany controlled Germany and Eastern Europe?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the U.S. victory over Japan, while succeeding in causing Japanese forces to leave China, also ended up with China in the hands of Mao and the Chinese communists, a situation that remains to this day. I suppose though that U.S. interventionists would say that that’s not necessarily a bad thing given that the Chinese communist regime loaned the U.S. government the money to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.

Who won World War II? The communists did



Pets, vets and regulated healthcare

Libertarians frequently point out that, despite the claims of critics, the U.S. health care system is far from what a free-market health care system might look like. Aside from the obvious large role played by programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which account for almost 50 percent of health care spending in the United States, various other government interventions have led, largely unintentionally, to the crazy, complex employment-related system we have.

One of the most problematic features of the system is the predominance of third-party payments in which negotiations over prices and services take place between provider and insurance company rather than between provider and patient. When most Americans go to the doctor or hospital, no one tells them how much things are going to cost. Those messy details are between the insurance company (or the government) and the provider. Patients are therefore unable to make informed decisions about whether certain procedures are worth it, nor are they able to shop around to find the necessary services at a better price. Since they pay only a small fraction of the bill, most people don’t much care. This third-party payment very much diminishes the competitiveness of the health care system, driving up costs and alienating patients.

Detailed Cost Estimates

By contrast, consider veterinary medicine. My dog required extensive vet care recently, and in several ways our experience is relevant to the debate over human health care. At both our local vet clinic and an animal hospital in a larger city, we were presented detailed estimates of the services to be provided, including low- and high-end estimates of the total cost. In both cases we were able to discuss what the providers would be doing and why, as well as the costs of other options. Had we been unhappy with what we heard, we could have very easily gone elsewhere. Not surprisingly, the quality of care at both facilities appears to have been excellent. That’s what competition does.

It’s also worth noting that on the supply side of the market, the vet industry is much less hampered by regulations and monopoly than is human medicine. The number of MDs is controlled by the American Medical Association, which keeps the supply low and ensures monopoly profits for doctors. Regulations on what nurses and others can do compared to doctors also prevent competition and keep prices higher than they would be otherwise. Veterinary medicine faces fewer regulations and barriers, which keeps the supply of vets larger and offers pet owners many more options at more competitive prices. In fact the final bill at the animal hospital came in around 10 percent lower than the low-end estimate. I’m not sure the final cost of a human hospital stay in the United States has ever come in below estimate!

Dogs without a Country

As it turns out, the story is even more interesting. The animal hospital in question is in Ottawa, Ontario. For all the contrasts between U.S. and Canadian human health care, vet care is pretty similar. If you’ve ever crossed the border into Canada for health care (the traffic usually runs south) or needed care when abroad, you know how complicated dealing with different government regulations can be. Not if you’re a dog. Our records were transferred by email. Despite the two countries’ different approaches to human health care, the less-regulated vet system works well enough for both to adopt it. (Vet fees are subject to some regulation in Ontario.)

All this goes to show that the artificial political boundaries human beings draw virtually disappear when it comes to nonhuman beings that are not subject to citizenship rules.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while my wife and I had to have our passports at the ready to show the border guards in both countries, all we needed for the dog was a certificate of up-to-date rabies shots.

My recent experience with veterinary medicine provides even more evidence that a truly free market in health care can work and work well. When people say the U.S. health care system is going to the dogs, my new response is: I wish.



Once again a moronic Democrat shows he is unable to think in anything but racial terms

Another day, another classless, insubstantive, race-based attack by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

This time, the Nevada Democrat targeted Marco Rubio, questioning the Florida Republican's choice to block Mari Carmen Aponte, President Obama's nominee for ambassador to El Salvador. Apparently, Reid believes Rubio is 'betraying' the Hispanic community by opposing her nomination.

“In Nevada, this woman [Aponte] is seen by the Puerto Rican community, the Hispanic community, as really somebody who is an up-and-rising star. … I just think it’s a mistake for someone who is supposedly representing Hispanic issues to do what [Rubio] has done[.]"

Oh, so now he's Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Hispanics)?

Not according to his office.

BuzzFeed asked Rubio spokesman Alex Conant what he made of the implication that Rubio "is supposedly representing Hispanic issues."

"Senator Rubio represents Florida," he replied.


However, it seems Reid's office has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease today. When asked for futher comment on the statement, the Senator's spokesman doubled down on failure: 

In an email, Reid spokesman Jose Parra didn't back down: “From supporting Arizona’s law legalizing the racial profiling of Latinos, to opposing the DREAM Act, to attacking Justice Sonia Sotomayor and voting against Ambassador Aponte twice, Sen. Rubio’s record speaks for itself.”

Graceless, shameful, and unbefitting of someone of Reid's "supposed" stature. If statesmanship should die, Harry Reid will have killed it.




NJ: Assembly approves homosexual "marriage" -- Christie will veto: "The New Jersey Assembly passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage on Thursday, sending the bill to Republican Governor Chris Christie, a possible vice-presidential candidate who has promised to veto the measure."

More Leftist hysteria: "Taliban" ultrasounds: "JOY BEHAR: There’s a couple of bills pending in Virginia. One of them is that women will be required to undergo sonograms, ultrasound when they are about to have an abortion and the other one is that if a heartbeat isn’t detected, then they will get a trans-vaginal ultrasound which is basically going into the vagina and very intrusive. Now, there is no — as far as I can tell there is no other Procedure including MRIs and cancer treatments that are mandated. This is- would be a mandated treatment for girls who are pregnant to see the child, the infant, the fetus. It’s like, what are we? What is this, the Taliban now? What are we, in Afghanistan? Where are we exactly in this country?"

AZ: Supreme Court lets Medicaid cuts stand: "The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review an appeal challenging cuts to the state's Medicaid program, letting stand an enrollment freeze that has locked thousands of poor residents out of government-paid health insurance. An estimated 100,000 childless adults will lose Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System coverage this fiscal year. The state has turned away an untold number since a lower-court judge allowed the cap to take effect in July."

OK: Anti-abortion “personhood” bill clears senate: "Oklahoma lawmakers edged closer toward trying to outlaw abortion on Wednesday by approving 'personhood' legislation that gives individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception. The Republican-controlled state Senate voted 34-8 to pass the 'Personhood Act' which defines the word person under state law to include unborn children from the moment of conception. The measure now goes to the state House where pro-life Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than a 2-1 margin."

Gaza: Israeli Air Force strikes “terror activity sites”: "Israel's Air Force struck what the military called two 'terror activity sites' in the Gaza Strip. The attacks early Thursday morning were in response to four rockets fired on southern Israel Wednesday night, according to a statement from the Israel Defense Forces spokesman. ... The targets were a Hamas training center in eastern Gaza and an Islamic Jihad training center in central Gaza, the Palestinian Ma'an news service reported."



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Friday, February 17, 2012

Rep. Maxine Waters Unhinged: Republican Congressmen Boehner and Cantor Are ‘Demons!’

Rather reminiscent of Obama's old pastor -- the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of "Amerikkka" fame. Sanity is very fragile among Leftists

Rep. Maxine Waters delivered a fiery speech to delegates at the California Democratic State Convention this past weekend, calling House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor “demons” whom she doesn’t want to see “in our hall, on our screens.”

“I saw pictures of Boehner and Cantor on our screens,” the California Democrat said in remarks posted online. “Don’t ever let me see again in life those Republicans in our hall, on our screens, talking about anything. These are demons.” Waters made the comments amid a charge to convention-goers to campaign hard during the 2012 election season.

She continued: “These are legislators who are destroying this country rather than bringing us together, creating jobs, making sure we have a good tax policy, bringing our jobs from back offshore, incentivizing those who keep the jobs here. They are bringing down this country, destroying this country because again they’d rather do whatever they can to destroy this president rather than for the good of this country.”

Waters‘ office did not immediately respond to The Blaze’s request for comment about her remarks, including her rhetoric calling Boehner and Cantor “demons.”



The destructive Legacy of the prewar "Progressives" is still with us

Thomas Sowell

"Often wrong but never in doubt" is a phrase that summarizes much of what was done by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the two giants of the Progressive era, a century ago.

Their legacy is very much alive today, both in their mindset -- including government picking winners and losers in the economy and interventionism in foreign countries -- as well as specific institutions created during the Progressive era, such as the income tax and the Federal Reserve System.

Like so many Progressives today, Theodore Roosevelt felt no need to study economics before intervening in the economy. He said of "economic issues" that "I am not deeply interested in them, my problems are moral problems." For example, he found it "unfair" that railroads charged different rates to different shippers, reaching the moral conclusion that these rates were discriminatory and should be forbidden "in every shape and form."

It never seemed to occur to TR that there could be valid economic reasons for the railroads to charge the Standard Oil Company lower rates for shipping their oil. At a time when others shipped their oil in barrels, Standard Oil shipped theirs in tank cars -- which required a lot less work by the railroads than loading and unloading the same amount of oil in barrels.

Theodore Roosevelt was also morally offended by the fact that Standard Oil created "enormous fortunes" for its owners "at the expense of business rivals." How a business can offer consumers lower prices without taking customers away from businesses that charge higher prices is a mystery still unsolved to the present day, when the very same arguments are used against Wal-Mart.

The same preoccupation with being "fair" to high-cost producers who were losing customers to low-cost producers has turned anti-trust law on its head, for generations after the Progressive era. Although anti-trust laws and policies have been rationalized as ways of keeping monopolies from raising prices to consumers, the actual thrust of anti-trust activity has more often been against businesses that charged lower prices than their competitors.

Theodore Roosevelt's anti-trust attacks on low-price businesses in his time were echoed in later "fail trade" laws, and in attacks against "unfair" competition by the Federal Trade Commission, another agency spawned in the Progressive era.

Woodrow Wilson's Progressivism was very much in the same mindset. Government intervention in the economy was justified on grounds that "society is the senior partner in all business."

The rhetorical transformation of government into "society" is a verbal sleight-of-hand trick that endures to this day. So is the notion that money earned in the form of profits requires politicians' benediction to be legitimate, while money earned under other names apparently does not.

Thus Woodrow Wilson declared: "If private profits are to be legitimized, private fortunes made honorable, these great forces which play upon the modern field must, both individually and collectively, be accommodated to a common purpose."

And just who will decide what this common purpose is and how it is to be achieved? "Politics," according to Wilson, "has to deal with and harmonize" these various forces.

In other words, the government -- politicians, bureaucrats and judges -- are to intervene, second-guess and pick winners and losers, in a complex economic process of which they are often uninformed, if not misinformed, and a process in which they pay no price for being wrong, regardless of how high a price will be paid by the economy.

If this headstrong, busybody approach seems familiar because it is similar to what is happening today, that is because it is based on fundamentally the same vision, the same presumptions of superior wisdom, and the same kind of lofty rhetoric we hear today about "fairness." Wilson even used the phrase "social justice."

Woodrow Wilson also won a Nobel Prize for peace, like the current president -- and it was just as undeserved. Wilson's "war to end wars" in fact set the stage for an even bigger, bloodier and more devastating Second World War.

But, then as now, those with noble-sounding rhetoric are seldom judged by what consequences actually follow.



Never Trust Government Numbers

John Stossel

President Obama said in his State of the Union speech, "We've already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings."

That was reassuring.

The new budget he released this week promises $4 trillion in "deficit reduction" -- about half in tax increases and half in spending cuts. But like most politicians, Obama misleads.

Cato Institute economist Dan Mitchell cut through the fog to get at the truth of the $2 trillion "cut."

"We have a budget of, what, almost $4 trillion? So if we're doing $2 trillion of cuts," Mitchell said, "we're cutting government in half. That sounds wonderful."

But what the president was talking about is not even a cut. The politicians just agreed that over the next 10 years, instead of increasing spending by $9.48 trillion, they'd increase it by "just" $7.3 trillion. Calling that a "cut" is nonsense.

Mitchell gave an analogy: "What if I came to you and said, 'I've been on a diet for the last month, and I've gained 10 pounds. Isn't that great?' You would say: 'Wait, what are you talking about? That's insane.' And I said: 'I was going to gain 15 pounds. I've only gained 10 pounds, therefore my diet is successful.'"

Democrats use this deceit when they want more social spending. Republicans use it for military spending.

And the press buys it. The Washington Post has been writing about "draconian cuts."

"The politicians know this game," Mitchell said. "The special interests know this game. Everyone gets a bigger budget every year. ... And we wind up, sooner or later, being Greece."

We are definitely on the road to bankruptcy.

"We have maybe 10, 15 years' advanced notice. And what's frustrating is that we're not taking advantage of that, even as we see these other countries collapsing into social chaos and disarray."

Mitchell points out that the politicians don't even have to make actual cuts to save the future. If they just slowed the growth of government to about 2 percent per year, the U.S. economy could grow out of this mess. But the politicians won't do even that.

"Being from the Cato Institute, I actually do want to cut spending. But if all we're trying to do is balance the budget over 10 years, which is sort of the minimal thing that politicians keep saying we should do, if we simply limit the growth of spending to 2 percent a year, which is about the projected rate of inflation, we'll have a balanced budget in 2022. ... But instead, the politicians say, 'Oh, we'll have draconian and savage budget cuts.' ... They don't want to put government on a diet, even if that diet allows spending to grow 2 percent a year."

They also continually mislead us about what their schemes will cost.

President Bush said the war in Iraq would cost $50 billion to $60 billion. It cost $800 billion. When Medicare Part A was created, the government said it would cost $9 billion in 1990. It cost $67 billion. They said the hiring of TSA airport security screeners would cost $100 million. Then they spent $700 million. Yet the media report the estimates as if they are realistic. Again and again, politicians get away with underestimating the cost of their programs.

Often the cost goes up because people change their behavior to get free stuff. A program meant to help the needy costs a certain amount. The next year, it costs more, because now more of the needy know about the program and more social workers know how to tap it. The next year, the non-needy feel like suckers if they don't get the handout, and they figure out a way to game the system.

Then, Mitchell point out, "what do politicians do the next year? They expand the program to buy more votes. And the year after that, they add a new benefit. That's what's happened with Medicare. It's not just that they got the fundamental estimates wrong. They did. But every new generation of politicians figures out some new expansion, some new benefit."

And so we're on the road to Greece.

Bottom line: Don't trust the politicians' numbers.



Liberals are the True Aggressors in Culture Wars

Jonah Goldberg

If you're not with us, you're against us. President Bush popularized this expression after 9/11 to describe his foreign policy doctrine: Countries couldn't support or indulge terrorists and be our friends at the same time. But his detractors quickly turned it into a fairly paranoid vision of domestic political life, as if Bush had been talking about domestic opponents and dissenters.

The irony is that few worldviews better describe the general liberal orientation to public policy and the culture war. The left often complains about the culture war as if it's a war they don't want to fight. They insist they just want to follow "sound science" or "what works" when it comes to public policy, but those crazy knuckle-dragging right-wingers constantly want to talk about gays and abortion and other hot-button issues.

It's all a farce. Liberals are the aggressors in the culture war (and not always for the worse, as the civil rights movement demonstrates). What they object to isn't so much the government imposing its values on people -- heck, they love that. They see nothing wrong with imposing their views about diet, exercise, sex, race and the environment on Americans. What outrages them is resistance, or even non-compliance with their agenda. "Why are you making such a scene?" progressives complain. "Just do what we want and there will be no fuss."

Consider President Obama's decision to require most religious institutions -- including Catholic hospitals, schools, etc. -- to pay for contraception, sterilizations and the "morning after" pill. When "ObamaCare" was still being debated, the White House had all but promised Catholic leaders that it would find a compromise to spare the church from the untenable position of paying for services that directly violate their faith. Now that ObamaCare is the law, the administration says the church, like everyone else, must fall in line.

Or consider the still-raging controversy over the Susan G. Komen For the Cure's entirely reasonable -- albeit very poorly handled -- decision to withdraw its funding of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider. The Komen foundation is singularly dedicated to raising research money for, and awareness about, breast cancer. It's the folks with those pink ribbons. The organization decided to withdraw its comparatively meager funding in part because Planned Parenthood doesn't offer mammograms. (Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, was caught misleading people on this very point last spring.)

Other factors included the fact that Planned Parenthood is under investigation by Congress and the obvious but unstated fact that the organization is wildly controversial. It's this last point that infuriates the left. Pro-choice activists and their allies believe that Planned Parenthood should not be controversial, nor should abortion be up for discussion, either. If you have a problem with either it is because you are an ideologue, an extremist or a zealot opposed to the interests of womankind. And any attempt to suggest that abortion should offend the consciences of mainstream Americans, never mind such a revered organization as Komen, is simply unacceptable.

It's clearly not about the money. Komen's $600,000 in donations amount to less than .01 percent of Planned Parenthood's budget (as opposed to the nearly half that comes from taxpayers). It's about making it very clear: Resistance is not just futile, but dangerous.

That was evident almost immediately. Komen's website was hacked, its Wikipedia page filled with smears. Various allegedly objective news outlets rallied to Planned Parenthood's defense as if the behemoth abortion provider was a victim of the tiny little breast cancer foundation.

Komen apologized and seemed to offer a reversal of its policy. This "just goes to show you, when women speak out, women win," responded House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

This, of course, is ridiculous propaganda. Women are not a monolithic political bloc and were not unanimously opposed to Komen's decision. Indeed, roughly half of women are pro-life and, you can be sure, Komen will lose donations from women and men who do not want to see their donations going to abortion providers. But for a certain type of upper-class liberal woman, it simply must be asserted, if not believed, that there is only one acceptable definition of a woman's perspective when it comes to issues such as abortion.

You can understand why Komen wants to get out of the culture war crossfire. It just wants to spend its finite resources on the race for a cure. But that's not good enough. The real motive behind this backlash is to make it very clear: You must choose a side -- ours. And once you choose our side, you can never change your mind without severe consequences. And what is true of liberal politics is also true of liberal public policy. As the Obama administration has made clear to the Catholic Church, there is no neutrality, no safe harbor from liberalism's moral vision. You're either with us, or against us -- which means we shall be against you.




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Thursday, February 16, 2012

New picture gallery

Every six months I try to pick out what I think have been the most fun and interesting pictures on my various blogs. I have just done the gallery for July to December last year. You can access it here


The Greek insanity: Labor laws from Cloud Cuckoo Land

Most reporting on the Greek riots miss the big point: e Greek "austerity" reforms aren't nearly enough. Yesterday, Greece's Parliament agreed to cut $4.4 billion in spending this year. Good for them. But it's a measly 3% of their budget. Even after the cuts, Greece's government will continue to spend nearly 50% of the country's GDP. That's why the country went broke, and handouts from Europe will just kick the can down the road.

Greece has agreed to lay off 15,000 public workers this year. But that's just 2.1% of the bloated payroll. 705,000 Greeks still work for the state.

Also, Greece will continue to lag behind the world until it reforms its absurd labor laws. Hritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Anthony Kim points out that in Greece, it's illegal to:

* Hire a temporary worker

* Work more than 5 days a week

* Work more than 40 hours a week unless you get paid 25% extra per hour.

* Fire an employee of 20+ years unless you give them half a year of notice and, after they leave the company, 36 weeks of severance pay.

All that scares Greek businesses. Why hire someone if you must pay them for almost a year if you fire them? And if you fire them for being negligent: "Obligation of compensation is not terminated in case of neglect of responsibilities but only in the commitment of criminal acts."

If a business needs to fire multiple employees because they're not needed anymore, they have to go through this: "Dismissals due to redundancy are treated by the courts as abusive when an employer does not follow the proper social order. In order for them to be valid, the employer should prepare a table of wage earners classified into four categories on the basis of objective criteria, namely work output, period of service, family responsibilities, and general financial condition."

In the U.S. - which ranks first in labor freedom - none of those laws apply. That's one reason why America's unemployment rate is 8.3%, while in Greece it's about 21%. Don't politicians now understand that labor laws deter hiring? No wonder Greek youth unemployment is 48%!

The Greek Constitution includes lines like this: "Work constitutes a right and shall enjoy the protection of the State."

Such "rights" destroy entrepreneurship and hurt workers. Heritage ranks countries by their economic freedom. Guess where Greece stands compared to other countries on labor freedom? 171 out of 184. One rank ahead of Hugo Chavez's Venezuela.

Even in Greece's austerity bill, there are stupid new rules like: a freeze on all private sector wages. It's essentially a ban on business rewarding good work.

We called the IMF and EU to find out why they would force a policy like that on Greece. IMF spokeswoman Conny Lotze told us: "The [IMF] did not propose to freeze wages. That was a proposal by some of the [Greek] government parties."


Note: "Cloud Cuckoo land" is a quote from Aristophanes, a Greek


Government Thwarts Cancer Cures and Production of Life-Saving Drugs

The FDA probably kills more Americans than road accidents do

The federal government thwarted a promising cancer treatment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski on trial twice, saying “it did not matter” whether his “unconventional cancer treatments saved people’s lives,” only “that he had failed to get the FDA’s permission first.”

But as Reason’s Jacob Sullum notes, the Phase II clinical trials that the FDA belatedly carried out “under congressional pressure have supported what the teary testimonials of patients and their families suggested: Although Burzynski’s antineoplastons are far from a cure-all, they seem to be more effective, and are certainly much less devastating in their side effects, than radiation and chemotherapy for certain deadly, intractable cancers.”

The government is also thwarting the production of life-saving drugs, causing critical shortages of key medicines. The supply of an essential cancer drug may run out within weeks: “A crucial medicine to treat childhood leukemia is in such short supply that hospitals across the country may exhaust their stores within the next two weeks, leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands of children at risk of dying from a largely curable disease, federal officials and cancer doctors say.”

As a commenter quoted by law professor Glenn Reynolds points out, this is the result of government price controls: “So price controls are imposed on injectable drugs and lo and behold a shortage arises. Who would have thunk it?” As a doctor notes, this drug shortage is far from unique: “these shortages are very real… one center I work at has trouble getting propofol for anesthesia and another cannot get zofran (ondansetron), one of the most effective anti-nausea drugs on the market.” As another commentator notes, the “government has distorted the market and removed incentives for the production of life-saving drugs.”

The Obama administration has also sought to sharply restrict the market for bone-marrow transplants, potentially costing thousands of lives. It recently asked a federal appeals court to extend the reach of the National Organ Transplant Act beyond its text, in order to ban compensation for the collection of peripheral blood stem cells needed by many transplant recipients. By doing so, it hopes to prevent organ transplants from being affected by “market forces.”

The federal DEA recently caused shortages of the drug Adderall, which is needed by people suffering from narcolepsy. Earlier, government regulations caused cancer and burn victims in the Third World to die in agony without any pain relief.



Chris Christie on Israel -- Speaking from the heart and the mind

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last week. In the few words reported by the Weekly Standard magazine, he said just about everything one needs to know about Israel; about America and Israel; and about American political leadership:

"America should stand by its friends and its democratic allies, even, and sometimes especially, when it's unpopular to do so."

"... It may not be fashionable in some of the chancelleries, the foreign ministries, and salons around the world to talk about why America stands with Israel -- but that's no excuse not to be saying (it), and saying it loudly."

"I admire Israel for the enemies it has made."

"Americans and Israelis believe -- we know deep in our bones -- that if the Islamic Republic of Iran acquired a nuclear weapons capability, it will be an existential threat to Israel, to America, and to world civilization itself."

"... A threat to Israel is a threat to America. A threat to the Israeli way of life is a threat to the American way of life. Not only for here in America, but for all the nations that emulate our democracy or are trying to emulate our democracy around the world."

"... Stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability must be a top priority of the United States of America. Any president, Republican or Democrat, who allows such a thing to occur on his watch would be acting in a way that is profoundly against the national security interests of the United States and the security interests of our friends in Israel."

In a few words, a New Jersey governor, generally identified only with state and national issues, made the case for Israel, why America should support Israel, and why Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons at least as clearly and eloquently as -- and perhaps more so than -- any major political figure in America today.

Let's review:

1) America should stand by its friends and democratic allies, especially when it is unpopular to do so. This is a challenge to the Democratic president, Barack Obama, and to Republican Congressman Ron Paul and his supporters.

Since becoming president, Obama has visited Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia and Afghanistan, just to name the Muslim countries of the 30 he has visited. The president has not visited Israel, America's greatest ally in the Middle East, not to mention the only country in that part of the world that shares America's values. Meanwhile, Ron Paul regards standing by allies as a waste of money and certainly a waste of lives, if military intervention is ever called for.

2) It is indeed not fashionable in the chancelleries, foreign ministries, and salons around the world to talk about why America stands with Israel. That is why this comment alone singles Christie out as a potential national and world leader: He believes it is necessary to say what is right despite what the U.S. State Department, Le Monde, The New York Times and the United Nations think. The first rule of American leadership is to not give a damn what any of those think about you. Wanting to be highly regarded by any of those institutions has led too many Republicans astray.

3) For those who have trouble distinguishing good guys from bad guys -- for example, most universities and the left generally -- Christie offers a Cliffs Notes summary: Just look at who one's -- in this case Israel's -- enemies are. Any country that Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hate must be one morally great place.

4) Christie makes the reason to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons as clear as can be: That country poses an existential threat first to Israel and secondarily to America and the West.

The greatest mistake -- ultimately a suicidal one -- that good non-Jews make is to dismiss Jew-hatred (known by the euphemism of "anti-Semitism") as the Jews' problem. Had the Western world not dismissed Adolf Hitler and Nazism as primarily a Jewish problem, 50 million non-Jews would not have been killed between 1939 and 1945. Jew-haters, like the above mentioned Islamist successors to the Nazis, hate all that is and all who are decent and good. We turn our attention from Iran's nuclear ambitions at our great peril. Chris Christie knows this. Ron Paul does not. Does Barack Obama?

Even if Chris Christie could be recruited at this late date, I do not believe that I know enough about him to yearn that he be the Republican presidential nominee. But aside from reinforcing already positive feelings about him, these few remarks on Israel and the world should be a lesson to the candidates who are in the race.

And the lesson is this: Say what you believe. Americans are willing to vote for people they differ with on some issues -- even important ones. But they have to believe that you believe what you say and that what you say comes from a set of deeply held beliefs.



Conscience, contraception and Obama's "war"

by Jeff Jacoby

President Obama with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the White House on Feb. 10. Sebelius told abortion-rights activists last fall that the administration sees itself "in a war."

MUCH WAS MADE of the president's supposed compromise on requiring religious institutions to pay for their employees' contraceptives and sterilization drugs. "The new policy," a White House fact sheet declared, "fully accommodates important concerns raised by religious groups." While news headlines were more restrained ("Obama bends on birth-control mandate" was the Boston Globe's), they did suggest that if the administration had not completely conciliated its critics, it had at least met them halfway.

But the administration hadn't compromised at all: On the same day the White House announced its "full accommodation," it formally adopted -- without change -- the very regulation that had triggered the backlash. The compromise turned out to be merely a promise to modify the new rule before it goes into effect next year. And the promised modification in any case is a distinction without a difference: Rather than require church-affiliated institutions to insure their employees for birth control, the feds will require church-affiliated institutions to provide their employees with health insurance that will pay for birth control. If you don't like green eggs and ham, you can eat ham and green eggs. Some accommodation.

During the national debate over enacting ObamaCare in 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously declared that Congress would "have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." What's in it, millions of Americans now realize, goes well beyond the mandate that forces every individual to obtain health insurance or be fined by the IRS. There is also imperious culture-war bullying, in which religious employers with grave objections to abortion and artificial birth control are commanded to buy insurance policies covering them, regardless of their moral qualms.

You don't have to be Catholic to be alarmed when the government rides roughshod over the convictions of the faithful. Or to bristle at the prospect of individuals and institutions being coerced into complicity with acts that violate their deepest beliefs. Or to realize how impoverished American civic life would be without the myriad of charities, schools, hospitals, shelters, and social-welfare agencies created to put those beliefs into practice.

Accommodating sincere dissent is essential to democratic pluralism. Our legal and political institutions should go out of their way whenever possible to respect the demands of conscience. Obviously there are limits: Conscience cannot be allowed to excuse violence or fraud or abuse. But nothing about the Obama administration's contraception-and-abortion agenda justifies its disregard for those who have profound religious, cultural, and constitutional objections to that agenda.

Perhaps the real explanation, as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told abortion-rights activists last fall, is that the administration sees itself "in a war" -- her words -- with anyone who resists the left's views on sex and reproduction. It's hardly the first time American officials have seen themselves at war with dissidents. In the 18th century, to mention just one example, authorities were determined to break the resistance of Quakers, who refused on principle to swear oaths of allegiance or serve in the militia. The Continental Congress passed a law branding any man who resisted the oath an enemy. Massachusetts tried to starve Quakers into submission; Virginia doubled their taxes.

But George Washington, for one, perceived how crucial it was to accommodate the dissenters' beliefs. It wasn't necessarily that they were right, but that respect for others' claims of conscience is integral to a culture of freedom. "I assure you very explicitly," Washington wrote to the Society of Quakers in 1789, "that in my opinion the conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness; and it is my wish and desire that the laws may always be as extensively accommodated to them, as a due regard to the protection and essential interests of the nation may justify."

There are plenty of non-religious reasons to object to the contraception mandate. It isn't necessary (birth control and abortion services are widely available to virtually anyone who wants them). It isn't economical (using insurance for routine expenses causes health-care spending to soar). It isn't constitutional (the government has no legitimate authority to micromanage Americans' health-care decisions, or to decide who should pay how much for what services.)

Yet nothing exemplifies ObamaCare's overreach like the birth-control mandate and its assault on conscience. The White House may see nothing wrong with trying to compel religious institutions and individuals to commit acts their faith forbids. Countless Americans clearly do. Birth control and health insurance have much to recommend them, but neither goes to the essence of American pluralism. Religious liberty, on the other hand, is the very first freedom in the Bill of Rights.




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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Obama may be the most destructive tax increaser in history

The punitive double taxation of company profits (once in the hands of the company and then again in the hands of the dividend recipient) has a hugely distorting effect on any economy. So much so that a LEFTIST government in Australia abolished it long ago.

A major effect of it in the USA is to divert investment away from companies and into risky small businesses. As a way of avoiding the tax, many small businesses operate as sole traders instead of as companies. But small businesses go broke at an enormous rate, thus destroying lots of capital and lots of jobs.

The only bright side of the U.S. system is that dividends are taxed at a low rate -- 15% -- so many people are prepared to wear that as a penalty for putting their money into companies. But Obama now wants to take that away and hike the dividend tax rate to 43%. That will kill a lot of company investment and hence a lot of job creation. Americans must not let this moronic idea pass

“President Obama released his FY 2013 budget this morning. By his own numbers, his budget raises net taxes over the next decade by $1.56 trillion (Table S-9, page 225). As a percentage of the economy, tax revenues would rise all the way to 20.1% of GDP in 2022, far higher than the historical tax revenue average of 18.3% of GDP (Table S-1, page 205).”

One and a half TRILLION dollar increase in tax years.

That is $1,5 Trillion taken from your family and businesses and given to government. You can then add another TRILLION for the increases costs of businesses, for their taxes, which will be passed on to the consumer

“The dividends rate will raise from 15% today to 43.4% next year. The Obama budget proposes taxing dividends for investors making more than $250,000 per year at ordinary income tax rates, which will rise to a top rate of 39.6% under the budget. In addition, the Obamacare surtax on investors will combine to nearly triple the tax rate on dividends in just one year.”

This is a killer for investments and buying power. This budget is a job and economy killer. Obama may get his wish, he will transform this nation–from a prosperous one to a Third World County.



Obama’s Cost-Neutral Contraception Lie

The story over the Obama administration’s non-compromise compromise on contraception shows few signs of cooling off. The U.S. Catholic bishops have given it the cold shoulder, though the Senate’s two foremost RINOs, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, have said they back the White House’s new proposal.

A less-examined issue is the rationale that the White House gave for its non-compromise compromise. Supposedly, religious organizations wouldn’t have to pay for providing contraception coverage to their employees. Rather, the insurance companies would pay for providing the employees with such coverage. The administration says this wouldn’t cost the insurers a dime:

"Covering contraception is cost-neutral for insurance companies since it saves money by keeping women healthy and preventing spending on other health services."

On a conference call on Friday, an administration official said, “Let me be clear, we have lots of evidence and we’ll be trying to provide some of that evidence today in an issue brief why we think this is net cost neutral. So there should be no extra charge for contraception. ... We’ll be getting you that evidence we don’t think there is an issue of (insurance companies’) co-mingling of funds because we don’t think there is an extra premium associated with this service.”

I have yet to receive that issue brief. I’ve contacted a few of the other reporters on that call and they didn’t receive it either.

Perhaps that’s because there is no evidence that a mandate on insurance companies to provide contraception is cost-neutral. A search of PubMed turns up nothing.

Tory Bunce, policy director at the conservative Council for Affordable Health Insurance, told IBD, “In our research, we’ve looked at the cost of mandates on the state level. We’ve asked our members to price these mandates in their actual policies. What we’ve been told from the actuaries is that the contraceptive mandate costs 1%-3% of premiums.”

Mark Litow, an actuary at Milliman, explained in an email:

"Prior modelling of several preventive mandates such as cervical cancer and screening suggests there is a balance regarding preventive mandates. That is, if testing is limited to high-risk individuals (i.e., women at high risk of cervical cancer whether due to family history or other factors), then savings due to catching the problem early has the potential to equal or outweigh the costs of the additional tests in total. But testing large groups of people was found to likely create more cost than savings, in the case of cervical cancer, by a substantial margin. Given the scope of the mandate with contraceptives ... the likelihood is that the contraceptive mandate in reality will cost substantially more than any savings created."

In short, the Obama administration never had any evidence that providing contraception would be cost-neutral for insurance companies, since there isn’t any.

But it just doesn’t seem all that remarkable anymore that the Obama administration is willing to engage in such a brazen lie.



MSNBC’s Martin Bashir Compares Santorum to Mass Murdering Communist Joseph Stalin‏

Where is the outcry? Try comparing Obama to Stalin, then see what happens

MSNBC host Martin Bashir isn’t one to shy away from issuing far-flung comparisons. This time, however, the unabashedly liberal newscaster may have gone several steps over the line. Bashir, in his “Clear the Air” segment, compared GOP contender Rick Santorum to mass-murdering, Communist dictator Joseph Stalin.

During one of his typical ravings, the MSNBC anchor connected the former Pennsylvania senator to George Orwell’s Big Brother from 1984. This was merely the icing on a cake, however, as Bashir saved his harshest comparison for last: ”If you listen carefully to Rick Santorum, he sounds more like Stalin than Pope Innocent III.”

To provide a backdrop for his slander, Bashir played a clip of Santorum where he then contrasted, “…When we last saw the Republican front-runner Rick Santorum speaking before a crowd yesterday, all we could think of was George Orwell’s novel 1984 about a society dominated by the most extreme form of totalitarianism.” Before showing a clip of the movie version of 1984, he added, “See if you can spot the similarities.”

RICK SANTORUM: -The loud voices that support the Republican Party and the conservative cause!

BIG BROTHER (from 1984): One week from now, in this very square, we shall have a demonstration of our resolve.

BASHIR: The similarities with George Orwell’s novel and that movie are not just superficial. No, Rick Santorum holds some pretty stern views on a number of important issues and he regularly sounds like a theocrat. For example, he has asserted that the right to privacy does not exist and has equated same sex relationships with bestiality.

BIG BROTHER: Brothers and sisters, the endless catalogue of bestial atrocities that will inevitably ensue from this appalling act, must, can, and will be terminated.

BASHIR: Mr. Santorum has pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception and says individual states should be allowed to outlaw any kind of birth control.

BIG BROTHER: The forces of darkness and the treasonable maggots who collaborate with them, must, can and will be wiped from the face of the Earth!

BASHIR: In reviewing his book It Takes a Family, one writer said “Mr. Santorum has one of the finest minds of the 13th century.” But I’m not so sure. If you listen carefully to Rick Santorum, he sounds more like Stalin than Pope Innocent III.



The New York Times Supports Project Veritas – Sort Of

When conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe and his colleagues at Project Veritas released their bombshell video showing election workers in New Hampshire giving out ballots in the names of dead voters, conservatives nodded knowingly and Democrats started talking about throwing the whistleblowers in jail.

Now it turns out that The New York Times and the Pew Center on the States (neither of which are exactly bastions of conservative thinking) both support O’Keefe in his conclusion that “U.S. voter registration rolls are in disarray” as the Times put it.

A recent Pew study found that there are about 1.8 million dead people listed as active voters. Some 2.8 million people have active registrations in more than one state. One in eight active registrations is invalid or inaccurate.

Of course, neither The New York Times nor the Pew Center was willing to go so far as to say straight-up that Democrats have long-supported weakening voter ID laws, but the story did quote a law professor and political scientist at Columbia, who said, “it is now pretty clear that Democrats want to enact measures that make voter registration easier, and Republicans fear that would be an invitation to fraud.”

That The New York Times would print such a statement demonstrates that the problem must truly be verging on crisis.

Conservatives in the New Hampshire legislature were close to addressing this problem in their state until Democratic Governor John Lynch vetoed a voter ID bill passed by the Republican legislature. Lynch claimed that there was no evidence that vote fraud could or was being perpetrated in New Hampshire -- but O’Keefe and his intrepid band of investigators proved that to be false, and set Democrats sifting through the law books looking for something to charge them with.

While neither The New York Times article nor the Pew study mentions James O’Keefe or Project Veritas by name, it should be taken as proof positive that their New Hampshire ballot security project was right on the principles and right on the facts.




Europe’s first Vega rocket blasts off successfully: "Europe's first Vega rocket blasted off from French Guiana on Monday in a successful inaugural flight aimed at giving Europe a vehicle for scientific satellite missions. The rocket took off from the European Space Agency's (ESA) launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America at 7.00 a.m. (1000 GMT), with nine scientific satellites on board."

NASA eyes plan for deep-space outpost near the moon: "NASA is pressing forward on assessing the value of a 'human-tended waypoint' near the far side of the moon -- one that would embrace international partnerships as well as commercial and academic participation, has learned. According to a Feb. 3 memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, a team is being formed to develop a cohesive plan for exploring a spot in space known as the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2)."

Liberal judge robbed By knife wielder: "The Supreme Court has confirmed that Justice Stephen Breyer, his wife and several family friends were the victims of a knife-wielding robber at the Breyer vacation home on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. Neither the justice nor any of his family or friends were injured. But reports indicate that the criminal made off with nearly $1,000 in cash. On Twitter, somebody asked me the big money question: "So if conservatives are just liberals who have been mugged, does that mean we can now kiss Obamacare goodbye?"

The abusive TSA again: "A female passenger has claimed she was forced to undergo repeated body scans after an airport employee complimented her figure. Married mother Ellen Terrell said she was stopped by airport staff at Dallas Airport in the US during a trip with her husband. Mrs Terrell, from Texas, alleges she was told to go through the machines three times after a female airport employee asked her if she played tennis. When she replied that she didn’t the employee allegedly said: “You just have such a cute figure”. Mrs Terrell told news website CBS 11 that she felt sexually exploited and was “totally exposed” for the benefit of male staff who watch the scanned images - which give a detailed image of the naked body - in a back room."

Even great passenger trains can no longer compete: "Iconic Australian rail icon the Indian Pacific is under threat and will slash services to stay afloat. The world-famous train linking Western Australia with the eastern states via the Nullarbor Plain is battling competition from low-cost airlines and the cruise ship market, amid slumping tourism and a high Australian dollar. GSR has been forced to cut back services on the Indian Pacific, which runs between Perth and Sydney via Adelaide, dropping back to one service a week from March 28 two months earlier than it usually scales back for the low season. The Ghan, linking Darwin and Adelaide via Alice Springs, will from April 4 also only operate one service a week. The Indian Pacific, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010, and The Ghan are regularly mentioned in lists of the world's great rail journeys."

Iranian terrorist blows off his own legs: "A wounded Iranian fleeing an unintended explosion at a house threw a grenade at Bangkok police that instead blew off one of his legs in a series of blasts on Tuesday that Israel's defence minister called an "attempted terrorist attack" by Iran. The violence came a day after Israel blamed Tehran for targeting its diplomats with bombs in India and Georgia. Police who had been called to the scene tried to apprehend Moradi, who hurled a grenade at them, "but somehow it bounced back" and blew off his leg, Pansiri said. Photos of the wounded Moradi showed him covered in soot, lying on a sidewalk strewn with broken glass in front of a primary and secondary school. Hospital officials said Moradi's right leg was severed below the knee, while his left leg was severely injured."

British money-printing hits the elderly: "More than one million pensioners have been consigned to a life of poverty because of the Bank of England’s strategy of pumping money into the economy. Every day, 1,500 people are forced to take a retirement income which has been lowered because of the policy called Quantitative Easing, or QE. While the wider economy may recover, this lower income is permanent, damaging a pensioner’s wealth for ever. To add to this, thousands of pensioners who rely on income from savings, and are already burdened with record low interest rates, have seen their returns eaten away by rises in the cost of living caused by QE. It means their nest eggs are now worth £41 billion less than before QE began. This toxic combination of high inflation and low interest rates means many elderly people are now down to their last few thousand pounds after a life spent saving."



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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The GOP Can Add 10 Million Jobs and $15 Trillion to US Economy without Spending a Dime

There are many contrasts that the GOP can use to go after Obama on the economy. None present such a black and white contrast as the dispute about the black, tar-sands crude that Canada would like to ship through the US to refineries on the Gulf via the Keystone XL pipeline. The dispute isn't about the environment, is about creating 10 million U.S. jobs.

The State Department gave preliminary approval to build the Keystone pipeline late last summer, saying that it posed no significant environmental risks. But like a lot of things with this administration, it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the left-wing was doing.

Instead of allowing the project to go through, along with the hundreds of thousands of jobs it would create, Obama sided with whack-job environmentalists who raised bogus fears that oil spills could pollute the aquifer that lies underneath its path.

Ok, he only apparently sided with them. He actually did what Obama likes to do best when pandering to… whomever. He bravely told the rest of us that for right now he wouldn’t approve the pipeline, but he might change his mind. Oh, and if we try to rush him to make a decision, we’ll all be very, very sorry.

So Canada’s prime minister has decided to look for a new partner for their oil.

“Harper’s second official trip to the Middle Kingdom comes at an important juncture in Canada-China relations,” writes Canada’s National Post “and will help dictate the Conservative government’s economic and foreign policy with the Asian superpower for years to come. The prime minister is courting China as a customer for Canadian natural resources — insisting it’s in Canada’s national interest to send oil and gas to Asia — and looking to sew stronger economic ties with the world’s fastest-growing economy.”

Never will an Obama administration be accused of shepherding the “world’s fastest-growing economy.”

You wanna grow debt quickly? Sure they are your guys. But on the economy?

Turn to the much more reliable capitalists in Communist China. That’s at least the message from Stephen Harper.

The pipeline could ultimately supply about a million barrels of Canadian oil to the US per day and 400,000 US jobs, most of them almost immediately.

But instead, the president, who has been railing against Congress for not passing another expensive jobs bill, and talks about income equality like it’s the most pressing issue of the day, just killed 400,000 American jobs that would battle income inequality in the most productive sense by providing ordinary Americans with the opportunity to earn some income.

And despite everything the Obama administration has done to slow down domestic development of oil and gas resources, the oil and gas sector is one of the fastest growing jobs markets in a very anemic job market. While other sectors are shedding jobs, oil and gas is hot.

“The use of new drilling techniques to tap oil and gas in shale rocks far underground helped add 158,000 new oil and gas jobs over the past five years,” writes the Wall Street Journal “and economists think that it has created even more jobs in companies supplying the energy industry and in the broader services industry.”

“This is probably the biggest stimulus we have going,” Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research told the WSJ.

According to the Journal “$145 billion will be spent drilling and completing wells this year, up from $13 billion in 2000.”

While it’s estimated that Canada may have as much as 2 trillion barrels of oil in reserves, “the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the [US] has 4.3 trillion barrels of in-place oil shale resources centered in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, said Helen Hankins, Colorado director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management” according to the Associated Press.

4.3 trillion barrels is 16 times the reserves of Saudi Arabia, or enough oil to supply the US for 600 years.

As I have pointed out all along, the Keystone issue isn’t about the safety of a pipeline. Obama and enviro-whacko friends know that if they allow Canadian tar sands oil to be developed via the Keystone pipeline, that the US will also start to develop their own tar-sands and shale oil. The US contains well over 600 years of known reserves and that would allow the US to be a net exporter of oil. If that happens, the green economy ruse that the left has sponsored, already reeling from bankruptcies and cronyism, would collapse. It would show that there is no shortage of oil and “green” energy can not compete with fossil fuels.

The only thing left then for those bitter climate clingers would be the shoddy science of Global Something-or-Another.

Oil from tar sands, reports the BBC on the Keystone decision, “is so plentiful that full-scale development would seriously delay the transition to low-carbon alternative fuels,” which is the holy grail of the left. And along the way, the U.S. would create at least 10 million new U.S. jobs, keeping around $500 billion per year here at home. Over twenty years that would be an additional $12.5 trillion in GDP even at a modest 2 percent growth rate. At 4 percent the numbers are closer to $15.5 trillion.

Full scale development of tar sands can only be stopped by taxing oil out of existence, like was tried with cap and trade. Cape and trade was never about trying to cool the earth. It was about giving "green" technologies a competitive advantage over fossil fuels that free markets won't concede.

Building out the infrastructure to drill and transport that oil just from the Rocky Mountains in the US could supply literally millions of jobs for American workers, while supplying literally millions of barrels of oil per day, repairing our energy security for the next century. But moist importantly it would repair our economy.

I mean we went to war to protect the supply of oil coming from Libya for Europe.

Couldn’t the GOP at least first go to work making sure Keystone provides work for Americans? That’s an issue to go to war over.



What Women Want

Katie Kieffer writes well below but I want to add one extra point: Fathers can be tremendously important to daughters. Only a minority of daughters are lucky enough to be a "Daddy's girl" but it is one of the most beautiful of all human relationships when it occurs: Two people who adore one-another and show it. It gives the girl extra strength and confidence in her worth throughout her subsequent life. It also gives her a powerful model for the "right" man for her.

The lady in my life was a Daddy's girl and I am sure she would not be able to put up with me except that I am like her father in many ways. Things that might bother others she knows to be benign -- JR

Forget chocolate, diamonds and flowers. Women want fathers.

Not every woman has a brother. Not every woman finds or wants a husband (today just 51 percent of all adults 18 and over are married compared to 72 percent in 1960). However, I think every woman needs and desires a male role model in her life.

Pink ribbons are plastered on everything from yogurt containers to NFL uniforms. And numerous “find the cure” organizations appear to be staying in business longer than necessary because they squander their funds on non-research projects (think abortions at Planned Parenthood), leaving women on their own to find the cure to breast cancer.

Not every woman gets breast cancer (a horrible condition and certainly worthy of honest research funding.) Fathers, in contrast, are important to the health and development of all women. So, I think that one of the best things we can do for women as a whole is encourage men to be good fathers and father figures.

Ideally a “father figure” is a woman’s biological father, but not always. A friend, adoptive father, uncle, husband, grandpa or a brother can become a male role model for a woman when her biological father dies or otherwise ducks out of her life.

Some biological fathers abandon their daughters; they get a woman pregnant and then leave her to change the baby’s diapers (after kindly offering to pay for an abortion, of course.) Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs initially fell into this category: He got his on-and-off girlfriend pregnant and refused to be an active father for the first ten years of her life. Jobs eventually assumed his proper role as a father and he deeply regretted his early behavior.

Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson: “I wish I had handled it differently. I could not see myself as a father then, so I didn’t face up to it. But when the test results showed she was my daughter, it’s not true that I doubted it. I agreed to support her until she was eighteen and give some money to Chrisann [his ex-girlfriend] as well. I found a house in Palo Alto and fixed it up and let them live there rent-free. Her mother found her great schools which I paid for. I tried to do the right thing. But if I could do it over, I would do a better job.”

When Jobs married his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, he brought his daughter into his own home and took her on a special father-daughter trip to Japan as he eventually did with all three of his and Powell’s children.

Jobs understood that his first daughter was still scarred by his behavior early in her life, even at his death, although they did reconcile. He told his biographer that the reason he wanted the biography was not to explain his entrepreneurial story with Apple: “I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

Jobs’ father abandoned him and gave him up for adoption. Because of this, Jobs struggled with a feeling of abandonment his entire life. Jobs ‘used to play [John Lennon’s song Mother] often,’ Isaacson writes. ‘The refrain includes the haunting chant “Mama don’t go, Daddy come home.”’ The behavior of his father probably played a huge role in Jobs’ behavior toward his own first daughter.

Fathers who only have sons are just as important: When men raise good sons, they do their sons’ future girlfriends, wives and grandchildren a huge favor. Fathers have the power to prevent or encourage bad behavior: When a young man cheats on his wife, it’s often because he saw his father cheat on his mother, confirms a 2011 study from the Charles University in Prague.

Likewise, when a young father is addicted to porn, it’s usually because his own father was a porn buff. In all, Jobs fathered three girls and one boy. He wasn’t a perfect father, but he genuinely thought about the message his actions sent to his children. Isaacson tells how, early on, Jobs insisted on a policy against porn apps for the iPhone. Jobs quipped: “Folks who want porn can buy an Android.”

Jobs’ decision to censor porn apps at his own tech company upset the editor of tech blog Valleywag, Ryan Tate. One evening, he poured himself a stinger cocktail and emailed Jobs: “I don’t want ‘freedom from porn.’ Porn is just fine! And I think my wife would agree.”

Jobs fired his own email back: “You might care more about porn when you have kids. It’s not about freedom, it’s about Apple trying to do the right thing for its users. By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others’ work and belittle their motivations?”

By sticking to his guns, Jobs impressed Tate, who later wrote: “Jobs not only built and then rebuilt his company around some very strong opinions about digital life, but he’s willing to defend them in public. Vigorously. Bluntly. At two in the morning on a weekend.”

A girl’s father shapes who she eventually finds herself attracted to. A girl whose father spoils her and stymies her with excessive attention will end up being irresponsible and incompetent. On the flip side, research shows that a girl whose father abandons her when she is young will prematurely reach sexual maturity and end up feeling both abandoned and sexually insecure. This insecurity could lead her to attach herself to smooth-talking bumpkins who use her and lose her.

I think the most influential man in every woman’s life is her father. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Be a father figure to your daughter—or a woman who needs one. You will change the world.



Why the Individual Mandate Equals Socialized Medicine

What Peter Ferrara talks about below is already a disastrous reality in Britain. See EYE ON BRITAIN

Here is why the individual mandate inevitably leads to full-blown socialized medicine, as it has with Obamacare: When the government mandates that you have to buy health insurance, then it has to specify what health insurance is required to satisfy the mandate. This means politics is involved in deciding what must be included and covered by that insurance.

And once politics is involved, that means you can't leave anything out, as that would be takenas an offense and a slight to both the consumers and the providers of the excluded service. Mental health benefits and counseling, drug rehab, maternity benefits (even for men and seniors), abortion -- everything must be covered. We will see that when the final regulations are issued for Obamacare by the Supreme Dictator, Kathleen Sebelius (who looks and acts the part of a villain from an Ayn Rand novel). We are already seeing that the mandated services must include sterilization and "morning after" pills, which even Catholic institutions will have to pay for in regard to their own employees.

That means the mandated health insurance will inevitably be extremely expensive, as we are just starting to see with Obamacare. To make such a mandated expense politically palatable, the government must provide extensive welfare subsidies well into the middle class and beyond, again as we see with Obamacare. The biggest expense there is not the explosion of Medicaid, as bad as that is. It is the entirely new entitlement program providing benefits (subsidies) for the purchase of the mandated insurance for families making up to $88,000 a year to start, indexed to grow to over $100,000 in the near future.

But there is still another shoe to drop. As the costs to the government, taxpayers, and others for this mandated health insurance skyrocket, the government will decide it must step in to control costs. That means more than just price controls on health insurance, which can't repeal the mathematics of needing enough revenue to pay for the covered benefits. It means the government deciding what health care will be paid for and for whom, and what will not. In other words, rationing. After all, if the government is ultimately paying, then just being careful stewards of public funds means the government must ultimately decide what health care gets paid for, and what doesn't. This reasoning is how the public comes to accept such health care rationing in the countries with socialized medicine.

And so starting with the individual mandate, we inevitably get to full blown socialized medicine, with the government and swarms of new bureaucracies to control health insurance and health care, including Sarah Palin's death panel. This is why even the Heritage Foundation finally realized its error years ago, and has now turned around to oppose the individual mandate, even filing Supreme Court briefs against it.

And this is why all the leading conservative health care experts have so vociferously opposed the Obamacare individual mandate, from John Goodman, to Betsy McCaughey, to Grace Marie Turner, to Sally Pipes, to myself.




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Monday, February 13, 2012

Catholic bishops to Obama: Good try but no cigar

When it comes to mandatory contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the nation's Catholic bishops won't budge an inch.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, initially said he would study President Obama's newest variation of the requirement. That didn't last long. Now, it's no sale unless the mandate is lifted from any person of faith who objects to facilitating contraception coverage for employees.

The bishops' position is essentially unchanged from what they said in August through their general counsel Anthony Picarello when they blasted the requirement that private insurance plans cover contraception, calling the mandate "unprecedented in federal law and more radical than any state contraceptive mandate."

They criticized the narrow "religious employer" exception to the mandate, explaining that it provides "no protection at all for individuals or insurers with a moral or religious objection to contraceptives or sterilization," instead covering only "a very small subset of religious employers."

The bishops called the plan "nationwide government coercion of religious people and groups to sell, broker or purchase 'services' to which they have a moral or religious objection." They said the plan represents "an unprecedented attack on religious liberty."



A second look at 'The Third Jihad'

by Jeff Jacoby

DID THE New York City Police Department use "terrible judgment," as Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, when it showed a documentary about Islamist extremists -- The Third Jihad -- to more than 1,400 officers undergoing counterterrorism training?

You might think so if you took your cues from a New York Times editorial calling the documentary a "hate-filled film about Muslims," or from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which declared that it "defiled our faith and misrepresented everything we stood for."

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser fervently disagrees. Jasser is a former US Navy officer and a past president of the Arizona Medical Association. He is also an observant Muslim, a Wisconsin-reared son of Syrian immigrants deeply grateful for the freedom and tolerance his parents found in America. Ever since 9/11, he has been fighting the Islamist extremists whose goal is to destroy that freedom and tolerance.

"As a devout Muslim I saw it as my responsibility to expose the radicals," Jasser says in The Third Jihad, which he narrated. "I resented that they were exploiting the religion I love."

After al-Qaeda's murder of 3,000 Americans, Jasser recalls in the film, "I had expected to see Muslims in America taking to the streets and protesting against [Osama] bin Laden. Instead, in the years that followed, we saw many Muslim leaders standing up to defend or support the radicals." So he launched the American Islamic Forum for Democracy to defend American values, promote the separation of mosque and state, and expose the Islamist agenda behind certain influential Muslim organizations.

The best-known of those organizations, CAIR, describes itself as a civil-rights group. In reality it is anything but. Its founders were linked to the terror group Hamas and several of its officials have been convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges. In the Holy Land Foundation terror-funding trial, as former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former CIA Director Jim Woolsey recounted recently, CAIR was designated by the Justice Department as an unindicted co-conspirator. The Third Jihad shows news footage of CAIR's national legislative director refusing a reporter's request to condemn Hamas and Hezbollah. That is par for the course -- CAIR wouldn't even condemn bin Laden until more than two months after 9/11 -- and helps explain why the FBI severed its ties to CAIR.

Far from being an indiscriminate attack on Islam or Muslims, The Third Jihad consistently distinguishes between Islam's peaceful, moderate mainstream and the totalitarian jihadists who seek a global Islamic theocracy. The documentary's opening lines are unambiguous: "This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are radical."

But where those radicals hold sway, liberty and pluralism are endangered. "Have you ever stopped to think about what would happen if the Islamists won and their version of Sharia law was put into place?" Jasser asks. The 72-minute film depicts the chilling consequences: Subjugation of religious minorities. Abuse of women. "Honor" killings. Anti-gay brutality. Stifling of free speech. Support for terrorism.

Bin Laden may be dead and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed behind bars, but a key message of the film is that jihadists pursue their goal of a West dominated by radical Islam with undiminished fervor. "On my website we talk about the Islamic state of North America by 2050," says Imam Abdul Musa, a prominent Islamist interviewed for The Third Jihad.

Demonstrators outside New York's city hall protest the showing of 'The Third Jihad' to NYPD officers. Yet the city's only Muslim councilman, who defended the film as 'factually accurate and important,' refused to attend the protest.

Radical groups like CAIR use the calumny of anti-Muslim bigotry to defame those who warn of Islamist militancy. Fear of being smeared has intimidated too many politicians and journalists, which is why the Zuhdi Jassers of the world -- devoted Muslims who are pro-American, pro-democracy, and anti-Islamist -- are inestimable allies in the war against the jihadists.

Happily, he is not fighting alone. During the recent furor over the film, New York City Councilman Robert Jackson, a Muslim, refused to toe the CAIR line. "I initially thought from reading about it that it cast a negative image on all Muslims," he said. "In my opinion it does not. It focuses on the extreme Muslims that are trying to hurt other people." Similarly, the American Islamic Leadership Coalition issued a strong statement defending The Third Jihad as "factually accurate and important."

You needn't take their word for it. Watch the film for yourself at, and gain crucial insight into one of the central struggles of our time: the war of ideas within Islam.



Sarah Palin Rocks CPAC Crowd

Last time Sarah Palin was in Washington D.C. she was riding on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle with the Rolling Thunder. Saturday evening, Palin addressed thousands of CPAC attendants to close out a busy weekend jam packed full of conservative ideas. She was welcomed to the stage by a standing crowd of activists and raucous applause.

"To me the conservative movement has never been stronger or smarter,” Palin said. “We’ve been waving a bold banner that shouts ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’”

Although she touched on topics ranging from energy policy, the economy, unemployment, foreign policy, pro-life issues, troops overseas and the GOP presidential primary race, she kept the focus on President Obama’s failures during his time in Washington D.C. She pointed out that during his State of the Union Address, Obama hardly mentioned unemployment or out of control entitlement spending.

“We want your administration to end,” she said. “We believe real recovery can’t get underway until government gets out of the way.”

Palin said Obama has a skewed view of America as a politician from Chicago now tucked away in Washington, scratching the backs of his friends through “capitalism of connections” while Americans outside of the beltway suffer. Congressmen become “plutocrats,” she said, adding that they don’t just benefit off the of the government themselves, but spread the wealth around to their friends too. Palin charged that crony capitalism is at the root of American’s economic problems.

“This [Washington D.C.] is the playground for the government rich and they’re hoping that you work really really hard to keep her going.” She said. “Life around here is really good materially, our permanent political class is content. They are immune from the realities the rest of us face.”

She painted Washington D.C. as a wetland, rather than a swamp, and said it’s time to drain the corruption in order to regain a strong American economy, making it clear government spending will not create jobs.

“They [government] don’t mine, they don’t drill, they don’t harvest, they produce nothing,” she said. “The President wants to raise taxes so he can redistribute wealth. We want to cut taxes to create more wealth.”

She credited the tea party for being outside of the status quo in Washington and praised them for be being willing go to Congress and fight for small government ideas.



9/11 "Truther" called out

Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson’s Monday interview with radio host Scott Ledger has been burning up Twitter. The hour-long conversation about the “Truther” movement pitted Ledger, a believer in conspiracy theories about 9/11, against Carlson, a no-nonsense journalist who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. “I deal in facts,” Carlson told Ledger, “and you don’t have any.”

Truthers, he said, “tend to give off this feeling of, like, great frustration. Like ‘I see the truth, no one else gets this. Everyone should see this but I’m the only one who does.’ … It makes me sad that otherwise smart people could fall for nonsense like that.”

“I’m not defending the U.S. government,” Carlson explained. “I’ve lived in Washington for 27 years. My dad worked for the U.S. government. I hate the U.S. government in a lot of ways. … I’m merely saying a single thing, which is there is no evidence that the U.S. government, its employees, Americans of any kind had anything to do with 9/11 other than responding to it.”

“Nineteen hijackers did this,” he said, “al Qaida has taken credit for it, Osama bin Laden has said ‘I did this,’ [and] we have a pretty clear understanding of where the money came from. We know a lot about this, right?”

Pressed by a conspiracy-minded Ledger to account for the claims of assorted self-described experts and self-anointed eyewitnesses, Carlson won the day.

“What do you make of the fact that a number — close to ten different people — received messages or calls from the airplanes, from the hijacked airplanes that flew into the Pentagon, and the Trade Center buildings, and into Shanksville, Penn., from passengers saying ‘we’ve been hijacked by Arab men’?

“Is that all made up? Were those people part of the conspiracy too? What do you make of that?”



The News: Children Behaving Badly

By Rich Kozlovich

Some months back I read a commentary about the official lies promoted by the Soviet government that was a complete reversal of historical fact. The commentator bemoaned the fact that this has continued into current times and that so many of the youth had been so indoctrinated by these lies they were incapable of understanding the truth. He went on to say

“At the same time we continually hear official lies in Russian daily life, reminiscent of the lies in the Soviet Union during Stalinism and in the post-Stalin period,”….“The truth can hardly stand up to the total impact of so many lies. A young man once said to me of the Prague Spring: ‘That was when the Czechs attacked us.’ …“Brought up on lies, a society cannot mature or take on responsibility. It is an adolescent society, with all the characteristics of adolescence—needing a leader and his imitators, being aggressive and quick to take offence, simultaneously lying and trusting.”

Almst forty years ago I had an acquaintance who had been in the Czech army when the Soviet Union sent its tanks in to crush the Prague Spring. The only reason he wasn’t there at the time was because he was on leave and had traveled to visit relatives in the U.S.A. So when the Soviets came into Czechoslovakia he never went back. He knew “everything” including the “fact” that Hitler and Stalin never signed a non-aggression pact. He confidently and smugly laughed saying, “you don’t really believe such a thing do you?” As if Stalin could ever commit such a heinous act. Here was a guy defending the very oppressors he was fleeing. Why? Because he had been indoctrinated since the end of WWII into believing Stalin was a great man. Indoctrination from a very young age can make someone as foolish as ideology can make smart people stupid.

Does this sound insane? Remember, even today there are revisionists who claim that Stalin didn’t really kill all those people; and if he did kill them; he did it to stop the really insane communists from killing more. And this is after all the monstrous facts have been made public. Why do people continue to believe things that actually defy all factual history and the evidence of their own eyes? Ideology! It is true that ideology makes smart people dumb!

As I watch the world, read the news and watch as little of it as I can on TV, I have concluded that the lefties may be right about IQ. Lefties are always trying to publish studies that show that leftists have a higher IQ than conservatives. Well…..I’m not so sure they aren’t right. Why? Because in order to bring reality into line with what they believe requires an enormous level of mental ability and logical gymnastics that must be mentally and emotionally exhausting in order to make the insane things they say and do seem right. Conservatives only have to concern themselves with what is right and what is wrong based on what they see; as in one and one is two. Try making it three or four or fifty without sounding insane. At this only the left can excel; making insanity seem rational to the casual observer.

I watched O’Reilly this week - I can’t take too much of O’Reilly because I think he’s a phony - and he had Monica Crowley and Alan Colmes on. Colmes did the five things that are common among the leftists. He wouldn’t stop talking, he interrupted, he talked over everyone, he subtly changed the subject and spewed out logical fallacies by the minute.

Changing the subject is one of fallacies they use constantly in order to prevent a response to their already insane views. If you doubt me watch Geraldo when he is on and Bob Beckel on The Five. They won’t shut up and they won’t let others have their say without zings that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. At least Geraldo is charming....Beckel is.....well.....Beckel. This is a common problem. They’re talking when they should be listening. They remind me of unruly children, and like all unruly children a good slap would do them a world of good.

It really is true….…“Brought up on lies, a society cannot mature or take on responsibility. It is an adolescent society, with all the characteristics of adolescence—needing a leader and his imitators, being aggressive and quick to take offence, simultaneously lying and trusting.”

That is the left. That is what we see on the news. Children behaving badly! That must be why the Main Stream Media identify so readily with the youthful losers in the Occupy Wall Street movement versus the rest of the country that readily identifies with the adults in the Tea Party Movement.




The elderly hit hardest by Obama's funny money system: "As I have noted previously, the Fed’s policy of acting to hold interest rates well below free-market rates in recent years has had the effect of greatly diminishing the earnings of people who rely on interest income. Such people include especially many retirees who do not wish to hold risky assets with substantial variability of earnings. In the past, many retired people have held the bulk of their wealth in the form of bank certificates of deposit, bonds, and bond-heavy mutual funds, hoping that their incomes would be secure and predictable when they were no longer working. The Fed’s actions in recent years have taken a heavy toll on such people’s earnings." [And you aint seen nothing yet]

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



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