Saturday, March 17, 2012

More propaganda masquerading as entertainment

One of the last things America needs is a rehash of the 2008 campaign, but the truth demands constant vigilance. The lies of today easily evolve into the common misperceptions of tomorrow, and if a movement will not defend its own leaders, who will?

Recently, this space discussed the marketing of Game Change, HBO’s account of Campaign 2008, focusing on the selection of Sarah Palin for vice president. The producers are selling it as a serious examination of our political selection process. But this writer missed the trees for the forest. The devil is in the details. It is not the smug, self-satisfied tone of the filmmakers and stars that justify the disgust of every American who esteems truth as the gold standard of political discourse. Simply, the film is a blatant piece of anti-conservative propaganda.

We can all forget the title or plot of a movie, but individual scenes can linger on, coloring our perceptions of specific subjects for a lifetime. Some Hollywood producers are more insidious than politicians — the cover of “art” offers a much broader framework for spreading liberal propaganda than a mere stump speech or daily news soundbite.

The following are the most pertinent scenes from Game Change, though far too many remain to recount here.

Before the opening credits are over, we see that one of the film’s producers is Tom Hanks. Yes, the amiable guy next door and Obama fundraiser of the highest order. His efforts alone don’t preclude an objective look at Governor Palin, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Later, VP nominee Palin counts on British cooperation for concluding the Iraq War because we have always had good relations with the Queen, whom she apparently believes sets policy. The real Sarah Palin has always regarded Margaret Thatcher as a role model, so how likely is it that she would have no concept of the true head of government, the prime minister?

She professes her disagreement with Senator McCain over embryonic stem cell research, but the film omits her actual support of adult stem cell research. Another anti-science, Christian conservative — how original.

In her riveting meltdown scene before she hurls her cell phone at a wall, Sarah tells a campaign aide that, like Hillary Clinton, she must find her own voice. “And you’re just like Hillary,” the aide responds with venomous sarcasm. Therein lays a major tenet of Palin Derangement Syndrome. Hillary, who subordinated herself to her husband’s political ascendency and waited many years for her own turn, is somehow the icon of a woman leader. Yet Sarah Palin, who propelled herself forward by grit and tenacity and by exposing the corruption (mostly of men) within her own party, is a trailer park Evita.

Later at Palin rallies, supporters yell “Kill him!” referring to Barack Obama. These accusations persist, but the Secret Service has reportedly found no evidence to the claims. I attended two rallies and can attest that I heard no such calls.

Sarah whispers to a staff member that she doesn’t want to return to Alaska. Yeah, that’s why this wealthy private citizen still resides there and starred in a reality show celebrating its scenic wonders.

Then there’s Julianne Moore, who fails to capture Palin’s infectious zest and vitality. At least Meryl Streep was Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Julianne Moore is simply Julianne Moore doing a passable Palin impersonation. Moore performs admirably as Sarah with her children, particularly in one poignant scene where Sarah talks to her son Track serving in the Middle East.

But overall, what tripe. Even John McCain is shown using the f-word, which the senator has denied using with the casual frequency portrayed. But in the most telling scene, McCain laments the media’s negative treatment of him. “I thought they liked me.” No, Senator, they like you only as long as you are an impediment to the conservative movement. Any threat to liberal preponderance will be savaged by the media, including the entertainment media.

Ultimately, the outrage of Game Change is not just that it demeans Sarah Palin but that it insults conservatives and the intelligence of its viewers. Not everyone is gullible enough to believe such over-the-top fiction, but its makers are sure banking for success on the ones who are.



The Afghanistan Murders and the follies of Altruism

Two articles were published almost immediately after news of the crime broke, Ralph Peters’s angry article on Family Security Matters (FSM, March 13), Soldiers Murders Afghans – Generals Murder Solders: It was Only a Matter of Time Before One of Our Men Broke Down,” and Daniel Greenfield’s bitter and sardonic Sultan Knish article of March 12, “The Blood Price of Afghanistan.”

By contrast, the MSM reported the killings with an almost palpable tone of glee, a tone of near relief that finally, American troops can be accused of something heinous, and America itself implicated in the crime. CNN decided to quote the dismay of one of the head savages in Afghanistan:

"NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the soldier acted alone and turned himself in after opening fire on civilians. U.S. President Barack Obama called the killings "tragic and shocking," and offered his condolences to the Afghan people in a phone call to his counterpart in Kabul, Hamid Karzai, the White House said."

But no condolences offered for the numerous Americans, Canadians, British, and Australians killed in cold blood by Afghans?

"But the attack is likely to further more anger at international forces following deadly riots over the burning of Qurans by U.S. troops."

Oh, yes, let’s bring up those Korans with the scrawled Muslim marginal notes that were burned. Let’s fuel the anger by mentioning that subject.

"The Afghan people can withstand a lot of pain," Prince Ali Seraj, the head of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan, told CNN. "They can withstand collateral damage. They can withstand night raids. But murder is something that they totally abhor, and when that happens, they really want justice."

Really? The Taliban and other Afghans “abhor” murder? But not honor killings, rape, torture, beheadings, ritual disfigurements, beatings, and whippings, all prescribed or sanctioned by the Koran? All a matter of everyday practice in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya…well, you know the map. ABC opined:

"In the wake of the Quran burnings, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, visited troops at a base that was attacked last month and urged them not to give in to the impulse for revenge."

The tensions between the two countries had appeared to be easing as recently as Friday, when the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding about the transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan control -- a key step toward an eventual strategic partnership to govern U.S. forces in the country.

Now, another wave of anti-American hatred could threaten the entire future of the mission, fueling not only anger among the Afghans whom the coalition is supposed to be defending but also encouraging doubts among U.S. political figures that the long and costly war is worth the sacrifice in lives and treasury.

General Allen ought to caution the troops on revenge – but, revenge on whom? Revenge on the politically-correct officer corps that instructs the troops not to fight back, not to show disrespect for the Afghans and their brutal and primitive culture, not to feel resentment for being a mere sitting-ducks “police force” to contain an enemy the policymakers dare not name, not to resent being guinea pigs in an altruistic war to bring “stability” to a part of the world that has never known it and never will?

And, oh, gee, we mustn’t do anything that will unleash another wave of anti-American hatred and murderous anger, like exterminate the Taliban, withhold financial and material aid to a corrupt government, or urinate on Taliban fighters, or even so much as sketch a cartoon of Mohammad in a Koran. No, we, the policymakers and the MSM, will only focus and dwell on American actions, and not Afghan crime, for after all, if we weren’t there, there wouldn’t be any Afghan crime.

Right. Before the Americans arrived, Afghanistan was the playground of the rich and famous, with immaculate beaches, five-star hotels, a friendly and outgoing populace, health spas, ski resorts, and crime statistics so low they put the Amish country to shame.

What are our goals? What is our strategy? We’re told, endlessly, that things are improving in Afghanistan, yet, ten years ago, a U.S. Army general, unarmed, could walk the streets of Kabul without risk. Today, there is no city in Afghanistan where a U.S. general could stroll the streets. We may not have a genius for war, but we sure do have a genius for kidding ourselves.

And the moral code that allows us to kid ourselves is: Altruism. After all, altruism can do no harm. It cannot be corrupted. It cannot corrupt.

Altruism took us to Iraq and Afghanistan, and altruism will be the death of us there (and of more U.S. troops). Purists claim that you can't corrupt altruism, that only good can emanate from it. But, there you are. Mr. Peters identifies with justifiable anger just how that can be and has been done. He puts his finger on the cause of such crimes by excoriating the policies that have governed the conduct of American operations in Afghanistan.

Is it really better to give than to receive? Altruism says so. But all the U.S. has received in return for expending American lives and incalculable wealth in that hellhole is hatred, scorn, and death.

The alleged attack on Afghans by an American soldier in Kandahar, where 91 soldiers have been murdered last year alone, is already receiving the full outrage treatment. Any outrage over the deaths of those 91 soldiers in the province will be completely absent.

There will be no mention of how many of them died because the Obama Administration decided that the lives of Afghan civilians counted for more than the lives of soldiers. No talk of what it is like to walk past houses with gunmen dressed in civilian clothing inside and if you are fired at from those houses, your orders are to retreat.

No, no POTUS, no MSM anchor or pundit, no Charlie Rose or “Washington Week” host will raise those issues. After all, self-sacrifice demands that our soldiers expose themselves to the whim and malice of their enemies. Isn’t that what soldiering is all about? So, please, don’t bore our liberal/left elite with such stories.

Air strikes are for days gone by. The American soldier in the ISAF is expected to patrol and retreat, to smile and reach out to Afghans while they shoot him in the back. After risking his life to hold back the Taliban, he is expected to take it calmly when his government announces that it is trying to cut a deal with the Taliban. As he waits out the final months until withdrawal, seeing his friends lose their limbs and their lives, knowing that the enemy has won, that he has been betrayed and is being kept senselessly on the front line for no objective except the diplomatic position of a government that hates him, that is taking away his health care, his equipment and his job; how does he feel?

Much more HERE


Is There a Conservative Majority?

As we get closer to the upcoming elections, the question of how to best advance the conservative cause presents itself. Some would argue that elections present an opportunity to reach out to more people with the conservative message, while others insist that ideological considerations take a back seat to actually getting sympathetic politicians elected. Sometimes we come across indications that these two objectives are not mutually exclusive pursuits. In a recent American Thinker article by Bruce Walker, such a case is presented. Walker makes the argument that there is a self identified conservative majority out there ready to be mobilized. He draws that conclusion by looking at a series of five Gallup Polls taken over three years, which broke down ideological self-identification by state. According to Walker:

"In August 2009, Gallup data showed that conservatives outnumbered liberals in every single state. In February 2010, Gallup presented polling data that showed the same thing: though the numbers were different, conservatives outnumbered liberals in every state. Six months later, Gallup presented new polling numbers which showed that conservatives outnumbered liberals in every state but Rhode Island. One year ago, in February 2011, Gallup again showed polling data which revealed that in every single state, conservatives outnumbered liberals. Then, in February 2012, the Gallup Poll showed that in every state except Massachusetts, conservatives outnumbered liberals."

Gallup is not the only polling organization to reach this conclusion:

"The Battleground Poll, conducted by George Washington University in collaboration with a Democrat and a Republican polling organization, also has published the ideological self-identification of Americans. The latest Battleground Poll has just been released, and the pattern in the latest Battleground Poll is identical to the previous twenty-one polls over the last ten years."

In the latest poll, 58% of Americans describe themselves as “very conservative” or “somewhat conservative,” while only 37% of Americans describe themselves as “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal.” The “moderate” or “don’t know” remain as in past polls very small, at 2% for both of those groups. Moreover, conservative Americans are much more conservative than liberal Americans are liberal. So, while 61% of Americans who identify themselves as conservative or liberal pick “conservative,” when asked if they are “very conservative” or “very liberal,” 68% of those strongly ideological Americans are “very conservative” while only 32% are “very liberal.”

Such findings are not often reported widely in the media and the conclusions related to political strategy to be drawn from them are even less often voiced. Instead we are told that conservatives can only win if they water down their conservative convictions and tailor their message to the supposedly moderate majority. What are we make of such advice if the majority of Americans actually self-identify as conservatives?

There are two conclusions to be drawn from this finding. The first is that forming a conservative message is not just a good way to advance conservatism, but it is also a winning political strategy. The majority of self-identified conservatives need to see a message of conservatism clearly articulated if they are to mobilize behind a candidate, or slate of candidates. Or, as Ronald Reagan stated in 1975, conservative politicians need to “Raise a banner of bold colors, not pale pastels”. The other lesson to be drawn from these polls is the enduring nature of conservatism.

Despite the fact that the majority of media outlets arguably lean to the left, not to mention academia, our public school system, the entertainment industry, etc., the majority of Americans still self-identify as conservatives. Conservatives need to encourage this trend by making the conservative message more available to the American majority. Beyond elections, we need to find more avenues with which to promote conservatism.

There is no reason why we should not be able to solidify America’s conservative leaning even further, whether on the Democrat or Republican side of the aisle.




China: New Red Dawn thwarted: "The charismatic Communist Party chief who had led a Maoist revival in the central Chinese city of Chongqing, complete with red flag-waving song contests, was removed from his post Thursday in what is being applauded as a victory for the political reform faction. Bo Xilai’s ouster comes in the midst of a scandal that has riveted Chinese who are unaccustomed to seeing political intrigues played out in a public [sic]."

Complex societies need simple laws: "If you have 10,000 regulations,' Winston Churchill said, 'you destroy all respect for law.' He was right. But Churchill never imagined a government that would add 10,000 year after year. That's what we have in America. We have 160,000 pages of rules from the feds alone. States and localities have probably doubled that. ... So what do the politicians and bureaucrats of the permanent government do? They pass more rules."



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Friday, March 16, 2012

What does the money-printing binge of the Obama administration portend for the future?

The monetary base had changed slowly and steadily before the current crisis, and the Fed’s actions that caused its explosion during the past three years have no precedents in nature or magnitude. Indeed, if a monetary economist had been given (by divine miracle) a preview of the chart above in, say, 2007, he would probably have concluded that the Fed’s managers were destined to go mad in the near future. I daresay no economist expected such an action (or set of actions). Now that it has occurred, however, it places the Fed in an unprecedented—and extremely dangerous—situation.

So far the potential hyperinflation that this explosion of the monetary base might normally have been expected to produce has not occurred because the banks have simply absorbed almost all of it in the form of increases in their reserve balances at the Fed. As the chart below shows, commercial banks historically held their excess (that is, not legally required) reserves close to zero, because such reserves had no yield and hence entailed an opportunity cost equal to the yield the banks could realize by using those funds to make loans and investments. With the onset of the crisis, however, the demand for bank loans has fallen greatly and the banks’ fears about the safety of loans and their worries about their balance sheets have grown, with the result that as the Fed has pumped money into the financial system by purchasing securities, the sellers have deposited the proceeds of those sales in their banks accounts and the banks have parked the money at the Fed, which sweetened the deal slightly, beginning in late 2008, by paying a small rate of interest (which soon settled at 0.25 percent). Thus, more than $1.5 trillion now sits in excess reserves at the Fed.

Because the banks have acted so bizarrely during the past three years, the money stock has not grown very much. As the chart below shows, M2 increased substantially during the macroeconomic contraction, then leveled off in late 2009 and early 2010 before resuming a more rapid rate of increase in late 2010. Between September 29, 2008, and February 20, 2012, M2 increased by 22.6 percent. This increase in just 41 months is not negligible, but it is only a tiny fraction of the increase that would have occurred if the banks had acted in a normal way during this interval.

The increase in M2 that has occurred since the onset of the recession has had little effect on the general price level because the public’s demand for money to hold has increased substantially. Equivalently, we may say that the velocity of monetary circulation—the ratio of GDP to money stock—has fallen substantially. As the chart below shows, M2 velocity has fallen by about 16 percent since the recession began, and it now stands at the lowest value it has attained since the 1950s. We live in unusual times, indeed. An increase in the public’s demand for money to hold also occurred in previous postwar recessions, but not to the extent that it has occurred recently.

In view of the foregoing evidence, what should we conclude about the likely fiscal and monetary legacies of the current crisis? First, the federal government is unlikely to reduce the budget deficit very much as long as it can continue to sell its bonds at anything near their current high prices (and consequently low yields). Even if foreigners grow skittish about the dollar’s exchange value or regain their courage enough to make more investments in their home countries rather than parking their money in Treasuries, the government will continue to run extraordinarily large budget deficits—and therefore to sell extraordinarily large amounts of bonds—as long as it can sell its debt to the Fed; that is, as long as it can effectively monetize the debt.

The Fed shows complete willingness to continue bankrolling the Treasury. The Fed’s gigantic accumulation of Treasuries—more than $1 trillion in the past three years—speaks much louder than anything Ben Bernanke might say about an “exit strategy.” Indeed, the Fed seems to have painted itself into a corner. If the public begins to wind down its current extraordinary demand for money to hold and pushes the velocity of monetary circulation back toward its pre-recession levels, the Fed will face accelerating general price inflation. To slow this inflation, it will need to sap money from the financial system. But how can it simultaneously withdraw money (to slow inflation) and inject money (via purchase of new federal debt)? Moreover, as the commercial banks begin to feel more comfortable about their balance sheets, they may dive into their mountain of excess reserves at the Fed and increase the volume of their loans and investments, which will add additional fuel to the fire breaking out because of increasing monetary velocity. How the Fed will resolve this dilemma I do not know. At present, the Fed’s managers talk as if the problem either does not exist or will be easy to deal with when the need arises, but such talk amounts to whistling past the cemetery.

The ratchet in the government’s outlays probably will not be eliminated in the near or intermediate term. The president, Congress, and the leadership of both major parties are firmly wedded to the government’s spending as much as it can get away with. Political leaders talk about reining the government’s profligacy, but their actions belie their words. Every cow in the budget turns out to be sacred when someone tries to wield an ax.

The prospect in the aftermath of the crisis—which, to be sure, is not yet over and may take a nasty second-dip before it ultimately passes—is for significantly bigger government in fiscal terms (and, as I shall argue elsewhere shortly, in regulatory, statutory, and ideological terms as well). Federal taxes may return to their postwar average of 18 percent of GDP, but with the federal government’s outlays stuck at 23 or 24 percent of GDP, we will have to endure deficits of 5-6 percent of GDP for a long time.

We will also have to endure a huge, ever growing amount of federal debt and, sooner or later, a grave threat that the Fed, in monetizing additions to the debt, will be unable to keep the lid on accelerating general price inflation. Therefore, probably the best we can hope for is stagnation: slow or no real economic growth, probably accompanied by chronically large numbers of unemployed and underemployed persons sustained in part or entirely at taxpayer expense. The worst outcome would be hyperinflation, which would be utterly ruinous. The most likely outcome in my view is for a long period of stagflation: little or no real economic growth, accompanied by troublesome (and probably quite variable) rates of general price inflation—something like the 1970s, though with less real growth. How this scenario fits into the currently more globalized economy is anyone’s guess. Much depends on how irresponsible foreign leaders will be in their policy actions—and we may count on most of them to be as horrible as possible. In these circumstances, Americans will have to put up not only with unsatisfactory performance of the economy, but also with great uncertainty about what the next quarter or the next year may bring. All in all, our most likely prospect seems fairly ugly, but with luck we may escape complete ruin.



Compliant Americans

Last month, at a Raeford, N.C., elementary school, a teacher confiscated the lunch of a 5-year-old girl because it didn't meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines and therefore was deemed nonnutritious. She replaced it with school cafeteria chicken nuggets. The girl's home-prepared lunch was nutritious; it consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, potato chips, a banana and apple juice. But whether her lunch was nutritious or not is not the issue. The issue is governmental usurpation of parental authority.

In a number of states, pregnant teenage girls may be given abortions without the notification or the permission of parents. The issue is neither abortion nor whether a pregnant teenager should have an abortion. The issue is this: What gives the government the authority to usurp parental authority?

Part of the problem is that people who act as instruments of government do not pay a personal price for usurping parental authority. The reason is Americans, unlike Americans of yesteryear, have become timid and, as such, come to accept all manner of intrusive governmental acts. Can you imagine what a rugged American, such as one portrayed by John Wayne, would have done to a government tyrant who confiscated his daughter's lunch or facilitated her abortion without his permission?

I believe that the anti-tobacco movement partially accounts for today's compliant American. Tobacco zealots started out with "reasonable" demands, such as the surgeon general's warning on cigarette packs. Then they demanded nonsmoking sections on airplanes. Emboldened by that success, they demanded no smoking at all on airplanes and then airports and then restaurants and then workplaces -- all in the name of health. Seeing the compliant nature of smokers, they've moved to ban smoking on beaches, in parks and on sidewalks in some cities. Now they're calling for higher health insurance premiums for smokers. Had the tobacco zealots demanded their full agenda when they started out, they would not have achieved anything.

Using the anti-tobacco crusade as their template and finding Americans so compliant, zealots and would-be tyrants are extending their agenda. Why not control what we eat? San Francisco, Chicago and several other cities have outlawed or are seeking to outlaw serving foie gras in restaurants. Here's my challenge to these people: Don't be a coward and use the state to accomplish your agenda. If you see Williams eating foie gras, just come up and take it off his plate.

Other food tyrants want to stop us from eating Dove and Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Mrs. Fields cookies and McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. San Francisco has already banned McDonald's from selling Happy Meals with toys in them as sales pitches to children. Seeing San Franciscan compliance may have been the source of inspiration for the North Carolina schoolteacher who took the 5-year-old girl's lunch.

Americans have become compliant in nation-crippling ways. Over the past several years, gasoline prices have been shooting through the roof, but not to worry. President Barack Obama's current secretary of energy, Steven Chu, said in December 2008, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." That translates to $8 or $9 a gallon. During a recent hearing on the Department of Energy's budget, Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., asked Secretary Chu whether it is the DOE's "overall goal" to lower gasoline prices. "No," Chu responded. "The overall goal is to decrease our dependency on oil, to build and strengthen our economy."

Because Americans are so compliant and willing to suffer silently at the gasoline pump, the Obama administration is willing to press on as handmaidens of environmental extremists who want to halt the exploration of our country's vast oil supplies, which are estimated to be triple those of Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration would rather pour more taxpayer dollars into risky alternative crony energy suppliers and electric cars. The OPEC nations have to be laughing at us, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were revealed that they are making under-the-table payments to environmental wackos.



Just another deceitful Leftist

CNN's Soledad O'Brien isn't used to criticism. In the world of media elites, she's a beloved figure and an award-winning news anchor. But last week, she revealed her true, decidedly non-neutral colors. And she's not happy about the hoi polloi questioning her hallowed journalistic objectivity.
On Thursday, O'Brien interviewed Joel Pollak, editor-in-chief of the late Andrew Breitbart's online empire. Breitbart's released a 1991 video of Barack Obama (then a 30-year-old law student) at a Harvard rally embracing radical racialist Derrick Bell and his push for more aggressive race-based hiring at Harvard. Bell is a proponent of critical race theory (CRT), which posits that America remains a hopelessly racist country dominated by Jews and white supremacists.

O'Brien lost her cool when Pollak shed light on Bell's fringe legal theories. Acting more like an Obama campaign surrogate than a disinterested host, she angrily jumped on Pollak's mention of CRT. "That is a complete misreading of critical race theory," she shrieked. "That's an actual theory. You could Google it and some would give you a good definition. So that's not correct!"

When viewers took to Twitter to pepper O'Brien with follow-up questions about critical race theory, the CNN star had a twit fit. She invited a liberal professor, Emory University's Dorothy Brown, on her television show to back her up and then lashed out: "See? That was our critical race theory 101. Stop tweeting me. We have moved on, people."

Not so fast, sister.

Turns out that O'Brien, a Harvard grad, has a rather emotional connection to Bell. As documented at my new Twitter curation/aggregation site, O'Brien tweeted that it was a "rough day" for her when Bell passed away last fall. She wrote that she had "just started re-reading" one of his books and mourned again: "RIP Prof. Bell." O'Brien also shared tributes to Bell from fellow Harvard prof and friend of Obama Charles Ogletree. That's the same Professor Ogletree who bragged that he "hid" the Obama/Bell video during the 2008 campaign.

O'Brien failed to disclose her pro-Bell bias to viewers before her segments.

O'Brien also failed to disclose that the liberal prof who denied on her show that critical race theory had aaaaaanything to do with bashing America as a white supremacy-ruled government actually wrote the exact opposite. In one of her own books, Brown asserted that the purpose of CRT was to "highlight the ways in which the law is not neutral and objective, but designed to support White supremacy and the subordination of people of color." Oops.

O'Brien is entitled to her opinions, of course. The problem is that she masks her political activism under the banner of corporate media "diversity." Of multicultural heritage, O'Brien has won countless accolades for her "Black in America" and "Latino in America" documentaries for CNN. The medical school at historically black Morehouse College created the "Soledad O'Brien Freedom's Voice Award" to honor "outstanding catalysts of social change." The first recipient of the activist award? Soledad O'Brien, of course.

O'Brien is also a card-carrying member of two racial/ethnic-centered journalism lobbying groups: the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. These organizations are inherently politicized entities that enforce a skin color-deep ideological solidarity and push a social justice agenda of advocacy journalism. I know because I've fought their collective herd mentality for the past 20 years.

Liberal minority journalists have themselves acknowledged their slavish fealty to Obama and his progressive agenda. During the 2008 campaign, the NABJ, NAHJ and Asian American Journalists Association held a "journalists of color" confab where then-candidate Obama was welcomed with Justin Bieber-style mania. One journalist squealed, "He touched me!" after Obama's address, which was interrupted multiple times with standing ovations, cheers and whistles by the press.

Organizers were so concerned about public displays of Obamedia affection that they issued several warnings to their news professional members that the speech would be broadcast live on (Soledad O'Brien's) CNN. "Professional decorum" was encouraged. One wire story even fretted: "Can minority journalists resist applauding Obama?"

Nope, liberal minority journalists simply can't resist carrying water for Obama. That's because their journalistic unity demands political unanimity. If you don't accept the left-leaning agenda of "social change" journalism, you're enabling racism. If you don't support the pursuit of racial hiring goals as a primary journalistic and academic goal, you're selling out.

Now you know the reason for O'Brien's thin-skinned reaction to Obama's critics. When you vet the president, you vet the media. And they don't like the narrative table-turning one bit.



Just another media liar

by Michael Ledeen

Some weeks ago, Chris Matthews mentioned me in passing as one of those who wants to attack Iran militarily. So I wrote to his producer, pointed out that I had long opposed military attacks on Iran, had written three books and scads of articles and blogs saying that, and would therefore be grateful if Mr Matthews would take a few seconds to correct the record on air. After all, that’s where he uttered the false statement to begin with.

He replied with a snail mail, which simply said “this is what I based it on.” The envelope contained a bit of transcript from an old show of his (ten years ago) in which we talked about Iraq, and I had said that Iran was the really serious problem and we should address it. Nothing about attacking Iran. Nothing about bombing Iran.

So I sent him another email via his producer, pointing out that I had been prescient on his show, thanking him for taking the time to send an actual letter, and pointing out that the transcript did not address the question I had raised, namely that he had falsely said I wanted to attack Iran. I again asked that he correct the record, and to help him clear his mind, I sent him a copy of Accomplice to Evil, which laid out my opposition to military action very clearly.

No reply. So a bit over a week ago I emailed the producer saying “time’s up,” and that if he wasn’t going to do anything, I would correct the record myself. The producer emailed back, asking me if I had received the snail mail. I said I had, but it didn’t have anything to do with the subject, and for extras was ten years old.

That’s about it. I don’t suppose it’s surprising. I just want to state the facts: I am opposed to military attacks against Iran, I think we should be supporting the opposition there, and I think I’ve shown that Chris Matthews isn’t much interested in getting it right. He got it wrong, and stayed with it.

Par for the course, n’est-ce pas? Another reason not to watch television. Stick with PJ Media. We try harder to get it right, and if we get it wrong, we try to correct it pronto.




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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Americans have just suffered a dangerous loss of liberties

Though what SCOTUS will say about it remains to be seen

The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011 (PDF) may sound like a landscaping measure, but it is also being called the Trespass Bill, the Anti-Occupy Bill, and the First Amendment Rights Eradication Act. Under this bill, it is a felony to protest at or in the vicinity of a venue or event that is attended by anyone who has Secret Service protection. H.R. 347 passed the House on February 27th by a vote of 388–3. The Senate version (S. 1794) passed unanimously. With President Obama's signature, the Act became law on March 8.

The bill has caused a furor among advocates of civil liberties. Justin Amash, one of the three “no” votes in the House, dubbed the bill the “First Amendment Rights Eradication Act.” Calling it “this administration's latest assault on our civil liberties,” he explains on his Facebook page that “criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity — even if that activity is annoying to those government officials — violates our rights.”

The left-leaning Daily Kos states, “Protesting will be a felony — where is the outrage?”

Meanwhile, the bill is being ignored by the mainstream media as uncontroversial. Supporters of the act dismiss its critics as hysterical or ill-informed. Michael Mahassey, the communications director for Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, who sponsored H.R. 347, called the backlash, "a whole lot of kerfuffle over nothing. This doesn’t affect anyone’s right to protest anywhere at any time. Ever.”

Who is correct? And why is there such a deep schism on H.R. 347?

The American Civil Liberties Union warns against H.R. 347. Nevertheless, the ACLU observes, “It's important to note — contrary to some reports — that H.R. 347 doesn't create any new crimes, or directly apply to the Occupy protests. The bill slightly rewrites a short trespass law, originally passed in 1971.”

Section 1752 of title 18 in the United States Code is entitled “Restricted Building or Grounds.” This 1971 bill was intended to prevent assassination, kidnapping, or other attempts to harm the political elite, especially the president. The section of title 18 that immediately precedes it, section 1751, is entitled “Presidential and Presidential Staff Assassination, Kidnapping, and Assault; Penalties.”

Thus, section 1752 restricts people from entering or blocking access to or from public areas that have been cordoned off by the Secret Service for the protection of a person (or for a “special event of national significance,” which could range from the Olympics to a political convention). The penalty for violating section 1752 includes a possible one-year jail term; if a “dangerous weapon” is involved, then the jail term rises to a possible ten years.

In recent years, the 1971 bill has been interpreted beyond its intent in order to crack down on peaceful protesters. Moreover, as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has amply demonstrated, the definition of a “dangerous weapon” has been expanded at the discretion of law enforcement to include such items as nail clippers.

Thus, the controversy over the current revision, H.R. 347, revolves around two issues. First, is H.R. 347 part of a trend toward vagueness in legislative wording, which can be later exploited and expanded by authorities in order to violate civil liberties? Second, how legally “slight” is the change of wording in this revision?

Consider the first question. Gene Howington, a guest blogger at Jonathan Turley's legal-analysis site, writes: "it seems to be a trend that vague or overly broad language could be fairly described as being purposefully adopted allowing “wiggle room” for Federal authorities to potentially abuse civil and human rights under the color of authority. This is a dangerous practice."

Howington refers to a recent example of legislative vagueness — the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gives Obama the power to indefinitely detain citizens without trial if they are accused of terrorism. Some politicians, notably Senator Carl Levin, argued that the NDAA did not allow such arrests and, so, soothed his worried compatriots while dismissing the bill's critics. Nevertheless, even Obama acknowledged his new power after the bill passed, saying, “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

No wonder legal scholars now scrutinize with a skeptical eye every word that appears in potentially menacing legislation.

As to the second question, to determine how “slight” the revisions of H.R. 347 truly are, it is necessary to review them. One change has or could have deep significance. The original text reads,

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or group of persons—

(1) willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting.


Four additional paragraphs, (2) through (5), begin with the words “willfully” and “knowingly.”

The revised text of paragraph (a)(1) in H.R. 347 reads,

(1) knowingly enters or remains in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do so.

The four additional clauses in the original are compressed to three, each of which now begins with the word “knowingly” only.

Why is deleting the word “willfully” so significant? Because it removes the need for a prosecutor to prove that a protester had the intent to violate the statute, for example, through blocking an egress. All that needs to be proven is that the protester knew he was accessing a restricted area. His intent may have been nothing more than to exercise freedom of speech; blocking the exit may have been inadvertent. But under H.R. 347, his mens rea — that is, that aspect of his state of mind — becomes legally insignificant.

In Latin, “mens rea” means “guilty mind” or guilty intention. Within Western law, an act has traditionally required a guilty mind for that act to become criminal behavior. That is why defendants who are found to be mentally incompetent are not placed on trial; they are not deemed capable of mens rea. The Latin legal phrase, actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea — “the act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty” — is often invoked in such cases.

Writing in the periodical In These Times, Daniel Hertz encapsulates the impact of removing “willfully” from the statute, “In other words, Congress removed a hurdle in enforcing the law without actually adding any new restrictions to the First Amendment.”

They simply changed the rules of enforcement to remove what is often the most difficult element of the crime to prove: namely, intent. Indeed, since both the original text and H.R. 347 allow the arrest of someone who is merely in “proximity” to a restricted area, proving intent could be close to impossible. How could you prove that person was walking near a politician's hotel with the intent of causing harm or blocking the egress?

As Gene Howington observes, “in addition” to lowering the threshold for mens rea***, H.R. 347 defines: "the term “restricted buildings or grounds” to mean virtually any place in proximity to or place proper [where] a government function or an “event of national interest” is taking place. This would allow for the arrest of protesters just about anywhere. Outside political rallies, near the hotels of visiting foreign dignitaries, outside sporting or other public events like the Super Bowl … you get the idea."

H.R. 347 may well make the arrest and conviction of peaceful protesters much easier.


It is criminally naive to believe that the police and courts will not eventually use the expanded latitude granted by H.R. 347. The Occupy movement frightened and angered the authorities it yanked control away from. For years, “free speech zones,” in which protesters speak from behind barred walls, as though in cages, contained dissenters and kept them far from government officials. They were allowed to protest only where the elite and the mainstream media would not hear them.

Occupy changed that. And the authorities have struggled to find ways to contain dissent ever since; they never want to lose control again. And, especially in this election season, politicians are eager to avoid a repeat of the public outrage that surrounded the 1968 Democratic convention, when police were filmed brutally beating peaceful demonstrators in the street.

The elites are losing patience with civil rights. This January, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed through two anti-protest ordinances that were widely termed “sit down and shut up” measures. The online periodical and voice of Occupy, the Dissenter, describes two of several repressive new requirements.

Ahead of demonstrations, “organizers would be required to provide the City with a list of all signs, banners, sound equipment or ‘attention-getting devices’ that require more than one person to carry them,” creating “a license for the city to ‘ding’ organizers with absurd fines.”

All downtown protest marches would be required to get $1 million insurance coverage to “indemnify the city against any additional or uncovered third party claims against the city arising out of or caused by the parade.” They would have to “agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or city property arising out of or caused by the parade.”

Clearly, Emanuel is determined that the upcoming NATO/G8 meetings in his city will go smoothly. Emanuel and his ilk would not hesitate to use the free hand provided by H.R. 347 to prosecute “offenders.” And god help them if the protesters are found to be in possession of a pair of nail clippers, small scissors, or any other item that could be construed as a “dangerous weapon.” The penalty could then rise to ten years imprisonment for young people still idealistic enough to believe they have free speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition officials with their grievances.



Obamacare Costs More Than Twice As Much As Obama Claimed; Stimulus Creates Debt, Not Jobs

Today, the CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the ten-year cost of the law’s core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion. That’s because we now have estimates for Obamacare’s first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law. Only next year will we get a true ten-year cost estimate, if the law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then. Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we’re likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.”

Obamacare will harm the health care system and reduce employment. The Dean of Harvard Medical School, Jeffrey Flier, noted that Obamacare will harm life-saving medical innovation. Obamacare is causing layoffs in the medical device industry. Obamacare will raise the cost of insurance by at least 55 percent in Ohio, according to one study. It taxes medical devices and cosmetic surgery, arbitrarily discriminates against certain hospitals, and raises taxes starting in 2013 on investors. The Associated Press and others have noted that it breaks a number of Obama campaign promises. Earlier, CEI filed an amicus brief against the health care law on behalf of Minnesota and North Carolina legislators.

Bloomberg News features an interesting column by Ramesh Ponnuru, “Obama’s Stimulus Helped Grow Debt, Not Economy,” which debunks some frequently-repeated claims about stimulus jobs and job projections. Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron argued that the $800 billion stimulus package wasn’t even designed to stimulate the economy, but rather to benefit special-interest groups, since it ignored even old-fashioned Keynesian policy prescriptions about how to revive the economy. Obama claimed the stimulus was needed to prevent an “irreversible decline” in the economy, even though the Congressional Budget Office admitted that the stimulus package would shrink the economy “in the long run.” The Congressional Budget Office, ignoring the stimulus package’s flaws, argues that the stimulus has boosted the economy in “the short run.” But even the CBO concedes that the stimulus will shrink economic output in “the long run” by increasing the national debt and thus crowding out private investment.




MS: Remaining five inmates in pardons controversy freed: "All five remaining inmates held in the Mississippi pardons controversy have now been released from prison. Mississippi's Supreme Court last week upheld the controversial pardons of more than 200 convicts that former Gov. Haley Barbour granted on his way out of office, rejecting a challenge by the state's attorney general."

France: Sarkozy defies Europe with protectionist push: "President Nicolas Sarkozy, recasting himself as France's saviour from low-cost competition and high immigration, threatened to disregard European limitations on protectionism as he sought to give his re-election campaign a second wind on Sunday. Going out on a limb that risks angering France's European partners, Sarkozy said it was time to support local companies and stop the uncontrolled influx of immigrants and cheap imports that demonstrate Europe's lack of protectionist controls."

Imaginary due process: "According to the Attorney General of the United States, the United States Constitution Bill of Rights, specifically the due process requirements, no longer applies to some American citizens if the president arbitrarily chooses to suspend them. In short, the president can have you assassinated if he thinks it’s a good idea."

Israel, Islamic Jihad agree to Gaza truce: "Israel and militants in Gaza agreed to cease hostilities Tuesday after Egypt brokered a 'mutual truce' following four days of bloodletting which left 25 Gazans dead. Under the agreement, which came into force at 1:00am (2300 GMT on Monday), both Israel and militants from Islamic Jihad -- responsible for the lion's share of rockets targeting southern Israel -- agreed to hold their fire, an Egyptian intelligence official told AFP. Israeli officials and Islamic Jihad both confirmed that a deal was in place."

TSA thugs threaten media outlets: "Jonathan Corbett is suing the TSA for its unconstitutional body scanners and pat-down methods. He's also demonstrating that the TSA simply doesn't work. ... the pornoscanners actually put passengers at GREATER RISK -- and the TSA knows it! Even worse, the TSA issued threats against mainstream media outlets that wanted to interview Corbett!"

Not the messiah: "I caught about 30 seconds of some Republican forum last night and heard someone ask Newt Gingrich about what he was going to do to lead the nation back to God. I am a religious person. I think Godliness is a good thing. But the right answer to that question should be to say that it is not the job of the President of the United States or in in the skill set of the President of the United States to lead the nation back to or toward God."

Property rights are human rights: "One of the left's most effective canards has been its alleged distinction between property rights and human rights. The fact is that property rights are human rights. My right to my computer -- my property -- is not my computer's right to itself. It's my right, and I'm human. So when I see someone who is on record as being a defender of human rights and that someone defends, however haltingly, her property right as a human right, that's progress."



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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lord Monckton on Obama's computer-generated "Birth certificate"

I have watched Sheriff Arpaio's press conference in AZ and have examined some of the evidence directly. It is clear - as Alex Jones rightly said on the day when Obama first put up his faked "long-form birth certificate" on the White House website - that a fraud has been committed, and that, absent a valid official record of Obama's birth or a very good explanation of the anomalies in the published version, he is not qualified to stand for re-election as President.

The main point of the fraudulent "birth certificate" is that it is layered in such a way that all four of the rubber stamps (three dates and one recording officer's certification) are on separate layers, allowing them to be moved about on the document at will. A scanned document could not behave this way, and there is no way this could have happened accidentally. However, Sheriff Arpaio has some reason to fear that the Hawaiian authorities are in Obama's pocket.

There are two other pieces of impressive testimony. First, when the Sheriff's office asked the National Archives to produce the immigration records of flights into the US, and specifically into Hawaii, for five years either side of Obama's alleged birth date (4 August 1961), the one week in 1961 in which the records were unavailable was the week of -- you guessed it - 1-7 August. This is beginning to look like a widespread, high-level fraud.

Secondly, the White House had previously told enquirers from the media that no long-form birth certificate existed: all they had was a certification from Hawaii that there was a birth certificate on file.

The Sheriff plainly has enough evidence to warrant further investigation by the appropriate authorities (presumably the FBI), but he seems to be genuinely terrified of how far the corruption might have spread, and does not seem to know where to go or what to do next. A lawyer whom I have consulted says that no public authority or court will move against a sitting president who has been elected, but it seems to me that the evidence of malfeasance is now strong enough to overcome this objection.

Received via email


Another foundation of Obamacare crumbles

Electronic health records have long been touted by Democrats and Republicans alike as a sure-fire way to lower health spending. When doctors have easy electronic access to a patient's records, advocates argue, they are less likely to order the duplicative and unnecessary tests that drive up the cost of health care in America.

But that assertion is not necessarily proving to be true. Doctors who use EHRs may actually order more diagnostic testing, and therefore make health care even more expensive, according to a study published in the the journal Health Affairs.

Researchers found that office-based physicians were actually 40 to 70 percent more likely to order an imaging test if they had access to computerized imaging results. The study is based on data from the 2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey of 28,741 patient visits to 1,187 physicians.

EHRs may be yet another example of a health care solution that looks great on paper, but "when you actually try to implement it in real world settings with real patients" it may have some "unintended consequences," says lead author Danny McCormick, a primary care physician and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

EHRs have been estimated to save $77.8 billion annually, largely by avoiding imaging such as MRIs and lab tests. Doctors can view a patient's previous tests in real time, and can use this information to determine whether another test is really needed. In addition, software in the EHRs can help a doctor make this decision.

But EHRs also make diagnostic images easier to order and easier to review. Imagine a doctor sitting with a patient, says McCormick. If the doctor orders an MRI on one of these systems, he "knows with certainty the report will show up the next day on [his] computer screen with no hassle. But without a computer record, [he] might have to struggle to get it," requiring an investment in staff time to request a fax of the study, which may then be difficult to read.

This "convenience effect" may subtly shift the doctor's incentives, encouraging him to order diagnostic tests more liberally.

While EHRs may still improve health care quality and efficiency, says McCormick, the study results do not bode well for the federal government's multibillion dollar plan to save money by encouraging doctors to adopt health information technology.

The study "should prompt us perhaps to look elsewhere for answers to the cost crisis plaguing the U.S. health care system," McCormick adds.



Afghanistan: It Was Only a Matter of Time Before One of Our Men Broke Down under impossible conditions

by Ralph Peters

On Sunday, just before dawn, an American staff sergeant walked away from his post in the badlands of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, went into a nearby village, and methodically murdered sixteen civilians, including women and children. This didn’t happen in the confusion of a firefight amidst the “fog of war.” It was the brutal act of a veteran who cracked. The deed cannot be excused. But I believe it can be explained.

For a final analysis we’ll have to wait until all of the facts come in, but it appears that a soldier who had served honorably during multiple tours in Iraq broke down and went mad in Afghanistan. We should not be surprised that this happened. We should be surprised that it hasn’t happened sooner and more often: The shock of this incident after a decade of hopeless, meandering efforts that have thrown away the lives and limbs of our troops while ambitious generals lie about progress, seek promotion, and engage in military masturbation is actually a tribute to our men and women in uniform out on the front lines (to the extent that “front lines” exist).

That staff sergeant—who turned himself in after the killings—is guilty of murder in a degree yet to be determined, but the amazing thing is how disciplined, patient and tenacious our troops have been. Given the outrageous stresses of serving repeated tours in an environment a brand-new private could recognize as hopeless (while his generals fly back and forth congratulating themselves), it’s remarkable that we have not seen more and even uglier incidents. The problem in Afghanistan isn’t our troops—although craven generals routinely insist that everything is the fault of “disrespectful” soldiers—it’s a leadership in and out of uniform that is bankrupt of ideas, bankrupt of ethics, bankrupt of moral courage—and rich only in self-interest and ambition.

If there’s a “battle cry” in Afghanistan, it’s “Blame the troops!” Generals out of touch with the ugly, brute reality on the ground down in the Taliban-sympathizing villages respond to every seeming crisis in Afghan-American relations by telling our troops to “respect Afghan culture.”

But generals don’t have a clue about Afghan “culture.” They interact with well-educated, privileged, English-speaking Afghans who know exactly which American buttons to press to keep the tens of billions of dollars in annual aid flowing. The troops, on the other hand, daily encounter villagers who will not warn them about Taliban-planted booby traps or roadside bombs, who obviously want them to leave, who relish the abject squalor in which they live and who appear to value the lives of their animals above those of their women. When our Soldiers and Marines hear, yet again, that they need to “respect Afghan culture,” they must want to puke up their rations.

When I was a young officer in training, we mocked the European “chateaux generals” of the First World War who gave their orders from elegant headquarters without ever experiencing the reality faced by the troops in the trenches. We never thought that we’d have chateaux generals of our own, but now we do. Flying down to visit an outpost and staying just long enough to pin on a medal or two, get a dog-and-pony-show briefing and have a well-scripted tea session with a carefully selected “good” tribal elder, then winging straight back to a well-protected headquarters where the electronics are more real than the troops is not the way to develop a “fingertips feel” for on-the-ground reality.

Add in the human capacity for self-delusion, and you have a surefire prescription for failure.

Right now, our troops are being used as props in a campaign year, as pawns by dull-witted generals who just don’t know what else to do, and as cash cows by corrupt Afghan politicians, generals and warlords (all of whom agree that it’s virtuous to rob the Americans blind).

What are our goals? What is our strategy? We’re told, endlessly, that things are improving in Afghanistan, yet, ten years ago, a U.S. Army general, unarmed, could walk the streets of Kabul without risk. Today, there is no city in Afghanistan where a U.S. general could stroll the streets. We may not have a genius for war, but we sure do have a genius for kidding ourselves.

Now we’re told that we have to stay to build the Afghan military and police. Jesus, Mary and Joseph! And Allah’s knickers, too! We’ve been training and equipping the Afghan army and the Afghan cops (and robbers) for ten years. In World War II, we turned out a mass military of our own in a year or so. The problem in Afghanistan isn’t that we haven’t tried, but that the Afghans are not interested in fighting for the exuberantly corrupt Karzai regime. Right now, our troops are dying to preserve a filthy Kabul government whose president blatantly stole the last election and which has no hope of gaining the support of its own people. Meanwhile, despite repeated claims that the Taliban is on its last legs, the religious fanatics remain the home team backed by Afghanistan’s Pashtun majority. (If the people didn’t back them, the Taliban would, indeed, have been long gone—we need to face reality.)

Recently, another friend, who clings to (now-retired) General Petraeus’s counterinsurgency notion that, if we just hang on and give the Afghans enough free stuff, they’ll come around to the American way of life, told me, yet again, “You should hear the intercepts we get from the low-level Taliban fighters…they’re in a panic…”

That’s the old Vietnam line: “We win every firefight!” Sure, we whip the Taliban every time we catch them with their weapons (if they’re not holding weapons, we can’t engage, even if they just killed Americans). But we dare not attack the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, where it’s protected by our “allies.” And no matter how many Taliban we kill, they still attract volunteers willing to die for their cause. The Afghans we train turn their guns on us.

It appears that the staff sergeant who murdered those Afghan villagers had cracked under the stresses of a war we won’t allow our troops to fight. But the real madness is at the top, in the White House, where President Obama can’t see past the November election; in Congress, where Republicans cling to whatever war they’ve got; and in uniform, where our generals have run out of ideas and moral courage.

That staff sergeant murdered sixteen Afghans. Our own leaders have murdered thousands and maimed tens of thousands of our own troops out of vanity, ambition and inertia. Who deserves our sympathy?

In war, soldiers die. But they shouldn’t die for bullshit.



Voter ID Laws: Racist or Reasonable?

Both the Left and Right have expressed concern over potential abuse in America’s current voting process. But as the rhetoric flies, what are the facts? And is the Department of Justice heeding all concerns?

There’s been much said lately about election integrity and voter identification laws. Both sides of the American political spectrum have raised concerns over polls and potential abuses in the American voting process. In fact, due to the serious voter registration irregularities identified by groups like True the Vote in Texas, along with the numerous voter fraud convictions across the nation involving workers from politically motivated groups like the failed organization ACORN, many states are pursuing photo identification as a means of addressing such assaults on election integrity. Texas, South Carolina and Florida have all taken steps to mandate photo identification as a requirement for voting. ...

Take, for example, Harris County, the county encompassing Houston, Texas. The irregularities in voter registration in this jurisdiction have raised serious concerns over election integrity through the investigative efforts of nonprofits and Harris County agencies alike.

True the Vote, a nonpartisan, Houston-based nonprofit focusing on electoral integrity has revealed some startling information. Their effort, which started out of a small tea party group, focused on volunteering as poll workers in their local 2009 elections. According to the group’s founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, what started as a simple effort to exercise civic duty and get involved brought them face to face with what she referred to as frightening and gross incompetence on the part of some election and county workers at the polls. Engelbrecht pointed out in her interview with Townhall that even though Texas law allowed 11 different forms of identification to be used at that time to verify identity, which was required to vote, she and her 70 election volunteers noticed that many voters were being allowed to vote without any identification at all. Texas has since passed voter identification laws which require the use of a photo identification card.

Engelbrecht’s volunteers ultimately submitted 800 signed affidavits outlining problems they encountered, including having overheard some election judges telling people who they should and should not vote for. After these experiences, the group decided to form True the Vote and to investigate how citizens could help ensure voter integrity and what processes existed to report abuses or irregularities. Engelbrecht says these efforts revealed even more frightening examples of degradation to the election process.

Engelbrecht’s True the Vote organization then decided to look at the actual registry and not just the new registrations. The group obtained the nearly 2,000,000-person Harris County Voter Registry Role. The group subdivided the registry by congressional district due to the size of the data.
After the registry was divided into the seven congressional districts which Harris County encompasses, True the Vote needed a starting point to isolate red flags for possible irregularities. They decided to start looking at registrations that had addresses six or more people were registered to.

The group found the seven congressional districts had four that were predominantly Republican and three that were predominantly Democratic. The four predominantly Republican districts had a range from 1,973 to 3,300 addresses with six or more people registered to them. The three predominantly Democratic districts had much higher numbers. Though this could possibly be attributed to variations in socioeconomic factors between the predominantly Republican and predominantly Democratic districts, what the group found next was alarming. The predominantly Democratic districts themselves had large variations between them in the number of addresses with six or more registered voters. The first had 7,560, the second 8,981, and the third—the district of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the prominent, outspoken Democratic congresswoman—had 19,596 instances with six or more voters registered at one address.

True the Vote then compared the socio-economic demographics of the three predominantly Democratic congressional districts in an effort to explain why Jackson Lee’s district could have such a high number in comparison. Engelbrecht told Townhall the group had found no significant difference to explain such a drastic variation in the numbers.

The group began doing research into the abnormalities in Jackson Lee’s district. They took the first 3,800 registrations of the flagged 19,596 homes with six or more registrants and began to investigate further. The group visited addresses and scoured property tax records. The group found many of the addresses were vacant lots or business addresses. Thirty-nine were registered at businesses and 97 of the addresses were nonexistent. One hundred six of the registrations revealed the same registrant registered more than once, and 207 of the addresses turned out to be vacant lots. Meanwhile, 595 registrations had registrants with driver’s license addresses not matching the registration, and many were voting in a district they did not live in. Of the random 3,800 registrations from Jackson Lee’s predominantly Democratic district, 25 percent had critical errors which Engelbrecht believes could result in an erosion of election integrity.

Excerpt from the March Townhall magazine received via email



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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The problem of the dumb voter

A strong argument for minimum government

Be warned: This column probably will offend just about everyone.

We start with news of offensive research at Cornell University. Researchers have challenged the assumption that most citizens can recognize the best political candidate when they see him.

A “growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies,” reports

“Why is that?” you might ask.

It's because incompetent people are incapable to judge the competence of others, or even the quality of their ideas, according to a Cornell University research team. For example, if voters lack expertise on tax reform, how do they identify a candidate who knows what he is talking about when it comes to tax reform? They simply lack the mental tools to make such judgments, say researchers.

This may explain how Americans chose a community activist devoid of executive skills to be the nation's chief executive, and how voters before that unfortunate selection picked his predecessor, among whose accomplishments was managing an unprofitable oil company, in Texas yet.

Think about it. Who would deem such people competent to hold the office of the world's most powerful person? Voters of similar – or less – intellectual competence, that's who, according to the Cornell research. Dumb and dumber.

The researchers concluded that it won't matter how much information or how many facts voters are given. The inherent inability of many of them to make sense of the data means arriving at a smart conclusion will be a long shot. In short, they wouldn't recognize a good idea if it hit them upside the head.

“We always want the best man to win an election,” mused folksy political sage Will Rogers. “Unfortunately, he never runs.”

But, according to Cornell researchers, how would we know?

There was a day in the U.S.A. when we erred on the side seemingly endorsed by the Cornell research, allowing only the best and brightest, or at least that's what they insisted they were, to vote and to hold office. But within short years of 1776, suffrage broadened throughout the land. Bars to holding office were lowered. Larger segments of the population beyond property-owning white guys were permitted the franchise. Nevertheless, Cornell researchers make a case that allowing nearly any sentient human being to vote hasn't helped much, if at all.

Are we offended yet? Stay tuned, it gets worse.

Large percentages of Americans regard the four remaining Republican presidential candidates unfavorably, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll last week. That, in the words of a Post reporter, is “a sobering reminder for the party that the extended primary season has damaged the brand.”

It seems that the more those perhaps not-so-bright (according to Cornell) voters are exposed to those apparently less-than-impressive candidates, the less they like them.

The upshot? “The Post/ABC poll suggests that move to the ideological middle can't happen soon enough for Republicans.”

Let's now consider yours truly's pet political peeve. Elections almost always are determined by what charitably may be called “the muddled middle,” many of whom are unmoored to ideological anchors, such as political parties. These are people, who for as long as 47 months and three or four weeks of every election cycle, remain “undecided,” apparently incapable of discerning the best of available options. We suspect one reason for the indecision may be the point made by Cornell researchers.

But let's consider the flip side of that equation. What's compelling about any of the candidates?

All three GOP frontrunners' track records while in and out of office belie their campaign rhetoric. Each has advocated and even profited from the very kind of government-as-solution bailout, mandate and interference that they unconvincingly now ask voters to believe they oppose. Despite their posturing, these men are not Reaganesque. Over the years they have acted not as if “government is the problem.” They have behaved as if “government is the solution.”

To sum up, candidates who have failed to inspire even the most committed voters, who are more likely to have convictions to help them sort wheat from chaff, now are facing increasing pressure to appeal to the muddled middle, who apparently have fewer convictions and less ability to discern.

That's offensive. What comes next is simply depressing.

Of those the Post identifies as “independent voters,” no Republican candidate last week had higher than a 38-percent favorable rating, and that was Ron Paul, whose chances of winning the nomination are about as good as Rush Limbaugh's. The GOP frontrunner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, trailed with a dismal 32 percent favorable score, and that was 16 points lower than the 48 percent of independents who viewed Romney unfavorably.

Let's recap. Voters may not be the best judge of competence in presidential candidates, and virtually no Republican candidate for president appears acceptable to “independent” voters, who probably will decide the outcome.

Is it any wonder that the candidate who will emerge as president will be no better than a pig in a poke?

There's another dimension to this perplexing problem. In an age of news saturation and 24/7 campaigning, it seems familiarity indeed breeds contempt. We offer as evidence the recent campaign to sell Americans on the incumbent president's controversial mandate that a morning-after abortifacient pill must be provided by all employers, or their insurance companies.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a poll on the Obamacare mandate had 53 percent support and 33 percent opposed. But when people were asked about applying the mandate to religiously affiliated hospitals and colleges with the insurer paying the cost, support dropped sharply to 38 percent. When the morning-after pill was specifically mentioned concerning Catholic institutions, support for the mandate dropped further, to 34 percent.

“In other words,” Journal columnist James Taranto deduced, “the less you know about the Obamacare mandate, the more likely you are to support it.”

The devil, they say, is in the details. If exposure brings more awareness of issues, it certainly must have the same effect on candidates, who are nothing if not bundles of issues. Gratuitous sound-bites and glamour photos give way over a year-long campaign to a lot of up-close-and-personal inspection. There are a lot of warts up close.

In other words, the less you know about candidates, the more likely you are to support them.

Here's a glimmer of hope that Cornell's researchers seem to have overlooked. Even if people are too dumb for democracy, that ignores more important factors, such as good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, freedom vs. slavery.

If voters, dumb or smart, paid closer attention to those criteria, the outcome probably would be better than it has been in recent years.

It doesn't require much smarts to make those choices. Weighing candidates against the golden standard of their humility and devotion to mercy and justice does require wisdom, however.

Wisdom recognizes that it is not charity to forcibly take from one in order to give to another, even under color of authority. Robin Hood was not charitable. He was a thief. It is not justice to infringe on one person's God-given rights to property, religion and speech in order to provide benefits to another. Our nation's principles stem from 1776, not 1984.

So, the question as we proceed down the stretch in the primary and then the general election is whether voters will be wise enough, even if they aren't smart enough, and then whether any candidate can emerge as worthy enough, rising out of the muck of endless recriminations, perhaps at a brokered convention.

Unfortunately, given the circumstances, George Washington probably couldn't be elected today. If that doesn't offend you, nothing will.



The Great TARP Cover-Up

Some folks want to pretend government intervention never happened.

In one of his reportedly few sober moments, the legendary statesman and tippler Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) is rumored to have said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Weirdly, the lack of definitive sourcing for that quotation only confirms its essential validity. But what happens when the facts seem so different to different people that there is virtually no common ground for conversation, much less resolution of basic differences?

I thought a lot about that question—not to mention drinking—while reading Thomas Frank’s new book, Pity the Billionaire, which he describes as “a chronicle of a confused time, a period when Americans rose up against imaginary threats and rallied to economic theories they understood only in the gauziest of terms.” A University of Chicago–trained historian who co-founded the hip left-wing journal The Baffler and did a stint as the token liberal on The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages, Frank has written a series of books about American culture and politics, most famously What’s the Matter With Kansas? (2004). He now occupies the “Easy Chair” column at Harper’s, a centuries-old seat of curmudgeonly, anti-capitalist editorializing once held by Lewis Lapham.

To Frank, fears that debt-fueled spending and government intervention in the economy helped cause and perpetuate the financial crisis are plainly “imaginary.” He believes the economic “theories” America is currently embracing are hardcore austerity measures ripped from the playbook of Herbert Hoover, circa 1929. “The revival of the Right,” says Frank, “is as extraordinary as it would be if the public had demanded dozens of new nuclear plants in the days after the Three Mile Island disaster; if we had reacted to Watergate by making Richard Nixon a national hero.”

Where to begin separating facts from opinions? For starters, it’s simply wrong to claim, as Frank does, that “the main political response to [the financial crisis of 2008] is a campaign to roll back regulation, to strip government employees of the right to collectively bargain, and to clamp down on federal spending.”

Certainly the Tea Party, a handful of people in Congress (most of them with the last name Paul), and some policy wonks would welcome such moves. But far from being powerbrokers, these folks are little more than marginalized dreamers, as likely to be attacked by their allies as by their enemies. The toughest fight that Tea Party favorite Rand Paul had in becoming the junior senator from Kentucky in 2010 came not from his Democratic opponent but from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who did everything he could to keep Paul from gaining office.

Lest we forget, the major response to the financial crisis in 2008 was the bailing out of Wall Street and the auto companies under a conservative Republican president and the implementation of an $840 billion stimulus plan promoted by a Democratic president. That’s not to mention a massive overhaul of the nation’s financial regulations and a health care reform package that was routinely described as “historic” and “transformational” at its passage. Ironically, such immediate, massive and—in the case of the stimulus—ineffective actions are in keeping with Herbert Hoover’s policies.

That’s because, contrary to Frank’s claims, Hoover was never a fan of government austerity (at least while in office). According to Florida State University economist Randall G. Holcombe, Hoover increased federal expenditures in real terms by 88 percent between 1929 and 1933.

Perhaps the major interventions of the last few years sneaked through under the wire because too many of us were traumatized by the collapse of Bear Stearns. But in fact, spending and regulations ballooned tremendously all through George W. Bush’s presidency—and still show no sign of slowing down.

In constant 2010 dollars, the federal government spent about $2.3 trillion in 2001. By 2010 the total was around $3.6 trillion. And although the federal government has not passed (and will not pass) a budget for a third straight year, the two plans currently on the table envision spending either $4.7 trillion or $5.7 trillion in 2021. The lower figure comes from the budget that passed the GOP-controlled House last spring. The higher number comes from President Barack Obama’s budget proposal.

If austerity is the new black, the news has yet to reach the people who actually wield power in the capital. And if the Washington elite aren’t serious about cutting spending, they sure aren’t hell-bent on cutting red tape and regulations either. For self-evident reasons, George W. Bush and the Republicans soft-pedaled the fact that over the course of his presidency he hired 90,000 net new regulators; signed the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, which radically complicated corporate accounting practices; passed a record number of “economically significant” regulations, costing the economy $100 million or more per year; and, according to economist (and reason columnist) Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, spent more money issuing and enforcing federal regulations than any previous chief executive. Obama is continuing the trend, increasing employment at regulatory agencies by more than 13 percent and issuing 75 major rules in his first two years.

All this happened during what Frank calls “the golden years of libertarianism.” So I have difficulty understanding what he is talking about when he issues dicta such as “free-market theory has proven itself to be a philosophy of ruination and fraud.”

Frank is surely correct that many anti-government types conveniently minimize the role that private-sector bad actors at banks, financial houses, and elsewhere played in causing the financial crisis. But he also never provides a compelling response to the argument (common among libertarians) that the root of the problem is implicit and explicit bailout guarantees that socialize the costs of irresponsible risk taking. When it comes to free markets, I feel like quoting Gandhi’s answer when asked how he felt about Western civilization: “I think it would be a good idea.”

Pity the Billionaire suffers not just from a lack of engagement with what I consider reality. It dismisses out of hand those with whom the author disagrees. Members of the broadly defined right, says Frank, “blow off the facts when they feel like it; they swipe symbols from the other side.” I hear him, and I even have some sympathy when he cries in exasperation, “What kind of misapprehension permits the newest Right to brush off truths that everyone else can see so plainly?”

We live in an era of “beer summits,” diplomatic “resets,” and a screwed-up economy in which inflated housing prices are not allowed to fall to the depressingly low levels they might actually be worth. In ways he surely didn’t intend, Frank’s Pity the Billionaire helps explain why so many of us seem to be talking past each other.




A great artificial hysterical fuss: "It turns out, of course, that Fluke is not some dewy-eyed college coed as she was first advertised to be by her press agents -- the press themselves -- but a hard-faced, grim-jawed 31-year old Marxoid operative, a socialist parasite, a Nancy Pelosi in training, for whom 'slut' represents only the mildest of calumnies. She seeks to be a lawyer, which says it all: a career of gnawing at the bones of human misery."

DoJ blocks Texas voter ID law: "A controversial new Texas law requiring voters to present personal identification before going to the polls has been blocked by the Obama administration. In a letter Monday to state officials, the Justice Department said the legislation could have a discriminatory effect on Hispanics and other minorities."

Switzerland: Voters reject six-week vacation mandate: "Swiss polls closed Sunday on several national referendums, including one pushed by a union to raise the minimum holiday from four weeks to the standard used in Germany, Italy, Russia and other European nations. ... Swiss public broadcaster SSR said two-thirds of voters and each of the nation's 26 cantons (states) had rejected the measure, which required majority approval of all federal and cantonal voters."



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Monday, March 12, 2012

A coverup to make Nixon seem like a piker

Media bans more Evidence that Obama Holds U.S. Presidency unlawfully

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio , a five-time elected Sheriff, and former federal narcotics agent who served in several foreign countries hit the front pages in Europe with evidence that may fatally wound the political career of the current incumbent of America's highest public office.

However, the most likely "killer evidence" against the president comes not from Arpaio but from a 19th Century U.S. Supreme Court ruling that makes the issue of the alleged forgeries almost superfluous. But that clear cut federal court decision is being systematically "disappeared" from mainstream archives.

Critics ask why would this be if the Obama conspiracy theories were just that - theories without substance. Legal analysts hold that this particular federal ruling confirms that Obama is not eligible for the highest public office because, even if he was born in Honolulu as he claims, he cannot have the status of "natural born citizen."

This legal hurdle is not widely understood because "natural born citizen" is defined under law as someone with BOTH parents born in the United States. Obama's father is from Kenya.

Under law there is only one test of what constitues a 'natural born citizen' and it is enshrined in the crucial judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court in Minor V. Happersett (88 U.S. 162) of 1875. The 'Minor-v-Happersett' case clearly defines Natural Born Citizen as someone who can show that both of their parents were born in the United States, which obviously excludes Obama on his father's side.

Minor V. Happersett has been cited and held true in dozens of cases over the last 138 years. However, despite it's importance, this landmark judgment is strangely being expunged from Internet archives by supporters of Obama. Critics say this apparent fascist revisionism of American legal history seems to have begun in earnest after Obama's rousing 2004 speech at the Democrat National Convention when he first was hotly tipped for the presidency.

The very fact that Obama's father was not born in the United States means that under the law, as enshrined within Minor V. Happersett , Barack Obama can never lawfully hold the Office of President of the United States of America. But mainstream outlet won't reveal this case when addressing "conspiracy theories" over this matter. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, forbids inclusion of the Minor-v-Happersett ruling in it's entry about the Obama "conspiracy theory." Yet Wikipedia does have a separate entry for the case (but no mention of Obama). the prime free legal internet research site for decisions handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States, has gone out on a limb to scrub Minor V. Happersett from it's server. This is despite almost every other Supreme Court case in American history being on their search engine. is owned by wealthy Obama supporter Tim Stanley so follow the money. The controversy is now dubbed " JustiaGate ."

More HERE (See the original for links)


The fried brains of a prominent Leftist

Robert Reich, a Democrat Party economic standard bearer, has just published a book entitled "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future". It is filled with absurd theories and economic incomprehensions, some of which are tackled by Ray Kraft below.

But first an apercu of the book:
Robert Reich on the structural problems that have developed in the US economy . . . as the growth of wealth is concentrated at the top, the consumer base at the bottom degrades . . . for a very simple reason. People in the top 1% save and invest most of their money, but this does not stimulate the economy. It's money in the bank, or stashed in unrealized capital gains in millions or billions of dollars' worth of stocks.

Most people in the bottom 90% spend most of their money fairly quickly, which drives consumption, which is the engine of economic growth . . . contrary to the mythology of trickle-down economics.

If we want a more robust economy, there is only one possible solution . . . and this is to increase real income growth for the 99% . . . and this is going to be a big problem, as computerization and automation increasingly do things far more cheaply and quickly than humans used to . . . this raises income for the 5% in hi-tech, and it depletes jobs for the 95% in low tech. Job depletion equals consumption depletion equals weaker growth.

The BIG CHALLENGE for America over the next decade, generation, is going to be to figure out how to keep as many Americans as possible employed, and how to keep their incomes - and spending power - growing.

There is one and only one way to make this happen, and that is to re-industrialize America until our Trade Deficit vanishes, and to develop nuclear power until our Energy Deficit vanishes. Now, our Trade and Energy deficits total more than $1 trillion a year, and that money spent in America for American manufacturing and American energy production would generate 20 million jobs at an average (mean) of $50,000 per year per job.

Reich's premises are so distorted it makes his conclusions absurd. He must have taken economics at Princeton along with Paul Krugman. Then again he may just be another mathematically- challenged lawyer.

Structural Problem. Reich concludes that America has a structural problem having nothing to do with the Democrats running up $130 trillion in funded and unfunded government debt but rather the concentration of wealth in the top 1% of the population. No mention of the regulatory sand government throws in our gas tank to cripple our economic engine.

Economic Stimulus. If it wasn't the common misunderstanding among the masses suffering under media-induced deception no one in their right mind would posit that that the money the top 1% invest doesn't stimulate the economy. Were it not for their investment there would be NO ECONOMY.

Money Under the Mattress. Reich claims that money invested in the stock market and banks is somehow not invested in the economy but supposedly hidden under the mattress. What kind of a wet dream did he have to have to arrive at that conclusion? All that money is capital invested in our Founder's free market capitalist system. The yearly net income therefrom is used to invest in new ideas, new products, new services and new jobs.

Consumption Drives the Economy. Reich is a Keynesian and mistakenly believes that consumption is the engine of economic growth. Obviously Reich didn't get Keynes's memo. Keynes reversed himself and most of demand-side economics in favor of the supple-side principle that investment triggers economic growth. A Steve Jobs and a Bill Gates comes before consumption - bet on it.

Trickle Down Economics. Here Reich gets hilarious. Ever since man walked upright he has operated under trickle-down economics. The king, dictator or the likes of the Roman Senate always take the economic cream off the top and let the masses just survive. If Reich's 1% assertion is correct then how does he plan to change that dynamic? Well he can't and as a dues-paying liberal he just calls what he does not understand a "myth." You get that man has been operating under the trickle-down theory since time in memoriam and Reich calls it a myth. He should get the Nobel Economics prize for that.

Delusional Madness. Reich goes on to solve the problem by:

Increasing people's incomes - How Robert?

Closing our trade deficit - How Robert?

Closing our energy deficit - How Robert?

How Wrong the Method - How Right the Complaint. Robert Reich is right that we have a massive structural problem with the American government. In addition most Americans are losing purchasing power. His solution to all of these problems is to tax the rich. That would be all right except the rich don't have that kind of money.

Bill Gates is worth $59 Billion. If the government would confiscate all his wealth it would run the government for 5 days. (59/4200 x 365 days). Of course it would destroy one of America's greatest economic engines - Microsoft. The entire wealth of the Forbes 400 couldn't finance the government for even a quarter of a year.

So ask yourself how stupid or misinformed are the American people for buying into this class warfare lie perpetrated by Democrat politicians and the likes of Robert Reich? And let's not get into the idiot-in-chief - he doesn't have any familiarity with the facts much less the mathematical skill to understand them. We need a do over.

Received via email from Dick McDonald


On "balance" in the boardroom

An email from Christopher J. Hoey, responding to this

I was the senior Labor and Employment Counsel for the F W Woolworth Co. from 1967 to 1994. In 1973, while Eleanor Holmes Norton (currently Congressional Representative from DC) was Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, she was responsible for bringing a systemic discrimination case against the company, which was headquartered in NYC. One of the demands made was that the company restructure its Board of Directors to reflect the demographics of the City, both in race and sexual representation. The investigator was unfazed by the fact that it was then a multi national corporation with world wide operations, and that less than 2500 of the 120,000 plus total employees were located in the city.

On the first day of t he hearing on the complaint the hearing officer found from the bench that he did not have the authority to tell a corporation how to select the entrepreneurs who would be responsible for running the corporation. The hearing on other issues dragged on, but the company prevailed in the overall attack.

it is amazing how bureaucrats have no sense of the operations of complex businesses, but are convinced they alone are the possessors of the knowledge of what is necessary to make them compliant with their perception of how things should be.

(Our German subsidiary did have an employee representative on its Board but he knew the need to keep a business successful and was never a thorn in its side.)


New Poll Shows Both Romney and Santorum Beating Obama in Head-to-Head

Why are Republicans so gloomy? The latest Rasmussen Reports Daily Presidential Tracking Poll shows the two leading Republican candidates for president each beating President Obama in a head-to-head this November:

"With the perception growing that he will be the GOP nominee, Romney leads President Obama by five points in a hypothetical 2012 matchup. Today's numbers show Romney at 48%, Obama at 43%. That's Romney's largest lead since December. Matchup results are updated daily at 9:30 a.m. Eastern (sign up for free daily e-mail update).

If Santorum is the Republican nominee, he is up by one point over the president, 46% to 45%. This is the second time since polling began in 2011 that Santorum has had a slight lead over Obama. Romney is the only other candidate to lead the president more than one time in the polls."

The strong showing for Romney and Santorum may come as a surprise considering the positive jobs report released from the Labor Department Friday showing the economy added 227,000 jobs in February, a performance expected to boost the president's case for reelection. The Washington Post reports that Republicans reacted to the jobs report as the economy recovering "in spite of" the Obama administration's policies.

During an interview on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital with Al Hunt" airing this weekend, Rick Santorum said the administration "has consistently seen, you know, bad job reports because of bad policies that have led to those job reports," he said. "And eventually, you know, the economy does recover, in spite of the headwinds that this administration has put in its place."

A Gallup report Thursday showed that U.S. unemployment, as measured without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January and 8.5 percent in December.

The Rasmussen poll released Saturday also showed that only 25 percent of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way President Obama is performing, in comparison to 44 percent who Strongly Disapprove. As for Tuesday's upcoming primaries, the poll showed the GOP race in Alabama essentially a three-way tie, and Mitt Romney retaining control in Mississippi ahead by eight. Nationally, Romney now leads Rick Santorum by 12 points. Regardless of who they want to win, Rasmussen notes 80% of Republican Primary Voters nationwide believe Romney will be the party's nominee.



Why Westerners are free-thinking and the Chinese love conformity: It's all in the genes claim scientists

Cultural stereotypes may be deep rooted in our genetic makeup, say scientists. Common traits like British individualism and Chinese conformity could be attributed to genetic differences between races according to a new study.

The study, by the department of psychology at Northwestern University in Illinois, suggests that the individualism seen in western nations, and the higher levels of collectivism and family loyalty found in Asian cultures, are caused by differences in the prevalence of particular genes.

'We demonstrate for the first time a robust association between cultural values of individualism-collectivism and the serotonin transporter gene,' said Joan Chiao, from the department of psychology at Northwestern University.

Chiao and her colleagues combined data from global genetic surveys, looking at variations in the prevalence of various genes. The findings were matched with other research which ranked nations by levels of individualism and collectivism.

The team focused their attentions on the gene that controls levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which regulates mood and emotions.

Their studies found that one version of the gene was far more common in western populations which, they said, was associated with individualistic and free-thinking behaviour.

Another version of the same gene, which was prevalent in Asian populations, they said was associated with collectivism and a greater willingness to put the common good first. People with this gene appeared to have a different response to serotonin.

If they are confirmed, the findings made by Chiao and her colleagues would suggest that races may have a number of inherent psychological differences - just as they differ in physical appearances.

Chiao suggests that the version of the gene predominating in Asian populations is associated with heightened anxiety levels and increased risk of depression. She adds that such populations respond by structuring their society to ward off those negative effects. The success of such social structures would then ensure that the gene would spread.


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



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