Saturday, October 20, 2012

The triumph of spin

On the stump and in the recent debates, the president has been taking credit for things that are symptoms of a bad economy and touting them as major accomplishments.

Obama boasts that illegal immigration is the lowest it's been in decades, but he leaves out that, in the words of the Associated Press, "Much of the drop in illegal immigrants is due to the persistently weak U.S. economy, which has shrunk construction and service-sector jobs attractive to Mexican workers following the housing bust." Indeed, Census data shows that many Mexican immigrants, legal and illegal, are heading home because they think the opportunities will be better south of the border.

Obama boasted at the Fordham debate Wednesday night that his policies "lowered our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years." And it's true they're the lowest in 16 years.

One reason for that is an explosion in domestic oil production on private lands thanks to the technological breakthrough of hydraulic "fracking," an industry the Obama administration has been slowing down with increased regulations. This is the biggest driver of the decline in net oil imports, and President Obama has no business taking credit for it. Fossil fuel production on federal lands, notes economist Mark Perry, hit a nine-year low in 2011, and crude oil production dropped 14 percent on federal lands -- the biggest decrease in a decade.

And, to be fair, another reason for the decline is the longstanding trend of increasing energy-efficiency standards, which Obama supports. Energy expert Jeff Miller writes at the Energy Collective website, that a whopping 1 percent of the total reduction in petroleum consumption can be chalked up to such measures. (Increased efficiency standards for cars, a frequent talking point for Obama, accounts for precisely 0 percent of the decline, according to Miller).

And then, of course, there's the unemployment rate. When the statistically odd drop in the unemployment rate for September was announced earlier this month, the president raced around the country celebrating the fact that we'd finally dropped below 8 percent unemployment. And you can hardly blame him.

But the reality is that the unemployment rate is only as "low" as it is because millions of Americans have given up looking for work. If you give up looking for work, you're no longer counted as part of the labor market. In other words, if everyone just gave up hope of finding a job, the unemployment rate would be zero!

The actual state of the labor market is miserable. More than 12 million Americans are out of work, and that number becomes 23 million if you include people who've stopped looking or can't find full-time work. The labor participation rate is the lowest it's been since the recession of 1981.

A few months ago, I wrote a column on how there were some silver linings to the dark cloud of a lousy economy, on the grounds that bad times often encourage good habits. Americans have been paying down their debts, building up their savings and having their tattoos removed -- all thanks in part to the bad economy and the financial crisis of 2008.

But there's something distinctly creepy about looking at the symptoms of a lousy economy and preening how you meant to do that.



Show vs. Substance

It was Clausewitz, the military strategist, who famously defined war as politics by other means. Politics in turn could be defined as history determined by other means. For each present political choice tends to come with its own view of the past. It would be hard to find a better example of that tendency than Tuesday night's presidential debate, which was not only a clash of candidates but of pasts. Which explains the competing narratives on display as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney came out of their respective corners and started swinging, each presenting a different past. You pays your money, or rather you cast your vote, and you takes your choice.

Our once and, he surely hopes, future president had a lovely past to narrate -- the story of a great young president who, after the worst economic downturn of this still young century, the worst since the Great Depression, set America aright during the past four years, lifted the economy out of this Great Recession, and put us on this golden course we're enjoying now, getting better every day in every way as we proceed with this Great Recovery.

Now that's the way to write history, or at least rewrite it.

The president's is a beautiful story, grand and uplifting, sweeping and inspiring, complete with brave hero and happy ending. Welcome to the Land of Hope and Change, where history is made to order before your eyes. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.) In the president's telling, the past four years acquire a roseate glow.

Sound familiar? Isn't that the way we all see it? If not, maybe the rest of us just experienced a different four years. That doesn't mean the president is lying -- he may just have a different perspective. Maybe he had a better four years than the rest of us.

It was left to the president's challenger to spoil the story by introducing a few of those dull, gray facts that can drain the color from even the brightest of fancies. Mitt Romney had more than a few such details to relate. The man is a glutton for data, spreadsheets, stats, graphs, percentages ... you'd think he was some kind of investor, mainly the successful kind, an expert at turnarounds and reorganizations who now wants to turn around the whole, gigantic enterprise and experiment called the United States of America.

The man rolls out facts and figures like a pocket calculator, flooding the conversation with them, as if he were out to transform the historical romance his opponent has just produced into a tragedy by the numbers:

"Well, what you're seeing in this country is 23 million people struggling to find a job. And a lot of them, as you say, Candy, have been out of work for a long, long, long time. ... We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office. If the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office, it's 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate, taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent....

"There are 3.5 million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office. ... How about $4 trillion of deficits over the last four years, $5 trillion? ... Women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. ... An economy with 50 percent of kids graduating from college that can't find a job, that's not what we have to have....

"President Obama was right, he said that that was outrageous, to have deficits as high as half a trillion dollars under the Bush years. He was right, but then he put in place deficits twice that size for every one of his four years. And his forecast for the next four years is more deficits almost that large. ... He said that by now we'd have unemployment at 5.4 percent. The difference between where it is and 5.4 percent is 9 million Americans without work. I wasn't the one that said 5.4 percent. This was the president's plan. Didn't get there."

"He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they're on the road to bankruptcy. He would reform them. He'd get that done. He hasn't even made a proposal on either one. He said in his first year he'd put out an immigration plan that would deal with our immigration challenges. Didn't even file it.

"This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he'd do. He said that he'd cut in half the deficit. He hasn't done that, either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It's gone up by $2,500 a year. ... When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It's growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before...."

Enough. Enough! The president's story was better. This one hurts. Give us Barack Obama's version of the past four years any time. What a pity it doesn't exist outside his theater of the mind, a mind so fine that an unpleasant fact never penetrates it. We the People could listen to this president all day -- if only we didn't have to live in an economy that seems strangely different from the one on his beautifully appointed stage.

But what evidence is there that Mitt Romney would do any better? Well, his record as a successful governor of Massachusetts does, and the successful turnarounds he oversaw at Bain Capital, as well as the success he made of a deeply troubled Olympics. But this is a whole, vast country -- with the biggest economy in the world. Turning around an ocean liner would be child's play compared to turning around the American economy. Why would Mr. Romney's plan turn out any better than the president's? Answer us that. And he did Tuesday night:

"You might say, 'Well, you got an example of when it worked better?' Yeah, in the Reagan Recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent. Between that period -- the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan's recovery created twice as many jobs as this president's recovery."

The Gipper did it by making tough decisions, risking rather than courting the bubble Popularity, and setting the American economy on one of its longest, most sustained periods of growth in American history. Point made.

But can Mitt Romney do as well as Ronald Reagan at getting us out of our economic malaise? There's one way to find out: Give him the chance, the opportunity. That's really the theme of his campaign anyway: Opportunity. As in the Land Of. As for the incumbent, it's pretty clear what he offers. Sadly clear from the history of the last four years, the real one.

Who won Round Two of this year's presidential debates Tuesday night? The verdict isn't as clear as it was after Round One, when Mitt Romney was his usual businesslike self and Barack Obama seemed to be somewhere else. But this time the president was back at the top of his game, and it was good to see him there. Ah, if only the future of the country were a game.

It was a good, hard-fought match. And quite a contrast in styles. While the president jabbed and feinted, Mr. Romney gave his usual power-point presentation, as if preparing us for a quiz the next morning. (Oh, what fun!)

He went down his five-point list of what he'd do in the Oval Office: Ramp up energy production of all kinds. Expand trade, especially in this hemisphere. Crack down on the way China, the Communist one, has been cheating when it comes to trade. Balance the government's budget and, perhaps most of all, encourage small business instead of taxing and red-taping it to death.

Given my many biases (free markets and a free press in a free country, just to start with), I imagine I'd be mighty critical of the president's agenda for the next four years. But I can't be, not in good conscience. Given the evidence of Tuesday night's debate, he doesn't have one.

Oh, yes, who won the bout? That's easy: Candy Crowley. Of course, she had an unusual advantage. She was supposed to have been the referee.



Banks Punished For Central Bank and Political Errors

In recent decades politicians have increasingly followed the Keynesian prescription of economic growth through continued government borrowing and the creation of undreamt of amounts of fiat money by central banks. To facilitate this process, the larger commercial banks have acted as the central banks' de facto distribution system, and as a result have grown ever larger while accepting progressively greater risks.

In 2008, potential catastrophe loomed as the entire international financial system was challenged with collapse. But, as the 'darlings' of the central banks, the "too big to fail" banks were saved  by taxpayer bailouts so that they could continue to play their role in the stimulus engine. But as a result of these distortions, the environment for those banks outside of the exclusive "too big to fail club" has been increasingly challenging. In the United States, the financial services industry is changing radically and many fear that the days of U.S. dominance will be coming to an end.

Public ire resulting from the 2008 financial crisis largely missed politicians and central bankers and landed squarely on "Wall Street." As a result, bankers have become easy political targets. Increased regulation of the banking sector has become the rallying cry for the political left.

In addition to direct assaults on the banks, the ill-designed 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law has raised considerably the cost of entry to small entrepreneurial financial companies. Already, it is forcing the business of smaller financial companies offshore to the benefit of other countries.

Daniel Tarullo, an influential executive at the Federal Reserve Board, has suggested curbing bank growth by demanding a limit on the non-deposit liabilities of banks. Too often, short-term debt comprises the majority of these liabilities and is a source of potential vulnerability in a credit crunch. Meanwhile, some politicians have urged higher capital requirements in order to curb increasing bank size. Even ex-bankers such as Sandy Weil who led the lobbying effort to abolish the Glass-Steagle Act are now calling for its effective restoration. As a result, many corporations are deciding to leave the banking sector.

Companies for whom banking services provide an added benefit to their non-bank clients are fearful of the threat of increased capital requirements and of new, as yet to be clarified, Federal Reserve banking regulations. As such, it is a classic example of how excessive and uncertain regulations are hurting American business and employment. A specific example is that of tax preparation firm H&R Block. Years ago the company launched a service that provides some banking services to its customers. Recently they re-evaluated that strategy and have engaged advisors Goldman Sachs to help them "evaluate strategic alternatives." In other words, they are looking to shed the unit.

Those large banks that remain, firmly entrenched and supported by government guarantees, see little reason to provide cost effective services for retail clients. Most people with bank accounts in the United States will likely agree that in recent years banking fees have gone up while the level of service has gone down. This has resulted in private enterprise proposing innovative solutions. Recent moves by retail giant Walmart provides one example.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) pointed out some weeks ago, some 51 million Americans are "under banked". Worse, about 17 million are "unbanked". This implies a massive potential need for banking services for individuals at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. Many such Americans do a great deal of their shopping at Walmart, which purveys a wide variety of merchandise at extremely low prices.

To provide a service to these potential customers, Walmart has announced an agreement with American Express to issue a prepaid debit card entitled 'Bluebird'. This will enable less well-off consumers to purchase products from Walmart without surrendering their paychecks to a bank, thereby exposing themselves to high banking fees, or to put their purchases on conventional credit cards, which are notorious for high fees. As the service involves no extension of credit, Bluebird should provide cost effective service to the poor while involving no financial risk to either Walmart of American Express.

While Walmart's efforts may be timely and successful, the move will not reverse the fading glory of the U.S financial services sector. In order to perpetuate its system of massive money distribution, the Fed has insured that American banking will become as competitive domestically and globally as American manufacturing, which is to say, not at all.




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


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


Friday, October 19, 2012

Newsweak bites the dust

The penalty of aiming at a Leftist audience only.  Rupert  Murdoch has something for everyone and his outlets prosper.  How rigid most of the American media must be to leave half of the market to Mr Murdoch.

But still -- it's nice to see a lot of Leftist journalists out of a job.  Maybe they can get a job at the NYT.  Whoops!  They've been cutting back too

Newsweek has announced that it is going digital only, bringing an end to the magazine’s 79 year history in print.

The magazine’s editor Tina Brown said that due to the ‘challenging economics of print publishing’ it has decided to become an Internet only publication .

She admitted that saying goodbye to the ‘romance’ of the printed word was hard but the status quo could not continue.

Staff have been warned there will be redundancies ahead of the final edition on December 31.

The decision brings to an end the the publication of a magazine which was founded in 1933 with financing from the son of industrialist Andrew W. Mellon.

It has been one of the longest running magazines in American history, but in recent years it has struggled with declining advertising revenues.

In 2010 Newsweek merged with news and culture website The Daily Beast and last year the print edition underwent a redesign in the hope of bringing in more readers.

The new digital version of Newsweek, which will be called Newsweek Global, will be available on the web and e-reader and tablet format on a subscription only basis, with some content made free.



Obama at Hofstra: Relatively Alert, Ergo Big Winner

Ann Coulter

The best question at the second presidential debate came from Michael Jones, an African-American who said: "Mr. President, I voted for you in 2008. What have you done or accomplished to earn my vote in 2012? I'm not that optimistic, as I was in 2008. Most things I need for everyday living are very expensive."

To which Obama said: "Are you my half-brother?"

Actually, all Obama could say was that he had ended the war in Iraq (while pointlessly escalating the war in Afghanistan) and that Osama bin Laden is dead (and so is our ambassador). Both of which must be a great comfort to Mr. Jones as he tries to pay his bills every month.

Jones was right: Since Obama has been president, everything you own -- your home, pension, savings accounts, weekly paychecks -- are all worth less.

Meanwhile, everything you need -- gas, food, and anything else that requires fuel to be transported to you -- costs more.

Obama can't talk his way out of his record. As Romney said in response to the president's allegation that he is gung-ho about drilling for oil to lower fuel prices: "But that's not what you've done in the last four years. That's the problem."

Obama also suddenly announced: "I'm all for pipelines. I'm all for oil production." But he vetoed the Keystone pipeline.

He explained that the price of gasoline was $1.80 when he took office because the economy was in the toilet. Apparently, prices have spiked to more than $4 a gallon because all Americans are back at work now and making big bucks!

Obama said the "most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating jobs in this country."

So now he's going to create jobs? Because, nearly four years into his presidency, 23 million Americans are out of work and more than half of recent college graduates can't find a job.

He claimed to believe that we should reward "self-reliance," "individual initiative" and "risk-takers." And yet, a few months ago, he ridiculed these self-reliant risk-takers for thinking they were "just so smart," sneering "if you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

Obama said we have to be "serious about reducing the deficit," calling it "a moral obligation to the next generation." But he's increased the deficit by $5 trillion -- more in four years than President Bush did in eight.

He also said he supported cutting corporate taxes. But only in odd-numbered years that don't start with "2."

The media will lie and say Obama won the debate -- he has stopped the bleeding, he's drawing huge crowds, the momentum is back! But as Romney said in response to many of Obama's promises Tuesday night, "I don't think the American people believe that."

The trend is set and Obama's voters are moving away from him in droves. People can see that Obama has to go to college campuses, the David Letterman show and "The Daily Show" to get a friendly audience these days. Even Lindsay Lohan is for Romney.

The media's campaigning for Obama isn't fooling Americans; it's just making Obama's obtuseness worse. If you're behind at halftime, you don't go to the cheerleading squad to ask what you're doing wrong.

Absolutely nothing! You're perfect! Don't change anything!

But we're behind by 7 points ...

You're great! You're the best team ever!

With Obama unable to compete in a fair fight, debate moderator Candy Crowley had to become Obama's wingman, injecting herself into the debate by declaring Obama the winner on the question of whether he had called the Benghazi attack an act of terror the day after the attack. Only after the debate, when everyone had gone home, did Crowley admit that Romney was right on Libya.

(If Obama called the Benghazi attack an "act of terror" in his Rose Garden speech, then he also said the victims of that attack were buried in the "hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery" and that he had visited them at Walter Reed -- other comments in that speech not specifically referring to the Benghazi attack.)

Crowley stopped Romney from talking about Fast and Furious on the grounds that it had nothing to do with guns. She didn't take a single question on Obamacare -- the universally loathed monstrosity that fueled the 2010 Republican landslide and continues to be a thorn in America's side.

In the media room, journalists cheered Obama's cheap shot about Romney being rich, according to The Washington Times. Say, who did the Democrats run for president right before Obama? That would be the richest man in the U.S. Senate, John Kerry. But liberals believe Kerry acquired his fortune more honestly than by building businesses and creating jobs. He married a rich woman.

For all the media cheerleading, millions of Americans still know they're out of work. They know, as Michael Jones noted, that everything is more expensive, including even-handed moderators.



Obama-Biden: Playing the Liar Card

Within the first few minutes of the second presidential debate, Obama said "not true" more times than Lance Armstrong, Mark McGwire and Baghdad Bob -- combined.  Sure beats talking about the economy.

President Obama scored a big victory over Mitt Romney with this week's cover story in Time magazine: "Who is Telling the Truth?" How is this a victory for Obama? The silliness of sending out surrogates to call Romney a "liar" has become a Big Media Issue in 2012.

Breaking news: Almost all politicians obfuscate, sometimes shading or altering positions as political winds shift and even completely changing positions. Sometimes they admit changing positions (Obama on gay marriage). Sometimes they change while denying any change (Romney initially asserting that RomneyCare could and should be a "model" the federal government "can learn from").

Time magazine asks, for example, did Romney tell the truth when he accused Obama of saying that "if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he would hold unemployment below 8 percent." No, that's "misleading," Time tells us. "Obama never said that, but before he took office, two of his economists predicted that a large stimulus might have that effect."

Huh?  OK, Obama himself never said that, but he has acknowledged his top economic advisors did. The statement therefore reflected the goals and expectations of the Obama administration. Is it "misleading" to say "Obama said" -- as opposed to "his top economic advisors predicted"?

How many times did the "Bush Lied, People Died" crowd accuse "Bush" or "the Bush administration" of warning about a "mushroom cloud"? Bush never said that. The speaker was then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Is it a "lie" to say that those words were "said" by Bush? Or was the Rice statement a reflection of the administration's view that Iraq represented -- to use Bush's actual words -- a "grave and gathering danger"?

Where was truth-busting, fact-checking Time magazine during one of the most scurrilous attacks on a sitting president -- that President George W. Bush "lied" us into the Iraq War?

Accusers included Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who voted for the war, then turned against it, saying the Bush administration "intentionally misled the country into war." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shamefully called Bush "a loser" and "a liar." He apologized for the loser part, but allowed "liar" to stand. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., said, "Week after week after week we were told lie after lie after lie." These are party leaders -- not a couple of beer-guzzlers holding up hand-painted signs at an Occupy rally in Zuccotti Park.

Now, what about the word "liar" -- and Vice President Joe Biden?

During his only debate, Biden denied voting for the "two wars on a credit card" (Obama's words) that supposedly contributed to the recession. Biden said: "And, by the way, they talk about this Great Recession if it fell out of the sky, like, 'Oh, my goodness, where did it come from?' It came from this man voting to put two wars on a credit card, to at the same time put a prescription drug benefit on the credit card, a trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. I was there. I voted against them (emphasis added). I said, no, we can't afford that."

Biden voted for the authorization for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. About Iraq, Biden said in 2002, "If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late," and, "We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after."

Can we call liberal pundits "liars" when they claim the idea for an individual mandate came from the conservative Heritage Foundation?

Stuart Butler, Heritage's director of the Center for Policy Innovation, recently wrote: "Is the individual mandate at the heart of 'ObamaCare' a conservative idea? Is it constitutional? And was it invented at The Heritage Foundation? In a word, no. ... And make no mistake: Heritage and I actively oppose the individual mandate (emphasis added). ... The confusion arises from the fact that 20 years ago, I held the view that as a technical matter, some form of requirement to purchase insurance was needed in a near-universal insurance market to avoid massive instability. ... My idea was hardly new. Heritage did not invent the individual mandate."

The dictionary describes a "liar" as someone who intends to deceive. But to paraphrase economist Thomas Sowell, today the word "liar" means a conservative who is winning an argument with a liberal.



Economic  Growth is good

Although some people look out from their centrally heated balconies, with their bathroom cabinets full of modern medications, and their refrigerators full of well- preserved nourishing foods, and affect to despise growth, growth fills life with more opportunities, not just material ones.

There is a certain temperament which dislikes progress because it is emblematic of change and struggle. They share the Elysian dream of Tennyson's Lotos Eaters for peace and contentment: "Is there any peace in ever climbing up the climbing wave?"

Such people disdain economic growth and advocate instead a contented life which does not seek to improve its lot. In fact some important studies on happiness suggest that it comes with the prospect of improvement rather than with a comfortable standard of living.

Adam Smith spoke of "The uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition," and it applies equally to women. People are motivated to better their lot, and it is partly from this drive that large numbers of us do not now live near starvation and at the mercy of bad harvests and crop failures. We have learned how to generate surpluses that can tide us through bad times, and which can offer us greater opportunities than previous generations could conceive of.

We use wealth to invest in creating more wealth in the future. This is what economic growth is. It has enabled us to afford an improved diet, sanitation, clean water, education, healthcare, better transport, and has given us the means and the leisure to cultivate the arts.

There are those who say that enough is enough, without making clear why it is today's standard which is enough, rather than that of 50 years ago or of 50 years hence. Some suggest we are using up the Earth's resources, even though our ability to access new sources seems to increase faster than our use of them, which is why the price of most of them has fallen in real terms. Others suggest that we cannot produce sufficient energy to fuel more growth,even though recent technological innovation in gas extraction has increased the available reserves by decades, if not a century or more.

Growth means a higher standard of living. It means better and smarter goods and services. It means one generation having access to the choices that only the very rich of the previous generation could afford. Growth offers the chances of more leisure, of self-improvement, of raising the standards of education. It is what brings to millions the chance of a better life.



Free ObamaPhone: Facts and Fiction

It automatically rejects calls from people with a different opinion.

Every time you take a picture, it produces a grimmer image of America.

It doesn't have a plan; it just keeps telling you how bad the other guy's plan is.

When it crashes, it blames your previous phone.

All 3 AM calls go directly to voicemail.

It has a really useless app called "Biden."

Pairing it with another device sucks all the energy out of the other unit.

Type in "job search" and it gives you directions to the welfare office.

The navigation feature covers all 57 States.

The default ringtone for international calls is "I'm sorry, so sorry, please accept my apology."

The healthcare app downloads and installs itself without your permission.

When you make a call, a teleprompter pops up to help you speak.

Restaurant reviews are all written by Michelle Obama.

There are never any winners on Angry Birds.

Instagram takes two months to process a photo and you have to fill out 3 PDFs to do so.

Paypal app is replaced with ReceivePal app.

You can't find "Jerusalem" on Google maps.

It turns all your Facebook friends into enemies and all your enemies into friends.

Don't want to work? There's an app for that, too.

It automatically bows down to phones made by foreign companies.

When you watch a YouTube video, a US ambassador gets killed.

When you dial "home", it calls Kenya.

As opposed to the iPhone, it's called the mePhone.




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


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


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some current American Fascism

It could happen to any conservative.  Remember:  Fascism is Leftist

One man’s tropical paradise is another man’s prison. Imagine being “stuck” on Oahu. I’m sure you could think of worse situations, but really stop and think about the following true and evolving situation. You’re a “normal” 34 year-old guy, live on the U.S. mainland in Gulfport, Mississippi, and recently married a woman who is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy stationed in Okinawa.

You’re a citizen of the United States and possess a valid U.S. issued passport. You’re not a criminal and have no history of felony or misdemeanor convictions.  In fact, you recently passed a background check to own and carry a firearm in Mississippi. You are, however, an outspoken patriot for the United States Constitution.

You miss your bride of eight months, and decide to fly to Okinawa to visit her. Because you are the “dependent” of an active duty member of the U.S. military, you make arrangements to fly from San Francisco to Okinawa on a military aircraft. You must still have a ticket, pass the screening procedures similar or even more stringent than those flying on normal commercial airlines. After the screening at the airport, you board the plane and settle in for your flight, counting down the hours until you are reunited with your wife.

The plane lands in Hawaii as scheduled for refueling and maintenance. It is here, after re-boarding the aircraft, that two heavily-armed military guards confront you and tell you that you must leave the plane. They take you to a small room at the military base and advise you that you are on the U.S. “No-Fly”  list. You’re not under arrest, but you’re not free to go until they decide what to do with you. You watch as your plane, as well as your hopes of seeing your bride vanish into the air while under the careful watch of two heavily armed military police officials.

What’s going on?

As you sit in a small room, thoughts race through your mind. Why am I here? It must be some mistake. I’ve committed no crime. Like any “normal” American, You expect the matter to be resolved as there must be some mix-up. Then, an official with the Customs and Border Enforcement arrives and tells you that there is no mix-up. The official rattles off your name, date of birth, social security number and complete identifying information. It’s you alright, and you are officially on the “No-Fly” list.

“How did you get on that plane?” asks the Customs and Border Enforcement official. You reply that you had a normal ticket, passed through the screening process and boarded the plane normally and without incident. You are told that you should not have been permitted to fly. Again, you are on the “No-Fly” list. You reply that there has to be a mistake, and are met with the stern reply of the official: there is no mistake.

You then ask why you are on the “No-Fly” list and are told that you are not permitted to know. At this point, they tell you that you are free to go, but you cannot fly anywhere by orders of the United States government. And there you are, in “paradise” but unable to leave.

The above events took place on October 14, 2012. The victim in this case is one Wade Hicks, Jr., 34, a U.S. citizen and resident of Gulfport, Mississippi. I personally checked him out and verified his story. With his permission, I conducted a “basic” background check of Mr. Hicks, Jr. He has no criminal record. He is not a “wanted” man. By all normal and visible accounts, Mr. Hicks, Jr. appears to be a law abiding member of society. I did find, however, that he is an outspoken “patriot” and openly critical of the NDAA. He is a former talk-show host of a small, local radio station known for its “patriotic bias.” He is a member of “Patriots for America” and the Mississippi Preparedness Project. He is openly vocal about the erosion of our rights - and it certainly looks like he has been proven correct. Is that now a crime worthy of being denied the ability to travel freely within the United States?

Mr. Hicks detailed his plight on Monday’s edition of The Hagmann & Hagmann Report to a shocked and disbelieving audience. How can this happen in America? This is inter-STATE travel! There must be some mistake! Has he done anything to let his elected representatives know? The questions were many, and yes, Mr. Hicks, Jr. indeed pleaded for assistance from his elected officials and anyone who would listen during the last 36 hours. “I’ve got nothing to hide,” stated Mr. Hicks. Nothing. “I feel like a prisoner in my own country, but no one will tell me what I’ve done to be placed on the ‘No-Fly’ list. I’m not allowed to know.”

Although I’m tempted to insert a reference to “Gilligan’s Island,” I will refrain. If all of the facts presently known withstand more intense scrutiny and further investigation, we have a very big problem in this country. You might be next, and Hawaii might not be where you are inexplicably left on your own.

I am following the fate of Mr. Hicks and continue to search for a logical explanation. At this point, however, the only logical explanation I’ve found is a very disturbing one. Perhaps this is how it all starts. Stay tuned



Obamacare's Rationing by Another Name

How the Independent Payment Advisory Board gives sweeping powers to an unelected and unconstitutional board of bureaucrats

The stunning post-debate reversal in Mitt Romney’s fortunes may not last through the elections. But win or lose, he’ll do the country a big favor if he continues to expose the Independent Payment Advisory Board—the beloved center-piece of Obamacare—for what it is: An effort to give an unelected and unconstitutional board of bureaucrats sweeping powers to determine whether grandma gets her bypass surgery from Medicare, or a boot off the cliff.

Liberal fact-checkers have been working overtime to discredit Romney’s claim that this board will “ultimately tell patients what treatments they can receive.” PolitiFact, one self-appointed guardian of truth, rated Romney’s statement as “mostly false.” The board, it insisted, “can’t deny treatment” or “ration care” or “make health care decisions for individual Americans.” Rather it can only determine what doctors and hospitals are paid. Likewise, The Los Angeles Times maintained that the board could merely “recommend ways to reduce Medicare spending”—not cut benefits.

But the whole point of the board is to use price controls to discourage expensive treatments. Yes, it is possible that some good doctor will be willing to perform bypass surgeries for Medicare patients even when the board only allows, say, payment for aspirin. It’s also very unlikely. If the board decides to set payment for state-of-the-art dialysis at below cost, reasoning that the benefits of the procedure aren’t commensurate with the added expense, it isn’t rationing care directly. But it is indeed rationing care, because this would effectively consign patients to older treatments.

Before the recession, Medicare spending had been growing 2.6 percentage points faster than GDP. The program already pays out roughly $290 billion more in benefits than it receives in taxes, and it constitutes somewhere between $38.6 to $90 trillion in unfunded liabilities for the federal government.

The main reason for the government’s out-of-control Medicare spending is that Uncle Sam picks up most of the tab for seniors’ health care, giving them little incentive to curb consumption or shop for better prices. Instead of restoring this incentive, Congress has historically tried to curb spending by cutting reimbursement rates for providers. But this has repeatedly failed because providers are politically powerful. Every time automatic cuts have loomed, Congress has undone them by passing the so-called “doc fix.” But instead of solving this problem by exposing doctors to market accountability, Obamacare tries to solve it by shielding the IPAB bureaucracy from political accountability.

Here is how it would work: When ever Medicare inflation threatens to exceed GDP growth plus 0.5 percent—by historical standards, that’s probably every year there isn’t a recession—the 15-member board would develop a “detailed and specific” “legislative proposal” laying out which treatments Medicare would cover and at what rate. President Obama describes this as “institutionalizing best practices.” In plain English, it means determining whose ox gets gored.

What distinguishes the IPAB from the Environmental Protection Agency or the Federal Drug Administration is that those agencies give affected parties opportunities to weigh in before issuing their rules. This board would not be required to offer any avenue for patients and providers to air their concerns, nor could its decisions be challenged in court. Coaxing coverage out of heartless private insurers will seem like a piece of cake compared to confronting this all-powerful bureaucracy, which allows neither access nor appeal.

The IPAB’s proposals would automatically become law unless Congress came up with its own equivalent spending cuts—or both houses, including a three-fifths majority in the Senate, waived it and the president signed the waiver. This is an exceedingly high hurdle that would effectively turn the IPAB into a super legislature.

But the most troubling thing about the board is this: Under the constitution, the legislative power—the supreme power—is lodged in Congress along with a democratic check. Courts avoid the democratic check but forego legislative powers. But no government entity, not even the Federal Reserve, gets unchecked legislative powers. This is what the IPAB will have, contravening the core of the Constitution’s scheme of checks and balances.

Medicare spending is a pressing problem, no doubt. But the IPAB is a cure worse than the disease. It thwarts seniors’ treatment options, providers’ independence, and the constitutional balance of powers. The more Romney makes it an issue during his campaign, the more likely that the IPAB itself will be thwarted, whether he ends up in White House or not.



Death panels now official in Britain

GPs have been asked to select one in every 100 of their patients to go on a list of those likely to die over the next 12 months.  The patients will be singled out for ‘end-of-life care’,  potentially saving the NHS more than £1billion a year.

The listed patients may be asked to say where they would prefer to die and should be told they can draw up a ‘living will’ by which they can instruct doctors to withdraw life-saving treatment if they become incapacitated in hospital.

The ‘toolkit’ giving doctors and health and social workers new guidance on how to select candidates was launched by Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb at a conference on end-of-life care.

It states that ‘approximately  1 per cent of people on a GP’s list [of all patients] will die each year – this equates to an average of 20 deaths a year. Around 70 per cent to 80 per cent of all deaths are likely to benefit from planned end-of-life care.’

It said: ‘Have your local practices identified the 1 per cent of their practice population who may be likely to die in the next year?’

Doctors are told to pick out such patients during routine consultations that show  ‘indicators of frailty and deterioration’ and are told that  ‘older people are a priority  to consider’.

They are also told to use feedback from district nurses or hospital consultants, while patients in care homes should be ‘actively considered for your register’, the advice states.

Information for GPs on what happens to such patients said they would be ‘less likely to be subject to treatments of limited clinical value’.

It added that a quarter of all hospital beds are occupied by dying people and said that  four in ten have no medical need to be there.

If each had one less emergency admission into hospital in their last weeks and  months, that would save the NHS £1.35billion a year, the material said.

The advice tells doctors: ‘After several years of falling, the death rate is about to increase again as the baby boomers reach old age. This is a bad situation, which is going to get worse unless we act now.’

The register plan emerged amid a growing controversy over the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), the method adopted by hospitals with the aim of easing the last hours of those judged to be dying.

Health ministers yesterday endorsed the LCP – which can involve sedation and the withdrawal of food, fluids and life-saving treatment from patients – releasing a report which said it was ‘best practice’ and recommended by  the NHS.

The Health Department’s latest report also backs the campaign for GP ‘death lists’.

Over the past week, some families have told the Daily Mail that they believe their loved ones were wrongly put on the LCP by hospitals when they were not in fact dying.

One senior NHS consultant, Professor Patrick Pullicino, has criticised it as a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.

But Mr Lamb told the conference yesterday that he was delighted with the latest toolkit, saying that while ‘end-of-life care in hospital is often not as good as it could be’, it should be ‘as comfortable and dignified as we can possibly make it’.



For Every Person Added to Labor Force, 10 Added to Those Not in Labor Force

A new chart from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee details the fact that, since January 2009, for every person added to the labor force, 10 have been added to those not in the labor force. Here's a chart showing the dwindling labor force:

"For Every 1 Person Added To Labor Force Since January 2009," the chart reads, "10 People Added To Those Not In Labor Force."

That is, in nearly the four years, since President Obama took office in January 2009, only 827,000 people have been added to the labor force, while during that same time period, 8,208,000 have been added to those not in the labor force.

The chart relies on data available from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"The numbers represented in the chart are a measure of growth from January 2009 through September 2012," the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee explains. "The data is sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey, a sample of 60,000 households conducted by personal and telephone interviews. Basic labor force data are gathered monthly. The labor force consists of all people aged 16 and over either employed or actively seeking work. It does not include discouraged workers, people who have retired, or those on welfare or disability who are no longer looking for work. The 'not in the labor force' group is defined as the total civilian non-institutional population minus the labor force."
Since January 2009, the labor force has grown by 0.54 percent, or 827,000 people (from 154,236,000 to 155,063,000). Those not in the labor force grew by 10.2 percent during the same period (8,208,000 people), from 80,502,000 to 88,710,000. In other words, for every one person added to the labor force of the United States since January 2009, the size of the U.S. population not in the labor force grew by 10 people.




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


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


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BOOK REVIEW of Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag -- by Marvin, C. & Ingle, D.

Review below by Richard A. Koenigsberg.  I think this is a fair account of "progressive" and Fascist thinking up to WWII and there may be some survival of such thinking into the present era.  It is certainly an unusual perspective today -- JR

Carolyn Marvin and David Ingle build upon several interrelated theorems:

* Blood sacrifice preserves the nation.

* The nation is the shared memory of blood sacrifice.

* Body sacrifice lies at the core of nationalism.

* To die for one's country is the ultimate expression of faith in social existence.

* Warfare is the most powerful enactment of the ritual of blood sacrifice.

The creation of sentiments strong enough to hold the group together periodically requires the death of a significant portion of its members.  In short, society depends upon the death of sacrificial victims at the hands of the group. Warfare is a ritual that creates sacrificial victims. Nations come into being by virtue of their capacity to produce death.

Thomas Jefferson said, "Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants." Rudolph Hess declared, "The stream of blood which flows for Germany is eternal-the sacrifice of German men for their Volk is eternal-therefore Germany will also be eternal." This is the most succinct summation of Nazi ideology I've come across.

Nazism meant perpetual, never-ending death-bloodshed-for Germany. According to Hess, Germany lived insofar as it consumed the blood of sacrificial victims. What's more, if Germans had to shed blood for their nation-so would everyone else. Hitler initiated and enacted the most massive sacrificial ritual in human history-the "Second World War"-that claimed an estimated 60 million victims.

Blood sacrifice is undertaken for nations, but also in the name of valorizing any sacred ideology. Ali Benhadj-a revolutionary Islamist leader from Algeria-declared:

"If a faith, a belief, is not watered and irrigated by blood, it does not grow. It does not live. Principles are reinforced by sacrifices, suicide operations and martyrdom for Allah. Faith is propagated by counting up deaths every day."

Whereas the soldier dies for his country, suicide bombers die for Allah.

The First World War also generated a massive number of casualties: 9 million dead and over 21 million wounded. Some observers were gratified by the slaughter. Writing in 1916, P. H. Pearse, founder of the Irish Revolutionary movement, was thrilled to observe the carnage:

"The last sixteen months have been the most glorious in the history of Europe. Heroism has come back to the earth. It is good for the world to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefield. Such august homage was never before offered to God as this-the homage of millions of lives given gladly for love of country."

From Pearse's perspective, it didn't matter what country the soldier died for-whether France, Great Britain, Germany or Russia-as long as the world was warmed with the red wine of the battlefield. The First World War enacted a ritual of "august homage": millions of lives sacrificed for countries. As soldiers died, so nations came alive.

The war of 1914-1918 was called a world war, and also "the great war": No one wanted to be left out (it's a family affair). Based on this war, Australia was born as a nation, as was Canada. These nations claimed their space on the world stage by virtue of the fact that they delivered "heroes" who had the courage to die for their country. The soldier, Marvin points out, is the fundamental sacrificial victim: giving his life so his nation might live.

According to Rene Girard:

"Sacrifice accords the god all that he needs to assure his continued growth and vigor. If we neglect to feed the god, he will waste away; or else, maddened by hunger, he will descend among men and lay claim to his nourishment with unexampled cruelty and ferocity."

Nations are hungry gods whom we feed to keep alive. The dynamic of sacrificial death is structured as a blood transfusion: the life-sustaining substance of human bodies passes into the body politic. Warfare is "eternal" because we cannot resist feeding the hungry god, which requires a perpetual stream of blood to maintain its life. Thus does blood sacrifice create nations.

Received via email from Library of Social Science.


An hilarious video

Does emptyhead mean anything he says?

H/T Dennis Sevakis.  Amazing that it needs Danes to skewer Obama like that.  Where have the American media been?


Damned if you do and damned if you don't

The ACLU sued Morgan Stanley Monday, charging it engaged in racial discrimination by funding subprime mortgages.  But it was government legislation that forced those loans to blacks  -- by saying that the number of loans made to blacks had to be "proportionate"

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Morgan Stanley on Monday, charging the Wall Street firm discriminated against minority homeowners and violated federal civil rights laws by providing funding for risky mortgages.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, is the first lending discrimination case to go after the investment banks that funded the subprime mortgages. Previous suits of this kind targeted the lenders that made the loans.

Wall Street funded the subprime lending boom by bundling the risky loans into mortgage-backed securities. Those securities were then sold to institutional investors and pension funds.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five Detroit residents, and asks the court to certify the case as a class action.
"With this lawsuit, real victims of the subprime lending scandal are stepping forward to hold investment banks like Morgan Stanley accountable for the devastation the banks wrought in their lives and in our economy," said Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director, in a statement.



Mother Nature And Good Luck, Not Big Government, Saved General Motors. For Now

There are lots of claims that the federal government saved the American auto industry by bailing it out. (Never mind Ford didn't get a bailout, and "foreign" companies such as Honda and Toyota make many of their cars in America.)

Critics of the bailout make the valid point "any company can be kept afloat indefinitely with taxpayer subsidies." They also say the bailouts have resulted in GM becoming politicized and "spending lots of money" on a politically correct car that consumers and car-buyers don't want "because of pressure from Washington rather than demand from consumers" (as even the liberal Washington Post has noted, discussing the GM Volt). But although these criticisms may be persuasive to newspaper editorialists and economists, they will be unpersuasive to an ordinary person in Ohio or Michigan who desperately wants a job, now, and does not care about how that happens or whether it costs taxpayers money. Such people are likely to be grateful for the bailout if no one explains to them that Mother Nature and good luck, not big government, saved the U.S. automakers.

General Motors never would have recovered as it did if not for the massive Japanese earthquake and Tsunami that devastated its rivals, such as Toyota.  The tsunami so crippled Toyota that GM could regain market share despite the Obama administration leaving GM's uncompetitive, inefficient work rules and high labor costs largely intact.

General Motors also benefited from another factor that has often been overlooked: the massive Thai floods in 2011, which inundated and shut down Japanese car-parts factories in Thailand for many months, crippling Japanese automakers' global supply chains. On Dec. 8, Toyota "cut its profit forecast by more than half after Thailand's worst floods in almost 70 years disrupted output of Camry and Prius vehicles." The World Bank estimates the floods did $45 billion in damage to the Thai economy and left half its factories under water for substantial periods. By harming Japanese automakers, the Thai floods gave a huge boost to their competitor, General Motors, enabling it to survive despite the Obama administration's costly coddling of the UAW union in the bailout, which threatens the automaker with future losses in the billions.

GM also benefited from good luck - primarily the huge safety issues and recalls that befell Toyota in 2010. This helped GM and Ford move forward at a time when overall auto sales were rising rapidly. As The New York Times noted in March 2010 "Toyota Motor, estimating that it lost 18,000 sales in the United States last month while its chief competitors enjoyed big gains, introduced incentives Tuesday as it tried to restore consumers' confidence in its vehicles after three big recalls," as the company "acknowledged that the recalls had hurt Toyota's ability to attract new buyers." Toyota rebounded after it turned out its vehicles were safe, and that crashes of Toyota vehicles were the result of driver error, except for one crash that resulted from a dealer improperly installing a floor mat.

For a brief time, natural disasters so damaged the Japanese automakers that GM once again became the world's number one automaker. But when the Japanese companies recovered, Toyota once again surpassed GM as the world's biggest automaker.

The bailouts resulted in new, more inept and politicized management at GM (which replaced a pre-bailout CEO, Rick Wagoner, who had put in place changes that belatedly resulted in improved product lines coming out shortly after his ouster). Auto industry experts are horrified by GM's recent mismanagement of its European operations:

General Motors' plan to displace the venerable and respected Opel brand in Europe with a new Chevrolet "global" brand really is as insane as it seems, according to Keith Crain of Automotive News. "It will take decades for Chevrolet to establish anywhere near the recognition that Opel has," Crain argues.

GM now is concealing the depth of its problems by financing auto sales with risky loans that may never be paid back, resulting in GM's increasing reliance on selling cars to people who can't pay for them: "GM Ramps Up Risky Subprime Auto Loans To Drive Sales," noted Investor's Business Daily. "The automaker is relying increasingly on subprime loans, 10-Q financial reports shows. Potential borrowers of car loans are rated on FICO scores . . . Anything less than 660 is generally deemed subprime. GM Financial auto loans to customers with FICO scores below 660 rose from 87 percent of total loans in Q4 2010 to 93 percent in Q1 2012." GM's CEO has fired or driven away valuable employees and executives at its European branch in what looks like scapegoating for his own bad decisions - and a GM spokesman needlessly trashed departing employees.

Pension funds and non-union retirees were ripped off in the bailouts. (Veteran political commentator Michael Barone called the Obama administration's treatment of Chrysler and GM bondholders "gangster government." In The Wall Street Journal, law professor Todd Zywicki called it an attack on "the rule of law.")

That mistreatment may haunt the auto industry in the future, reducing employment in the auto industry, as companies find it more difficult to raise money through bonds and loans. In response to Obama's ripping off bondholders and lenders in the bailout, hedge funds said they would be less likely to lend to automakers or other unionized companies in the future.  Even The Washington Post, which endorsed Obama in 2008, had unsuccessfully pleaded with the Obama administration to "stop bullying the company's bondholders" to avoid economic harm down the road.

The Obama administration has harmed U.S. automakers and endangered their long-run survival by radically ratcheting up federal CAFE fuel-economy standards, which affect U.S. automakers more than their foreign competitors. An estimated 50,000 jobs were predicted to disappear under earlier, less radical proposals, so the ultimate job losses will probably be well over 100,000. And Obama's climate-change regulations will destroy countless jobs and cut "household purchasing power," reducing auto sales and Chrysler's chances of survival. (In a January 17, 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, then-Senator Obama said that consumers' "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket" under his planned regulations.)



Israel gets a big one

Egyptian security forces were on high alert in the Sinai Peninsula on Monday, following an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip that killed the commander of a Jihadi-Salafi terror group on Saturday, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

Egyptian security officials told Ma'an Sunday night that authorities in Cairo warned troops in northern Sinai of a possible retaliatory attack on Egyptian bases or attempted attacks on Israeli targets.

The commander killed in the air strike has been identified as Hisham Al-Saedni, also known as Abu Al-Waleed Al-Maqdissi, believed to head the Jihadist Salafi group Tawhid and Jihad (One God and Holy War). Al-Saedni and his accomplice, who had been firing rockets into southern Israel, also took part in previous terror attacks on Israel from the Sinai Peninsula, and was in the final stages of plotting a new attack, an IDF source said.



We Are On The Road To Serfdom

A free society requires hard and apolitical money. But the reality today is that money is merely a political tool. Central banks around the world are getting ever bolder in using it to rig markets and manipulate asset prices. The results are evident: equities are trading not far from historic highs, the bonds of reckless and clueless governments are trading at record low interest rates, and corporate debt is priced for perfection. While in the real economy the risks remain palpable and the financial sector on life support from the central banks, my friends in money management tell me that the biggest risk they have faced of late was the risk of not being bullish enough and missing the rallies. Welcome to Planet QE.

I wish my friends luck but I am concerned about the consequences. With free and unlimited fiat money at the core of the financial industry, mis-allocations of capital will not diminish but increase. The damage done to the economy will be spectacular in the final assessment. There is no natural end to QE. Once it has propped up markets it has to be continued ad infinitum to keep ‘prices’ where the authorities want them. None of this is a one-off or temporary. It is a new form of finance socialism. It will not end through the political process but via complete currency collapse.

Not the buying and selling by the public on free and uninhibited markets, but monetary authorities – central bank bureaucrats – now determine where asset prices should be, which banks survive, how fast they grow and who they lend to, and what the shape of the yield curve should be. We are witnessing the destruction of financial markets and indeed of capitalism itself.

While in the monetary sphere the role of the state is increasing rapidly it is certainly not diminishing in the sphere of fiscal policy. Under the misleading banner of ‘austerity’ states are not rolling back government but simply changing the sources of state funding. Seeing what has happened in Ireland and Portugal, and what is now happening in Spain and in particular Greece, many governments want to reduce their dependence on the bond market. They realize that once the bond market loses confidence in the solvency of any state the game is up and insolvency quickly becomes a reality. But the states that attempt to reduce deficits do not usually reduce spending but raise revenues through higher taxes.

Sources of state funding

When states fund high degrees of spending by borrowing they tap into the pool of society’s savings, crowd out private competitors, and thus deprive the private sector of resources. In the private sector, savings would have to be employed as productive capital to be able repay the savers who provided these resources in the first place at some point in the future. By contrast, governments mainly consume the resources they obtain through borrowing in the present period. They do not invest them in productive activities that generate new income streams for society. Via deficit-spending, governments channel savings mainly back into consumption.

Government bonds are not backed by productive capital but simply by the state’s future expropriation of wealth-holders and income-earners. Government deficits and government debt are always highly destructive for a society. They are truly anti-social. Those who invest in government debt are not funding future-oriented investment but present-day state consumption. They expect to get repaid from future taxes on productive enterprise without ever having invested in productive enterprise themselves. They do not support capitalist production but simply acquire shares in the state’s privilege of taxation.

Much more HERE



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


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


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jos Meloen: A frantic Dutch melon-head

In "1984", a biting prophecy about socialism, George Orwell was particularly prescient in his comment that "He who controls the past controls the future". He saw future socialists as revising history to their own advantage.

Precisely that has happened. Via academe and Left-taught journalists, key events of the 20th century have been wiped from the general consciousness. Who today, for instance, is aware that the term "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist"?

And something that is NEVER said -- though undoubtedly true -- is that WWII was a fight between three socialist administrations. The key protagonists were the ultra-socialist Stalin, the National Socialist Hitler and the "progressive" administration of FDR. The only major difference between Hitler's policies and Roosevelt's policies was that Hitler applied German thoroughness to them. And BOTH men were antisemitic.

And anyone who knows Leftists well will know how fractious they are -- with the icepick Trotsky got in the head courtesy of Stalin being a major emblem of that. So Leftist administrations at war with one another is no surprise at all. And have we already forgotten Communist China invading North Vietnam to "teach them a lesson"? Or Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia, for that matter.

So in the immediate postwar era it was a major embarrassment to the Left that in condemning Hitler's policies they were largely condemning their own. Given his defeat, they had a frantic need to dissociate themselves from old Uncle Adolf. Their ideas were so discredited that America might even get a Republican President! It did. Ike in 1952.

History revision was needed! So all efforts were put into portraying Hitler as "Right-wing", which was a Communist perspective. Hitler WAS to the right of Stalin in being less authoritarian. Germans mostly followed him willingly -- right to the bitter end. So the imperative was to detach Hitler from the Left and pin him to conservatives. No small task but there are no better distorters of history than Marxists and Marxists came to the rescue

So it was that a group of Leftist academics led by a prominent Marxist theoretican -- Theodor Adorno -- came to the rescue. They published research which purported to show that authoritarianism was fundamentally conservative. Stalin was just an unfortunate accident.

So how did they make their case? They took a group of interrelated statements (which psychologists call a "scale") that represented the conventional wisdom of the (progressive) pre-war era and showed that people who agreed with those statements also tended to agree with various conservative statements. Since conservatives tend to respect the past that was no surprise. The key assertion of the Adorno group however was that their list of conventional statements (the F scale) were representative of Fascist ideology. Ergo, if conservatives agreed with such statements then conservatives must be Fascist. And this great intellectual somersault was greeted like manna from heaven by the Left. Mission completed!

The first pesky thing was, however, that if the F scale represented a form of political conservatism, then high scorers on it should tend to vote Republican. But in general population samples there was/is little or no such tendency. Strike one against the theory.

Strike two was the finding that high scorers on the F scale did not seem to be authoritarian. They don't tend to boss other people around. But if they don't do that the meaning of "authoritarian" is gutted. The F scale becomes a measure of authoritarianism only in the Alice in Wonderland sense that words can mean whatever you choose them to mean.

But psychologists ignored the mismatch between the theory and the reality because they needed to. Ignoring reality is an essential Leftist skill and they hugged the Adorno theory to their bosom in the belief that it showed the evil authoritarians to be conservatives, not themselves.

As time went on, however, memories of what prewar Leftism had preached faded away and it became firmly established in the popular mind that Hitler was a "Rightist". So the Adorno theory was no longer much needed and faded out of consciousness for most pyschologists.

But as I observed some years ago, the theory clung on as bold and bright as ever in Dutch-speaking lands. I don't really know why but maybe memories of what Nazism actually was are stronger in those lands. And a leader in the Dutch crusade was Jos Meloen ("meloen" is Dutch for "melon"). So I had a few shots at him in the academic literature in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1998 (See link above).

The 1998 paper was a fully referenced critique of some of melonhead's research -- and the journal editor, as usual, gave melonhead a right of reply. And the reply concerned is why I am now being disrespectful of melonhead. In an amazing display for an academic journal, he started out his reply, not with a discussion of the evidence but with a personal attack on me. He did his best to portray me as a Nazi! Maybe they don't teach the informal fallacies of logic at Leiden university. Melonhead certainly would not seem to have heard of the "ad hominem" fallacy. For their own reputation, Leiden should take a closer look at him. It is too distinguished to stand behind such trash.

In part I ignored melonhead's frantic defense of his work at that time as I had retired from academic employment some 15 years earlier and was focused on bringing up kids instead. But mainly I thought his reply too gross and stupid to be dignified with a rejoinder. After four commentaries on melonhead's work that appeared to have completely bounced off his brain, I washed my hands of him. I would probably not have got a rejoinder published anyway. Seeing I was arguing against Leftist views, I did pretty well even to get my initial critique published.

I am now getting to an age where I like to tie up loose ends, however, so I don't want to leave melonhead's follies permanently without a reply. So a few comments on "Ray's Last Stand? Directiveness as Moderate Conservatism-A Reply to John Ray" by Jos Meloen and Hans De Witte, Political Psychology, 1998:

Melonhead's accuracy of statement is very Leftist --i.e. largely absent. He says that I once joined Nazi parties like the Australian Nazi party. I have never even came across anything called "the Australian Nazi party", let alone joined it. What Meloen is clutching at is that since boyhood I have always been interested in Jews, Nazis and racism (and I still write on those topics to this day) and I did for a number of years in my younger days have contact with two informal local groups of Australian neo-Nazis with a view to finding out what they thought and why. I published my findings in two Jewish journals (here and here), which melonhead has apparently glanced at. He knew of the matter because I publicized it.

Melonhead also seems to find it suspicious that I referred to Theodor Adorno and his merry band as Jewish. Since they were Jewish and since Jews and Nazis had a bit to do with one another, I would have thought that what I said was simply relevant. And I can't help noting the inconsistency: Referring to Adorno as a Jew is bad but referring to me as a Nazi is fine! He probably can't even see the inconsistency. Do personal characteristics matter or not?

And when he gets past the abuse and onto the facts, melonhead is even more hopeless. He refers to two scales which he used in his research and which I referred to in my critique. They are the Directivesness scale and a measure of "classic authoritarianism" -- presumably the Adorno F scale. In his heading he claims that I describe the Directiveness scale as measuring moderate conservatism and in the body of his article he claims that I describe the F scale as a measure of moderate conservatism. He doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind about which scale it is that measures moderate conservatism! Since they are uncorrelated it can hardly be both!

An even bigger problem: I have never referred to EITHER as a measure of moderate conservatism and both scales in fact have negligible correlation with vote in general population samples in the English-speaking countries for which they were designed. So he is setting light to a straw man.

Melonhead then goes on to note his finding that members of Belgium's Flemish independence party -- Vlaams Blok -- had slightly elevated scores on the F scale and related measures. But WHY do they have such scores? Melonhead thinks it is because they are authoritarian but that explanation fails because the F scale has been found NOT to measure authoritarianism in anything other than an Alice in Wonderland sense -- i.e. it measures authoritarianism because that is what it measures. Melonhead is firmly in Wonderland. That a scale which has been strongly validated as an ACTUAL measure of authoritarianism showed no elevated scores among Vlaams Blok cuts no ice with him!

So my explanation -- that Vlaams Blok is basically conservative as well as seeeking Flemish independence -- survives. Conservative people do show some respect for old-fashioned ideas. Whether they act on those ideas in any way is another matter.

At bottom, melonhead's folly stems from a refusal to let go the old Adorno theory of authoritarianism. No evidence against it seems to count with him. That it is a unicorn theory -- i.e. it describes something that does not exist -- he cannot admit. It is too real to his addled Leftist brain. It makes sense of his world. He probably believes in global warming too -- JR


Who Really Cares About the Poor?

Capitalism favors the rich. Socialism helps the poor. These are core beliefs of almost everybody on the left, including our president. Ah, but it turns out that this worldview is completely wrong.

Economists associated with the Fraser Institute and the Cato Institute have actually found a way to measure "economic freedom" and investigate what difference it makes in 141 countries around the world. This work has been in progress for several decades now and the evidence is stark. Economies that rely on private property, free markets and free trade, and avoid high taxes, regulation and inflation, grow more rapidly than those with less economic freedom. Higher growth leads to higher incomes. Among the nations in the top fifth of the economic freedom index in 2011, average income was almost 7 times as great as for those countries in the bottom 20 percent (per capita gross domestic product of $31,501versus $4,545).

What about the effects on the poorest citizens? In the 2011 report, the average income of the poorest tenth of the population in the least free countries was around $1,061. By contrast, the the poorest tenth of the freest countries' populations earned about $8,735. If you are poor, it pays to live where capitalism is less hobbled.

What about equality of incomes? As it turns out there is almost no global relationship between the distribution of income and the degree of economic freedom. But in a way, that's good news. It means that the rich don't get richer and the poor poorer under capitalism. Everybody becomes better off.

There are also non-economic benefits to living in a free society. Comparing the bottom fifth to the top fifth, more economic freedom adds about 20 years to life expectancy and lowers infant mortality to just over one-tenth of its level in the least free countries.

What about within the United States? Some years back the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) calculated a "predicted poverty rate" based on economic growth alone. In other words, economic growth by itself lifts people out of poverty, even if nothing else is happening. The CEA results suggest that if there had never been a welfare state (no Aid to Families with Dependent Children, no food stamps, no Medicaid, etc.) the poverty rate would be lower today than it actually is! This adds to a wealth of evidence that the welfare state is subsidizing poverty, not eliminating it.

I don't like to get into partisan politics, because, like Milton Friedman, I believe in ideas and not politicians. But The New York Times editorial page is becoming increasingly partisan. The unsigned editorials these days are almost indistinguishable from the Obama campaign's talking points. Far from being thoughtful, they are vehicles for White House propaganda. Many of Paul Krugman's editorials read pretty much the same way.

So let's consider the two political parties. Think of Democrats as being primarily responsible for the structure of the welfare state (social insurance programs) and Republicans as being primarily responsible for tax policy (including the Earned Income Tax Credit [EITC]-the embodiment of Milton Friedman's negative income tax). Which policies have been better for poor people? If you buy the CEA analysis and the work of Charles Murray, George Gilder and a host of other scholars, the welfare state has led to more poverty, not less of it. On the other hand, almost every Republican tax change has made tax code more progressive. That is, almost every time the Republicans change the tax law, the burden of the federal income tax is shifted from low-income people to high-income people! That's why almost half the population doesn't pay any income tax at all.

[As an aside, Democrats have been very reluctant to give money to poor people through means-tested social insurance programs. Whether it's food, housing, education or medical care, almost all the cash goes to a constituency that is definitely not poor. That's why it's hard to know how much anyone benefits from these programs. On the other hand, when the Republican-designed EITC delivers $1 to a poor family, the family gets $1 worth of benefit. Of course, the EITC may do other harm through its implicit high marginal tax rate, however.]

I'm not endorsing everything the Republicans have done. Rather, I simply note that under Republican policies we are likely to have less poverty.

All in all, the welfare state probably isn't the primary reason poor people are poor. The main obstacles to success are (1) bad schools and (2) barriers to good jobs in the labor market.

What is the biggest challenge in making bad schools better? The teachers' unions. They are dedicated to the idea that the school system is foremost a jobs program and only secondarily a place for children to learn. Teachers' unions have steadfastly opposed almost every reform idea that has any promise whatsoever in every city and town throughout the country. As for barriers to entry into the labor market, who is the foremost backer of minimum wage laws, Davis Bacon Act restrictions, medieval-guild-type occupational licensing laws and labor union monopolies everywhere? You guessed it: the labor unions themselves.

Yet who forms the backbone of the Democratic Party? The very same organizations that are most responsible for keeping poor people poor and closing off their opportunities to succeed in life. Further, their perverse political influence disproportionately affects minorities. That is one reason why the black teenage unemployment rate is almost 40%-double that of white teenagers! It is one of the reasons for the very large student achievement gap: black student test scores are 70% to 80% of the scores of white students.




Time to investigate the Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Who needs the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), when you have Rush Limbaugh? Limbaugh predicted almost a year ago that the unemployment rate reported last Friday would fall below 8% for the first time since Obama entered office. Limbaugh by his own admission is no economist. So how did he know? Maybe because we are in the realm of politics now, rather than economics"

Free Health Care!: "That was the promise, made by politicos in the England of my youth; health care, they said, is a right, an entitlement. In Churchill's wartime cabinet, William Beveridge, whom I briefly met 15 years later, had designed a scheme by 1945, and it was rushed through and implemented in 1947. The exodus of British doctors to North America began shortly afterwards. I now much regret not having the libertarian understanding, in 1960, to ask His Lordship where exactly that 'entitlement' came from."

Clinton’s legacy: The financial and housing meltdown: "Bill Clinton is certainly full of himself these days. That might have something to do with the fact that no one is likely to ask why he hasn’t owned up to his share of the blame for the housing and financial bust. The former president is treated like an elder statesman whose tenure in office was so good that even some Republicans look back fondly on it."

EU wins Nobel Peace Prize; is this a joke?: "The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union itself is the latest grotesque act of self-indulgence by Old Europe’s political class. Morally equivocating elites will love it, but there are signs even many Europeans are losing patience. Why on Earth give a prize to the unaccountable bureaucrat jamboree in Brussels known at the European Union?"

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

I had a battle royal with Google's blogging program to get Chris's words up as written too -- so I hope someone reads it. The program determines it as an error if you want to indent more than one paragraph at a time. I refused to let the thing beat me so eventually I had to post fully-coded html and thus bypass the editor. Mega-pesky! The odd thing is that some of my other blogs don't call that editor so I can indent as many paragraphs as I want on those blogs! And I have one blog where nothing except paragraph breaks is interpreted. Google's blogging tentacle is a madhouse after their recent "improvements" but it was ever so. I hope they get it sorted soon.



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


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


Monday, October 15, 2012

The twisted values of American Jews

Caroline Glick below documents the political irrationality of American Jews (70% of them, anyway) but doesn't really understand it.  One explanation is that Jews and Democrats share a hatred of Christians.  Leftists hate a rival religion and most Jews cannot forgive or forget Christian persecution of their ancestors.

The main explanation that I see, however, is that Jews tend to be emotionally needy.  They hunger and thirst after at least the appearance of righteousness.  And Leftism slakes that thirst.  It  makes Jews (and others) feel good about themselves. And most Jews  no longer get a belief in their own righteousness from their now mostly forgotten religion.  Even if they go to shul, what they hear will usually have little in common with the god of Exodus. But in the Torah and the prophets the Israelites were much condemned for whoring after false gods so not much has changed

Decades ago, the sociographer Milton Himmelfarb coined the aphorism that "American Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans." And his words ring as true today as ever. Surveys show that roughly 70 percent of American Jews intend to cast their ballots for President Barack Obama's reelection next month.

Himmelfarb's quip indicated that American Jews abjure their economic interests in favor of their liberal values. Certainly it is true that for American Jews to vote for Obama next month they must act against their economic interests.

Obama's economic policies have taken a huge toll on the economic fortunes of American Jews who invest disproportionately in the stock market. His nationalization of the college loan business has given universities impetus to raise tuition rates still further, thus dooming more young American Jews to start their adult lives under a mountain of debt. And it isn't at all clear how they will be able to pay off this debt since under Obama half of recent college graduates cannot find jobs.

Obama's gutting of Medicare to pay for Obamacare has harmed the medical choices for older Jewish Americans.

His war on tax deductions for charitable contributions has placed synagogues, Jewish schools and nursing homes in financial jeopardy.

So with economics ruled out as a reason to support Obama we are left with American-Jewish values.

But is Obama really advancing those values? What are those values anyway? Well, there's civil liberties.

American Jews like those. But Obama doesn't.

Take freedom of speech. Obama is the most hostile president to freedom of speech in recent memory. He has advocated implementing the so-called "fairness doctrine" for radio to stifle the free speech of his political opponents on talk radio.

He has sought to undermine the freedom of the Internet through federal regulations and intimidation of Internet companies such as Google.

He has made repeated and outspoken attempts to intimidate individuals, groups and businesses including Google to bar freedom of speech as relates to criticism of Islam. He has purged the lexicon of the federal government of all terms necessary to describe jihad, Islamic radicalism and terrorism, and so made it impossible for federal employees to examine, investigate, discuss or understand the nature of the greatest national security threat facing the US.

Then there is the cause of good governance. American Jews like that.

But here, too, Obama fails to live up to liberal values of clean politics. Every day seems to bring with it another scandal related to the Obama administration.

This week we learned that the Obama campaign is illegally soliciting funds from foreigners.

According to a report published by the Government Accountability Institute, some 20% of visitors to the Obama campaign's fund-raising site "" are foreigners, barred by US law from contributing to political campaigns. So, too, the website was registered by Robert Roche, a US businessman living in Shanghai with ties to Chinese state-owned companies. Roche is an Obama campaign bundler. Sixty-eight percent of the traffic on the site comes from foreign users. is currently managed by a Palestinian rights activist in Maine.

Finally, there is the cause of Israel and US-Israel relations that American Jews are assumed to care about.

After the fiasco at the Democratic National Convention when the widespread antipathy for Israel raging in the Democratic Party was broadcast on primetime television, the Obama administration has stopped even trying to hide its contempt for the Jewish state and its American Jewish supporters.

Whereas the US refused to walk out of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's obscene address to the UN General Assembly last month, US Ambassador Susan Rice chose to absent herself entirely from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's address before the body.

Adding insult to injury, last week Obama appointed Salam al-Marayati to represent the US at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's annual 10-day human rights conference. Marayati is the founder and executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. As Robert Spencer recalled this week, on September 11, 2001, Marayati gave an interview to a Los Angeles radio station accusing Israel of being responsible for the jihadist attacks on the US.

He is an outspoken supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah.  And Obama appointed him to represent America at a major human rights conference.

American Jewish Democratic partisans have taken a leading role in blocking dissenting voices from their midst.

For instance, this past May B'nai Emet Congregation in Boca Raton, Florida, invited Amb. Susan Rice to address the congregation. Synagogue officials not only rejected offers to have Rice debate opponents of Obama's treatment of Israel. They barred community members known for their opposition to Obama from attending the speech. For these synagogue officials, the idea that their partisan prejudice might be challenged was simply unacceptable.

For 70% of American Jews, party loyalty trumps all of their conceivable rational interests. For them, partisan loyalty is more important than facts. They do not want to use independent judgment. They just want to be Democrats.



The destructive folly of class war


A government not worthy of respect

If you’re like me you’re tired of a trillion dollars in so-called stimulus spending that went to mob-connected asphalt contractors rather than the pockets of working families who own businesses and pay taxes and do all the working and dreaming in this country.

If you’re like me, you’re tired of a $2.6 million program that teaches Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly while unemployment soars across the country.

If you’re like me, you're tired of an arrogant federal government which pays out $47 billion in fraudulent claims in Medicare every year while they lecture the rest of us about healthcare economics.    

If you are like me, you’re tired of the US Postal service wasting $30 million on a program that pays 1100 employees to do nothing. Yes, today, the US Post Office sat 1100 employees in empty rooms, as they do every day, and literally paid them to do nothing. They can’t play cards; they can’t watch TV, in fact they can’t do anything at all. To the tune of $30 million per year.

Yet this very same federal government comes to us now and proposes to manage our healthcare, our retirement, the education of our children, the auto industry, the oil industry, pharmaceuticals, the mortgage industry and lectures the American people that they are under-regulated.

If you’re a middle American like me, from the grassroots, I bet you know someone who owns their own business; if you’re like me you probably know someone who has paid employees of that business on time every week, but hasn’t been able to pay themselves a dime. Yet these very same people who provide half the new jobs in our economy, who have lost money over the last few years, still owe the government tens of thousands of dollars in taxes every year. People wonder where our jobs have gone? They’ve been crushed by a system that doesn’t honor job creation; by a system that doesn’t honor liberty; a system that gives no respect.

And if you are like most of the voters I speak to, you are tired of insiders from Washington and Wall Street on both sides of the aisle, and their wasteful spending schemes that don’t even propose to solve the very issues facing Main Street and working families.

Let’s suppose global warming is real; I don’t think it is, but let’s say it's so for the sake of argument. Show me please how the Renewable Electricity Standard-- which will cost American families $1800 per year-- please show me how it’s going to lower the earth’s temperature. They can’t because the Renewable Electricity Standard wasn’t created to combat global warming and it won’t lower the earth’s temperature.

Ok, so let’s suppose the issue is carbon emission; that carbon is really bad and we have to get it out of our atmosphere. Show me please how the Renewable Electricity Standard is going to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere. They can’t. It wasn’t designed to do that and it won’t do that.

The government doesn't write legislation with solutions in mind, but rather with power and control of your very lives. And it is inside of your lives where you will wrestle back that control.  

I’m often reminded that it’s with readers just like you where many of the seminal events of our country happened. It’s in rooms just like you’re in right now that a small group of patriots in Massachusetts planned the Boston Tea Party; it’s in groups just like you are a part of today that was born the Mayflower Compact; it’s in the free association of our citizens, for the common good and with common respect, that the greatness and goodness of our country will always be found.

We have all these new tools available for citizens to communicate that just a few years ago we didn’t have.  A few years ago readers wouldn’t have been as energized and as informed because we didn’t have the ability to communicate as we do now.  We have been so fractured and fragmented all around the country and around the nation that we feel like we can’t do anything, that Washington is so big and out of touch that we can’t do anything.

In fact, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Now is the time we really do have the opportunity. For the first time in our history ordinary citizens have the ability to communicate with one another over the heads of the media in publications like Townhall.  We are networked on social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter that expose us to thousands of people for free.

But when I was growing up there were three TV stations and two newspapers in every town that decided what the news was. There were probably a dozen people in any town that picked our news for us.  Those days are over.



Ryan’s Benghazi Surprise

The irony of ironies: The Biden-Ryan debate was more about foreign policy than the economy and jobs. And yet another irony: Paul Ryan, an expert on all things fiscal, revealed a much better knowledge base of foreign policy than anyone thought existed. Shows how smart and well-rounded he really is.

In fact, Ryan’s Benghazi slam, right out of the chute, won him the debate. This terrorist attack is going to be a huge presidential-race issue. Americans are furious at the Obama-Biden-Clinton stupidity and mismanagement surrounding the tragic Benghazi deaths. They are enraged at the Benghazi cover-up. Ryan accused Biden of malfeasance in every aspect of this tragedy. It was a tremendous body slam right from the start.

And Biden mislead everyone with a string of falsehoods. He said the administration did not have complete intelligence at the start of the crisis. But we now know they did have sufficient intelligence to realize that the killing of Ambassador Stevens and three others had nothing to do with spontaneous reactions to a YouTube video, and that it was a planned al-Qaeda attack.

Then Biden denied that the State Department asked the White House for stronger Benghazi security and was turned down on several occasions. But we know this to be true from various sources. We even know that State Department officials saw the Benghazi attack in real time. These untruths will dog Biden on the campaign trail.

The Benghazi round clearly went to Ryan. And later in the debate, when the discussion turned to Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria, Ryan went toe-to-toe with Biden, the supposed foreign-policy expert. He was every bit Biden’s equal and more, which is one of the surprising outcomes of this debate. The confidence factor in young Paul Ryan will rise as a result.

On the economy, not surprisingly, Biden adopted Obama’s redistributionist, tax-the-rich, go-after-the-millionaires approach. Ryan, the free-market capitalist, pounded hard for Mitt Romney’s tax-reform plan, which would lower tax rates across-the-board, provide new incentives for growth, and put limits on special deductions in order to balance-out revenues.

A clear choice emerged: Biden is for a government-directed economy. He blathered on about a non-existent, $5 trillion Romney tax cut for the rich, which Ryan easily parried. Heck, even the Brookings institute has pulled back from that charge. Biden also proudly touted a $1 trillion tax hike on successful earners. Now there’s a great idea to solve the worst economic and jobs recovery in modern times.

Ryan, in contrast, came out for free-enterprise, rewarding success, and creating opportunity, growth, and jobs. He was the candidate for lower tax rates, increased take-home pay for the middle class, and incentivizing investment and risk-taking for successful entrepreneurs.

However, Ryan should have said what Romney said a week ago: There will be a strict dollar cap on special tax deductions, probably a $20,000 limit that will be even lower for top earners who get a marginal tax-rate cut. This would have been a good specific to include in the tax-reform argument. It’s a huge revenue-raiser, at lower tax rates.

On the other hand, Ryan echoed a key Romney point: Obama’s leadership failure. Obama failed last year to get a grand-design deal, as chronicled in Bob Woodward’s book, The Price of Politics. This year, Obama was too busy campaigning and appearing on daytime TV to hash something out with John Boehner and the Republicans to avoid the recessionary fiscal tax cliff.

Ryan also emphasized Romney’s successful bi-partisanship point: A Romney administration will be willing to reach across the aisle to get a grand-design package of spending reduction, pro-growth tax reform, and entitlement reform, exactly where Obama failed. Actually, I think the Romney bi-partisanship offer is big reason why the Romney-Ryan ticket is doing so well in the polls, particularly among undecideds and independents. These people want to see the parties work together to get these problems solved before America goes bankrupt and lapses into permanent, European-like stagflation.

Another key point: Obama has yet to provide a real reason why he should be reelected, and Biden failed completely to construct one. What is Obama’s raison d’ĂȘtre for reelection? No one knows. Including Barack Obama.

Finally, there was Biden’s snarky smile. His demeanor during the debate was very off-putting. It was like he was forcing his aggressiveness, attempting to make up for Obama’s lack of it a week ago. The fierce grins, the Ryan put-downs, the interruptions, the inappropriate laughter -- it really hurt Biden.

But the big point is this: Mitt Romney’s march to the White House continues, and it was helped mightily by Paul Ryan on Thursday night.




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


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