Friday, November 09, 2012

Translating ....


Financial crisis can’t explain the current slow recovery

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s book, “This Time is Different,” has become the bible of the Obama administration. Their claim that recoveries after financial crises are naturally much slower than other recoveries has given President Obama a lot of cover. Their argument may be widely accepted by the media but has not been so readily accepted by economists.

Reinhart and Rogoff lashed out at academic critics a couple of weeks ago with an opinion piece in Bloomberg and again recently on CNN, attacking economists who disagree with them as blinded by support for Mitt Romney.

Our current recovery has been the weakest since at least World War II. Thirty-nine months since the recovery started in June 2009, job growth has been only 2 percent. During the average recovery since 1970, job growth over the first 39 months has averaged over 8 percent. The current recovery has failed to keep up with the growth in the working age population. Unlike past recoveries, much of the drop in the unemployment rate simply reflects people giving up looking for work. And there is no doubt there was a financial crisis.

But the financial crisis is not the explanation for the slow recovery.

The problem for Reinhart and Rogoff is that neither US historical data nor recent international comparisons support their assertion. Indeed, their claim is at odds with two well-known stylized facts:

1) Severe recessions are matched by strong recoveries, known as Zarnowitz’s law (the basis for Milton Friedman “plucking model” introduced in 1964 and supported by direct evidence in 1993).

2) Most severe recessions are accompanied by banking crises. Put these two stylized facts together, and even before looking at the data, you have to be somewhat skeptical about the Reinhart-Rogoff generalization.

When you do look at the data the results are clear. In five of the six financial crises since 1882 – the Great Depression of the 1930s was the sole exception – the strength of the recovery in real Gross National Product greatly exceeds the previous decline, by close to 6 percentage points over the eight quarters following the cyclical trough. This is similar to what we see in the two severe contractions in which there are no financial crises. The recent recession and recovery are more similar to the Great Depression than the other episodes.

Cross-country comparisons tell a similar story. Unemployment actually recovered faster in countries hit by a financial crisis than in those in a recession for other reasons. Of the nine foreign countries for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has produced comparable unemployment data based on the same definition of unemployment, Reinhart and Rogoff identify four as suffering from a financial crisis (Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and five as not (Australia, Canada, France, Italy and Sweden). From January 2009 to December 2011, the unemployment rates in the countries with financial crises actually increased less than in those that avoided such a crisis (0.66 percentage points versus 0.86 percentage points).

Countries identified as suffering a financial crisis by Reinhart and Rogoff also did not experience slower Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth during their recoveries. From the third quarter of 2009, when the U.S. recovery started, the difference in GDP growth between the two sets of nations averaged just one-tenth of 1 percent.

The combination of Obama’s stimulus, multiple jobs bills and massive new regulations on everything from financial markets, housing, health care, credit cards and energy is a possible explanation for the difficulties in the U.S. labor market. Resources spent by the government must come out of someone’s pocket. Spending almost $1 trillion on various stimulus projects means moving around a lot of resources and jobs. People don’t instantly move between jobs, temporarily increasing unemployment. All the new regulations are similarly detrimental. And more regulations may be coming, creating substantial uncertainty about the future.

Canada provides a simple comparison. Our unemployment rates increased in lock step from August 2008 until six months later, in February 2009, when the stimulus was passed in the United States. The increased gap when the stimulus was passed is consistent with the stimulus, not something unique about the financial crisis, being the initial development that made things worse. Since the stimulus largely ended by the middle of 2011, the gap has decreased.

Americans have suffered two very slow recoveries – during the Great Depression and now. The most obvious common factor in both has been the Keynesian policies and massive regulations used to “cure” those downturns. Clearly, “financial crisis” can’t explain the current slow recovery.



Solzhenitsyn on what America has lost

However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims.

Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer.

In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century.



One of civilization's wonders

Jeff Jacoby looks on the bright side

Note: This short column was written on Election Day for the Boston Globe's early edition, which was printed and distributed before the election results were known

AS THE NATION'S ELECTORAL BRAWL drew to a close, I thought about a question posed by ABC's Martha Raddatz to vice-presidential candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan during their debate in Kentucky last month. She quoted "a highly decorated soldier" who was "dismayed" at the tone of the campaign. "The ads are so negative," the soldier had lamented, "and they're all tearing down each other rather than building up the country."

Raddatz challenged the candidates: "What would you say to that American hero about this campaign? And at the end of the day, are you ever embarrassed by the tone?"

Biden and Ryan sidestepped the question, resorting instead to their rehearsed arguments and talking points. Which was too bad, for that soldier's grievance deserved a response.

I wish the candidates had reminded him that the vitriol of US presidential competitions didn't begin with Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. In 1884, British historian James Bryce described the battle for the White House between James Blaine and Grover Cleveland as a "tempest of invective and calumny," and the nastiness of presidential campaigns was an old story even then.

Yet those campaigns end in what can only be described as a miracle. For months we fight over the most emotional, consequential issues in American life. The stakes always seem enormous. The hopes and fears of millions of voters are invested in the outcome. In much of the world and for most of history, only bloodshed could resolve disputes so momentous. But everyone knows how this election will end. The losing candidate will deliver a graceful concession speech; the victor will peacefully take the oath of office in January.

Yes, the meanness of these campaigns is regrettable. Politics isn't pretty anywhere. But here it ends with amazing dignity, in polling stations across the country, as a mighty nation calmly effects the transfer of power and authority. If that isn't one of civilization's wonders, what is?



Future Storms Like Superstorm Sandy Could Bankrupt States

Some state governments are so far into the insurance business that they could be bankrupted by storm claims

Superstorm Sandy killed over 70 people in the U.S., knocked out power for millions up and down the East Coast, flooded the New York Subway, and damaged thousands of homes. The final price tag for the storm's damage could exceed $40 billion, which would make it the most expensive storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina.

Coming as it did, only a year after Hurricane Irene and eight years after Hurricane Ivan, some are asking whether it is part of a trend towards more damaging storms. The answer is yes—we humans are to blame for more damaging storms, but not for the reasons you might think. One of the main culprits is government intervention in insurance markets, which creates perverse incentives to build in danger zones, thereby increasing the threat posed by storms both to property owners and to taxpayers. If Sandy had hit Florida the way it hit New York and New Jersey, it might have bankrupted the state. To reduce the scale of future damage from storms like Sandy, and the threat of fiscal implosion, federal and state governments should get out of the insurance business.

There have been superstorms similar to Sandy in the past, including the blizzard of 1978, the Perfect Storm of 1991, and the Eastcoaster of 1996. But there doesn’t seem to be a trend in the number or intensity of either hurricanes or Sandy-like superstorms. Martin Hoerling, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says there is no trend in the number of hurricanes or extratropical cyclones. Nor is there any evidence of a relationship between the numbers of either type of cyclone and climate change. However, there has been a significant increase in the amount of damage caused by hurricanes and similar extreme weather events over the past 50 years. There are two main reasons for this. First, we have become much wealthier: inflation adjusted average per capita income in the U.S. rose threefold, from $13,250 in 1960 to $39,800 in 2008. Second, the number of people living along the coast has increased dramatically: from 1960 to 2008 coastal population rose by 84 percent, whereas the non-coastal population rose by 64 percent. As a result, there is simply more valuable property in coastal areas that is likely to be affected when a big storm hits.

One reason coastal population rose more than non-coastal population is that government disaster insurance programs have actively encouraged people to locate close to the coast. In addition to the National Flood Insurance Program, the federal government’s second largest fiscal liability next to Social Security, many states run property insurance plans out of the residual market intended to provide a lower cost of insurance for owners of homes and businesses in more risky areas, which would normally be difficult or impossible to obtain in the private market. Such state-run insurance plans are offered through Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plans, Beach and Windstorm plans, or in Florida and Louisiana, state-run insurers of “last resort.”

FAIR was established by the federal government as part of an urban redevelopment program following the riots of 1968, with the express intention of encouraging people to buy property in depressed areas. The plans do that, but by reducing the cost of insuring against risks such as flooding and storm damage, they also encourage people to build properties in storm and flood-prone areas. That increases the damage done when a storm hits.

These insurance plans also suffer from risk concentration—in direct violation of one of the basic principles of insurance: risk diversification. When a state provides disaster insurance coverage to a group of people within its borders all of whom face similar risks, it is concentrating risk. When disaster strikes and a significant proportion of those insured suffer major losses, the state’s insurance fund may suffer a catastrophic shortfall—with dire consequences for the state’s fiscal position. According to the Insurance Research Council, U.S. residual market exposure has grown an average of 18 percent per year since 1990 in large part because of the artificially low cost of such state-backed insurance. In other words, the FAIR Plans developed in the 1960s have exacerbated the problem of risk concentration by encouraging development and population growth on the coast.

This has been especially problematic in Florida, where the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Company (CPIC) has grown to cover at least 25 percent of homeowners in the state, mostly in extremely high-risk areas prone to hurricane damage. Because they are covered by CPIC, policyholders pay rates that are not actuarially sound, underfunding the potential claims payouts. To make matters worse, the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund (FHCF)—a state-run reinsurance fund which provides reinsurance to both private insurers in Florida and CPIC—has been estimated to underfund its $17 billion in obligations by at least $3.2 billion. If CPIC and FHCF fail to make ends meet to pay out claims in the event of a large storm or series of storms, Florida taxpayers will be on the hook for the bills.

Rather than sending a market signal warning of the cost of coastal living, subsidized insurance has compounded the problem, with demand for FAIR and Beach Plans more than tripling. In the wake of major storms such as Andrew and Katrina, the total number of FAIR and Beach Plan policies has increased from 931,550 in 1990 to 3.3 million in 2011. Over the same period, the total exposure to loss covered under the nation’s FAIR and Beach Plans increased 1,517 percent, from $54.7 billion in 1990 to $884.7 billion in 2011. The combination of more policies and greater coverage has pushed state-run plans to record deficits, after facing high volumes of claims from bad storm seasons. According to the Insurance Information Institute, of the 31 FAIR plans for which data are available, 28 have incurred at least one operating deficit since 1999. Of the six Beach and Windstorm Plans, all have sustained at least one underwriting loss since 1999.

While much of the increase in the number of state-backed policies has been driven by Louisiana, Florida, and other Southern states, Northeastern states have also seen increases in the amount of coverage provided by their FAIR plans. In particular, Massachusetts has seen a 336 percent increase in the number of its FAIR plan policies, representing an increase in coverage by $72.6 billion.

Government subsidies to insurance may have been well intentioned but by incentivizing people to build homes in danger zones, they have created enormous fiscal risk. If states want to avoid this looming fiscal trouble, they would do well to address all the causes. In the case of insurance, they can begin right away by ceasing to issue new policies and retiring policies when the renewals come due. That would force property owners to seek insurance on the private market, or move.




Alaska gold rush for laborer’s union:  "The Alaska Policy Forum recently exposed that the state’s legislature in 2011 and 2012 appropriated millions of tax dollars to finance a Laborer’s International Union of North America local’s facilities. As is the case with numerous state government spending initiatives today, it violates the state’s Gift Clause — a constitutional protection in 47 of 50 states that forbids government from allocating tax dollars to private entities for non-public purposes."

The conflation trap:  "It is not only mainstream libertarians (and of course, to a far greater extent, conservatives) that tend to conflate the results of crony corporatism with those of free markets; such conflationism is all too common on the traditional left as well. The difference is that the evaluations are reversed; where the right-wing version of conflationism treats the virtues of free markets as reason to defend the fruits of corporatism, the left-wing version of conflationism treats the objectionable fruits of corporatism as reason to condemn free markets."

Is the state anarchistic?:  "We’re playing pretend when we think that the Constitution protects us, and we’re playing pretend again if we think that elections can regulate the politicians. Here’s the truth ... The State is an ANARCHISTIC institution. It’s ruled by no one, and it obeys no laws."



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, November 08, 2012

You ain't seen nothing yet

With the House still in Republican control, there is not much damage Obama and his Democrats can do via legislation but Obama's regulatory powers are immense.  Just the EPA could destroy American business singlehandedly and they are going to try.  They will undoubtedly be held up in the courts but, with Obama appointments to SCOTUS, the EPA will prevail in the end.

The re-election of Obama after 4 years of great economic failure is immensely disturbing.  It suggests that no conservative can now be elected President.  With the media, most minorites and the 47% behind them, are the Democrats now unbeatable?  It seems likely.  It seems that America's decline is now well underway and is probably irreversible.  I am glad I am not an American who wants a job -- JR


The Wilderness

At a low point in the fortunes of the Tory party, Disraeli said, “The pendulum swings.” It does indeed, but it is not going to swing back to limited-government republicanism any time soon; in fact such republicanism has for some time been effectively dead in California, New York, and the other arrantly blue states. Nor, to judge from yesterday’s election, is such republicanism especially vibrant in middle-of-the-road states like Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado. Put it another way: only once since the 1980s has a Republican candidate won a greater number of votes in a presidential election than the Democratic candidate (Bush in 2004).

Defeat offers clarity. If we had any doubts as to our position, yesterday’s election put an end to them. Those of us who continue to oppose the fiscal and constitutional overreach of the modern social state now find ourselves in the wilderness.

Insofar as politics are concerned, the best the center-right in America can do, in the foreseeable future, is to act as a check on folly in the political arena, and in doing so hope to prove Macaulay wrong when he said that the American Republic would fail because the poor would plunder the rich and increase the country’s distress by devouring the “seed-corn” of future growth.



Some examples of anti-business regulation at work

According to conventional progressive wisdom, regulation is the means by which a compassionate government protects the weak and innocent from the strong and malevolent.

Try telling that to Brad Jones.  Jones is one of the owners of Buckingham Slate, a Virginia business a little over an hour's drive west of Richmond. The company is distinguished by the quality of the highly valued Arvonia slate it produces. And by the fact that its roots trace back almost to the Civil War. And by the fact that federal regulators smacked it with a $4,000 fine.

Over a trash can.  The offending can — or "waste receptacle," in the words of the Mine Safety and Health Administration's official citation — was "not covered." What's more, "the receptacle was full." It "could be smelled." There were — brace yourself — "flies fl[y]ing in and around the receptacle." And to crown all, "management engaged in aggravated conduct constituting more than ordinary negligence" by allowing this "condition to exist." The horror.

Buckingham Slate has racked up other fines, too — such as a $70,000 fine imposed because one of its trucks had an inoperable horn. Perhaps regulators were following the approach advocated by Al Armendariz, the former EPA official who said enforcers should "crucify" offenders to "make an example" of them, which would then make others "easy to manage."

According to President Obama's campaign rhetoric, Republicans have nothing to offer but "the same prescription they've had for the last 30 years. . .: 'Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!' "

Funny stuff. But Martha Boneta isn't laughing.

Boneta, a Fauquier County farmer, hosted a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls — an occasion for which she lacked the proper "events permit." For this, the county slammed her with a $5,000 fine. She also got in hot water for selling items, such as yarn and birdhouses, that she had not made herself.

Outraged over how the county was treating her, local farmers showed up at a zoning-board meeting a couple of months ago with pitchforks in hand. But the demonstration was only so useful. She ended up closing her shop anyway.

Americans should place more trust in "the guiding hand of government," according to the president and his supporters.

But try telling that to Nathan Hammock and his family. The Hammocks own a dairy farm in Museville. Because of drought, they wanted to put an irrigation pond on their property. They eventually managed to — after three years trying to get permission from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. "I think we've spent close to $30,000" in the process, Hammock says.

Hammock made the comment in a video you can find on the website of Rep. Robert Hurt (go to and click on "Videos"). Hurt, who represents Virginia's Fifth District, has introduced legislation to let farmers farm without having to navigate a "tremendous bureaucratic maze." It is moving through Congress — slowly.

The plural of anecdote, of course, is not data. So here are some data: In its first three years the Obama administration imposed more than 100 economically significant regulations — those costing $100 million or more. That's roughly four times as many as the Bush administration did during a similar period, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Liberal outfits insist Heritage is wrong. But even by their Obama-friendly accounting, the current president has been issuing major rules at a rate 24 percent faster than Bush. Despite the lip service he often pays to the free market, the president has overseen massive regulatory expansions. See, e.g., the banking industry; vehicle mileage standards; Obamacare's seemingly endless new rules; carbon emission limits on coal-fired power plants; energy-efficiency standards for home appliances; and dozens more.

According to a report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "The published regulatory burden for 2012 [alone] could exceed $105 billion. . . . Since January 1, the federal government has imposed $56.6 billion in compliance costs and more than 114 million annual paperwork burden hours."

Ask Jones about paperwork. Buckingham Slate is overseen by an alphabet soup of federal and state agencies, and "each one of them wants something from us all the time that is costing us money" — spill-prevention plans that require hiring an engineer; pre-shift inspections; dust monitoring; and more. Jones estimates that five of his 45 employees spend 20 percent of their time simply filling out paperwork.

Of course we need regulation. It helps keep our food safe to eat and our air safe to breathe. Companies shouldn't be able to shift the costs of production onto the public by dumping pollutants into the environment. Everybody agrees with that. The real question is: At what point does regulation go too far?

"If you're a small operator, they're just putting you out of business," says Jones. "It doesn't matter that we can compete globally. . . . Sooner or later, that kind of regulation is going to shut you down."



Obama Supreme Court would attack free speech and right to equal protection

Hans Bader

The Obama Administration has avidly attacked certain constitutional rights. In one Supreme Court case, it argued that the government had the power to ban a non-profit corporation from publishing a book critical of a political candidate (the Supreme Court rejected this argument in a 5-to-4 vote, over a dissent by the liberal justices). In another, it took a position rejected by a unanimous Supreme Court, arguing that it could dictate who churches can hire as ministers or select to speak for them on matters of religious doctrine — a position so extreme that would have violated the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

It has sought to not only preserve racial preferences where they already exist (like in admissions to colleges and universities, and in government hiring and federal contracts), but also to extend them to new areas, like health care, and racial quotas in school discipline, which violates a federal appeals court ruling enforcing constitutional equal-protection guarantees). And it wants to ban speech that it views as constituting, or inciting, discrimination, which would reach a vast range of speech ranging from the politically-incorrect to the blandly economic.

Former Education Department lawyer Curt Levey discusses the implications of Obama replacing two Supreme Court justices who will reach the age of 80 in a few years. Here is his “Top Ten” list of potential Supreme Court rulings that might result from Justice Scalia or Justice Kennedy being replaced as they reach an advanced age and retire:

    #10 – A ban on voter ID laws, making it impossible to stop voter fraud.

    #9 – Carte blanche for hate-speech laws that ban videos and other expression deemed offensive to Muslims and other minorities.

    #8 – Abolition of the death penalty.

    #7 – A prohibition on tuition vouchers being used for religious schools, crippling the school choice movement.

    #6 – Elimination of all legal limits on racial preferences for minorities.

    #5 – A requirement for taxpayer-funding of abortions through the third trimester of pregnancy.

    #4 – Invention of a constitutional right to gay marriage that would trump all state laws and religious objections.

    #3 – Striking down, as unconstitutional discrimination, any serious attempt to curtail the flow of illegal immigrants into the country or to deny them government benefits.

    #2 – Elimination of an individual right to possess firearms.

    #1 – Enshrinement of welfare and government-provided healthcare as constitutional rights, thus fulfilling Barack Obama’s dream of a Supreme Court willing to bring about “redistribution of wealth” by “break[ing] free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.” (quoting 2001 PBS interview with Obama).

Some of his predictions will likely come true under an Obama Supreme Court, in whole or in part (I don't view all of the things he predicts as being bad, although most of them are).

Levy argues that an Obama-picked Supreme Court will give the government “carte blanche for hate-speech laws.” This is both an overstatement and an understatement, but it contains more than a kernel of truth. I think that an Obama Supreme Court would interpret the Fourteenth Amendment as forcing colleges and universities — and conceivably cities and counties as well — to restrict hateful (and not-so-hateful) speech that creates a “hostile environment” (i.e., a "hostile educational environment" or “hostile municipal environment.”)

A liberal federal appeals court has already ruled this year in DiStiso v. Cook that school officials are liable under the Fourteenth Amendment for racially-hostile “educational environments” created by racial name-calling and racist speech among kindergartners, effectively requiring teachers to ban such speech under fear of personal liability, even though students are not state actors or agents of their schools (just as private citizens are not state actors, or agents of their city or county). This radical ruling, which ignores the state-action doctrine accepted by the current Supreme Court, was unnecessary to prevent true harassment, since Title VI of the Civil Rights Act already reaches racial harassment by peers that is “severe and pervasive” enough to interfere with an education.

(The plaintiff in the DiStiso case argued that the “harassment” was actionable under the Fourteenth Amendment even if it was not severe enough to violate Title VI or Title IX, effectively circumventing statutory limits on liability.) Another federal appeals court has held that the government is liable for harassment by state actors in society generally, outside the workplace and schools. See Johnson v. Martin, 195 F.3d 1208 (10th Cir. 1999). If you put these two rulings together, as a logical chain, you could argue that local governments are obligated to suppress racist or sexual speech in the larger society as well, to prevent a racially or sexually hostile “municipal environment.”

(All sorts of speech is forbidden in the workplace to prevent a “hostile work environment,” like when a liberal federal appeals court allowed a secretary to sue for sexual harassment over a professor’s looking at porn on his office computer. A federal appeals court relied on the First Amendment to dismiss a racial harassment lawsuit over a professor’s anti-immigration emails, but it didn’t deny that they fell within the broad concept of “hostile work environment,” and liberal lawyers argued the speech should be suppressed as equality-depriving “verbal conduct”).

On the other hand, if they wish to restrict hate speech, local governments will not have “carte blanche” even under an Obama Court, since they will have to frame any hate-speech ban as a ban on “verbal conduct” that creates a “hostile environment,” using “verbal conduct” as a euphemism for speech (an argument that worked in the California Supreme Court in the Aguilar v. Avis case), rather than coming right out and declaring their intention to ban all hate speech, irrespective of whether it contributes to a hostile municipal environment. Liberal judges like banning certain speech, but only when they can call it something other than speech. By contrast, four conservative and moderate Supreme Court justices once worried that banning speech that creates a “hostile educational environment” could lead to violations of academic freedom in the college setting, in their dissent in a K-12 harassment case where no First Amendment defense was raised or ruled on.

But for the reasons I have given elsewhere, I think #4 on Levy's list, dealing with gay marriage, is partly erroneous. I don’t think churches will ever be forced to perform gay marriages if they don’t want to. Conversely, given strong support for gay marriage in the legal profession, which is much more socially liberal than the general population, I believe that the days of gay marriage being banned are numbered, regardless of who is president. (A bipartisan panel of a federal appeals court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, based on reasoning that could also take down state gay marriage bans).

I do agree with him that Obama Supreme Court nominees are more likely to override the religious objections of non-churches, such as religious schools and hospitals, to various coercive government mandates favored by gay-rights lobbying groups, than are Justices appointed by more conservative presidents. Even Republican or libertarian lawyers who support gay marriage often believe that religious businesses and professionals should have a First Amendment right not to be forced to participate in publicizing or photographing gay unions, as this amicus brief in a New Mexico case illustrates. (Note that New Mexico does not even recognize gay marriage, so banning gay marriage doesn't make religious liberties problems go away.) This distinguishes conservative lawyers and judges from their liberal counterparts, who tend to like such government mandates, and believe that it is legitimate to use government power to try to extinguish religiously-motivated prejudices and change people’s thinking.)

Levey also argues that an Obama Court would lead to a “requirement for taxpayer-funding of abortions.” This is right, to at least a certain extent. The Supreme Court’s decision that state Medicaid programs don’t have to pay for abortion was decided by a 5-to-4 vote (see Harris v. McRae). Liberal law professors have denounced that ruling ever since. Moreover, if you accept Justice Ginsburg’s argument that abortion restrictions are automatically a form of sex-discrimination (a very controversial argument, to be sure), then the decision was wrongly decided.

So I think that even a single Obama appointee to the Supreme Court over the next few years could result in that ruling being overruled. Some abortion rulings seem unlikely to be overruled regardless of who is president. Ever since Nixon, who railed against “acid, amnesty, and abortion,” Republican presidents have denounced abortion, but the only effect this seems to have had on abortion is on the area of funding, not the legality of abortion (taxpayer funding for abortion, both at home and overseas, has been more limited under conservative Congresses and Administrations than under liberal ones, but even when the Supreme Court included seven GOP appointees and only two Democratic appointees in 1992, it reaffirmed Roe v. Wade in its Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision.) Another Obama appointment to the Court could also lead to an overruling of the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling upholding a restriction on a particular procedure used in so-called “partial birth abortion,” since that ruling was decided over a dissent by all of the Supreme Court’s liberal justices.




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, November 07, 2012

Hurricanes and Socialism

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Two articles in the New York Times last week exemplify perfectly why our nation is in such bad shape. Both articles concerned the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. The first was a Times editorial, entitled “A Big Storm Requires Big Government.” The other article was in the form of an op-ed entitled “Grover Cleveland’s Hurricane” by Matthew Algeo.

The thrust of both pieces was that Hurricane Sandy proved that the nation really needs big government in general and FEMA in particular. Without FEMA and big government, the argument goes, there is no way that people in a free society could cope with emergencies and crises.

Actually, however, in the process of praising FEMA, Algeo did Americans a great service. He criticized President Grover Cleveland for having denied federal disaster relief to hurricane victims in the latter part of the 19th century. He also pointed out that Cleveland vetoed a welfare bill for Texas farmers who were suffering a severe drought.

Why is that a service to Americans? Because it bursts the myth that is inculcated into every American schoolchild — that America’s system has always been the same. Americans are made to believe that myth because the last thing statists want them to do is to start wondering why our American ancestors chose a different system than the one that modern-day Americans chose. In fact, in their haste to publish an article criticizing Grover Cleveland and his selfishness, I can’t help but wonder if the Times failed to realize that the article it was publishing, at the same time, was bursting one of the government’s most prized myths.

As Algeo implicitly points out, Americans have lived under two different economic systems and social orders. Our American ancestors chose a way of life in which everyone kept everything he earned. There was no income tax. That wasn’t an accident. Our ancestors believed that a free society necessarily entailed the right of people to keep the fruits of their earnings.

There was also no requirement that people do the “right” thing with their money. They were free to do whatever they wanted with it. They could save, donate, invest, or spend it. The choice was theirs. Our ancestors believed that that’s part of what living in a free society is all about.

Cleveland’s position simply reflected what America was once all about — what a free society was once all about. As Algeo points out, Cleveland stated, “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” That’s not only what Cleveland believed. It was the philosophy that undergirded American society through the 1800s.

Not so today. Having born and raised under a welfare state, many Americans believe they are entitled to be taken care of by the government, When things go wrong, the first response is, “I have a right to federal money,” which is really nothing more than saying, “I have a right to your money, thanks to the taxing power of the IRS and the welfare function of the federal bureaucracies.”

What happened before Americans adopted the income-tax, welfare-state way of life? When government was prohibited from taking care of people, people responded by figuring out ways to help others. But unlike the welfare state, which is founded on force, Americans relied on the voluntary actions of people. They believed that that was what genuine charity was all about.

In fact, Algeo himself alludes to this phenomenon. When Cleveland refused to provide federal money for the hurricane victims, Algeo tells us what happened: “Into the void stepped Clara Barton, the 72-year-old nurse who had founded the American Red Cross 12 years earlier. Almost single-handedly, Ms. Barton organized relief efforts — distributing food and clothing and supervising the construction of new homes (first for widows and the infirm). Her heroic work, especially in the South, saved countless thousands from disease and starvation.”

Imagine that! One person accomplishing so much! And think about this: If Americans had embraced statism from the start of the nation, there never would have been a Red Cross. After all, why would Clara Barton have started the Red Cross if the government was already serving a paternalistic role in American life?

So what happened? What caused the system to change?

American statists hated the principles of economic liberty on which America had been founded. They hated the idea that people should be free to keep the fruits of their earnings and decide what to do with them. They wanted a system in which the government confiscated people’s income and wealth and redistributed it to others. Although today they hate the label, back then many statists didn’t mind being called socialists. They knew that that’s what they were.

Over time, the statists prevailed. They were able to engraft their cancerous philosophy onto America’s constitutional order. They got their income tax amendment in 1913. They got their Federal Reserve Act in the same year. And then Franklin Roosevelt, seizing upon an economic crisis, one that had been caused by the Fed, ushered in the socialist, fascist, interventionist system under which we now live, all under the false pretense that he was “saving free enterprise.”

And then there is the out-of-control federal spending, which increasingly saddles the American people with ever-growing federal debt. But of course, every time someone suggests that federal spending be curtailed even by a tiny percentage, the statists rise up and scream in horror, “Oh, no, the nation couldn’t survive if that particular dole is reduced!”

It’s no different with FEMA. Algeo and the Times suggest that FEMA is one of those vitally important agencies whose budget could never be reduced, much less ended. But wouldn’t they say the same about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, auto bailouts, the FDIC, and every other socialistic program? Would they say that even a minute reduction in the budgets of the CIA, the military, and the rest of the warfare state would grievously threaten “national security”?

Except for libertarians, the welfare state has severely damaged the principles of self-reliance, can-do, and independence within the American people. Algeo and the Times’ editorial board provide irrefutable proof that Cleveland was right: Federal aid has encouraged the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and has certainly weakened the sturdiness of our national character.”



Obama and the politics of contempt

Caroline Glick

"Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy."

So begins the now famous official Barack Obama for President campaign ad that was released last week. The ad depicts a young woman named Lena Dunham, who is apparently a celebrity among Americans in their teens and 20s.

After that opening line, Ms. Dunham continues on for another minute and a half discussing how having sex for the first time and voting for Barack Obama for president are really the same thing, and how young women don't want to be accused of either being virgins or of having passed up on their chance to cast their votes for Obama next Tuesday.

I've never been particularly interested in so-called "women's issues." It never seemed to me that any party or politician was particularly good or bad for me due to the way they thought of women. That all changed with the Dunham ad for Obama.

With this ad, Obama convinced me he is a misogynist.

The Obama campaign's use of a double entendre to compare sex - the most personal, intimate act we engage in as human beings, with voting - the most public act we engage in as human beings - is a scandal.

It is demeaning and contemptuous of women. It reduces us to sexual objects. When called on to vote, as far as Obama is concerned, as slaves to our passions, we make our decisions not based on our capacity for rational choice. Rather we choose our leaders solely on the basis of our sexual desires.

Beyond the ad's bald attempt to impersonalize, generalize and cheapen the most personal act human beings engage in, the ad is repulsive because it takes for granted that what happens in our private lives is the government's business.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a totalitarian position.

THE WHOLE point of liberal democracy is to put a barrier between a person's personal life and his or her government. A liberal democracy is founded on the notion of limited government. It assumes there are a lot of places where government has no role to play. And first and foremost among those places is the bedroom.

The theory behind limited government is that if the government is permitted in our private space then we are no longer free. When - as in the case of the Dunham ad - a political campaign conveys the message that there is something personally wrong with not actively supporting its candidate, it communicates the message that it sees no distinction between personal and public life, and therefore rejects the basic notion of freedom from government. And this is repugnant, not just for women, but for everyone who values freedom.

One of the oddest aspects of the Obama sex ad is that to believe that this sort of message can be effective, the campaign had to ignore mountains of data about the demographic group the ad targets - young college-educated women.

According to just about every piece of survey data collected over the past 20 years, young women in America today are more accomplished, more professionally driven, and more intellectually successful than their male counterparts. That the Obama campaign believes the votes of this successful, smart group of women can be won by appealing to their basest urges rather than their capacity to reason is demeaning and perverse and, one would think, counterproductive.

But it isn't surprising.

The fact is that the Obama campaign - and indeed, the Obama presidency - has treated the American people with unprecedented arrogance and contempt. On issue after issue, Obama and his minions have eschewed intellectual argumentation.

On issue after issue they have preferred instead to attack Obama's detractors as stupid, backwards, bigoted, bellicose and evil.

For instance, however one feels about current events in the Middle East, there is a legitimate - indeed critical - argument to be had about the nature of the Islamist forces the Obama administration is supporting from Cairo, Egypt, to Alexandria, Virginia.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the most popular movement in the Islamic world. It is also a totalitarian, misogynist, anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-American movement. It seeks Islamic global supremacy, the genocide of Jewry, the subjugation of Christianity and the destruction of the United States.

There is an intellectual case to be made for appeasing these popular, popularly elected forces.

There is a (stronger) intellectual case to be made for opposing them. But rather than make any of the hard arguments for appeasing the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama administration has deflected the issue by castigating everyone who opposes its appeasement policies as racist, McCarthyite warmongers.

If women who don't support Obama are prudish geeks, Americans who oppose his appeasement policies are bloodthirsty bigots.

Then there was the attack in Benghazi on September 11 and the general Islamic assaults on US embassies throughout the Muslim world that day.

The acts of aggression that Muslims carried out against several US embassies on September 11 and since have all been acts of war against America.

The rioters who stormed the US embassies in Egypt, Tunis and Yemen and replaced the American flag with the flag of al-Qaida all violated sovereign US territory and carried out acts of war. The US had the right, under international law, to repel and respond with military force against the rioters as well as against their governments. Instead the White House blamed the acts of war on a US citizen who posted a video on YouTube.

Then there was Benghazi. In Benghazi, jihadists took this collective aggression a step further. They attacked the US Consulate and a US government safe house with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Their goal was to murder all the US citizens inside the compounds. In the event, they successfully murdered four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

In the six weeks that have passed since the attack in Benghazi, despite administration attempts to stonewall, and despite the US's media's inexcusable lack of interest in the story, information has continuously dribbled out indicating that Obama and his senior advisers knew in real time what was happening on the ground. It has also come out that they rejected multiple requests from multiple sources to employ military power readily available to save the lives of the Americans on the ground.

There may be good reasons that Obama and his top aides denied those repeated requests for assistance and allowed the American citizens pinned down in Benghazi to die. But Obama and his aides have not provided any.

Rather than defend their actions, Obama and his advisers first sought to cover up what happened by blaming the acts of war on that YouTube video.

When that line of argument collapsed of its own absurdity, Obama shifted to blaming the messenger.

His campaign accused everyone asking for facts and truthful explanations about what happened in Benghazi of trying to politicize the attack.

Obama himself has twice struck the Captain Renault pose and declared himself "Shocked, shocked!" that anyone would dare to insinuate that he did not do everything in his power to save the lives of the Americans whose lives he failed to save.



Canada in trouble too. Overall unemployment level of 7.4% hides a lot

The Financial Post has an interesting story on the state of the Canadian jobs market. It seem over 100% of job growth is from government jobs.

Canada may have added 1,800 jobs in October, but that number hides the fact that almost all the gains came from government and that the private sector lost more than 20,000 jobs.

The 1,800 jobs added was already a disappointment compared with the 10,000 economists had forecast. According to Statistics Canada, that left the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.4%.

The six-month average for jobs gains is now 29,400, according to Reuters. But it’s a very different story when you look at the private sector and public sector separately.


Note:  Australia's current unemployment rate is 5.4%, which is about average for the last 10 years.  It shows what is possible



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, November 06, 2012

A special class of people

The men and women who volunteer to lay down their lives for the security of their fellow citizens cannot afford to make big decisions lightly.  I think their views should therefore be especially respected on the present momentous occasion  -- JR

In the United States, at least through the next election, we have the freedom to vote for the candidates of our choice. When considering presidential candidates, I give great consideration to the opinions of those who have sworn allegiance to "support and defend" our Constitution. No, I don't mean the beltway politicos who violate their oaths daily, but those in the ranks of our Armed Services, who have sworn to defend our Constitution with their lives, those who keep the Flame of Liberty burning bright.

You already know that a majority of active duty officers and enlisted personnel support conservative candidates, but as the father of an active duty Airman, I thought it might be instructive to list the senior retired military personnel who have endorsed the presidential candidates. (These are the official lists from each campaign.)

Senior officers endorsing Barack Hussein Obama:

Gen. Wesley Clark, USA, Gen. Colin Powell, USA, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, USA, Adm. Donald Gutter, USN, Adm. John Nathman, USN.

Senior officers and decorated personnel endorsing Mitt Romney:

Adm. James B. Busey, USN, Gen. James T. Conway, USMC, Gen. Terrence R. Dake, USMC, Adm. James O. Ellis, USN, Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, USM, Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, USAF, Gen. Tommy Franks, USA, Gen. Alfred Hansen, USAF, Adm. Ronald Jackson Hays, USN, Adm. Thomas Bibb Hayward, USN, Gen. Chuck Albert Horner, USAF, Adm. Jerome LaMarr Johnson, USN, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN, Gen. Paul X. Kelley, USMC, Gen. William Kernan, USA, Adm. George E.R. Kinnear II, USN, Gen. William L. Kirk, USAF, Gen. James J. Lindsay, USA, Gen. William R. Looney III, USAF, Adm. Hank Mauz, USN, Gen. Robert Magnus, USMC, Adm. Paul David Miller, USN, Gen. Henry Hugh Shelton, USA, Gen. Lance Smith, USAF, Adm. Leighton Smith, Jr., USN, Gen. Ronald W. Yates, USAF, Adm. Ronald J. Zlatoper, USN, Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson, USAF, Lt. Gen. Edgar Anderson, Jr., USAF, Lt. Gen. Marcus A. Anderson, USAF, Lt. Gen. Buck Bedard, USMC, Vice Adm. A. Bruce Beran, USCG, Vice Adm. Lyle Bien, USN, Lt. Gen. Harold Blot, USMC, Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, USA, Vice Adm. Mike Bowman III, USN, Vice Adm. Mike Bucchi, USN, Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III, USAF, Lt. Gen. Richard A. Burpee, USAF, Lt. Gen. William Campbell, USAF, Lt. Gen. James E. Chambers, USAF, Vice Adm. Edward W. Clexton, Jr., USN, Lt. Gen. John B. Conaway, USAF, Lt. Gen. Marvin Covault, USA, Vice Adm. Terry M. Cross, USCG, Vice Adm. William Adam Dougherty, USN, Lt. Gen. Brett Dula, USAF, Lt. Gen. Gordon E. Fornell, USAF, Vice Adm. David Frost, USN, Vice Adm. Henry C. Giffin III, USN, Vice Adm. Peter M. Hekman, USN, Vice Adm. Richard D. Herr, USCG, Lt. Gen. Thomas J Hickey, USAF, Lt. Gen. Walter S. Hogle, Jr., USAF, Lt. Gen. Ronald W. Iverson, USAF, Lt. Gen. Donald W. Jones, USA, Vice Adm. Douglas J. Katz, USN, Lt. Gen. Jay W. Kelley, USAF, Vice Adm. Tom Kilcline, USN, Lt. Gen. Timothy A. Kinnan, USAF, Vice Adm. Harold Koenig, M.D., USN, Vice Adm. Albert H. Konetzni, USN, Lt. Gen. Buford Derald Lary, USAF, Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti, USMC, Vice Adm. Stephen Loftus, USN, Vice Adm. Michael Malone, USN, Vice Adm. Edward H. Martin, USN, Vice Adm. John J. Mazach, USN, Vice Adm. Justin D. McCarthy, USN, Vice Adm. William McCauley, USN, Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, USMC, Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney, USAF, Vice Adm. Joseph S. Mobley, USN, Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter, USMC, Lt. Gen. Dave R. Palmer, USA, Vice Adm. John Theodore "Ted" Parker, USN, Lt. Gen. Garry L. Parks, USMC, Lt. Gen. Charles Henry "Chuck" Pitman, USMC, Lt. Gen. Steven R. Polk, USAF, Vice Adm. William E. Ramsey, USN, Lt. Gen. Joseph J. Redden, USAF, Lt. Gen. Clifford H. "Ted" Rees, Jr., USAF, Lt. Gen. Edward Rowny, USA Vice Adm. Dutch Schultz, USN, Lt. Gen. Charles J. Searock, Jr., USAF, Lt. Gen. E. G. "Buck" Shuler, USAF, Lt. Gen. Alexander M. "Rusty" Sloan, USAF, Vice Adm. Edward M. Straw, USN, Lt. Gen. David J. Teal, USAF, Lt. Gen. Billy M. Thomas, USA, Vice Adm. Donald C. "Deese" Thompson, USCG, Vice Adm. Alan S. Thompson, USN, Lt. Gen. Herman O. "Tommy" Thomson, USAF, Vice Adm. Howard B. Thorsen, USCG, Lt. Gen. William Thurman, USAF, Lt. Gen. Robert Allen "R.A." Tiebout, USMC, Vice Adm. John B. Totushek, USNR, Lt. Gen. George J. Trautman, USMC, Lt. Gen. Garry R. Trexler, USAF, Vice Adm. Jerry O. Tuttle, USN, Lt. Gen. Claudius "Bud" Watts, USAF, Lt. Gen. William "Bill" Welser, USAF, Lt. Gen. Thad A. Wolfe, USAF, Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF, Lt. Gen. Michael W. Wooley, USAF, Lt. Gen. Richard "Rick" Zilmer, USMC, Major Gen. Chris Adams, USAF, Rear Adm. Henry Amos, USN Major Gen. Nora Alice Astafan, USAF, Major Gen. Almon Bowen Ballard, USAF, Major Gen. James F. Barnette, USAF, Major Gen. Robert W. Barrow, USAF, Rear Adm. John R. Batlzer, USN, Rear Adm. Jon W. Bayless, USN, Major Gen. John E. Bianchi, USA, Major Gen. David F. Bice, USMC, Rear Adm. Linda J. Bird, USN, Rear Adm. James H. Black, USN, Rear Adm. Peter A. Bondi, USN, Major Gen. John L. Borling, USMC, Major Gen. Tom Braaten, USA, Major Gen. Robert J. Brandt, USA, Rear Adm. Jerry C. Breast, USN, Rear Adm. Bruce B. Bremner, USN, Rear Adm. Thomas F. Brown III, USN, Major Gen. David P. Burford, USA, Rear Adm. John F. Calvert, USN, Rear Adm. Jay A. Campbell, USN, Major Gen. Henry Canterbury, USAF, Rear Adm. James J. Carey, USN, Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, USN, Rear Adm. Stephen K. Chadwick, USN, Rear Adm. W. Lewis Chatham, USN, Major Gen. Jeffrey G. Cliver, USAF, Rear Adm. Casey Coane, USN, Rear Adm. Isaiah C. Cole, USN, Major Gen. Stephen Condon, USAF, Major Gen. Richard C. Cosgrave, USANG, Rear Adm. Robert Cowley, USN, Major Gen. J.T. Coyne, USMC, Rear Adm. Robert C. Crates, USN, Major Gen. Tommy F. Crawford, USAF, Rear Adm. James P. Davidson, USN, Rear Adm. Kevin F. Delaney, USN, Major Gen. James D. Delk, USA, Major Gen. Robert E. Dempsey, USAF, Rear Adm. Jay Ronald Denney, USNR, Major Gen. Robert S. Dickman, USAF, Rear Adm. James C. Doebler, USN, Major Gen. Douglas O. Dollar, USA, Major Gen. Hunt Downer, USA, Major Gen. Thomas A. Dyches, USAF, Major Gen. Jay T. Edwards, USAF, Major Gen. John R. Farrington, USAF, Rear Adm. Francis L. Filipiak, USN, Rear Adm. James H. Flatley III, USN, Major Gen. Charles Fletcher, USA, Major Gen. Bobby O. Floyd, USAF, Rear Adm. Veronica Froman, USN, Rear Adm. Vance H. Fry, USN, Rear Adm. R. Byron Fuller, USN, Rear Adm. George M. Furlong, USN, Rear Adm. Frank Gallo, USN, Rear Adm. Ben F. Gaumer, USN, Rear Adm. Harry E. Gerhard Jr., USN, Major Gen. Daniel J. Gibson, USAF, Rear Adm. Andrew A. Giordano, USN, Major Gen. Richard N. Goddard, USAF, Rear Adm. Fred Golove, USCGR, Rear Adm. Harold Eric Grant, USN, Major Gen. Jeff Grime, USAF, Major Gen. Robert Kent Guest, USA, Major Gen. Tim Haake, USAR, Major Gen. Otto K. Habedank, USAF, Rear Adm. Thomas F. Hall, USN, Rear Adm. Donald P. Harvey, USN, Major Gen. Leonard W. Hegland, USAF, Rear Adm. John Hekman, USN, Major Gen. John A. Hemphill, USA, Rear Adm. Larry Hereth, USCG, Major Gen. Wilfred Hessert, USAF, Rear Adm. Don Hickman, USN, Major Gen. Geoffrey Higginbotham, USMC, Major Gen. Jerry D. Holmes, USAF, Major Gen. Weldon F. Honeycutt, USA, Rear Adm. Steve Israel, USN, Major Gen. James T. Jackson, USA, Rear Adm. John S. Jenkins, USN, Rear Adm. Tim Jenkins, USN, Rear Adm. Ron Jesberg, USN, Rear Adm. Pierce J. Johnson, USN, Rear Adm. Steven B. Kantrowitz, USN, Rear Adm. John T. Kavanaugh, USN, Major Gen. Dennis M. Kenneally, USA, Major Gen. Michael Kerby, USAF, Rear Adm. David Kunkel, USCG, Major Gen. Geoffrey C. Lambert, USA, Rear Adm. Arthur Langston, USN, Rear Adm. Thomas G. Lilly, USN, Major Gen. James E. Livingston, USAF, Major Gen. Al Logan, USAF, Major Gen. John D. Logeman Jr., USAF, Rear Adm. Noah H. Long Jr, USNR, Rear Adm. Don Loren, USN, Major Gen. Andy Love, USAF, Rear Adm. Thomas C. Lynch, USN, Rear Adm. Steven Wells Maas, USN, Major Gen. Robert M. Marquette, USAF, Rear Adm. Larry Marsh, USN, Major Gen. Clark W. Martin, USAF, Major Gen. William M. Matz, USN, Rear Adm. Gerard Mauer, USN, Rear Adm. William J. McDaniel, MD, USN, Rear Adm. E.S. McGinley II, USN, Rear Adm. Henry C. McKinney, USN, Major Gen. Robert Messerli, USAF, Major Gen. Douglas S. Metcalf, USAF, Rear Adm. John W. Miller, USN, Rear Adm. Patrick David Moneymaker, USN, Major Gen. Mario Montero, USA, Rear Adm. Douglas M. Moore, USN, Major Gen. Walter Bruce Moore, USA, Major Gen. William Moore, USA, Major Gen. Burton R. Moore, USAF, Rear Adm. James A. Morgart, USN, Major Gen. Stanton R. Musser, USAF, Rear Adm. John T. Natter, USN, Major Gen. Robert George Nester, USAF, Major Gen. George W. Norwood, USAF, Rear Adm. Robert C. Olsen, USN, Major Gen. Raymund E. O'Mara, USAF, Rear Adm. Robert S. Owens, USN, Rear Adm. John F. Paddock, USN, Major Gen. Robert W. Paret, USAF, Rear Adm. Robert O. Passmore, USN, Major Gen. Earl G. Peck, USAF, Major Gen. Richard E. Perraut Jr., USAF, Major Gen. Gerald F. Perryman, USAF, Rear Adm. W.W. Pickavance, USN, Rear Adm. John J. Prendergast, USN, Rear Adm. Fenton F. Priest, USN, Major Gen. David C. Ralston, USA, Major Gen. Bentley B. Rayburn, USAF, Rear Adm. Harold Rich, USN, Rear Adm. Roland Rieve, USN, Rear Adm. Tommy F. Rinard, USN, Major Gen. Richard H. Roellig, USAF, Rear Adm. Michael S. Roesner, USN, Rear Adm. William J. Ryan, USN, Major Gen. Loran C. Schnaidt, USAF, Major Gen. Carl Schneider, USAF, Major Gen. John P. Schoeppner, Jr., USAF, Major Gen. Edison E. Scholes, USAF, Rear Adm. Robert H. Shumaker, USN, Rear Adm. William S. Schwob, USCG, Major Gen. David J. Scott, USAF, Rear Adm. Hugh P. Scott, USN, Major Gen. Richard Secord, USAF, Rear Adm. William H. Shawcross, USN, Major Gen. Joseph K. Simeone, USAF and ANG, Major Gen. Darwin Simpson, ANG, Rear Adm. Greg Slavonic, USN, Rear Adm. David Oliver "D.O." Smart, USNR, Major Gen. Richard D. Smith, USAF, Major Gen. Donald Bruce Smith, USAF, Rear Adm. Paul O. Soderberg, USN, Rear Adm. Robert H. "Bob" Spiro, USN, Major Gen. Henry B. Stelling, Jr., USAF, Rear Adm. Daniel H. Stone, USN, Major Gen. William A. Studer, USAF, Rear Adm. Hamlin Tallent, USN, Major Gen. Hugh Banks Tant III, USA, Major Gen. Larry S. Taylor, USMC, Major Gen. J.B. Taylor, USA, Major Gen. Thomas R. Tempel, USA, Major Gen. Richard L. Testa, USAF, Rear Adm. Jere Thompson, USN, Rear Adm. Byron E. Tobin, USN, Major Gen. Larry Twitchell, USAF, Major Gen. Russell L. Violett, USAF, Major Gen. David E.B. "DEB" Ward, USAF, Major Gen. Charles J. Wax, USAF, Rear Adm. Donald Weatherson, USN, Major Gen. John Welde, USAF, Major Gen. Gary Whipple, USA, Rear Adm. James B. Whittaker, USN, Rear Adm. Charles Williams, USN, Rear Adm. H. Denny Wisely, USN, Rear Adm. Theodore J. Wojnar, USCG, Rear Adm. George R. Worthington, USN, Brig. Gen. Arthur Abercrombie, USA, Brig. Gen. John R. Allen, USAF, Brig. Gen. Loring R. Astorino, USAF, Brig. Gen. Richard Averitt, USA, Brig. Gen. Garry S. Bahling, USANG, Brig. Gen. Donald E. Barnhart, USAF, Brig. Gen. Charles L. Bishop, USAF, Brig. Gen. Clayton Bridges, USAF, Brig. Gen. Jeremiah J. Brophy, USA, Brig. Gen. R. Thomas Browning, USAF, Brig. Gen. David A. Brubaker, USAF, Brig. Gen. Chalmers R. Carr, USAF, Brig. Gen. Fred F. Caste, USAFR, Brig. Gen. Robert V. Clements, USAF, Brig. Gen. Christopher T Cline, USA, Brig. Gen. George Peyton Cole, Jr., USAF, Brig. Gen. Richard A. Coleman, USAF, Brig. Gen. Mike Cushman, USAF, Brig. Gen. Peter Dawkins, USA, Brig. Gen. Sam. G. DeGeneres, USAF, Brig. Gen. George Demers, USAF, Brig. Gen. Howard G. DeWolf, USAF, Brig. Gen. Arthur F. Diehl, USAF, Brig. Gen. David Bob Edmonds, USAF, Brig. Gen. Anthony Farrington, USAF, Brig. Gen. Norm Gaddis, USAF, Brig. Gen. Robert H. Harkins, USAF, Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Honeywill, USAF, Brig. Gen. Stanley V. Hood, USAF, Brig. Gen. James J. Hourin, USAF, Brig. Gen. Jack C. Ihle, USAF, Brig. Gen. Thomas G. Jeter, USAF, Brig. Gen. William Herbert Johnson, USAF, Brig. Gen. Kenneth F. Keller, USAF, Brig. Gen. Wayne W. Lambert, USAF, Brig. Gen. Jerry L. Laws, USA, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Lennon, USAF, Brig. Gen. John M. Lotz, USAF, Brig. Gen. Robert S. Mangum, USA, Brig. Gen. Frank Martin, USAF, Brig. Gen. Joe Mensching, USAF, Brig. Gen. Richard L. Meyer, USAF, Brig. Gen. Lawrence A. Mitchell, USAF, Brig. Gen. Michael P. Mulqueen, USMC, Brig. Gen. Ben Nelson, Jr., USAF, Brig. Gen. Jack W. Nicholson, USA, Brig. Gen. Maria C. Owens, USAF, Brig. Gen. Dave Papak, USMC, Brig. Gen. Gary A. Pappas, USANG, Brig. Gen. Robert V. Paschon, USAF, Brig. Gen. Allen K. Rachel, USAF, Brig. Gen. Jon Reynolds, USAF, Brig. Gen. Edward F. Rodriguez, Jr., USAFR, Brig. Gen. Roger Scearce, USA, Brig. Gen. Dennis Schulstad, USAFR, Brig. Gen. John Serur, USAF, Brig. Gen. Joseph L. Shaefer, USAF, Brig. Gen. Graham Shirley, USAF, Brig. Gen. Raymond Shulstad, USAF, Brig. Gen. Stan Smith, USAF, Brig. Gen. Ralph S. Smith, USAF, Brig. Gen. Donald Smith, USA, Brig. Gen. David M. Snyder, USAF, Brig. Gen. Michael Joseph Tashjian, USAF, Brig. Gen. Richard Louis Ursone, USA, Brig. Gen. Earl Van Inwegen, USAF, Brig. Gen. Terrence P. Woods, USAF, Brig. Gen. Mitchell Zais, USA, Brig. Gen. Allan Ralph Zenowitz, USA

I pray that for my son and millions of young people serving our nation in uniform the Office of President and Commander in Chief will soon be occupied by a man who will restore the honor and integrity due that office -- Mitt Romney.


Today is the day: A race that the whole nation will watch

And I will certainly be watching it on TV.  No.  Not the American Presidential election but the Melbourne Cup, Australia's richest horse race. It is known as "The race that stops a nation", as so many follow it, at work or at home. Both events are always held on the first Tuesday of November but I have no idea if that is anything more than a coincidence.

Australia is in a time zone that is nearly a day ahead of America, though, so it will be Wednesday in Australia before we hear anything of the election -- so I will be able to follow both races with ease.


Ignoring the Unseen Consequences of the Dole

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Mocking Mitt Romney’s shifting positions on the auto bailout, the New York Times editorializes that the bailout turned out to be a huge success because “nearly 1.5 million people are working as a direct result of the bailout. G.M.’s American sales continue to increase, and Chrysler said this week that its third-quarter net income rose 80 percent.”

We begin with the proposition that thievery can sometimes be tremendously successful for the thief. Let’s assume that a penniless robber robs a bank of $10 million dollars and isn’t caught. Obviously he’s now able to do things he couldn’t do before. He buys two new cars, thereby increasing employment in the car industry. He does the same in the home-construction business by purchasing a new mansion. He opens a successful business, hiring dozens of people. He donates money to the poor.

Defenders of the theft can point to the robber and say, “Look at all the good that has come out of that robbery. Praise theft!”

Do you see anything wrong with this picture?

One thing involves moral principles. Theft is wrong in a moral sense, even if the thief benefits from the money and does nothing but good things with it. The money belongs to the owner. He’s entitled to it regardless of how he uses it. The thief has no moral right to take the money from the owner, even if the thief plans to do wonderful things with the money.

That’s a moral blind spot that afflicts statists, at least when government enters the picture. For them, if it’s the government doing the stealing and redistributing, then it’s not immoral at all. Instead, for the statists, it is the epitome of goodness.

Consider the auto bailout. Where did the money come from? Contrary to popular opinion, the federal government is not a fountain of wealth. It doesn’t produce anything. Instead, it is parasitic in nature. It gets its money by confiscating (taxing) wealth from the private sector.

Thus, in order to give money to the auto companies, the government must first take it from people who are working in the private sector. In doing so, it is taking money from people to whom it belongs in order to give it to big corporations to whom it does not belong.

For statists, that’s no problem. For them, the taking and redistribution reflect how good the politicians and bureaucrats are. If anyone objects, he’s labeled a bad, selfish, no-good type of person.

Moral principles are one of the major dividing lines between libertarians and statists. Libertarians adhere consistently to moral principles, not just with respect to private conduct but also governmental conduct. For statists, moral principles go out the window when government is doing the stealing (or murdering, kidnapping, torturing, assassinating, etc.).

But that’s not the only blind spot that statists have. They are also unable to recognize the unseen economic consequences of a government dole. Their mindsets are focused on what is seen rather than on what is unseen.

The Times’ position on the auto bailout is a classic example of this phenomenon. The Times’ editorial board points to the auto companies and exclaims: Look at how well they’re doing with the money that the government has given to them; this shows that taking money from people to whom it belongs and giving it to people who need it more really does work.

But what about the people from whom the bailout money was taken? What happened to them as a consequence of having that money taken from them? How many marginal firms went out of business because that much-needed money was taken from them? How many people were put out of work owing to the fact that people in the private sector weren’t allowed to spend and invest their money they way they wanted.

Let’s assume, for example, that thousands of people planned to buy new television sets. Before they made the purchases, the government took their money from them and gave it to the auto companies. What happened to the television industry? It didn’t make the sales. It didn’t expand production. It didn’t hire new people.

Since those things never happened, we don’t see them. Even the new people who were never hired in the television industry don’t know how the bailout affected their lives. But through reason, thought, and analysis, we can see that a government dole has unseen economic consequences by virtue of taking money from one group of people and transferring it to another group of people.

There is another factor to consider. Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the auto companies have paid in income taxes for the last several decades to fund the welfare-warfare state. If all that money had not been extracted from the auto companies, they would have a nest egg of billions of dollars to draw upon. With all that money, they wouldn’t have needed a government bailout. The fact that the government has taken all that money from them to fund its welfare-warfare operations for the past several decades has left the auto companies (and everyone else in the private sector) significantly poorer than they would be had there been no welfare-warfare state and income tax to fund it.

Finally, we mustn’t forget the mindset of dependency that the statists have inculcated in the American people with the welfare-state way of life. As soon as things go wrong, as they inevitably do from time to time, the first thing many Americans now do is call on the government to take someone else’s money and give it to them. Thus the welfare state not only violates moral principles, it also damages the traits of self-reliance and independence as well as spirit of benevolence that comes in a libertarian society.

The Times concludes, “What Mr. Romney cannot admit is that all this is a direct result of the government investment he would have rejected.”

Maybe that’s true. But what the New York Times cannot acknowledge are the horrible consequences that the welfare-state way of life has had on the American people, morally, economically, and spiritually.



True the Vote: Keeping American Elections Free and Clean

The 2012 election will be the first in 30 years where the country will see a large organized presence dedicated to the integrity of votes cast, all thanks to voter integrity group True the Vote.

During the 2008 election cycle, Catherine Engelbrecht volunteered at the polls in Harris County, the second largest voting block in Texas. She noticed that although she was there with a small group of people to observe, Harris County had a poll watcher shortage of at least 50 percent. There weren’t enough people observing the election process to prevent fraud. Shortly after her experiences at the polls, Harris County authorities found 23,000 invalid voter registration forms that had been submitted by an ACORN operative. It was then that Engelbrecht founded True the Vote, where she now serves as president. The mission of True the Vote is simple: prevent voter fraud and uphold the law.

“We recognized there was a problem,” Engelbrecht tells Townhall. “There are raging debates about Cap and Trade and healthcare and you name it, but if the election process isn’t trustworthy, if it’s not reliable, then you know what does any of it really matter? It’s a scary thought to think about how tenuous, how fragile the process really is but it was so clear that something was not right and the quickest fix was to remind citizens that voting was not enough.”

Engelbrecht and True the Vote volunteers quickly started to identify how citizens could get further involved with the election process by looking at the process as a whole. Poll watching was an easy way to get a large amount of people involved in the election process.

“What got my attention is the simple fact that this where it all starts. If we cannot freely and fairly elect our representatives, nothing from there goes the way the citizens of the country want it to go, that’s the beginning,” True the Vote volunteer Joni Carlisle, who uses vacation time to help the organization 14 hours a day, tells Townhall. “We’re making a huge difference.”

By Election Day 2010, True the Vote had trained 1,000 poll watchers who could be used by election officials to observe polling stations in Harris County. Training of everyday citizens was then expanded across the country to further prevent voter fraud.

“We didn’t look for it to be a national thing, we just thought, ‘We see a problem and we need to fix it,’” Engelbrecht says. “We really decided we would become the boutique provider of in depth, real life training opportunities and it seemed to resonate across the country in ways that we could have never imagined.”

Bill Ouren started volunteering with True the Vote in January 2010 and is now the National Elections Director. His job is to connect citizens with their desire to ensure the freedom and fairness of elections.

“I was looking for something positive, something I thought would make a difference. There is nothing more fundamental to our democracy than our vote and the freedom and the integrity that surrounds that vote and it just appealed to me individually,” Ouren tells Townhall.

But what is a poll watcher or election observer? And is it effective? The fact is, poll watching is a time honored tradition dating back to the women’s suffrage movement and served as an important part of the Civil Rights movement. The NAACP used to support election observation because it keeps the process honest and ensures all voters are treated fairly. Poll watchers watch the election process to protect the rights of the voters. They do not watch the voters, they watch the process.

“They [poll watchers] are they eyes and ears of the Republic. They are not to talk to voters, they are to observe and report and they do that on behalf of the stakeholders they represent which is typically a party or a candidate or an issue on the ballot or in some cases like in Wisconsin, poll watchers can be self appointed citizens,” Engelbrecht says. “Observation changes things. Frankly, people want to do the right thing but it’s human nature to cut corners and you cut and you cut and you cut and before long you get to where we are and in many places across this country where the process isn’t even recognizable.”

Today, the NAACP, ACLU, SEIU, AFL-CIO, major media outlets and other far Left groups launch regular attacks on True the Vote and its volunteers, despite the organization's efforts to prevent voter fraud being non-partisan.

“They must be looking to protect some system of subversion that they’ve protected under the dark of night and they don’t want it to be exposed,” Engelbrecht says. “It’s stunning to hear these  groups just deny vote fraud even exists. There’s every evidence to the contrary. It’s a known fact that it exists but yet they refuse to speak the truth.”

The catalyst for expanding from being a local group in Texas to a national organization according to Engelbrecht, was attacks by the Left because they gave True the Vote a new platform.

“Because of that platform, people from across the country began to contact us and say, ‘Hey that’s what you guys are seeing? That’s what we’re seeing too. Can we work together?’” Engelbrecht says. “Although there are many groups that want to continue to paint us into a corner, the fact is our message is one for all Americans."

Heading into Election Day 2012, True the Vote has trained thousands of people in 50 states to legally poll watch. Christian Adams, a former Department of Justice Attorney, New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case whistleblower and author says this is exactly why the Left is going “berserk.”

“I know this, there will be less crime in the election this year than there was in 2008,” Adams said. “There will be less crime nationwide than there was in 2008 because True the Vote is on the ground and that is something they deserve a great deal of thanks for.”

The True the Vote program is set up so that on Election Day in addition to volunteers conducting observations at the polls, they submit incident reports. This gives True the Vote evidence that can later be looked at, studied and used to reform broken parts in the election system to prevent fraud in future elections.

“This is not a press to go through the 2012 election,” Ouren says. “We have come a long way in two years, we will go probably that much further in another two years. We’re going to continue what we’ve been doing.”

There’s no doubt True the Vote has had an impact.

“I think we’ve changed the national debate. I think we’ve brought focus to an issue that’s been a dirty little secret of both parties for an awfully long time that everybody worries about after the election for few days and then everybody gets on with their business and it never fixes itself. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Engelbrecht says. “We are doing the right thing.”

Sunday night, hundreds of volunteers gathered one last time at True the Vote headquarters before heading into Tuesday’s election. After four years of attacks and smears, they’re ready to use their training to keep our elections clean.

“We are responding as best as we know how as good stewards for our country. It’s been an amazing privilege to be part of a movement born of nothing, born of an inspiration that didn’t exist prior in this way and be part of what I think is historic,” Engelbrecht says.



Racial Divide Worse Under Obama

The headline of a recent article by the Washington Post’s Peter Wallsten capsulizes, inadvertently, the supreme paradox of the Obama presidency.

“Obama struggles to balance African America’s hopes with country’s as a whole,” it says.

The story documents Obama’s struggles over the last four years, which continue today, to avoid overplaying his hand as the first black president, yet to also not ignore this fact.

But nowhere does Wallsten note the irony that four years ago many understood the meaning of Obama’s election as the beginning of the end of the perception of black America as a world apart from the rest of America.

There was exhilaration that the nightmare was over – finally. That wrongs have been righted, that we can get on with America’s business without the ongoing issue of race looming, and that we can stop looking at blacks politically as a special class of Americans.

Yet here we are now at the end of four years of the presidency of this first black president and attitudes about race seem to have hardly changed at all. There is still the sense that black America and the rest of America are not on the same page and that blacks and the country “as a whole” have different needs and different agendas.

Wasn’t Obama’s election supposed to have changed all of this?


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



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, November 05, 2012

Conservatives have the gift of contentment

How happy you are seems to be mostly inborn  -- and the surveys repeatedly show that conservatives are happier than those on the Left.  It seems clear that this is no coincidence.  Leftism is ABOUT whining.  They are always dissatisfied with something and want to change or even "smash" something.

So it is no surprise that the evidence shows political polarity to be largely inborn too.  See the sidebar here.  You are largely born either conservative or Leftist, though aging has a conservatizing effect too.  Conservatives are just not upset by every little thing the way Leftists are. And that's a considerable gift.

So I thought that I might reproduce an excerpt from an email I have just received from a vocal Australian conservative.  He is not rich and life has not always been easy for him.  He sent me the following when I wrote to him and noted that I had not heard from him for a while:
One day, when I can, I'll tell you the crappy story of my life for the last five months which will explain why I so rudely disappeared from your view. With all that has happened though, I do consider myself a blessed and fortunate soul and I wouldn't be anywhere or anyone else.

I think that's rather wonderful.  He is a true conservative with a great gift for contentment.  I have it too.  With a severe iatrogenic illness that sees me under the surgeon's knife several times a year, I could conceivably be a moaner but I am content with my life too.  Always have been.

And I know another treasure of a man who is as poor as a churchmouse and always "skint" but he is very conservative, very active in politics and laughs his way though life.  He has a ball.


Obama campaign struggles to explain ‘revenge’ remark

The hate is clear

A seemingly offhand utterance from President Obama has turned into a major point of contention between the two campaigns, as Team Obama tries to explain what the president meant when he told a crowd of supporters that “Voting is the best revenge.”

It happened in Springfield, Ohio Friday as Obama was discussing the economic policies of the 1990s.  When Obama referred to “a Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney,” the crowd booed his opponent’s name — certainly not unusual reaction at political rallies of both parties.  Then Obama said, “No, no, no — don’t boo, vote.  Vote.  Voting is the best revenge.”

It was an ugly and small-minded moment, especially for the end of a campaign when candidates usually try to stress larger, optimistic themes.  Romney incorporated the “revenge” line in his speech in Ohio Friday night, saying that while Obama advises revenge, he, Romney, wants people to vote “for love of country.”

As Obama traveled to northern Ohio Saturday morning, campaign official Jen Psaki was asked about the “revenge” remark.  According to a White House pool report, Psaki said Obama had been speaking in the context of Romney’s “scare tactics” in Ohio.  The Republican is “frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they’re not going to have a job,” Psaki said, according to the pool report.  “And the message [Obama] was sending is if you don’t like the policies, if you don’t like the plan that Gov. Romney is putting forward, if you think that’s a bad deal for the middle class, then you can go to the voting booth and cast your ballot. It’s nothing more complicated than that.”

The problem is, the president was actually not speaking in the context of Romney’s highly-controversial ads about bailed-out Chrysler adding production of Jeeps in China.  In fact, Obama had not said a word about the Jeep controversy when he said “revenge.”  His speech had touched on Hurricane Sandy, on the progress the American economy has made in the last few years, on his national security accomplishments, on the choice Americans will make on November 6, on Bill Clinton’s record — on a lot of things, but not on Jeep.

And even after the “revenge” remark, it took Obama six paragraphs to get to his discussion of Jeep.  The bottom line is, while it is impossible to know what was in the president’s mind, he simply was not talking about Jeep when he told voters that “Voting is the best revenge.”



A Tale of Two Countries

Ben Shapiro

It has become an accepted truism in American politics that both Democrats and Republicans want the same things: a prosperous America, a strong America, an America true to principles of freedom and liberty.

Perhaps 50 years ago that was true.  Today, it no longer is.

The fact is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are no longer arguing over means; we are arguing over ends. Democrats know that economic prosperity for the broad swath of the United States cannot be bought with higher taxes; even Bill Clinton recognized as much in the 1990s, which is why he lowered capital gains taxes dramatically after raising personal income taxes just as dramatically. Instead, Democrats argue, as President Obama did in 2008, that taxes must be raised "for purposes of fairness."

Democrats also know that American influence in the world can't be attained purely with negotiations, timetables and unilateral pullouts. Kind words don't win hearts, and they don't defend our friends from aggression. Democrats simply hope to be left alone. After all, as President Obama has said, America has demonstrated "arrogance" and sought to "dictate our terms" to other countries. And that just isn't fair.

Fairness lies at the root of the Democratic agenda. It's a leveling agenda, not a growth agenda. What's more, it's a philosophy of constant revolution since ultimate fairness can never be achieved in a world where we are all blessed with different gifts. The philosophy that prizes fairness above all else -- at least in material and cultural terms -- can never achieve human happiness, since such fairness can never be attained. And even if it (SET ITAL) could (END ITAL) be attained, it would require unbelievable levels of suppression. The human spirit is not built to serve the god of fairness.

Prosperity and strength lie at the root of the Republican agenda. Conservatives don't support lower taxes because we hate the poor.

Conservatives support lower taxes because lower taxes create prosperity for everyone. Individuals always know more about their lives than any bureaucrat does. They know more about their needs and wants. They know which products they require, and they know how to find the best deal. No government can better distribute resources than individuals making individual decisions can. Competitive markets have done more to create wonderful products and raise the quality of living across the globe than any other institution. Central planning does not create wealth. It merely redistributes poverty.

When it comes to America's role in the world, conservatism does not rely on America to be one among many. We must be proud of our role as a global leader. Our values (SET ITAL) are (END ITAL) superior to those of other countries. Our system, prizing limited government and preserving individual liberties, is the greatest system of government ever devised. Why would we run from the honor of leading? Why would we shirk that responsibility? Most importantly, if we wish to see the world a happier place, why would we deny to others the opportunity to share in our lot, especially if it preserves our interests to do so?

Mitt Romney knows all this. Barack Obama does not. That's why Obama suggests on Jay Leno that banks have to be regulated because they're "in it to make money." And that's why Mitt Romney knows that businesses must be encouraged to profit-seek, rather than punished for doing so. That's why Obama leaves American ambassadors to die overseas rather than giving an intervention order. That's why Romney knows that backing down in the face of foreign fire is a recipe for disaster, not peace.

The Democratic road leads to an end: Europe. The Republican road leads to an end: a resurgent, dominant America on the world scene.

We can choose to fade into oblivion, suffering from high taxes and broken promises, telling ourselves that the government will take care of us even as we go broke. Or we can choose to rise again, believing in the values that made us great. In less than a week, that choice is in our hands.



The Unintended Consequences of Cracking Down on Payday Lenders

Four years ago, Virginia lawmakers cracked down on payday lending. They limited borrowers to one payday loan at a time, and doubled the length of time they had to pay the money back. It worked. Payday loans plunged more than 80 percent. A few lenders left the state completely.

But it also didn’t work.  The reforms created a vacuum being filled by a new form of short-term lending: car-title loans.

In a payday loan, the borrower writes a post-dated check to cover the loan amount,   plus fees. In a car-title loan, the borrower puts up a vehicle as collateral. Since 2010 the number of car-title lending companies in Virginia has more than doubled. Last year, they made more than 128,000 loans, worth an aggregate $125 million. They also repossessed nearly 8,400 vehicles.

Legislation to cap interest rates on payday and car-title loans died last year. It likely will come up again. But some localities don’t want to wait. Officials in Chesterfield  want to ban such lenders from the county entirely. This is probably a fool’s errand; shutting down lenders won’t make demand disappear. Borrowers in need of quick cash may just cross jurisdictions – or turn to even more risky sources, such as the Internet.

It’s easy to understand Chesterfield’s position when you hear stories like that of Manassas resident Brenda Ann Covington. A while back she borrowed $1,500, and put up her 2005 Chevy Silverado as collateral. Somehow she ended up owing $4,100 – and could have lost a vehicle worth much more. On the other hand, there is no shortage of horror stories about commercial banks, either – as anyone burned in the recent housing bubble can attest.

What’s more, defaulting on a mortgage can destroy your credit rating. Defaulting on a payday or car-title loan won’t touch it. That’s one reason borrowers like storefront lenders: They “keep my payday borrowing separate from my other banking.”

There are other reasons: According to the financial-services journal American Banker, “borrowers may prefer to pay higher rates for small, short-term loans than to participate in credit union programs that have strings attached, such as a savings component. . . .  Borrowers also dislike that credit unions generally have shorter operating hours.” As a recent article in Regulation magazine – a publication of the libertarian Cato Institute – puts it: Storefront loans have “non-price benefits” that make up for the higher interest rates.

Yet those higher interest rates lead many to believe such “predatory” lenders are little better than leg-breaking loan sharks. Is that charge sustainable? Again, comparison is instructive. The banking industry’s profit margin is 5.2 percent. Payday lenders’ profits are only 2.4 percentage points higher. Both traditional banking and storefront lending are less profitable than pharmaceuticals, railroads, mining – or even regulated gas and electric utilities.

But wait: If, as critics allege, storefront lenders charge ridiculously high rates, then why aren’t they raking in money hand over fist? For one thing, they endure much higher rates of default than banks do. Just as hospitals must charge paying customers more to cover charity care, payday lenders must charge more to cover the welshers. (Banks avoid this problem by simply refusing to lend to bad credit risks. How does that help poor people?

Still, critics insist the interest rates charged by storefront lenders are so high they’re immoral. But it’s the critics, not the lenders, who are being dishonest. Here’s why:

Suppose Milton borrows $250 from a storefront lender and pays it back two weeks later. The lender charges a standard $15 fee to pay his employees, his utility bill, and so on. That is 6 percent of the loan amount. Yet critics want to express that as an annual rate – which, in this case, would be 156 percent.  This sounds outrageous. What it really tells us is not that the lender’s greed is huge – but that the loan amount is small. A $15 charge on a two-week, $10,000 loan has an APR of only 3.9 percent, even though the transaction charge is exactly the same.

Banks and credit unions don’t usually offer the sort of financial services storefront lenders offer. When they do, they end up charging similar sums. StretchPay, an Ohio-based credit-union alliance, charges an annual fee of $35 for loans up to $250. That’s an APR of 364 percent on a two-week loan.

Then there is microcredit – a Third-World financing revolution that began with the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. The idea is to lend very small amounts to poor people so they can start businesses. Microlenders have been criticized because, given the small loan amounts, the effective interest rates they charge also turn out to be pretty high – anywhere from 70 to 125 percent. But they don’t ask for collateral, either. That makes them look a lot like payday lenders.

There’s one big difference, though: While payday and similar lenders are reviled for preying on the poor, Grameen Bank and its founder Muhammad Yunus were awarded the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize.



Sacramento Pastor Opposes Obama, gets threats

Can we expect black people will vote for a black president? In 2008, President Obama won more than 90% of the black vote.

But a Sacramento pastor and leader of the largest multi-racial congregation in the state says while he’s proud of Mr. Obama, the president won’t get his vote.

Dr. Phillip Goudeaux leads Calvary Christian Center’s 20,000 worshippers.  “I accepted Christ in my life. My relationship with Him means more to me the Democratic party, Independent, Republican, black or white,” Goudeaux told FOX40.

Goudeaux has pastored here for  three decades but it’s his more recent political stance that’s upset some in the black community.

His vote Tuesday won’t go America’s first black president.  “I’m going to support people who support life, marriage between man and woman, smaller government, who supports Israel,” he said.

Goudeaux feels so strongly, he’s traveled the nation to promote traditional marriage.

His outspoken views have not only drawn criticism but even death threats.

“Why don’t i have a right to speak my values without being hated on?” says Goudeaux.

Others in the black community like longtime friend and Pastor Sherwood Carthen have come to his defense.  “We’re diverse”, said Carthen. “We have thoughts of our own. And we don’t have the idea that you can put us in one box. One size does not fit all.”

Goudeaux’s views aren’t unique.  National polls show support for gay marriage among black people remains under 50 percent, indicating the community isn’t as homogenous as many think.

“They’re getting it all mixed up. I’m voting for values, my commitment to the kingdom of God,” said Goudeaux.

Experts say they expect similar voter turnout numbers from the black community this year.




Heh! Britain's major Leftist paper going broke:  "The publisher of the Guardian and Observer newspapers is close to axing the print editions of the newspapers, despite the hopes of its editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger to keep them running for several years.  The Guardian and Observer publisher has spent the last few years battling to stem losses of £44m a year. However, it has been slow to make savings and any money that it has clawed back has been spent on expanding its US and online operations.   However, trustees of the Scott Trust, GNM’s ultimate owner, fear it does not have enough cash on its books to sustain the newspaper"

Price gouging saves lives in a hurricane:  "In the evening before Hurricane Charley hit central Florida, news anchors Bob Opsahl and Martie Salt of Orlando's Channel 9 complained that we 'sure don't need' vendors to take advantage of the coming storm by raising their prices for urgently needed emergency supplies"



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)