Friday, November 16, 2012

Australia: The miserable and aggrieved end of politics (Labor Party) versus the cheerful end (conservative coalition)

Even though they are in government, the Leftist party is still the miserable party

So rancorous are relations between the government and the opposition that even the humble Christmas party invitation is being used as a political weapon. At least in Labor's case.

With the festive season approaching - and for many in this place, the temporary lull cannot come soon enough - the usual round of Yuletide knees-ups are being organised for the final sitting week, which is the last week of November.

The Coalition invitation, extended to MPs, senators and staffers, features an innocuous Christmas tree illustration. The most frightening aspect is the revelation that the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party senator, Nigel Scullion, will be plying all and sundry with his "famous mango daiquiris".

Labor's invitation is far more foreboding. It features Tony Abbott, portrayed as the evil Christmas Grinch, poised atop Parliament House, his pointy fingers holding a bright red Christmas bauble upon which is inscribed the word "no".

The portrayal of Mr Abbott as the Dr Seuss character - a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature with a heart two sizes too small - has not gone unnoticed in the Coalition.

"There's a clear choice this Christmas: enjoying Nigel's famous mango daiquiris, or a Labor Party obsessed with Tony Abbott. Which would you rather attend?" said one senior Liberal figure.

Moreover, the Coalition party is free.  Depending on who you are and when you pay, Labor's shindig costs between $25 and $50 a head. Mr Abbott may be the Grinch but Labor is Scrooge.

A Labor staffer returned fire: ‘‘The Coalition’s has to be free otherwise no-one would turn up. They’ve got to bribe staffers with free booze.’



A Few Observations on the Efficiency of Local Government

Recent discussions of local government and state finances have focused on high-profile employees. Efforts to control costs in Wisconsin resulted in protests and a recall election. Now Scranton, Pennsylvania, has reduced its workers’ wages to the legal minimum wage. Local budgetary crises have made it difficult for towns to pay for police, firefighters, and school teachers. Some people claim that government employment must be maintained—maybe even increased—because these workers provide vital services.

As a teacher at a private college, I can’t help but notice that the private sector can and does supply education—as well as security. Private provision of education and security are and will always be imperfect, but the track record of government services is hardly enviable. Towns like Sandy Springs, Georgia, and Maywood, California, have saved money by contracting local services, except for the police and fire departments, out to the private sector. (While bidding for a government contract is semi-competitive—there’s only one purchaser—the winning firm is a monopolist, so this arrangement is different from a competitive market.)

We should examine the relative merits of private and government education and security, but there are other issues that may deserve more attention. Many town departments get little scrutiny. The operation of our water, road, recreation, and engineering departments often escapes notice.

Twenty-seven years ago I worked as a summer employee of the Livingston, New Jersey, engineering department. At that time I intended to earn a degree in civil engineering, so this job seemed like a good idea. I was told the engineering department hired several local college students every summer so they could learn surveying, build a résumé, and “earn” some money. During this summer I observed a local government from the inside. I had plenty of time to watch what people were doing because as the chief engineer put it on my first day, “There is no work for you to do in this job.” I thought he might be exaggerating, but this was not the case.

One could say that my own observations are merely anecdotal, but Livingston’s government works like other municipal governments. A town council makes decisions, and residents pay for these decisions, mostly through property taxes and small fees.

The time I spent not working that summer enabled me to observe others not working. The engineering department of Livingston had three full-time civil engineers. There wasn’t enough actual work to keep even one busy. We surveyed land that had already been surveyed. We observed a road construction project and some housing construction. Very little of what any of us did had any practical purpose.

The water department was slightly more productive. Every morning the water department van would go out to fix broken water mains. Most of the time there were none to fix, so this crew of about a half dozen men would be “on call.” How often did water mains break? Once every month or two. How long did it take them to fix a broken main? Two or three days. Do the math and it is obvious that these men were paid to do nothing most of the time. What did they do? They would hang around the local parks, the Livingston Mall, the Donut Basket, or somewhere else.

The road department would clear fallen trees or branches a few times a year. During the summer that I worked in the town hall, some of them were busy replacing street signs they had previously misspelled.

The town recreation department was somewhat busy during the spring and summer. I am not sure how they passed the time the rest of the year.

Perhaps the oddest daily event was the 2 p.m. break in the town hall. Every day town employees would gather in the break room for about an hour for donuts and coffee. This was not a break from work so much as a break from sheer boredom. Soon after the “break” ended, town employees would leave this den of inactivity, fill up their cars at the taxpayer-funded town gas pump, and go home.

My overall impression that summer was that if the entire town hall staff had been abducted by aliens, it could have been weeks, perhaps more than a month, before any residents would have noticed.

I doubt much has changed. Several years ago Livingston had a scandal when the town council built a new and lavish town hall. The remodeling was so expensive that it sparked outrage. The point here is not just to note an example of waste, but also the difference between high- and low-profile waste. Livingston wasted $30 million on its municipal building, but paying the salaries and benefits for dozens of nearly useless town employees over decades costs even more.

As a graduate of the Livingston public school system I can say that the teachers do teach.  As a former resident of Livingston I can attest that the streets are safe. High-profile government employees do provide some services. But as an economist I can see that town governments are biased toward waste. Local taxes are coercive and go into a general fund to finance all of a town’s departments. Local taxes disperse costs over all residents, obscuring the costs of financing specific departments and of hiring individual employees. Many costs of operating local government go entirely unnoticed, making cost control impossible. What takes the place of decision-making on the basis of cost? Decision-making on the basis of politics. There is no market test because the “buyers” of services are not free to say no. Thus politicized management by local governments has a proven track record of waste, to the point where many cities and states are faced with budget crises or have gone bankrupt.

In the past several years many people have realized that the overall costs of government are excessive. Public outrage over waste can have two outcomes. Government officials may occasionally respond to public pressure on high-profile issues, perhaps yielding partial or temporary improvements. Lasting solutions to government waste (local or federal) require extensive privatization. There is a fundamental problem with government in that the people who are most familiar with the worst examples of waste are precisely those people who gain from it: public employees. Taxpayers are at a permanent disadvantage when it comes to learning exactly how their tax dollars are spent or wasted. The smartest move for taxpayers is therefore to press not for more efficient government, but for much less government.

Modern government is a failed social experiment at both the local and national levels. Those who insist on maintaining traditional government services at any cost fail to see that we have options. Recent examples of outsourcing services have been successful, but these moves may not go far enough. Economist Walter Block has written extensively on road privatization. The late Elinor Ostrom, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics, examined common-pool resource management by local nongovernment organizations. Alternative institutions have proven track records. We should have moved away from government economic management before it created severe budgetary crises. Now that these crises are upon us, we should act decisively to end the era of big government.



Statist Claptrap on the Gas Lines

by Jacob G. Hornberger

For an excellent example of the economic ignorance that pervades the mainstream press, take a look at these two articles: “Behind New York Gas Lines, Warnings and Crossed Fingers” by David W. Chen, Winnie Hu, and Clifford Krauss and “Around Odd-Even License Plate Rules, a History of Impatience” by James Barron.

The articles address the long lines at gasoline stations in New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. What makes the articles so astounding is that as one reads through them, it becomes obvious that all of the authors are totally ignorant of the true cause of the gas lines.

Here’s the lead paragraph from the first article:

The return of 1970s-era gas lines to the five boroughs of New York City was not the result of a single miscalculation, but a combination of missed opportunities, ignored warnings and a lack of decisiveness by city and state officials that produced a deepening crisis and a sense of frustration.

The article then proceeds to explain how New York officials dallied over whether to implement a rationing plan, as New Jersey had already done. In an implicit dig at the “free market,” the authors of the first article state, “These officials seemed to cross their fingers that somehow the gas supply would improve and that they would be able to avoid resurrecting unpleasant memories of the 1970s.”

The authors also alluded to “panic buying and hoarding” as contributing causes of the long lines. On the supply side, they blamed the problem on damage to a refinery and to several gas terminals.

Lest you have any doubts about the ideological perspective of the authors, consider this line from the first article: “Compounding the problem was the lack of a centralized way for officials to coordinate with counterparts in the region’s complicated fuel-distribution network….”

In other words, what was needed to solve the problem of those long gas lines was central planning, with the plan to include a rationing system. You know, just like in the old Soviet Union! You remember that system, right? You remember how well central planning worked there, right? You remember the rations there, right? You remember the perpetually long lines there, right?

Ultimately, New York officials did impose a rationing system, one that permitted people to get gas on certain days depending on the last digit of their license plates.

The second article compared the long gas lines to those in the 1970s. The author of that article blames the shortage of gas on the fact that “the storm forced tankers bound for the New York area to wait it out…” and to the fact that the storm cut off electricity to gas stations. The author then proceeds to describe the long gas lines in the 1970s, blaming them on the Arab oil embargo in 1973 and the Iranian revolution in 1979, which he says set off “panic buying and long lines at gasoline stations.”

As any libertarian or Austrian economist will tell you, all this is just sheer nonsense. But like I say, it’s classic statist. Despite all the writings that libertarians and Austrians have published on this subject over the years, the statist mindset simply cannot process it or even allude to it.

Consider these two articles:

“New York Investigates Price Gouging Post-Sandy” by James O’Toole at CNN Money.

“N.J. Sues Gas Stations, Hotel for Post-Sandy Gouging” by David Voreacos at Bloomberg.

Now, I’d be willing to bet that those four New York Times authors are familiar with these price-gouging legal actions. But what is painfully obvious is that none of the four is able to tie the two things together!

The reason for those long post-Sandy gas lines was not the “free market,” or “panic buying,” or a reduction in supply, or the failure of public officials to implement a good central plan, or their delay in imposing a rationing system.

The reason for those long gas lines was very simple: Price controls, both today and in the 1970s! Those anti-gouging laws are a form of price control. They make it illegal for the free market to operate. Remember: the term “free market” does not mean that things are given away — as in the common use of the word “free.” It means a market that is free of government control or regulation.

Thus, it’s obvious that when the state makes it illegal for owners of gasoline (or anything else) to charge whatever they want, that is not a “free market.” That is a controlled or regulated or managed market.

The worst thing that public officials can do in a hurricane or other disaster is impose price controls (or anti-gouging laws). Prices are nothing more than the free market’s intricate messaging system. When a disaster occurs, the price of gasoline soars, owing to skyrocketing demand and drastically reduced supply.

The soaring price tells consumers to conserve. It also tells suppliers to supply. So, people cut back. They’re more careful about how they use gasoline because it’s so expensive. At the same time, entrepreneurs, attracted by the extraordinarily high profits they can make, figure out ways to get gasoline to consumers. Gradually, the price starts to drop.

When public officials intervene with their price-gouging laws, they disrupt the free market’s intricate messaging system. By artificially keeping prices down, they ensure that consumers will continue using available stocks of gasoline as if nothing has happened. And they destroy the financial incentive of entrepreneurs to rush more stocks of gasoline to the affected areas.

What’s most astounding about all this is that it’s only libertarians who see the moral abomination that is involved with price controls. The gasoline doesn’t belong to the states of New York or New Jersey. It doesn’t belong to society. It doesn’t belong to consumers. It belongs to the owners of the gasoline. An owner of something has the right to sell it at any price he wants. It’s his property! By the same token, consumers have the right to walk away.

Why can’t statists see this? Why do they turn to methods that were embraced by Soviet officials rather than the free market? Because the last thing any statist is going to do is even hint that the state is responsible for the problem. We saw that during the Great Depression, which was caused by the Federal Reserve but blamed on “the failure of free enterprise.” We’re seeing it now in New York. To the statists, the government is god. To them, the state is always the solution, not the source, of the problem.




Businesses against deregulation:  "Most people believe that businesses abhor regulations and would love to do away with them entirely. This belief is often wrong. Many regulations make it harder for startups to enter the market, and can hobble smaller competitors. That’s why incumbent firms in many industries regularly welcome new regulations with open arms, and will spend millions on lobbying to pass them. It’s a way to keep the competition out."

China-bashing season over, but frictions will persist:  "Although bashing China, especially by the candidate trying to unseat the incumbent, has become a feature of nearly every US presidential campaign of the past 20 years, Romney's criticism was particularly intense. Moreover, the Republican Party has changed noticeably over that time, with the role of religious conservatives becoming more prominent and the role of business leaders less so. That shift made it even more likely that a Romney administration would have adopted a hard-line, if not outright confrontational, stance toward Beijing. Obama's re-election makes such a stance less likely. However, complacency about the bilateral relationship is unwarranted and could prove dangerous."

Greed, self-interest, and the extended order of voluntary transactions:  "One virtue of a private-property free market is that it channels our self-interests so that we serve our self-interests best by serving the self-interests of others. I can get a beer from you, a brewer, only by giving you something that you value more than the beer in return. We both gain. Government, in contrast, unleashes greed."



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 15, 2012

Ronald Reagan Flashback: A Rendezvous With Destiny

Will the GOP ever again have such clarity of vision?  He was usually called "amiable"  -- and he was.  But he could bark when barking was needed


Voting fraud roundup

Philadelphia - Court-appointed Republican poll inspectors are being forcibly removed from voting stations in some Philadelphia wards and replaced in some cases by Democratic inspectors and even members of the Black Panthers, according to GOP officials.
Paul Bedard at

Philadelphia - One polling site in Philadelphia apparently had a mural of President Obama emblazoned on the wall directly behind the voting machines. The mural, at a local school being used as a polling site, contained the words "change!" and "hope," along with a quote from the president.

Philadelphia Black Panthers - Jerry Jackson, who was charged in the 2008 case along with Minister King Samir Shabazz, but later saw charges dropped by the Department of Justice, was seen early Tuesday outside a North Philadelphia voting site wearing the group's trademark black beret, combat-style uniform and heavy boots. Fox News confirmed he is a designated poll watcher.

Philadelphia, ACORN affiliate CVP - The Community Voters Project is a "non-partisan" lefty organization whose mission is to register people to vote, with a particular emphasis on minorities... This year, however, it seems they aren't registering everyone who wants to vote. Outside a CVP office in Philadelphia, for example, they shredded and threw away numerous registration forms.
Mike Flynn at

Perry County Pennsylvania - A video posted on YouTube  at a Pennsylvania polling station allegedly shows an electronic voting machine changing a man's vote from President Barack Obama to Mitt Romney.

Chicago - "This photo, taken by a voter this morning at the Ward 4, Precinct 37 polling place shows an election judge checking in voters while wearing an Obama hat," a source writes. "Chicago's 4th ward is home to President Barack Obama." The voter who took the photo says: "Woman in front of me also given an extra ballot.
Daniel Halper at

Guilford County North Carolina - I cast my vote for Mitt Romney but Obama's name got the Check Mark (touch screen machine)! I was LIVID! So I called over a volunteer to show them. I clicked on Romney again and NO Check Mark appeared.  So I clicked Romney AGAIN and PRESTO CHANGE-O..Obama's name got Check Marked AGAIN right in front of the volunteers' eyes!
Voter, via Joel Pollak at

Charlotte North Carolina - On Tuesday morning, there was a concern raised at Winding Springs Elementary School. Two voters Eyewitness News talked with said when they pressed the button attempting to vote for Mitt Romney, the machine put the check mark next to the name of President Barack Obama.

St. Louis Missouri - Claims of faulty machines giving votes intended for Mitt Romney to President Obama are unfounded, the Missouri Secretary of State's office says.
Johnny Kampis at

Detroit - The Michigan Republican Party is alleging that a poll watcher in Detroit on Tuesday morning was threatened with a gun. According to the Michigan GOP the poll watcher's 911 call was rejected.
Kerry Picket at

Detroit - A woman in a Detroit polling location was aggressively campaigning for Obama. A female voter in line objected. The Obama supporter punched the woman in the face. Police came to arrest her and she smacked the cop.
@electionjournal via

Bay Area California - We found over 25,000 questionable names still on the state voter rolls.  A closer look at the data revealed that some of the dead people were not only registered, but somehow, even voted, several years after their death.
Stock, Escamilla and Nious at

Pueblo, Colorado - officials have received reports of touch-screen voting machines casting votes for Obama after people intended to vote for Romney.

Las Vegas - Last week, I met with two immigrant noncitizens who are not eligible to vote, but who nonetheless are active registered voters for Tuesday's election. They said they were signed up by Culinary Local 226.
Glenn Cook at

Medina Ohio - Flyers claiming to be from a non-existent Tea Party in Medina, Ohio were placed in mailboxes on Monday urging Ohio voters to defeat "the n***er" in the White House to "help keep our country strong and white."
Tony Lee at

Sturtevant, Wisconsin - Voted this morning at 9:30 am.  I was confronted by two Obama supporters, wearing pro Obama shirts, taking pictures of everyone inserting their paper ballots in the voter machine asking how we were voting.  I told clerk and she kicked them out but they just moved to the hallway of the entrance.

Boca Raton Florida - A woman attempting to vote in West Boca Raton this morning was initially prohibited from entering the polling place because she was wearing a tee shirt with the letters MIT.

Tallahassee Florida - A poster featuring President Obama that read "Change the Atmosphere" was reported to be hanging on a wall at a Florida, polling station. This photo was reportedly taken by a voter.
danjoseph at



Romney made camo wearing voters disappear

Analyzing elections when feelings are still raw is usually a bad idea.  Of course that doesn’t stop those with an agenda from opining and pushing specific pet ideas.

That is what we have been witnessing in the wake of Tuesday’s massive disappointment.  The media and some talking heads have been all over the idea that changing demographics are the problem and that Republicans have to become Democrats in order to appeal to Hispanics.

However, digging into the numbers reveals a little more complex story.  Preliminary analysis of exit polls of people who voted suggest that many lower income white voters chose to stay at home rather than vote for the lesser of two evils.

By this analysis, this drop in white participation rather than a massive increase in ethnic participation is likely what caused Romney to lose.  These dropped out voters would not have liked Obama, but didn’t trust Romney either.  In fact, a good argument can be made that Romney, the candidate who establishment Republicans declared to be the most electable, was the worst possible choice to win this election.

In picking Romney, Republicans chose a candidate who personified big business, signed legislation banning semi-automatic firearms, and obviously wore the big government millstone known as Romneycare.

While those in the know continually urged social conservatives to keep quiet, because the election would be won on economic issues, the Obama campaign smartly exploited Romney’s weakness with lower income blue collar voters by playing to their natural suspicion of big business.

As a former state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, I saw this dynamic repeated in election after election, as blue collar voters struggled between the candidate who they believed represented their economic interest against the one who represented their personal freedom interest.

The 2012 election was set up for these voters choice to be easy, as Obama’s four years in office forfeited any claim he had to being supportive of their economic interest.  Obama also is a threat to their firearm rights and is against them on every social issue.

But, without an opposing candidate who they believed was on their side, they stayed home.  While some might claim that this was a failure of the NRA or other lobbying groups who supported Romney, those groups can only open the door for a candidate, he or she has to walk through it.

Romney didn’t.  Instead, Romney stood at the threshold hoping that others would deliver blue collar voters into his column, without him risking taking any negative media hits.  But there is only so much an organization like the NRA can do when the candidate himself has both a terrible record and never addresses the overall issue in a compelling and convincing way.



Reid Short on Votes for 'Filibuster Reform'

An important update to this report from last week -- it appears that Harry Reid is struggling to cobble together the requisite 51 votes to nuke long-standing minority prerogatives in the Senate:
Democrats don’t have the 51 votes they need in the Senate to change filibuster rules that could make it harder for the GOP minority to wield power in the upper chamber. Lawmakers leading the charge acknowledge they remain short, but express optimism they’ll hit their goal. “I haven’t counted 51 just yet, but we’re working,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a leading proponent of the so-called constitutional or “nuclear” option, in which Senate rules could be changed by a majority vote.
Part of the struggle here is that some tenured Democrats recall what things were like when the shoe was on the other foot:
The problem for Udall and other supporters of filibuster reform is that many veteran Democratic senators remember when the filibuster was a useful tool in their years in the minority. In the tradition-bound Senate, these veterans aren’t thrilled with changing the upper chamber’s rules, particularly with the use of the controversial constitutional option — which has never been used to change the chamber’s rules. Under the option, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) would send to the Senate desk a resolution changing the rules and ask for it to be adopted immediately. The parliamentarian would rule the request out of order and then the presiding chair — likely Vice President Biden — would affirm or ignore the parliamentarian’s ruling. The Senate could then uphold Reid’s move to change the rules with a simple majority vote. Biden could break a 50-50 tie in Reid’s favor, meaning Udall and others backing filibuster reform only need 50 votes in the Senate to win.
When Republicans were contemplating their own version of the nuclear/constitutional option during the Bush administration, it was to be limited to presidential judicial appointments only -- a response to Democrats' unprecedented campaign of obstructing majority-supported nominees. Their argument at the time was that the Constitution states that the president "shall appoint" members of the judicial branch, and that the "advice and consent" clause was never intended to entail super-majority support. (Article II, Section II of the Constitution does specify a two-thirds majority threshold for treaty approvals, but not for executive appointments). Democrats loudly objected to Republicans' proposal, eventually leading to the "Gang of 14" compromise, to which both parties have generally adhered ever since. At the time, one of the primary admonitions against the notion of changing Senate rules by a simple majority vote was that limiting the judicial filibuster would shove the Senate down a slippery slope to limiting or eliminating the "sacred" legislative filibuster -- which is precisely what Reid is seeking to do now. Though Democrats may be shy of the 51 votes they'd need at the moment, the complexion of the Senate majority coalition will change considerably in the upcoming session:
The most likely time for Reid to use this option is at the beginning of the new Congress. Supporters call it the constitutional option, but it is well-known as the “nuclear” option for the meltdown in partisan relations that it could effect. All seven Democratic senators-elect — Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) — have pledged to support filibuster reform. Sen.-elect Angus King (I-Maine) made filibuster reform a central plank of his campaign.
Republican leadership is hinting it would wage partisan warfare against the majority's entire agenda if Democrats attempt to jam through their procedural "reforms" -- a warning shot across Reid's bow:
...Winning over Republican support for weakening a powerful tool for the minority party seems like wishful thinking. Senate GOP leadership aides say any effort to change the rules by a partisan party-line vote will “poison the well” for reaching bipartisan deals. “We hope Democrats will work toward allowing members of both sides to be involved in the legislative process — rather than poisoning the well on the very first day of the next Congress,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
Frustrated Democrats accuse the GOP minority of waging (or threatening) a record number of filibusters to thwart various initiatives and legislation over the last six years. Republicans counter that they've been forced to take these dramatic actions because Reid's unprecedented and imperious control has choked out other, less severe minority tools, such as offering amendments to bills. Facing another stalemate, and with both sides fuming, the Democrats are considering dropping a procedural bomb into the upper chamber. As I asked last week, shouldn't a non-nuclear compromise that addresses both sides' concerns at least be attempted before slinging partisan acrimony into the stratosphere?
The best solution to this problem would be for the Senate leadership to hammer out a compromise that would significantly curb the majority "filling the tree," in exchange for the minority curtailing their filibuster posturing.
...The manner in which this issue is handled could set the tone for the next two years of American governance. Will we witness reasonable solutions, or will comity erode further -- leading to increased legislative dysfunction, and plunging Congressional approval to subterranean new lows?



What does this tell you about the U.N.?:  "The U.N. General Assembly yesterday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba for the 21st year in a row. The final tally yesterday was 188-3, with Israel and Palau joining the United States. The Marshall Islands and Micronesia both abstained. Last year’s tally for the symbolic measure was almost identical, 186-2, with three abstentions."

Should Christians use UPS?:  "United Parcel Service (UPS), one of the three largest shipping companies in the U.S., has announced that it is instituting a new policy governing its charitable giving that will restrict it from donating to organizations with discriminatory policies. According to Think Progress, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will be one of the groups to lose funding from the UPS Foundation because of its refusal to shed its anti-LGBT policies."

Upstart Square battles payment giants:  "Two years ago, employees from the start-up Square Inc descended on farmers markets in San Francisco to hand out a new type of credit-card reader that let small, independent merchants accept plastic via their smartphones or tablets. But this month, when Starbucks Inc and Square announced that 7,000 coffee shops across the country would begin accepting payment through Square's smartphone app, the small white cubes that were Square's original calling card didn't merit a mention."

Africans launch campaign against gay marriage:  "A few hundred Liberians representing the Christian and Muslim faiths and civil society organizations gathered here Saturday to launch a campaign to press the government to ban same-sex marriage. The campaign is seeking 1 million signatures supporting a resolution to ban gay and lesbian activities here."

Israeli aircraft strike Gaza sites:  "Israeli aircraft struck three times in Gaza in the early hours of Tuesday morning, hitting a weapons storage facility and two rocket launching sites used by militants, the military said in a statement. As a growing crisis in the Gaza Strip moved into a fifth day, the Israeli army said it had scored direct hits on the targets. No casualties were reported in the strikes which caused loud explosions."

Obama considering John Kerry for “defense” secretary:  "President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus. Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations."



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 14, 2012

Obama Likely Won Re-Election Through Election Fraud

Rachel Alexander

There were many factors that hurt Mitt Romney and favored Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. The Democrats portrayed Romney in the worst light possible; as a wealthy, out of touch millionaire who wanted to return women to the 1800's. The left wing media predictably did everything it could to perpetuate that false caricature. Obama's race was an advantage; voters of all persuasions, particularly minorities, still cannot get over the allure of the first black president. The 47% of Americans on welfare were predisposed to vote for the food stamp president over Romney, wanting the free goodies to keep on giving, despite the long-term unsustainability.

In spite of those odds, polls indicated that Romney was going to win the election. The economy is close to Great Depression era conditions, and unemployment is almost as high as when Obama entered office. Economic conditions became so dire after Obama took office it prompted the rise of an entire new movement, the Tea Party. Presidents rarely win reelection when the economy is in the tank.

So how did Romney lose a race that numerous reputable polls and pundits predicted would be an easy win, based on historical patterns? The most realistic explanation is voter fraud in a few swing states. According to the Columbus Dispatch, one out of every five registered voters in Ohio is ineligible to vote. In at least two counties in Ohio, the number of registered voters exceeded the number of eligible adults who are of voting age. In northwestern Ohio's Wood County, there are 109 registered voters for every 100 people eligible to vote. An additional 31 of Ohio's 88 counties have voter registration rates over 90%, which most voting experts regard as suspicious. Obama miraculously won 100% of the vote in 21 districts in Cleveland, and received over 99% of the vote where GOP inspectors were illegally removed.

The inflated numbers can't just reflect voters who have moved, because the average voting registration level nationwide is only 70%. The vast majority of voters over the 70% level are not voting because they want to, they are voting because someone is getting them to cast a vote, one way or another. Those 31 counties are most likely the largest counties in Ohio, representing a majority of Ohio voters. This means the number of votes cast above the 70% typical voter registration level easily tops 100,000, the margin Obama won Ohio by.

Videographer James O'Keefe, known for his undercover videos exposing left wing fraud, caught a Virginia Democratic Congressman's son on video in October explaining how to commit voter fraud. Patrick Moran, the son of Rep. Jim Moran, told O'Keefe's videographer that in order to make a vote for someone else, you'd need two pieces of identification, such as a utility bill, explaining, "they can fake a utility bill with ease, you know?" He went on to advise the videographer that he should also call the voter and pretend to be a polling company in order to make sure the voter isn't intending to vote. He said that Democrat attorneys would be located in the polling places to assist him if challenged casting one of these illegal votes.

In another video, O'Keefe's videographer tells a DNC staffer from Obama's Organizing for America that she intends to vote in both Texas and Florida. The staffer laughs and says, "It's cool." The staffer then prints out a voter registration form for the undercover videographer and advises her on what to do if she gets caught.

These are just the known instances of attempted voter fraud. How many instances occurred that were not discovered? Obama's Organizing for America looked up voters in swing states – many who would not have bothered voting otherwise – and got them to vote. How did they get them to vote? They may have given them rides to the polls, they may have offered to fill out and return their ballots for them, or they may have voted ballots for the ones who were not going to vote.

Many on the left believe there is nothing wrong with committing fraud in order to ensure Obama's reelection. It is a common tenet on the left that the ends justify the means. Saul Alinsky, the 1960's radical who inspired Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, taught community organizers like Obama that dishonesty is acceptable if it achieves your political goals. And when caught, Alinsky teaches radicals to deny the wrongdoing and change the topic to put their accusers on the defensive. One Obama supporter brazenly posted on Facebook that he was voting four times for Obama, asserting that the ends justify the means.

Aiding Obama's win was a devious suppression of the conservative vote. The conservative-leaning military vote has decreased drastically since 2010 due to the so-called Military Voter Protection Act that was enacted into law the year before. It has made it so difficult for overseas military personnel to obtain absentee ballots that in Virginia and Ohio there has been a 70% decrease in requests for ballots since 2008. In Virginia, almost 30,000 fewer overseas military voters requested ballots than in 2008. In Ohio, more than 20,000 fewer overseas military voters requested ballots. This is significant considering Obama won in both states by a little over 100,000 votes.

Voter fraud has been in the works for years. At least 52 employees of the left wing group ACORN have been convicted of voter registration fraud. ACORN itself was convicted of the crime of "compensation," paying its registration canvassers bonuses to exceed their quotas. In 2008, 36% of ACORN's voter registrations were invalidated. Left wing political pundit Chris Matthews admitted last year that pretending to call someone from a polling company, then voting their ballot for them, has been happening in big cities since the 1950's. He admitted he knows that kind of voter fraud takes place in Philadelphia.

Strong-arming people into voting who really have no desire to vote undermines our form of government. People do not choose to vote because they are uninformed about the issues and candidates, are lazy, cynical, or are content with the status quo. Voting someone else's ballot for them is cheating the system and essentially giving yourself two votes.

When people claim that Obama won because the economy was improving, or because Americans generally think he is doing a good job, it is not true. He won through dishonest methods and rhetoric. Many of the votes cast in the swing states were cajoled, some legally and perhaps even more illegally, into supporting him. If voter fraud becomes acceptable, then maybe Donald Trump is right: it's time for a revolution.



GOP soul-searching and the ‘Dougherty Doctrine’

These days, everyone has their assessment of why Republicans lost and what they need to do in order to win. And you’ll notice a pattern to them.

Pro-lifers say Republicans need a real pro-life nominee. Social liberals say Republicans need to drop all social issues. Hawks say Romney needed to attack Obama on his foreign-policy weakness. Some non-interventionist conservatives say Romney could have won had he staked out a more humble foreign policy.

Conservative writer Michael Brendan Dougherty saw this happening in 2006, and summed it up:

"At the end of the day, the arguments all seem to boil down to something similar: If it were more like me, the Republican Party would be better off. It’s failing because it’s like you."

The Dougherty Doctrine is that all prescriptions for electoral success coincide neatly with the prescribers favored policies. I exemplified the Dougherty Doctrine with my column today, arguing for a free-market populism and a GOP assault on corporate welfare.

The Dougherty Doctrine gives a reason to look skeptically at any “what-my-party-needs-to-do-now” essays. But let me add a corollary: Just because one’s electoral advice coincides with one’s policy preferences that doesn’t mean the electoral advice is wrong.



Obama makes mockery of the rule of law

Among the objections to Obamacare, one that has not gotten as much attention as it should is the president's power to waive the law for any company, union or other enterprise he chooses.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides for "equal protection of the laws" for all Americans. To have a law that can cost an organization millions of dollars a year either apply or not apply – depending on the whim or political interest of the president of the United States – is to make a mockery of the rule of law.

How secure is any freedom when there is this kind of arbitrary power in the hands of one man?

What does your right of freedom of speech mean if saying something that irritates the Obama administration means that you or your business has to pay huge amounts of money and get hit with all sorts of red tape under Obamacare that your competitor is exempted from, because your competitor either kept quiet or praised the Obama administration or donated to its reelection campaign?

Arbitrary Obamacare waivers are bad enough by themselves. They are truly ominous as part of a more general practice of this administration to create arbitrary powers that permit them to walk roughshod over the basic rights of the American people.

The checks and balances of the Constitution have been evaded time and time again by the Obama administration, undermining the fundamental right of the people to determine the laws that govern them, through their elected representatives.

You do not have a self-governing people when huge laws are passed too fast for the public to even know what is in them.

You do not have a self-governing people when "czars" are created by executive orders, so that individuals wielding vast powers equal to, or greater than, the powers of Cabinet members do not have to be vetted and confirmed by the people's elected representatives in the Senate, as Cabinet members must be.

You do not have a self-governing people when decisions to take military action are referred to the United Nations and the Arab League, but not to the Congress of the United States, elected by the American people, whose blood and treasure are squandered.

You do not have a self-governing people when a so-called "consumer protection" agency is created to be financed by the unelected officials of the Federal Reserve System, which can create its own money out of thin air, instead of being financed by appropriations voted by elected members of Congress who have to justify their priorities and trade-offs to the taxpaying public.

You do not have a self-governing people when laws passed by the Congress, signed by previous presidents, and approved by the federal courts, can have the current president waive whatever sections he does not like, and refuse to enforce those sections, despite his oath to see that the laws are faithfully executed.

Barack Obama, for example, refused to carry out sections of the immigration laws that he does not like, unilaterally creating de facto amnesty for those illegal immigrants he has chosen to be exempt from the law. The issue is not – repeat, NOT – the wisdom or justice of this president's immigration policy, but the seizing of arbitrary powers not granted to any president by the Constitution of the United States.

You do not have a self-governing people if President Obama succeeds in having international treaties under United Nations auspices govern the way Americans live their lives, whether with gun control laws or other laws.

Obama's "citizen of the world" mindset was revealed back in 2008, when he said "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that every other country is going to say okay."

The desire to circumvent the will of the American people was revealed even more ominously when Barack Obama said to Russian President Medvedev – when he thought the microphone was off – that, after he is reelected and need never face the voters again, he can be more "flexible" with the Russians about missile defense.

There are other signs of Obama's contempt for American Constitutional democracy, but these should be more than enough. Dare we risk how far he will go when he never has to face the voters again, and can appoint Supreme Court justices who can rubber stamp his power grabs? Will this still be America in 2016?



Conservatives Can Win Over Blacks and Latinos


I wrote last April regarding an analysis done by Ron Brownstein in National Journal: "Brownstein estimates that Barack Obama could be re-elected with as little as 39 percent of the white vote. He notes that in 2008, when Obama was elected with just 43 percent of the white vote, it was the first time ever that a presidential candidate was victorious with double digit losses of white voters."

In a column I wrote a month ago, I noted: "What was once the exception to the rule in America - not being white, not being married, not have traditional views on family, sex, and abortion - is becoming the rule. And these constituencies are becoming sufficiently large to elect a president."

We can win our country back.  Low and middle-income blacks and Latinos are hurt disproportionately by a sluggish economy that can only be revived by less government spending and regulation, and low taxes. They just need someone to care to focus on their communities and explain these dynamics to them.

They need to get their kids out of public schools, a cause which only conservatives champion.

And they need to understand that they have everything to gain by getting out of the entitlement programs that the left tells them they need.

The last thing low-income earners need is to pay payroll taxes when they could save this money and build wealth. And the last thing they need is government bureaucrats running their health care.

When the only message blacks and Latinos get is from left wing politicians and media telling them they need government to take care of them, what can we expect but what we just saw in this election?

Business is also about knowing that there is no short cut around hard work.

Republicans must do more than showcase a few black and brown faces at their convention every four years and call this outreach.

Conservatives must get into black and Latino communities, talk to their clergy and community leaders, and explain how conservative policies of limited government and traditional values will save their communities and our nation.




Obamacare’s doctor depression:  "Thanks to Obamacare, America's corps of doctors appears to have a case of the blues. The Physicians Foundation recently asked more than 13,000 doctors about their morale, their career plans, their practices and their views of the Affordable Care Act. The results were grim. Nearly six in 10 doctors said that they are less positive about the future of healthcare in America under Obamacare. Almost two-thirds have a negative attitude toward their jobs -- nearly twice as many as before the health law was passed in 2010. ... Worse, their collective frustration is exacerbating our nation's troubling doctor shortage."

FEMA’s wasteful “disaster socialism”:  "In the Washington Examiner, Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation notes that FEMA has been as slow after Superstorm Sandy as it was after Hurricane Katrina -- and that when it finally provides aid to residents of affected regions, it will be providing not life-sustaining aid, but loans, handouts and welfare benefits, some of which will flow to people who don’t even legally qualify for them. People have this weird idea that FEMA helps people in the 48-hours after a natural disaster. It doesn’t."



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


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Old Soviet jokes become the new American reality

By Oleg

I have seen the future and ran away.

At first the move to America from the former USSR made me feel as though I had made a jump in time, from the stagnant depraved past into a distant dynamic future.

There was an abundance of commonly available futuristic contraptions, machines, and appliances that made everyday existence easier and more enjoyable. Less obvious but just as exciting was the media's openness: I no longer needed to read between the lines to know what was happening.

Most importantly, there was honesty, dignity, and respect in relations among people.

Today I'm feeling like a time traveler again.  Only this time the productive, honest and self-reliant America is vanishing in the past, as we are quickly approaching the all too familiar future.

It is the future of equal poverty, one-party rule, media mooching, government looting, bureaucratic corruption, rigged elections, underground literature, half-whispered jokes, and the useful habit of looking over your shoulder.

It was nice living in America before it changed the course and followed Obama's direction "Forward," which, according to my compass, is pointing backward.

All of a sudden I find myself playing the role of a comrade from the future, helping my new compatriots to navigate the quagmire ahead of us.

Deprived of free political speech, Soviets had developed a culture of underground political jokes. I used to remember thousands of them.  Here's one of my favorites, dealing with the discrepancy between the official narrative and the everyday reality:

The six contradictions of socialism in the USSR:

* There is no unemployment - yet no one is working.

* No one is working - yet the factory quotas are fulfilled.

* The factory quotas are fulfilled - yet the stores have nothing to sell.

* The stores have nothing to sell - yet people's homes are full of stuff.

* People's homes are full of stuff - yet no one is happy.

* No one is happy - yet the voting is always unanimous.

Already in America I discovered that most of my old Soviet jokes didn't work in translation. It wasn't so much the language difference as the fact that Americans had no first-hand knowledge of a totalitarian government, ideological uniformity, and shameless propaganda.  But that is changing. The more America "progresses" back to the Soviet model, the more translatable the old Soviet jokes become.

Let's see how an old Soviet joke can be rewritten into a new American joke.  The six contradictions of socialism in the United States of America:

* America is capitalist and greedy - yet half of the population is subsidized.

* Half of the population is subsidized - yet they think they are victims.

* They think they are victims - yet their representatives run the government.

* Their representatives run the government - yet the poor keep getting poorer.

* The poor keep getting poorer - yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

* They have things that people in other countries only dream about - yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

There's more where it came from - or where we're going, whichever the case may be.



Hello Obama second term; bye bye Western Civilization

By James Delingpole, writing from Britain

It seems to me that the victory the Obamaphiles have won is entirely Pyrrhic. In what way, I would like to ask them, is a second term for a proven failure a good thing? On the evidence of Obama's four years in power so far, what exactly have they seen that augurs so well for the next four years of the American presidency?

Was it his resolute decision to sacrifice the lives of four brave men in Benghazi, perhaps?

Or was it his truly heartwarming eagerness to reward his friends at Solyndra by handing them $500 million of taxpayers' money for a business that was essentially worthless?

Or his inspired decision to hit the already struggling US economy with the bill for a whopping new, NHS-style disaster in the making called Obamacare?

Under the Obama administration the US economy has shown few if any signs of a genuine economic recovery. Housing remains depressed, unemployment is high, average family income has fallen and America increasingly has about it the moribund, shabby air of third world kleptocracy rather than the thrusting optimism you'd expect of the leader of the free world.

The US today is almost unrecognisable from the land of opportunity I fell in love with on my first visit nearly 30 years ago. And the reason for this is really very simple (and especially obvious in basket cases like the People's Republic of California): Big Government has continued to grow and grow; regulations have accumulated; private wealth has been confiscated and squandered, on welfare, on bail-outs for companies like GM which would have been better left to fail, on Ben Bernanke's quantitative easing spree, on stringent measures to deal with the so-far unproven threat of "climate change"….

And this hasn't just been an Obama-related problem. It's been an every-US-president-since-at-least-Calvin-Coolidge problem. Even under Ronald Reagan the size of government grew.

To be honest, I think it would probably have continued to grow under a Mitt Romney presidency too. Romney would certainly not have been my first choice of GOP candidate. (Or indeed my second, third or fourth…..) He always struck me as being part of the same corporatist problem rather than the authentic, red-meat, free market solution.

It wasn't so much that I was rooting for Romney. More that I was rooting desperately, passionately against Obama whose statist tendencies – and autocratic instincts – are just a great deal more extreme and dangerous.

One thing I noticed on Twitter today: the quantity of bile being spewed out seemed to increase from very late morning onwards. And I wondered whether, maybe, this was symptomatic of the attitudes and lifestyles and career status of that whole class of person which blindly roots for Obama. I don't mean the welfare class: though of course that rooted for Obama too. I was thinking more of the entitlement class, the bureaucratic and technocratic elite – or trainee members thereof – so brilliantly anatomised in this piece by Joel Kotkin.

Perhaps they're studying "climate science" or "sustainability" at university; maybe they work in the public sector, with its more generous attitudes to those staff members who arrive late or decide to throw the occasional sickie; maybe they're currently resting while they search for the kind of career which enables them to achieve a perfect work/life balance and helps them feel really good about themselves, perhaps doing something marvellously worthwhile in the charities sector; or maybe they're employed by somewhere unimpeachably nice and on the right side of the "progressive" argument, like maybe the BBC, or the Guardian, or the Grantham Institute; perhaps they're incredibly well-paid stand-up comedians who earn their fortunes pandering to the prejudices of that vast constituency of ex-students, future students and perpetual students I've just described…

What this entitlement class has in common, both in Britain and in the US – and indeed throughout our tottering Western civilisation – is an unshakable conviction that a) the state is a force for good and b) that it owes them a living. So fiercely do they cleave to this faith that they have never stopped to think where this benign and bounteous state actually gets its money from or what might happen when the money runs out. In fact they consider the very act of thinking such unpleasant thoughts tantamount to heresy. This is why they dismiss their opponents as being not merely wrong but morally deficient – evil, even.

Problem is, the money has run out. It happened quite a while back and all our governments and their corporatist and bankster allies have been doing these last few years is finding ever more ingenious ways of disguising the fact. Just so long as they can keep the scam going just that little bit longer, that's all they care about. Then they can pass the parcel on to which ever schmuck comes next.

This can't go on forever.  Nor will it. Because no one is prepared to face up to the facts and deal with them – and both Obama's re-election and the GOP's failure to come up with a sufficiently convincing candidate are proof of this; as indeed is the history of our own Coalition – it is all going to end very nastily and very messily.



The anger of damaged women helped put Obama back into power

Some comments from Australia by Steve Kates:

Abortion rights are as secure as, indeed more secure, than the right to bear arms. It might as well be in the Constitution, given how literally impossible it would be to change the circumstances for abortion in any significant way, never mind the availability of contraception.

And what’s more, everyone knows it. Anyone who votes based on some concern that the Republican Party would be capable of making this change even if it wished to is living in a world of paranoia and might as well be worried about asking the government to protect them from men from Mars. The reality, however, is more closely represented by this video which is funny in a very unfunny way. Do not play this in an office environment and make sure you turn the volume down. I also give you a bad language alert. But the point is massive.

Miss 31 voted for Obama and is representative of the women who are in massive agreement with the cries of misogyny and the lack of respect for women. There is no point going too far into this, but the most influential social philosopher of the twentieth century was Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Philosophy. You would have to be at least as old as I am to recall what a shock it was to read Hefner’s “philosophy” in the pages of Playboy back when I was about 14 in the 1960s. Here’s the gist: all those uptight girls hanging onto their virginity ought to liberate themselves and get into the sexual scrum with the boys. In an era when a goodnight kiss was a big deal this was magic. And with the likes of Germaine Greer and her buddies saying the same just as the birth control pill was becoming readily available, a new world opened for which neither the young women of the time or the young men were really prepared.

But who has come out of this genuinely hurt by the changed attitude to women. Both men and women are worse for it, but if you ask me, it is women who have been psychologically damaged far more than the men. And I suspect Miss 29 has not avoided the deep and fearsome pains of commitment-free sexual relations either.

These are the attitudes that Obama was tapping into. Watching the Middle East burn and the American economy trashed by debt and deficits are irrelevant to such women whose anger is beyond all understanding, particularly for men of my and Romney’s generation.


NOTE:  The comments above by Steve Kates led to an accusation (not online) from Melbourne Left-leaning newspaper The Age that Kates is a sexist.  Kates has taken umbrage at that and is demanding an apology.  The only thing that puzzles me about all that is why Kates expects Leftists to do anything other than what they do.  It's actually a fairly mild accusation by Leftist standards.  Try Bush=Hitler. I think I would simply laugh at their folly.  The Murdoch rival of The Age has three times their circulation and The Age consequently is going broke.  Confining your market to Leftists is dumb

The cry of the loud blonde in the video  -- "There's nobody there" -- is very common among unmarried women in their 30s so Kates is right to draw attention to it and to attempt to explain it.  Like Kates, I think the women concerned have mostly been hornswoggled by feminism -- JR


A deluded feminism's real damage

Philippa Martyr backs up Steve Kates

The "cohort of damaged women" is real, and it is huge, and they have been damaged by real sexism, not by Steve Kates. They fell for a sales pitch that has reduced them to a pair of open legs: an airbrushed porn image that can’t answer back, has no mind, no soul, and importantly, no opinions on anything outside "reproductive rights".

Porn images also don’t get pregnant, which is why pretty much every adult woman in Australia has either had, or knows someone who’s had, an abortion. Legalised abortion and access to effective contraception were supposed to make abortion rare, but it’s actually now at plague proportions.

Most adult women in Australia also know someone who regrets having an abortion. Many of us also know the women with the mystery breast cancers, the women who now can’t have children, the women who are on substantial doses of antidepressants and have attempted suicide, the women who cry on certain hidden "anniversaries" they won’t talk about.

How can anyone think that this is a good thing? Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century feminists argued that abortion was a quintessentially male solution to a problem that didn’t exist, except in the panic-stricken male mind. They argued for and tried to envision a future where every child would be welcomed, regardless of its origin. Yet every day women continue to climb up obediently on to the abortionist’s couch in the name of maintaining the status quo. How is this freedom of choice?




Another engine explosion on a superjumbo:  "DISTRESSED passengers told how they survived a mid-air emergency last night when an Emirates A380's engine exploded at 10,000 feet and forced it to turn back for an emergency landing.  About 20 minutes after leaving Sydney, Emirates flight EK413 experienced an "engine fault" en route to Dubai.  "I saw a flash," John Fothergill, 49, from Auckland, said. "I thought it could have been lightening but then we saw flames come out of the engine. The whole interior of the A380 lit up.  "You'd have to say there were two or three metre flames. (The) explosion shook the plane, there was a bigger judder."

Why Mitt Romney lost — and the GOP will continue to lose:  "How did Mitt Romney and the Republican Party blow it all so badly? The short answer is that the GOP insisted on pushing backward-looking social issues in a country that is increasingly libertarian."

Republicans must be super-careful:  "President Obama's re-election puts Republicans on notice. No matter what we do, the media will portray us as extreme, venal, stupid or anti-woman, if not as individuals, then guilty by association. The GOP nominee must bear the burden of admittedly medieval statements on pregnancy and rape. ... Mitt Romney renounced the statements -- and still they tarnished the GOP brand. On the other side, all Democrats are moderates. Party bigs need never explain why Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts senator-elect, padded her credentials as an American Indian. ... Not only do the Democrats' bad actors not stain the ticket, they win."

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 12, 2012

Was the Petraeus resignation all it seems?

Prominent Australian conservative commentator, Andrew Bolt,  accepts the official story and gives his reasons below.  I add my comments at the end

There’s a lot of conspiracy mongering about the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus over his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell - as in: was this to nobble him as he prepared to blow the whistle on the Obama Administration’s cover-up on Benghazi? But the facts, as reported, seem to speak for themselves:
[A]n FBI source says the investigation began when American intelligence mistook an email Petraeus had sent to his girlfriend as a reference to corruption. Petraeus was commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan from July 4, 2010 until July 18, 2011.

The investigation began last spring, but the FBI then pored over his emails when he was stationed in Afghanistan. …

Given his top secret clearance and the fact that Petraeus is married, the FBI continued to investigate and intercept Petraeus’ email exchanges with the woman. The emails include sexually explicit references to such items as sex under a desk.

At some point after Petraeus was sworn in as CIA director on Sept. 6, 2011, the woman broke up with him. However, Petraeus continued to pursue her, sending her thousands of emails over the last several months, raising even more questions about his judgment.
“Thousands of emails” in just the last few months sounds like a man obsessed, and an indiscreet one for a CIA boss.  Then there is this:
The biographer for resigning CIA Director David Petraeus is under FBI investigation for improperly trying to access his email and possibly gaining access to classified information, law enforcement officials told NBC News on Friday.

So I’m inclined not to buy the post-election conspiracy theorising of a Lt Col Ralph Peters, among many:
The timing is just too perfect for the Obama administration. Just as the administration claimed it was purely coincidence that our Benghazi consulate was attacked on the anniversary of September 11th. Now it’s purely coincidence that this affair—extra-marital affair—surfaces right after the election, not before, but right after, but before the intelligence chiefs go to Capitol Hill to get grilled. As an old intelligence analyst, Neil, the way I read this—I could be totally wrong, this is my interpretation—is that the administration was unhappy with Petraeus not playing ball 100% on their party-line story. I think it’s getting cold feet about testifying under oath on their party-line story. And I suspect that these tough Chicago guys knew about this affair for a while, held it in their back pocket until they needed to play the card.


I agree with Bolt but for rather different reasons.  As a social psychologist, I have studied a bit about male/female attraction and have myself been married 4 times (and still have a patient lady in my life) and to me the pictures above say all that needs to be said.

The top picture is of the girlfriend, the second picture is of Petraeus and his wife of 37 years. Petraeus would be queer if he didn't leap at the younger woman's availability.  He would have to be superhuman to have resisted the temptation.  But the security risks of extra-marital liasons are well-known (vide the Profumo affair in Britain) so he had to be dismissed from his very sensitive job. That the timing was held over until after the election is however beyond doubt  -- JR.

Another view -- from "Former Spook":

David Petraeus's sudden fall from grace invites a rather obvious question, namely who leaked information about his affair.  In our experience, someone at the general's level typically resigns over an affair when the story is about to hit the press.  We're guessing that someone in the media was given the details about the CIA Director's extra-marital affair, and they called Langley asking for a statement.  Realizing his indiscretion would soon become public, Petraeus took the pro-active step of submitting his resignation, which was "regretfully" accepted by President Obama.

So, who "got" David Petraeus?  Beyond his own, deplorable conduct, there is the list of ususal suspects.  We'll begin with veterans of the CIA clandestine service and paramilitary operations directorate.  They are furious over Petraeus's conduct in the aftermath of the Benghazi debacle, when his statements on the attack were similar to those of administration officials, who suggested the attack on the consulate was the result of  an "out-of-control" protest, sparked by outrage over an internet video that offensive to Muslims.  Two CIA contractors were among the four Americans killed in the attack and other agency personnel were wounded.  Yet, the administration did nothing to send assistance to the besieged consulate, other than a quick reaction force from the embassy in Tripoli.

As we've noted before, no one plays the "leak" game better than the spook community.  As the White House clung to its "video" narrative, operatives involved in the Benghazi operation began passing details of that fateful night, raising new questions about what actually occurred.  The leaks were aimed (in part) at the administration, but they were also directed at Petraeus and the Director of National Intelligence (James Clapper) who were viewed as not only abandoning operatives on the ground, but doing little to defend the reputation of intelligence professionals when various administration officials suggested the community "got it wrong" before Benghazi.

Then, more than six weeks after the attack, Petraeus did something a bit unusual.  Realizing the White House's well-deserved reputation for throwing people under the bus, the CIA Director announced that no one at his agency had taken steps to prevent assistance from reaching our diplomats and intel operators on the ground in Benghazi.  That assertion shifted the blame squarely on the administration and the Pentagon.  Needless to say, Petraeus's comments didn't exactly win him any friends in the West Wing, or on the E-ring of the Pentagon.  And, if he was trying to rally support in the spook world, it was probably too late for that as well.

So members of the intel community had plenty of motive for exposing the CIA Director's extra-curricular activities.  And, it wouldn't be that hard to discover what he was up to.  As a former senior commander (and more recently as head of the CIA), Petraeus has been living in a 24-hour security bubble for years, so his protection detail was probably aware of the affair, and it didn't take long for word to leak to other spooks, who had plenty of motive to get rid of Petraeus. Additionally, there are now reports the affair began during his military days--possibly dating to the general's tenure as our commander in Iraq and Afghanistan--so there were plenty of people in a position to "know."

But don't exclude the possibility of a White House "job," either.  Relations between the retired General and Mr. Obama were never good; there were disagreements over U.S. policies in Afghanistan and many in the administration viewed Petraeus as "too independent" for the job.  And, when the CIA Director blamed the lack of support in Benghazi on the White House, the administration had a clear reason for getting rid of General Petraeus.  As President Obama reviews candidates for his second term cabinet (and other senior positions) we keep hearing the term "pliable" being tossed about.  In other words, the Commander-in-Chief is looking for individuals who will take orders without question or complaint.  David Petraeus clearly didn't fit that mold. So, with his affair under investigation by the FBI, it wasn't hard for Team Obama to obtain that information and use it when it became convenient.



The impoverishing drift Leftward of the American electorate

Mark Steyn foresees below something of an American collapse.  I agree but doubt that it will be sudden.  Other countries -- such as Britain -- have been impoverished by socialism but the decline has been gradual.  America faces a dismal rather than a chaotic fate.  American exceptionalism will gradually fade away.  The great experiment is over.

That America's debts will be "paid" by inflating the currency is certain, however.  So holders of significant savings (e.g. the elderly)  will be hard hit.

Hardest hit -- absolutely hugely so  -- will however be the governments of China and Japan.  Will China "accidentally" drop a big one on San Francisco to say thankyou?  It's possible. There'd be no risk of retaliation from Obama.  They'd just have to apologize and he would bow to them -- JR

In the weeks ahead, Democrats and Republicans will reach a triumphant “bipartisan” deal to avert the fiscal cliff through some artful bookkeeping mechanism that postpones Taxmageddon for another year, or six months, or three, when they can reach yet another triumphant deal to postpone it yet again. Harry Reid has already announced that he wants to raise the debt ceiling — or, more accurately, lower the debt abyss — by $2.4 trillion before the end of the year, and no doubt we can look forward to a spectacular “bipartisan” agreement on that, too. It took the government of the United States two centuries to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt. Now Washington piles on another trillion every nine months. Forward!

If you add up the total debt — state, local, the works — every man, woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more than the average Greek does). Every American family owes about three-quarters of a million bucks, or about the budget deficit of Liechtenstein, which has the highest GDP per capita in the world. Which means that HRH Prince Hans-Adam II can afford it rather more easily than Bud and Cindy at 27b Elm Street. In 2009, the Democrats became the first government in the history of the planet to establish annual trillion-dollar deficits as a permanent feature of life. Before the end of Obama’s second term, the federal debt alone will hit $20 trillion. That ought to have been the central fact of this election — that Americans are the brokest brokey-broke losers who ever lived, and it’s time to do something about it.

My Hillsdale College comrade Paul Rahe, while accepting much of my thesis, thought that, as an effete milquetoast pantywaist sissified foreigner, I had missed a vital distinction. As he saw it, you can take the boy out of Canada but you can’t take the Canada out of the boy. I had failed to appreciate that Americans were not Euro-Canadians, and would not go gently into the statist night.

But, as I note in my book, “a determined state can change the character of a people in the space of a generation or two.” Tuesday’s results demonstrate that, as a whole, the American electorate is trending very Euro-Canadian. True, you still have butch T-shirts — “Don’t Tread On Me,” “These Colors Don’t Run” . . . In my own state, where the Democrats ran the board on election night, the “Live Free or Die” license plates look very nice when you see them all lined up in the parking lot of the Social Security office. But, in their view of the state and its largesse, there’s nothing very exceptional about Americans, except that they’re the last to get with the program. Barack Obama ran well to the left of Bill Clinton and John Kerry, and has been rewarded for it both by his party’s victory and by the reflex urgings of the usual GOP experts that the Republican party needs to “moderate” its brand.

I have no interest in the traditional straw clutching — oh, it was the weak candidate . . . hard to knock off an incumbent . . . next time we’ll have a better GOTV operation in Colorado . . . I’m always struck, if one chances to be with a GOP insider when a new poll rolls off the wire, that their first reaction is to query whether it’s of “likely” voters or merely “registered” voters. As the consultant class knows, registered voters skew more Democrat than likely voters, and polls of “all adults” skew more Democrat still. Hence the preoccupation with turnout models. In other words, if America had compulsory voting as Australia does, the Republicans would lose every time. In Oz, there’s no turnout model, because everyone turns out. The turnout-model obsession is an implicit acknowledgment of an awkward truth — that, outside the voting booth, the default setting of American society is ever more liberal and statist.

The short version of electoral cycles is as follows: The low-turnout midterms are fought in political terms, and thus Republicans do well and sometimes spectacularly well (1994, 2010); the higher-turnout presidential elections are fought in broader cultural terms, and Republicans do poorly, because they’ve ceded most of the cultural space to the other side. What’s more likely to determine the course of your nation’s destiny? A narrow focus on robocalls in selected Florida and New Hampshire counties every other fall? Or determining how all the great questions are framed from the classroom to the iPod to the movie screen in the 729 days between elections?

The good news is that reality (to use a quaint expression) doesn’t need to swing a couple of thousand soccer moms in northern Virginia. Reality doesn’t need to crack 270 in the Electoral College. Reality can get 1.3 percent of the popular vote and still trump everything else. In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return.

According to one CBO analysis, U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve — which is to say the left hand of the U.S. government is borrowing money from the right hand of the U.S. government. It’s government as a Nigerian e-mail scam, with Ben Bernanke playing the role of the dictator’s widow with $4 trillion under her bed that she’s willing to wire to Timmy Geithner as soon as he sends her his bank-account details.

If that’s all a bit too technical, here’s the gist: There’s nothing holding the joint up.

So Washington cannot be saved from itself. For the moment, tend to your state, and county, town and school district, and demonstrate the virtues of responsible self-government at the local level. Americans as a whole have joined the rest of the Western world in voting themselves a lifestyle they are not willing to earn. The longer any course correction is postponed the more convulsive it will be. Alas, on Tuesday, the electorate opted to defer it for another four years. I doubt they’ll get that long.



Fake picture circulates the world this morning

This is being tweeted today relentlessly as though it is a picture of what occurred last night. In reality it dates from 2008 (see it here), and even back then its authenticity was questioned.

Why are we seeing it now? Why is it being pushed across the world's social media networks tonight?

Heavy fighting has going on in southern Israel and inside Gaza since early this evening. It began when an IDF patrol was hit by an anti-tank rocket fired from within Gaza around sundown. Several Israeli servicemen are seriously injured. In a country where most people's children serve in the defence forces, an attack like this does not go un-noticed. Throughout Saturday night, Israel has channeled some of its sophisticated weapons, including helicopters and drones, at very carefully selected targets in the Gaza Strip, an area dominated by the Hamas terrorist organization and bristling with tens of thousands of rockets stashed away inside homes, mosques and hospitals.

The terrorists for their part have fired off dozens of rockets. Frightened families throughout most of southern Israel are inside safe rooms and bomb shelters, or within a few seconds' dash of one, as we write this. School classes throughout the area have been canceled (Sunday is a school day in Israel). This will not prevent foreign media channels from saying - as they will certainly do in the coming hours - that Israel is responding disproportionately.

Militarily, the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza are far less-well equipped with military equipment than the IDF is. But strategically, the Gazan side has the 'advantage' of being ready, willing and able to do anything that will un-nerve the Israeli side and bring criticism onto Israeli heads. If this means telling lies, taking steps that provoke Israeli reactions that will certainly injure their neighbours, or firing rockets indiscriminately at towns, farms, homes, buses, cars, schools - well, that's what they have been doing for years. It's how they fight.




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