Friday, January 25, 2013

Obama says anything that sounds good  -- but there are some consistencies

Over the last few weeks, indeed since his victory at the polls, I have been listening to President Obama’s speeches quite regularly. I wasn’t surprised one bit at his ready exploitation of the Connecticut schools shooting. As one of his hacks, Emanuel Rahm, said a few months ago, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

And more government control of the lives of American citizens is, as I can figure it, the priority of this president. He believes we are a tribe that he rules and whatever chance he finds he will use to make sure everyone does what he envisions is the proper thing to do. Give up your weapons, let the feds be the sole armed group in the country! Treat all wealth as public, collective, and basically abolish private property rights, mostly by way of the constant increase of taxation. Don’t respect anyone’s right to use and dispose of resources but assume full authority over these and set the priorities for what to do with them.

I suppose there is still some semblance of liberty left in the country–mostly having to do with the free flow of opinion and the permission to engage in a great variety of artistic expression (although judging by what kind of works seem to gain the approval of the elite media even this may reasonably be doubted).

If you check the president’s inauguration speech accepting his election to a second term as president of the country, there is in it evidence of a decisive tone of postmodernist political thinking, the road to confusing the public. That is to say, no rhyme or reason can be found in the political ideas Obama has chosen to lump together. There is in the pile a bit of this, a bit of that, a bit of yet something else–socialism, capitalism, fascism, authoritarianism, welfare statism, feudalism, and nearly every other identifiable political viewpoint.

It is almost as if he and his team is deliberately advancing an incoherent agenda, one that will leave the American people with no guide to what to expect from his administration of the American government. There certainly is no loyalty to the central element of the American political tradition, namely the doctrine of individual rights. Indeed, if anything, that is one feature completely missing from Mr. Obama’s political stew. We must all comply with his vision of a human community, a vision the centerpiece of which is that “we are all in it together,” that we are one huge tribe or hive of people who individually are hapless and indeed worthless. But even this collectivist political alternative is buried in mishmash so it’s hard to identify it and so it certainly doesn’t commit Mr. Obama to having to defend it with a coherent political argument.

The philosophical guidance to this kind of political thinking has had serious proponents, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing original about it. Indeed, it is a kind of chicken coming home to roost situation–the founders being the likes of the ancient sophists featured in Plato’s dialogues and the more recent irrationalists such as Paul Feyerabend (check his book Farewell to Reason) and Richard Rorty (whose essay “The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy” is very helpful essay for grasping Mr. Obama’s way of thinking in which the population’s unavoidably hotch potch viewpoint is endorsed as against the aim to forge a rational public philosophy).

I do not know if Mr. Obama has read all these and other irrationalist and post-modernist thinkers and consciously follows them but as a self-proclaimed (but much disputed) radical “pragmatist” the way he presents himself in his most recent political proclamations suggests very strongly that he is being deliberately obscure. Why?

My guess is that his goal of top down control of American society is taken by him to benefit from leaving his audience, indeed the entire American public, baffled as to just what is best in political matters.

The only explicit school of politics this approach comes close to is fascism in which the society’s leadership if left in the hands of a charismatic ruler, like Mussolini or Hugo Chavez. Do Mr. Obama’s supporters realize this about him and his ideas? I do not know.



The Collectivist Mind Game: Demonizing the Opposition‏

Most modern-day leftists in Western countries have abandoned the idea of a violent revolution, having replaced it with "the long march through the institutions" as part of the culture war to transform the society through cultural hegemony.  Instead of commanding firing squads, they play mind games of manipulative illusions, in which the demonization of dissent plays a crucial role.  The basic premise hasn't changed: as much as the statists want you to love them, they want you to hate their opponents even more.

Until a time when political opposition can be eliminated completely, having opponents can still be useful: you can steal their ideas, take advantage of their desire to help the economy, and blame them for any of your own failures.  In the meantime, certain rules must be followed to control the public opinion and, through it, the opposition itself.

Maintain the perception of being constantly under attack.  Don't examine the opponents' beliefs, nor answer their arguments.  Discredit any media channels that offer them a platform.  Enforce the following media template: the opposition is evil, treasonous, unfathomable, and psychotic.  They can't be reasoned with.  They are inspired by fascism and financed by a conspiracy of shady oligarchs.  Defame their donors.  Whatever the mischief you're planning to pull off, accuse them of doing it first; then proceed as planned, describing your actions as a necessary intervention.  And ridicule, ridicule, ridicule!

This is what made it easy for Stalin to purge his opponents: by the time he charged them with treason, the orchestrated media coverage had already made them universally hated.  Having purged all of his enemies, Stalin continued to manufacture the evidence of their presence.  There came a time when even the true believers were being rounded up and forced to confess publicly about one or another fabricated "crime" against the people and the Party.  Some did it to avoid torture, some to save their families, and some even cooperated out of the altruistic desire to support the illusion and keep everyone else's beautiful dream alive.  Unfortunately for them, that beautiful dream required human sacrifice.

At the same time, Stalin used the only remaining high-ranking Jew in his government, Lazar Kaganovich, as a perpetual scapegoat.  Himself a ruthless henchman who organized a number of purges, Kaganovich ended up serving in the capacity of an unpunishable bumbling idiot, a "token Jew," and a darkly comic relief.  Implicitly blamed for one government blunder after another, this Joe Biden of Stalin's regime was moved from ministry to ministry only to be blamed again and reassigned to yet another top-level position.  As expected, the people's reaction was a universal loathing and bewilderment: how can Comrade Stalin be so soft and trusting of this evil Jew? Kaganovich outlived them all; he died in 1991, among friends and family, at the age of 97.

Across the ocean, years later, the same rules still apply.  The perception of a relentless struggle with the opposition must be permanent and persuasive.  Even in the times of calm and prosperity the people must think that the opposition is holding them hostage and only the firm, wise guidance of the People's Leader is saving them from imminent ruin.  When the opponents are too few, too weak, and too disoriented to put up a real fight, their power and influence must be exaggerated.

Ever since "crybaby" John Boehner became the GOP House Speaker, the media grotesquely overstated the effectiveness of his fruitless, anemic leadership.  Among other things, this patent exaggeration allowed Obama to maintain his saintly image while shifting the responsibility for the staggering economy onto "Republican obstructionism."

The following quotes by "citizen journalists" exemplify the public outrage created by the media template of demonizing the opposition.  Unlike the honed professionals who can mask their agenda with superficial objectivity, these amateurs let their emotions run wild without realizing that they are being played.  Like children, they connect the preprinted dots and eagerly tell us what they see:
Opposition is anti-American: The Republican leaders have remained consistent with their agenda of obstructing the President clearly putting their party ahead of the American people.

Opposition is racist: How far do you think Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and his cohorts in the House will go in their campaign to defeat America's first black President?

Opposition is grotesquely absurd: The clowns - Boehner and McConnell -  ignored the needs of the nation to do what they thought was best for themselves . . . to solidify their positions of power and secure their own political futures by tearing down President Obama and America in the process.

Opposition is deceitful: In their effort to make President Obama look weak, Republicans played a dangerous game with the debt ceiling and in the process threw away America's triple-A credit rating... Those Republican obstructionists really know how to twist the facts to support the anti-Obama political campaign.

Opposition is undemocratic: They have essentially fought to block anything and everything the Democrats have proposed and offered nothing in the way of alternatives.  So egregious is their barricade of democracy that they have no defense against charges of deliberate sabotage at the expense of American citizens.

Opposition is mind-boggling: Missing from President Obama's acceptance speech in Charlotte last Thursday is one potent argument: An attack on obstructionist Republicans in Congress. ... It's a mystery because a major reason the economy has not done better under Mr. Obama is that Republicans have blocked virtually every initiative he has proposed, even when the president, especially in the early months of his administration, tailored many of his proposals to attract Republican support.

Opposition is guilty of treason: If an enemy declared war on the American economy, the United States would spare no effort to remove that threat to its prosperity and national security.  So it was with Osama Bin Laden... But when the Republican Party threatens ... to sabotage the U.S. economy if its debt ceiling demands are not met, the media instead calls that treason a "debate." ... And that's not politics as usual.  That's treason.
Just like painting by numbers doesn't make one an artist, actors or singers who are good at articulating prepared lines don't automatically become articulate thinkers.  Being in the business of selling emotions rather than rational arguments, they connect the same old media dots as any other amateur -- but do it with extra flair and aplomb.  Extrapolating the lines allows them to see horns on the head of the opposition.  Voilà! They can't shut up about such an amazing insight.

Harry Belafonte even went as far as suggest that Obama should "work like a third world dictator and just put all these guys in jail" -- because, obviously, since the Republicans "are violating the American desire," the "only thing left for Barack Obama to do" is to pull a Stalin: praise Barack and jail the opposition.

Even if he said this in jest, Belafonte's call for political repressions is a logical extension of the ideas shared by many celebrities who have been swayed by and are now promoting the leftist cultural hegemony.  That includes Woody Allen, who said this in an interview to a Spanish-language magazine: "It would be good... if [President Obama] could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly."

This begs a question: if Obama is not a socialist, why do his supporters interpret his reelection as "the American desire" to establish a totalitarian dictatorship -- and think this would be a good thing? So much for "socialism with a human face."

No wonder the "hegemonized" Hollywood filmmakers (starting with Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator), can never truthfully depict either the Soviet or Nazi totalitarian regimes.  Unable to fathom the motives of their fictional villains, they wind up supplanting the collectivist realities of socialism (be it national socialism or international socialism) with grotesque caricatures of improbable monsters, uncultured brutes, neurotic sociopaths, or sadistic, sexually repressed perverts.  It never occurs to them that unspeakable crimes could be committed in the name of "the common good" by very ordinary, altruistic people -- out of an all too familiar desire to "do a lot of good things quickly" through dictatorial powers.  Such a notion would be too terrifying, of course, because they might just recognize their own reflection in the mirror.

Though many of them may have seen this quote by C.S. Lewis, it is doubtful that their conditioned minds are capable of grasping its meaning: "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive... [T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."    

Their young audiences, deprived of adequate education and learning about history and current events from Hollywood movies and TV shows, will not recognize the symptoms of an encroaching totalitarianism either.  Upon hearing a dissenter who disparages the benevolent guidance of the state, they will immediately recognize a stereotype that is being relentlessly demonized and dehumanized on their screens: the ignorant, close-minded, right-wing nut job.  Chances are they will smugly ridicule him with the jokes they heard from their favorite media personalities.  In another generation, they may as well feel morally obligated to report the dissenter to the authorities -- and be thrilled at the chance to partake in the historic mission of crushing the remnants of the evil reactionaries, even if they happen to be their parents.

Today's American intellectuals are retracing the steps of their Soviet predecessors in the early days of the socialist dictatorship.  Having had hopes to see the workers' paradise in their lifetime, many came to regret their misguided enthusiasm, as they themselves fell victim to the popular illusions they helped to induce, when a mere slip of a tongue, a drunken remark, or an accusation by someone in the new generation of socialist intellectuals who wanted to take their job, wife, or apartment, led them to be lumped with any of the large assortment of the thoroughly demonized and dehumanized "enemies of the people."

There is only one way to redistribute wealth: human sacrifice, with optional variations of manipulative mind games to ease the pain and maintain control over the population.  All those who claimed they can do it differently were doomed, sooner or later, to retrace the same path.



Phil Isn't the One Who Needs to Apologize

Please tell me this is some sort of a sick joke:  Phil Mickelson is a professional golfer. He makes boatloads of money. Millions. What’s more, he makes boatloads of money for a lot of other people in the process, including generating massive contributions to charity. He’s a jobs creator and an engine of economic growth, as are many other pro golfers and athletes.

So Mickelson takes a look at his income tax burden, and is displeased. First we have Obama and the Democrats riding roughshod over the GOP and enacting a 4.6% tax increase on the evil rich. Then we have the voters of California doing what the voters of California have been doing – shooting themselves in the foot – by passing a ballot measure to raise state income taxes on the dastardly rich by another 3.32%. Now Mickelson is facing an income tax burden somewhere between 62 and 63%.

Mickelson is a smart guy, and he hires other smart guys to help him make economic decisions. These other smart guys undoubtedly told Phil to put his clubs in a bag and get the hell out of California. Do what most of the other pro golfers have done, more to Florida. No state income tax. Right there his tax burden goes down by 13.3%, not to mention the advantages in estate taxes and ad valorem property taxes. Trust me. I know.

So Mickelson suggests that he is going to have to make some “drastic changes” due to “what’s gone on in the last few months politically” and being “targeted both federally and by the state.” And now – guess what? Phil Mickelson is the personification of evil for suggesting he’s going to do what tens of thousands of Californians have done … cast his next vote with his feet. Mickelson gets hammered by the ObamaMedia and finally sidles up to the microphone and apologizes. He apologizes --- please sit down for this – to anyone he might have “upset or insulted.”

Whisky Tango Foxtrot!

How upside down can things be in America? Mickelson is being called “greedy.” Really? So now we define “greed” as wanting to keep more of the money you earn? If that’s greed, what do you call the moochers who go to the poll to vote for the politician that’s going to take that money away from you and give it to them? Oh wait! I know! Obama voters!




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Thursday, January 24, 2013

An Open Letter to my Democratic Friends

by L. Neil Smith

The family of an old friend of mine once tried raising geese to supplement the income of their farm. They soon discovered that geese seem to have a few parts missing in the brains department, including the proverbial sense to come in out of the rain. Water mysteriously falls on their heads and instead of making for shelter, they look up, open-mouthed, to see where it's coming from. Before you know it, you have a waterlogged acre of feathered half-wits drowning where they stand.

I've always thought it fitting that the city government of my home town has chosen the goose as its logo—as its animal totem,if you will.

You Democrats are a lot like geese. It's as if you were standing on the railroad tracks wondering about that pretty bright light that's getting closer and closer. Then, once the messy inevitable occurs, all you other geese, having failed to learn anything from what's just happened, go on about your goosey business until the next train comes along.

Don't get me wrong, here. I've known Democrats I've liked and even admired. Two of my college history professors were old-time classical liberals, genuinely interested in whether we got the stuff, and in whether the stuff was true. I met the great Eugene McCarthy twice and had a longish chat with him on one occasion. Most of my professional colleagues are Democrats, and one or two of them are good company. I admired the way that George McGovern regretted advancing managerial statism.

One of them introduced me to the works of Gabiel Kolko, which eventually helped cure me of corporatism. The other, attempting to wean me off of the academically unrespectable Ayn Rand, by offering alternatives he believed were more worthy of respect, inadvertently demonstrated to me what a consummate waste of skin William F. Buckley was.

The problem with you Democrats—and it's a mindset that I'm not certain is curable—is that even the best of you clearly suffer from the delusion that other people's lives are yours to do with as you wish.

Neither do you seem able to calculate the long range consequences of the policies that you forcibly impose on unwilling others under your thumbs. Your welfare state establishment has all but destroyed black American culture, substituting one that is ludicrous and phony, instead.

Your half-baked attempts to control the lives of others have turned the centers of American cities into theme-parks of horror and death so violently crime-ridden that their statistics completely swamp out the rest of the country, which is peaceful and productive to a degree that is utterly unprecedented in history, anywhere in the world.

Now you find your party taken over by something malign, something so alien in outlook you can barely comprehend it. Call them Marxists, if you have the courage. Call them jihadists, because that is where they draw strength. Call them the spiritual descendents of Al Capone. Call them what you will (personally, I think of them as Obamunists), they are extortionists who delight in torturing and killing people to get what they want, singly or by the thousands. And every injury, every death, every loss of home and hope, is your responsibility. You may not be aware of it—maybe you are—but this administration, your administration has brought America to the very brink of civil war.

Democrats, it's time you cleaned your house, time you purged yourselves of the desire to control others. It is you Democrats who must lead the movement to impeach this snide, sneering, sarcastic crook who despises the Constitution and the Bill of Rights he swore— falsely—to uphold and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic.

It's time.



More on Buying Votes

In a recent analysis of President Obama’s fabulous reelection victory, I argued that one of the reasons he won was his unprecedented use of existing (and new) federal governmental giveaway programs — he played the game of buying votes with taxpayer dollars like no one before him. But the extent of this gargantuan giveaway spree is only now becoming clear.

Take just two of the programs he expanded. First, food stamp programs exploded in size — by 15 million people. The record was set in the year of his reelection. During fiscal year 2012, the main food stamp program — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP” . . . a snappy name, indeed!) — spent a record $80.4 billion, up a whopping $2.7 billion from the year before. (SNAP was spending “only” $55.6 billion when Obama took control, so he raised it by nearly two-thirds.)

When you add in all the other nutritional programs — such as the $18.3 billion spent on the second main food stamp program, the “Child Nutrition Program” — total food stamp spending hit a total of $106 billion.

In the year before the election, the Obama administration aggressively advertised these programs, to increase the number of recipients — no doubt under the theory that people who get the freebies would gratefully vote for the regime that gave them. This was public choice economics of the crudest variety.

Left unexplained by the Obama administration is why such a massive increase in food stamp usage was necessary, given the vibrant, no, glorious economic recovery brought on by its stupendous spending programs.

Also left unexplained is why if people are really needy you need to advertise to them. Everyone has surely heard of food stamps, so is the advertising here intended to amplify the demand?

Another recent report out of New York informs us that at least our tax dollars are being well spent. Welfare recipients are using their Electronic Benefit Cards — really, they don’t so much get welfare checks anymore as pre-paid credit cards — at some fun places, such as bars, porn video stores, liquor shops, and strip clubs. Yes, the cash assistance program of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program has a “cash assistance” program (programs within programs, like Russian dolls) that allows recipients to pull as much as $668 in food stamps, and $433 in cash, each month. The cash can be spent at bars, booze shops, and sex shops.

Finally, let’s turn to the Federal socialist student loan program, nationalized under the Obama administration, so that 93% of all student loans are in effect given out by this administration. The program ballooned by 4.6% in the last quarter before the election, a whopping $42 billion rise — in just three months. Now standing at over a trillion bucks, student loan debts exceed those for auto loans, credit cards, and home equity loans.

This debt is beginning to get problematic for those holding it — delinquency rates are way up. Loan payments that were 90 days past due recently hit 11%, higher than the percentage for credit cards.

But all this has served the purpose of electing Democrats, so the administration has good reason for its current fit of self-congratulation.



Litmus Test for Top Officers: Willingness to Fire on Americans

Anyone familiar with Obama’s radical background will find this Facebook post by author Jim Garrow as believable as it is terrifying:

"I have just been informed by a former senior military leader that Obama is using a new “litmus test” in determining who will stay and who must go in his military leaders. Get ready to explode folks. “The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on US citizens or not”. Those who will not are being removed."

Garrow is a respected activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work rescuing baby girls from one-child China. His source is “one of America’s foremost military heroes.”

This certainly gives the urgent drive to disarm law-abiding citizens some perspective. It could also help us make sense of massive ammunition purchases by the increasingly frightening Department of Homeland Security.

According to the testimony of FBI informant Larry Grathwohl, the Weather Underground crowd that launched Obama’s political career estimated they would have to exterminate 25 million “diehard capitalists” to impose communism on America. This would be done at “reeducation centers” (a.k.a. concentration camps, gulags) in the time-tested oligarchical collectivist tradition.

In possibly related news, Obama is abruptly firing the head of Central Command, Marine Corps General James Mattis. General Mattis has been accused of asking too many questions regarding the Obama policy toward Iran. Could be he wasn’t willing to give the order Obama expects the next four years of Hope & Change to make necessary, and that the Oath Keepers are prepared not to follow.

Once the final pieces are in position, all that remains is for Obama to collapse the economy, Cloward-Piven style. A few more $trillion in wasteful spending should do the trick.



Israel and Islam roundup, courtesy of ICJS

Islamic anti semitism
Yale prof sounds alarm over new anti-Semites by Johanna Ginsberg
Charles Asher Small says few academics grasp radical Islam ... read more (from NJ Jewish News)
Egypt’s U.S.-Subsidized Politics of Hate by Jonathan S. Tobin
Better late than never is the only way one can describe the New York Times’s decision to run an articleabout Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s history of anti-Semitic slanders. ... read more (from Commentary)
Laughing off jew-hatred by Neil J. Kressel
Neil J. Kressel’s ‘The Sons of Pigs and Apes’: Muslim Anti-Semitism and the Conspiracy of Silence,” was published in November. ... read more (from NY Post)
Arab Jew-hate and the western media by the Warped Mirror
The shocking reality of rabid anti semitism has been missed or avoided by the western media. But here it is exposed. ... read more (from Jerusalem Post)
Demographic pressures of Islamism
Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East by Edward Malnick
Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report. ... read more (from Telegraph (UK))
Possible school closure reflects Jews’ flight from European cities by Cnaan Lipshitz
An increasingly dangerous neighborhood forces tough decisions at a Brussels institution founded as a symbol of survival after the Holocaust ... read more (from Times of Israel)
Think Tank Analysis
Media Bias and the Erosion of First Amendment Ideals by Matthew M. Hausman
There is no licensing and enforceable standards for news reporters, as there are for doctors, for example. The media’s coverage of Benghazi was colored by the typically unbalanced approach it takes in reporting on the Mideast in general. ... read more (from INN)
The Problem in Historical Perspective: Israel and the Media War by Dr. Joel Fishman
From the 1960s, inversion of truth and reality has been one the most favored propaganda methods of Israel‘s adversaries. One of its most frequent expressions has been the accusation that the Jewish people, victims of the Nazis, have now become the new Nazis, aggressors and oppressors of the Palestinian Arabs. Contemporary observers have identified this method and described it as an “inversion of reality,” an “intellectual confidence trick,” “reversing moral responsibility,” or “twisted logic.” Because Israel‘s enemies have, for nearly half a century, repeated such libels without being challenged, they have gradually gained credence. Since inversion of reality constitutes the basic principle of current anti-Israeli propaganda, it is important to understand what it is and how it works. This propaganda method is a product of Nazi Germany. It is totalitarian both in its methods, particularly the use of the paranoiac myth, and in the absolute solution it advocates. It totally denies all of Israel‘s claims and leaves no room for introspection and compromise. ... read more (from JCPA)
Stealth Islamism
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrated Obama Admin by Elad Benari
Egyptian magazine claims that six Islamist activists who work with Obama are Muslim Brotherhood operatives ... read more (from INN)
Sweep it under the carpet and no one will notice by Editorial
From Thailand... ... read more (from The Nation)



Woman arrested at Detroit airport sues airline:  "A Sylvania woman who was taken off an airplane in handcuffs at Detroit Metropolitan Airport and then strip-searched and interrogated by authorities on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Frontier Airlines and state and federal authorities. Shoshana Hebshi, a U.S. citizen who is half Arab and half Jewish, claims that racial profiling and ethnic discrimination were the reasons for authorities detaining her for nearly four hours after she was arrested on Sept. 11, 2011 while she was a passenger on the Denver-to-Detroit Frontier Airlines flight."

Mali: French seize control of two key towns:  "French troops in armored personnel carriers rolled through the streets of Diabaly on Monday, winning praise from residents of this besieged town after Malian forces retook control of it with French help a week after radical Islamists invaded. The Islamists also have deserted the town of Douentza, which they had held since September, according to a local official who said French and Malian forces arrived there on Monday as well."



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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Collectivist Mind Game: Demonizing the Non-Compliant

By Oleg Atbashian

In the libertarian sci-fi classic, "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress," Robert A. Heinlein describes a successful revolution of the individualistic, free-market-oriented residents of the Moon against the Earth's tyrannical big government.  The ins and outs of agitating and organizing the masses to fight the oppressive Authority feel just as realistic as the finer points of everyday life in the underground Lunar cities of the future.

The proposed revolutionary scenario could even serve as a workable model for similar real-life endeavors, if only the renowned futurist author hadn't neglected to factor in the immanent function of any oppressive regime: systemic brainwashing of its subjects through the media, education, and entertainment channels.

If the tyrants on Earth were worth their salt, all the freedom-loving colonists would be subjected to an intense, manipulative indoctrination, which would shape their self-image as small and sinful "little guys" vis-à-vis  the powerful, virtuous government that serves the powerless and protects them against all enemies, including themselves.

Thus, the government's propagandistic narrative would establish the illusion of a society divided into three major classes: the ruling government class, endowed with benevolent powers to guide or punish; the majority class of hapless losers, whose survival depended on the government's largesse and protection; and an unquantifiable class of demonized mysterious enemies of the government and, by extension, of the people, who would be the perceived culprits of all failures, hardships, and misery of the little guys' everyday existence.

The majority class would itself be divided into an assortment of narrow-interest groups, held together only by the glue of government's redistributive, pacifying and equalizing powers, as well as by their shared hostility towards the designated "enemies."

The prevailing feelings in such a society would be the collectivist fervor, envy of individual achievers, fear of chaos in the absence of the government's protection, hatred of anti-government elements, and hope for a better future once all the hidden enemies are unveiled and eliminated.

This makes Heinlein's scenario of a free-market revolution highly unlikely.  No self-respecting oppressive regime would start a crackdown on the rebels without priming the population with a mass-media campaign that would show how big government benefits most of the people, and how the resistance is destroying the lives of the common folk.  As a minimum, the government would parade a poor little girl crying on camera because she and her family suffered from the hands of the rebels.  Even those who didn't hate the rebels before would hate them now.

In a society shaped by the government's mind games of manipulative illusions, a dissenter sticks out like a sore thumb.  Once the resistance has been demonized, its members will be quickly identified and denounced by the compliant citizenry, labeled as the enemy, and be dealt with by law enforcement.

In the end, the self-preservation of modern-day totalitarianism is ensured, not so much by the secret police with its army of snitches and brutal enforcers, as by modern technologies of psychological manipulation through the media, education, and entertainment.

Perhaps, Heinlein's tyrannical regime came off so hapless because the author had had no experience of living in a totalitarian statist system.  Writing The Moon in the early 1960s, he likely modeled the actions of the Lunar Authority on the methods used by the U.S. government against the Communists.  And, as we now know, the U.S. government failed that mission, just like the Lunar Authority did in Heinlein's novel.

The FBI mostly relied on surveillance, infiltration, and recruiting of informants.  Occasional amateur propaganda designed to immunize Americans against the seductive statist rhetoric turned out to be a flash in the pan.  It was child's play compared to the vast arsenal deployed by the KGB and its affiliates in Communist countries.

The United States at the time didn't have an all-encompassing, totalitarian propaganda machine like its enemies did.  State-enforced mind control, by definition, is incompatible with the principles of living in a free world.  Statists, on the other hand, have no such limitations; playing mind games for them is a way of life.  This makes it asymmetrical warfare.

Statists, of course, would like to have everything shared -- except their power.  In free democracies they always demand their share of political power -- and always get what they want.  However, once they are in power, they keep it to themselves and demonize the opposition.

The Marxist ideal of Communism is an altruistic collectivist society of the future, in which there will be no need for government, family, or private property.  Freed from capitalist exploitation, people are expected to unleash their full potential and create unprecedented material abundance.  The selfish notion of the pursuit of individual happiness will wither away.  There will be no money, no greed, no deprivation, and, therefore, no crime.

However, since a society can't directly leap from capitalism into communism, Marx reasoned that a dictatorial socialist state would be a necessary transition in order to develop the required material base, help to spread the revolution around the world, and to condition the people's minds by uprooting greed and selfishness (or to eliminate those individuals who can't be conditioned).

Leaving the debunking of utopian follies for another time, let's just say that the totalitarian socialist state is where they always get bogged down.  Despite their ideal of a stateless future, the leftists invariably become ruthless and uncompromising statists.  It no longer matters whether it's a doctrinaire Marxist socialism or "corporate" fascism; if the end result is evil, original intentions don't count.

In Russia, the communists used to demonize their opponents long before the Revolution, which made it easier for them to physically eliminate the opposition later.  As soon as they were in full control of the government, they began to demonize entire segments of the society, subcultures, and classes of people whom they deemed incapable of change.

Observe a visual example of communist demonization: an agitprop poster titled "Enemies of the 5-Year Plan," more broadly interpreted as "enemies of socialism" and, by extension, "enemies of the people."

A disparaging verse at the bottom describes who the enemies are:

The wealthy landowner
The kulak (a pejorative term for a wealthy farmer who "exploits" hired labor)
The drunk
The clergy (a Russian Orthodox Priest)
The bourgeois press (a non-compliant, independent journalist)
The capitalist (a banker, industrialist, merchant)
The Menshevik (a political opponent from a different communist faction)
The surviving remnants of the pre-revolutionary law enforcement and the military

The wealthy farmers, being the most numerous group and the most likely to resist the collectivization of agriculture, were subjected to the most vicious dehumanization reminiscent of the anti-Semitic propaganda in Nazi Germany.

Note this Lenin quote on another dehumanizing poster: "The kulaks are the most bestial, brutal and savage exploiters, who in the history of other countries have time and again restored the power of the landlords, tsars, priests and capitalists." (Full quote in Russian)

The demonization of the kulaks laid the groundwork for their subsequent annihilation.  Facing a peasant rebellion, Lenin sent the following telegram to his henchmen: "Hang publicly (in full view of the people) no fewer than one hundred known kulaks, rich men, bloodsuckers.  Make their names public.  Take away all their grain.  Make a list of the next group of hostages.  Do it in such a fashion that for hundreds of miles around the people might see, tremble, realize, and scream: 'they are strangling, and will strangle to death, the bloodsucking kulaks'."

Other non-compliant citizens were dealt with in a similar fashion.  "Statements from the few survivors, published in émigré newspapers the following year, describe Sevastopol, one of the towns that suffered most heavily under the repressions, as 'the city of the hanged.' 'From Nakhimovsky, all one could see was the hanging bodies of officers, soldiers, and civilians arrested in the streets.  The town was dead, and the only people left alive were hiding in lofts or basements.  All the walls, shop fronts, and telegraph poles were covered with posters calling for 'Death to the traitors.' They were hanging people for fun." -- The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stephane Courtois et al, pg 107

These were not aberrations, but logical consequences of the Marxist theory.  According to Karl Marx, "there is only one way to shorten and ease the convulsions of the old society and the bloody birth pangs of the new -- revolutionary terror."



Canadian labor union defends fatal negligence -- and Canadian "First Nations" are not much better

Mischa Popoff

It took 7 years to go to trial, but who’s counting? If you need hard evidence that unions and the public service don’t mix, consider that one of the people allegedly responsible for the sinking of the Queen of the North in 2006 is only now going to finally face justice. And you can thank the B.C. Ferry Marine Workers Union for the delay.

Karl Lilgert was eventually fired for his role in this disaster, but only after his union defended him blindly along with the co-worker with whom he was supposedly having sex on the bridge the night of the disaster. Unlike Lilgert who will face a jury of his peers, quartermaster Karen Bricker gets off scot-free.

Two full years after the disaster, Jackie Miller, a spokeswoman for the union, still insisted that neither Lilgert nor Bricker were actually responsible for what happened, claiming they were “two victims, just like the two people that went down with the ship.” Yup, that’s what she said. Like Lilgert, Bricker was also eventually fired, but in any other non-unionized line of work both would have been fired immediately. Instead, they both sat at home collecting full salaries and benefits until finally the union relented.

The size of their severance packages was never disclosed, and passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, whose bodies were never found, were presumed drowned.

I used to joke that as long as a public-service employee doesn’t have sex or kill anyone at work, he’ll have a job for life. Turns out I was wrong. You CAN have sex with anyone you want at work, kill a few people, and still retain your job! At least for a while, if you have the right union.

This is what happens when a political organization like a union decides it’s above the law and no one in government has the guts to stand up to them. Sound familiar? It’s precisely what’s happening in the nationwide “Idle No More” movement in which a handful of those claiming to represent the proud First Nations people of this country are threatening to shut down the Canadian economy and bring the nation to its knees.

Theresa Spence could serve serious time for embezzlement but for the accident of her birth. She makes just under $70,000 a year, tax free, as chief of the Attawapiskat Indian reserve, she pays her boyfriend $850 a day, also tax free, to be Attawapiskat’s town manager, and between the two of them they can’t seem to account for the better part of a whopping $90 million – I repeat $90 million – that her reserve has received through public and private payments since 2006.

But, like a spoiled member of a public-service union to whom the rules don’t apply, Spence has decided to go on a fake hunger strike to draw attention to the plight of her people who, thanks to her and her boyfriend, are forced to live in homes that should be condemned.

Spence is being aided and abetted by a handful of other radical chiefs across the land that could all benefit from a lesson in Economics 101. Meanwhile, business-minded chiefs who could teach graduate level Economics -- like Robert Louie of the Westbank First Nations and Clarence Louie of the Osoyoos Indian Band –- don’t have time to join this radical collective because they’re too busy creating jobs for their people.

Message to Spence, there are no homes worthy of being condemned on the Louis’ reserves.

Lilgert’s upcoming trial illustrates why Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the father of the modern welfare state, didn’t allow unions in the federal government. Spence’s actions meanwhile illustrate why the Northwest Mounted Police were founded back in 1873 (upgraded into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920).

In both cases the goal was to uphold the law for all regardless of their race, creed, religion or political affiliation. And in both cases, Clarence Louie’s sage words of advice apply: “Quit your sniffling.”

Received via email



Russia: Laws against “homosexual propaganda” in the works:  "Kissing his boyfriend during a protest in front of Russia's parliament earned Pavel Samburov 30 hours of detention and the equivalent of a $16 fine on a charge of 'hooliganism.' But if a bill that comes up for a first vote later this month becomes law, such a public kiss could be defined as illegal 'homosexual propaganda' and bring a fine of up to $16,000. The legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal nationwide to provide minors with information that is defined as 'propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism.' It includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights."

Mali: French airstrikes jolt Islamists in Diabaly:  "Backed by French air strikes, Malian forces appeared close to recapturing a key central town in Mali where bands of al-Qaida-linked fighters had holed up, France's defense minister said Sunday. The French military has spent the last nine days helping the West African nation of Mali quash a jihadist rebellion in its vast northern desert."



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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Saving America From The “Make Somebody Else Pay” Mindset

“I don’t know what ‘moral grounds’ you think you’re standing on, but as far as I am concerned, what you’re saying is very immoral…”

I was an interview guest last month, and the radio talk show host was asking me about the looming fiscal cliff. In the midst of discussing how our government must cut spending, the host had noted the title of my latest book – “The Virtues Of Capitalism, A Moral Case For Free Markets” – and after a few minutes of discussion, asked “do you mind if we take a phone call, Austin?”

Sometimes that word “moral” in the book title gets people very upset. This was one of those times.

“I’m a Pastor,” the show caller said, “and my Bible tells me that the ‘moral’ thing to do is to to love and to pray for our President, not to hate on him.” I noted to the caller that I had not said a word about President Obama. “Yeah, but all this rhetoric about ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘cutting spending’ is code talk for ‘I hate it that Obama won.’ Obama did win, and he did not create this crisis, so get over it…”

Thus was my experience a few weeks ago, being interviewed on a radio talk show in the “Bible Belt” region of the U.S. And the reaction I got from the clergyman (he has since emailed me, and I have every reason to believe that he’s really a Pastor) underscores some serious problems in our country. They are problems that both underlie, and yet transcend, our government debt crisis.

For one, Americans far too often trivialize our nation’s public policy. The Super Bowl is about “my team versus your team,” but debates about the laws and policies of our country are far more important. When Americans dismiss concerns over government debt as “you’re just hatin’ on my guy” – as the talk show caller did to me, and as many other Americans do regularly – then we’re in serious trouble.

Government debt is at a “code red” level of danger, and the choices that elected officials make over the coming two to four years or so will shape the world and our country’s future for decades to come. Save your zealotry for the “big game” – it’s time for Americans to engage their brains, not merely their passions.

And here’s another problem: far too many Americans seem to be illiterate when it comes to basic economics. We understand competition and excellence, success and failure, when it’s on the playing field or American Idol. But success in business is presumed by many to be ill-gotten gain, and people who make lots of money with successful enterprises are frequently dismissed as “greedy,” and deserving of more government confiscation of their money.

Worse yet, many of us seem to lose all sense of reality when it comes to the economic promises of politicians. Most American adults seem to understand that a drunken person cannot drink themselves to sobriety, and that no individual or household can spend their way out of debt. Yet when politicians promise to “help” us by spending more of our money, many of us seem to believe it.

Yet the existing federal government debt, on a per-capita basis, translates to approximately $54,000 per individual citizen, and about $200,000 per household. Simply saying “I don’t understand economics very well” is unacceptable. Americans must grow up and realize that a stable society needs prosperous private enterprise, and government that operates within its means.

And here’s a really tough one that our overwhelmingly religious nation needs to understand: economic systems are neither morally relative, nor are they morally neutral. Big government, little government, high and low taxes – these distinctions are not morally inconsequential. The President and the Congress can be blamed for running up debt, but they are an expression of the American electorate’s desires. If there was sufficient political pressure for fiscal responsibility in Washington, then there would be a sufficient number of elected congressional members who would require it, and the President would get on board with it too.

Likewise, it is not morally inconsequential to support a “make somebody else pay” public policy. Indeed, this is morally reprehensible. Amid an environment where nearly 50% of all households are receiving one or more types of government benefit checks, Americans mostly support the President’s “soak the rich” fiscal policy. Yet many of us are indignant at the thought of paying more taxes ourselves (and many more are outraged that, despite the President’s promises to the contrary, all of us who work are having more taxes taken out of our paychecks this year).

In my native homeland of California, the “make somebody else pay” philosophy could not be more obvious. Last November, voters there rejected a modest state sales tax increase that was on the ballot (a tax that would have impacted all consumers), yet overwhelmingly supported an income tax hike on – you guessed it, “rich people.” “Don’t stop my government services,” a majority of California voters seemed to say, “but make somebody else pay for it.”

Debt, out of control spending, and making somebody else pay – they all amount to a lethal combination. Will Americans grow up in sufficient time to choose more wisely?



Federal appeals court upholds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s restrictions on public unions

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.

The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite massive protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.

The law forced public union members to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which Walker said was needed to address a budget shortfall. It also took away nearly all their bargaining rights.

Walker and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who fought for passage of the bill, called the ruling a win for Wisconsin taxpayers.

“As we’ve said all along, Act 10 is constitutional,” Walker said in a statement, referring to the law’s official designation.

The decision, however, does not resolve a flurry of other lawsuits that have been filed over the law.

The most positive ruling for unions came in September when a state circuit court judge said the law was unconstitutional as applied to school and local government workers. That ruling is under appeal to the state appeals court.

While Friday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 7th Circuit could influence the state appeals court and others hearing the cases, it’s not binding, said Paul Secunda, a Marquette University law professor. It certainly doesn’t signal the end of the legal fights, he said, and it could be appealed to the full federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The law in question prohibits most public employees from collectively bargaining on anything except wages. It also requires public unions to hold an annual election to see whether members want the organization to continue to exist, and it bars unions from automatically withdrawing dues from members’ paychecks.

More HERE.  Commentary here.


Debunking some current myths

I think Steve Deace has a point below.  Readers may have noted that I was very  unenthusiastic about the centrist Romney.  I posted practically nothing in his favor.  Clear conservative leadership is needed from here on in --JR

Lie and clever myth #1: Republicans lose elections because they’re too conservative so independents side with Democrats.

TRUTH: Romney won independent voters in the crucial battleground states of Virginia and Ohio, two of the three states he had to win to win the presidency. In Florida, the other battleground state Romney had to have, he actually did 8 points better among independents than McCain did in 2008. In Colorado, Romney won independents by four points, which was 14 points better than McCain performed there four years ago.

Lie and clever myth #2: Romney lost because of the GOP’s alleged “war on women” so that means Republicans can’t be pro-life anymore.

TRUTH: What the GOP really has is a diversity problem. White voters in every demographic – including women and young voters – voted for Romney. Let me repeat that: a majority of white voters regardless of age and gender voted for Romney. For example, Romney won white women by 14 points. A massive turnout of racial and ethnic minorities – black turnout was equal to 2008 and the Hispanic turnout was a little higher – determined the election and gave Obama the support he needed to win.

Lie and clever myth #3: The Republicans energized their base, but it’s just shrinking so the party has to move left.

TRUTH: Remember the promises of 17 million evangelicals going to the polls that didn’t in 2008? Or perhaps you were sold on that Catholic voter backlash to Obamacare and its threat to religious freedom turning out values voters in a way Romney was incapable? Well, it turns out that neither happened.

The reality is 2.5 million fewer Evangelicals voted in 2012 than 2008. Fewer Catholics voted in 2012 than 2008 as well, despite the presence of two Catholic vice presidential candidates. 6.4 million Evangelicals actually voted for Obama. In the crucial battleground state of Ohio, Obama actually improved his white Evangelical turnout by 8% compared to four years ago. That’s probably because of the automobile bailout, but also pro-choice television ads Romney was running in Ohio that angered some pro-lifers. Romney also ran those pro-choice television ads in Virginia, and CNN’s exit polls found the Evangelical turnout declined by 7% compared to 2008.

Yes, Romney did get the same hefty percentage of Evangelical voters that George W. Bush got in his victorious 2004 campaign, but the turnout wasn’t as large.

Efforts to make Romney’s liberal record on social issues seem palatable in contrast to President Obama’s leftist social policies didn’t pan out, as yet again the social conservative base of the Republican Party proved it doesn’t turn out in full force unless it sees stark differences between the two candidates themselves—regardless of what a candidate’s proxies say. Apparently when Romney told the Chick-fil-a crowd last August you’re “not a part of my campaign” they got the message.

But Christians weren’t the only social conservatives Romney failed to successfully turn out. Get this: Romney even did worse among his fellow Mormons than George W. Bush did in 2004 if you can believe that.


Romney lost the election in the end because his base wasn’t as energized as Obama’s was. All the so-called “skewed” polling that pointed to an Obama turnout of Democrats similar to 2008 turned out to be correct.

If you count the 2.5 million fewer Evangelicals that voted compared to 2008, and the 6.4 million Evangelicals that voted for Obama, a future Republican nominee has almost 9 million potential new voters in 2016 if he actually reaches out to them credibly and consistently.

Adding a majority of those 9 million voters to Romney’s 2012 coalition would make the Republican nominee virtually unbeatable in 2016. But to accomplish that feat he or she will have to make them feel welcome in the party, and assure them that he or she shares their courage of conviction.

These patriots want something to vote for and not just against.

Persistent future attempts to sell them on milquetoast while scaring them into voting against dastardly Democrats may profit those doing the selling, but will likely result in even more of them staying home four years from now—and thus the GOP losing the popular vote for the sixth time in the last seven presidential elections.

The real numbers show patriots are growing increasingly tired of being asked to cast votes they know they won’t be proud of later. Modernization of the Republican Party is one thing, but moderation is another.

The GOP leadership now has a choice: stand for something and win, or stand for nothing and lose. It appears its base won’t move left with it, so if the party moves left it will need a new base.



Left takes aim at corporate political activity

A good rule of thumb in politics is that when someone says he wants to reform the system, he's often just trying to tilt it in his own direction. Somehow, "fairness" always has a way of delivering control to the groups the reformer prefers.

That is the case with the current push to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to require the disclosure of all corporate spending on political activity. This would primarily affect money given to groups that lobby on companies' behalf, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Advocates frame this as an effort to provide openness and transparency. But the real motive here is to pressure corporations to reduce their political spending, in the process undermining a vital counterweight to left-wing environmental and labor groups.

This is the latest front in the Left's war against corporate involvement in politics and policy since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. This effort goes beyond that, though, because that case involved only election-related activity. The proposed SEC rule would involve lobbying and issue campaigns, as well.

The SEC push was initiated by a group of law professors and has since been joined by the usual group of liberal activist groups and Big Labor, in this case calling themselves the Corporate Reform Coalition. "The SEC has a responsibility to protect investors by regulating the securities markets to ensure that they have the information they need to make investment decisions," coalition member Public Citizen said in statement last week. "Shareholders have a right to know how the companies in their investment portfolio are spending their invested money."

Why should shareholders worry about this political giving? Public Citizen explains that it "may endanger the company's brand by embroiling it in hot button issues." Endanger it how? From Public Citizen and the other coalition members, who may try to punish their political spending with PR campaigns, boycotts and other pressure tactics. You know the routine -- you have a nice company here. Be a shame if something happened to it ...

In and of itself, disclosure sounds like a reasonable enough goal, until you realize that shareholders can already require this corporate disclosure by voting for it at shareholder meetings. But liberal groups haven't been able to find shareholders who are fuming over this lack of disclosure. After all, corporate political activity, for good or ill, is usually conducted to help increase the value of the corporations that shareholders own. In short, the activists are now trying to get the SEC to do their work for them.

Everybody affected by the government's rules and regulations has a right to make his or her voice heard and to do so without fear of reprisal. And, yes, that includes companies and the people who own them.

There is nothing wrong with companies making such information public -- and some of them do. But if shareholders don't care to do so, the SEC has no business forcing them to do it. If other shareholders want the information made public but find themselves in the minority, that's democracy. They can always sell their shares and invest in a company whose shareholders see it differently.


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



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Monday, January 21, 2013

Hollywood lies

THE film Argo tells the story of the escape of US diplomats from Iran in 1979. Zero Dark Thirty tells of the more recent killing of Osama bin Laden. Both are controversial.

Argo has understandably enraged the British ambassador in Tehran at the time, Sir John Graham, by stating as a fact that he "turned away" the fugitive American diplomats. It left him "very distressed that the filmmakers got it so wrong". The British embassy took in the fugitives and they moved on only when it became exposed to attack. One of the Americans, Robert Anders, has fully corroborated Graham's comments, saying the film "is absolutely untrue. The British made us very comfortable and were very helpful … We are forever grateful."

Zero Dark Thirty depicts CIA waterboarding as contributing to the hunt for bin Laden. Those involved claim this allegation is untrue and, worse, justifies "good cause" torture. The film's director, Kathryn Bigelow, says hers is "just a movie", not a documentary, and pleads her First Amendment right "to create works of art" and speak her conscience. She is apparently engaged in a campaign not for, but against torture.

Makers of films captioned as "true stories" claim either that fabrications do not matter because they are "just making movies", or that they are justified in a higher cause. Yet they can hardly be both. Cinema, in my view, is the defining cultural form of the age. It deserves to be taken seriously, and therefore to be criticised for shortcomings. If the most celebrated of "docudramas", Spielberg's Schindler's List, could go to lengths to authenticate its storyline, why should not any film claiming truth to history?

Commentators may be accused of choosing facts to prove their opinions, but that is different from falsification. Nor do they excuse lies as higher truth. The licence to report carries responsibilities. Inaccuracy in print is vulnerable to litigation. Plagiarism and fabrication are serious journalistic crimes. A newspaper that accused Graham of anti-American cowardice would lead to fierce rebuttal and retraction.

Journalists are told they are making "the first rough draft of history", with the implication that a proper historian will soon be along to take over. Both are now overwhelmed by a tidal wave of filmmakers, claiming the same licence to the word truth, but without any of its disciplines. French director Jean-Luc Godard declared that cinema was "truth 24 frames a second". Bigelow feels justified in using inaccuracy to advance a cause. If they got it wrong, it was art. I wish I had that get-out.

Films matter. The US critic Michael Medved once protested about Hollywood's relentless message, "that violence offers an effective solution for all human problems". He was howled down by the industry. It continued to argue that its glorification of violence and, more recently, Islamophobia, was somehow not influential. Films appeal to inner fears and chauvinist prejudices. That is why Ben Affleck had a mild dig at the British in Argo, as did Mel Gibson in Braveheart and The Patriot. It is why American movies imply America won the war, and British ones that Britain did.

Nothing should be banned, but film censors should make themselves useful and revise their categories. If "true story" appears in a film's preamble and is clearly wrong, the film should carry certificate L, for lie. We would then know where we stood.



French lessons on Marriage?

The English traditionally don't understand the French and I guess I am English in that respect.  I once read a fair bit of classical French literature before I found its moral corruption sickening and thereafter read no more of it.  So I am a bit surprised at what is related below.  The most I can make of it is that the French respect the forms if not the substance of a moral code -- JR

Perhaps the finest book ever written on the natural complementarity of the sexes and on marriage as the core building block of civil society was written by a Swiss who was then living in France.  (The book is Emile, and the author is Jean-Jacques Rousseau.)  So when Robert Oscar Lopez writes at the Public Discourse, “[F]ew could have anticipated that France would host the West’s last stand for the traditional family,” perhaps France’s salutary stand shouldn’t be altogether surprising.

Lopez writes:

“The international press was shocked on November 17, 2012, when hundreds of thousands of French citizens took to the streets to fight against a parliamentary bill redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and legalizing same-sex adoption….

“The [movement’s] three most prominent spokespeople are unlikely characters: “Frigide Barjot,” a bleached-blonde comedienne famous for hanging out with male strippers at the Banana Café, and author of ‘Confessions of a Branchée Catholic’; Xavier Bongibault, a young gay atheist in Paris who fights against the ‘deep homophobia’ of the LGBT movement, believing it disgraces gays to assume that they cannot have political views ‘except according to their sexual urges’; and Laurence Tcheng, a disaffected leftist who voted for President François Hollande but disdains the way that the same-sex marriage bill is being forced through Parliament…”

Lopez reports:

“In France, a repeating refrain is ‘the rights of children trump the right to children.’ It is a pithy but forceful philosophical claim, uttered in voices ranging from gay mayor ‘Jean-Marc’ to auteur Jean-Dominique Bunel, who revealed in Le Figaro that two lesbians raised him….

“Bunel states in Figaro that such a shift [‘from “child as subject” to “child as object”’] violates international law by denying the right of children to have a mother and a father. Bunel writes:

"I oppose this bill because in the name of a fight against inequalities and discrimination, we would refuse a child one of its most sacred rights, upon which a universal, millennia-old tradition rests, that of being raised by a father and a mother. You see, two rights collide: the right to a child for gays, and the right of a child to a mother and father. The international convention on the rights of the child stipulates in effect that ‘the highest interest of the child should be a primary consideration’ (Article 3, section 1).

“Bunel suggests that laws allowing gay people to create unnecessary same-sex households for unwitting children should be brought to Europe’s high court of human rights.”

John Locke actually makes a similar rights-based argument on behalf of children in his Second Treatise of Government (italics in original):  “Conjugal Society is made by a voluntary Compact between Man and Woman: and…their common Off-spring…have a Right to be nourished and maintained by them, till they are able to provide for themselves.”

Lopez concludes:

“It is time for Americans to follow France’s lead.  Frigide Barjot, Laurence Tcheng, and Xavier Bongibault have presented us with a game changer.  They have given us the necessary rhetoric and republican logic to present a strong case against redefining marriage.  They have provided us a playbook for mobilizing across party lines.  They’ve presented colorful characters whom we can emulate.  I will keep translating the news as it comes in, in the hope that American defenders of the family will be inspired to do as the ‘march for all’ movement has done.”

But Lopez’s isn’t the only recent piece in the Public Discourse worth reading.  Ryan T. Anderson recently wrote, in the spirit of Rousseau:

“Redefining marriage would abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity as an essential characteristic of marriage. Making that optional would also make other essential characteristics — such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanence — optional….

“That…sounds like the abolition of marriage. Marriage is left with no essential features, no fixed core as a social reality — it is simply whatever consenting adults want it to be.  Some who see this logic, thinking that marriage has no form and serves no social purpose, conclude that the government should get out of the marriage business.

“If so, how will society protect the needs of children — the prime victims of our non-marital sexual culture — without government growing more intrusive and more expensive?”



How will Obamacare affect your tax bill?

by John C. Goodman

In these blog posts and in my book Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, I have focused on the effects of the new healthcare law on quality and access to care. But what about the hidden economic cost to you? Let’s look at some of the taxes that have received too little public attention.

You will join other Americans in paying more than $500 billion in nineteen new types of taxes and fees over the next decade to fund health reform.[1] Some of the new taxes will be indirect and will be passed on to you in the form of higher prices, higher premiums, or lower wages. You will pay other taxes directly. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, about 73 million taxpayers earning less than $200,000 will see their taxes rise as a result of various health reform provisions.[2]

Tax on Medical Devices

These taxes will reach everything from surgical instruments and bedpans to wheelchairs and crutches. Even pacemakers and artificial hips and knees are taxed. All told, the tax on medical devices will collect nearly $20 billion over the next decade.

Tax on Insurance

A $60 billion tax on health insurance, beginning in 2014, will ultimately be reflected in higher premiums. For example, the Senate Finance Committee’s Republican staff estimates the new taxes—including taxes on medical devices, taxes on drugs, taxes on insurers—could ultimately push up health insurance premiums for a typical family of four by nearly $1,000 per year.[3]

Tax on Drugs

A new tax on drugs will collect about $27 billion. In anticipation, some drug makers have already started raising their prices.[4] These taxes and the changes in the treatment of medical savings accounts have been called the “medicine cabinet tax.”

Tax on Medical Savings Accounts

If you have a Flexible Spending Account, a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or a Health Savings Account, you are no longer able to use these tax-free accounts to purchase over-the-counter drugs. That means you will have to buy such items as Claritin, aspirin, or Advil with after-tax dollars (making the cost to you 30 percent higher or more for a middle-income family). In addition, tax-free contributions to an FSA will be capped at $2,500 annually. People setting aside funds for chronic care, corrective eye surgery, or other out-of-pocket medical expenses will be limited to $2,500, regardless of medical need. Taken together, these two actions are expected to cost consumers $18 billion over the next decade.

Taxes on Indoor Tanning

If you plan to use an indoor tanning bed, expect to pay 10 percent more thanks to a new excise tax expected to raise nearly $3 billion.

Taxes on Cadillac Plans

A 40 percent excise tax will be levied on so-called “Cadillac” health plans for the amount in excess of $27,500 for families and $10,200 for single coverage. About one-third of health plans will be subject to the tax beginning in 2019. But since these thresholds are not indexed to increase as fast as medical costs, over time virtually all plans will be subject to the tax.

Taxes on Illness

If you have a lot of medical expenses, today’s tax law allows you to deduct from your taxable income the amount that exceeds 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Under the new law, this threshold is being raised to 10 percent of AGI—making your deduction smaller.[5] The increase is effective in 2013 for people under 65 years of age and in 2017 for those 65 years of age and older.

Additional Taxes on Wages, Investment Income, and Even Home Sales

The Medicare payroll tax will increase by almost one-third for some people—from 2.9 percent today to 3.8 percent on wages over $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a couple. In addition, the 3.8 percent Medicare payroll tax will be levied on investment income (capital gains, interest, and dividend income) at the same income levels. This tax is not only on the rich, however. Under some circumstances, the sale of a house could trigger the provision, making you “paper rich” for a single year and forcing you to pay a 3.8 percent levy on a portion of the appreciated value above a certain limit. Moreover, the threshold above which people must pay the higher tax is not indexed to rise with inflation. Consequently, over time more and more middle-class Americans will have to pay it.



The 40 Greatest Quotes From Winston Churchill

A selection from a selection by John Hawkins

38) “To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”

37) “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

36) "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

35) “In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity.”

34) “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

33) “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”

32) “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”

31) “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

30) "We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle."

29) Lady Astor: “Winston, if I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.”

Winston Churchill: “Nancy, if I were your husband I’d drink it.”

28) “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.”

27) “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.”

26) “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

25) “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”

24) “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened.”

More here



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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Can scientists use brain scans to detect whether you are a racist?

The academic article summarized below (journal abstract also appended) is one of a series going back a long way  which purport to measure "unconscious" racist attitudes.  The tests concerned (such as the IAT) do actually fool some people, as people who are vigorously ANTI-racist do sometimes score high on them -- indicating that they are secretly racist. Such results do however call the validity of the test into question.  Does the test measure what it purports to measure?

There are various alternative possibilities for what the IAT  measures but it seems most parsimonious to say that those who are not fooled by the test are actually showing that race is more SALIENT to them rather than that they secretly hold racist attitudes.  And race might be salient for a number or reasons -- ranging from your being mugged last night to you being involved in civil liberties campaigns.  So the conclusions below are probably mistaken

The findings below do fit well with an explanation in terms of minority salience and could even be held as confirmation of the salience hypothesis -- JR

Brain scans could soon be used to detect whether or not people are racist, scientists say.

Researchers found that brain scans were able to pick up on differences in the way that people with implicit negative racial attitudes viewed black and white faces.

Racial stereotypes have previously been shown to have subtle and unintended consequences on how we treat members of different race groups.

But the new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, shows race biases also increase differences in the brain's representations of faces.

Psychologists Tobias Brosch of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and Eyal Bar-David and Elizabeth Phelps of New York University examined activity in the brain while participants looked at pictures of White and Black faces.

Afterwards, participants performed a task that assessed their unconscious or implicit expression of race attitudes.

By examining patterns of brain activity in the fusiform face area — a brain area involved in face perception — the researchers were able to predict the race of the person that the participant was viewing, but only for those participants with stronger, negative implicit race attitudes.

This, the researchers said, implies that people with stronger, negative implicit race attitudes may actually perceive black and white faces to look more different than others who held no such prejudice.

The scientists claimed that perception of race is shaped by prejudices that we already hold - and that racism runs deeper than we think.

Dr Brosch said that 'these results suggest it may be possible to predict differences in implicit race bias at the individual level using brain data.'

However, Dr Phelps said further work would be needed before the technique could reliably detect whether people really were racists.  'Although these findings may be of interest given the behavioural and societal implications of race bias, our ability to predict race bias based on brain data is relatively modest at this time,' she said.

The new study further deepens the scientific understanding of the processes in the brain that lie behind the racist attitudes that some people hold.

Previous research by Dr Phelps has claimed that racism could be 'hard wired' into the brain, since the neural circuits which allow people to recognise ethnic groups overlap with others that drive emotional decisions.

Because of that, the researchers claimed, it's possible that even people who believe themselves to be egalitarian could harbour racist attitudes without knowing.

The findings published last summer in the journal Nature Neuroscience could lead to fresh ways of thinking about unintended race-based attitudes and decisions.

Dr Phelps and colleagues reviewed previous brain scanning studies showing how social categories of race are processed, evaluated and incorporated in decision-making.

They showed a network of brain regions called the the amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex are important in the unintentional, implicit expression of racial attitudes.

The researchers said the brain areas themselves - as well as the functional connectivity among them - are critical for this processing.

Implicit Race Bias Decreases the Similarity of Neural Representations of Black and White Faces

Tobias Brosch et al.


Implicit race bias has been shown to affect decisions and behaviors. It may also change perceptual experience by increasing perceived differences between social groups. We investigated how this phenomenon may be expressed at the neural level by testing whether the distributed blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) patterns representing Black and White faces are more dissimilar in participants with higher implicit race bias. We used multivoxel pattern analysis to predict the race of faces participants were viewing. We successfully predicted the race of the faces on the basis of BOLD activation patterns in early occipital visual cortex, occipital face area, and fusiform face area (FFA). Whereas BOLD activation patterns in early visual regions, likely reflecting different perceptual features, allowed successful prediction for all participants, successful prediction on the basis of BOLD activation patterns in FFA, a high-level face-processing region, was restricted to participants with high pro-White bias. These findings suggest that stronger implicit pro-White bias decreases the similarity of neural representations of Black and White faces.

Review article for the literature concerned here.   More on the IAT here


Wake Up, Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservatives

Jonah Goldberg

Dear Socially Liberal Fiscal Conservative Friend,

That's pretty toothy, so I'm going to call you Bob.

But whatever specific name you go by, Bob, you know who you are. You're the sort of person who says to his conservative friends or co-workers something like, "I would totally vote for Republicans if they could just give up on these crazy social issues."

When you explain your votes for Barack Obama, you talk about how Republicans used to be much more moderate and focused on important things such as low taxes, fiscal discipline and balanced budgets.

When Colin Powell was on "Meet the Press" the other day, you nodded along as he lamented how the GOP has lost its way since the days when it was all about fiscal responsibility.

And, Bob, you think Republicans are acting crazy-pants on the debt ceiling. You don't really follow all of the details, but you can just tell that the GOP is being "extreme," thanks to those wacky tea partiers.

So, Bob, as a "fiscal conservative," what was so outrageous about trying to cut pork -- Fisheries in Alaska! Massive subsidies for Amtrak! -- From the Sandy disaster-relief bill? What was so nuts about looking for offsets to pay for it?

Bob, I'm going to be straight with you. I never had much respect for your political acumen before, but you're a sucker.

You're still spouting this nonsense about being fiscally conservative while insisting the GOP is the problem. You buy into media's anti-Republican hysteria no matter what the facts are. Heck, you even believe it when Obama suggests he's like an Eisenhower Republican.

Well, let's talk about Eisenhower, your kind of Republican. Did you know that in his famous farewell address he warned about the debt? "We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage," he said. "We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Bob, we are that insolvent phantom, you feckless, gormless clod. The year Eisenhower delivered that speech, U.S. debt was roughly half our GDP. But that was when we were still paying off WWII (not to mention things like the Marshall Plan), and the defense budget comprised more than half the U.S. budget (today it's a fifth and falling). Now, the debt is bigger than our GDP. Gross Domestic Product is barely $15 trillion. The national debt is over $16 trillion and climbing -- fast. The country isn't going broke Bob, it is broke.

When George W. Bush added nearly $5 trillion in national debt in two terms you were scandalized. When Obama added more than that in one term, you yawned. When, in 2006, then-Sen. Obama condemned Bush's failure of leadership and vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling, you thought him a statesman. Obama, who wants to borrow trillions more, now admits that was purely a "political vote."

Yet when Republicans actually have the courage of Obama's own convictions you condemn them.

You nodded sagely when Obama said we needed a "balanced approach" to cut the deficit. He said he couldn't rein in entitlements without also raising taxes on "millionaires and billionaires." Well, he won that fight. We raised taxes on millionaires and billionaires exactly as much as he wanted. We also raised the payroll tax on everyone.

Obama's response to getting the tax hikes he wanted? He says we still need a "balanced approach" -- i.e., even more tax hikes.

Anyone who calls himself a fiscal conservative understands we have a spending problem. Do the math. A two-earner couple that retired in 2011 after making $89,000 per year will pay about $114,000 into Medicare over their lifetimes but will receive $355,000. When will it dawn on you that Obama doesn't think we have a spending problem? I ask because when he said "we don't have a spending problem," it seemed to have no effect on you.

And yet you still think Paul Ryan's budget was "extreme." Do you know when it balanced the budget? 2040. What's a non-extreme date to balance the budget, Bob? 2113?

Look, Bob, I don't want to go spelunking in that cranium of yours. I don't know why you think you're a fiscal conservative. The simple fact is you're not. The green-eye-shaded Republicans you claim to miss would be scandalized by the mess we're in, largely thanks to voters like you, Bob. Eisenhower would take a flamethrower to today's Washington.

I don't expect you to vote Republican, never mind admit you're simply a liberal. But please stop preening about your fiscal conservatism particularly as you condemn the GOP for not being fiscal conservatives, even when they are the only fiscal conservatives in town.



A Legal Immigrant and Patriot

Lincoln Brown

On my show this morning, I’ll be talking to a young man in Germany named Marc.  He has tried unsuccessfully to enter this country through the front door and has met with red tape and delays each time. I’ll be talking with him today about his fundraising efforts and his attempt to become one of us.

No DREAM act will benefit Marc. He won’t be eligible for a driving privileges card; he will not receive any welfare or in-state tuition. After all, the election is over and Obama got all the votes he needed. Marc is working for his citizenship because he believes it is worth earning.

He has carefully watched the American media and has studied our history and its documents. He has a love of this country that easily rivals that any patriotic American I have ever met. The man chokes up when he speaks of becoming a US citizen. He wants nothing more in the entire world and will labor as long as he must to become an American.

A part of me wants to warn him off, to try to steer him away from our country the way emergency crews blockade the scene of a toxic spill. But he is determined to become an American, even though he knows what a morass this country has become.

And so a part of me wants welcome another newly minted American to this struggle. In the days to come, we will need all the patriots we can find no matter the country of origin.

Witness the President in essence speaking ex cathedra on the issue of the Second Amendment and quislings in the media such as Bob Schieffer parroting the party line, although in Schieffer’s case he has passed the line of “biased” and gone straight to full blown Left-Wing derangement by invoking Osama Bin Laden and Nazis in this Administrations’ opposition to guns. The venerable old newsman might be interested in what the group Anonymous has to say about Obama and gun control. Executive orders or not, when Anonymous compares you to Hitler, you are definitely losing the spin war.

Witness the President issuing a Proclamation on Religious Freedom on Wednesday, while he sends Kathleen Sebelius to battle that very freedom in the courts, while atheist groups continually wage war on those who dare to practice their faith outside of church walls.

Witness the Democrats who have ignored the issue of the debt ceiling or in some cases have even called for it to be abandoned altogether, and even some conservative lawmakers think a short-term hike might be in order to better advance the cause of spending cuts in future discussions. Have we ever lowered the debt ceiling? When was the last time we balanced the budget? No really, someone write me and tell me when we last had a balanced budget. This of course comes amid revelations that you and I have coughed up 4 billion dollars to foreign companies for green energy with no jobs generated here, and a DOE announcement that it will spend up to 10 million of your simoleans to in its words: “to help unlock the potential of biofuels made from algae." And in the interim, democrat leaders and environmentalists alike decry the idea of exporting our surplus natural gas.

Examine your own paycheck to see what the Fiscal Cliff bill did for you. Even the Obamaphone lady is admitting that she was duped by the administration on that one.

Scan the offerings on your cable and satellite boxes or your local movie theaters and ask yourself if these people have your values in mind or your best interests at heart.

Witness our leaders who see to divide us along class and race.

Witness the increasing violence on our streets, most of it occurring without the use of firearms.

Witness our failing schools that cater to unions while leaving our students just this side of illiterate.

I want to warn Marc about these things, but then again, we need patriots like Marc. I need patriots like Marc.

You see, my grandson who will be three this spring had outpatient surgery today. He had his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ears. And I had to wonder if under an Independent Payment Advisory Board if he would have been approved for that procedure.

In a few months, my grandson will get a little sister. And my granddaughter shows signs right now of being a special needs child. And this president who surrounded himself with children to herald his hypocritical and sanctimonious gun measures; and his supporters would casually see her butchered in the name of reproductive freedom just as Margaret Sanger would have seen her butchered for being a special needs child.

I need patriots like Marc. My grandchildren need patriots like Marc. And you need patriots like Marc.




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