Friday, February 01, 2013

BOOK REVIEW of The Other Side of Eden by Evan Sayet. Review by David Yeagley

Sayet really isn't talking about children, or Eden, but how "Modern Liberals" think, and why they think that way.

Yet, we can't really call it thinking. What Modern Liberals do is parasitical, reactionary, and wholly dependent upon the host, that is, the establishment, or what we call "conservatism." Liberal "thought" is seemingly utterly mechanical, almost animalistic. In so many words, Sayet declares the Modern Liberal an organic antithesis of creativity. Whereas conservatives build, liberals consume-or tear down.

What's uniquely captivating about Sayet's description of modernity is his use of the Edenic metaphor. Eden is employed as a Freudian sort of prenatal paradise, and the irrationality of Modern Liberals is due to a kind of peremptory re-entry-into what they semi-consciously believe is the state of innocence and perfection. Of course, to the Modern Liberal, such a state is infantile. It is the paradise of the womb-total dependency, unconsciousness, and utter irresponsibility.

However, as one who is familiar with the classic aberrancies of modern theology (as I learned at Yale Divinity in the `70's), I notice something very peculiar about Sayet's approach. He takes the standard, established position that innocence is associated with absence of responsibility, choice, even work, and that such an artificial construct represents the condition of man in Eden, before the knowledge of good and evil. But then Sayet explicates how this same aberration functions in the process of the entire liberal mind conditioning-without once addressing the theological aberration. This is remarkable, really.

For example, in Chapter 1, p.3, Sayet writes that the Modern Liberal's utopian vision
is predicated on the notion that if mankind lost paradise when Adam and Eve ate the apple and gained the knowledge of good and evil (and its little sisters - right and wrong, better and worse, and so on) then mankind can return to paradise if only everyone would just "regurgitate the apple" and give up all recognition of the existence of the better.
Sayet follows this thought by saying, "To the True Believer [the Modern Liberal], then, indiscriminateness -the total rejection of the intellectual process - is a moral imperative because it holds the key to returning to paradise."

Again, in Chapter 2, p.29, Sayet writes
Like Adam and Eve just prior to eating from the apple, the Modern Liberal has never had a mature thought in his life. That is, he has never once attempted to gather the facts, study the evidence and weigh these things in a rational formulation in order to seek out the rightful answers. This is because, like Adam and Eve in Eden, he's never once had to.
The analogy works perfectly, despite the universal misunderstanding of Eden, I should say, the established distortion thereof. Sayet uses the aberration of liberal theology and turns it on itself. Indeed, Sayet has actually beaten the liberal at his own game, theologically. This is what is critically unique in Sayet's Edenic allegory of the Modern Liberal. The liberal ideology simply cannot sustain itself logically.

Let's take a careful look at this. In Genesis 1 and 2, there is abundant evidence of "good" (Hebrew: towb) before there was ever the introduction of "evil" (rah). And the "good" that is juxtaposed with "good and evil" is not a different kind of good. The Hebrew word is the same.

The liberal pretends that in present life, after the Fall, on this side of Eden, evil can be separated out of the equation altogether. The implied belief is that the "good" in "good and evil" is a different kind of "good" from Genesis 1 and 2, before the Fall, before man's expulsion from Eden. The aberrant liberal notion is that paradise must therefore be a place really without good or evil. That is innocence for the liberal. Again, this is predicated on the idea that there are two kinds of good, and that the one before the Fall, in Eden, was inappreciable. Thus, what God pronounced "good" is, to the liberal, actually unaccountable and useless as a concept.

I remember Professor William Muehl at Yale, who once said that those who try to transcend (or eliminate) evil end up falling far beneath it. Muehl had referenced Adolf Hitler in fact. To coerce a theory of utopia on others, this side of Eden, is to engender tyranny, of the most intense order. Who would choose that, knowingly? Probably no one.

But leaders easily deceive the public with the promise of security and betterment.

Sayet pictures the Modern Liberal leader as one betting everything on some Jungian Collective Unconscious. And, the way the `low information' voter responds to liberalism, the odds look good that a liberal paradise is the winning steed. A life of ease and security is the desire of the heart, and its deepest motivator. Freedom is too heavy a concept, carrying too much responsibility with it. Dependency is much easier, and happier. Freedom is rather brooding. Dependency, or inertia, smiles like a nirvanic pinyin, a happy Buddha.

Irresponsibility, however, inevitably crashes on the cold concrete. If and when society does `awake' it will be one raging giant.

Would that Sayet's book had been published before the 2012 presidential campaign (-for that matter, the 2008 campaign). Mitt Romney was not able to persuade enough Americans of the meaning and worthiness of freedom. He did not articulate it clearly enough. It came down to freedom, or free stuff. Obama promised free stuff. Obama won.

A testimony like Sayet's, so simple, clear, and compelling, might have turned the tide. Let's hope that Kindergarden of Eden makes a difference in the 2016 election. If enough people read the brief and clarion text, it surely will.


Obama Is Not King

John Stossel

Watching President Obama's inaugural, I was confused. It looked like a new king was being crowned. Thousands cheered, like subjects worshipping nobility. At a time when America faces unsustainable debt and terrible economic troubles, why such pomp?
Maybe it's because so many people tell themselves presidents can solve any problem, like fairy-tale kings -- or gods.

Before America's first inauguration, John Adams suggested George Washington be called "His Most Benign Highness." Fortunately, Congress insisted on the more modest title, "President."

At his inaugural, President Obama himself said, "The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few."

But then Obama went on to say that his privileged few should force the rest of us to do a zillion things.

He said, "We must do these things, together." But what "together" means to big-government folks is that they have a vision -- and all of us, together, must go deeper into debt to pay for their vision, even if we disagree.

We can afford this, as the president apparently told John Boehner, because America does not have a spending problem.

But, of course, we do have a spending problem, and a debt problem, and the president knows this.

Just a few years ago, when George W. Bush was president, the Congressional Record shows that Senator Obama said this: "I rise, today, to talk about America's debt problem. The fact that we are here to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure and our government's reckless fiscal policies."


Sen. Obama went on: "Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased from $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion -- and yes, I said trillion with a 'T'!"

Again, he was right to worry about the debt and right to call it "a hidden domestic enemy ... robbing our families and our children and seniors of the retirement and health security they've counted on. ... It took 42 presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just five years."

It's hard to believe that Obama chose those words just seven years ago, because now his administration has racked up another $6 trillion in debt.

It's also a shock that Barack Obama believed this: "America has a debt problem. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit."

Yet this year, he demanded Congress raise the debt limit without conditions.

I want the old Barack Obama back. He made sense. The new guy, he scares the heck out of me. Like a king, he assumes that the realm will be better if he can spend as he pleases.

He also issues executive orders when Congress doesn't immediately do what he wants. To be fair, he isn't the first president to do that. Or the worst.

That was Teddy Roosevelt. He issued 1,000 executive orders, including one that demanded phonetic spelling. On all government documents, "kissed" should be K-I-S-T and "enough" E-N-U-F. At least Congress mustered the two-thirds vote needed to override that one.

I might not mind presidents behaving like kings -- if they at least made the tough decisions that the government needs to make, like balancing the budget. But no president has tried to use an executive order to eliminate whole programs or cut spending. They almost always act only to increase their own power.

Yet they pretend they make bold choices -- even when refusing to make choices. Obama said, "We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the elderly and investing in the next generation."

That's Washington-speak for, "We will spend government money on young and old alike and refuse to think about when this will bankrupt America."

But it sounds exciting when he says it. He's not just a king -- he's Santa Claus, too. Except that Santa spends his own money. The president spends yours.

Kings don't like to be constrained. But all government should be.


Thrifty People Punished Yet Again By Obama Administration

by Hans Bader

When I bought my home, I chose a mortgage that was within my means. That meant buying a little two-bedroom house, and using much of my life savings for a 40-percent downpayment, so that my mortgage interest rate would be lower, and my monthly payment would be manageable even on my modest salary as a think-tank employee. It turns out that people who behaved like me — saving up their money for a big downpayment and not buying more house than they could afford — are suckers, since the Obama administration is using their tax money to bail out people who made smaller downpayments relative to their home value (and thus have larger mortgages that exceed the value of their home in the current depressed real estate market).

The administration is busy writing down mortgage loans, but only for certain favored categories of people whose mortgages exceed the value of their homes. Even in depressed real estate markets, people who made downpayments as large as mine don’t have mortgages that exceed the value of their homes. So effectively, the administration is rewarding certain lucky people who either (a) didn’t save enough money to afford a large downpayment, or (b) bought more home than they could really afford, or (c) have lots of money, but chose not to use it for a large downpayment. The thriftiest people are generally being treated worse. This isn’t as enraging as the Obama administration’s past bailouts for real estate speculators and flippers, and deadbeats who had high-incomes and modest mortgage payments, but it is disturbing nonetheless.

As Kathleen Howley of Bloomberg News notes:
Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac will let some borrowers who kept up payments as their homes lost value erase their debts by giving up the properties, helping Americans escape underwater loans while adding to losses at the mortgage giants bailed out with $190 billion of taxpayer money.

Non-delinquent borrowers with illness, job changes or other reasons they need to move will become eligible in March to apply for a so-called deed-in-lieu transaction that erases the shortfall between a property’s value and the size of its mortgage. It follows a change in November that lets on-time borrowers sell properties for less than they owe, known as short sales, wiping out the remaining mortgage debt. Normally, the lenders could pursue people to recoup their losses

“It’s an extraordinarily generous approach for companies still in debt to American taxpayers,” said Phillip Swagel, a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy in College Park, Maryland. “We’re giving people an incentive to walk away, right when the housing market is starting to right itself
The participation of Fannie and Freddie in the current bailouts will drive up the cost to taxpayers of bailing out these government-sponsored mortgage giants, which have cost more than $170 billion to bail out, and have not repaid one penny of their bailout, unlike the private banks, which repaid their bailouts. The tab for bailing out Fannie and Freddie could go much higher, if the government expands bailouts further. The Obama administration earlier lifted the $400 billion limit on bailouts for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which also helped spawn the mortgage crisis, so that they could continue to buy up junky mortgages at taxpayer expense, and showered their executives with $42 million in compensation. In May 2010, the administration and its congressional allies blocked efforts to reform Fannie and Freddie.

Earlier, the Obama administration announced a $26 billion settlement with the big banks that effectively robs Peter to pay Paul, ripping off innocent mortgage investors to reduce the big banks’ costs of bailing out certain delinquent and underwater mortgage borrowers. The administration’s bailout proposals are based on voodoo economics, and will discourage the saving and investment that are central to the long-run health of the economy.

Thrifty people are also being punished by new investment taxes contained in Obamacare (which also contains marriage penalties in its tax provisions and benefit eligibility criteria).



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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Iceland's president, 'Let banks go bankrupt'

As Iceland's President, Olafur does speak for Iceland, though he has little formal power.  Most power resides with the Prime Minister.  Iceland's current unemployment rate is 4.8%.  Eat your heart out almost everyone else.  Australia is 5.4%.  Canada is 7.1% and America's rate is too fudged to be worth mentioning. Obama's statistics are about as believable as Stalin's.  You will get no honesty from the Left unless it suits them.


The latest media lie

MSNBC edited  tape  to make Newtown residents look like “heckling gun nuts” has been all over the story of NBC’s latest… I was about to say “latest ethical lapse,” but that would imply they have any ethics to begin with. Let’s just call it the latest example of NBC lying so egregiously, even a few other liberal media outlets are calling them out on it. Twitchy deserves our thanks for catching the lie and presenting the truth.

And now the cover-up begins at NBC. Erik Wemple at WaPo has the latest:
MSNBC is reviewing its portrayal of the testimony of Neil Heslin, the father of a Sandy Hook victim, at a legislative hearing in Hartford on Monday. The 33-second video clip in question… features a graphics box saying “Mocked and Loaded. Sandy Hook Victim’s Father Heckled by Gun Rights Advocates.” “We’re reviewing the video in question,” says an MSNBC source.

Smart move, considering that Heslin wasn’t, in fact, heckled. Audience members merely answered a challenge that Heslin posed from the microphone.

Which isn’t stopping “news” outlets like BuzzFeed and HuffPo from continuing to spread the heckling story, because it confirms their biases. It’s too good to check.

So now MSNBC will “review” it, and in a few days they’ll put out a press release saying they’ve taken measures to ensure it won’t happen again, and that’ll be it. If somebody gets fired over it, they won’t tell us who. It’ll be just like their completely opaque response to the deceptively edited George Zimmerman 911 call.

And they’ll continue to do this kind of crap, because they have no incentive to stop. The left will continue to spread lies and disinformation, and it’ll be passed along by willing dupes who can’t or won’t look past their ignorance and lazy prejudices.

All we can do to fight this is tell the truth. Push back. Every day.



The Demonization of Liberty

Individuals enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces must swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” But what happens when the only crime perpetrated by the “enemy” is supporting and defending the Constitution?

Such is the dilemma facing future military officers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — who are being taught to view freedom-loving Americans as violent, racist terrorists-in-waiting. As part of the federal government’s ongoing jihad against common-sense fiscal conservatism and constitutionally limited government, West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has issued a new report making some dangerously irrational generalizations about the “far-right.”

Entitled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,” the West Point report provides a stunningly one-sided demonization of conservative ideology — and simultaneous embrace of “progressive” liberal thought.

Written by Dr. Arie Perliger, director of terrorism studies at the CTC, the report warns of the rising militancy of so-called “anti-federalists” — or Americans who embrace radical notions like “civil activism, individual freedoms and self-government.” In other words, anyone expressing support for the fundamental democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded could be a terrorist.

According to Perliger, these “anti-federalists” are dangerous because they “espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.”

Wait — government isn’t corrupt? And warrantless wiretaps, forced participation in a Social Security Ponzi scheme and Barack Obama’s health insurance mandate aren’t intrusions on our liberties?

Of course they are — but apparently exercising one’s First Amendment freedom to speak out against these assaults on liberty is a one-way ticket to a government watch list. However, advocating vociferously in support of these anti-American policies is completely permissible.

“While liberal worldviews are future- or progressive-oriented, conservative perspectives are more past-oriented, and in general, are interested in preserving the status quo,” the report claims. “The far right represents a more extreme version of conservatism, as its political vision is usually justified by the aspiration to restore or preserve values and practices that are part of the idealized historical heritage of the nation or ethnic community.”

In case those racial undertones were too subtle, Perliger’s report proceeds to put a much finer point on it.

“While far-right groups’ ideology is designed to exclude minorities and foreigners, the liberal-democratic system is designed to emphasize civil rights, minority rights and the balance of power,” he writes.

Translation? “Extreme right wingers” aren’t just terrorists, they’re racist terrorists.

This shameful playing of the race card is nothing new. Who can forget the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s insidious “See Something, Say Something” video — a disgusting bit of race-baiting propaganda which portrayed white men in hoodies as menacing figures intent on attacking African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos.

Like so many myths propagated by the far left — i.e., “gun control reduces violence,” “tax cuts must be paid for” or “government spending stimulates the economy” — the whole “right-wing radical” myth is easily debunked.

In fact, according to a DHS-funded study released last year by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism, America’s militant left is far more likely to engage in acts of violence than its militant right. According to the report — entitled “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970-2008” — the overwhelming majority of domestic terrorist attacks in America have been “extreme left-wing” in their ideological origins (364) followed closely by single-issue groups whose ideologies were classified as “other” (337).

By comparison, “extreme right-wing” groups accounted for far fewer (58) attacks.

In other words, it’s not tea partiers we need to watch out for, it’s people like Obama’s terrorist buddy Bill Ayers.

As the Obama administration ramps up its assault on our liberties, we must not forget that these intrusions affect Americans of all creeds and colors. It’s also important to remember that taking a firm stand against these intrusions doesn’t make one a radical, a right-winger or a racist — just an American exercising your right to free speech.

This is why West Point must immediately fire Perliger — and publicly repudiate his reckless statements.



The Conservative Temperament and libertarianism

The conservative temperament means accepting the constraints imposed by the current state of the world. Social change is possible, but activists need to acknowledge human nature if they are going to succeed. A plan that involves dissolving the nuclear family or eliminating humanity's selfish instincts fights against millions of years of evolution. It's bound to fail.

Conservative philosophers understand the path-dependency of human culture and the cost of working against it. You will never find a conservative activist calling for a 10 day week or eliminating religion, even among the atheists! Rather, conservatives push for the development of social institutions that work harmoniously with human nature to increase our well-being, including market economies and property rights.

This is why conservatives are not social liberals. All human societies with some amount of social equality have settled on the traditional nuclear or extended family as its smallest unit of organization. Logic does not prevent an enterprising young person from doing a little erotic theorizing to invent novel romantic arrangements, like polyamory. But the conservative's private life isn't some puzzle to be optimized. He knows that people are happiest in long-term monogamous relationships. He knows that being married is the best way to live longer, to stay out of poverty and prison, and to provide a healthy home for his children.

The conservative temperament holds some influence over me. It makes me careful to design my policy recommendations to sell to real human beings, with all their limitations and biases, and not logical robots. But I am too much a libertarian to use the law to support social arrangements that I think are good for people, as conservatives often do. I believe in the primacy of individual liberty as the basis of human dignity. But conservative thought makes me less eager to support or recommend novel social arrangements than many libertarians. It leads me to question the libertarian orthodoxy that says we can be happy by living however we want.



California at Twilight

What starts in California often spreads to the nation as a whole -- so deserves general attention

by Victor Davis Hanson
We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.

Conservati delendi sunt

The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is how Carthaginian will be the victor’s peace, e.g., how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?

The state of Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian is long dead due to the most radical demographic shifts of any one state in recent American history — as far away as Cicero was to Nero. One minor, but telling example: Salinas, in Monterey County where the murder rate is the highest in the state, just — at least I think the news story is not a prank — named its new middle school after Tiburcio Vasquez.

A convicted murderer.

He was the legendary 19th-century robber and murderer who was hanged for his crimes. But who is to say that Vasquez is a killer, and Henry Huntington a visionary?

The New Demography

California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm. Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.

Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not.

Finally, we live in an era of untruth and Orwellian censorship. It is absolutely taboo to write about the above, or to talk about the ever more weird artifacts of illegal immigration — the war now on black families in demographically changing areas of Los Angeles, the statistics behind DUI arrests, or the burgeoning profile of Medi-Cal recipients. I recall of the serial dissimulation in California my high school memorization of Sir Walter Raleigh:

Tell potentates, they live/Acting by others’ action/Not loved unless they give; Not strong but by affection; If potentates reply/Give potentates the lie.

There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.

Their California is long gone (“Lo, all our pomp and of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre”), and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.

Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle (rule of thumb: conservatives always find better restaurants in liberal locales), and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 (if you’re lucky), the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. For examples, read Petronius, especially the visit to Croton.

Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million.

Or, look at it another way: with passbooks paying 0.5-1%, the successful private accountant or lawyer could put away $10,000 a month for thirty years of his productive career and still not match the monthly retirement income of the Caltrans worker who quit at 60 with modest contributions to PERS.

And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.

The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?

How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought.




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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More connection problems

Two days ago I lost electrical power for about 12 hours, which meant that I could not get some of my blogs up.

Today, however, I have lost my cable connection while they are doing work to repair storm damage in my area

For some reason, however, Google addresses (such as this  one) and Facebook are still accessible.  So I can still post but am cut off from most news sources and my Hotmail.

If anybody has sent me a recent email via Hotmail, I would therefore be grateful if they would resend it to my Gmail address:  jonjayray@gmail,com

As a tentacle of Google, Gmail is unaffected for some reason

Shameless Media

Bob Schieffer of CBS News described President Obama's recent opening remarks at the gun control press conference as, "one of the best speeches I've ever heard him deliver". Schieffer went on to praise the president's cause as similar to the ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden and Lyndon Johnson's successful attempt to pass civil rights legislation. Although Schieffer indicated that more than an Obama speech would be required, this wasn't objective journalism but slobbering praise for a man with a checkered record of accomplishment.

Mr. Schieffer's kudos was a reminder of the stunning assessment that David Brooks bestowed upon the President immediately following his re-election. Mr. Brooks, the self-described "conservative" New York Times journalist stated that Obama was a man of "high integrity" and had run a "very clean administration" during his first term. He concluded that Obama would avoid the scandals that plaguedmany Presidents during their second terms. Brooks said very directly, "there have been signs of insularity and arrogance, but there have been no scandals". Huh? Fast and Furious and Benghazi apparently do not reach Mr. Brook's threshold for scandal.

Then there is coverage of President Obama's economy. If the monthly unemployment rate drops Obama receives credit even if hundreds of thousands exited the job market in despair. In November of 2012, 540,000 dropped out as the unemployment rate declined from 7.9% to 7.7%. Workforce dropouts accounted for more than the .2% rate drop but that fact went largely without mention in the media. Conversely, if the rate increases, the media will mphasize the jobs created even if the amount is insufficient to keep up with population growth.

Obama's first term has been marred by political tactics bordering on thuggery. He claimed he wanted not red states or blue states, but the United States. He claimed he would be a unifier, that he would be open and transparent and that if elected he would bring civility to the oval office. Simply put, he lied. With an assist from the media, he and the left have discarded any pretense of civility. Obama's promises of bringing to the table a range of views and seeking the best solutions was also quickly replaced with labeling those that disagreed with his actions or initiatives as morally deficient, racist, or lacking some other important character trait. Where was the media?

This approach has been frequently used by the liberal left in the past. But the use of racism, class warfare, and sexism has been taken to new heights by this president and the power of his office. He browbeats the opposition and blatantly uses allies in the mainstream media (MSM), academia, and Hollywood to reemphasize and trumpet his rightness. The alliance has been so effective that conversation and the art of the possible, politics, has devolved into demagoguery. What has the media reported?

The media, in particular, has repeatedly given Obama a pass on his actions, programs, and tactics. While George W. Bush was ridiculed and pilloried for his positions on the Patriot Act, the use of wiretaps, rendition, Guantanamo, and many other aspects of "his" war on terror. Obama has maintained and extended these policies virtually without comment from the media. And scandals which generally bring intense scrutiny from the media when linked to a president have been soft-pedaled no matter how serious. Why didn't the media profess its usual outrage?

The Obama administration has been rife with scandal since its inception in 2009. Within weeks of the president's inauguration, Timothy Geithner and Kathleen Sebelius, both nominated to important cabinet posts (Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Health and Human Services respectively), were discovered to have income tax problems requiring rectification. Mrs. Sebelius was more recently found to be in violation of Federal campaign laws, which received very limited media attention. Why didn't the media question Obama's selection process?

The "minor" scandals metamorphosed into larger wrongdoing such as green energy cronyism, the EPA-Lisa Jackson record-masking activities and Eric Holder's actions that undermined the rule of law; no prosecution of the New Black Panther's for voter intimidation in Philadelphia andthe reopening of cases against already cleared federal agents for torture. Then Fast and Furious and Benghazi materialized elevating Obama's scandal plagued administration into the major leagues (executive privilege was also used). What has the media reported and how was it reported?

With few exceptions the media has not covered, has downplayed, or made excuses for these significant Obama administration failures in judgment, honesty, leadership, and administrative control. The media's lack of interest in the failings of Obama's first term leads to two obvious questions; first, why? ...and second, will this pattern of behavior change in his second term?

Causes? ...first, the media and key journalists may fear losing access to the president and his subordinates if their scrutiny or reporting becomes notably critical even when warranted. This concern certainly has a basis in fact since Obama attempted to severely limit Fox News' access and coverage in the past. Second, the media can be described as quite liberal/progressive in both persuasion and as measured by scholarly studies and may not feel comfortable criticizing/questioning their own beliefs and biases.

Third, journalists may be attempting to avoid being targeted by administration bullies; a tactic that has been successfully employed to silence other critics (e.g. conservatives, Republicans). This tactic could bring them to the attention of their liberal community and serve to at least temporarily cause personal discomfort. Fourth, a trepidation that race could be employed to silence a pattern of open and persistent negative measurement of Obama's decisions warrants consideration. Again, the past suggests that a racist charge is possible given the treatment that Mayor Cory Booker (and others) received from Obama's minions.

Yet the reasons for such favorable treatment go well beyond those mentioned. Obama has been treated almost as a godlike figure by some. The MSM's coverage of the president has been so obviously prejudiced in his favor that polling surfaces an appreciable decline in the media's credibility/standing with the public. Additionally, traditional MSM outlets have suffered financially due to the emergence of alternative news sources (e.g. internet, Twitter) along with their clearly biased content.

Thus if the past is predictive, little will change in the media's sentiment toward Obama in his second term. The media does not seem repentant for their past coverage of Obama and in fact some narratives have moved to cheerleading (e.g. J. Dickerson-CBS) the goals of future presidential attacks on his political opposition and other dissenters. The memes that insinuate or directly portray Republicans and conservatives as unpatriotic, insensitive, morally deficient, liars, racists, and corrupt have continued. The media's examination of Obama's activities and decisions has been shameful and has progressed to shameless. The material bias in favor of Obama will remain with high probability during his second term.



Shouting Louder

 Thomas Sowell

An old-time trial lawyer once said, "When your case is weak, shout louder!"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted louder when asked about the Obama administration's story last fall that the September 11th attack on the U.S. ambassador's quarters in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islamic video that someone in the United States had put on the Internet, and thereby provoked a protest that escalated into violence.

She shouted: "We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Students of propaganda may admire the skill with which she misdirected people's attention. But those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to think that the truth matters cannot applaud her success.

Let's go back to square one.

After the attack on the American ambassador's quarters in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama administration immediately blamed it on the anti-Islamic video.

Moreover, this version of what happened was not just a passing remark. It was a story that the administration kept repeating insistently. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice repeated that story on five different television talk shows on the same Sunday. President Obama himself repeated the same story at the United Nations. The man who put the anti-Islamic video on the Internet was arrested for a parole violation, creating more media coverage to keep attention on this theme.

"What difference, at this point, does it make?" Secretary Clinton now asks. What difference did it make at the time?

Obviously the Obama administration thought it made a difference, with an election coming up. Prior to the attack, the administration's political theme was that Barack Obama had killed Osama bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy SEALs), vanquished Al Qaeda and was now in the process of putting the terrorist threat behind us.

To have the attack in Benghazi be seen as a terrorist attack -- and a devastating one -- would have ruined this picture, with an election coming up.

The key question that remains unanswered to this day is: What speck of evidence is there that the attack in Benghazi was due to the much-discussed video or that there was ever any protest demonstration outside the ambassador's quarters?

If there is no evidence whatever, then the whole attempt to say that a protest over a video escalated into an attack was a deliberate hoax by people who knew better.

There is no point in the administration saying that they did not have all the facts about the attack immediately. All the facts may never be known. But the real question is: Did you have even a single fact that would substantiate your repeated claims that some video led to a protest in Benghazi that got out of hand and led to the attack?

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton herself was not featured in this campaign, even though as Secretary of State she was a key figure. Hillary was not about to create video footage that could come back to haunt her if she runs for President of the United States in 2016.

In a larger context, the Benghazi attack showed that you cannot unilaterally end the "war on terror" or the terrorists' war on us, by declaring victory.

For years, the Bush administration's phrase "war on terror" was avoided like the plague by the Obama administration, even if that required the Fort Hood massacre to be classified as "workplace violence." But, no matter how clever the rhetoric, reality nevertheless rears its ugly head.

Once the September 11th attack in Benghazi is seen for what it was -- a highly coordinated and highly successful operation by terrorists who were said to have been vanquished -- that calls into question the Obama administration's Middle East foreign policy.

That is why it still matters.



The Stuff of Third World Tyrants

 David Limbaugh

President Barack Obama is not just a radical leftist; he is obviously so ensconced in his ideology that he believes -- or wants you to believe -- that anyone who opposes him must have sinister motives.

One of his recurring themes is that some Republicans would work with him but can't do so for fear of reprisal from Grover Norquist on taxes, the National Rifle Association on guns, the conservative House caucus, radio talk show hosts and your garden-variety racists, who allegedly oppose Obama just for sport.

In mid-January, Obama accused the "gun lobby" of "ginning up" fears that the federal government would use the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy to seize America's guns, saying, "It's certainly good for business." Is that how presidents should talk?

Obama suggested that GOP congressional opposition was based not on principle but on the fear that unless it resisted Obama's gun-grabbing schemes, it would lose its precious NRA funding. As if the American public agrees with Obama on this issue any more than it did on Obamacare. As if Obama truly cares whether the American public agrees with him on this issue (other than as a means to an end) any more than he cared about the public's view on Obamacare.

Indeed, this is either record-breaking myopia or sophisticated Orwellian deception. Few things are more palpable on the political scene today than the groundswell of grass-roots support for the right to own firearms under the Second Amendment. It is intrinsic to the American character.

Obama didn't just mischaracterize the public mood on the issue of gun control; he threw in an additional allegation of political corruption against Republicans, saying, "The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they're really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies."

Do you see the pattern here? As the leading disciple of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama must delegitimize his political opposition. He can't just debate issues on the merits. He must "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." We've seen Obama do it on virtually every policy he has promoted -- from demonizing health care professionals and insurance companies in pursuit of Obamacare to taunting "fat cat banks" in his quest for financial "reform" to his defamation of "big oil" to his personal attacks on the "rich" to his savaging of Rep. Paul Ryan and other House Republicans as callous toward seniors and the middle class for daring to reform entitlements.

Obama will not stand for House Republicans to be seen as good-faith opponents to his socialist agenda. He has to slander them with charges of nefarious motives. Republicans oppose his gun grab because they jealously guard their corruptly acquired congressional seats (through gerrymandering), which depend upon blood money from the NRA, which is motivated by its own lust for profits. There simply can't be any legitimate public opposition to his position, because, by gosh, he's the president and his views -- and mandate -- are superior.

Obama isn't content just to vilify his congressional opposition. With a newfound cockiness from his re-election that even exceeds his previous levels, he has now called out Fox News and private citizen Rush Limbaugh. Alinsky's cremated ashes must be glowing with delight.

Obama said, "If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it." He added, "The more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word" and that Democratic leaders are "willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done."

That statement alone should tell you how warped Obama's perspective is. The congressional Democratic leadership is already so leftist and uncompromising that it doesn't have to worry about pleasing more leftist elements. And the left-leaning media not only don't recognize what true compromise is but also don't hold Obama to account for his own habitual refusal to compromise.

That Obama is the most ideologically extreme president in history and routinely demonizes his political opponents is bad enough. But he has crossed the line in targeting the sole TV news outlet that refuses to allow his propaganda to go unchallenged and even more so in attacking commentator Rush Limbaugh for the sin of articulating the opinions of millions upon millions of American patriots who are horrified at Obama's statist agenda.

This is the stuff of Third World tyrants, my friends. This is the MO of dictators, who want to control the media and silence any unfavorable coverage or commentary. Even liberals should be outraged at this abominable behavior. And they should have the integrity to say so.




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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Quote of the Decade:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

-- Senator Barack Hussein Obama, March 2006



Good advice
Texas senator Ted Cruz addressed the NRI Summit earlier today. Wearing a business suit and black cowboy boots, he had the podium removed from the stage so he could roam freely, and spoke without notes. In his remarks, Cruz offered guidance for his fellow GOP lawmakers. On his way out, I asked him to pass along some of that advice for National Review Online readers who couldn’t be here today, and about the role that the NRSC, of which he–along with Ohio senator Rob Portman– serves as vice chair, will play in the 2014 election.

Cruz’s advice: First, “stop listening to the New York Times” and “understand that…you were elected to the House by the same people that elected President Obama.” Second, “stop bad legislation,” and third, “use leverage points…to push forward serious solutions to the crushing fiscal and economic challenge facing this country.” Over the long term, Cruz emphasized the importance of defeating Democrats in the realm of ideas, and offered thoughts on how to do so: “every answer to every question on every policy issue domestically should focus on growth on opportunity,” which have “made the United States a land of such incredible prosperity” and explain why, for centuries, “people have come from all over the world to the United States seeking a better life.”



Too Much Brotherhood

As noted about a month ago in this space, the controversial policy of equipping the Egyptian air force with F-16s will proceed, with the full blessing of the State Department, according to the Washington Free Beacon, which picked up the latest of this long-simmering story from FoxNews.

State, according to the Free Beacon, is eager for the deal to close because it will enhance "U.S. security interests." Deal to close is putting if very liberally, since it is certain who the mark in this deal is: the U.S. taxpayer. The "foreign aid," as State qualifies it, includes as well 200 Abrams tanks, the Free Beacon reports.

The idea that advanced aircraft in the hands of a Islamist regime enhances U.S. security is bizarre. The only possible use of these air craft and tanks is to enhance the power of a government in Cairo that hates us, that hates our only regional ally, Israel, and that shares the philosophy of organizations, such as the Palestinian Hamas, that our government has defined as "terrorist."
It behooves senators in the upcoming confirmation hearings for the top international affairs positions to ask the president's nominees how this massive arms transfer serves U.S. interests.



The New Patriotism

Obama wants to restore liberalism as America’s official faith

President Obama’s second inaugural address wasn’t eloquent, but it was effective.  As oratory, it made one false step after another, the result of straining for presidential orotundity. “For we, the people,” he said, for example, “understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” A “shrinking few” makes it sound as if they are declining, or perhaps shy, and a “growing many” as if they are prospering — the opposite of his intention. The words are supposed to reinforce the argument.

And when discussing foreign policy, even speechwriters as young as Obama’s ought to know to avoid Neville Chamberlain’s notorious phrase, “peace in our time.”

Politically, however, the speech drove home its message: that President Obama stands in the tradition of Jefferson and Lincoln, and that those who oppose the Obama administration must also oppose the principles of Jefferson and Lincoln, and are therefore outside the pale of American democracy.

Obama wants to seize the title deeds of American patriotism from the Reaganite Republicans. To do that, he has tried his best, following Bill Clinton’s example, to replace memories of lefty flag-burning from the Sixties with recent images of liberals’ effusively embracing flag and country and the military. After initial resistance, Obama even agreed to wear a flag pin on his lapel. God, too, gets strange new respect: Though He was booed at the Democratic convention and got admitted to the platform only by chicanery, He is mentioned six times in Obama’s second inaugural (seven, if you count a quotation from the Declaration of Independence).

For the strategy to work, Obama must, however, redefine patriotism and its object. Accordingly, he began his inaugural address with a prominent quotation from the Declaration’s most famous sentence. This was not primarily a gesture of civic solidarity. It was his way of reinterpreting American principles, of staking out new territory for the familiar words “equality” and “liberty,” which he proceeded to redefine in the rest of the speech.

This is an old liberal parlor trick. Into the magic hat goes a fluttering canary; presto chango, out comes a fat, complacent rabbit. Several commentators (especially Scott Johnson at Powerline) have already exposed the president’s sleight of hand. But for sheer audacity, it’s hard to beat the ideas juxtaposed and equated in this speech’s couple of thousand words.

To put it briefly: Obama began by saluting “the enduring strength of our Constitution” (not its wisdom or justice) and affirming “the promise of our democracy,” meaning the country as it will be, the America of our imagination, which to a modern liberal is the only thoroughly justifiable object of patriotic sentiments. Then he quoted the great sentence from the Declaration that begins “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . . ” One sentence later — one sentence! — and the Declaration was in the rearview mirror and we were off on “a never-ending journey” to “bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.”

At least those foundational “words” seemed to have a meaning, or to have once had one. Because a short half-page later, Obama explains that “our purpose” is “what the moment requires” and that it is doing what the moment requires that “will give real meaning to our creed.”

So now the meaning of the Declaration’s solemn propositions seems to come entirely, or almost entirely, from our own needs, preferences, and choices. Only urgent and imperative actions such as fighting climate change and protecting entitlements “will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.” The fathers’ Declaration, though perhaps meaningful to them in their age, is empty and meaningless in ours until we fill it up with our own values. The “timeless spirit” of the Founding obligates us to follow the changing spirit of our times — always as interpreted by liberals, of course.

Thus “equality,” which for Lincoln meant the recognition of our equal humanity and therefore equal freedom, means for Obama the compulsory redistribution of wealth. “Liberty,” in turn, transforms into the right to live out the lifestyle of our choice, free from others’ offensive remarks, and with federal subsidies as necessary or demanded.

Even as the Declaration’s original meaning fades, so does the Constitution’s. Toward the end of the speech, Obama mentioned that the oath of office he had taken that day “was an oath to God and country,” not so different from the oath a new citizen or a soldier takes. Actually, though all these oaths are sworn before God, they are properly speaking oaths to support the Constitution. The presidential oath is emphatic, and distinctive, in that regard. He alone (unlike new citizens or soldiers) swears to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Obama overlooked the main element of his own oath, which is not so surprising given his allegiance to the living constitution, which is rather different from the written one.

The galling thing is that his efforts to rewrite the American political tradition may succeed. Franklin Roosevelt’s similar project not only worked, but worked so well that for two generations New Deal Democrats dominated American elections, remade American government, and reinterpreted our Constitution almost at will. Obama is no FDR, but then he doesn’t need to be. Liberalism has already done a great deal to define democracy downward.  

Where are the Republican politicians, the conservative statesmen, who will dedicate themselves to opposing, and reversing, this latest installment of the corruption of our republican principles and institutions? By now, all the usual arguments about the bad economy and our burgeoning debt have been exhausted. The usual electoral stratagems urged by the usual GOP consultants have been tried and have failed. It will take uncommon political intelligence and virtue, not to mention good luck, to rescue our free government.



Hope for the Senate

There are 100 seats in the United States Senate, each having a term of six years.  Their tenures are staggered so that 1/3 of them face election every two years.  Democrats currently hold a 55 to 45 seat advantage.  But if the Republicans assert themselves artfully, they could very well take the majority in November of 2014.  Here’s how:

Of the 33 Senate seats up for election, 20 are currently held by Democrats and 13 Republican.  Nine of the Democrats should comfortably win re-election; Chris Coons of Delaware, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan, Max Baucus of Montana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

The recent announcement by Tom Harkin that he will be retiring as Iowa’s Senator puts that position in play for the Republicans.  That makes two confirmed Democratic retirements, adding Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia who is likely to be replaced by Republican Shelley Moore Capito.  Saxby Chambliss, Republican from Georgia, also announced his retirement at the end of this term.  However, Georgia should be safe for his replacement, having voted 53% to 46% for Romney in 2012.

Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina and South Dakota are unnaturally represented in the Senate by Democrats.  The Republicans should certainly be able to pick up those seats.

John Kerry will undoubtably take the assignment of Secretary of State next month, leaving the Democratic Governor of Massachusetts with the responsibility of appointing his replacement.  This may give Republican Scott Brown an opportunity to retake his old job as Senator.

If the state-level Republican parties will offer strong nominees and disciplined campaigns, it is possible for Democratic Senators Mark Udall of Colorado, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire to be defeated next year.  And for the one that got away in 2009, Saturday Night Live clown Al Franken must stand for an early re-election in 2014.  Let’s hope for a successful rematch from the suspiciously jilted Norm Coleman.

Elections like 2014 that take place at the mid point of a presidential second term traditionally go against the president’s party.  And Barack Obama’s overreaching this year and next should really get Americans in the mood for tapping on the brakes.  With a gain of six seats, the Republicans can control the Senate and block much of Obama’s ambitions.  They could even deny more revisionists to the Supreme Court during Obama’s final two years in office.

In 2014, the Republican’s 32 seat majority in the House of Representatives ought to hold, and even extend.  My greatest hope; the swearing in of a bellicose, John Wayne federalist as president in January of 2017, along with a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress.  They would have two years to hurl the pendulum back within sight of equilibrium.   And we just might save this nation.



Obamacare's medical records debacle

Mickey Kaus

After I  posted an item about “wonkblogger” Ezra Klein’s confident embrace of Obama’s $19 billion push for electronic medical records, I received several emails from readers who know more than I do. The two excerpted below suggest I was wrong: The effect of the electronic records crusade hasn’t been disappointing, with cost-savings failing to materialize. It’s much worse than that.

From Alert reader #1:

"My wife is an overworked Family Doctor and hates electronic medical records.  It was sold as an enormous time saver but turns out to have slowed her down.  She used to be able to talk to a patient, check off boxes on her records form as she spoke to them and say goodbye.  Now instead of checking a box with a pen, she clicks on  a box on her computer screen, waits for it to open, marks the appropriate checkoff, and then closes it.  Repeat .  Repeat.  Repeat. Then close the patients file.  Maintaining eye contact is a thing of the past.  However. Her billing has gone way up.

Things she used to do but never add to her billing are now added automatically because the nanny program prompts her.  I think the electronic records enthusiasts thought that they were pushing best practices.  “Was patient advised about smoking” “ Was the patient counseled about weight loss and diabetes/ hypertension etc” My wife always did these things but never added them to her bill-now she gets paid for doing it.  It seems like electronic proponents were wrong on BOTH of their selling points … [E.A.]"

From Alert Reader #2

"My wife is a staff physician [at] a major East coast hospital.
Her employer was one of the first to sign up for federal money to implement a system which hospital management freely acknowledges is “terrible” but there was so much money on offer that they couldn’t say no.

Probably the biggest problem with electronic records is simply that it requires the physician to input all notes and orders, rather than dictate them.

As a result, as my bride puts it, “they’ve taken the highest paid person in the department and turned him/her into a data entry clerk”.

On average, she and her colleagues spend more time per patient wading through drop-down menus, clicking boxes and filling in required but utterly irrelevant information than they do at the bedside, actually treating the patient.

In short, it’s her experience that they see fewer patients per shift than they did previously, and spend less time with each one, now that they are required to sit down at a computer after seeing each patient and jumping through hoops to place orders instead of, as previously, simply telling the nurse what is needed and then moving on to the next patient.

But of course things like this always sound good when sales reps are explaining them to bureaucrats. Nobody bothered to actually ask the physicians or to do an independent study to see the results." [E.A.]

Again, it’s possible that electronic records will eventually pay huge benefits, once an entire network (or maybe a better, voice-activated entry system) is in place.  Or it’s possible that Dr. Groopman and Dr. Hartzband’s skepticism will be borne out–and that the real purpose of the electronic database will  not be to help achieve better, efficient care but to justify the government in stopping treatments deemed cost-ineffective.

Some of the early software systems are apparently particularly kludge-y -– but that doesn’t get Obama off the hook if, as Emailer #2 suggests, his $19 billion incentive encouraged hospitals to hurriedly adopt these inferior systems in order to get federal cash before the 2014 deadline.

Sounds like so far, so bad …


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 28, 2013

Serious questions on Benghazi

The underlying attitude

A rather restrained media comment below.  No mention of the blocking of rescue efforts etc.

BLUSTER by outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no answer to the serious questions still surrounding the al-Qa'ida attack on September 11 last year that killed four American officials in Benghazi, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Criticism of Mrs Clinton, of course, has a political motive, with Republicans hoping some mud will stick and thwart any bid by her to win the presidency in 2016. But Mrs Clinton ill-serves her reputation as a hardworking and widely-admired Secretary of State by dismissively telling interlocutors: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

The answer is, it makes a lot of difference. A State Department report and other inquiries have shown the death of the first US ambassador killed on duty in 25 years resulted from systemic leadership and management failures, for which Mrs Clinton was ultimately responsible. The 9/11 anniversary assault caught the US understaffed and ill-prepared in one of the world's most hostile regions, with pleas from US officials on the ground rebuffed.

Mrs Clinton claims she didn't see cables from Stevens outlining his security concerns. Other critics say there was a naive belief by the Obama administration, amid the over-hyped expectations of the Arab Spring, that the war against al-Qa'ida and terrorism was just about over. This has been comprehensively debunked by events in Algeria and Mali, where the Timbuktu Taliban is on the march.

Mrs Clinton cannot be blamed for all these failures, but as a well-regarded secretary and potential presidential candidate, she can do better than bluster when asked legitimate questions about them.



Does Poverty Still Matter?

The Republican Party is picking up the pieces. Speaking of the ticket's loss for the first time since the election, Rep. Paul Ryan noted that many voters "don't think or know that we have good ideas" on fighting poverty and "helping people move up the ladder of life."

It's not surprising that Ryan, who got his start working for Jack Kemp and William Bennett at Empower America, sees the world this way. Though it's a total secret to members of the press and the Democratic Party, conservative intellectuals have been grappling with the problems of poverty in America for several decades and have arguably advanced more reforms (including school choice, charter schools, enterprise zones and community policing) than liberals have. Some of those reforms, such as those adopted by Rudolph Giuliani in New York, profoundly improved the lives of the poor by, among other enhancements, making their neighborhoods far safer.

Still, the popular perception of Republicans as the party of the rich has been reinforced by the party's opposition to tax hikes (always characterized by the press as "even for the wealthiest") and by the Democrats' relentless spin. Six in 10 respondents to a December Bloomberg poll said Republicans were too concerned about protecting the rich. A McLaughlin poll from 2011 found that 88 percent of likely voters considered a candidate's position on poverty to be important in determining their vote.

If Republican politicians do begin to focus more on poverty, as Ryan recommends, they will have the field to themselves. Democrats no longer talk about the poor.

Barack Obama began his career as a community organizer. In 2007, he excoriated George W. Bush for failing those in "vast swaths of rural America" and in inner cities "who cannot hire lobbyists" and "cannot write thousand dollar campaign checks." The government, Senator Obama said, "cannot guarantee success and happiness in life," but can "ensure that every American who wants to work is ... able to find a job and able to stay out of poverty."

The anti-poverty talk was missing from the 2012 campaign. It was all about the middle class. Perhaps that's because Obama's first term created so very much more poverty. There are more poor people in America today than at any time since the Great Depression. There were 32 million Americans collecting food stamps in 2008. Now that figure is 47 million. Spending on food stamps doubled between 2007 and 2011.

Unemployment remained stubbornly high throughout the Obama first term leading many to abandon the search for jobs altogether. In 2008, 7.2 million Americans were getting Social Security disability payments. Today, it's 8.7 million, an increase of 20 percent. A normal increase due to population expansion would have been 4 percent. Obama blamed his predecessor, but the steep decline in labor force participation didn't begin until six months into Obama's term. Forbes magazine calculates that if long term discouraged workers, those who've dropped out to collect disability payments, and those working part time because they cannot find full time work were counted, the real unemployment rate would hover around 22 percent.

Medium household incomes fell by more than 8 percent during the Obama first term, an average of $3040 per household, and income inequality grew compared with the Bush years. For African-Americans, the drop in household income was even more dramatic -- 11.1 percent.

Obama talked about the middle class in 2012 for two reasons: 1) because his record left him vulnerable on the subject of poverty, and 2) because Democrats believe that Americans do not like poverty programs. "People are much less inclined to support something that goes toward a targeted population than something that they can benefit from," Rachel Black of the New America Foundation told Politico. This is why Democrats fight tooth and claw to block reforms of Medicare and Social Security that would decrease benefits or increase taxes for wealthier recipients. They believe that the middle class would stop supporting the programs if they were at all means-tested.

But most voters do not disapprove of TANF, Medicaid, Head Start and dozens of other programs aimed at the poor.

Ryan is right to see an opportunity for Republicans in talking about poverty. It might improve the Republican brand in the eyes of all voters. It opens a door to talk about the best anti-poverty program -- economic growth, which has been conspicuously absent under Obama. It also highlights a fact the Democrats want to bury: All Americans are poorer as a result of Obama's policies, but the poor are hit hardest.



The Old Republic and Obama's America

Pat Buchanan
"Second Term Begins With a Sweeping Agenda for Equality," ran the eight-column banner in which The Washington Post captured the essence of Obama's second inaugural. There he declared:
"What binds this nation together ... what makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago."

Obama then quoted our Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Our "union," Obama went on, was "founded on the principles of liberty and equality."

Nice prose -- and transparent nonsense.

How could the American Union have been founded on the principle of equality, when "equality" is not mentioned in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Federalist papers? How could equality be a founding principle of a nation, six of whose 13 original states had legalized slavery, and five of whose first seven presidents owned slaves all their lives?

What Obama preached in his inaugural was not historical truth but progressive propaganda, an Orwellian rewrite of American history.

Undeniably, the post-Civil War 13th, 14th and 15th amendments established an equality of constitutional rights. And from the Brown decision of 1954 through the civil rights acts of the 1960s, there was established an equality of civil rights. Black Americans were assured equal access to schools, public accommodations, the voting booth and housing. And Congress and the people overwhelmingly supported those laws.

But if the nation did not establish equality of constitutional rights until the 1860s and equality of civil rights until the 1960s, how can Obama claim that "equality" has been the feature that "makes us American" and "binds this nation together."

How can he say that our commitment to equality is what makes us "exceptional" -- when every Western country believes in equal rights for all of its citizens, and it was the French Revolution, not ours, that elevated "egalite" to a founding principle.

And when he says equality "is the star that guides us still," exactly what kind of equality is Obama talking about?

Answer: The equality of which Obama speaks is not an equality of rights but an equality of results, an idea that dates not to the Founding Fathers, who would have been appalled by the idea, but to the 1960s.

This equality is not a founding principle of the republic. It is ideological contraband. For such equality can only be achieved at the price of freedom, our true founding principle.

That idea that "all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still," said Obama in his inaugural, "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."

Astonishing. The president is here making the brazen claim that the roots of modern feminism and gay rights can be traced straight back to the Founding Fathers and founding principles of our republic.

But how? The sanctum sanctorum of modern feminism is Roe v. Wade, the discovery of a constitutional right to an abortion. Yet, for every generation of Americans before 1973, abortion was a heinous crime.

And can anyone seriously argue that a barroom brawl with cops by homosexual patrons of Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969 was but another battle in the long war for liberty begun at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill?

How could that be, when the author of the declaration Obama cites, Thomas Jefferson, believed homosexuality should be treated as rape, and George Washington ordered homosexuals drummed out of his army?

What Obama was attempting at the Capitol, with his repeated lifts from Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, was to portray his own and his party's egalitarianism as a continuation of the great cause that triumphed at Yorktown and Appomattox.

He is hijacking the American Revolution, claiming an ancestral lineage for his ideology that is utterly fraudulent and bogus.

Feminism, the gay rights movement and the post-1965 civil rights movement, with their demand for equality not simply of rights but of rewards, cannot be achieved without trampling on the freedoms for which the patriot fathers fought. And they cannot triumph without creating a permanent, mammoth and redistributionist state more powerful, intrusive and dictatorial than anything George III ever dreamed of.

The freedom of all Americans to compete academically, athletically, artistically and economically must inevitably result in an inequality of incomes, wealth and rewards.

Why? Because all men and women are by nature and nurture unequal. Some are talented, ambitious, industrious, lucky. And in a free society, such men and women will always reap a disproportionate share of fame and fortune.

The only way to equalize rewards is to take from those who have earned and give to those who have not. And that requires the kind of redistributionst regime the Founding Fathers would have risen up against.

As Obama's America rises, the old republic falls.



The Collectivist Party

Illinois you have arrived! Bloomberg [news agency] has declared the dysfunction capital of the U.S. has moved to Illinois. Of course they are just feeding the perception that Moonbeam Brown's prop 30 taxes, the golfer friendly ones, are balancing California's budget.

I suggest Bloomberg writers visit both states more often to see the dysfunction in person. It is quite a sight to behold. However it is easier just to stay out east and watch Illinois' gift to the nation, Barack Obama.

What's the first thing popping into your mind when you read, "years of gridlock and mismanagement have produced .."? Illinois or DC? Both and we have learned why. Barack Obama shared the news with us at his second inauguration.

Having lived in Illinois among the liberals for over thirty years, please allow me to translate what Obama was really saying. You may have noticed from Obama's first term one makes quite a mistake listening to and believing they know what Obama means when he speaks. We learned you'll be better off just watching what he does.

After sounding all supportive of the principles in the Declaration of Independence, followed by a brief history regarding how things change over time, Obama set you up for the roper dope: "For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."

Translated; that old document is about dust, do as we say, we know all the answers therefore surrender your individual identity to the collective and we'll tell you what freedoms you can enjoy. Although Chris Matthews has visions of Lincoln when he heard this speech, I drive past the Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library almost daily. Obama isn't any Lincoln.

This is merely liberal speak for; we have taxed and spent all we can the old fashioned way, now we have to try something new. Or as Chuckie Schumer said more clearly, "oh we'll write a budget alright and it's going to contain lots of new revenue (taxes) and Republicans better get used to it."

In fact Obama isn't Reagan either as the media went nuts reporting the obvious. As Reagan is conservative, Obama is progressive. In reality the one thing Obama shares with Reagan? The same number of people participating in the workforce as 1981.

No matter how a liberal says it, their goals never change. Bigger government, higher taxes, more spending, all to save the children. Or environment, or elderly, or veterans, whatever victim of the week needs rescued, which in turn their media owned outlets report.

How does one come by these psychic powers? Do the names Blagojevich, Quinn, Durbin, Emmanuel, (Bobby) Rush, Rostenkowsky, Schakowsky, Daley (x's 3), or Obama ring a bell? Live over thirty years along side liberals with these pedigrees, with at least one eye and ear open and it's amazing what you can learn.

What caused Bloomberg's attention to be drawn to Illinois? Judy BaarTopinka the state comptroller just released a report, not only is Illinois behind $9 billion in back bills, seems the budget wonks at the Statehouse passed a budget $1 billion short of what is needed to make it through the fiscal year. DCFS is short $25 million to save the children, workers compensation is short $82 million, but the biggie; state group health insurance needs $900 million more to meet expenses this year.

Holy sack of liberalism! Wasn't that free Obamacare going to save all of us? Everyone was going to have insurance, the doctor of their choice, the same coverage as what congress has, and it was all going to save trillions of dollars! How can the state possibly be short? Quinn needs a red phone on his desk directly to the oval office if this keeps up.

As an honorary citizen of Illinois, having duly listened to the inaugural speech with the unique ability to hear what mere mortals cannot, watching the slow motion collapse of Illinois' budget and economy, one that will soon follow to all the land due to Illinois' favorite son of the same ideology, it's time for the Democratic Party to develop a new response to these new challenges to keep with the fidelity to the Democratic principles.

Time to drop Democratic and replace with Collectivist in honor of Obama's second term and pronouncements in his inaugural speech.

The Collectivist Party.




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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Obama recess appointments unconstitutional

This could wipe out a lot of regulations

In a case freighted with major constitutional implications, a federal appeals court on Friday overturned President Obama’s controversial recess appointments from last year, ruling he abused his powers and acted when the Senate was not actually in a recess.

The three-judge panel’s ruling is a major blow to Mr. Obama. The judges ruled that the appointments he made to the National Labor Relations Board are illegal, and hence the five-person board did not have a quorum to operate.

But the ruling has even broader constitutional significance, with the judges arguing that the president’s recess appointment powers don’t apply to “intra-session” appointments — those made when Congress has left town for a few days or weeks. They said Mr. Obama erred when he said he could claim the power to determine when he could make appointments.

“Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers,” the judges said in their opinion.

The judges said presidents’ recess powers only apply after Congress has adjourned a session permanently, which in modern times usually means only at the end of a year. If the ruling withstands Supreme Court scrutiny, it would dramatically constrain presidents in the future.



A Health Scare for Small Businesses

Obamacare is discouraging job creation

During her two-plus years in business, Elizabeth Turley has steadily recruited new employees for her apparel company, Meesh & Mia Corp., to keep pace with its rapid growth. But this year could be different. Instead of increasing her staff, she plans to hire independent contractors for tasks that can be outsourced, such as marketing and product development.

Her reason? Meesh & Mia is on the cusp of having 50 full-time employees. If the company hits that threshold, it will have to provide health coverage that meets government standards or potentially pay a penalty.

Elizabeth Turley, CEO of Meesh & Mia, plans to hire independent contractors this year because of health-insurance changes. Ms. Turley looked at fabric options at a trade show Tuesday.
"We are poised this year to more than double or even triple business," says the 58-year-old Ms. Turley, whose Idaho-based company makes "spiritwear," or clothes with licensed college and football-team colors and logos. "And then this happened.... We have to find another way to get there."

Even though the rule doesn't go into effect until early 2014, a business could be subject to the so-called employer mandate if, during 2013, it averages 50 or more full-time equivalent employees, according to recently released regulations from the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.

Many small-business owners haven't yet realized that the way they structure their firm in 2013 could determine their status under the law in a year's time.

The government issued the little-noticed regulatory guidance on Dec. 28. Ms. Turley says she wasn't aware of the rules until a Journal reporter informed her.

To avoid the health-care law's penalties, many employers are considering hiring only part-time employees or deliberately curbing growth so that they have no need to hire.

For Ms. Turley, that isn't an option. Meesh & Mia needs more hired help. The best solution, she believes, is to hire independent contractors, who would be able to take on certain tasks without upping her headcount.

Typically, independent contractors are less expensive for employers, who don't have to pay taxes on wages or supply benefits, as they would for their employees. Reliance on independent contractors has increased over the years, particularly in the recession, when employers sought less expensive labor.

In December 2012, 6.7% of payroll checks written by small employers went to 1099 workers, or those not considered employees of a company, according to SurePayroll, a Chicago-based payroll firm that caters to 40,000 small employers with an average of seven employees. That's roughly double the 3.5% of payroll checks that went to 1099 workers in December 2007.

The trend is expected to accelerate this year given the framework of the looming health-care law, employment analysts predict.

Ms. Turley knows that hiring independent contractors isn't always ideal. "You have less control over hours they work and how much involvement they have in other parts of the business," she says. "Employees take more pride and ownership [in the company] than contractors."

In the past, in fact, she has hired contractors but later brought them into the fold as full-time employees.

Using independent contractors has long been a sensitive issue because of how they are classified for tax purposes. In late 2011, the IRS vowed to be more vigilant in finding employers who improperly label workers as independent contractors. At the same time it launched an amnesty program for employers to voluntarily reclassify workers in exchange for a reduced payment to cover back taxes.

"If anything, [audits] will increase more" in light of the health-care law, says Monique Warren, partner at workplace law firm Jackson Lewis LLP in White Plains, N.Y. "Employers have to be real careful about calling someone an independent contractor."

Government auditors would determine whether a worker misclassification triggers the health-care law's employer mandate. That means the stakes are higher for employers, particularly those who have close to 50 full-time employees. They could have to pay back taxes in addition to potential penalties associated with the health-care law, should the revised classification push their employee headcount over the threshold.

"Some businesses may be tempted to classify someone as an independent contractor to avoid the headcount that could subject them to the [employer mandate]," says Edward Lenz, senior counsel at the American Staffing Association, an Alexandria, Va., lobbying group for temporary and contract staffing firms. "If anything, the risks of misclassifications are exacerbated by the [health-care law]."

Adding to the confusion for small firms is that an employer's view of who is an independent contractor may not align with the government's. The guidelines defining independent contractors "aren't black and white," says Ms. Warren. "To some extent, it is deliberately vague. The IRS can't... account for every different situation."

Some considerations include an employer's level of control over a worker, the permanency of the relationship and how the business pays the worker. Because the definition lacks strict parameters, employers can file a form requesting the IRS to make the determination.

"This is on the hot list for the Department of Labor and the IRS," says Penny C. Wofford, employment law attorney at Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. in Greenville, S.C. "It's not enough to say a worker should be 1099 status just by their work contract. That's just one factor in a test."



The Collectivist Mind Game: Demonizing Human Nature

If Robert Heinlein were to write The Moon today (see Part 1), there's no doubt his notion of the future oppressive global government on Earth would be very different.  With such forces at play, the free-market revolution in Lunar colonies would likewise be fought by different means, struggling to overcome the tidal wave of government indoctrination and demonization, in addition to an army of statist looters hiding behind the army of statist moochers, who will be hiding behind an army of statist Blue Helmets of the statist United Nations.

That would be an asymmetrical warfare if ever there was one.  The individualist free-market rebels wouldn't be able to respond in kind by playing the collectivist mind games with the statists because it would turn them into their own enemies.  Their only hope would be to learn to recognize the game when it is being played, not to fall for any of its seductive illusions, methodically expose the players at every turn, call every little manipulative trick in their arsenal for what it is, and help to immunize the rest against its corruptive influence.

The tidal wave of propaganda notwithstanding, the rebels would still have the most important ally on their side -- human nature.  No matter into what society they are born and what mind conditioning they receive, people will never stop being competitive individuals.  They will always long for individual freedom, rationality, objectivity, personal achievement, and the pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families.

Without these traits humanity would never have risen from the ignorant tribal collectivism of hunters and gatherers, with its brutal mores, dark superstitions, and average life expectancy of 30 years, when few lived long enough to develop complete self-awareness, formulate a coherent individual thought, and pass it onto others.  There would be no division of labor, no markets, and no capitalist wealth to sustain the advances in science, arts, and technology -- let alone to feed the multitudes of Marxist intellectuals and statist plutocrats.  There would be nothing to lose and nothing to fight for.

Admittedly, the Marxist notion of human progress is a spiral that would return humanity to that stateless, moneyless, classless, and selfless collectivism -- except on a higher level.  For that purpose they must, so to speak, put the genie of individualism back into the bottle, and the only way they can do it is by demonizing human nature itself.

However, the 74 years of the morbid Soviet experiment failed to breed the New Collectivist Man.  The communist "engineers of human souls" isolated millions of people from the rest of humanity by sealing off the nation's borders and creating a pressurized Marxist bubble.  They rearranged the society, rewrote history, and reorganized the culture.  They subjected several generations of children to intense mind programming.  They blocked all undesirable news sources, books, films, and music.  They rewarded "correct" thoughts and impulses, and punished the "incorrect" ones.  They demonized greed, selfishness, individualism, and self-interest.  They taught altruism, collectivism, and self-sacrifice.  They ran relentless campaigns that dehumanized non-compliant individuals.

Ultimately, not a single trait of human nature had changed.  In the months before the collapse, the indisputable failure of collective farming forced the Soviet communists to resurrect the idea of individual farms -- and, in order to survive, Chinese communists reverted to private entrepreneurship, while maintaining the pretense of Marxist orthodoxy.

This alone should be enough to discredit the fundamental Marxist doctrine that the human mind is a "social construct" shaped entirely by manipulation and social conditioning.  As an unintended consequence, the Soviet experiment proved the existence of something that Marxist science has always denied: that our individual thoughts, motives, and actions are governed, on the most part, by absolute moral standards, which are objectively derived from the unchangeable nature of human beings and the nature of the world.

Obviously, it is more beneficial to accept human nature in its entirety as an absolute standard and to build the society on that foundation, rather than to erect an artificial construct first and rearrange the foundation later, trying to discard parts that don't fit into the design.

And yet that failed philosophy is now flourishing in America's academia and leftist think tanks, which currently formulate U.S. government policies.

From the economy to crime prevention to education to foreign relations, America's policies today are based on the Marxist premise that crime results from poverty, economic crisis results from greed, injustice results from capitalist exploitation, corruption results from the free markets, and militant Islamism results from Western colonialism.  Therefore, peace and harmony can only be achieved through equal redistribution of wealth, appeasement, and a global effort to reshape human nature through politically correct, collectivist indoctrination.

Predictably, a faulty premise leads to a faulty outcome: the economy is stumbling, education is failing, corruption is spreading, crime is rising, and militant Islamism is gaining more ground.  Instead of creating the New Man, the suppression and demonization of natural human traits breeds moral and intellectual freaks.  Where normalcy is outlawed, abnormalities flourish.

The most damaging outcome of this fallacy, however, is also the least visible -- and thus rarely mentioned: the government effort to demonize our individual thoughts, impulses, and human nature itself can only result in the eventual dehumanization of our society, turning independent American citizens into mindless statistical units, spiritless cogs in the machine, and powerless subjects of the state, ripe for abuse by any sociopathic government official with dictatorial tendencies.

The Game can only exist in symbiosis with big government.  They equally need each other for survival, nourishment, and expansion.  Downsizing the government would not only deprive the Game of its nourishment, but would remove the very reason for its existence.  Of course, the Game's state sponsor can also be a foreign government -- as it was with the network of KGB influence agents -- but that is a matter for another discussion.

A free-market revolution's primary function, therefore, would be to discard any policies or government structures that are based on the collectivist philosophy of demonization and dehumanization of the individual, starting with the Department of Education.

Human nature has taken us this far; there is every reason to believe it will continue to help us in the future.



Obama won't allow the best hospitals to expand

The Obama administration says it's identified hospitals that provide patients with the most value under a new ObamaCare bonus program. Unfortunately, the sweeping health law also makes it very hard for such facilities to expand or new ones to be built.

The law's Hospital Value Based Purchasing program rewards hospitals that meet certain quality standards with a small percentage increase in their Medicare payments. Those that fall short face small Medicare payment percentage cuts.

The standards include "process measures," such as the percent of patients receiving an antibiotic within an hour of surgery, and patient satisfaction measures, including how well a doctor communicates with a patient.

Nine of the top 10 hospitals in the first round of HVBP were physician-owned. Indeed, doctor-owned hospitals accounted for 48 of the 100 top spots, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Over 3,400 hospitals were included in the program.

Treasure Valley Hospital got the top bonus, a 0.83% increase in its Medicare payments. The Boise, Idaho, physician-owned hospital offers an array of surgical services.

Most physician-owned hospitals tend to specialize in one field, such as cardiac or orthopedic surgery.

Physician-owned hospitals did so well because they "have more focus on patients and patient care. They put more money at the bedside," said Paul Kerens, president of Physician Hospitals of America. "Unlike major hospitals, we don't have as many bureaucratic layers to go through to get quality to the patient bedside."

Nancy Foster, vice-president for safety and patient quality at the American Hospital Association, said, "The measures are dominated by heart care and orthopedic care, which is where physician-owned hospitals are likely to excel. Additionally, hospitals that are new and smaller do better on the (patient satisfaction) measures and those differences make it more challenging for general, acute-care hospitals to score well."

While ObamaCare highlights and rewards physician-owned hospitals for their high patient value, the law also effectively bars any more from ever being built. Provisions withhold Medicare funds from any physician-owned hospital built after 2010.

That was a big victory for traditional hospitals, which claim their physician-owned rivals don't take as many low-paying Medicaid patients and thus are unfair competition. For years the AHA and the Federation of American Hospitals lobbied Congress to stop the expansion of physician-owned hospitals.

ObamaCare also put regulatory hurdles in the way of existing physician-owned hospitals that want to expand. The owners must first apply to the federal Department of Health and Human Services. They can do so only once every two years.

They must then wait while members of the community provide input. Further, the physician-owned hospital must be in a county where population growth is 150% of the overall state's growth in the last five years. Inpatient admissions to the physician-owned hospital must be equal to or greater than the average of such admissions in all hospitals located in the county. Its bed occupancy rate must be greater than the state average. And it must be located in a state where hospital bed capacity is less than the national average.

Even if the physician-owned hospital meets all of those conditions, it is prohibited from expanding more than 200%.




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