Friday, February 15, 2013

People at different ends of political spectrum 'use their brains differently'

I have long pointed out that political orientation is substantially inborn  -- JR

People at opposite ends of the political spectrum don't just have different views - they even use their brains differently.

Researchers have found liberals and conservatives use different parts of the brain when they make risky decisions and these regions can be used to predict which political party a person prefers.

The new study by a team of political scientists and neuroscientists suggests that while genetics or parental influence may play a significant role, being a Tory or a socialist changes how the brain functions.

Doctor Darren Schreiber, a researcher in neuropolitics at the University of Exeter, has been working in collaboration with colleagues at the University of California on research that explores the differences in the way the brain functions in American liberals and conservatives.

In a previous experiment, participants had their brain activity measured as they played a simple gambling game.

Dr Schreiber and his colleagues were able to look up the political party registration of the participants in public records.

Using this new analysis of 82 people who performed the gambling task, the academics showed that Republicans and Democrats do not differ in the risks they take.

However, there were striking differences in the participants' brain activity during the risk-taking task.

Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness.   However, Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in the body's 'fight-or-flight' system.

The results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk.

In fact, brain activity in these two regions alone can be used to predict whether a person is a Democrat or Republican with 82.9 per cent accuracy.

By comparison, the longstanding traditional model in political science, which uses the party affiliation of a person's mother and father to predict the child's affiliation, is only accurate about 69.5 per cent of the time.

Another model based on the differences in brain structure distinguishes liberals from conservatives with only 71.6 per cent accuracy. The model also outperforms models based on differences in genes.

Dr Schreiber said: 'Although genetics have been shown to contribute to differences in political ideology and strength of party politics, the portion of variation in political affiliation explained by activity in the amygdala and insula is significantly larger, suggesting that affiliating with a political party and engaging in a partisan environment may alter the brain, above and beyond the effect of heredity.'

The results may pave the way for new research on voter behaviour, yielding better understanding of the differences in how liberals and conservatives think.

Dr Schreiber added: 'The ability to accurately predict party politics using only brain activity while gambling suggests that investigating basic neural differences between voters may provide us with more powerful insights than the traditional tools of political science.'



Australian study explores link between conservatism and happiness

This is a survey of university students only so is pretty idiotic but it does replicate the usual finding that conservatives are happier

A study conducted by a team from UQ Psychology, at the University of Queensland, surveyed 816 undergraduate students to explore the link between conservatism and happiness.

Professor Jolanda Jetten said the findings indicated that conservatives were happier than liberals because of their strong ties to a large network of social groups and a greater access to "social capital."

"In 2008, New York University psychologists Jaime Napier and John Jost were the first to attempt to explain this difference in happiness, arguing that the happiness gap is caused by the difference in ideology between conservatives and liberals," Professor Jetten said.

"It appears (from our research) that what makes conservatives happy is not conservative ideology but rather their social and material advantage - the same advantage that makes conservative ideology appealing in the first place."

Fellow researcher Dr Fiona Kate Barlow said it was found that those with a higher social economic status have access to more group memberships and this created greater life satisfaction.



The 'Statist of the Union Address'

In his State of the Union address, Tuesday, President Obama did what he does best: blame others to divert attention from his own failings on the economy. Every ill we have, per him, is because of a bill of his Congress won't pass. Where is that "you lie" when you need him?

Democrats closed the Kabuki Theater called the "Jobs Council," an Obama-appointed group of business CEOs that had not met in a year. While unemployment is still very high, Obama recently disbanded the Jobs Council. To be fair, the Council attained its goal of saving one person's job – last November. Mission accomplished.

His speech started by saying they were cutting spending, then he spent 90 percent of his talk laying out more spending plans he cleverly calls "investments."

Obama is not economy friendly. He led the charge on unprecedented government overreach in the form of punishing regulations, spending and intrusion into our lives. Jobs, other than his union supporter's, matter little.

Somali pirate style, he commandeered one-seventh of our economy with Obamacare. It was recently estimated that the third-rate "Bronze" Obamacare insurance plan will cost each American family $20,000 per year. Yet, he said Obamacare was already lowering health care costs. Remember when he told us, "If you like your health care plan you can keep it"? Well, you can't.

He unleashed his EPA to all but kill the coal industry and to hamper oil drilling. Gas prices were $1.65 a gallon when he took office; now they are tickling $4. We have an epic U.S. opportunity in natural gas production, so Obama's EPA go after fracking – based on the vast scientific expertise of Matt Damon and other Hollywood knuckleheads.

In spite of Obama's abysmal economic record and with the persuasion of the lapdog media, uninformed voters could not follow the "Three-card Monte" of the Democrats. They reelected him. Why should Obama care if he is not held accountable? He won 303 electoral votes by only doing interviews on sports radio, "ET," "The View," and "Pimp with a Limp."

Obama has Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid with him; together they have a Mike Tyson-level understanding of economics. Cutting spending around them is like inviting your drug dealer to your intervention.

He is a Chicago politician. He thinks that everything in Washington is a zero-sum game. One side wins, the other loses. He has the same view of the economy. If Apple succeeded, the company must have screwed over someone.

Obama only knows politics, and he only has one go-to reaction: campaign mode. He does not persuade with better ideas, he blames and then destroys his enemies. Remember the Boy Scout Romney?

The hypocrisy of a man who has his Nobel Peace Prize on his wall next to his drone kill list is astonishing. His odd enthusiasm for killing with drones, which mystifies the Left, speaks to his "destroy others" mentality. A picture recently released by the White House showed Obama firing a shotgun. No doubt he was heroically protecting our country from low-flying skeet.

He applies to politics the business model of Chicago street gangs: Destroy rivals to gain turf. But the economy does not work that way. Apple does well with Verizon's success and in spite of AT&T's failure. They depend on each other, with mutually beneficial and enlightened self-interest in a growing economic pie. One person's economic success multiplies into greater wealth for others.

The recession he "inherited" ended July 2009, months after he was sworn in. Since then we have had the worst economic growth of any so-called recovery in 65 years.

All recessions end. Of the 10 recessions of the past 65 years, economic growth for the following three years averaged 4.6 percent. GDP growth under Obama's "recovery" has registered a tepid 2.2 percent.

The White House finds it comforting to say that this was a bad recession. But as any sober economist will tell you, the worse the economic downturn, the more robust the recovery (historically 5.9 percent). The difference between 5.9 percent historic growth and Obama's 2.2 percent would mean $1.6 trillion more over three years, or $7,000 per working American.

Al-Qaida could not have done as much damage to the U.S. as this administration has, working to destroy our economy with a morass of entrenched bureaucracies. The terrorists can now retire. They set about to weaken and destroy America, which task is now in the capable hands of the Left.



California defines doctoring down

 As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama's healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren't enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients.

Some lawmakers want to fill the gap by redefining who can provide healthcare.

They are working on proposals that would allow physician assistants to treat more patients and nurse practitioners to set up independent practices. Pharmacists and optometrists could act as primary care providers, diagnosing and managing some chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.

"We're going to be mandating that every single person in this state have insurance," said state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), chairman of the Senate Health Committee and leader of the effort to expand professional boundaries. "What good is it if they are going to have a health insurance card but no access to doctors?"

Hernandez's proposed changes, which would dramatically shake up the medical establishment in California, have set off a turf war with physicians that could contribute to the success or failure of the federal Affordable Care Act in California.

Doctors say giving non-physicians more authority and autonomy could jeopardize patient safety. It could also drive up costs, because those workers, who have less medical education and training, tend to order more tests and prescribe more antibiotics, they said.

"Patient safety should always trump access concerns," said Dr. Paul Phinney, president of the California Medical Assn.

Such "scope-of-practice" fights are flaring across the country as states brace for an influx of patients into already strained healthcare systems. About 350 laws altering what health professionals may do have been enacted nationwide in the last two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since Jan. 1, more than 50 additional proposals have been launched in 24 states.

As the nation's earliest and most aggressive adopter of the healthcare overhaul, California faces more pressure than many states. Diana Dooley, secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency, said in an interview that expanding some professionals' roles was among the options policymakers should explore to help meet the expected demand.

At a meeting of healthcare advocates in December, she had offered a more blunt assessment.

"We're going to have to provide care at lower levels," she told the group. "I think a lot of people are trained to do work that our licenses don't allow them to."

Currently, just 16 of California's 58 counties have the federal government's recommended supply of primary care physicians, with the Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley facing the worst shortages. In addition, nearly 30% of the state's doctors are nearing retirement age, the highest percentage in the nation, according to the Assn. of American Medical Colleges.

Physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and optometrists agree that they have more training than they are allowed to use.

"We don't have enough providers," said Beth Haney, president of the California Assn. for Nurse Practitioners, " we should increase access to the ones that we have."

Hernandez, who said he would introduce his legislation and hold a hearing on the issue next month, said his own experience as an optometrist shows the need to empower more practitioners. He said he often sees Medicaid patients who come to his La Puente practice because they have failed their vision test at the DMV. Many complain of constant thirst and frequent urination.

"I know it's diabetes," he said. But he is not allowed to diagnose or treat it and must refer those patients elsewhere. Many of them may face a months-long wait to see a doctor.

The California Medical Assn. says healthcare professionals should not exceed their training. Phinney, a pediatrician, said physician assistants and other mid-level professionals are best deployed in doctor-led teams. They can perform routine exams and prescribe medications in consultation with physicians on the premises or by teleconference.

Allowing certain health workers to set up independent practices would create voids in the clinics, hospitals and offices where they now work, he said. "It's more like moving the deck chairs around rather than solving the problem," Phinney said.

His group proposes a different solution: It wants more funding to expand participation in a loan repayment program for recent medical school graduates. Doctors can now receive up to $105,000 in return for practicing in underserved communities for three years.

Still, it typically takes a decade to train a physician. Health experts say the pool of graduates cannot keep pace.

"We're not going to produce thousands of additional doctors in any kind of short-term time frame," said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). "It makes sense to look at changes that could relieve the pressure that we're going to undoubtedly encounter for access to care."

Administrators of community clinics and public hospitals say nurse practitioners and other non-physician providers already play key roles in caring for patients, a trend they predict will grow as more Californians become insured and enter the healthcare system.

At Kern Medical Center in Kern County, two clinical pharmacists have run the hospital's diabetes clinic, treating about 500 patients a year, since the specialist physician in charge retired. They are licensed to perform physicals, order lab tests, prescribe medicines and counsel patients on lifestyle changes.

"We're going to have to get a whole lot more creative about how care is provided," said Paul Hensler, Kern Medical Center's chief executive.




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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Tokugawa Shogunate

My brief note yesterday may have conveyed the impression that I approve of the tyranny of the Tokugawas.  I don't of course.  But the sharply stratified society of Tokugawa Japan was  much the same in Europe.  Both liberties and food security for the common man were very limited in both Europe and Japan.  The difference is that Europeans had to put up a lot of pretty vicious wars on their territory as well.  Life in Japan was at least pretty predictable.  And there was always the "floating world" for those who rose above the peasantry.

Predictability is not everything, however, and it could be argued that the insecurity in Europe was what lay behind the scintillating and eternal works of art that Europe produced at that time:  The work of Bach, Handel, Vivaldi etc.  By comparison, Japan at that time  produced practically nothing cultural that has gained renown outside its own borders -- excepting of course the work of Hokusai


A Christian philosopher

I don't  personally find Plantinga persuasive but his enterprise is certainly a bold one

The world-renowned philosopher Alvin C. Plantinga has recently received the prestigious Nicholas Rescher Prize for Contributions to Systematic Philosophy, awarded by the University of Pittsburgh’s Departments of Philosophy, History, and Philosophy of Science, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science. Plantinga is widely known for his work in the philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics and Christian apologetics, and he has revolutionized scholarly interest in Christian theism, shown naturalism/atheism to be self-refuting and incoherent, and set the new standards for the defense of free will, individual agency, consciousness, rational inference, science, objective truth and morality, and more.

As a result, Plantinga has both directly influenced the entire field of philosophy and has mentored and inspired new generations of top scholars who are critiquing the reductionism, relativism, materialism, collectivism, scientism, positivism, determinism, and de-humanization of the modern era. In short, Plantinga has devastated the prevailing view in Western elites that human beings are merely “matter in motion” (i.e., purposeless, accidental, robotic products of a closed, natural world ruled solely by physical laws and that truth, reason, morality, and God are illusions).

Plantinga is the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center on Culture and Civil Society at the Independent Institute. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University, he has served as President of the American Philosophical Association (Western Division) and Society of Christian Philosophers, and he has delivered the Gifford Lectures in Scotland three times.

Plantinga’s work is of immense importance to all thinking in epistemology, ethics and economics, especially regarding individual action, entrepreneurship, free markets, civic virtue, and the rule of law. Plantinga has shown that those scholars who attempt to ground reality in naturalism are not just pursuing a futile quest leading to determinism and nihilism but are embracing views that defeat their very intellectual enterprise, including science itself. Unfortunately, many superb classical liberal and libertarian scholars remain unaware of Plantinga’s work and are oblivious of the profound weaknesses in their naturalistic assumptions. In this regard, I authored an earlier, preliminary paper, “Economic Science and the Poverty of Naturalism,” that discusses this dilemma and the crucial value of the critiques of metaphysical naturalism by both C.S. Lewis and Plantinga, especially as this is relevant to the corpus of economic reasoning in the Austrian School, Public Choice and other traditions within what Peter Boettke describes as “mainline economics” in his new Independent Institute book, Living Economics.

For example, Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” brilliantly argues that if evolution is true, it is an epistemic defeater for naturalism, leaving naturalism in ruin. The influential philosopher Thomas Nagel agrees and utilizes Plantinga’s work in his recent book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press). Nagel also recently and favorably reviewed Plantinga’s newest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press), in the New York Review of Books.

Similarly, Plantinga developed the “Modal Ontological Argument” for the existence of God, drawing on the work of St. Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century but correcting the argument using modal logic in a more rigorous, formal, and irrefutable way. Here is a video discussion of Plantinga’s Modal Ontological Argument and a further video that refutes objections. Here, here and here are videos that further discuss the argument.

In his book God, Freedom, and Evil (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), Plantinga’s essay “The Free Will Defense,” with its implicit libertarianism, is accepted today by most philosophers who have come to see the “problem of evil” as having been sufficiently rebutted and showing that free will is necessarily true.



Bloody Hands: The Southern Poverty Law Center

Long before homosexual activist Floyd Corkins entered the D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC) with the intent to commit mass murder, I warned from the rooftops that the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center’s anti-Christian “hate group” propaganda might spur such bloodshed. With a column headlined, “Liberal violence rising,” I wrote, “The SPLC’s dangerous and irresponsible (‘hate group’) disinformation campaign can embolden and give license to like-minded, though less stable, left-wing extremists, creating a climate of true hate. Such a climate is ripe for violence.”

Tragically, my deepest fears were realized.

Then, in August, days after Corkins was heroically disarmed by FRC employ Leo Johnson, whom Corkins shot in the arm, I penned another column titled “Fanning the flames of left-wing violence.” I plead with the SPLC to end its “dishonest and reprehensible” strategy of “juxtaposing FRC and other Christian organizations with violent extremist groups” in a transparent effort to marginalize them.

“I appeal to your sense of goodwill. This is not a game. Lives are at stake,” I implored. “I know you have good employees (I’ve met some) who believe they’re doing the right thing; so, please, validate that belief. It’s time to remove your metaphorical ‘hate group’ Star of David from mainstream Christian organizations before another of your ideological allies spills blood.”

I no longer believe the SPLC has a sense of goodwill. In fact, based on FBI evidence and the group’s own actions (and inaction), I and many others are left with no other inference but this: The SPLC – a left-wing extremist fundraising behemoth – may be intentionally inciting anti-Christian violence.

Just days ago, Corkins pled guilty to a number of charges, including domestic terrorism. FBI evidence revealed that he was both motivated by and utilized the SPLC’s “anti-gay hate map” to target and locate his intended Christian mass murder victims.

Further evidence reveals that the “hate map” – more accurately labeled “hit map” – even provided the exact location of FRC and other Christian groups found on Corkins’ hit-list with little red dots to helpfully pinpoint their precise locations.

Corkins told the FBI after the shooting that he intended to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches (which he brought with him) in victims’ faces.” Prosecutors said that he planned to leave FRC after the attack and go to another conservative group to continue his reign of terror. A handwritten list of three other groups was found with his belongings while an investigation of Corkins’ computer revealed that he identified his targets on the SPLC website. The other groups were also maliciously listed by the SPLC as “hate groups.”

Motive to kill? Fomented. Who to kill? Provided. Where to kill? Pinpointed, with easy access to driving directions. The only thing the SPLC did not do was purchase Corkins’ gun and drive him to the crime scene.

Here’s why, to my own aghast bewilderment, I’m left with little choice but to believe the SPLC may be intentionally inciting anti-Christian violence. As noted by the FRC, “Even after an attempted mass murder of the FRC staff, the ‘hate map’ is still prominently featured on the SPLC website today – which shocks most conservative pundits.”

“Shocks” is an understatement.

“When Congresswoman Giffords and several others were shot in Arizona by Jared Loughner, the left went into overdrive blaming Sarah Palin for a map that had a list of political targets on it. After the fact, we learned that Loughner was apolitical and he clearly had not used Sarah Palin’s map of political targets. That did not stop the left from blaming the right,” noted RedState’s Erick Erickson. “By the way, Palin took down her target map after the controversy. The Southern Poverty Law Center? Crickets …”

What other explanation is there? I understand that it’s difficult to admit you’re wrong, especially when the scheme seemed so delicious at the time. But once FBI evidence conclusively proves that you were, to a large degree, responsible for inciting an act of domestic terrorism, most reasonable people would take a deep breath, take a step back, admit fault and hobble forward in an effort to rehabilitate a reputation in ruin.

Is the SPLC a left-wing extremist group? Absolutely. Are they anti-Christian? Without a doubt. But few would have believed, until now, that they might intentionally, with malice aforethought, seek to incite anti-Christian bloodshed.

Scandalously, the Obama administration continues to maintain deep ties with this radical organization.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center has a long history of maliciously slandering pro-family groups with language and labels that incite hatred and undermine civil discourse,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “In the issues of family and marriage, Christians are literally in the crosshairs of radical homosexual activists, and the SPLC is fueling the hatred and providing the targets. The SPLC should be held accountable for its reckless acts. Even more disturbing than the SPLC’s irresponsible behavior is the fact that the Obama administration is in bed with this group,” said Staver.

“It is ironic that Christians who believe in natural marriage have been isolated by radical homosexual activists and demonized as ‘homophobes’ and ‘haters,’” he concluded.

Weeks before Corkins pleaded guilty of terrorism and assault with intent to kill, a study from the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point entitled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far Right” said the “violent far right” exhibits an intense fear or dislike of foreign people, “including people with alternative sexual preferences.” The SPLC’s warped view of reality has been adopted by the Obama administration.

“What the SPLC and other homosexual activists are doing is intentional and dangerous,” said Staver. “It is time to end the dangerous rhetoric and resume a civil discourse on the subject of natural marriage and morality.”

Indeed if, God forbid, this SPLC “hate group” propaganda leads to another act of left-wing terrorism like that at FRC, this dangerous group should be held legally – perhaps even criminally liable.

In the meantime, to the media, I say this: If you dare, even for a moment, give any credence whatsoever to this deadly SPLC “hate group” nonsense, you too will have blood on your hands.

SPLC, you’re no longer fooling anyone.

Stop fooling yourselves.



Obamacare: A Beehive of Stings You Weren’t Expecting

Many promises were made to different groups to sell the new healthcare law to a skeptical public. Having watched the medical insurance games–government and private–for my whole career, I thought these promises were too good to be true.

What is coming to light now is like “The Big Con” that Robert Redford’s character skillfully pulled off in the classic movie The Sting. Only the Pelosi-Reid-Obama trio forced through an even bigger “Sting” on the entire country, especially the very constituencies they promised their healthcare law would help.

One by one, the political promises fall like dominoes. The very groups that strongly supported government control of healthcare are now some of the ones getting stung badly. The effects are like a swarm of killer bees suddenly descending on the unsuspecting, stinging everyone in sight.

Our personal New Year’s sting was a 22.5% jump in my husband’s Medicare supplemental premium for the 2013 renewal. Reason: Obamacare regulations and mandates.

Then I received the notices for our employees’ health insurance premiums: more premium increases – even though we have a high deductible, catastrophic illness type plan to help keep costs affordable.

Next, the IRS projected premiums of $20,000 per year for a family of four. Affordable? For whom? This sting is a $3,000 to $5,000 increase instead of the promised $2,500 savings per year—a miscalculation of $5,500 to $7,500 for a family of four.

Large national restaurant chains are cutting employees’ hours because they cannot afford to pay the high health insurance premiums for “fulltime” employees. How can the middle class make ends meet on part-time work?

Liberal groups that overwhelmingly supported Obamacare are also getting stung. Of course, these announcements came after the election, in which these constituent groups supported Obama in droves:

* College students: Before Obamacare, young healthy college students paid average health insurance premiums that only cost $100-600 per year. Obamacare mandates mean that premiums are rising to $1,700 to $2,000 per year. In New Jersey, where health insurance is mandatory for college students, this is indeed a huge sting!

* College faculty: At many universities, faculty hours are being cut back to less than 29 hours a week to avoid the costly Obamacare premiums.

* Union members: the sting of Obamacare has come in many forms, so Big Labor is now seeking waivers for union members.
Smokers: Many who fell for Obama’s promise of “free” or lower cost medical care are learning that their premiums will be 50% higher than nonsmokers –up to $4,250 dollars per year in excess costs for smokers age 55 and older.

* Employers: Paying for all the Obamacare mandates in employer-provided health insurance adds $1.79 to the hourly rate to hire an employee. That’s why many are not hiring.

* Seniors: After the election, seniors are learning that all the promises of “no cutbacks” in their medical care were false.

The Senior Sting is especially ugly. One 80-year-old patient told me his heart medicine was no longer covered, “because I am too old now.” Preventive services and cancer screenings for the older patients, such as prostate and breast cancer checks, are being cut to pay for “free” birth control pills. As of 2012, hospitals are paid more to provide fewer surgeries. Popular and lower cost Medicare Advantage plans are being cut back or eliminated.

Then there is the Medicaid sting: States that are expanding Medicaid plan to cut payments to doctors and hospitals to about 56% of what private insurance companies pay. This means more patients lined up for fewer doctors and hospitals.

And let’s not forget the privacy sting. Your electronic health record will be used to decide what treatments you will be allowed. The IRS will be collecting expanded personal information about your income, habits and family to decide what to sting you on penalties.

In short—old or young, black or white, liberal or conservative—once Obamacare was forced on patients across the country (except Congress and the President)– everyone has gotten The Sting….in the Biggest Con of all.




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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The martial paradox

The martial paradox is well-known and generally accepted among conservatives but is ridiculed by Leftists.  Why?

I think it helps if we consider its origins.  I am not historian enough to give a comprehensive history of it but I can offer a few brief notes.

The paradox is familiar as "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" or: "si vis pacem para bellum" -- from Vegetius, a Roman military writer in his Epitoma rei militaris.  In English:  "If you want peace, prepare for war".

And there is no doubt that it is true.  A key period for progress in most spheres during the development of Western Europe was the long peace between 1871 and 1914.  And that period was ushered in by a series of military conquests supervised by Otto von Bismarck -- which led to the creation of a unified Germany.  The fear of the Kaiser's hordes and Krupp artillery kept everyone else on tiptoe for a long time after that -- a long time when nobody was willing to risk war -- despite Europe's long history of wars before that.

But perhaps we see the process most clearly in Japan.  The Japanese samurai code (Bushido) was developed during a long series of wrenching civil wars between rival clans. And when one clan finally got the upper hand over all the rest, that code became in effect the official religion.

So what was that code?  The most extensive exposition of it appears to be the Hagakure -- and you don't have to read the Hagakure for long to find a scale of values that is very different from a modern Western scale of values. It is a very rambling document but repeatedly you find in it two major themes:  Indifference to death in battle or otherwise and loyalty to the master.  It glorifies conflict and a militarized society, in short.

Yet men who followed that code -- the men of the Tokugawa Shogunate -- created and sustained the longest period of of peace that any nation has ever known: A period generally reckoned to stretch from 1600 until 1868.    So while Europe was tearing itself apart, fanatical militarists gave Japan unrivalled peace.

But the values found in the Hagakure are not so alien to those who know our own more remote history.  Ancient Germanic values were never spelled out the way they are in the Hagakure but they seem to have been not a lot different from that which we read in the Hagakure.  One can refer to Caesar, Tacitus and others for an account of those values but we do not really need to go much further than that great classic of old Anglo-Saxon literature: "Beowulf".  The comparison is not precise but in Beowulf too the focus was on the glory of battle and conquest -- and also incidentally the centrality of kings*.

So from the Romans to the old Anglo-Saxons, to the Tokugawas to  Bismarck, the martial paradox has prevailed.  Which, I take it, is why Leftists reject it.  Rejecting anything established is a  kneejerk reaction for them.  They are always sure that they can soar above established wisdom.  That they cannot the many "unintended consequences" of their policies make clear. And with Obamacare heading down the pike we will soon be seeing lots of that.

* Though in the Anglo-Saxon case the king seems mainly to have been a "giver of rings"  -- i.e. someone who awarded honors. That's still true in Britain today.

About turn!  Proof that Leftist "principles" are made of sponge rubber

Support for Obama's unconstrained assassination program makes that crystal clear

Glenn Greenwald

This past week has been a strangely clarifying political moment. It was caused by two related events: the leak of the Justice Department's "white paper" justifying Obama's claimed power to execute Americans without charges, followed by John Brennan's alarming confirmation hearing (as Charles Pierce wrote: "the man whom the administration has put up to head the CIA would not say whether or not the president of the United States has the power to order the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen within the borders of the United States"). I describe last week's process as "strange" because, for some reason, those events caused large numbers of people for the first time to recognize, accept and begin to confront truths that have long been readily apparent.

Illustrating this odd phenomenon was a much-discussed New York Times article on Sunday by Peter Baker which explained that these events "underscored the degree to which Mr. Obama has embraced some of Mr. Bush's approach to counterterrorism, right down to a secret legal memo authorizing presidential action unfettered by outside forces." It began this way:

"If President Obama tuned in to the past week's bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.

"Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country's core values in the name of security."

Baker also noticed this: "Some liberals acknowledged in recent days that they were willing to accept policies they once would have deplored as long as they were in Mr. Obama's hands, not Mr. Bush's." As but one example, the article quoted Jennifer Granholm, the former Michigan governor and fervent Obama supporter, as admitting without any apparent shame that "if this was Bush, I think that we would all be more up in arms" because, she said "we trust the president". Thus did we have - while some media liberals objected - scores of progressives and conservatives uniting to overtly embrace the once-controversial Bush/Cheney premises of the War on Terror (it's a global war! the whole world is a battlefield! the president has authority to do whatever he wants to The Terrorists without interference from courts!) in order to defend the war's most radical power yet (the president's power to assassinate even his own citizens in secret, without charges, and without checks).

Last week's "revelations" long known

Although you wouldn't know it from the shock and outrage expressed over the last few days, that Barack Obama claims the power to order US citizens assassinated without charges has been known for three full years. It was first reported more or less in passing in January, 2010 by the Washington Post's Dana Priest, and then confirmed and elaborated on by both the New York Times and the Washington Post in April, 2010. Obama first tried to kill US citizen Anwar Awlaki in December 2009 (apparently before these justifying legal memoranda were concocted) using cruise missiles and cluster bombs; they missed Awlaki but killed 52 people, more than half of whom were women and children. Obama finally succeeded in killing Awlaki and another American, Samir Khan, in October 2011, and then killed his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman in a drone strike two weeks later.

That Obama is systematically embracing the same premises that shaped the once-controversial Bush/Cheney terrorism approach has been known for even longer. All the way back in February, 2009 - one month after Obama's inauguration - the New York Times' Charlie Savage reported that "the Obama administration is quietly signaling continued support for other major elements of its predecessor's approach to fighting Al Qaeda" and that this continuity is "prompting growing worry among civil liberties groups and a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies" (I actually wrote at the time that Savage's alarmist conclusions were premature and overly pessimistic, but subsequently told him how right, even prescient, he turned out to be). In April, 2009, the Obama-friendly TPM site announced that "Obama mimics Bush" when it comes to assertions of extremist secrecy powers. In June, 2010, Obama's embrace - and expansion - of many of Bush's most radical policies had become so glaring that ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero gave a speech to a progressive conference and began by proclaiming himself to be "disgusted with this president", while Bush's most hawkish officials began praising Obama for his "continuity" with Bush/Cheney policy.

That many Democratic partisans and fervent Obama admirers are vapid, unprincipled hacks willing to justify anything and everything when embraced by Obama - including exactly that which they pretended to oppose under George W Bush - has also been clear for many years. Back in February, 2008, Paul Krugman warned that Obama supporters are "dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality." In May, 2009, a once-fervent Obama supporter, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, wrote a column warning that Obama was embracing many of the worst Bush/Cheney abuses and felt compelled - in the very first sentence - to explain what should be self-evident: "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House." The same month, former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith - who provided the legal authorization for the illegal Bush NSA warrantless eavesdropping program - went to the New Republic to celebrate that Obama was not only continuing the core Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism, but even better (from his perspective), was strengthening those policies far beyond what Bush could achieve by transforming Democrats from opponents of those policies into supporters.

And exactly as Goldsmith happily predicted, polls now show that Democrats and even self-identified progressives support policies that they once pretended to loathe now that it is Obama rather than Bush embracing them. On MSNBC, Obama aides and pundit-supporters now do their best Sarah Palin impression by mocking as weaklings and losers those who think the President should be constrained in his militarism and demonizing as anti-American anyone who questions the military (in between debating whether Obama should be elevated onto Mount Rushmore or given his own monument). A whole slew of policies that would have triggered the shrillest of progressive condemnations under Bush - waging war after Congress votes against authorizing it, the unprecedented persecution and even torturing of whistleblowers, literally re-writing FOIA to conceal evidence of torture, codifying indefinite detention on US soil - are justified or, at best, ignored.

So none of this - Obama's assassination program, his general embrace of Bush/Cheney radicalism, the grotesque eagerness of many Democrats to justify whatever he does - is at all new. But for some reasons, the events of last week made all of this so glaring that it could no longer be denied, and it's worth thinking about why that is.

What made last week's revelations so powerful?

What this DOJ "white paper" did was to force people to confront Obama's assassination program without emotionally manipulative appeal to some cartoon Bad Guy Terrorist (Awlaki). That document never once mentioned Awlaki. Instead - using the same creepily clinical, sanitized, legalistic language used by the Bush DOJ to justify torture, renditions and warrantless eavesdropping - it set forth the theoretical framework for empowering not just Obama, but any and all presidents, to assassinate not just Anwar Awlaki, but any citizens declared in secret by the president to be worthy of execution. Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee wrote that the DOJ memo "should shake the American people to the core", while Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman explained "the revolutionary and shocking transformation of the meaning of due process" ushered in by this memo and said it constituted a repudiation of the Magna Carta.

In doing so, this document helpfully underscored the critical point that is otherwise difficult to convey: when you endorse the application of a radical state power because the specific target happens to be someone you dislike and think deserves it, you're necessarily institutionalizing that power in general. That's why political leaders, when they want to seize extremist powers or abridge core liberties, always choose in the first instance to target the most marginalized figures: because they know many people will acquiesce not because they support that power in theory but because they hate the person targeted. But if you cheer when that power is first invoked based on that mentality - I'm glad Obama assassinated Awlaki without charges because he was a Bad Man! - then you lose the ability to object when the power is used in the future in ways you dislike (or by leaders you distrust), because you've let it become institutionalized.

Much more HERE


French socialism in big trouble

The daily drumbeat of layoff and plant-closure announcements in France has been riling up desperate workers who stand to lose their livelihood without much hope of finding a job elsewhere as unemployment has hit 10.5%. But now the government is worried about a “radicalization” of these angry workers. A major quandary: on one hand, the Socialists promised during the election to side with the workers; but on the other hand, they must somehow figure out how to create an environment where the private sector can survive.

And the private sector is gasping for air. The Services Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 43.6 in January, from 45.2 in December (below 50 = contraction), the fastest rate of contraction since March 2009. Particularly worrisome was the steep decline in employment. Manufacturing was even worse. Its index fell to 42.9 in January. New orders plunged at the fastest rate since March 2009, with domestic demand the primary culprit. Employment skidded as excess capacity led companies to slash their headcount.

That these references to March 2009, the dark days of the financial crisis, keep cropping up in economic data is troubling. The report speaks of a “deepening malaise” and “a broad-based deterioration in the private sector” with “significant headwinds,” “accelerated job cutting,” and “heightened levels of uncertainty.” President François Hollande and his government should be in panic mode.

The private sector is anemic in France. Based on the 2013 budget, the central government will contribute 56.3% to the economy. The remaining 43.7% is spread over local and regional governments and finally the private sector—that is shriveling with the relentless de-industrialization of France.

Plant shut-downs and layoffs, or merely the announcement of these events often months or even years down the road, make bold headlines. Video clips of protests associated with them show up on TV, with angry men and women blocking the site. There are images of fires and mayhem. Managers are taken hostage. Politicians weigh in gravely and speak of “dialogue.” Layoffs and plant closures don’t go down smoothly in France.

A series of big-name companies, some of them part-owned by the state, has become part of the nightly layoff blues: Air France, steelmaker ArcelorMittal, Texas Instruments, Goodyear, refiner Petroplus, or automakers PSA PeugeotCitroën and Renault, whose unit sales in France had plunged 17% and 20% respectively last year. But it doesn’t stop there. Now home sales are grinding to a halt

The numbers are adding up: in 2012, according to Trendeo, which tracks the creation and destruction of jobs in France, 266 industrial plants were closed last year, a 42% jump from 2011! Since 2009, a total of 1,087 old factories were shuttered while only 703 new ones were brought to life, for a net loss of 384 plants. And these new factories have on average 8.5% fewer employees than factories that are being shut down.

Just how deeply the government is worried about the growing labor unrest emerged during an interview on BFMTV on Tuesday:

And not in a propitious location: Interior Minister Manuel Valls was discussing the hunt for Islamist terrorists in France—efforts that the government has redoubled since its military involvement in Mali—when suddenly the topic shifted to the government’s fear of “excesses and violence” during the next labor-related demonstrations.

“Social anger”—meaning, anger by unionized workers—“as a consequence of the financial and economic crisis, job insecurity, unemployment, and layoffs is here and has been rumbling for years,” admitted Valls. “But what we’re seeing today are less social movements but social implosions or explosions.”

Turns out, the government is already preparing for them. A memo to that effect, dated January 30, bubbled to the surface. Sent to regional directors of the police intelligence service, it underlines “the risks of incidents” or possible “threats to production equipment in case of radicalization of the conflict.” To get a handle on the situation, the government has instructed its police intelligence apparatus to gather information on the movements and to follow teetering companies “very closely” in order to anticipate a possible “radicalization” of the labor unrest.

Valls confirmed the police surveillance. “You have to carefully analyze it,” he said about the social anger. And that was the job specifically of the intelligence services of the police, he added. Ever the likeable Socialist, he found the right words. “We have to try to understand the reasons that push men and women into desperation,” he said. “Men and women who are in the process of losing their jobs.”

What about vandalism and destruction of production equipment often associated with these movements? “We have to try to understand them, but we cannot permit them,” he said firmly, as the interview drifted to the next topic: rising violence and property crimes against individuals.

The heightened police presence at these sites during times of labor unrest, often in unmarked cars, has the unions worried. And Bernard Thibault, Secretary General of the CGT, warned that it would be seen as a “provocation.” And so the second largest economy of the Eurozone enters into a phase where fear of a labor revolt hangs over every economic decision the government makes.

The unemployment rate in particular has become treacherous. While all countries use inscrutable statistical systems to make unemployment look better, France also has an administrative tool: removing tens of thousands of people every month from the unemployment rolls for spurious reasons.




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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A nervous administration

They're afraid of us.  That's what's behind their attempts to ban potent firearms etc.  They think we are as vicious as they would like to be

During the Obama Inaugural last month the administration disarmed the US Marines marching in the parade.  The Examiner reported:

“Didn’t know the Marines had to take the bolts out of their rifles for the Inaugural,” an email forwarded to Gun Rights Examiner from a United States Marine Corps source observed. “Wonder if someone can explain why [they] would be marching in the inaugural parade with no bolts in their rifles!”

The email linked to a YouTube video of the 57th Presidential Inaugural Parade, embedded in this column, featuring Bravo Company Marines from the Marine Barracks Washington. Sure enough, the observation in the email is confirmed by watching the video, with screen shots provided in the photo and slide show accompanying this article.

This prompted an internet search to see if others had also noticed, and the Blur-Brain blog had.

“The bolts have been removed from the rifles rendering them unable to fire a round,” the post stated. “Apparently Obama’s Secret Service doesn’t trust the USMC. Simply searching each guy to make sure he didn’t have a live round hidden on him wasn’t enough, they had to make sure the guns were inoperable.

Wondering if this may be an inauguration policy of long standing that transcends administrations, Gun Rights Examiner made a cursory search and found something even more curious. In the 2009 Inaugural Parade, the United States Navy marched with rifles that had not been so disabled

It’s not the first time the Obama Administration disarmed US Marines at an event.

In March 2012, US Marines were told to leave their weapons outside the tent during Leon Panetta’s speech in Afghanistan.



Debunking some more Leftist history

One hundred years ago, a great and enduring myth was born. Muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair wrote a novel entitled The Jungle—a tale of greed and abuse that still reverberates as a case against a free economy. Sinclair’s “jungle” was unregulated enterprise; his example was the meat-packing industry; his purpose was government regulation. The culmination of his work was the passage in 1906 of the Meat Inspection Act, enshrined in history, or at least in history books, as a sacred cow (excuse the pun) of the interventionist state.

A century later, American schoolchildren are still being taught a simplistic and romanticized version of this history. For many young people, The Jungle is required reading in high-school classes, where they are led to believe that unscrupulous capitalists were routinely tainting our meat, and that moral crusader Upton Sinclair rallied the public and forced government to shift from pusillanimous bystander to heroic do-gooder, valiantly disciplining the marketplace to protect its millions of victims.

But this is a triumph of myth over reality, of ulterior motives over good intentions. Reading The Jungle and assuming it’s a credible news source is like watching The Blair Witch Project because you think it’s a documentary.

Given the book’s favorable publicity, it’s not surprising that it has duped a lot of people. Ironically, Sinclair himself, as a founder of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society in 1905, was personally suckered by more than a few intellectual charlatans of his day. One of them was fellow “investigative journalist” Lincoln Steffens, best known for returning from the Soviet Union in 1921 and saying, “I have seen the future, and it works.”

In any event, there is much about The Jungle that Americans just don’t learn from conventional history texts.

The Jungle was, first and foremost, a novel. As is indicated by the fact that the book originally appeared as a serialization in the socialist journal “Appeal to Reason,” it was intended to be a polemic—a diatribe, if you will—not a well-researched and dispassionate documentary. Sinclair relied heavily both on his own imagination and on the hearsay of others. He did not even pretend that he had actually witnessed the horrendous conditions he ascribed to Chicago packinghouses, nor to have verified them, nor to have derived them from any official records.

Sinclair hoped the book would ignite a powerful socialist movement on behalf of America’s workers. The public’s attention focused instead on his fewer than a dozen pages of supposed descriptions of unsanitary conditions in the meat-packing plants. “I aimed at the public’s heart,” he later wrote, “and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

Though his novelized and sensational accusations prompted congressional investigations of the industry, the investigators themselves expressed skepticism about Sinclair’s integrity and credibility as a source of information. In July 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt stated his opinion of Sinclair in a letter to journalist William Allen White: “I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful. Three-fourths of the things he said were absolute falsehoods. For some of the remainder there was only a basis of truth.”

Sinclair’s fellow writer and philosophical intimate, Jack London, wrote this announcement of The Jungle, a promo that was approved by Sinclair himself:

"Dear Comrades: . . . The book we have been waiting for these many years! It will open countless ears that have been deaf to Socialism. It will make thousands of converts to our cause. It depicts what our country really is, the home of oppression and injustice, a nightmare of misery, an inferno of suffering, a human hell, a jungle of wild beasts."

And take notice and remember, comrades, this book is straight proletarian. It is written by an intellectual proletarian, for the proletarian. It is to be published by a proletarian publishing house. It is to be read by the proletariat. What “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” did for the black slaves “The Jungle” has a large chance to do for the white slaves of today.

The fictitious characters of Sinclair’s novel tell of men falling into tanks in meat-packing plants and being ground up with animal parts, then made into “Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard.” Historian Stewart H. Holbrook writes, “The grunts, the groans, the agonized squeals of animals being butchered, the rivers of blood, the steaming masses of intestines, the various stenches . . . were displayed along with the corruption of government inspectors” and, of course, the callous greed of the ruthless packers.

Most Americans would be surprised to know that government meat inspection did not begin in 1906. The inspectors Holbrook cites as being mentioned in Sinclair’s book were among hundreds employed by federal, state, and local governments for more than a decade. Indeed, Congressman E. D. Crumpacker of Indiana noted in testimony before the House Agriculture Committee in June 1906 that not even one of those officials “ever registered any complaint or [gave] any public information with respect to the manner of the slaughtering or preparation of meat or food products.”

To Crumpacker and other contemporary skeptics, “Either the Government officials in Chicago [were] woefully derelict in their duty, or the situation over there [had been] outrageously overstated to the country.” If the packing plants were as bad as alleged in The Jungle, surely the government inspectors who never said so must be judged as guilty of neglect as the packers were of abuse.

Some 2 million visitors came to tour the stockyards and packinghouses of Chicago every year. Thousands of people worked in both. Why did it take a novel, written by an anticapitalist ideologue who spent but a few weeks in the city, to unveil the real conditions to the American public?

All the big Chicago packers combined accounted for less than 50% of the meat products produced in the United States, but few if any charges were ever made against the sanitary conditions of the packinghouses of other cities. If the Chicago packers were guilty of anything like the terribly unsanitary conditions suggested by Sinclair, wouldn’t they be foolishly exposing themselves to devastating losses of market share?

In this connection, historians with an ideological axe to grind against the market usually ignore an authoritative 1906 report of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Husbandry. Its investigators provided a point-by-point refutation of the worst of Sinclair’s allegations, some of which they labeled as “willful and deliberate misrepresentations of fact,” “atrocious exaggeration,” and “not at all characteristic.”

Instead, some of these same historians dwell on the Neill-Reynolds Report of the same year because it at least tentatively supported Sinclair. It turns out that neither Neill nor Reynolds had any experience in the meat-packing business and spent a grand total of two and a half weeks in the spring of 1906 investigating and preparing what turned out to be a carelessly written report with predetermined conclusions. Gabriel Kolko, a socialist but nonetheless a historian with a respect for facts, dismisses Sinclair as a propagandist and assails Neill and Reynolds as “two inexperienced Washington bureaucrats who freely admitted they knew nothing” of the meat-packing process. Their own subsequent testimony revealed that they had gone to Chicago with the intention of finding fault with industry practices so as to get a new inspection law passed.

According to the popular myth, there were no government inspectors before Congress acted in response to The Jungle, and the greedy meat packers fought federal inspection all the way. The truth is that not only did government inspection exist, but meat packers themselves supported it and were in the forefront of the effort to extend it so as to ensnare their smaller, unregulated competitors.

When the sensational accusations of The Jungle became worldwide news, foreign purchases of American meat were cut in half and the meat packers looked for new regulations to give their markets a calming sense of security. The only congressional hearings on what ultimately became the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 were held by Congressman James Wadsworth’s Agriculture Committee between June 6 and 11. A careful reading of the deliberations of the Wadsworth committee and the subsequent floor debate leads inexorably to one conclusion: knowing that a new law would allay public fears fanned by The Jungle, bring smaller rivals under controls, and put a newly laundered government seal of approval on their products, the major meat packers strongly endorsed the proposed act and only quibbled over who should pay for it.

In the end, Americans got a new federal meat inspection law, the big packers got the taxpayers to pick up the entire $3 million price tag for its implementation, as well as new regulations on the competition, and another myth entered the annals of anti-market dogma.

To his credit, Sinclair actually opposed the law because he saw it for what it really was—a boon for the big meat packers. He had been a fool and a sucker who ended up being used by the very industry he hated. But then, there may not have been an industry that he didn’t hate.

Myths survive their makers. What you’ve just read about Sinclair and his myth is not at all “politically correct.” But defending the market from historical attack begins with explaining what really happened in our history. Those who persist in the shallow claim that The Jungle stands as a compelling indictment of the market should take a look at the history surrounding this honored novel. Upon inspection, there seems to be an unpleasant odor hovering over it.



Boston's commuters could learn something from Tokyo's

by Jeff Jacoby

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is the nation's oldest subway system, with traditions so enduring that the memory of Boston commuters runneth not to the contrary.

Like campaigns urging passengers not to be such thoughtless jerks.

Last week the MBTA rolled out the latest such campaign — a "Courtesy Critters" advertising blitz starring animals in the role of etiquette instructors. The 2,400 posters going up on trains and buses feature pigs reminding riders not to "hog a seat," horses telling them not to "cause a stampede," and a trio of elephants imploring: "Don't spray your germs." Another shows a flock of parrots in a subway car. "Don't squawk on the phone," it admonishes T users. "We hate to clip your wings, but not everyone wants to hear your conversation."

Sound familiar? It was only 15 months ago that the T launched a campaign to go after seat hogs, open-mouth sneezers, and cell-phone blabbers with mock headlines reporting instances of polite behavior as if they were big news. "Man Gives Up Seat for Pregnant Woman!" announced one. Marveled another: "Couple Takes Own Trash from Blue Line Train!"

A year before that, the MBTA had enlisted Boston Celtics star Paul "The Truth" Pierce to record announcements chiding passengers to show common courtesy. "When you see someone who is elderly, disabled, or pregnant, don't just sit there — offer them your seat," Pierce urged. "Courtesy counts, and that's the truth!" Earlier still had been the attempt to encourage more thoughtful behavior by handing out Dunkin' Donuts gift cards to passengers who gave up their seats to the elderly or performed other acts of kindness.

The bad manners of Boston commuters is an old story (the Boston Elevated Railway was distributing a pamphlet on courtesy back in 1912), so I'm probably not going out on a limb by predicting that the new campaign isn't going to make much of a difference. But I have been wondering what Mr. Oka would make of it.

I met Mr. Oka, who is in his 80s and walks slowly with a cane, during a visit to Japan in January. He had arranged to show me some historical sites in Tokyo, and we used the city's vast subway network to travel distances too far to cover on foot. Several times, as we boarded a crowded train, I pressed him to take one of the few available seats. Invariably he refused, insisting that I take the seat.

"You are a visitor and my guest," he told me. "It wouldn't be right for me to sit while you stand."

"But, Oka-san, you are much older than I am and you have difficulty walking," I remonstrated. (Indeed, before we met in person he had warned me by e-mail that he was elderly and infirm.) "It would be disrespectful for me to take a seat and leave you without one."

I remonstrated in vain. I tried a religious argument, telling him that the Bible enjoins believers to "stand up in the presence of the aged and show respect for the elderly" as a sign of reverence for God. Mr. Oka, a nominal Buddhist, wasn't persuaded. On one train we actually had this debate in front of a row of seats designated for senior citizens — there was even a little sign depicting someone with a cane. Still he wouldn't sit, so strong was his notion of what proper manners required.

A Japan Railway staff member bows in front of passengers to apologize for a train delay at the Saitama City station in Tokyo.

Of course not every strap-hanger in Tokyo takes politeness quite so far. But based on my observations, courtesy and consideration for others are ingrained there to a degree that Green Line regulars would find astonishing. In a 10-day span, I must have boarded a subway, bus, or commuter train at least 50 times. Cellphones were ubiquitous, yet I never heard a ringtone — and only once did I see someone violate the taboo against talking on a cell in a public vehicle. Nor did I see passengers sprawl across three seats or leave sandwich wrappers and coffee cups in their wake. And though the rush-hour crowds in some stations were enormous, they managed to avoid the wrestling matches caused when riders insist on shoving their way onto a train before departing passengers can get off.

MBTA officials regularly observe that courtesy can't be compelled, only suggested. "It's unfortunate," Transit Police Superintendent Joseph O'Connor said last year, "but there is no mechanism to force people to have good manners." Yet there is such a mechanism, one that operates with striking effectiveness in the world's busiest subway system: strong social pressure. Japanese commuters expect each other to be polite, mindful, and quiet. As a result, Japanese commuters mostly are polite, mindful, and quiet.


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, February 11, 2013

The Freezeniks are in power now

President Obama’s senior thesis at Columbia University has been embargoed. It is said to be an endorsement of the Nuclear Freeze Movement that was so much the cause célèbre of the left here and throughout Western Europe in the Reagan years. We may have to wait for his presidential library to open to find out.

And we may have to wait until then, too, to learn whether young Barack Obama attended the massive, one million plus Nuclear Freeze rally in Central Park in June, 1982. It’s hard to imagine that the young student who, he tells us in his book Dreams from My Father, consciously sought out the Marxist professors on campus would have missed this huge anti-nuclear demonstration unfolding on his doorstep. It’s odd, too, that he seems never to have been asked about this during two campaigns for the White House or during any press conference.

Why is this important now? Because now is when President Obama’s promise to be “flexible” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin is being redeemed. Mr. Obama has just tapped as his Sec. of State John Kerry, the man who rode into the Senate as the most outspoken proponent of the Nuclear Freeze. Kerry was never held accountable for that full-throated embrace of the Soviet Union’s Number One foreign policy objective for almost the full decade of the 1980s.

Even when Kerry ran for president in 2004, opponents focused on his 1971 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a youthful, long-haired anti-Vietnam War protester, and not on the fact that he helped to further the KGB’s goals as a U.S. Senator.

Of course, President Obama’s choice of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska to be the next Sec. of Defense seems incomprehensible to many in Washington. He’s so obviously unfit. Even his defenders—like former Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh—concede that “[Hagel] didn’t bring his ‘A-game’ to his confirmation hearings.” Imagine that: a Sec. of Defense-designate whom even his backers say was unprepared.

The Hagel choice only makes sense if you realize that Obama and Kerry would not want a civilian leader in the Pentagon making waves as they seek to disarm and disable the United States of America. Hagel will be a loyal member of the “go along to get along gang,” if confirmed.

We now know that the Soviet KGB, the deadly secret police, was a leading pusher of the Nuclear Freeze and they had thousands of willing accomplices on the left. They wanted to be able to put Soviet missiles in Eastern Europe and have the West respond with a “Freeze” on their own deployment of Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles—Cruise and Pershing rockets.

The best way to think of that policy goal is to think of the rabbit and the boa constrictor. The boa moves menacingly toward the rabbit and the rabbit freezes, hoping the boa won’t notice him. But to the boa, the rabbit is lunch.

Left-wing advocates of the Freeze, like Bill Hyland, argued publicly that our freezing would create a world outcry for the Soviets to withdraw their own IRBM’s from Eastern Europe.

Harvard’s Polish-born biographer of Stalin, the great Adam Ulam, punctured Hyland’s pretty bubble when he asked him in his heavily-accented English: “An’ wot will you doo iff they dun’t?”

President Reagan wisely and courageously resisted calls for the Nuclear Freeze. He believed the United States’ strength should always be “second to none.” He advocated instead a Zero Option under which both sides would massively reduce their nuclear and conventional weapons. He was careful always to say: Trust but verify. Which was his polite way of saying: We aren’t going to trust you without proof.

Today, America’s foreign and defense policies are being crafted at the top by those who so obviously failed in the great Cold War struggle of the 1980s. The Freezeniks are in power now.

And their negotiating partner, Vladimir Putin, knows what he can get from them in the way of flexibility. No other world leader is a former KGB agent. It may well be that Putin rose through the ranks of that dreaded outfit by crafting the very policies that credulous Western “peace” politicians fell for.

We don’t know if young Barack Obama was on board for the Freeze, but Vladimir Putin knows. Russia’s spy network has never been dismantled. In 2010 the FBI caught ten Russian spies just before the famed “Hamburger Summit” between President Obama and Putin’s seat-warmer, Dmitri Medvedev, the spies were allowed to leave the U.S. without extensive questioning, without so much as a TSA pat-down.

When Russia briefly tasted freedom in the 1990s, happy throngs tore down the Moscow statue of Felix Dzerzhinksi, the founder of the Soviet secret police. “Iron Felix’s” bust was quietly returned to Russia’s police headquarters by Vladimir Putin, shortly after he resumed power in 2000. It is to this man, this successor to creators of the Gulag where millions died, that President Obama gave his promise to be “flexible” after the election. Frozen in fear; flexible to our foes. That’s the best summary of U.S. foreign policy now.



Leftist reliance on foolish prophecies

 Thomas Sowell

People on both sides of tax issues often speak of such things as a "$300 billion tax increase" or a "$500 billion tax decrease." That is fine if they are looking back at something that has already happened. But it can be sheer nonsense if they are talking about a proposed increase or decrease in the tax rate.

The government can only raise or lower the tax rate. Whether the actual tax revenues that the government will collect as a result will go up or down is a matter of prophecy. And these prophecies have been far too wrong far too often to base national policies on them.

When Congress was considering raising the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 28 percent in 1986, the Congressional Budget Office advised Congress that this would increase the revenue received from that tax. But the Congressional Budget Office was wrong, not simply about the amount of the tax revenue increase, but about the fact that the capital gains tax revenue actually fell.

There was nothing unique about this example of tax rates and tax revenues moving in opposite directions from each other -- and also in opposite directions from the predictions of the Congressional Budget Office. Reductions of the capital gains tax rates in 1978, 1997 and 2003 all led to increased revenues from that tax.

The Congressional Budget Office is by no means the only government agency whose prophecies have been grossly unreliable. Anyone who looks at the history of the Federal Reserve System will find many painful examples of wrong prophecies that led to policies with bad consequences for the whole economy.

In a worldwide context, during the 20th century economic central planning by governments -- prophecy at the grandest level -- led to so many bad consequences, in countries around the world, that even most socialist and communist governments abandoned central planning by the end of that century.

The failures of governmental prophecies in so many different contexts cannot be blamed on stupidity. Most of the people who made these prophecies were far more educated than the average person, had far more information at their fingertips and probably had higher IQs as well.

Their intellectual superiority to others may well have given them the confidence to venture into areas where no human being has what it takes to make prophecies that lead to policies overriding the plans and actions of millions of other human beings.

As John Stuart Mill said, back in the 19th century, "even if a government were superior in intelligence and knowledge to any single individual in the nation, it must be inferior to all the individuals of the nation taken together."

People competing with each other, and being forced to make mutual accommodations with each other in the marketplace, are operating in a trial and error process.

Human beings are going to make errors in any kind of economic or political system. The question is: Which kind of system punishes errors more quickly, and more effectively, in terms of forcing errors to be corrected?

A market economy with many competitors has incentives and constraints that are the opposite of those in a government monopoly.

Anyone familiar with the economic history of businesses knows that their mistakes have been common and large. But red ink on the bottom line lets them know that they are going to have to shape up or shut down.

Government agencies face no such constraint. The Federal Reserve can keep making the same mistakes in the next hundred years that it made in its first hundred years. Or it can make new and bigger mistakes.

Nor is the Federal Reserve unique. The same thing applies to the Congressional Budget Office and to government agencies on down to the local DMV.

Elected politicians not only can keep making the same mistakes. They have every incentive to deny that they made a mistake in the first place, since such an admission can end their careers.

That is why these prophets can lead to our losses.



A Miserable New York State Of Mind

The spin on the women's health issue could give you whiplash. Nationally and in my home state of New York, there's a whole lot of manipulation going on.

The White House continues its unnecessary, perplexing attack on religious liberty in the United States. The administration's latest stance regarding the abortion-drug/contraception health-insurance mandate continues to violate the rights of religious employers who object to contributing to such things. That's why you see not only Catholics but also Protestants, among others, suing the federal government. Contrary to much of the media spin, this debate is not about access but freedom.

During his State of the State address last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his abortion-expansion agenda with wild cries of "Choice!" His supposed gift to women has non-physicians performing abortions as he moves the industry toward less regulation, including on late-term abortions.

Cheryl Calire, director of pro-life activities for the Catholic Archdiocese of Buffalo and a founder of the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center there, where she works as a peer counselor, disagrees with the governor.

"We have so many other issues in the state that need attention, that one wonders why so much time and effort is being spent on an issue that would not pass as a stand-alone bill," she tells me.

And Cuomo's agenda is not actually promoting what he claims it is: choice. "In the many conversations I have had with post-abortive women," Calire shares, "they actually felt they had 'no choice,' especially because the man made them feel that since it was legal, it was the course of action that should be followed. The same often is the case for the teen who may not 'choose' to have an abortion, but parents don't want to face the perceived embarrassment that they may face, so make the 'choice' for her."

Choice is so much more than a slogan and so much more liberating than what the governor offers in its name.

In her work at the Gianna center, Calire listens, supports and connects pregnant mothers with support for material, medical and educational needs. This is the hard work of real choice. "Our goal is to empower these women and equip them with the necessary resources available to help them become a good parent and active member of our society," Calire shares. "We have women who stay in touch, finish school, start a new career and come and volunteer," she adds. Calire wants every pregnant woman to know: "There are people who care about you, your unborn child, and are willing to put that into action."

Calire's commitment to pro-life work was stepped up by an unplanned pregnancy close to home. Her 15-year-old son fathered a child with his girlfriend. He wanted to take responsibility for the child he had helped conceive, but his girlfriend's parents had already scheduled an abortion. It was a difficult road, but her grandson is now 6 years old, living with his dad, with visits from his mom. "He is the light in our life," his loving grandmother proclaims.

If Cuomo really wants to give women a choice, he'd support initiatives such as tax credits for couples who adopt and measures similar to the Signs of Hope Act in Louisiana, which ensures women know their options before ending the life of their unborn child. New York City has been described as the abortion capital of the United States, with some 41 percent of pregnancies there ending in abortion. How can there be a need for more?

We are far from the days of safe, legal and rare. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently reflected, "abortion seems to be not the law of the land but the preference of the land." Why else would anyone support Gov. Cuomo's tactics? Let's work on actually helping women, instead of this miserable excuse for a conversation about choice and health.



George Orwell Surely Would Be Amused by the Statolatry in the United Kingdom

Daniel J. Mitchell

I just finished up a trip to London.

In previous posts, I’ve expressed pessimism about the future of the United Kingdom, largely because all political parties have a statist mentality.  I criticized Gordon Brown, the former Labor Party Prime Minister, for being a compulsive redistributionist, big spender, and taxaholic.

But nothing’s really changed under Tory leadership. David Cameron is a vacuous statist, undermining the Conservative Party in the same way that George W. Bush eroded the brand name capital of the Republican Party.

This sign was on a train I rode today. It is sponsored by the UK version of the IRS,  and it pretty much symbolizes how the United Kingdom has turned into a predatory state.

The United Kingdom is in terrible fiscal shape. Government spending has reached record levels, and now consumes a larger share of economic output than the public sectors in failed welfare states such as Spain.

And what are taxpayers getting for their money, other than Orwellian signs?

Not much. They get an increasingly dysfunctional society filled with scroungers such as Natalija, Gina and Danny.

They also get a healthcare system that seemingly prides itself on maltreatment, and a tax system that is more designed to be punitive rather than to generate revenue.

Though the UK government does provide taxpayer-financed sex tours to Amsterdam, so at least a few people are getting screwed as a result of government rather than by the government.

But let’s close by contemplating the mindset of a government that would post such a sign. We already know that Prime Minister Cameron and some of his senior deputies think it’s wrong to engage in legal tax avoidance.

And this is a government that is brainwashing kids into becoming servile snitches, and is even considering a system that would have employers send paychecks to the state and then the government would decide how much to send to taxpayers.

Such a shame since so much of what is good in the Western World came from England.

P.S. This is also a country where they send innocent people to jail for shooting burglars.

SOURCE  (See the original for links)



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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Blame Righty Mob Falls Silent

 Michelle Malkin

Question: How many times over the past four years have exploitative liberal journalists and Democratic leaders rushed to pin random acts of violence on the tea party, Republicans, Fox News and conservative talk radio?

Answer: Nearly a dozen times, including the 2009 massacre of three Pittsburgh police officers (which lib journos falsely blamed on Fox News, Glenn Beck and the "heated, apocalyptic rhetoric of the anti-Obama forces"); the 2009 suicide insurance scam/murder hoax of Kentucky census worker Bill Sparkman (which New York magazine falsely blamed on Rush Limbaugh, "conservative media personalities, websites and even members of Congress"); the 2009 Holocaust museum shooting (which MSNBC commentator Joan Walsh blamed on Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and yours truly); the 2010 Times Square jihad bomb plot (which Mayor Michael Bloomberg falsely blamed on tea party activists protesting Obamacare); and the 2011 Tucson massacre, which liberals continue to blame on former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Question: What will this rabid Blame Righty mob do now that an alleged triple-murderer has singled out prominent lefties in the media and Hollywood for fawning praise as part of his crazed manifesto advocating cop-killing?

Answer: Evade, deflect, ignore and whitewash.

This week, former Los Angeles Police Department Officer Christopher Dorner allegedly shot and killed three innocent people in cold blood. He was the subject of a massive manhunt as of Thursday afternoon. Dorner posted an 11,000-word manifesto on Facebook that outlined his chilling plans to target police officers.

CNN headlined its story on the rant: "Alleged cop-killer details threats to LAPD and why he was driven to violence." MSNBC reported: "Manifesto: Alleged Revenge Shooter Named Targets." KTLA-TV in Los Angeles went with: "Christopher Dorner's Manifesto (Disturbing Content and Language)."

There was a curious, blaring omission in both the headlines and the stories from these supposedly objective outlets, though. Dorner expressed rather pointed, explicit views of news personalities and celebrities who have influenced, entertained and uplifted him. Dorner praised stars from Ellen DeGeneres and Charlie Sheen ("you're effin awesome") to "Jennifer Beals, Serena Williams ... Tamron Hall ... Natalie Portman, Queen Latifah ... Kelly Clarkson, Nora Jones, Laura Prepon, Margaret Cho and Rutina Wesley."

The shout-outs to liberal journalists go on at length:

"Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, Pat Harvey, Brian Williams, Soledad Obrien (sic), Wolf Blitzer, Meredith Viera (sic), Tavis Smiley and Anderson Cooper, keep up the great work and follow Cronkite's lead," Dorner cheered. "I hold many of you in the same regard as Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings."

Dorner also offered an "atta boy" to notorious, anti-Second Amendment CNN anchor Piers Morgan, suggesting he be given "an indefinite resident alien and Visa card." Offering up his political counsel, Dorner added: "I want you to know that I agree with you 100 percent on enacting stricter firearm laws, but you must understand that your critics will always have in the back of their mind that you are native to a country that we won our sovereignty from while using firearms as a last resort in defense and you come from a country that has no legal private ownership of firearms."

Dorner reminded MSNBC's Joe Scarborough that they had "met at McGuire's pub in P-cola in 2002 when I was stationed there. It was an honor conversing with you about politics, family and life." The alleged triple-murderer also advised "Today" show personality Willie Geist: "(Y)ou're a talented and charismatic journalist. Stop with all the talk show shenanigans and get back to your core of reporting. Your future is brighter than most."

It's ridiculous, of course, to blame these journos for the deaths of three innocents in Southern California. But herein lies a teachable moment. In the sick cycle of recent politicized tragedies, the Blame Righty mob demanded that conservative media personalities and GOP politicians apologize for crimes they didn't commit; called for increased regulation of political free speech; and cranked up its decades-old machinery to stifle conservative talk radio in the name of public safety and civility. Even the remotest connection to anything right-wing was excuse enough to convict conservatives for homicidal sprees.

And while the Blame Righty crowd still inveighs about Palin's completely innocent use of crosshairs on a political map, they have fallen silent about the stunning admission of Floyd Lee Corkins, who pleaded guilty this week to attempting to murder members of the conservative Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., last summer.

Corkins said he wanted to "kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches (he had brought) in victims' faces, and kill the guard." How did he pick the office? From a "hate map" published by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center -- the leading guilt-by-association witch-hunt crew targeting conservatives.

Ho-hum. Nothing to see here, move along. Be vewwy, vewwy quiet.



Send in the Clowns

By Oliver North (in Israel)
Atop the Golan Heights, there are thousands of fruit trees, vineyards, acres of wheat, vegetables, herds of cattle and a half-million or more land mines. The livestock and produce were brought here and cultivated by Israeli citizen-soldiers -- people who beat their swords into plowshares to wrest farmland from a battlefield. The land mines were planted by the Syrian army. The Golan plateau is an object lesson for American policymakers who believe that the Israelis need only trade a little more land in exchange for peace. It just isn't so.

While we were en route to the Golan plateau, the U.S. Senate confirmed John Kerry as America's new secretary of state. Kerry says "the Mideast peace process" is his "No. 1 priority." By the time we returned to this ancient city beside the Sea of Galilee, the Senate Armed Services Committee had commenced confirmation hearings on former Sen. Chuck Hagel's fitness to serve as secretary of defense.

Watching "news" from the United States in a foreign country is often a surreal experience. My natural default mode when I'm overseas is to defend my country, but the Hagel hearings made this task challenging, to say the least. The Israelis watching the "highlight reel" frequently asked questions such as, "Why would Obama pick a person who hates Jews to be your secretary of defense?" What's the pro-American answer to that?

From here, Hagel looks "confused," "uncertain" and "ignorant of reality." And those are among the kindest observations appearing in Israel's English-language media. His bewildering, deer-in-the-headlights muddle about the Obama administration's "containment policy" toward Iran's nuclear weapons program was undoubtedly acclaimed by the ayatollahs in Tehran. But here in Israel, it affirmed the worst fears of people who see Iranian nuclear weapons as an existential threat to the survival of the Jewish state.

There were many other issues in which Hagel provided perplexing, even alarming, responses to questions posed by Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. For those of us who served in the Vietnam War, the exchange with Sen. John McCain about the "surge" in Iraq was simply bizarre. McCain asked Hagel whether he stood by a statement in 2007 that the surge in Iraq represented "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." Before the surge, he said, "If it's carried out, I will resist it."

In a lengthy and heated back-and-forth, McCain repeatedly challenged Hagel on whether he still agreed that the Iraq surge was a mistake. Hagel refused to answer. Unfortunately, nobody asked a far more important question: What was it about Vietnam that Hagel considers to be a "blunder"?

The answer to that question might well have been more revealing about Hagel's perspective on current events than a debate over whether George W. Bush made the right decision in 2006 to put 30,000 more American troops into the fight in the Land Between the Rivers. Does Hagel -- a Vietnam War veteran -- think it was wrong that America honored its treaty commitments with the Republic of Vietnam? Does he recall that American combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1972? Does he recall that the North Vietnamese invasion and victory April 30, 1975, came less than five months after the U.S. Congress cut off all military aid to the Republic of Vietnam?

America -- and the Defense Department Hagel wants to head -- is now commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. There is no question about the outcome. After 12 years of war, the North Vietnamese finally conquered their southern neighbor. Millions died and fled the country we pledged to defend. But the war wasn't lost on the battlefields of Vietnam. It was lost in the corridors of power in Washington. Does Hagel consider the "blunder" of Vietnam to be our getting into the fight? Or was it our precipitous withdrawal and removal of all support?

Those are the kinds of questions that should have been asked -- and that Israelis are now asking privately as they await the outcome of these hearings. Hagel says, inexplicably, that he isn't going to be a "policymaker" if he becomes secretary of defense. Officials here know better -- but none of them is going to go on the record about Barack Obama's appointments.

Privately, they note: "There is chaos and turmoil all around us. Washington tells us sanctions will stop the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons. Forty years of sanctions haven't kept the North Koreans from building atomic bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Will the U.S. honor its commitments to us?"

After news broke about Obama's plan to visit Israel, one of my friends shook his head, took out his smartphone and pressed a button. From the tiny speaker came Frank Sinatra singing "Send in the Clowns."



Leftist elitism and hypocrisy again  -- in France

 Valerie Trierweiler has been accused of succumbing to the Marie-Antoinette syndrome of frivolity and luxury while a gloom-racked France toils.

The 47-year-old partner of President Francois Hollande was criticised in a leading magazine for eschewing her Left-wing principles in favour of champagne Socialism, despite the threat of thousands of job losses in the coming weeks in France.

VSD, a weekly magazine, focused its ire on Miss Trierweiler's decision to attend the haute couture shows of Paris fashion week.

It described pictures of her beaming alongside Bernard Arnault, France's richest man, and Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, in the catwalk front rows as a "political fault".

"While thousands of French are fighting to avoid redundancy.?.?. (she) attended the fashion shows," it wrote.

"Valerie Trierweiler, who often claims to be 'Socialist to her soul'.?.?. ultimately prefers supporting the one industry that has no particular need of her help - the luxury fashion world. It sends out a very mixed message to the millions of voters who elected her partner to office hoping for a change in morals and mentality."

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was regularly portrayed as a frivolous figure painfully unaware of the plight of the average French person while her husband Nicolas Sarkozy was president.

VSD said her successor had fallen into the same trap.

"Mixing with the elite has always had the power to anaesthetise the conscience and dilute one's convictions, and Valerie Trierweiler clearly hasn't been able to hold out against this for long."

Miss Trierweiler met Mr Hollande, 57, at a political rally 15 years ago and they have been a couple for five years.



Obamacare: More cost, less coverage

Seven million fewer people than predicted will have health care coverage a decade after Obamacare’s passage, admits the Congressional Budget Office. One reason “is that millions of Americans are expected to lose their employer-based coverage, a point” The Wall Street Journal emphasizes in this story.

    "The CBO has long said it expects the new federal health law will prompt some companies to drop millions of employees from health plans because workers have new options to buy insurance on their own. In August, CBO put the number at 4 million over 10 years. Now it’s 7 million."

Another factor is “rapidly increasing health insurance premiums“ because of Obamacare. “As Politico reported, some populations could see premiums triple.” For example, the “federal health care law could nearly triple premiums for some young and healthy men, according to a forthcoming survey of insurers that singles out a group that might become a major public opinion battleground in the Obamacare wars. The survey . . . found that if the law’s insurance rules were in force, the premium for a relatively bare-bones policy for a 27-year-old male nonsmoker on the individual market would be nearly 190 percent higher.”

The cost to taxpayers of Obamacare exchanges is up by 29 percent even before the program starts: “The projected cost of the subsidies for the exchanges has increased by about 29 percent between the 2010 assessment and this week’s, from an average of $3,970 per enrollee to $5,510. This means the ’10-year cost of Obamacare’s insurance subsidies offered via the health law’s exchanges [has increased] by $233 billion,’ says John Merline of Investor’s Business Daily.” Reason‘s Nick Gillespie quotes Merline further:

    "The CBO’s new baseline estimate shows that ObamaCare subsidies offered through the insurance exchanges — which are supposed to be up and running by next January — will total more than $1 trillion through 2022, up from $814 billion over those same years in its budget forecast made a year ago…

    Last year, the CBO said the average exchange subsidy for those getting federal help when ObamaCare goes into effect next year would be $4,780. Its latest estimate raised that to $5,510 — a 15% increase. All these numbers are up even more from the CBO’s original forecast made in 2010, which had the first-year subsidy average at $3,970."

Obamacare will wipe out many jobs through its medical device tax, which already has triggered layoffs. Even liberal Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) called it a “job-killing tax” that will “impair American competitiveness.” Employers are also cutting full-time workers and replacing them with part-time workers to avoid costly Obamacare mandates that apply to full-time employees. Obamacare will reduce employment by an additional 800,000 because of work-punishing income-cliffs for health care tax credits. Obamacare contains racially discriminatory provisions and racial preferences that were criticized by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. It will reduce life-saving medical innovation. It raises taxes starting this year on investors, including, but not limited to, a new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on investment earnings for households earning more than $250,000 per year.




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