Friday, April 26, 2013

The motivations of the Boston bombers were both  Leftist and Islamic

Ever wondered why the 9/11 bombers and many other Muslim terrorists were Western-educated?  It's because the combination of the anti-Americanism they get from Western educators (including Leftist American educators) and the violence preached by Islam  make an explosive mix.  Read the Koran (start with Surah 9) if you think Islam is a religion of peace. The Koran is full of hatred towards non-Muslims and exhortations to kill or oppress them. So it was the same old same old with the Boston bombers.  Kent Clizbe sets out the evidence below

 The Boston Marathon massacre was carried out by two Caucasian Muslim brothers, one an American citizen, pot-smoking Obama voter, the other likely a green card holder. In the aftermath, the Politically Correct Progressive (PC-Prog) media and commentators are all flabbergasted. They wondered what could be the terrorists’ motivations. Over and over, the media reported, “Dzhokhor was a normal American kid.”  President Obama, our PC-Prog leader, said, "One thing we do know is that whatever hateful agenda drove these men to such heinous acts will not — cannot — prevail."

The media probably do not even realize how close they are to the truth—Dzhokhor is a normal American kid. Raised on anti-American messages from the media, from their high school, at their university, and from Hollywood, normal American kids are bombarded with a national self-loathing designed to destroy America’s exceptional culture and values.

Although my books, Willing Accomplices and Obliterating Exceptionalism detail the origins of this suicidal hatred of America, the Boston bombers are the clearest example yet of the power of this message to destroy the lives of Americans.

It seems likely that the older brother, Tamerlan, was the driving force behind the two Tsarnaev brothers’ terrorism. It appears that he was a follower of a Lebanese-Australian extremist cleric. This Muslim preacher’s messages of hatred for Western culture were prominent on Tamerlan’s Youtube playlists.

It appears that Tamerlan recently spent six months overseas. In Russia? Or did he travel elsewhere? Did he go to Chechnya? Did he spend time in what appears to be his homeland, Dagestan, where his father lives now? Who did he meet there? What did he do there?

Dagestan and Chechnya are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. Chechen terrorists are active around the Middle East, Afghanistan, and North Africa. Wherever there is a jihadi war, it is likely you’ll find Chechens fighting there.

We do know that Tamerlan returned “from Russia,” in the summer of 2012. His brother would have been out of high school (more about that later) for about a year. His return was about nine months before the Marathon bombing.

If Tamerlan trained on bombing and attack techniques (a couple months of intensive training is the minimum for a mujahidin terrorist), he could have returned to Boston with the attack plan fully laid out. He would have the skills required to make the bombs. He would have likely already have identified the target. And he would have the techniques required to carry out the attacks. All that would be missing was the materials to make the bombs, and an accomplice.

So, in this scenario, we have a committed, trained Islamic terrorist ready to carry out his attack. What pool will he draw from to recruit his accomplice?

Why, his “average American” brother, Dzhokhor. With his American-accented English, the younger brother graduated from the celebrated (Matt Damon went here!) Boston high school, Cambridge Rindges and Latin School (CRLS), about the same time Tamerlan was probably contemplating terrorist training.

Now we get to the interesting part. A graduate of CRLS has had years of anti-American claptrap crammed down his throat. Instead of, “Why would a normal American kid do this?” a better question is, “Why don’t all CRLS graduates become anti-American terrorists?”

PC-Prog media widely quoted a retired CRLS history teacher, Larry Aaronson’s shocked reminiscences about Dzhokhor. Aaronson told The Boston Globe, “This is a progressive town, the People's Republic, and how could this be in our midst?" Larry Aaronson, a longtime Rindge and Latin teacher who knew Dzhokhor and who lives three doors down from the brothers on Norfolk Street. "I'm at a loss. I'm at a total and complete loss."

Well, Larry, let’s start with your own handiwork. Aaronson is an acolyte of the raving PC-Prog, traditional-America-hating deceased “revisionist historian,” Howard Zinn. Zinn was a PC-Prog darling. Zinn claimed that his eyes were opened to racist, imperialist horror that is America by the KGB covert influence agent, I.F. Stone.

Aaronson (third from left in the photo at left), who retired in 2007, used to brag to anyone who would listenthat he had taught Zinn’s textbook to CLRS students since the beginning of his career in 1981. In 2008, Aaronson started Social Justice Works! The Larry Aaronson Fund, in an evident attempt to cash in on his Zinn-Damon connections.

Aaronson proudly related how his students at CLRS had included Matt Damon and Damon’s brother. He proudly told how the Damon boys were taken with the anti-American history of Zinn. Larry, in an homage to Zinn on his death in 2008, started with this quote, “You wanna read a really good American History book? Read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It will knock your socks off!” -Will Hunting (Matt Damon), Good Will Hunting

If you don’t know Zinn’s handiwork, here’s a sample of his writing in The Progressive. In detailing the idiocy of America’s belief that we are exceptional, Zinn’s contempt for America and its citizens fairly drips from each word, “The deeply ingrained belief--no, not from birth but from the educational system and from our culture in general that the United States is an especially virtuous nation makes us especially vulnerable to government deception. It starts early, in the first grade, when we are compelled to "pledge allegiance" (before we even know what that means), forced to proclaim that we are a nation with "liberty and justice for all.

“And then come the countless ceremonies, whether at the ballpark or elsewhere, where we are expected to stand and bow our heads during the singing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," announcing that we are "the land of the free and the home of the brave." There is also the unofficial national anthem "God Bless America," and you are looked on with suspicion if you ask why we would expect God to single out this one nation--just 5 percent of the world's population--for his or her blessing.”

Aaronson boasted that parents called him to say that their kids were talking about, “that “bastard Christopher Columbus… and his genocide, and how we have to question our history books and re-examine the evidence.” The CRLS teacher continued, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

With that back-story illuminated, let’s return to the PC-Prog media’s puzzling over “What could the Tsarnaev boys’ motive possibly be?”

After the Marathon massacre, the media quoted the Zinn-acolyte Aaronson in its stories about the terrorist mass murderer. Aaronson was “utterly shocked by the news.” The media reported that, “Aaronson taught social studies at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, where Dzhokhor was a student.” The media reports continued, “Dzhokhor also lives just about three houses down from Aaronson’s condo, so they would talk from time to time after Dzhokhor's graduation in 2011.

“I will say to you and to anyone who asks me,” Aaronson told WBUR’s David Boeri outside his home in Cambridge on Friday morning, “he had a heart of gold, he was a sweetheart, he was gracious, he was caring, he was compassionate.”  [That shows how good is the judgment of Mr. Leftist Aaronson]

 ABC, CBS, USA Today, NY Times, CNN all carried versions of Aaronson’s comments about “how normal” Dzhokhor, his neighbor and student was. None of the PC-Prog media provided any other background on Aaronson and his brainwashing of students at CRLS with Zinn’s history.

The Aaronson-Dzhokhor “reporting” by the PC-Prog media brings together the three PC-Prog transmission belts of American culture—education/academia, Hollywood, and the media. All three are dedicated to destroying traditional-American culture. The media reports studiously ignore the connection between Dzhokhor's anti-American lessons taught by a “social justice” weenie (Aaronson) from a book by a follower (Zinn) of a KGB covert influence agent (I.F. Stone) slyly celebrated in a Hollywood product (Matt Damon’s Good Will Hunting).

Islamic terrorism was the force that planted the bombs in Boston. PC-Progressive hatred of American exceptionalism was the motivation behind that force.

We need to let the media and Obama know: We know what hateful agenda drove Dzhokhor. It has infected our media, schools, and Hollywood for nearly 80 years. When it destroyed normal-American culture, the way was cleared for opportunistic infections to take advantage of our weakened national immune system. Islamic extremism is the most violent. But look at others gathering momentum in their destructive power—Militant environmentalists, militant homosexuals, militant anti-capitalists, militant Islamic Extremists, militant anti-war activists, militant race-baiters. All hate normal-America. All call for extreme changes to America.

This is the challenge. We conservatives must realize that PC-Progs are not “for” militant Islamic Extremists—they are simply for anything that is anti-normal-America. When the logical outcome of the PC-Prog’s constant anti-American messages throughout the culture occurs—violent acting out against normal-America, in this case marathon runners—the PC-Progs claim shock and surprise.

It’s time for the chickens to come home to roost. PC-Progs must accept the results of their decades of anti-American messages. We know Dzhokhor's motivations. I agree fully with Obama. This “hateful agenda…will not — cannot — prevail.” Now let’s rebuild our country.



America doesn’t need a government-run postal service

by John Stossel

Even parts of government that look like a business never get run with the efficiency of a business. Just look at the post office.

They buy commercials and tout their services the way private businesses do. They offer a service that customers want.

But a real business can't get away with losing billions every year. (I guess in the era of bailouts, I should say shouldn't get away with it.) The post office lost $16 billion last year, despite having all sorts of advantages that most private businesses don't have.

They have a near monopoly on first-class mail delivery. You want to deliver something to someone? You better not put it in their mailbox -- that's illegal. The U.S. Postal Service doesn't pay sales tax or property tax. They don't even pay parking tickets.

With advantages like that, how do they lose money?

They are part of the government, under the thumb of Congress, and that invites calcified, inefficient behavior.

"We are expected to operate like a business, but Congress has not allowed us the flexibility to operate like a business," said Postal Service Board of Governors Chairman Mickey D. Barnett on my TV show. It's all "part of being a quasi-governmental entity. That's how the cookie crumbles." Barnett added that the post office has "union contracts that have no layoff provisions."

Reality is at odds with the proud claim on the post office's website that "Since Ben Franklin ... the Postal Service has grown and changed with America." But it's barely changed. You don't tend to see change in "quasi-governmental entities." You see stagnation.

This year the post office tried to limit Saturday delivery to save money. But Congress forbade the change. The politicians' constituents like getting their mail six days a week.

"They don't want a cut in Saturday delivery," Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., told me.

"The USPS does need reform," Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., told the Kansas City Star. "However, reducing core services is not a long-term plan. I worry that reducing services will lead to other reductions like closing rural post offices."

But the post office should do both. The government maintains hundreds of tiny local post offices, each of which brings in less than $700 a month. Running those offices costs much more than that. Some are just one mile away from other post offices.

People like "universal service," which has been taken to mean that every American must get mail service, no matter how deep in the boondocks they live. The post office even hauls mail by mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

"The post office provides something that's extremely valuable and has to be maintained, and that's universal service," Grayson told me. "There are countries a lot poorer than the United States, including the Congo ... that try to provide universal mail service to everybody. ... People don't want post offices closed!"

On the floor of Congress, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., proclaimed that universal service is required, saying, "It's in the Constitution."

But it's not. The Constitution says, "Congress shall have the Power to ... establish Post Offices." But it doesn't have to use that power.

Cato Institute budget analyst Tad DeHaven argues, "People living in rural America aren't living there by force. ... Go back to history. Private carriers picked up the mail from the post office and took it the last mile, or people came to the post office and picked it up."

And private alternatives are much better today. We have e-mail. UPS delivers 300 packages a minute and makes a profit. Federal Express, UPS and others thrive by finding new ways to cut costs. They don't do it because they were born nicer people. They do it because of the pressure of competition. They make money -- while the post office loses $16 billion.

Why not just privatize it? No more special government protections, no limit on competitors offering similar services.

Then mail service would be even better than before. The market delivers.



Discrimination against consumer-directed health care

Health Savings Accounts are the fastest growing product in the health insurance marketplace. Currently, about 25 million families are managing some of their own healthcare dollars as a result. Virtually every serious study has found that these plans lower costs without jeopardizing the quality of care people receive. In fact, most employers have decided that giving financial incentives to employees is the most reliable way to rein in spending.

Given that one of the main goals of health reform was to lower the rate of growth of healthcare spending, it would be truly ironic if the new law makes the most reliable way of achieving the goal unavailable to millions of people. But it appears that is about to happen.

Here’s the reason. HSA plans achieve their lower premiums by having patients take more control over healthcare dollars. People pay less to the third-party payer because they agree to take responsibility for more of the expenses. Yet under the new rules for the medical loss ratio (MLR), the out-of-pocket spending from an HSA is not counted in the MLR calculation—at least for individually owned insurance.[1] Specifically, if an insurer pays for a healthcare service for their insured, that counts as a medical expense in calculating the medical loss ratio. But if an individual pays for a healthcare service to meet her deductible, that expense does not count as a medical expense for purposes of MLR calculation.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Genes and Racism

 Thomas Sowell

During decades of watching both collegiate and professional football, I have seen hundreds of touchdowns scored by black players -- but not one extra point kicked by a black player.
Is this because blacks are genetically incapable of kicking a football or because racists won't let blacks kick a football?

Most of us would consider either of these explanations ridiculous. Yet genes and discrimination were the predominant explanations of black-white differences offered by intellectuals in the 20th century.

It was genes that were the preferred explanation in the early decades of that century and discrimination in the later decades, as I show in my recent book, "Intellectuals and Race."

The intelligentsia did not simply offer these as possible explanations among others. On the contrary, each was offered as the predominant, if not exclusive, explanation. Anyone who said otherwise risked being dismissed as a "sentimentalist" in the early 20th century or denounced as a "racist" in later years.

Out of such dogmatic insistence on some one-size-fits-all theory came racial quotas and "disparate impact" lawsuits in our times, based on the presumption that racial differences in outcomes show that somebody did somebody else wrong.

In earlier times, the prevailing theory was that differences in outcomes show that some races are inferior to others. This led to such things as eugenics and ultimately to the Holocaust.

In both eras, the prevailing theory flattered the egos of the intellectuals -- first as saviors of their race, and later as rescuers of victims of racism.

Among the alternative explanations of group differences that were ignored were geography, demography and culture.

For example, people with the geographic handicap of living in isolated mountain valleys have seldom, if ever, produced world-class achievements that advanced science, technology or philosophy. On the contrary, people in such places have almost invariably lagged behind the progress in the rest of the world -- including people of the very same race living on the plains below. Mountaineers were long noted for their poverty and backwardness in countries around the world, especially in the millennia before modern transportation and communication eased their isolation.

People geographically isolated on islands far from the nearest mainland or people isolated by deserts or other geographic features have likewise seldom kept up with the progress of others. Again, this was especially so before modern transportation and communication put them more in touch with the rest of the world.

Conversely, urbanized peoples have often been in the vanguard of progress, producing far more of the historic advances of the human race than a similar number of people scattered out in the hinterlands -- even when both were of the same race.

Geography has been a factor in this as well, since not all geographic areas are equally suitable for building big cities. The overwhelming majority of cities have been built on navigable waterways, for example -- and not all regions have navigable waterways available.

Isolation can be man-made, as well as created by nature. Centuries ago, when China was the most advanced nation in the world, its leaders decided to isolate the country from other peoples, all of whom they regarded as barbarians. After a few centuries of isolation, China was shocked to find itself overtaken by others, and to some extent at the mercy of those others.

Demography is yet another reason why some groups have very different outcomes than others. Age differences between groups within a nation, or between whole nations, have often been a decade or even two decades. Peoples with decades of difference in experience are almost guaranteed to have different achievements, whether they belong to the same race or to different races.

There are many differences between races that have nothing to do with either genes or discrimination, but have much to do with their educational, economic or other outcomes. However, it is a much harder job to examine these many factors, and their complex interactions, than to seize upon whatever happens to be the prevailing theory of the day that may be both easier to grasp and more self-flattering.



SNAP up some recreational food

The federal food stamp program—now called SNAP—is attracting a lot of media coverage. One reason for this is that the program’s costs have exploded—spending more than quadrupled during the Bush-Obama years to $82 billion in 2013 (see here and here p. 16). The Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations all took steps to loosen the purse strings on food stamp eligibility, and those changes have led to the ballooning costs of recent years during the stagnant economy.

Aside from the rising costs, two other aspects of SNAP have garnered interest. One is food stamp fraud. The other is the program’s “Twinkie problem”: taxpayers are paying for billions of dollars of junk food, which seems like a huge waste of money to most people.

These two issues have come together in a high-profile effort by a group of media organizations that is demanding greater transparency in SNAP operations. The organizations—led by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ)—have sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (whose agency oversees SNAP) asking for full disclosure about where food stamps are being spent and what they are being spent on. The Daily Caller reports on the issue here.

Let’s look at the fraud issue. The government claims that the food stamp trafficking rate is just 1 percent and the general overpayment rate is just 4 percent. I suspect that the real rates are much higher, for three reasons: First, the overall costs of SNAP and the number of beneficiaries have skyrocketed. Second, SNAP is ideally suited for abuse: the USDA has few investigators to police the roughly 200,000 SNAP retailers, any of whom could be scamming the system. Third, overpayment rates on other federal subsidy programs are often around 10 percent. Medicare and Medicaid overpayments are in that range, for example, and overpayments have long been around 20 percent in the EITC program.

The AHCJ-led effort is asking the USDA to release data on food stamp purchases by retail outlet. This would be a very useful resource for investigators across the nation to help the government reduce waste and fraud. Are food stamps being cashed in at liquor stores? Which corner stores have unusually high food stamp usage? Let’s get detailed SNAP data on the Internet and allow journalists and the public to help answer these questions. After all, scandal after scandal illustrate that the federal government is lousy at policing programs itself.

The journalists are also asking the USDA to provide detailed breakdowns of the types of food being purchased with SNAP money. It’s remarkable that in an era of Bloomberg-style efforts to restrict private food choices, the government itself runs a giant $82 billion program that subsidizes junk food. How much junk food? We don’t know, and that’s what many journalists want to find out.

Food stamps can be used to purchase just about any edible item other than alcohol, hot food, restaurant meals, and live animals. The USDA explains the rules here and specifically notes that “soft drinks, candy, cookies, snack crackers, and ice cream” are allowed.

Many health experts would like to ban junk food purchases in the food stamp program because they want Americans to eat more nutritious food. I’m a libertarian, so I don’t want the government telling people what to eat. But I think banning junk food in SNAP would be a good step for a different reason: it would greatly reduce demand for the program and thus cut taxpayer costs. If we told the 48 million users of food stamps that they could only use their electronic subsidy cards to buy items like spinach and broccoli, a lot fewer people would use the program and they would buy less stuff.

Why has the USDA been stonewalling journalists on providing SNAP program data? I’m guessing that federal officials don’t want to be embarrassed about: 1) how much taxpayer money goes toward junk food, and 2) the endless series of stories about SNAP fraud that would likely be generated if journalists could explore the program’s operational details.

Optimally, SNAP should be terminated altogether and food subsidy activities left to the states—or better, to private charities. But until that reform happens, the current effort to pry open the workings of this giant hand-out program would be big step in the right direction.  



EEOC: A Scofflaw That Poisons The Climate For Hiring

One way the current political climate discourages hiring is by turning problem employees into potential lawsuits for the employers who take the risk of hiring them. The legal climate has gotten much worse over the past several years due to the appointment of more left-wing, anti-employer judges by President Obama, and an increasingly out-of-control Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sues employers for terminating bad employees who fall into “protected classes,” and for sensible hiring decisions that most judges would consider perfectly legal, since the plain language of federal civil-rights laws permits them. The EEOC even sues employers for using hiring criteria required by state law, such as health and safety codes.

The EEOC’s abusive, out-of-control behavior is a point of agreement among lawyers who agree on little else, liberal and conservative alike. The liberal lawyer “Loki,” writing at the Volokh Conspiracy, observes:

Without going into too much detail, I recently had the bizarre experience of the EEOC first arguing that the plain language of the statute didn’t matter. Then we dug up their own policy, which contradicted their stated litigation position. They argued that their own policy didn’t matter. The issue hadn’t been litigated much, but we found case law directly on point contradicting them (and for which they had been sanctioned). They argued that the case law didn’t matter. Then we found prior DOJ opinions on the issue- guess what? The EEOC said the DOJ opinions didn’t matter.

The judge? He thought it mattered.

I wish this was a one-off experience, but it’s not. Every single time I have dealt with the EEOC, it’s something similar. It’s gotten to the point where I fully expect them to be pissing on my leg so they can tell me it’s raining. And note that I’m not reflexively anti-government; I’ve dealt with the DOJ and SEC (among others) and have nary a bad word to say with the attorneys I’ve dealt with. . .I honestly don’t know what it is in the water at the EEOC. . . I had to do a lot of research on EEOC cases, and I found so many cases where the trial courts just got fed up with the EEOC it wasn’t funny.

Similarly, as the libertarian/conservative lawyer David M. Nieporent observes, the EEOC routinely disregards straightforward legal mandates imposed on it by law, such as the explicit statutory duty to engage in conciliation efforts before suing: “They have a statutory mandate to try to mediate employment disputes before filing suit, and they keep getting spanked by courts for failing to undertake this simple procedural step.”

The EEOC has pressured employers to hire felons as armed guards. It is going after G4S Secure Solutions for refusing to hire felons. That company provides guards for nuclear power plants, chemical plants, government buildings and other sensitive sites, and it is prohibited by state law from hiring people with felony convictions as security officers. As Jim Bovard notes in The Wall Street Journal, the EEOC brought proceedings “in 2010 against G4S Secure Solutions after the company refused to hire a twice-convicted Pennsylvania thief as a security guard.”  As he points out,

The EEOC’s new regime leaves businesses in a Catch-22. As Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association recently warned: “State and federal courts will allow potentially devastating tort lawsuits against businesses that hire felons who commit crimes at the workplace or in customers’ homes. Yet the EEOC is threatening to launch lawsuits if they do not hire those same felons.” At the same time that the EEOC is practically rewriting the law to add “criminal offender” to the list of protected groups under civil-rights statutes, the agency refuses to disclose whether it uses criminal background checks for its own hiring. When EEOC Assistant Legal Counsel Carol Miaskoff was challenged on this point in a recent federal case in Maryland, the agency insisted that revealing its hiring policies would violate the “governmental deliberative process privilege.” The EEOC is confident that its guidance will boost minority hiring, but studies published in the University of Chicago Legal Forum and the Journal of Law and Economics have found that businesses are much less likely to hire minority applicants when background checks are banned. As the majority of black and Hispanic job applicants have clean legal records, the new EEOC mandate may harm the very groups it purports to help.

Ironically, the EEOC has a much worse record of labor and civil-rights violations than most corporations and agencies with a similar-size workforce.“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, responsible for ensuring that the nation’s workers are treated fairly, has itself willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act on a nationwide basis with its own employees, an arbitrator has ruled.” The EEOC was found guilty of systematic, illegal, reverse discrimination (discrimination against white males) in Jurgens v. Thomas, 29 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1561, 1982 WL 409 (N.D.Tex.1982), and continued to illegally engage in it later, long after it had been ordered to stop, as federal judges found. See, e.g., Terry v. Gallegos, 926 F.Supp. 679 (W.D. Tenn. 1996). The EEOC also has had a lot of sexual harassment lawsuits against it (and I am talking about real sexual harassment, not weak claims based on a couple of off-color jokes or overheard offensive speech, the sort of trivial thing the EEOC itself might unsuccessfully sue a private employer over). See, e.g., Spain v. Gallegos, 26 F.3d 439 (3rd Cir.1994). In short, as John Berlau once noted, the EEOC is like “the fox guarding the henhouse.”

The EEOC recently sued Pepsi for doing criminal background checks on job applicants, forcing it to pay $3.1 million to settle the lawsuit. The EEOC is also threatening employers who require high-school diplomas with lawsuits under the ADA.

Employers’ ability to hire and fire based on merit has effectively been curtailed by the EEOC, which has ordered employers to discard useful employment tests and accommodate incompetent employees. For example, a hotel chain was recently compelled to pay $132,500 for dismissing an autistic desk clerk who did not do his job properly, in order for it avoid a lawsuit by the EEOC that would have cost it much more than that to defend. The EEOC has sued companies that quite reasonably refuse to employ truck drivers with a history of heavy drinking, even though companies that hire them will be sued under state personal-injury laws when they have an accident. The EEOC used the threat of endless litigation for force a cafe owner to pay thousands of dollars for not selecting a hearing- and speech-impaired employee for a cashier’s position that the employee was unsuited for (even though the the employer was happy to retain the employee in a different position that did not require standard speech and hearing abilities). The EEOC’s aggressive anti-business interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reflects its left-wing majority under the Obama administration, which has appointed anti-business extremists to the EEOC.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Duplicative Government Programs Are a Symptom of the Problem

Best of all would be to close down all Federal departments that duplicate State depts.  Who needs an EPA, an OSHA, a DEA, a Dept. of Health or a Dept. of Education when all States have regulations and depts in those fields?  Americans may need government for many things but no American needs TWO governments for any of those things.  The savings from ditching just the depts. mentioned above would be enormous, to say nothing of the savings from eased regulatory burdens

The Government Accountability Office has released its third annual report on fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative federal programs and activities. Proponents of making the government more efficient view the findings as an opportunity to achieve cost savings. While there’s obviously nothing wrong with the government spending less money than it has to, the goal should be to permanently shut the trains down – not just try to get them to run on time.

Some examples:

The GAO says “Enhanced collaboration between the Small Business Administration and two other agencies could help to limit overlapping export-related services for small businesses.” The federal government shouldn’t be subsidizing export promotion for commercial interests, period. (See here and here.)

The GAO says “Federal agencies providing assistance for higher education should better coordinate to improve program administration and help reduce fragmentation.” The federal government should not be subsidizing higher education, period. (See here.)

The GAO says, “To achieve up to $1.2 billion per year in cost savings in the Federal Crop Insurance program, Congress could consider limiting the subsidy for premiums that an individual farmer can receive each year, reducing the subsidy for all or high-income farmers participating in the program, or some combination of limiting and reducing these subsidies.” Federal crop insurance subsidies and all farm subsidies should be abolished, period. (See here and here.)

The GAO says, “Federal support for wind and solar energy, biofuels, and other renewable energy sources, which has been estimated at several billion dollars per year, is fragmented because 23 agencies implemented hundreds of renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010—the latest year for which GAO developed these original data.” The federal government shouldn’t subsidize renewable energy (or traditional sources of energy), period. (See here.)

There have been numerous attempts to “reinvent government,” “streamline the bureaucracy,” etc, over the decades as the government has expanded in size and scope. Perhaps the GAO report will spur another. But while the initiatives change, the result is always the same: we still end up stuck with a bloated Leviathan that continues to have its snotty nose in every facet of our lives.

As I often point out, waste always comes with government the same way a Happy Meal always comes with a toy and drink. There is duplication and waste in the federal government because it has become massive and there are virtually no limits on what politicians can spend money on.

I’m not suggesting that government waste should be ignored. Indeed, examples of waste should be held up as reasons to terminate entire government agencies and programs. But I believe that a myopic fixation on “eliminating duplication and waste” is itself a waste. That’s because duplication and waste are merely symptoms of the real problem of big government.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Front Porches Now Ground Zero in Property Rights Fight

From Minnesota to New Mexico, overreaching regulators are violating property rights

During five tours as a U.S. adviser in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ethan Dean considered it part of his mission to model and promote basic democratic values in the war-torn nations. Ink-stained purple finger principles like free elections, universal education, and individual rights the rest of us often take for granted.

As did Dean, until he got a “Dear John” letter of sorts during his fourth deployment — not from a wife or girlfriend, but the City of Winona, Minnesota.

Authorities in the southeastern Minnesota city informed Dean that he was breaking a law he’d never heard of: Renting his house without a permit in contravention of an ordinance capping rental properties at 30 percent of homes per block.

“This property is on a block that is over 30 (percent) which would mean that it cannot be certified for rental,” the city’s “Dear John” letter stated. “IT IS A VIOLATION OF WINONA CITY CODE CHAPTER 33A TO ALLOW OCCUPANCY OF A RENTAL DWELLING WITHOUT OBTAINING A HOUSING LICENSE.”

Dean’s property rights became collateral damage when Winona implemented what’s believed to be the nation’s first comprehensive rental cap ordinance . The 2006 law restricts rentals to 30 percent of properties per block to curb “excessive on-street parking, anti-social behavior and deteriorating housing conditions” in the college community. In reality, however, 75 percent of Dean’s neighbors had rental licenses, grandfathered in when the ordinance took effect.

Suddenly, one of the bedrock democratic principles Dean was introducing overseas — property rights — was under fire, not in the war zone but back home in the Midwest.

“If they realize they can get away with taking these rights away, what are they going to do next? How far are they going to go until it’s not the good, old USA anymore?” Dean asked.

Dean’s campaign on the home front, now in the courts, illustrates a widening divide over the purpose and primacy of property rights. As copycat rental caps soon passed in three more Minnesota cities and beyond, homeowners’ front porches have become the front lines in what’s turning into a definitive local property rights dispute.

Dean bought the 1800s Victorian house in 2007 to start a nonprofit recovery home for returning troops, the Welcome Home of Winona. Ultimately, he rented out the residence during deployments to help meet his mortgage payments.

Via email from Al Asad-Anbar Province in Iraq, Dean begged the city to allow him to continue receiving his vital $1,050 monthly rental check.

“If I cannot rent my home, it will be extremely difficult financially to make the monthly mortgage, as well as maintaining the utilities and upkeep,” Dean wrote in a letter presented to the Winona City Council in May 2010.

Under the radar, Dean chafed over city interference in email correspondence with a reporter at the time.

“I am currently on my fourth mission in Iraq,” Dean wrote from his post with the U.S. Army Human Terrain Team 3-7 infantry. “It kills me to defend our freedoms, when my own home is subject to some 1944 Berlin Nazi BS…I don’t care what the city says, THEY do NOT own MY house…why the hell do I need THEIR permission?????”

Wary of a public relations minefield, the Winona City Council granted Dean a waiver, but only until he returned stateside. For his service, Dean was welcomed home in 2011 with an upside-down mortgage and no more breaks from the city. Besides the loss of thousands of dollars in rental income, without a license to attract buyers interested in rental investments the market value of Dean’s house plummeted by an estimated $25,000. He had a house that could neither be rented nor sold.

“It’s gotten to the point now that something really central to the use of our property rights, being able to rent out your home, is being taken away,” said Anthony Sanders, Dean’s attorney with the Institute for Justice. “I think we have a really good shot at fighting back because people understand this is just such a central component to owning property.”

Peter and Frankie Smith fit the part perfectly in a newly contested case in New Mexico. The Army Corps of Engineers accused the retired couple of violating the Clean Water Act in mid-2011, declaring their parched desert property a water of the United States based on aerial photos, maps, and surveillance from a neighbor’s yard. According to the feds, the Smiths owned the proverbial waterfront property, classifying dry land as wet.

“They never phoned me, knocked on the door or anything like that,” said Peter Smith, a 65-year-old retiree. “They just wrote me this letter basically saying ‘you’re guilty’ and that’s all there is to it.”

The Smiths built their retirement home on 20 acres of bone-dry scrub brush and sand south of Santa Fe. In the process of cleaning up the place, Peter cleared out hundreds of dead trees and trash littering a dry ditch the feds dubbed the Gallina Arroyo. Acting on an alleged complaint, the Army Corps shot off a violation notice warning against “conducting any additional work in any stream, arroyo or wetland” without federal permission, stunning and stopping Smith in his tractor tracks.

“Somebody’s got to stop these regulators from taking people’s rights away,” Smith said. “Sitting here looking out my window, I can see probably 15-20 little beds and banks all with dead trees and garbage sitting in them.”

A retired surveyor who made his living sizing up land, Smith says the arroyo is a drainage ditch that’s dry year-around except for the rare storm in which the precipitation evaporates or seeps into the dry sand almost instantaneously. To the Army Corps, however, it’s a tributary that theoretically drains into the Rio Grande River 25 miles away, threatening the silvery minnow, a fish on the endangered species list.

“It sure appears to me they’re just after control of land,” Smith said. “They’re using the excuse it’s a water of the United States. If I went to the real estate salesman and said, ‘OK, the government has now declared I have waterfront property’, they’d laugh at me!”

A year and a half into their ordeal, the Smiths finally turned to the Pacific Legal Foundation, filing a lawsuit against the Army Corps in December 2012. The case accused the Corps of acting as a national zoning board with unlimited control over Americans’ land use, aiming for nothing short of a nationwide precedent to curtail Clean Water Act regulators.

“If the Smith’s dry creek bed really is a water of the United States under the Clean Water Act, then so is the drain in your front yard and so is the ditch in my back yard. If this is under their authority, then so is every square inch of America and legally speaking, that is not what Congress intended,” said Jennifer Fry, the Smiths’ PLF attorney.

The Albuquerque office of Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to requests for comment. Yet soon after the Smiths case went public, the Army Corps claim came and went as abruptly as a desert derecho. In March the agency withdrew its classification of the Smiths’ property.

“This episode should put the federal government on notice,” Fry said. ”If they try this ploy again — if they try, in effect, to seize private property by conjuring up a mirage of water where there isn’t any — PLF is ready to fight them in court, anywhere in the country.”

Increasingly, the case can be made that like politics, all property rights are local, regardless of the level of government jurisdiction involved. No wonder that city, state, and federal authorities across the county are closely tracking a Minnesota court ruling expected soon on the constitutional challenge brought by Dean and two other homeowners in January.

Win or lose, Dean will never get back his foreclosed house or an estimated $50,000 he invested.
“I’ve lost my house, I’ve lost my equity, that can’t be reversed and I understand and realize that,” Dean said. “The lawsuit is to bring justice back to the citizens of Winona.”



Ugliness from ugly ideas

The philistine statists who disgraced the streets of Britain with vulgar spasms of hate for Margaret Thatcher in the wake of her death on April 8 stunned decent people everywhere. Violence and bloodshed at so-called “death parties” erupted across the country. Walls and buildings were sprayed with the vilest of epithets. It was a sickening, even frightening, paroxysm from people who in their calmer “Kumbaya” moments talk incessantly of how much they care for others and want the government to be a helpful nanny in our lives.

They loathed Margaret Thatcher because she stood up to them, questioned their false compassion, and dared to expose statism as the senseless, dehumanizing cult that it is. She rhetorically ripped the velvet glove from the iron fist and spoke of welfare-state socialism as a wolf in sheep’s clothes. Those are things state worshipers cannot abide. Among the many debts decent people owe Margaret Thatcher is one that stands vastly magnified by her death: She coaxed out of hiding the intolerant, destructive essence of statism.

Americans might be asking themselves, “Ronald Reagan shared many of Maggie’s core beliefs, so when he died in 2004, why didn’t we see here the kind of ugly spectacles that have showed up since April 8 in Britain?” Don’t assume the Brits are a different, nastier lot. They’ve just gone a little further down the path on which we too are traveling. Think of the ugliness you saw this past week or so as a glimpse of what ugly ideas produce. It’s a taste of what’s in store for us if we do not come to our senses. If we keep hiring intellectual barbarians to teach in our schools and universities and if we continue electing their disciples to high office, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

If you want an American example of the statist wolf in sheep’s clothing, look no further than these comments from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. She deplores the notion that children belong to their actual parents. She thinks they really belong to every other parent (translation: they belong to those parents who have political power). On the surface, the message sounds “caring” and “thoughtful.” Do you think she means things like parental choice in schooling or diversity in opinion within the schools? Why do I get the feeling when I watch her that I’m listening to one of the academic Khmer Rouge in our midst?

“Violence,” wrote Isaac Asimov, “is the last refuge of the incompetent.” This thought may explain why the plans that statists like Harris-Perry cook up for other people's lives are rarely voluntary. Statism at its core is ugliness writ large. It is violence raised to the level of social philosophy.

How can I make such a sweeping statement? Because statism isn’t voluntary, and if it isn’t voluntary, it’s violent. Either we interact with others in peace and mutual respect, or we boss them around as nanny states always do. We must choose between the power of love or the love of power.

If you’ve ever met a true-blue statist (and these days, who hasn’t?), you know what I’m talking about when I describe him this way: He thinks he has a monopoly on compassion and good intentions. He thinks that non-statists are either evil or stupid. He’s often more eager to shut you up than to engage you in serious discussion. He’s impervious to reason, logic, economics, history, and evidence because his good intentions are more important than such things.

When he talks about the rich and the poor, he reeks of envy. As Thatcher herself so eloquently put it in parliamentary debate, he cares less for the poor than he cares that the rich be punished. He thinks his plans for other people are so superior that he’s not content to persuade you to accept them; he’s ready to call the cops to force you to comply. He’s up to his eyeballs in the tyranny of political correctness and will savage you if you dare question his assumptions.

If he’s an academic, he will profess devotion to “academic freedom” but then use his tenure and political power to intimidate and monopolize. If the university hires its first defender of Western civilization, he’ll see it as a takeover and vigorously protest.

He’s an end-justifies-the-means kind of guy: If he has to buy your vote with other people’s money, look askance when voter fraud steals an election for his side, live one way and preach another, and apply endless double standards that always work in favor of his perspective, he’ll gladly do it and chortle to his friends about it. He’s for government-run this or that whether it works or not because what’s most important to him is that the State is in charge. His definition of good intentions trumps whatever the outcome might be.

When such people take to the streets with ugly actions, they should get credit for one thing: For at least a moment, they’ve ceased the deception and shown themselves to be what they really are. They are what Ayn Rand would call the “destroyers” among us.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Progressives’ Ultimate Fetish

Progressives can’t help themselves. When a normal person hears of a tragedy, they feel the natural range of emotions – fear, anger, sympathy, etc. But progressives are not normal humans. When they hear news of a tragedy their first thought is “How can this help the cause?” There’s something oddly perverse about this mental defect that somehow overrides decency in tragedy’s aftermath, but it’s as widespread amongst the political left as freckles are on redheads.

Harsh? Perhaps. But sometimes the truth hurts.

In the hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, the usual suspects of progressive grave-dancers succumbed to the music of suffering and started to dance their agenda jig. Michael Moore put down his bacon-wrapped bacon and tweeted, “Tax Day. Patriots Day.” The implication being it had to be a conservative because we oppose high taxes and call ourselves patriots.

Once it became clear the terrorists were not rednecks named Billy Bob, the effects of Moore’s psychological Viagra wore off and he tweeted, “Younger brother Jahar was captain of the wrestling team and a volunteer with "Best Buddies," helping kids with Downs Syndrome.” Not even a beat missed in the shift from accusing his fellow Americans to sympathizing with a terrorist. Who says a fat man can’t dance?

But Moore was not alone in his arousal over the prospect the Boston terrorists somehow could be connected to the political right. There wasn’t a mainstream news organization that didn’t have left-wing fetishists applying virtual nipple clamps on themselves while all but pointing the finger at those who simply wish to have a government that pays a little more deference to the document politicians swear to preserve, protect and defend.

National Public Radio’s Dina Temple-Raston – the network’s “counter-terrorism correspondent” – posited the month of April is big for “right-wing” and “anti-government” people because it’s the month in which Columbine happened and it’s the month of Hitler’s birthday. Yes, you read that right – Hitler’s birthday. I had no idea when Hitler’s birthday was, never heard it mentioned before in my life.

I was ignorant of this because Hitler was a) a monster and who gives a damn when he was born; and b) a leftist socialist and those, like monsters, are not people I choose to waste brain cells trying to remember their birthdays.

Somehow, magically, every leftist on the planet was endowed with the knowledge of date of Hitler’s birth. It was rather sick.

But even NPR spending our tax dollars to stimulate its perverted fetish wasn’t the worst offender in the progressives “guilt by association” orgy. MSNBC would not be outdone. The crown-prince of premature projection-ation is Chris Matthews, who said, “Normally, domestic terrorists people tend to be on the far right. Well, that’s not a good category. Just extremists. Let’s call them that.”

From the far right?  Think about that for a second. The political right is about individual liberty and limited government; the political left is about collective action and a strong government. Take the left to the extreme and you find totalitarianism. Along the way you pass socialism, fascism and communism. Take the right to the extreme and you find, essentially, anarchy. Yet when people think of anarchists they think of leftists because what anarchists truly favor is not empowering individuals but for the anarchists themselves to have the power. Anarchists remain at the margins, so it doesn’t matter much. But it’s something to think about the next time you run across a leftist trying to tell you otherwise.

Anytime you talk about progressives the issue of race inevitably comes into play. That’s because dividing and subdividing Americans is what holds their coalition together. That and convincing everyone they’re victims, they shouldn’t bother trying because the system is stacked against them and, more importantly, the only way their lives will improve is through government. Government will protect them from the faceless boogeyman of racism, homophobia, sexism or the big evil corporation that is responsible for their failures. Never can the notion sometimes life happens, sometimes someone is better or more qualified for a job than you, be allowed to seep into the mind. A victim they must forever be.

Because a victim, or someone convinced they are, can be “empowered” by external forces, such as an election. And even when the savior who promises a better life in exchange for a vote does not deliver, the savior is not condemned. He is said to “need more time” because the forces against him are just that powerful. It’s the promise of a glorious future Christmas that never comes. But I digress.

Race came into play in the Boston attack in a way it rarely does – through the front door. Progressives love to play the race card, and many of them, white and black, make their living telling minorities they can’t get ahead so just trust in others. One white guy who does is David Sirota, a pasty Coloradan who specializes in finding new ways to use the term “white privilege” in situations no non-race-obsessed profiteer could fathom, wrote a piece for entitled, “Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American.” Not, “Let’s hope they’re caught,” but let’s hope their pigment is one I can make money from.

In that piece, Sirota claims society will react differently based on the race of the terrorists. He quotes fellow race profiteer and writer Tim Wise, who wrote, “White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening or threatened with deportation.” Remember to mention that at your next TSA colonoscopy.

When the terrorists did turn out to be white, but not quite white enough for his desired climax, and Muslims to boot, Sirota was a ball of confusion and disappointment, much like I imagine he and his prom date were in high school…

Progressive’s hatred for America is not limited to race. It’s universal against the culture because the culture still insists on embracing liberty and responsibility. As such, it must be attacked.

Enter Marc Ambinder.

Ambinder, writing in The Week about U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., wondering how people raised in America could be radicalized into terrorism, wanted to point the finger of blame at America, not the terrorists themselves. He suggests we consider “the possibility that something about America is radicalizing people of all sorts.”

Actually, there seems to be only one sort of people being radicalized regularly in America – progressives. Sure, it’s to varying degrees of radical dementia. Some plant bombs. Some become scholars on “privilege.” And a few from both groups, by the end or “refractory period” of their careers, will end up becoming tenured professors or journalists.

Of course, I kid….. a lot more than a few of them will become tenured professors or journalists. And that power to infect the minds of future generations with their perverted ideas through academia and media may well be the ultimate progressive fetish of them all.



When the U.S. government deliberately massacred innocent men, women and children

No.  Not American Indians  -- Bible-loving White Protestant Christians.  Somewhat to his credit, President Clinton opposed the action but eventually gave his subordinates their head

Fifty-one days earlier, federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agents had attacked this sprawling home occupied by scores of women, children, and men – members of an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists. Seventy-six ATF agents arrived on cattle trailers, shot the Davidians’ dogs, and then commenced trying to blast and smash their way into the house. The ATF supposedly had an arrest warrant for Davidian leader David Koresh but forgot to bring it along that morning. ATF named its operation Showtime, and made sure that multiple crews from local television stations were nearby to film their triumph.

Things went awry, and the resulting firefight left seven Davidians and four federal agents dead. ATF top brass immediately wailed to the media that their agents had been “ambushed” that morning. That characterization was difficult to reconcile with the facts that the feds launched a surprise assault and were far more heavily armed than the Davidians. Perhaps the feds considered it an “ambush” because the victims shot back.

The ATF targeted Koresh because they suspected he had illegally converted semi-automatic firearms to shoot more than one bullet with each trigger pull. Prior to attacking, the feds had scorned numerous opportunities to easily arrest Koresh. Nine days before the attack, undercover ATF agents (whom Koresh recognized as such) had even gone target shooting with Koresh.

After the ATF raid fiasco, the FBI took over and continually ratcheted up the pressure on the besieged Davidians, bombarding them around the clock with high volume soundtracks of rabbits being slaughtered and Nancy Sinatra singing (choose your poison).

On that April 19th morning, the FBI tank pumped the Davidians’ home full of CS gas, a potentially lethal, flammable compound. Around noon, fires broke out that quickly burnt the compound to the ground; 80 bodies were found in the rubble. FBI spokesmen raced to blame the Davidians for the fire and swore they had proof that the cult members committed mass suicide. (No such evidence was provided.) The spokesmen neglected to mention that the FBI had stopped fire trucks racing to the scene.

FBI operations commander Larry Potts explained the rationale for the final onslaught: “Those people thumbed their nose at law enforcement.” Snap polls just after the Waco fire showed that the American people overwhelmingly supported the FBI’s action. A few days later, the opening of a congressional hearing had to be delayed so senators could pose for pictures with Attorney General Janet Reno, who became a national hero after admitting she authorized the final attack on the Davidians….



Amtrak and the progressive sleight of hand

Progressives have always assumed that if something is good, it must be provided through coercive force by a central government. This is illustrated in progressive support for continuing large Amtrak subsidies. Various liberal policy outfits including the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress have been recently celebrating the mild uptick in the government-subsidized passenger railroad’s ridership levels. The train served a record 32.1 million passengers in 2012, a 55-percent increase since 1997. In earlier times, liberal advocates would have congratulated themselves on the success of a government program’s drive to self-sufficiency and move to let it fend for itself in the private sector, in the same way federally controlled Conrail was privatized and later sold off to CSX and Norfolk Southern. But this doesn’t cut it for today’s progressives, who appear to believe Amtrak’s recent uptick in ridership is reason for increasing federal subsidies. This is because they are well aware that Amtrak’s supposed success is largely a mirage.

The rise in ridership appears impressive, until one realizes that 1997 was a severe low-point for train travel. If measuring Amtrak’s total passenger miles starting in 1991, its increase over the past 22 years is a pathetic 8 percent. Its condition looks even worse when considering that population growth has increased over this period by 25 percent, pushing Amtrak’s share of intercity passenger travel down from 0.45 to 0.36 percent. Passenger rail is alone in the dismal state of its ridership. Despite the airline industry’s financial instability, not to mention the costs incurred due to the September 11 attacks and the TSA, airline ridership increased by 68 percent. Even intercity buses carry three times more passenger miles than Amtrak does, while the vast majority of intercity travel is made by private automobile.

Supporters of Amtrak disregard the railroad’s low ridership rates by emphasizing the pittance the federal government annually pays to it as evidence of its fiscal sustainability. While the Department of Transportation’s 2012 budget appropriated $70 billion for the Highway Trust Fund and $18.7 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, DOT spent a mere $1.5 billion on Amtrak. Under closer scrutiny, however, Amtrak’s low cost is illusory. Highways and airports absorb greater federal subsidies because their networks are vastly greater than Amtrak’s and carry far more passengers (not to mention highway and air freight service). It would be misleading to compare Amtrak’s absolute direct subsidies of 6.5 billion passenger miles annually with other modes—highways, which account for 4.1 trillion passenger miles, and the airline industry, which accounts for 500 billion passenger miles. A more accurate comparison of federal subsidies would be to break down the value of these subsidies for each passenger mile travelled. Amtrak’s subsidies including state grants average 25 cents per passenger mile.  Per passenger mile subsidies for airlines are only 2.8 cents and the highway subsidy is an even smaller 1.1 cents.

Despite these lavish subsidies, the government-funded railroad’s operational inefficiencies require it to raise the fares it has charged passengers again and again. Under decades of sclerotic management, Amtrak average fares have risen from 17 cents to 32 cents per passenger mile. During the same period, efficiency gains have lowered the average fare per passenger mile for bus and air travel to 13 cents.

The deficit in what Amtrak collects in revenue and what it spends every year cannot even be taken at face value. Unlike most firms, Amtrak does not count maintenance as an operating cost and instead considers it a capital cost. This allows it to treat routine maintenance like long-term investments in new rail and carrier capacity, pushing these costs off its balance sheet. In addition to ticket sales, the government railroad also counts state grants and subsidies that total $225 million as revenue. If all these costs are correctly take into account, even Amtrak’s often praised Northeast Corridor runs an annual loss if, as Cato’s Randal O’Toole notes, the true costs were properly apportioned across routes.

Healthy public debate is essential if America is to ultimately tackle its dire and growing transportation challenges. You may not be in favor of privatizing passenger rail service, but pretending that Amtrak is a model of efficiency is simply intellectually dishonest.



The deadly labyrinth of ObamaCare

The best way to understand the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is to realize that it confers large benefits on some people and imposes large costs on others.

If you are one of the ones who will qualify for expanded Medicaid, you will get something for nothing. Although there are quality issues and access problems, including rationing by waiting, Medicaid will probably spend $8,000 on an average family of four over the course of a year. Enrollment is like an $8,000 gift from the government.

If your income is a tad too high for Medicaid, you will get something even better. In a newly created health insurance exchange you will be able to obtain, say, a $15,000 family plan for no more than about a $600 premium. This is almost something for nothing.

Things will be very different if you have a job, however.

Consider a typical hotel. Almost everyone you see is earning about $15 to $20 an hour — the maids, the waitresses, the waiters, the busboys, the doormen, the porters, the custodians, the groundskeepers, etc. The cost of family coverage is equal to between one-third and one-half of these workers' annual earnings. The goal of ObamaCare is to force them to obtain this insurance with no extra help from government. And this is true even if the maids are already enrolled in Medicaid!

The economic literature on this type of mandate is clear. Although government can offer people something for nothing, the labor market does not. Employee benefits are not gifts from employers.

They are substitutes for money wages and other benefits. The cost of the employer mandate will surely be borne by the employees themselves. Mandated health insurance in Massachusetts, for example, was offset dollar for dollar by lower cash wages.

We can be fairly certain that low-wage workers and their employers will be searching for ways to avoid the mandate. Why? If the employees were willing to spend half their income on health insurance they would have done so already. That they have not indicates they would rather spend the money on something else.

Much more HERE

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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


Monday, April 22, 2013

Children Belong to Parents, Not Government

Rick Santorum

My wife, Karen, and I are blessed with seven children, including one little girl with very special needs, Bella. There are many days when we are overwhelmed or dead-tired or frustrated or all of the above. I'm sure all parents can relate. It's just part of being a parent. But like millions of Americans, we also know it's the most important job we ever will have.

In 2005, I wrote a book, called "It Takes a Family," about the importance of a strong family in raising children and imparting virtue. The title was in contrast to a well-known book Hillary Clinton wrote, "It Takes a Village," which offered a very different approach to raising children. She believes, as many on the left do, that the family is secondary to institutions and governments when it comes to looking after the interests of children. Karen and I disagree. We believe in the primacy of families and have worked throughout our careers on creating and promoting policies and ideas that make stronger families. The fact is that without stable families as the bedrock, our country will fracture and collapse.

Since those books were published, we have seen an expansion of at times well-meaning early-childhood programs and laws that subtly replace parental responsibility and discretion with government indoctrination and edict. Well, if MSNBC's latest offering is any indication, it appears the left feels that the need for subtlety has passed. Last week, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane University, said in a network promotion spot: "We haven't had a very collective notion of, 'These are our children.' ... We have to break through our ... private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it's everybody's responsibility and not just the household's, then we start making better investments."

So we go from telling the small-business man that "you didn't build that" to telling parents that "they don't belong to you!" It harks back to Marxism's trumping of the family in favor of the state. It's only a matter of time before we hear another MSNBC promotion message advocating the construction of collectives for children to be properly indoctrinated.

And though Harris-Perry's comments made some news and upset many, another case has not gotten the attention it deserves and is equally troubling. The Romeike family came to the United States from Germany a few years ago seeking political asylum. You see, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children are Christians, and they believe strongly that the textbooks used in German public schools teach against their values. However, in Germany, families must send their children to government schools. They refused and taught them at home instead. After suffering fines, threats of prison and having the police come and forcibly take their kids to school, the Romeikes left everything behind and came to the U.S., where they were granted asylum.

Subsequently, the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the asylum and ordered them to be deported back to Germany. Later this month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case. You may be surprised to learn that the Obama administration decided to weigh in on this case by filing a brief in the case advocating the deportation of the Romeikes. The president argued that there is no fundamental human right to educate your own children.

So it's not just MSNBC that thinks that your child's rearing belongs to the state. The president, like so many on the left, believes that the state should form the hearts and minds of our youths so they think the way the government wants them to think.

More than 100,000 signatures have been collected on a petition on the White House website from citizens who support the Romeikes' case. I have no illusions that Attorney General Eric Holder will alter his brief or that President Obama will change his mind on who can best raise children. However, I ask you to sign the petition, titled "Immediate Action Requested for Romeikes -- Grant Permanent Legal Status to Persecuted German Homeschool Family," to at least let the Romeikes -- and millions of others who look to America as the one place where dictators and bureaucrats don't control everything -- know that our president does not speak for you or America.



Southern Poverty Law Center Gets Rich By Selling Fear

While the media cheer the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats as they exploit the Newtown school massacre to push laws that would hamper law-abiding citizens, they won’t connect some more obvious dots to another shooting.

On August 15, 2012, Floyd Lee Corkins II, a volunteer with a homosexual activist group, entered the lobby of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. with a self-confessed aim to commit mass murder and then smear Chick-fil-A sandwiches into his victims’ faces.

He was stopped only because courageous building manager Leo Johnson, who took a bullet that shattered his arm, managed to subdue and disarm Mr. Corkins.

On February 6, Mr. Corkins pleaded guilty to three felonies: committing an act of terrorism while armed, interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition (he bought the gun in Virginia), and assault with intent to kill while armed. At a sentencing hearing on April 29, he faces up to 70 years in prison.

What? You didn’t hear about this? Maybe it’s because a hate-filled activist trying to murder Christians doesn’t fit the media narrative of Christians as bigots and their opponents as Care Bears.

A key aspect of the lightly reported story is the role of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an ultra-rich “civil rights” group. Mr. Corkins told investigators that he got the idea of attacking FRC from the SPLC’s website. He also had the address of the D.C.-based Traditional Values Coalition, another group listed on the SPLC’s “hate map.”

Since the shooting, FRC President Tony Perkins has called on the SPLC to remove legitimate Christian groups from the “hate map” and its list of “hate” organizations. Others listed include the American Family Association and Coral Ridge Ministries (now Truth In Action Ministries).

The common thread is biblically-based opposition to homosexual behavior and the defense of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. To the SPLC, the First Amendment still protects pastors who quote the Bible, but not those in the public square who argue for morality. This would include anyone who questions ideologically-driven “studies” that “prove” gender is merely a social construct.

It’s bad enough that the SPLC won’t edit its “hate map” despite a correlation to actual violence, but it’s scarier that the U.S. Justice Department since the Clinton era has been using SPLC as its authority to determine what constitutes a “hate group.”

In her article “King of Fearmongers” in the April 15 Weekly Standard, writer Charlotte Allen bells the cat, describing the SPLC as:

“… a civil-rights behemoth bursting with donor cash … the SPLC started out fighting legal battles against lingering segregation in the South. More recently—and more lucratively, its critics say—it has transformed itself into an all-purpose antihate crusader, labeling 1,007 different organizations across America at last count as ‘anti-gay,’ ‘white nationalist,’ ‘anti-Muslim,’ ‘anti-immigrant,’ or just plain hateful (one SPLC category is ‘general hate’).

“The SPLC put the FRC on its list of ‘anti-gay’ organizations in 2010, and the SPLC’s ‘Hate Map’ page, whose banner displays men in Nazi-style helmets giving Sieg Heil salutes, lists the FRC among 14 hate groups headquartered in the District of Columbia.”

Like the American Civil Liberties Union, the SPLC threatens people and groups with litigation that they cannot afford to fight. A prime example is the SPLC’s “consumer fraud” lawsuit in New Jersey filed recently against a small group, Jews Offering New Alternatives of Healing, which helps people overcome same-sex temptations. The idea is to criminalize such counseling, as California legislators have done, pending a judge’s injunction. This is the Left’s idea of tolerance and diversity.

Mark Potok, the SPLC’s oft-quoted spokesman and editor of its Intelligence Report and Hatewatch blog, maintains a prolific flow of fear mongering, to apparent great effect. The SPLC’s false characterizations are finding their way into strategic places. On April 5, Fox News’ Todd Starnes reported that, last year, “a U.S. Army training instructor listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania.”

On April 9, Mr. Starnes reported that an officer at Fort Campbell, Kentucky sent an email, drawing from the SPLC site, that slams Focus on the Family and includes the Family Research Council and the American Family Association (AFA) alongside Fred Phelps’ notorious Westboro Baptist Church in a list of “anti-gay hate groups.”

The e-mail, which the Army claims is an isolated incident, included this guilt-by-association characterization:

“The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies.… One of those has been defamation. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling….”

Talk about defamation. Anyone familiar with these groups (I have worked for two of them) knows this is a flat-out lie.

The good news is that the SPLC’s lucrative run could be grinding to a halt, according to Mrs. Allen:

“There may soon come a day when the SPLC’s donation-generating machine, powered by [founder Morris] Dees’s mastery of the use of ‘hate’ to coax dollars from the highly educated and the highly gullible, finally breaks down. That is why, according to [SPLC President Richard] Cohen, the SPLC has no intention of soon spending down much of that $256 million in stockpiled assets that has earned the center an ‘F’ rating from CharityWatch.

“‘Those 1960s liberals—they’re getting older, and the post office is dying. We’re likely to be out of the fundraising business within 10 years,’” Mr. Cohen told Mrs. Allen.

The Southern Poverty Law Center once did good work, keeping track of the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, skinheads and other real hate groups.

By refusing to de-list Christian organizations like FRC and AFA, however, the SPLC is engaging in the very activity that it once effectively decried.

Why isn’t Congress investigating federal agencies’ reliance on the SPLC?



Russell Kirk

The name of “Russell Kirk” is heard seldom, if ever, in conservative circles today. This is tragic, and maybe even a bit scandalous, for as William F. Buckley—a person whose name is well known—once said, it “is inconceivable even to imagine, let alone hope for, a dominant conservative movement in America without [Kirks’] labor.”

Given all of the current talk over the need for a reawakening to conservative “principles,” we are in need of Kirk’s guidance today more than ever.

The author of 32 books and legions of essays, this World War II veteran was a college educator, novelist, intellectual historian, and political theorist. At Buckley’s request, Kirk helped to found National Review, a publication to which he contributed for many years. He also founded his own magazine, Modern Age. Kirk gave over 60 lectures to the Heritage Foundation, where he was a Distinguished Fellow, and was very much involved with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In 1989, five years before his illustrious life came to a close, Kirk was granted the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan.

Conservatism, Kirk explained, is neither a doctrine nor a dogma, but “a way of looking at the civil social order.” Still, from looking at the “leading conservative writers and public men” from “the past two centuries,” Kirk gathered ten principles that distinguish conservatism as the intellectual tradition that it is.

First, there is “an enduring moral order” of both “the soul” and “the commonwealth.” It is at our peril, conservatives insist, that we ignore this order.

Second, “custom, convention, and continuity” constitute the glue that keeps us together.

Custom “enables people to live together peaceably,” convention helps us “to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties,” and continuity “is the means of linking generation to generation.”

Third, prescription—“things established by immemorial usage”—is the stuff of which a flourishing civil society is made.

Since we are not likely “to make any brave new discoveries in morals or politics,” since we are “dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, able to see farther than [our] ancestors only because of the great stature of those who have preceded us in time,” we are best served by following the prescriptions of thousands of generations.

Fourth, prudence is a cardinal virtue.

Change is needed if society is to preserve itself, but prudence demands that we attend to it cautiously, and only after considerable reflection. “Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.”

Fifth, variety is both necessary and desirable.

Conservatives “feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life [.]” On the other hand, they abhor “the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems.”

The sixth principle is that of human imperfectability.

Because human beings suffer “irremediably from certain grave faults,” the best “that we reasonably can expect is a tolerably ordered, just, and free society, in which some evils, maladjustments, and suffering will continue to lurk.”

Seventh, freedom and property are indissolubly linked.

“Upon the foundation of private property, great civilizations are built,” Kirk writes. He adds: “Separate property from private possession, and Leviathan [the government] becomes master of all.”

Eighth, “voluntary community” is as essential to the civil order as “involuntary collectivism” is destructive of it.

Duty and virtue are learned within our local communities—our “little platoons,” as “the patron saint” of modern conservatism, Edmund Burke, famously called them. But when, “in the name of an abstract Democracy, the functions of community are transferred to distant political direction,” this centralization of authority and power proves “hostile to freedom and human dignity.”

Ninth, there must be “prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.”

Kirk notes that “political power” must be “balanced” so as to prevent both “anarchy” and “tyranny,” both the unbounded will of the individual and that of any group. To this end, “constitutional restrictions, political checks and balances, adequate enforcement of the laws,” and “the old intricate web of restraints upon will and appetite” are indispensable.

The tenth and final principle of the conservative attitude concerns the affirmation and harmonizing of “permanence and change” in “a vigorous society.”

Kirk succinctly summarizes this principle when he writes: “The conservative takes care that nothing in a society should ever be wholly old, and that nothing should ever be wholly new. This is the means of the conservation of a nation, quite as it is the means of conservation of a living organism.”

If today’s conservatives are serious about wanting to return to “the roots” of their tradition, then they have no option but to familiarize themselves with Russell Kirk.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Who Really Fosters Hate?

 Jerry Newcombe

Terrorism is in the news again as seen in the tragic bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday. This man-made disaster gives a time to reflect on terrorism---as we continue to pray for the victims of the bombing.

By now we have probably all heard about the infamous slide presented at a US Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on religious extremism. They had a slide with the title “Religious Extremism.” (The slide is reproduced below).

First on the list was Evangelical Christianity (U.S. Christians). Fifth on the list was Al Qaeda. Later on the list was Catholicism (U.S. Christians). At the end of the list was Islamophobia.

There are millions of evangelical Christians in this country, as well as Catholics. To label them as haters and as dangerous boggles the mind. Many of them pray daily, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Or “…where there is hatred, let me sow love…” Where’s the hate?

Some have said that the Army person putting this slide together traced her information back to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), based in Montgomery, Alabama.

One of the groups who sued former (and current) Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for having the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) on display at the state judiciary building in Montgomery was the SPLC. Prominent on their own building are words also carved in stone, attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Let justice roll down…” These are words of Amos 5, also in the Bible.

Dr. King’s church, Dexter Avenue Baptist, is just down the street from the judiciary building. It was in that church that the civil rights movement was born---when a group met there in the mid-1950s to deal with the injustice that had just been meted out to Rosa Parks.

The word “hate” is bandied about these days to the point that it may be losing its meaning. People who love are often called haters because they don’t hold to the latest politically correct view on what marriage is or on abortion. Real hate blows up people, total strangers no less.

Meanwhile, SPLC says on their website: “The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.” Sounds great, until you look at their map of “hate.”

Click on any of the states, and you’ll see listed organizations branded as hate groups. I work at one of them, Truth in Action Ministries. We’re right there with “United Klans of America,” an offshoot of the KKK.

SLPC brands us as “Anti-Gay.” We certainly believe what the Bible says---that all sinners (and that’s all of us) can be forgiven when we repent of our sins and come to Christ and ask for forgiveness. Thousands of ex-homosexuals are alive today who have found hope and change through the Gospel of Christ. Yes, we promote that at Truth in Action Ministries; and, of course, we believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. But we don’t hate anyone.

Family Research Council in Washington, DC is also on SPLC’s map of hate. That fact almost led to serious bloodshed.

Lt. Gen. (retired) Jerry Boykin, vice president of the group, tells what happened: “August 15th, 2012 Floyd Lee Corkins walked into the lobby of the Family Research Council with a backpack with a Glock 9 mm and about 70 rounds of ammunition as well as 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches. And he shot a very heroic man named Leo Johnson, who tried to stop him. Leo wrestled him to the ground with one good arm, took his pistol away from him and started to shoot him, and then Leo told us later that God told him not to shoot Floyd Lee Corkins.”

Boykin adds, “Now it’s important to understand that he was motivated to come in and try to kill as many people as possible at the Family Research Council because we had been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s incredible that Leo stood over him bleeding after having been shot with nobody to help him and God told him not to shoot this man, and that’s hate? I don’t think so.”

Why the Chick-fil-A sandwiches? Boykin says, “what Corkins said at his hearing when he plead guilty to 3 charges was that his intention was to kill as many people as possible that day, smear a Chick-fil-A sandwich in their face and then go on to two other organizations, both of which he had found on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website listed as hate groups; what he objected to was our stand on traditional marriage.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, says that their group regularly prays for Corkins’ salvation, that he “might come to an understanding of the truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can tell you today in working with our team---there is no animosity, no bitterness, there is compassion, but understanding of the stakes of standing for religious freedom today.”

Dr. King told his followers, “We must meet hate with creative love.” He added, “Let us hope there will be no more violence. But if the streets must flow with blood let it flow with our blood in the spirit of Jesus Christ on the cross” (Birmingham, May 1963).

On a few occasions, I have interviewed Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. King, who is active in pro-life work. She told me, “Well, Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter, Reverend Bernice King, marched with her Bishop, Bishop Eddie Long in Atlanta late in 2004. And the theme of their march was marriage between a man and a woman and that gay rights and gay marriage was not included in the civil rights movement. Bernice said in her own words, ‘I know deep within my sanctified soul that my father did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage.’”

If that were the case, would SPLC label Dr. King a “hater”? Of course not. But as it stands, the SPLC is, by their actions, denying the meaning of Dr. King’s (and Amos’) words. Like the boy who cried wolf, using the term “hate” to describe someone whose politics you disagree with is wrong on every front. Real hate is what struck the finish line in Boston Monday---regardless of who turns out to be at fault.



American Laws for American Courts Legislation Wins Major Bipartisan Victory in Oklahoma

The American Laws for American Courts legislation to protect the fundamental constitutional rights of all Oklahoma residents against foreign legal doctrines, such as Shariah, was signed into law today by Governor Mary Fallin.

This unequivocal victory for Oklahoma and US law is the latest vindication of a long-term national trend supporting constitutional protections for ALL Americans against foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, such as Shariah, that have found their way into our court systems.

Center for Security Policy President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Gaffney applauded the passage into law of this important legislation:

        “Oklahoma has played an important role in protecting America’s justice system from the incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, such as Shariah. American Laws for American Courts is the primary 21st Century civil rights initiative to ensure constitutional liberties for all Americans. It is needed especially to protect women and children, who have been identified by international human rights organizations as the primary victims of discriminatory foreign laws, Shariah in particular.”

The bill won a decisive bipartisan victory in both houses of the Oklahoma legislature. It was approved in the House of Representatives by an 85-7 margin and in the Senate by a 40-3 margin.

The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Sally Rogers Kern in the House and State Senator Gary Stanislawski in the Senate, is based closely on the American Laws for American Courts model promoted by the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA), which had previously won similar bipartisan approvals in Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona and Kansas.      Representative Sally Kern stated:

        “Today the will of the vast majority of the citizens of Oklahoman was acknowledged when HB1060, American Law for American Courts, was signed by Gov Fallin. Three years ago 71% of the voters approved State Question 755 prohibiting the use of Sharia Law in Oklahoma. That SQ was declared unconstitutional because it named a particular group. I have worked for three years to get ALAC passed so that the citizens of Oklahoma will be protected by the fundamental rights and liberties that our US Constitutional upholds without the fear of any foreign law being used against them.”

A host of community and interfaith organizations came together to support the effort to pass this important legislation in Oklahoma, which culminated in the signing on Thursday.



Israel - The Happy Little Country

Caroline Glick writes below.  "Glick" means "good fortune" or "happiness" and she writes in that mood below

As Independence Day celebrations were winding down Tuesday night, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a guest appearance on Channel 2's left-wing satire show Eretz Nehederet. One of the final questions that the show's host Eyal Kitzis asked the premier was how he would like to be remembered after he leaves office.

Netanyahu thought a moment and said, "I'd like to be remembered as the leader who preserved Israel's security."

On the face of it, Netanyahu's stated aspiration might seem dull. In a year he'll be the longest-serving prime minister in the state's history, and all he wants is to preserve our national security? Why is he aiming so low? And yet, the studio audience reacted to Netanyahu's modest goal with a thunderclap of applause.

After pausing to gather his thoughts, a clearly befuddled Kitzis mumbled something along the lines of, "Well, if you manage to make peace as well, we wouldn't object."

The audience was silent.

The disparity between the audience's exultation and Kitzis's shocked disappointment at Netanyahu's answer exposed - yet again - the yawning gap between the mainstream Israeli view of the world, and that shared by members of our elite class.

The Israeli public gave our elites the opportunity to try out their peace fantasies in the 1990s. We gave their peace a chance and got repaid with massive terror and international isolation.

We are not interested in repeating the experience.

A lot has changed since the 1990s. Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin shook Yasser Arafat's hand on the White House lawn and so officially ushered in Israel's Age of Terror, most Israelis don't really care what the Europeans or the Arabs think of us.

The Europeans prattle on about Israeli racism, and threaten to put yellow stars or some other nasty mark on Israeli goods. They ban Israeli books from their libraries in Scotland. They boycott Israeli universities, professors and students in England. In Italy they hold rallies for convicted mass murderer Marwan Barghouti at their national Senate. And in France they butcher Jewish children.

And then the likes of Catherine Ashton expect us to care what they think about us.  Well, we don't.

But in their endless search for the next silver bullet, the Europeans and the Americans and their Israeli followers miss the fact that the easiest way to build a secure and peaceful world is not by wooing terrorists. The best way to achieve these goals is by accepting the world as it is. This is what the Israeli people has done. True, we needed to have our fantasies blown away in suicide bombings before we reconciled ourselves to this simple truth. But life has been better, happier and more secure since we did.

The "international community's" inability to accept that sober-minded contentment is better than pipe dream fantasies has caused leftist writers in Israel, Europe and the US alike to express mystification at a recent survey carried out by the OECD, which ranks Israelis among the happiest people in the world. The ranking made no sense to commentators.

Israelis work harder than other members of the OECD. We complain more than other members of the OECD. We don't have "peace." And yet, we are among the happiest people in the OECD.

What gives? For decades before we embarked on the phony peace process, Israel was a model socialist state. We had paralyzing tax rates and failed government industries that crowded private entrepreneurship out of the market. Monopolies ran every sector and provided shoddy goods and horrible services at astronomical prices. The Histadrut labor union owned most of the economy along with the government and in every sector, Histadrut commissars ensured that anyone with an ounce of initiative was subject to unending abuse.


Just around the time we began extricating ourselves from our socialist straitjacket, we were also recognizing that the peace thing wasn't everything it was cracked up to be. And at that point we began to understand that happiness and success aren't about what other people give you - money, treaties, a phone line after a five-year wait. Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.

At that point, sometime between 1996 and 2000, Israelis began creating large families and embracing the free market.

Today, with an average of three children per family, Israelis are the fecund outliers of the industrial world. And as David Goldman at PJ Media has demonstrated, there is a direct correlation between children and human happiness. This is why fruitful Israelis have the lowest suicide rate in the industrial world. When you have children, you have a future.

And when you have a future, you work hard to secure it, and have a generally optimistic outlook.

What could be so bad when your kid just lost his first tooth? Israelis are also happy because we see that we can build the future we want for our families and our country even without another glitzy signing ceremony at the White House every six months. Our country is getting stronger and more livable every day. And we know it.

Those on the international stage that share our view that life is about more than pieces of paper signed with Arab anti-Semites recognize what is happening. For them Israel is not "that shi**y little country." It's "The Little Engine that Could."

Take the Chinese. Last July China signed a deal with Israel to build an inland port in Eilat and a 180- km. freight railway to connect Eilat to Israel's Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa. The purpose of the project is to build an alternative to the Suez Canal, in Israel. The Chinese look at the region, and they see that Egypt is a failed state that can't even afford its wheat imports. The future of shipping along the Suez Canal is in doubt with riots in Port Said and Suez occurring on a regular basis.

On the other hand, Israel is a stable, prosperous, successful democracy that keeps moving from strength to strength. When the freight line is completed, as far as the global economy is concerned, Israel will become the most strategically important country in the region.

Then there is our newfound energy wealth. Israel became energy independent on March 30, when the Tamar offshore gas field began pumping natural gas to Israel. In two to three years, when the Leviathan gas field comes online, Israel will become one of the most important producers of natural gas in the world. Moreover, in 2017, Israel will likely begin extracting commercial quantities of oil from its massive oil shale deposits in the Shfela Basin near Beit Shemesh.

At 65, Israel is becoming a mature, responsible, prosperous and powerful player in the international arena. The only thing we need to ensure that we enjoy the fruits of our labors is security. And the one thing we can do to squander it all is place our hopes in "peace."

And so we won't, ever again.



Some satire from Israel

It helps if you know a bit about the scene in Israel but is worthwhile for others too


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)