Saturday, January 31, 2009

The school that Israel didn't shell

The media love terrorist lies

Every Israeli operation to defend itself has one. And the "bombed school" was the "Jenin massacre" or the "bombed ambulance" hoax of Israel's operation this past month in Gaza. In early January Israel was once again accused of a horrific war crime - an allegation that ran and ran. Some examples:

From Britain's The Independent: "Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled"

From The Australian: "THE deaths of 42 people in an Israeli attack at a UN-run school in Gaza overnight has finally forced Barack Obama to break his silence over the conflict..."

From The Age: "43 Palestinians in a UN school were killed by Israeli shelling..."

From Iran: "The UN High Commissioner for Rights has also called for independent investigations into possible war crimes after Israel's shelling of a UN school compound which killed 42 people..."

From India: "Israeli tank shells killed more than 40 Palestinians on Tuesday at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter, in carnage likely to boost international pressure on Israel to halt a Gaza offensive".

The key ingredients in this latest "proof'' of Israeli depravity: 43 dead, school attacked, sheltering civilians massacred. Oh, and with no good cause: "The United Nations on Wednesday denied Israeli army allegations that militants were inside a school in Gaza that was hit the previous day by an Israeli strike, killing at least 42 people."

Now for the facts of that January 6 mortar shelling of the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Yes, the 43 people are dead, and that is a tragedy, given many were undoubtedly innocent. But the rest of the allegations? False, false and false. Yet again the media has bought anti-Israeli propaganda, as a Toronto Globe and Mail investigation has found:
Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed....

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers....
The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: "Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.".

Hazem Balousha, who runs an auto-body shop across the road from the UNRWA school, was down the street, just out of range of the shrapnel, when the three shells hit. He showed a reporter where they landed: one to the right of his shop, one to the left, and one right in front.

UNRWA itself now opening concedes its school was not actually shelled:
John Ging, UNRWA's operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that "no one was killed in the school." ... The Israelis are the ones, he said, who got everyone thinking the deaths occurred inside the school. "Look at my statements," he said. "I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation."

But the Globe and Mail recalls an earlier Ging quote:
Speaking from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as the bodies were being brought in that night, an emotional Mr. Ging did say: "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. ... There's nowhere safe in Gaza."

And a World Health Organization report:
On 6 January, 42 people were killed following an attack on a UNRWA school ...

And a UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs weekly report:
Israeli shelling directly hit two UNRWA schools [including this one]...

So why did Israel lob those three mortar shells into the street outside the school? As Associated Press reported at the time:
In a statement, the Israeli army said an initial investigation found that "mortar shells were fired from within the school at IDF soldiers. The force responded with mortars at the source of fire. The Hamas cynically uses civilians as human shields." The army said two Hamas militants - Imad Abu Askar and Hasan Abu Askar - were among the dead.

Two neighborhood residents confirmed the Israeli account, saying a group of militants fired mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets. Israel then opened fire. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the Abu Askar brothers were known low-level Hamas militants.

"Within" is not right, of course. But it seems the real story is that 43 people, including at least two Hamas militants, were killed when Israel returned fire from Hamas mortars launched from among a crowd in the street. You might still not like what occured. But it is very, very different to what was so widely alleged, and far more forgivable.

And after the earlier evidence of the media repeating pro-Hamas propaganda and gross exaggerations of the death toll in Gaza, especially among civilians, we need to ask again: how much can we trust the coverage of journalists and welfare groups reporting from territory run by terrorists?



Barack Quixote

Four hundred years ago, Miguel Cervantes described an archetypal delirious fruitcake who wanted to change the world by turning the clock back to the idealized Utopian times that never really existed. Imagine what Cervantes would write today about the futility of his satirical effort, if he were to learn that four centuries later, a whole movement would arise that emulated his loony character and elected one of their kind as the leader of the free world.... Being light on details, Obama's inaugural speech briefly reiterated his views - which we already knew from his previous comments, associations, voting record, and cabinet appointments. Here is a partial list of the windmills he pledges to fight:

Windmill #1: Greed is bad for the economy.

Greed is a known "progressive" code word for the freedom to keep what you earn - the sort of freedom that made the United States the economic wonder of the world. To be fair, during the presidential debates McCain also attacked greed in rather quixotic terms, although next to Obama he sounded more like the simple-minded Sancho Panza.

Windmill #2: Lack of government control is bad for the economy.

The ones out of control here were the Democrat politicians who created corrupt government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, later defending them to the death against Republican calls for stricter oversight. At the same time they overburdened the banking industry with Utopian requirements to give mortgages to people who couldn't pay them back - a quixotic move that sparked the current economic meltdown.

Windmill #3: Partisan discord must give way to "unity of purpose."

A debate between political parties is healthy for a democracy. The trouble is, the debate itself became toxic when Obama's own party was hijacked by leftist radicals whose idea of unity is the suppression of dissent. If we unite with them for that purpose, it will be the end of American democracy. Observe examples of political unity in Cuba, North Korea, and Hollywood. One-party rule was stipulated in the Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution that singled out the Communist Party as the leading and inspiring force of the Soviet people. We know how that ended.

Windmill #4: Wealth creation must give way to wealth redistribution.

"Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and ... a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous." In real life, free market favors everybody who participates in it. Excessive regulations give unfair advantages to large corporations that can swallow the extra cost while their smaller competitors will choke on it. This stifles competition, reduces economic opportunity, lowers the quality of life, and spreads misery. In the end the elites remain prosperous while everybody else is worse off. Quixotic policies always result in the exact opposite of the original intentions. The only winner here is the growing government bureaucracy.

Windmill #5: Discipline the government bureaucracy.

"And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day." It's what Leonid Brezhnev also said when he figured Khrushchev's liberal reforms had unleashed government corruption that had been previously held in check by Stalin's rule of terror. Let's face it - terror is the only way to run a state-owned economy effectively; that's why Stalin kept his apparatchiks trembling with fear and waking up at night in cold sweat. Without the show trials and executions, to manage an army of sticky-fingered bureaucrats became a gigantic windmill that the country had been fighting for a few decades before it collapsed from exhaustion. The moral here is that, short of the gulag, nothing can control the corrupting powers of an exponentially-growing government bureaucracy. Attempts to fight it will only result in a quagmire. The obvious answer is to stop feeding this monster, by removing the unessential regulating functions; the government will deflate to a manageable size and will become people-friendly again.

Windmill #6: Finance government construction projects by taxing private industries.

Talk about "meeting the demands of a new age." Throw away your computer and grab a shovel - the future is here! Putting government in competition with the private sector helps neither, but corrupts both. FDR tried this on a massive scale; his well-meaning programs turned a recession into a depression, prolonged the suffering, and delayed the recovery by a decade. The subsequent lionization of FDR for this man-made disaster could only occur in a mindset where good intentions mean everything, and the results mean nothing - a classic example of quixotism.

Windmill #7: Ward off the specter of Global Warming.

"We will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet." Nice try bundling terrorism with Global Warming, but no cigar. While the industrial impact on climate cycles remain a questionable hypothesis, its ideological underpinnings are getting more and more visible. Not two weeks ago Obama created the position of global warming czar and gave it to known socialist radical Carol M. Browner, whose solution to any world problem is the curbing of capitalism and shrinking the economy. Swapping Karl Marx's "specter of communism" with a more convenient "specter of a warming planet" may have changed the lyrics, but the song remains the same.

In this light, Obama's promise to "restore science to its rightful place" is merely a code phrase for the politicization of science. In the USSR, where scientific consensus was created by government mandate, politicization of science resulted in a colossal waste of national resources on absurd agricultural hoaxes, while state-appointed "scientists" denounced the emerging cybernetics as a "bourgeois hoax." Every single one of these people acted out of good intentions.

Windmill #8: Global poverty exists because the US taxpayers aren't throwing enough money at it.

"We can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect." If global poverty still exists after trillions of dollars in foreign aid over the decades, shouldn't we already start looking for the root of the problem elsewhere? Say, not in the lack of donations, but perhaps in the despotic quasi-Marxist regimes that cause poor nations to stay poor? A bizarre quixotic-despotic symbiosis has emerged, for example, in Africa, where well-meaning Western activists and politicians are promoting socialist reforms and nationalization of resources - while local despots, who otherwise couldn't care less about Marxism, find this system very useful in maintaining power and keeping populations in economic serfdom.

As long as everything is owned and governed by the state, the head of such a state automatically becomes an absolute monarch, owning and governing the entire land and its people. Such governing typically consists of stealing foreign aid, pilfering the country, looting the neighbors, and fighting off coup after coup, led by an endless swarm of similarly inclined wannabe despots, who want their share of foreign aid, gold, diamonds, or whatever else the educated Western geologists happen to find in that God-forsaken, state-owned land. No such despot will ever step down voluntarily, because that would make him like everybody else in his country - dirt-poor and vulnerable to abuse from the new despot.

Perhaps, in order to eliminate bloody civil wars in Africa and elsewhere, Obama could throw a few billion of our dollars at a posh retirement facility for tinpot dictators that would help them soften the blow and deal with psychological stresses, thus facilitating a peaceful transition of power from one crook to another. A better solution, of course, would be to introduce those countries to capitalism with its freedoms, incentives, property rights, and the rule of law - but apparently this is too ignoble a prospect for a soaring quixotic mind to consider.

More here



Barack Bush? "The White House warned Iran last night that military action is still one of its options despite the "hand of friendship" offered by President Obama. Officials moved to cool fevered expectations - and assuage lingering European concerns - about plans to thaw a 30 year freeze in US relations. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, reiterated that any talks held with the Iranian leadership would not necessarily be with President Ahmadinejad and would involve careful preparations beforehand. Asked if the use of force was still possible, he replied: "The President hasn't changed his viewpoint that he should preserve all his options." Mr Gibbs added that the US needed to address Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and its threats against Israel, as well as an "illicit nuclear programme".

Destructive economic ignorance coming up?: "Mr Obama may be about to repeat, at the dawn of his presidency, the same historic error that the much derided Herbert Hoover made just before quitting the White House in 1933. In the depths of the Great Depression, he signed into law the innocent-sounding Buy America Act. It required the US Government to use American suppliers in all public contracts. Less notorious than the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, "Buy America" did huge damage. It proved a disaster for US manufacturing exports and the global economy. Other governments followed suit, and it took decades to begin to reverse the closure of markets. Now, prodded by America's mighty steel lobby, a key congressional committee has voted, 55-0, to attach a still more rigorous "Buy America" clause to President Obama's stimulus package. It bars federal funding of any public projects "unless all of the iron and steel used is produced in the United States". [And then other countries will shut out American products, causing yet more unemployment in America]

Voter ID Was a Success in November: "Remember the storm that arose on the political left after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's voter ID law last April? According to the left, voter ID was a dastardly Republican plot to prevent Democrats from winning elections by suppressing the votes of minorities, particularly African-Americans. Since the election of Barack Obama, we haven't heard a word about such claims. On Jan. 14, the federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Georgia's voter ID law. The reasons for the silence about alleged voter suppression is plain. In the first place, numerous academic studies show that voter ID had no effect on the turnout of voters in prior elections. The plaintiffs in every unsuccessful lawsuit filed against such state requirements could not produce a single individual who didn't either already have an ID or couldn't easily get one. Second are the figures emerging from the November election.... The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) found that black turnout in the 2008 election was at a historic high, having increased substantially from 2004. The total share of black voters in the national vote increased from 11% to 13% according to exit polls, with 95% of blacks voting for Mr. Obama."

A visit to Paris: " On the first day of our trip, local news reported that another synagogue was firebombed, a 4th that week, and a man had just been stabbed for wearing a Star of David by the notorious “disenfranchised youths” as the media calls them. Two days prior, there was a “peace” rally which resulted in the burning of dozens of cars, again by those pesky “youths” who for some reason yell “Allah Akbar” while rioting. We did an in studio interview on French radio where I bluntly explained to them that their problems were brought on by their leftist politicians who feel the need to push socialist and other leftist policies which have enabled all this to occur. Unfortunately these policies of open borders, refugee resettlement, welfare, and others, are exactly the same policies that the liberals in congress and the state assembly are constantly pushing here in America."

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


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


Friday, January 30, 2009

Grabbing traditions that the Left have not yet managed to destroy

Please forgive me for starting with an enormous cliche but: "Man is a social animal". And that observation underlies some further remarks that I want to make about group belonging and connectedness to others generally. I have of course written at length on that before and pointed out the paradox that conservatives -- who very much respect individualism and individual liberty -- are also the ones who are most at ease with being members of a group -- such as a nation -- where pride in group membership is of course called patriotism. Being human, Leftists too have such a need but their miserable and constant criticism of the world about them normally inhibits their feelings of group membership. So when they do find a group that they approve of they go completely overboard -- as with Obamania or Nazism.

And the constant Leftist accusation that any group loyalty is "racism" has inhibited or even destroyed some of the group loyalties that people once felt. I don't blame my readers for being unaware of it but particularly ethical or generous behavior was in the early 20th century often referred to by the English as "white". "That's very white of you" was once a great compliment and expression of appreciation. Yes. People were once proud of being white. These days that is a huge no-no, of course. Black pride is great but white pride is now allegedly an unmitigated evil. Even though the people who defeated Hitler were in fact overwhelmingly -- white.

And where shreds of the old group loyalties have survived Leftist attack, it is remarkable how popular they are. People need such things so they grab what is left. And I want to give three examples of that -- all largely from my own experience but not solely so.

The first is ANZAC day. ANZAC day is a great Australian tradition. It commemorates the landing of Australian soldiers under British command in Northern Turkey during WWI. Due to typical British military bungling, it was a disaster but the heroism of the troops in their parlous situation was widely reported and admired. And the anniversary of that landing is now Australia's most significant national day. It is the day on which we remember our many war dead and there are traditions about how we do that. A central tradition is the dawn service. The original ANZAC troops went ashore at dawn and at that very time their sacrifice is honoured to this day. A service is always held at a local war memorial or cenotaph at that time. And certain traditional words are said there at that time too.

So who goes to these services? Old guys who still remember their war service? They do indeed. But lots of young people go too. They sense a great national tradition and they grasp it eagerly. And although the original ANZAC troops are now long dead, the crowds at the commemorative services are bigger than ever. It is to this day a great day of Australian pride and undoubtedly Australia's most solemn day of celebration. It goes from strength to strength. There have been Leftist attempts to mock it but such attempts have been like water off a duck's back. A book mocking it was in fact for a time a set text in many Australian schools but even that did not succeed at working the usual Leftist destruction.

And my second example is much more mundane but in a way more amazing. To understand how amazing you need to know what the Scots and the English think of one another. It is not good. Tolerance describes it but there is not much more than that. And sometimes even the tolerance breaks down. Old memories going back to the 13th century die hard, amazingly enough. Yet at my last Burns Night -- an ineradicable and unashamed Scottish celebration of great sentimentality -- I had several English-born guests present -- with attitudes to all things Scottish that were typically English. They didn't even really like the pipes (bagpipe music)! Yet I started the night by distributing the words of "Scotland the Brave" and asking everyone to sing it. It is of course a great patriotic and very sentimental Scottish song so I was mildly surprised that my English guests sang it with as much gusto as anyone else. They "got into it" as well as anyone else.

And that is not just something from my own social circle. It was recently reported that there were in fact this year more Burns Night celebrations -- always highly ritualized and traditional occasions -- in England than there were in Scotland! Such is the need for old customs and unashamed feelings of connectedness and uniting in something significant.

And then there is Australia day. Australia day was for a long time more an official holiday than a people's holiday. Australians are in general patriotic but not ostentatiously so. The day commemorates the first landing of British settlers in Australia on Jan. 26, 1788. Leftists fume about it of course and say it should be renamed "Invasion day" because there were already at the time black people living in Australia. And Greenies think it is a tragedy too -- because of the "damage" the white settlers did to the natural landscape. So on the Australia Day just past there was a call to move the day of celebration to some other date -- a call which our centre-Left Prime Minister firmly rejected. He has good political instincts.

The interesting thing about Australia day, however is that HAS now become a people's holiday. As mainstream Australians have been fed -- in the schools and from the media -- a steady diet of white guilt and how wonderful blacks and Muslims are, the more they have turned to celebrating their own identity and history. And Australia day is an opportunity for that. It is now common on Australia day to see cars on the road with one or more Australian flags fluttering from them. Various organizations actually hand them out for that purpose. That never used to be the case. And even Australians of East Asian origin (of whom Australia has many) sometimes get into the spirit and wear Australian symbols -- such as the flag -- on their clothing. They see no problems with what the British wrought here and are glad to be Australians. So the Leftist attack on Australian patriotism has in fact energized it and made it an occasion for coming together. I gave an extended coverage of the Australia day just past on my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog.

Just a very small point to end up with: In my childhood I was often told in tones of awe and reverence that my great-grandfather was in the Black Watch. So what is the Black Watch? Basically, it is just another Scottish regiment in the British army. But it isn't just that. It is the Black Watch and you have to have traditional Scottish feelings and knowledge of history to understand that. Being in the Black Watch is REAL belongingness, a source of pride and honour.

And I DO like haggis! As I have already mentioned, there is a small account on my personal blog of my most recent Burns Night -- for what slight interest it may have.


Some good sarcasm from Taranto

"In an interview with one of the Middle East's major broadcasters, President Barack Obama struck a conciliatory tone toward the Islamic world, saying he wanted to persuade Muslims that 'the Americans are not your enemy,' " the New York Times reports. "The interview with Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language news channel based in Dubai, signaled a shift--in style and manner at least--from the Bush administration."

Obama also addressed Muslims directly, saying, "We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful." Can you imagine George W. Bush saying anything like that?

Oh wait, sorry, Homer nods: That last quote was from Bush's speech on Sept. 20, 2001. Still, the pace of change is just dizzying! OK, so it's not so much what Obama said, but where he said it. Bush would never have given an interview to Al Aribiya.

Darn it, we messed up again! The Associated Press reports that "Obama's choice of Al-Arabiya network, which is owned by a Saudi businessman, follows the lead of the Bush administration, which gave several presidential interviews to that news channel." Even so, change is all around us! As the AP notes, the new president's policies are completely different:
Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which prompted a massive backlash against the U.S. in the Muslim world.

Bush just went around launching wars for no reason! It's not as if these wars were provoked by an attack on America or an invasion of a neighboring country, or else the AP would have mentioned it. Obama, by contrast, just wants to give peace a chance, as another Associated Press dispatch notes:
Obama is expected to double the number of American troops in Afghanistan this year, as the country becomes one of his foreign policy priorities.

The Washington Post reports that "the change in Washington appears to have rattled al-Qaeda's leaders, some of whom are scrambling to convince the faithful that Obama and Bush are essentially the same." Good luck with that, guys!


Agence France-Presse gives us yet another example of the press's historical amnesia in crediting President Obama with foreign-policy "change":
In an interview with the Al-Arabiya satellite television network on Monday, Obama sought to assure the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy" and urged Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Obama has promised to directly address Middle East questions at the start of his presidency rather than waiting for years like his predecessor George W. Bush, but said he did not want expectations raised too high for swift progress for peace, following the Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza.

Did the Bush administration really wait "years"? Let's consult an earlier AFP dispatch:
In an apparent effort to cement Arab support for a US-led global war on terrorism, President George W. Bush said on Tuesday a Palestinian state had always been part of a US vision for Middle East peace. . . . Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking later after a meeting with his Indian counterpart, echoed that statement. . . .

Since Sept. 11, the United States has waded into to the crisis, pressuring both sides into signing a ceasefire deal last week to allow it to enlist Arab and Muslim states in his world anti-terror coalition. Bush said Washington was "working diligently" to end a year-long cycle of violence and reiterated his strong support for a roadmap to peace crafted by an international panel headed by former US Senator George Mitchell.

The latter dispatch is dated Oct. 3, 2001--8« months after Bush's inauguration. Maybe AFP meant dog years.



No good reason to feel depression

Comment from an Australian economist

You don't need me to tell you, but I will anyway. Yes, we're in for a terrible year. The economy's almost certain to drop into recession. Indeed, we may be there already. That means rapidly mounting unemployment and various businesses collapsing. This will be our first recession in 17 years, which means it will be a novel experience for everyone under about 30. For the rest of us, however, recession is nothing new. And while everyone's busy working themselves into a funk, it's worth reminding ourselves of a few home truths.

The first is that, although every recession is regarded a monumental failure of economic management, capitalist economies move in cycles of boom and bust. Always have; always will. So this isn't the first recession we've had and it won't be the last. That's worth repeating because it's a reminder of something we're prone to forget in the depths of our gloom: this recession will pass, just as every other one has.

A lot of people are saying this will be the worst recession we've experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This may prove to be true. After all, it was true of the last recession, in the early '90s, and also the one before it in the early '80s. But no matter how bad this recession proves to be, it's a safe prediction it won't be nearly as bad as the Depression, when the rate of unemployment leapt to more than 20 per cent. So don't let the talk of depression spook you.

In a recession, just about everyone is adversely affected. It's worth remembering, however, that most of us get let off pretty lightly. The great majority of businesses, for instance, won't go out backwards, even if many lay off staff. And consider this: were the rate of unemployment to more than double to 10 per cent, that would still mean 90 per cent of workers had kept their jobs. What's more, the risk of unemployment is far from evenly spread across the workforce. It falls most heavily on young - those leaving education to seek a job - and the less skilled and less educated. There are exceptions, of course, but the higher your level of educational attainment, the lower the likelihood of your being unemployed.

Another factor is that some industries are more susceptible to the business cycle than others. Manufacturing, retailing, advertising and media are always hard hit, whereas the public sector and providers of basic goods and services are largely impervious. We still have to eat, for instance.

I predict that, before the year's out, we'll see letters to the editor proclaiming: What recession? My local restaurant is still full on Saturday nights. Why am I sure we'll see this? Because I hear people saying it in every recession. Remember, too, that contrary to what we first think, the economic news is never all good or all bad. Just as booms are marred by rapidly rising prices and ever-increasing interest rates, so recessions are leavened by falling interest rates, government giveaways and slowing inflation. Interest rates have another couple of percentage points to fall, with the next fall likely next week.

It's a good time to seek out generous discounts. And recessions are a time when the cashed-up and canny buy shares and real estate while they're cheap, setting themselves up for the next boom.

More here


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


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


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sarah's back!

Alaska governor Sarah Palin has launched a political action committee to help support candidates for federal and state office. The committee, SarahPac, is dedicated to supporting "fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation," according to its web site.

Palin catapulted to fame last year as Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate and is widely believed to be eyeing a presidential bid in 2012. Aides said SarahPac will help serve as a vehicle for her political activities. According to the web site, SarahPac welcomes supporters of any political persuasion and will contribute to candidates of any party who share her ideas and goals.

But Palin makes special note of the Republican Party on the site, saying it is at "the threshold of an historic renaissance" that should focus on health care, education and government reform.

Aides said Palin will limit her political activity until the Alaska legislative session ends in April. But she planned to travel to Washington on Saturday to attend the Alfalfa Club dinner, an elite gathering of the capital's political and media establishment. Palin was also expected to address the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in Washington in February.



BrookesNews Update

President Obama gets an economic broadside : The US faces a massive surge in inflation and a run on the dollar if the fed insists on flooding the banks with monopoly money and underwriting Obama's economic illiteracy with colossal checks funded with credit expansion
Obama's fiscal stimulus will fail the US economy: It is a dangerous fallacy that government spending is costless. There is need to emphasize the truism that a government can spend or invest only what it takes away from its citizens and that its additional spending and investment curtails the citizens' spending and investment to the full extent of it quantity
The Great Depression: fact versus myths: The Democrats are falsely arguing that this is the worst crisis since the Great Depression and that it requires a 'New Deal'. But it was Roosevelt's New Deal that kept America in depression throughout the 1930s. This is an important fact that needs to be grasped by the public, despite media propaganda to the contrary. Obama's economic policies are a dangerous mishmash of New Deal quackery, appalling economic and historical illiteracy
Are the Democrats a patriotic party? : Any party works assiduously to bring about its own country's defeat - as did hardcore Democrats with respect to the Iraq War - is surely guilty of treason. And it should not be forgotten that President Obama was one of those Democrats
Bush and the Bush-Haters: Bush is alone at being attacked and denied support from all quarters - even from many members of his own party. No single media source, excepting talk radio, was ever in his corner. Struggling actors and comics revived their careers though attacks on Bush. The very existence of BDS says more about the left in general than it does about Bush. The left are already cranking up their hate machine again Sarah Palin
When will Israel learn to SAY "NO!" : Once the Obama team gets going the situation for Israel could become dire. At least, Bush never announced that he would sit and negotiate with a terrorist organization and give them the credibility of a real state, which is precisely what Obama has done
Obama: bringing Americans change they never imagined: Obama has made it evident that we've stuck ourselves with an extreme leftist ideologue whose brand of 'change we can believe in' is, in fact, 'change we never imagined'. Examples are piling up in terms of the radical pro-abortion polices he's planning to implement, the many-times-failed leftist fiscal policies he's promised to test yet again, and the noxiously naive peacenik policies that have Mahmoud and Osama giggling themselves to sleep at night
The media bring down a curtain of darkness to protect Obama : Obama lied about his contacts with Blagojevich. But he has the media on side. Nothing of what has been previously seen in Western democracies in terms of counterfeiting and news manipulation can compare to this absolute and relentless blockade that the American media has placed on any information damaging to Obama. Free debate and information is the lifeblood of democracy. By acting as Obama's willing censors the mainstream media has again demonstrated why it is an enemy of democracy



Russian military a 'paper tiger': "Russia may be flexing its military muscle once again, sending warships into international waters and dispatching long-range bombers on reconnaissance trips, but the former superpower remains a paper tiger, according to a respected London think-tank. The recent naval manoeuvres in the Mediterranean and Latin America were symbolic gestures - the former maritime giant was able to deploy only a small number of ships, while the rest of the fleet was anchored at home without enough money to keep it at sea, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says.... The Navy plans to build six carrier battle groups, but the publication said: "The Russian military has a long way to go to recover from 20 years of mismanagement and neglect. "Only 12 nuclear-powered submarines, 20 major surface warships and one aircraft carrier remain in service with the Russian Navy, the last of which is routinely followed by two tugs in case of breakdown," it added."

17,000 more US troops to get orders for Afghanistan: "ABC's Luis E. Martinez reports: When President Obama visits the Pentagon tomorrow he will be presented with plans that by week's end could see as many as 17,000 additional US troops receiving their deployment orders for Afghanistan. Testifying on Capitol Hill today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there is little doubt that Aghanistan is the greatest military challenge for the US right now."

Democrats' economic plan: Blame the Republicans: "What do you expect Americans to do when President Obama tells us we are in `an unprecedented economic crisis'? Is any one surprised when consumers cut back on buying? When companies stop spending money? Unfortunately, Obama's statements aren't new - he made similar statements during the campaign last year. Democratic political consultants have been all over the media making the same claims about us being in `the most unprecedented economic crisis in history.' Of course, the media have been pounding away at this message also. It isn't just that the claim about the `unprecedented economic crisis' is false - it is absurdly false. But by frightening Americans and causing them to change their behavior, they are causing the economic chaos they claim to want to solve."

What will they do with the draft dodgers?: "The idea of rounding up the nation's youth and forcing them to labor in government-assigned jobs is once again back in the news. Coming from an ethics expert, the latest call for a civilian draft squares to a troubling extent with what Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, suggested in a 2006 book, and isn't too far off from what the president himself has endorsed. It's hard to avoid wondering if we're seeing the first signs of a coming policy - and what the consequences will be for Americans who say `no.'"


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


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


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Some of my best friends are Jews"

As much as I swear off talking about Jewish matters I still seem unable to stay silent about it for long.

There are some politically active people in the Melbourne Jewish community and I do what I can to circulate their material when I can. One of their movers and shakers, Ralph Zwier, has recently written a small article on the old, old controversy about people saying "Some of my best friends are Jews". That remark is, rather paradoxically, usually interpreted as indicating that the person uttering it is antisemitic. So although Ralph and I have had an amicable and frequent correspondence for some time, you can understand why I would never dare to call him one of my best friends!

But isn't that a bit paradoxical? What are genuinely philosemitic people supposed to say? Are they supposed to say: "None of my best friends are Jews"? There is actually an answer to that in the Bible. I find it in three of the Proverbs of Solomon the Wise: "He who flatters a man spreads a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5 R.S.V.); "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27: 6. R.S.V.); "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue" (Proverbs 28: 23 R.S.V.). In short, a true friend is CRITICAL, but constructively so. So by that standard I think I stand up rather well, in that I have on several occasions (e.g. here) remarked that Jews as a whole tend to be politically stupid and have endeavoured to point to wiser paths that they might follow.

But that does that wash? I perfectly understand that many Jews might see me as being simply impertinent and ignorant. So is it the case that Gentiles are damned whether they speak either good or ill of Jews? Nearly but not quite. Ralph Zwier's point is that antisemites say things which indicate that they have BENEFITED from Jews. the obvious corollary is that a real philosemite would actually do things the other way around: He would do things that benefit Jews rather than seeking benefits FROM Jews. And I think that is a completely commonsense observation. My way of supporting the Jewish community is to defend Israel in any way I can and to donate to Israeli charities. And, Yes, I do have some Jewish friends whom I value greatly.



Obama hit by Guantanamo reality: "President Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay within a year appeared to be unravelling yesterday with the emergence of former inmates on terrorist websites, fierce opposition in the US and a lukewarm response to taking detainees from the European Union. After signing an executive order last week to close the US military prison, Mr Obama has been confronted with myriad obstacles that are making his ambitious pledge look unrealistic. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, ruled out the prospect of Britain taking any more inmates, claiming that it had already made a significant contribution. His announcement, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, came as Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it had rearrested nine Islamist militants, including former Guantanamo inmates released to the Kingdom who had undergone a re-education programme in Riyadh. Two other former detainees sent home to Saudi Arabia from the prison in November 2007 re-emerged over the weekend on a jihadist website, railing against Britain, the US and Israel and identifying themselves by their Guantanamo detainee numbers. One of the men who appeared on video was Said Ali al-Shihri, now the deputy leader of al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch."

Let 1,000 Republican flowers bloom : "George W. Bush, the leader of the party - and, let's face it, of conservatives - for the last eight years, has only just left town. Fairly or unfairly (mostly unfairly), he ended up a very unpopular guy. It's going to take a while for Republicans to shake free of the Bush effect. And, more important, to shake free of the fact that for the last 14 years, and 26 of the last 28, there's been a Republican president in the White House and/or Republican control of Congress. That's why one has to be careful about what one wishes for. Republicans, newly liberated, need to resist calls to shackle themselves to prematurely announced agendas and already anointed leaders. This is the time for a thousand Republicans to bloom."

Boon or doggle? "Even if government spending in theory could 'stimulate the economy' in a genuine, sustainable way, it would not follow that politicians and bureaucrats would know how to spend the money intelligently. The pressures to do something now and the perverse incentives facing those in charge of the money guarantee there would be more doggle than boon. Government `countercyclical' spending is notorious for kicking in after the recession has passed. The planners' information is necessarily dated, and their capacity to act quickly is overestimated."

No consensus for "stimulus" among economists: "Contrary to claims by the Obama administration, there is no consensus among economists for a 'stimulus' package, much less the trillion-dollar pork-filled 'stimulus' package being crafted by Obama and liberal Congressional leaders. (Many economists oppose it). Even the liberal Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for President since 1952, admitted this today: `Fiscal stimulus is far from a sure-fire remedy.'"

McDonald's posts sizzling 80 per cent profit rise in 2008: "US fast-food giant McDonald's says its 2008 net profit soared 80 per cent from a year, lifted by growing demand from consumers seeking low-cost meals in a deepening global recession. Net profit for the full year totalled $US4.3 billion, compared with $US2.3 billion in 2007, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said in a statement. Excluding exceptional items, earnings per share were $3.76, widely exceeding consensus market forecasts of $3.63. The robust annual results came despite a sharp 23 per cent decline in fourth-quarter net profit to $US985 million, from $US1.273 billion in the 2007 fourth quarter. Fourth-quarter earnings per share were 87 cents, above expectations of 83 cents. "2008 was a strong year for McDonald's," chief executive Jim Skinner said in the statement. "Through our strategic focus on menu choice, food quality and value, the average number of customers served per day increased to more than 58 million in 2008."

Financial crisis claims Icelandic government: "ICELANDIC Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced today the immediate resignation of his Government following massive protests over its handling of the country's dire economic crisis. "I'm here to announce that I and the leader of the Social Democrats have decided that we will not continue with the coalition,'' Mr Haarde said, adding that he would seek a broad coalition with all parliamentary parties. The announcement came just days after Mr Haarde called for snap elections on May 9 in which he would not run due to health reasons, after months of protests in the normally calm island nation calling for the Government's resignation. Many Icelanders blame the Government for the collapse of the country's financial sector in October, which led the state to take control of three major banks as the economy and currency plunged amid huge debts. Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson formally accepted the resignation a few hours after Mr Haarde's announcement and said he had asked the Cabinet to stay in place until a new government can be formed." [Sad that Iceland has to take the punishment for the destructive legislation of the U.S. Congress]

UK: Data bill "will wipe out privacy at a stroke" : "Sweeping new laws to allow ministers to release the private details of millions of people to a string of public bodies or private firms have been condemned as being `open sesame to a vast increase in government power.' Opposition MPs joined human rights campaigners in attacking the new powers, warning that they could lead to the widespread release of medical records and other sensitive data."


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


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


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For Israel's future, Obama should put support on paper

I've not had the pleasure of meeting Israel's foreign affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor but he became my favourite diplomat after describing recent criticism of Israel as "unqualified bullshit". I wonder what he really thinks?

Since Israel decided that 60 rockets a day was more than any country should have to tolerate, the global media has accused Israel of every evil imaginable. They have been aided and abetted by, supposedly, non-political UN Relief and Works Agency officials who are more extreme in their anti-Israeli venom than Hamas terrorists. The "bullshit" is exemplified by a Sydney Morning Herald headline from last week: "Israel kept UN aid out of Gaza." Israel has been accused of crimes against humanity for refusing to permit the passage of food, medical supplies, oil, electricity (used to make rockets) and other essentials required to destroy Israel. The precedent, undoubtedly, was that set by Britain and the US during World War II. We all know how accommodating they were in ensuring Germany and Japan were well supplied with food and fuel.

There are times when one fears for one's sanity when listening to such rubbish. How many thousands more rockets must Israelis endure before they are permitted to defend themselves? What happens as the rockets become bigger and more accurate? The few who concede Israel has the right to defend itself then argue that the rockets aren't very accurate. Some consolation if you have to run for air-raid shelters 60 times a day. Unlike Hamas, Israel protects its citizens by building air-raid shelters.

Imagine for a moment the reactions of the good burghers of Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney if rockets were fired into their neighbourhood. Contemplate what they would say to Kevin Rudd. "Wipe the bastards out" for openers. That has not been Israel's response. After 10,000 rockets over eight years, it has been remarkably restrained. However, when Hamas resumed attacks Israel decided enough was enough.

When three years ago Israel unilaterally handed Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah had the opportunity, once again, to negotiate a permanent peace with Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state. Hamas preferred war, bloodshed and martyrdom. Having been democratically elected Hamas claimed a mandate. Israel, it appears, was expected to endorse the mandate that called for its own destruction.

To understand the minds of those Israel is dealing with, consider the statement of Hamas supremo, Khaled Meshaal. From the safety of Damascus, he described the recent war in which 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died, as an "unequivocal victory". And a defeat?

The word in vogue to describe Israel's destruction of rocket sites, weapons stores and Hamas terrorists has been "disproportionate": a word not much used during the London Blitz, which resulted in the deaths of 67,000 British civilians. Arthur Harris, commander-in-chief of bomber command, decided to "proportionally" flatten German cities: 600,000 German civilians died. In the Pacific the US lost 1700 civilians, mostly at Pearl Harbor, while Australia lost 700, primarily in Darwin. The US response was to "proportionately" bomb Japanese cities killing 580,000 civilians. Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki remember it well.

Had Hamas decided not to deliberately place their civilian population, arms and combatants inside schools, hospitals and mosques, far fewer innocents would have been killed and injured.

What happens now? Hamas claims it will continue to bombard Israel while one Israeli soldier remains in Gaza, ignoring the fact that three years ago Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The rocket attacks increased. So where to now? The most oft repeated cliche regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute is that it's a very complex matter. I beg to differ. The Islamic world and the Palestinians in particular must accept that Israel will always exist. Not through the next truce or ceasefire but forever.

Israel's critics demand that it negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah, to create a Palestinian state, conveniently forgetting that Israelis have tried repeatedly to do so without success. How do you negotiate with those who, at the end of the negotiations, say:"No matter what we agree to we will destroy you"?

It's a cliche to say that the Arabs can lose a hundred wars and survive while Israel cannot lose one. If the Palestinians are encouraged to believe that eventually they will triumph no one should be surprised that after each defeat they regroup, rearm and plan the next onslaught. Yasser Arafat taught the Palestinians to believe that even if they lost a battle they would win the propaganda war. With their friends in the left-liberal media how could it have been otherwise? They must be convinced they can never destroy Israel.

Since its founding in 1948 Israel's proud boast has been that it has never asked any other country to fight its battles. It has had considerable support from the US but that support has not been one way. Israeli intelligence, military technology and scientific know-how has been Israel's payback. Israel is also the US's only reliable ally in the Middle East. It is almost certain that if Israel were under savage attack and in danger of going under, the US would come to its aid. There is, however, no formal agreement, pact or treaty to support that unstated undertaking. Which suggests the question, "Why not?"

The only way, to deter Israel's enemies is for the US to say unequivocally that it would never allow Israel to be destroyed. Most Westerners find it impossible to comprehend the mind of those Islamic fundamentalists who welcome death and martyrdom, particularly if it is achieved in an attempt to destroy Israel. On the assumption that not all Palestinians want to go to Paradise before the last possible moment, a declaration by the US and a formal agreement that it would intervene if Israel was under serious threat would have sane Palestinians looking for a peaceful solution. It's an idea the 44th President of the US might consider.



An ethical contrast

PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety. "After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said. Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF. "I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.

Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed. "They were very scared, and very nervous . They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people. "And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."

Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war. "You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."




My unwavering support for Israel (despite its crazy politics) and my interest in all things Jewish often puts me in reach of accusations of various sorts. Racists think I am helping to cover up evil Jewish conspiracies and some Jews are uncomfortable when I discuss mistakes that I think some Jews make. So I decided to get off the thin ice recently after I had put up quite a lot of posts about Jewish matters. It seemed to me that I could safely leave discussion of all points of view about Jewish matters in the hands of Jews themselves. But I am incorrigible. On Sunday I hosted a Burns Night and in my memoir about it on my personal blog, I ventured to compare a Burns Night with a passover seder!

Hi-tech made in Israel: "Albit Systems announced Monday that the IDF ordered 40 million dollars of UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) from the company. Albit will provide the UAV Skylark LE I to the IDF ground forces and also be responsible for training the forces to use the UAVs. During Operation Cast Lead the IDF used UAVs manufactured by Albit. The Skylarks help the IDF gather intelligence and maintain coordination between forces."

After less than a week in office, Barack Obama's approval rating plunges 15 points: "Barack Obama might have been in office for less than a week, but the euphoria is beginning to wane. The new President's approval ratings have fallen from a stratospheric 83 per cent to a more modest - although still impressive - 68 per cent. Washington analysts said the scale of the drop in the Gallup poll underlines the immense challenges Mr Obama faces in trying to turn round the U.S.'s battered fortunes. He still remains vastly more popular than his predecessor George Bush - who left office with around 25 per cent approval.

Carter the outcast: ""There they stood, all four living U.S. presidents at the White House, smiling and posing with the soon-to-be newest member of the club, Barack Obama. But at that historic gathering earlier this month, one member of the group, Jimmy Carter, appeared to be cut off from the rest, as if he had crashed the party but could stay if he didn't cause any trouble. `It was fascinating,' said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who said the photo opportunity showed the others as clubby while Carter was a step apart. And there's probably a good reason for that too, Hess said. `He's a person who has stuck his thumb in the eye of every president who has followed him,' he said."


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


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


Monday, January 26, 2009

NYT running scared and getting cautious

Obama's lenient policies could lead to another big terror attack on the USA -- as the NYT is warning him. If that happens after NO attacks under GWB, both Obama and the Democrats will be finished

Cognitive dissonance anyone? "Promising to return America to the 'moral high ground' in the war on terrorism, President Obama issued three executive orders Thursday to demonstrate a clean break from the Bush administration, including one requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year," CNN reports. But in its front-page story on Guantanamo today, the New York Times took a drastically different angle:
The emergence of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

So wait, you mean those guys are terrorists after all? Go figure! As the Times explains, Said Ali al-Shihri was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and went through a "Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists." Thus rehabilitated, he went to Yemen, where he is believed to have been involved in a September bombing of the U.S. Embassy.

What's going on here? Having led the campaign against Guantanamo, and having won at least a preliminary victory, the Times is now preparing its readers for the eventuality that the unlawful combatants being held there will not simply be released, or treated as common criminals:
The development came as Republican legislators criticized the plan to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp in the absence of any measures for dealing with current detainees. But it also helps explain why the new administration wants to move cautiously, taking time to work out a plan to cope with the complications.

Those complications could be extremely dire, in both real and political terms. Whatever President Bush's shortcomings, his antiterror policies were indisputably successful, inasmuch as there has been no major terror attack on U.S. soil since he instituted them.

When Obama and other Democrats were in the opposition, it was easy to complain about insensitivity to civil liberties, or to engage in cant about how Bush's policies actually made us less safe. Now that Obama is president, his most important responsibility is to defend the country. If terrorists successfully strike on his watch, headlines like "Bush's 'War' on Terror Comes to Sudden End" (an "analysis" from today's Washington Post) will come back to haunt Obama, who will be seen as having failed where his predecessor succeeded.

Should this happen, it is possible Obama will end up getting a bum rap. After all, Shihri was released during Bush's presidency, as were the three score or so other Guantanamo detainees who, according to the Pentagon, have returned to the battlefield. But if Bush's policies were too lenient, more-lenient policies from Obama are a step in the wrong direction.

We aren't saying anything that isn't obvious, and no doubt it is obvious to Obama as well, which is why his executive orders provide for time to study the issues and room for alternative policies. Once the new president has put his mark on antiterror policy, there is nothing he will be able to do to escape blame if there is another successful terrorist attack. Whatever his rhetoric about "moral leadership" and civil liberties, preventing another attack must, and surely will, be his top priority.



More BBC deception

What should the BBC do if the new US President's references to global warming in his inaugural speech don't quite come up to expectations? Last night I was reading through the full text of Barak Obama's speech just before the BBC's daily current affairs magazine, Newsnight, came on television. So his words were fresh in my mind when Susan Watts, Newsnight's science editor, presented a piece on the implications of the speech for science in general and global warming in particular. I was surprised when it started with this sound bite from the inaugural speech: We will restore science to its rightful place, [and] roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

I didn't seem to remember him saying that at all. When the program was over, I went back to the text and this is what I found. It would seem that someone at the BBC had taken the trouble to splice the tape so that half a sentence from paragraph 16 of the inauguration speech was joined on to half a sentence from paragraph 22, and this apparently continuous sound bite was completed by returning to paragraph 16 again to lift another complete sentence. Susan Watts then started her report by saying: President Obama couldn't have been clearer today. And for most scientists his vote of confidence would not have come a moment too soon. In the eight years of the Bush presidency, the world saw Arctic ice caps shrink to a record summer low, the relentless rise of greenhouse gas emissions, and warnings from scientists shift from urgent to panicky.

But the `quotation' that she was referring to only exists in a digital file concocted by a sound engineer. (It would be kind draw a veil over evidence that Newsnight's science editor seems not to know the difference between sea ice and an ice cap, but that's another story.)

More here



Britain plunges into recession: "Britain's economy shrank at its fastest pace in nearly three decades at the end of last year, sending the economy into recession for the first time since 1991 as the financial crisis hit even harder than expected. Friday's bleak data piles pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, under fire after massive job losses, banking sector turmoil and a plummeting currency knocked Britons' faith in his ability to deal with the global economic downturn. "The economy entered recession with an almighty bang in the fourth quarter of 2008," said Howard Archer of Global Insight. The Office for National Statistics said the economy shrank by 1.5% in the fourth quarter of last year, the biggest drop since 1980. That followed a 0.6% fall in the third quarter, fulfilling the technical definition of recession."

Obama the bomber? "The CIA's bombing campaign against al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan continued with two more attacks today, an indication, senior officials say, that President Barack Obama has approved the U.S. strategy that has killed at least eight of al Qaeda's top 20 leaders since July 2008. The two attacks today in Pakistan were the first since President Obama took office on Tuesday. Asked about it at his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I'm not going to discuss that matter." During the campaign, Obama called for cross-border attacks against high-value al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, even before the CIA campaign began."

Excerpt from Sarah Palin's State of the State speech: "First, please join me in thanking those who protect our freedoms that allow us to assemble – our good men and women in uniform – they are America’s finest, our U.S. military. It’s been quite a year since we last gathered in this chamber. Just two days ago we witnessed a shining moment in the history of our country. Millions of Americans are praying for the success of our new president, and I am one of them. His work is cut out for him, but if President Obama governs with the skill, grace and greatness of which he is capable, Alaska’s going to be just fine. We congratulate President Obama. And, for keeping the homeland safe, and being a friend to Alaska, I thank President Bush."

Homosexual MPs Demand Death Sentence for Disagreeing With Them: "No that is not an overstatement. Members of the European Parliament have called for the suspension of all aid to Nigeria following the Nigerian Parliament’s unanimous support for legislation prohibiting marriage between persons of the same gender. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Despite recent reforms, it still needs help to overcome violence, poverty, lack of educational, transport and medical infrastructure, etc. A reduction in aid will mean less support for local agriculture, fewer medical resources, reductions in vaccination programmes. People will die. I have encountered the same kind of liberal love and inclusiveness in some church and environmental groups. All the talk is of tolerance and valuing diversity. Until someone actually expresses a divergent opinion."


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


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


Sunday, January 25, 2009


It's on tonight. I have 25 guests and a whole heap of haggis. So posts tomorrow may be a bit light


There's tax, taxes and moronic taxes -- and that's BEFORE Obama gets started

It just bugs the dickens out of left-wingers, but we still have "private property" in America. The question is, for how much longer? Although the Supreme Court decision on eminent domain in the 2005 Kelo case dealt a heavy blow to private property rights, the bigger threat may come from taxation. Even so, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously opined: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization". K, but might we be getting more "civilization" than we can afford?

Government in America is a ravenous beast. To feed the beast, We the People get taxed on just about everything, including work, consumption, profit, windfall profit, ownership, gifts, fuel, gambling-even life and death. We are hit by individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes (FICA), sales taxes, real estate taxes, property taxes, gasoline taxes, capital gains taxes, estate (death) taxes, you name it. The tax on life itself is levied by the "individual mandate". Heck, they even used to tax voting.

Every expense the government heaps on us can be thought of as a tax, as can our rococo tax system's costs of compliance. And right when you've retired and are beginning to look eternity squarely in the face, the IRS up and complicates your taxes with even more schedules and worksheets. (Can't the IRS just.send us a bill?)

When I filed my 2008 Personal Property Declaration with Jackson County, Missouri, I noticed that most of what the county assesses is modes of transportation-automobiles, motorcycles, RVs, boats, airplanes, and the like. One's declaration is for what one owns on January 1. So if it's late in the year, Missourians will postpone buying a vehicle until after New Year's Day. That way they won't have to pay property taxes for an entire year on a car they owned only at the end of the year. (Buying a new car in late December is something a Kansan ‚migr‚ might do.)

Inspecting my personal property declaration a little further, I noticed in the lower left that I had to list my barrows, gilts, replacement ewes, sows and other livestock.

But why is the county taxing my livestock? Won't sales taxes be paid when I take my livestock to market? Then I read this: "MARKET VALUE OF ALL GRAIN & OTHER AGRICULTURAL CROPS IN UNMANUFACTURED CONDITION".

Now this was just too much-what if I'm not selling? What if I'm farming just to feed my family? Is this some vestige of the New Deal? At least they seem to want to leave my "victory garden" untaxed. Or does that fall under "other agricultural crops"?

The thing is: Jackson County hasn't the means to inspect every farm to see how many calves were dropped or how much grain's on hand. This is especially so if all the inspections were to be conducted on January 1, as noted above. Last time I checked, Jan. 1 was a holiday, as well as a big game day.

Not long ago, the personal property tax in Missouri was even worse, as the state amended its constitution to exempt household goods, such as furniture and apparel. (Better think twice about buying that plasma HDTV; they might re-impose the personal property tax on your household possessions.) Enforcement of this tax must have been interesting, as I don't think folks would have taken too kindly to tax assessors coming to their homes and rummaging through their stuff just to see if their personal property tax declarations were accurate. (Hmm, was this Ethan Allen armoire on the list?)

Latter-day lawmakers never seem to remember that this nation was founded by a bloody revolution caused, in part, by unreasonable taxation. To wit:

Some local governments want to tax e-tail, Internet commerce. Compliance would be a heavy tax on these businesses, if not an outright nightmare to administer. Tariffs are taxes on foreign goods. But tariffs cause price inflation, a hidden tax paid by Americans-think of what America pays for cane sugar. What about cap-and-trade? Whether you approve of cap-and-trade or not, it's a tax, my friend-a carbon tax. (Are we taxing any other elements yet? Molybdenum perhaps?) And don't forget the taxes levied on things that have already been taxed, like gifts and dividends. One enterprising lawmaker tried to impose a "pole tax" for attendees of "gentlemen's clubs".

The actions businesses take to prevent lawsuits-call it "defensive management"-are taxes. Think of the costs of sensitivity training (re-education?) and diversity programs and how they affect the bottom line. What do such government-imposed burdens have to do with the actual products and services of a business? The cost of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is a tax, and an especially onerous one for smaller businesses. (Are they taxing your patience?)

The government is big on taxing "tangible property". But why stop there? Why not tax the intangible as well, even the ephemeral? Why not tax this idea I have for a rococo opera in the style of Rameau that concerns this poor wretch struggling to comply with the regime's rococo tax laws? It's sure to make a ton of money, and hey, that'll be taxed, too. Just as we have "thought crimes" (e.g. hate crimes), we can have taxes on thought. And since photovoltaic cells are becoming so popular, let's tax sunlight.

But regardless of how many types of taxes they institute, the Keepers of Civilization will still spend more than they take in. And no matter how high they jack up tax rates, it's never enough; the Keepers will still run a deficit. So while we're at it, let's not forget the taxes on vice-the "sin taxes"-such as the tobacco tax.

Tobacco users ought to be plenty miffed about the steep tax on their humble vice as it is supposed to be a dedicated tax. But the revenue from tobacco taxes is often spent on other things, even things outside the purview of health-care. It really shouldn't be spent on anything other than tobacco-related ailments, such as lung and mouth cancers. But the tobacco tax revenue has become yet another government slush fund.

Although aficionados like El Rushbo and the Governator would surely decline, regular tobacco users ought to just "grow their own". Not only so they won't have to pay for the government's fancy trial lawyers-whose fees in the tobacco cases ran to the billions-but to deprive government of its tobacco tax slush funds. (HillaryCare 2.0 and the revamped S-CHIP were to have been funded by new sin taxes.)

It remains to be seen whether, in addition to sin, Congress will tax virtue. If lawmakers do indeed plan to tax virtue, they would do well to take note of a corollary to an Arthur Laffer axiom: If you tax something, you get less of it.



Stockmarket not convinced by Obama's remedies

The stock market provided a rude shock for incoming US President Barack Obama, displaying renewed volatility as investors grew increasingly cautious about prospects for an economic recovery. In the holiday-shortened week to Friday, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.46 per cent to 8,077.56. The technology-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.4 per cent to 1,477.29 while the broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 shed 2.14 per cent to 831.95.

Stocks plunged as Obama assumed the presidency on Tuesday, as fears grew about the global banking sector and investors remained uneasy about the new administration's ability to spark a recovery from the year-old recession. Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Citigroup, said the economy is caught in a downward cycle that is becoming self-reinforcing. "The outlook for the global economy continues to deteriorate," he said. "A significant contraction in international trade is helping to propagate these shocks around the globe.... There are scant signs that the momentum of this negative cycle is waning."

Kevin Giddis, analyst at Morgan Keegan, said the 44th US president faces "an economy that has too much personal debt, too little personal savings and too few jobs." "It is also an economy that has rotting homes and mortgages attached to much lower stock and bond prices," Giddis said. "Do you really believe that the new administration will be able to just simply float 850 billion dollars back into consumers' hands and make it all better? This will likely take all of 2009 and maybe even some of 2010 to right the ship."

The impact of the crisis became evident in corporate earnings over the past week, with software giant Microsoft announcing unprecedented cuts of up to 5,000 jobs while warning that the global economy and technology spending had "slowed beyond our expectations." "The financial dark cloud has extended over the entire stock market, although it doesn't appear as dark as it did last fall when the credit markets seized up" last year, said Fred Dickson at DA Davidson & Co. Still he said the market is deeply "oversold" and may have already priced in the worst likely economic scenario.

"While we don't see a near-term solution to the huge problems facing the banking system, the flow of money into the economy through the credit markets should provide some stimulus to get the economy moving forward, albeit at a very slow pace," he said. Al Goldman at Wachovia Securities said the change at the White House may help the stock market turn the corner. "How President Obama will handle the inevitable international problems and terrorism are not able to be known at this time, but he enters office on a wave of optimism," Goldman said. "Optimism is another word for faith, and it is critical to the future of the stock market." ....

The bond market faltered despite the troubles for stocks, with investors worried about the ballooning US deficit that is flooding the market with bonds. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond surged to 2.622 per cent from 2.304 per cent a week earlier, while that on the 30-year Treasury leapt to 3.332 per cent from 2.894 per cent. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.




Wow! Keith Burgess-Jackson has really pulled out all stops in his latest demolition of the nasty far-Leftist "philosopher" Brian Leiter. If Leiter has any grounds to do so he will be suing Keith over his remarks. But truth is a defence in American law so I predict no such action from Leiter. That will tell its own story, of course.

The French State does its usual thing: "French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to double state spending on adverts in newspapers as part of measures to help an industry losing readers and advertising revenue. Like their counterparts across the world, French newspapers have faced financial problems in recent years as readers desert them in favour of Internet sites and free dailies. They have also struggled with an antiquated distribution system. The measures over three years, based on recommendations from a special commission, include a one-year moratorium on a planned increase in postal charges for newspaper distribution. "It is the state's primary responsibility to respond to an emergency and there is an emergency caused by the impact of the collapse of advertising revenue on the financial position of the press," Sarkozy said. He told newspapers they had to try to save themselves, by looking at their content, editorial innovation and how to find a younger readership. "You can't say there's crisis and not think about what it is you're offering," he said. National dailies from the leftwing Liberation to the conservative Le Figaro and the highbrow Le Monde have been forced to make cuts under the added pressure of economic crisis."

Wisdom from Bibi: Rare for an Israeli political figure, the 59-year-old Mr. Netanyahu is a phenomenally articulate man -- Obama-esque, one might even say -- not just in his native Hebrew, but also in the unaccented English he acquired at a Philadelphia high school and later as an architecture and management student at MIT. True to form, near-lapidary sentences all but trip from his tongue. Such as: "I don't think Israel can accept an Iranian terror base next to its major cities any more than the United States could accept an al Qaeda base next to New York City." Or: "If we accept the notion that terrorists will have immunity because as they fire on civilians they hide behind civilians, then this tactic will be legitimized and the terrorists will have their greatest victory." Or: "We grieve for every child, for every innocent civilian that's killed either on our side or on the Palestinian side. The terrorists celebrate such suffering, on our side because they openly say they want to kill us, all of us, and on the Palestinian side because it helps them foster this false symmetry, which is contrary to common decency and international law.... Mr. Netanyahu mentions that he has met with Barack Obama both in Israel and Washington, and that the question of Iran "loomed large in both conversations." I ask: Did Mr. Obama seem to him appropriately sober-minded about the subject? "Very much so, very much so," Mr. Netanyahu stresses. "He [Mr. Obama] spoke of his plans to engage Iran in order to impress upon them that they have to stop the nuclear program. What I said to him was, what counts is not the method but the goal."

The Gipper trumped Obama: "After the cultural explosion in America that celebrated this week's presidential inauguration, could there be any doubt that this would have been the most-watched inaugural ceremony in history? It wasn't. Despite Obama pictures in convenience stores, non-stop television coverage on virtually every broadcast and cable-TV network before, during and after the event, and enough hype and hyperbole to make a Madison Avenue ad executive cringe, President Obama's inauguration was not the highest-rated presidential inauguration in television history. That honor goes to President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981 which drew millions more viewers than President Obama's (41.8 million versus 37.8, according to Nielsen)."


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