Saturday, February 14, 2009

IQ rediscovered -- including its heritability and its link to social class

Charles Murray documented all this years ago. Vocabulary is the best single predictor of IQ. Including gestures in vocabulary does however give the new study some originality.
Children who communicate using a wide variety of gestures at the age of 14 months have a much larger vocabulary at age four-and-a-half, and fare much better in school, a study said. [Something that IQ studies told us long ago]

Researchers from the University of Chicago worked with 50 Chicago-area families with different social backgrounds, filming children and their careers during ordinary activities at home for 90-minute sessions. The study, published in the journal Science, found that "differences in child gesture could be traced to differences in parent gesture."

On top of that, psychologist Meredith Rowe said the study found that socioeconomic status differences are clearly evident in the initial stages of language learning. Fourteen-month-old children from "high-income, well-educated families used gesture to convey an average of 24 different meanings," said the researchers in a statement. Same-aged children from lower-income families conveyed only 13 different meaningful gestures. The differences continued on into the child's command of vocabulary in school, the study said.

"Child gesture could play an indirect role in word learning by eliciting timely speech from parents, for example, in response to her child's point at a doll, mother might say 'yes, that's a doll,' thus providing a word for the object that is the focus of the child's attention," the authors wrote in the report. Vocabulary is a "key predictor of school success and is a primary reason why children from low-income families enter school at a greater risk of failure than their peers from advantaged families," said co-author Susan Goldin-Meadow.


The irrational Leftist obsession with their "All men are equal" myth has led to IQ becoming a banished topic -- so the authors above may in fact have been simply unaware that what they had rediscovered was IQ. Certainly, anyone familiar with the IQ research would have predicted all of their findings.

The ban on even thinking about IQ does lead to a lot of follies, particularly in the education field. Vast efforts are made, for instance, to get average black educational achievement up to white levels. But no matter what bright ideas the educators try, the gap stubbornly remains. Again, anybody familiar with average black IQ scores would have predicted that result and told the educators to stop wasting time and money and direct their efforts in more profitable directions. If your theory is wrong, you won't get the results you expect and the results that the educators get certainly falsify their theories regularly -- while the same results validate the IQ concept.

Another folly -- this time in research about secondhand smoke -- that was brought on by ignoring IQ is set out on my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog today.



Bipartisan "stimulus" nonsense: "The cynicism and shallowness of politics have been abundantly on display throughout the debate over the 'stimulus' bill. The Democrats insult the intelligence of the American people by peddling the following sophistry: Republicans were big spenders when they controlled the government. Republican criticism of Democrats for being big spenders is hypocrisy. Therefore, arguments against big government spending are invalid."

Obama "bipartisanhip" sinks without trace: "Obama is not having a good start to his presidency..... all in all it is clear that Obama is not succeeding in allaying people's fears about the economy, reforming ethics standards, or changing the "tone" in Washington. He's failing to deliver the change he campaigned on. I was unwilling to say this before, but Judd Gregg's withdrawal has really changed the equation. The stimulus bill has become a political fiasco. He has too many poorly vetted appointees. And as bad as only receiving three Republican votes for the stimulus bill in both houses of Congress was for signifying a new tone of bipartisanship, it doesn't compare to the crippling embarrassment of Republican Judd Gregg withdrawing his nomination as commerce Secretary. I'm giving Obama a single setback today for Gregg's withdrawl, but really it should count as more. It signals that there is little remaining hope for a new, bipartisan tone in Washington, and it is a profound and symbolic denouncement of Obama's stimulus bill." [Background on the Gregg withdrawal here]

Prosperity in a crisis: "What is most remarkable about the public debate about the stimulus bill is not the partisan bickering or even the astonishing price tag of the bill's congressional pet projects. Rather, it is the lack of an open debate among policymakers about what kinds of activity a 'stimulus' bill is supposed to, well, stimulate. We are on the verge of committing more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars to "stimulate" the economy with very little explanation by the nation's political leaders about how the bill will jump-start much of anything. At its current price tag, if the bill were divided equally as cash payments among American households, each family would get approximately $6000. Without a clear idea of what needs 'stimulating,' one cannot say why a healthy rebate check for each family is any less of a good idea than spending vast sums on projects whose dubious relationship to economic recovery members of Congress would rather have us ignore."

Free market bashing: "Since the inception of the current downturn, free market capitalism has taken quite the bashing. Supporters of significant government involvement in the economy deride the horrors of `unfettered capitalism' and a `free market run amuck.' Frequently, deregulation of capital markets is singled out as the most dastardly culprit, to which Pres. Obama seems to be alluding when he blames `relying on the worn-out dogmas of the past,' and `too little regulatory scrutiny.' Yet, after the last eight years in which we witnessed Sarbanes-Oxley, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and numerous attempts to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shoved aside by legislators, evidence of unregulated economic activity being the source of our crisis seems rather scant."

Free markets are, sadly, a myth: "In today's fiasco there is a lot [of] consternation about whether the free or the regulated market produced the mess. But there has not been a free market in place anywhere for many decades and even before then it has had only a limited scope in the economies of most countries. Politicians always took it for granted that they may manipulate the market, regiment market agents, both in small localities where they passed blue laws and curfews, and in the larger community where they passed protectionist laws and subsidies for faltering industries. Many other examples could be listed but the main point is that no free market has ever existed, not under Lincoln, nor Wilson, nor Hoover, certainly not FDR, or Eisenhower, Reagan or Bush. And it certainly isn't likely to exist under Barack Obama."

Bills would limit use of "state secrets": "House and Senate committees yesterday introduced bills that would sharply curtail the government's use of the 'state secrets' privilege, a policy used by President Bush to argue that a lawsuit involving allegations of torture should be dismissed - and a position that the Obama administration has now adopted. . The move surprised the court, angered the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case, and caused some legal observers to question why President Obama - who entered office vowing an open, transparent government that would reject harsh interrogations - would adopt Bush's position in a high-profile case alleging torture."

Obama's regulatory chief believes in paternalistic government: "The old joke runs, `I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' Most Americans are appropriately skeptical of such a claim, just as they are skeptical when told that they've won $10 million in a Nigerian lottery. But President Obama's selection of Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein to direct the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs threatens to turn this joke into grim reality. Sunstein is most famous for his approach to government regulation known as `libertarian paternalism,' detailed in his book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (co-authored with Richard Thaler). The basic premise of libertarian paternalism is that the government should use its power to `nudge' people into acting in their best interest, while leaving them the choice to `opt out.'"

Ending welfare reform as we knew it: "Pres. Barack Obama vowed to correct the mistakes of the Bush administration but instead is determined to undo one of the great successes of the Clinton years: welfare reform. Democrats have inserted provisions into the catch-all stimulus bill that will reverse Clinton-era welfare reform, re-establishing the wasteful, incentive-killing system whose transformation was the bipartisan pride of the 1990s."

The conservative-libertarian alliance: "The conservative-libertarian alliance is as fundamental as it is often troubling. There are three ways in which libertarians and conservatives are ultimately the same (and in which conservatives and libertarians differ radically from progressives): (1) Libertarians and conservatives agree on what kind of thing government is. (2) They agree on what humans are. (3) They experience themselves in the same way. That is, the basic libertarian and conservative positions are consonant with respect to (1) the ontology of government, (2) anthropology, and (3) personality. . Government is a physical power. Progressives, on the other hand, experience governmental power as being economic. Starting from the progressive view of government, you come to see government as a potential partner or donor. Starting from the libertarian/conservative view, however, you come to see government as a potential threat, whose only virtue is that it can minimize other threats."


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)


Friday, February 13, 2009

Goodbye, America! It was fun while it lasted

By Ann Coulter

All Americans who work for a living, or who plan to work for a living sometime in the next century, are about to be stuck with a trillion-dollar bill to fund yet more oppressive government bureaucracies. Or as I call it, a trillion dollars and change. The stimulus bill isn't as bad as we had expected - it's much worse. Instead of merely creating useless, make-work jobs digging ditches - or "shovel-ready," in the Democrats' felicitous phrase - the "stimulus" bill will create an endless army of government bureaucrats aggressively intervening in our lives. Instead of digging ditches, American taxpayers will be digging our own graves. There are hundreds of examples in the 800-page "stimulus" bill, but here are just two.

First, the welfare bureaucrats are coming back. For half a century, the welfare establishment had the bright idea to pay women to have children out of wedlock. Following the iron laws of economics - subsidize something, you get more of it; tax it, you get less of it - the number of children being born out of wedlock skyrocketed. The 1996 Welfare Reform bill marked the first time any government entitlement had ever been rolled back. Despite liberal howling and foot-stomping, not subsidizing illegitimacy led, like night into day, to less illegitimacy. Welfare recipients got jobs, as the hard-core unemployables were coaxed away from their TV sets and into the workforce. For the first time in decades, the ever-increasing illegitimacy rate stopped spiraling upward. As proof that that welfare reform was a smashing success, a few years later, Bill Clinton started claiming full credit for the bill.

Well, that's over. The stimulus bill goes a long way toward repealing the work requirement of the 1996 Republican Welfare Reform bill and rewards states that increase their welfare caseloads by paying unwed mothers to sit home doing nothing.

Second, bureaucrats at Health and Human Services will electronically collect every citizen's complete medical records and determine appropriate medical care. Judging by the care the State Department took with private visa records last year, that the Ohio government took with Joe the Plumber's government records, that the Pentagon took with Linda Tripp's employment records in 1998, and that the FBI took with thousands of top secret "raw" background files in President Clinton's first term, the bright side is: We'll finally be able to find out if Bill Clinton has syphilis - all thanks to the stimulus bill!

HHS bureaucrats will soon be empowered to overrule your doctor. Doctors who don't comply with the government's treatment protocols will be fined. That's right: Instead of your treatment being determined by your doctor, it will be settled on by some narcoleptic half-wit in Washington who couldn't get a job in the private sector. And a brand-new set of bureaucrats in the newly created office of "National Coordinator of Health Information Technology" will be empowered to cut off treatments that merely prolong life. Sorry, Mom and Pop, Big Brother said it's time to go.

At every other workplace in the nation - even Wal-Mart! - workers are being laid off. But no one at any of the bloated government bureaucracies ever need fear receiving a pink slip. All 64,750 employees at the department of Health and Human Services are apparently absolutely crucial to the smooth functioning of the department. With the stimulus bill, liberals plan to move unfirable government workers into every activity in America, where they will superintend all aspects of our lives.

Also, thanks to the stimulus bill, the private sector will gradually shrivel and die. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of servicing the bill's nearly trillion-dollar debt will shrink the economy within a decade. Robert Kennedy famously said: "There are those who look at things the way they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'" The new liberal version is: There are those who look at things and ask, "Why on earth should the government be paying for that?" I dream of things that never were funded by the government and ask, "Why not?"



A useless bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid touts a whopping 58 percent of the bill as job-creating. No doubt that number is inflated. Even so, what's the argument for the other 42 percent? For instance, why is an emergency spending bill weighted down with an authorization for $198 million in payments to Filipino World War II veterans, many of whom live in the Philippines? We owe them the money, but how does sending millions to Manila fend off the American "catastrophe" that Obama says is the price of inaction?

Principled liberals defend the bill while conceding that roughly half the discretionary "emergency" spending won't even start until two years from now. (Funny coincidence: That's right around the time Obama's re-election campaign will kick off.) Good social policy is good social policy, no matter how you get it enacted, they say.

Putting aside the question of whether the ornaments dangling from every branch of this legislative Christmas tree amount to good policy, there's still the matter of why Democrats are afraid of the normal process. Sneaking into the package hundreds of millions for, say, sex education, the National Endowment for the Arts and sod for the National Mall doesn't suggest a lot of confidence that Americans support such liberal priorities. But that's OK. As the president is so fond of pointing out, the Democrats won. They're in the driver's seat. To govern is to choose, and these are the choices they've made.

The Democrats have shown no desire to craft real bipartisan legislation, which is their right, even if it contradicts Obama's campaign promises. And the vast majority of Republicans have shown little desire to back legislation that violates their principles simply for the sake of "doing something." The moderate mooncalves, who expect Republicans to sign on essentially for signing-on's sake, really want Republicans to stop being Republicans. "I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason," Specter wrote in the Post. "The country cannot afford not to take action." Such thinking is the purest nonsense. Sure, if your house is burning down, you can't afford not to take action. That doesn't mean any action is better than no action. Grabbing a fire hose is good. Grabbing a jerrycan of gasoline and dancing the Macarena, not so much.

More here


Asia's Jewish myths

A Chinese bestseller titled "The Currency War" describes how Jews are planning to rule the world by manipulating the international financial system. The book is reportedly read in the highest government circles. If so, this does not bode well for the international financial system, which relies on well-informed Chinese to help it recover from the present crisis.

Such conspiracy theories are not rare in Asia. Japanese readers have shown a healthy appetite over the years for books such as To Watch Jews is to See the World Clearly, The Next Ten Years: How to Get an Inside View of the Jewish Protocols and I'd Like to Apologise to the Japanese - A Jewish Elder's Confession (written by a Japanese author, of course, under the made-up name of Mordecai Mose). All these books are variations of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Russian forgery first published in 1903, which the Japanese came across after defeating the tsar's army in 1905.

The Chinese picked up many modern Western ideas from the Japanese. Perhaps this is how Jewish conspiracy theories were passed on as well. But Southeast Asians are not immune to this kind of nonsense either. Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamed has said that "the Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them." And a recent article in a leading business magazine in The Philippines explained how Jews had always controlled the countries they lived in, including the US today.

So what explains the remarkable appeal of Jewish conspiracy theories in Asia? The answer must be partly political. Conspiracy theories thrive in relatively closed societies, where free access to news is limited and freedom of inquiry curtailed. Japan is no longer such a closed society, yet even people with a short history of democracy are prone to believe that they are victims of unseen forces. Precisely because Jews are relatively unknown, therefore mysterious, and in some way associated with the West, they become an obvious fixture of anti-Western paranoia.

Such paranoia is widespread in Asia, where almost every country was at the mercy of Western powers for several hundred years. Japan was never formally colonised, but it too felt the West's dominance, at least since the 1850s, when American ships laden with heavy guns forced the country to open its borders on Western terms.

The common conflation of the US with Jews goes back to the late 19th century, when European reactionaries loathed America for being a rootless society based only on financial greed. This perfectly matched the stereotype of the rootless cosmopolitan Jewish moneygrubber. Hence the idea that Jews run America.

More here



Galluping Past Bad Polls: "Some of President Obama's policies are not faring well in public opinion, but will anyone be told? On Feb. 2, a Gallup poll found that Obama's executive order "allowing U.S. funding for overseas family planning organizations that provide abortion" was decidedly unpopular: Only 35 percent approved, while 58 percent disapproved. You didn't know this? You're not alone: A Nexis survey finds none of the television networks, cable or broadcast, noticed these results, either.

Why Obama's new handout will fail to rescue the banks: "The new plan seems to make sense if and only if the principal problem is illiquidity. Offering guarantees and buying some portion of the toxic assets, while limiting new capital injections to less than the $350bn left in the Tarp, cannot deal with the insolvency problem identified by informed observers. Indeed, any toxic asset purchase or guarantee programme must be an ineffective, inefficient and inequitable way to rescue inadequately capitalised financial institutions: ineffective, because the government must buy vast amounts of doubtful assets at excessive prices or provide over-generous guarantees, to render insolvent banks solvent; inefficient, because big capital injections or conversion of debt into equity are better ways to recapitalise banks; and inequitable, because big subsidies would go to failed institutions and private buyers of bad assets.... The correct advice remains the one the US gave the Japanese and others during the 1990s: admit reality, restructure banks and, above all, slay zombie institutions at once."

How Europe's companies are feeding Iran's bomb: "While the U.S. has ratcheted up its efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear arms, the Islamic Republic is reaping a windfall from European companies. These firms' deals aid a regime that is bent on developing nuclear weapons and which financially supports the terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah... Yet because of the sheer volume of its trade with Iran, Germany, the economic engine of Europe, is uniquely positioned to pressure Tehran. Still, the obvious danger of a nuclear-armed Iran has not stopped Germany from rewarding the country with a roughly 4 billion trade relationship in 2008, thereby remaining Iran's most important European trade partner. In the period of January to November 2008, German exports to Iran grew by 10.5% over the same period in 2007. That booming trade last year included 39 "dual-use" contracts with Iran, according to Germany's export-control office. Dual-use equipment and technology can be used for both military and civilian purposes. One example of Germany's dysfunctional Iran policy is the energy and engineering giant Siemens. The company acknowledged last week at its annual stockholder meeting in Munich, which I attended, that it conducted 438 million euros in trade with Iran in 2008, and that its 290 Iran-based employees will remain active in the gas, oil, infrastructure and communications sectors.

The Messiah is with us: "President Obama is back in messianic campaign mode. It is unbecoming. When he's not snarling at conservative opponents of his endless spending programs, he's pandering to supporters as the nation's community organizer-in-chief. At a stimulus rally in Ft. Myers, Florida on Tuesday, a woman named Henrietta Hughes stood up to decry the mortgage crisis and ask Obama for his personal help. Choking back tears, she implored: "I have an urgent need.We need a home, our own kitchen, our own bathroom." If she had more time, she probably would have remembered to ask Obama to fill up her gas tank, too. The soul-fixer dutifully asked her name, gave her a hug, and ordered his staff to meet with her. Supporters cried "Amen!" and "Yes!" A young McDonald's worker named Julio bolted out of his seat and exclaimed: "It is such a blessing to see you. Oh! Gracious God, thank you so much! Ungh!"


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, February 12, 2009

The great Statin scam

Statins are the medical equivalent of global warming: A great theory, dubious evidence but believers still want to shove it down all our throats anyway. Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs and are supposed to prevent heart attacks. And there are proposals to make everybody take them.

Don't laugh: We are already compulsorily medicated with iodides, vitamin D and folates by having them added to our table salt, butter and bread. And that really gives the knowalls who want to dictate to everybody an erection. They are always looking for something else that they can make us take. The fact that folates in bread have given lots of American men bowel cancer is rarely mentioned: "Shut up and take it! It's good for you" is the attitude. And there is now a new study out that is giving the health Fascists a big boost. Like global warming theory, however, it overlooks a lot.

The big problem with statins is that they often have severe and unpleasant side-effects. So lots of people who are given them to take only take a few tablets before they leave the rest sitting untouched in their medicine cabinet. So the limited evidence for the benefits of statins is severely polluted by that. You have to be pretty robust to start with in order to tolerate taking statins. And so the takers (compliers) have fewer heart attacks not because of the statins but because they were more robust to start with!

The latest study shows some dim awareness of that. They actually managed to find out whether people were taking their prescribed pills or not. And they found -- surprise! -- that the compliers did indeed get fewer heart attacks. You might think that that finding would kick the whole statin craze up the behind but it is the reverse. It is being hailed as great new evidence for the benefit of statins and the heath fascists are really having an orgy over it. See here, for instance. So don't be too sure that you won't be taking them soon in some way and wondering why you do not feel as well as you used to.

Fuller details are on my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog. The citation for the new study is: Shalev, V. et al. (2009) "Continuation of Statin Treatment and All-Cause Mortality". Arch. Intern. Med. 169(3):260-268


BrookesNews Update

Are bonds and stocks signalling bad news for the US economy? : The Fed cannot expand the money supply at the current rate with generating a severe inflation. On the other hand, it cannot suddenly slap on the monetary breaks without the very real risk of sending the economy into a tailspin. If Bernanke insists on flooding the economy with money a rapid rise in inflation cannot be avoided, bringing in its wake a falling dollar and a possible collapse of the bond market
America will pay a heavy price for Obama's economic illiteracy: Despite the lessons of history and the fact that he is a proud member of the 'reality-based' community Obama and his advisors are total economic and historical illiterates who suffer from a big government fetish. Unfortunately, their addiction to big government will carry a heavy price for the American people
Rudd's stimulus package will fail : Without a reasonable grasp of capital theory it is impossible to fully comprehend what is going on with the economy. This is why so much economic commentary is very bad, including the stuff Treasury officials come out with, which brings us right back to Dr Ken Henry's spending nonsense
Benicio del Toro and Che Guevara: Tune in, Turn on - Get Shot: Had del Toro been born two decades earlier and in Cuba and attempted the lifestyle of a U.S. teenager or campus rebel, his 'digging' of Castroite Cuba would have been of a more literal nature. Benicio would have found himself digging ditches and mass-graves in a prison camp system inspired by the man he glorified as 'Jesus Christ'
These projects are shovel-ready, all right: This is not a stimulus - it's a see rip-off. The Democrats are using the alleged crisis as the pretext for a monumental looting of the taxpayers (present and future) in the service of rewarding the interest groups that put them in power
Obama's "Change" - but not just yet : If recovery will take years then why does Obama say the crisis is imminent and so we must spend over a trillion dollars now and more soon? Why is the money he wants to spend not going to improve the economy but rather on his socialist plans? Why is most of the money to be spent in the next two to three years and not now if we need an immediate 'stimulus' to improve our economy and avoid the 'worst depression in years'? Something smells



Israel: Voters deliver split decision; Knesset shifts right: "Israeli voters on Tuesday delivered a split decision in national elections, sparking competing claims by backers of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over who will be the next prime minister. Voters appeared to give Livni's Kadima Party, which favors negotiations with the Palestinians, a slight and unexpected edge over Netanyahu's Likud, which has been critical of peace talks, according to nearly complete returns and exit polls. But the overall shift in Israel's parliament, the Knesset, was sharply to the right."

Thanks, but we don't need an arts czar: "There is nothing new under the sun, says the Good Book, and the plea for a Cabinet-level secretary of arts and culture is no exception. That plea comes most recently from composer-producer Quincy Jones, who has long wanted the United States to establish a national ministry of culture akin to those in Italy, Germany or France. `The next conversation I have with President Obama is to beg for a secretary of arts,' he said in a radio interview shortly after the presidential election. Culture and the arts are `just as important as military defense,' Jones argues, and a federal arts czar can ensure that American students learn something of their cultural roots."

The 180-degree reversal of Obama's State Secrets position : "To underscore just what a complete reversal the Obama DOJ's conduct is, consider what Seante Democrats were saying for the last several years. In early 2008, Sens. Kennedy and Leahy, along with Sen. Arlen Specter, sponsored the State Secrets Protection Act. It had numerous co-sponsors, including Joe Biden. In April, 2008, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, with all Committee Democrats voting for it, along with Specter. The scheme of restrictions imposed on the privilege by that bill was the consensus view of the pre-2009 Democratic Party. The primary purpose of that bill is to bar the precise use of the State Secrets privilege which the Obama DOJ yesterday defended: namely, as a tool to force courts to dismiss entire lawsuits from the start without any proceedings being held, rather than as a focused instrument for protecting specific pieces of classified information from disclosure."

Protectionism is the embrace of fear, the rejection of hope: "In the context of America's $17-trillion economy, $12-trillion national debt and $4-trillion federal budget, a few billion dollars worth of international trade doesn't sound like much. Yet Americans and foreigners concerned about free trade have every reason to get worked up about the proposed `Buy America' mandate in Washington's massive stimulus plan. Although modest in its likely economic consequences, a Buy America mandate represents the exact opposite of what the new president promised in his campaign - it's a triumph of fear over hope."

Tax credit for house buying - good or bad?: "Superficial thinking might conclude that a tax credit for buying a house is good for the economy, since more folks will buy houses. More house buying would reduce the decline of residential real estate. That would reduce the mortgage defaults, help the banks, and the birds would sing. More thorough thinking would realize that what one person gains, others must lose. The tax credits will reduce tax revenues in 2009 and 2010, making the federal budget deficit that much larger, and requiring more borrowing. That sucks in money that would have been invested in job-creating private enterprise."

Obama attempts to spin tax cuts and does it badly: "Now whether or not you agree that a stimulus package is needed or not, the point to be made here is a bunch of politicians from different sides agreeing that something must be done and one of them being pleased that the other side is considering tax cuts as a major part of that 'something' does not equal being `brought in early' or being `consulted.' That happens when the bill is written and put into final form, and as everyone know, Republicans weren't brought in at all on that process, much less consulted. So when that final bill was trotted out and placed before the full House, with no debate, Republican[s] voted 177-0 against it. They did so for a number of reasons, but primary among them was they had had no part in writing the bill. But of equal importance, the tax cuts that they were promised would be in the bill and comprise approximately 40% of it total, just weren't there."

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


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, February 11, 2009

"Black" names

As I have noted in previous onomastic posts, American black mothers tend to give their children distinctive "black" Christian names. Why do they do that? I have no firm evidence on the matter but it seems to me that they do so in order to give their kids names which sound prestigious. They think that the names they choose will have some influence in causing their children to be treated with respect.

And I suppose there is some rationality behind that. Blacks living among predominantly Caucasian populations are -- dare I say it? -- invariably at the bottom of any status hierarchy. Their huge rate of criminality, low rate of educational success and usual lack of much economic achievement ensure that. But is the naming strategy effective? Not at all, it seems to me.

There is no group of people in the world with a higher level of prestige than the British Royal family. And what sort of names do they choose for their children? Simple old-fashioned names like Charles, Edward, Andrew, Harry and William. So if you were in good touch with reality, surely the way to name your children in a prestigious way would be to do likewise? I must say that I am entirely comfortable with having named my son Joe.

On the other hand, maybe I have got it entirely wrong and what the black mothers concerned wish to do is to distance themselves from "slave" names or from whites generally. In that case what they do makes some sense but I doubt that it does much good to the kid concerned -- which is surely regrettable.



The Missing Obama Tax Cut: "One question we wish someone had asked President Obama at last night's press conference is this: Why doesn't his economic stimulus bill include his own campaign proposal to eliminate the capital-gains tax for small businesses? The House bill omits it entirely, and the Senate version offers a rate reduction to 7% from the current 14%, but only on investments made in the next two years. That lower rate would apply to less than 2% of all capital gains. Mr. Obama's original promise to cancel the capital gains tax for small enterprises was highlighted on his campaign Web site under "Small Business Emergency Rescue Plan." A few weeks before the election, advisers Austan Goolsbee and Jason Furman touted their boss's pro-growth credentials by noting in this newspaper that "he is proposing additional tax cuts" that included "the elimination of capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-ups."

Marking 100 years of failed drug prohibition: "This week marks the centennial of a fateful landmark in U.S. history, the nation's first drug prohibition law. On February 9, 1909, Congress passed the Opium Exclusion Act, barring the importation of opium for smoking as of April 1. Thus began a hundred-year crusade that has unleashed unprecedented crime, violence and corruption around the world - a war with no victory in sight. Long accustomed to federal drug control, most Americans are unaware that there was once a time when people were free to buy any drug, including opium, cocaine, and cannabis, at the pharmacy. In that bygone era, drug-related crime and violence were largely unknown, and drug use was not a major public concern."

Some humility there: "Now that Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office after his arrest on corruption charges, the state's lieutenant governor, Democrat Patrick Quinn, 60, has replaced him. Quinn is described by political observers as the "Anti-Blagojevich" -- calm, quiet, and humble. Quinn understands popularity comes and goes, remembering once in the 1970s when he was sitting in the gallery of the state legislature. When introduced, lawmakers "stood up and booed for three minutes," Quinn said. "One guy called it a standing boo-vation." Quinn may be popular now, especially compared to Blago, but "You want to know my philosophy?" he asked. "One day a peacock. The next day a feather duster."

Obama regime invokes "state secrets" : "The Obama administration is backing an anti-terrorism policy of President George W. Bush, urging a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit that accuses a Boeing Co. unit of helping the CIA fly suspects overseas to be tortured. The Justice Department said it is reviewing other cases in which the Republican Bush administration urged similar complaints be dismissed because of the need to protect state secrets."

World Bank covered up destruction of Albanian village : "Managers at the World Bank provided false information to the agency's board of directors about a $39 million, politically-connected European `coastal cleanup' project that led to the destruction and destitution of a powerless village in Albania in 2007 - and then spent nearly two years trying to cover it up, FOX News has learned. Bank insiders also misled and stonewalled a panel of independent investigators commissioned by the board to investigate the scandal, according to the investigators themselves. . For its part, once the report leaked in Albania last week, the bank announced that further disbursements of the loan for the Albanian project had been temporarily suspended on Jan. 9 `due to certain outstanding policy and operational issues.'"

A surprise from Daley: Chicago's city employees no match for private sector : "Mayor Daley said Wednesday he unloaded four of Chicago's most valuable assets for a $6 billion mountain of cash, in part, because city employees are clock-watchers who don't think about the customers. . `We can't compete with the private sector. The private sector has a complete idea of who your customers are. Government doesn't have customers. They only have citizens.' Daley offered his blunt, candid assessment of city workers after joining business leaders at a Merchandise Mart news conference called to launch the so-called `Green Office Challenge' aimed at encouraging downtown buildings to conserve."

Losing American principles: "The speed with which venerable American institutions - Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia - have disappeared or been gobbled up is jarring. But in most cases, that's just creative destruction at work. What Joseph Schumpeter defined as `the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.' What's far more disconcerting is how quickly Americans seem willing to throw off our last few vestiges of freedom and adapt a nationalized, Washington, D.C.-based set of standards - replete with pay caps, government-preferred industries (and companies within those industries), and massive new government employment - all in the panicky name of 'stability.' Even more startling is that this new economic catastrophe is only about four months old."

Do Americans cherish freedom anymore?: "Virtually everything we do and say is monitored by the great Nanny State. Practically every service, every act is regulated by the State. Ask any independent business owner how many regulations, laws, acts, etc., demand fulfillment, and how many fees, taxes, permits, etc., are required by various government agencies and bureaucracies before he can perform a single task. For example, the federal government actually dictates how some restaurants can seat people or serve tables. Farmers are told what and how much to plant - and even to not plant. We cannot buy a gun, drive a car, marry the person we love, or even install a toilet without saying, `Pretty please?' to a dozen despots. And we still wave the flag every Independence Day and brag about how `free' we are. Again, we don't know the meaning of the word."

Revenge of the tax code: "If it were a movie, it would be called `Revenge of the Tax Code.' The complex income tax, which has bedeviled average Americans for years, is biting back at the elite who helped create it. Tom Daschle, former chief lawmaker in the Senate, withdrew his Cabinet nomination because of an `unintentional' $128,000 tax mistake. Rep. Charles Rangel, chief tax-writer in the House, is also entangled in a tax scandal, as is Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, and Nancy Killefer, another high-ranking nominee who has withdrawn. What is going on here? Whether you believe the excuses of these folks or not, it's common for both taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service to make big errors."

It still won't work : "No amount of presidential persuasion, nor any conceivable quantity of federal spending, can repeal the basic economic law of supply and demand. Thus, if Congress should enact this idiotic 'stimulus' - a neo-Keynesian pump-priming venture absurdly overbalanced to the demand side of the equation - nothing is more predictable than its failure to spur real recovery. Indeed, the Pelosi plan is so close to being the exact opposite of what our economy needs at this juncture, many informed observers do not hesitate to say that it will actually delay recovery and perhaps make the recession far worse than it already is."

Obama & the economy: When was he telling truth? : "As the final push for the 778 page, $827 billion stimulus package faces votes today and tomorrow in the Senate, President Obama is hammering his opponents and pushing hard for the bill. On Friday, Obama pointedly reminded Republicans that he won the November election and had the right to get his policies enacted. But the stimulus bill bears little resemblance to his campaign promises. It bears little resemblance his many promises he made just a month ago. If Obama claims a mandate, shouldn't it be related to what he campaigned on?"


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, February 10, 2009

No holocaust in Gaza

The Israeli Government runs no death camps, anywhere

MUSLIM leader Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali says the Israeli incursion into Gaza last month was "another Holocaust". No it wasn't. The Holocaust was an act of German state policy, a systematic attempt to murder every Jew in Nazi-controlled Europe. It was not a mass execution of political prisoners or the killing of enemy combatants. It was an attempt to slaughter an entire people. When they were not murdering Jews, the Nazis and their allies were happy to kill as many gypsies and Slavs and homosexuals as they could. But the death camps existed primarily to kill Jews.

In contrast, the Israelis went into Gaza to stop Hamas terrorists firing rockets into Israel. Certainly, 1200 people, at least half of them civilians, died. There is no denying the Hamas regime in Gaza and the Government of Israel both have innocent blood on their conscience. However, for Hamas to incite Israeli attacks in urban areas was to invite casualties. Given Israeli firepower, it is astonishing there were not more. But civilians were not -- not -- the targets. If Sheik Hilali does not know this, he has no interest in the facts of the Middle East conflict. But if he is aware of the evidence but uses "holocaust" to save him the trouble of calmly debating the continuing crisis in the Middle East, he can play no useful role in helping the people of Gaza. There are different dictionary definitions of "hyperbole" and "hysterics". In the case of this claim by Sheik Hilali, the words are synonyms



Government control of the economy will increase but only up to a point

I have long argued that the Fascists won and that we live in very much the sort of State that the Fascists designed, particularly in the economic sphere. Note that Fascist leaders are almost always popular in their own countries: Hitler, Mussolini, Peron, Putin etc. The writer below is historically correct in that Fascism always was a form of socialism-- JR

The headline of Newsweek's current cover story reads: "We Are All Socialists Now." The story tells us that Republicans and Democrats, oligarcos y peones, have given up on the market economy and, however reactionary some people's rhetoric may be, we are all in fact being swept toward bigger government by an irresistible wave. Pretty soon, we Americans will be just like the French, though lacking a comparable command of the beautiful French language. I don't recommend the Newsweek article. Although the writers, Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, have absorbed a number of true facts, their level of economic understanding is abysmal, and hence their reasoning is close to worthless.

Truth is, socialism is not the wave of the future. Indeed, it is already almost as dead as the dodo. Hardly anybody in a position of political power or influence now wants to establish socialism along the lines of the Soviets or the Maoists. Everyone knows that doing so is a one-way ticket to widespread poverty, which leaves precious little surplus for the political kingpins to rip off.

No, the world is converging ever more visibly, not toward socialism, but toward what I (following Charlotte Twight's usage) have for many years been calling participatory fascism. The hallmarks of this system are, on the political side, the trappings of democracy (parties, elections, procedural niceties, etc.), and, on the economic side, the form of private property rights (though not much of the substance that characterizes the real thing).

The beauty of this system is that the political system can easily be corrupted so that the power elite retains a firm hold on the state, despite the appearance that they rule only with the consent of the governed. The major political parties appear to compete, but for the most part they coalesce and conspire; on the basics, they are in complete agreement. The apparent "consent" they enjoy they actually manufacture by their control of the mass media, the schools and universities, and other key institutions, and no political opinion outside the 40-yard lines ever receives a hearing in serious political circles. (Remember how the oligarcos rolled their eyes when Ron Paul managed to get in an occasional word during the debates last year?)

And while the ruling establishment retains an iron grip on state power, it allow entrepreneurs just enough room for maneuver so that innovators can continue to produce the new products, new methods of production, new raw materials, and new organizational forms that move the economy forward. The most enterprising entrepreneurs can still get rich, although even they will see a large chunk of the fruits of their labors ripped away by the state. The economy will improve its productivity sufficiently to keep a growing supply of creature comforts and amusements flowing to the masses, who are content with these things, along with the illusion of security that state functionaries induce in the people.

Lest you suppose that the masses are getting a raw deal, because their level of living would be so much higher in a genuine free-market system, bear in mind that virtually all of these people despise the free market. If you don't think so, just give them an opportunity to live in one or even to move in that direction, conditional on their willingness to accept the personal responsibility and bear the risks that attend life in such a system - and you'll see them flee quicker than a vampire exits at the first light of day. How do you think we got into our present situation, anyhow? It's not as though the masses were repeatedly given what they didn't want. They had plenty of opportunities to say no to dependency on the state, but they turned away; and they do not intend to go back any time soon to what they imagine to be an unbearably harsh style of life. Rugged individualism might have been okay for their great-grandparents, but they want no part of it.

All of which leaves us - by which I mean nearly everybody on earth - converging on the only form of politico-economic system that has a stable equilibrium in our present ideological circumstances: participatory fascism. I am not saying that this system is the only one possible, forever and ever, amen. I am saying, however, that until the world's people abandon en masse the collectivist ideologies that now determine their social cognition, policy evaluation, political practices, and personal identities, any hope for moving to a freer form of economic order as a stable equilibrium is virtually nil.




Stimulus no fix for health insurance: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger raised the ire of many in California by calling for $1.1 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal, the state healthcare program for the poor, as part of an effort to head off a projected $42 billion budget deficit over the next 17 months. The federal government is now throwing him a lifeline. A cool $32 billion from the massive economic stimulus bill winding its way through Congress was designated for California. About a third of that is earmarked for Medi-Cal relief. But a bailout of Medicaid (the federal version of Medi-Cal) with no checks and balances to ensure funds are spent as specified only kicks healthcare reform further down the road."

Instead of stimulus, do nothing ... seriously! "As we wait to see how the politicians in Washington will alter the stimulus package the Obama administration is pushing, many questions are being raised about the measure's contents and efficacy. Should it include money for the National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak, and child care? Is it big enough to get the economy moving again? Does it spend money fast enough? Hardly anyone, however, is asking the most important question: Should the federal government be doing any of this? In raising this question, one risks immediate dismissal as someone hopelessly out of touch with the modern realities of economics and government."

The Great O has spoken! "President Barack Obama is getting angry about his 'stimulus' package, now stalled in the Senate. Like the Great and Powerful Oz when faced with a courageous Dorothy, he is not taking well to criticism of his leadership, and he does not want critical eyes peering to see the man behind the curtain. This is a President who is watching his mandate to govern - alongside his vaunted trillion dollar 'stimulus' plan - evaporate quicker than a drop of water on Venus. He says the point of a stimulus plan is to spend. And apparently, in his eyes, to spend as much as it takes, no matter the cost."

Economic change we can believe in: "President Barack Obama's stimulus proposal entails an awkward tradeoff between spending and efficiency. Fiscal stimulation suggests large, rapid increases in spending, while efficiency means cautious, modest increases. Similarly, Obama's plan favors tax cuts for low-income families, since they are most likely to spend rather than save, yet the drive for efficiency means cutting marginal tax rates on high-income consumers. One policy change, however, can stimulate both the economy in the short-run and enhance efficiency in the long-run: repeal of the corporate income tax, which collects up to 35% of the difference between revenues and costs of incorporated businesses."

The disastrous Smoot and Hawley return: "As if the `economic stimulus' bill was not bad enough, it also contains a `Buy American' provision. It is now truly an economic sabotage bill. This is particularly scary. When the economy soured last year, one could reassure oneself that this would not be a repeat of the 1930s because 1) a dramatic contraction of the money supply was unlikely (the Fed presumably having learned the lesson of the Great Depression) and 2) we would never see the likes of Smoot-Hawley again. This, of course, refers to the monstrous tariff bill that Congress passed and President Herbert Hoover signed in 1930 in the name of protecting American jobs."

The US government has no business taking over banks: "The U.S. government has no business taking over banks. Outright nationalization of banks would lead to poorly run banks and, in the long run, make America poorer. As a trip to any Motor Vehicles Dept. can illustrate, the government doesn't always do a great job running things. Even when they provide decent service, in fact, government-run `businesses' like the Postal Service and Amtrak almost always lose money."


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, February 09, 2009

Tu B'Shevat

Today is the Jewish holiday celebrating the New Year for trees. It is only a minor holiday but it is a good occasion to plant a tree. I planted eight fast-growing crepe myrtle trees in my backyard five years ago and they now are about 12 ft high and produce masses of pink blossom every January. So take it from me: Planting trees is both rewarding and an expression of faith in the future.
British teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts did 30 years ago

As usual, Jim Flynn gets it partly right. The best evidence would seem to indicate that the IQ rise previously reported by Flynn and others was due to increased test sophistication, produced by increased years of education. Only about two thirds of IQ score is genetically determined. Personal environment accounts for the rest and education is a very important part of the intellectual environment. Anybody who knows how severely dumbed-down British education has been in recent years should not be surprised by the results below. They simply show that dumbed down education gives kids fewer clues about how to do IQ tests

Teenagers in Britain have lower IQ scores than their counterparts did a generation ago, according to a study by a leading expert. Tests carried out in 1980 and again in 2008 show that the IQ score of an average 14-year-old dropped by more than two points over the period.

Among those in the upper half of the intelligence scale, a group that is typically dominated by children from middle class families, performance was even worse, with an average IQ score six points below what it was 28 years ago. The trend marks an abrupt reversal of the so-called "Flynn effect" which has seen IQ scores rise year on year, among all age groups, in most industrialised countries throughout the past century.

Professor James Flynn, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, the discoverer of the Flynn effect and the author of the latest study, believes the abnormal drop in British teenage IQ could be due to youth culture having "stagnated" or even dumbed down. He used data gathered in IQ tests on UK children to examine how the country's cognitive skills have changed over time. He found that while children aged between five and 10 saw their IQs increase by up to half a point a year over the three decades, teenagers performed less well. "It looks like there is something screwy among British teenagers," said Professor Flynn. "While we have enriched the cognitive environment of children before their teenage years, the cognitive environment of the teenagers has not been enriched. "Other studies have shown how pervasive teenage youth culture is, and what we see is parents' influence on IQ slowly diminishing with age.

"Up until the age of nine and ten, the home has a really powerful influence, so we can assume parents have been providing their children with a more cognitive challenging environment in the past 30 years. "After that age the children become more autonomous and they gravitate to peer groups that set the cognitive environment. "What we know is that youth culture is more visually orientated around computer games than they are in terms of reading and holding conversations." He added that previous studies have shown that IQ increases as teenagers move into adulthood, entering university or starting work.

Professor Flynn also believes that the larger drop in IQ among the upper half of the ability range could be due to effects of social class. He said: "IQ gains are typically correlated by class, but the results in this case are very mixed. Maybe the rebellious peer culture of the lower half of British society has invaded the peer culture of the upper half. "It could be the classes in the upper half were insulated from this rebellious peer culture for a time, but now it is universal."

His research, which is presented in a paper published online by the journal Economics and Human Biology, also refutes the commonly held belief that increases in IQ over time are a result of improving nutrition.

Previous research has suggested that using text messages and email causes concentration to drop, temporarily reducing IQ by 10 points, while smoking marijuana has been associated with a four-point drop in IQ. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is normally expressed as a single numerical score, with 100 being the average.

Professor Flynn's study was conducted using a respected IQ test known as Raven's Progressive Matrices. Questions involve matching a series of patterns and sequences, so that even people with no education can take the test. Dr John Raven, the Edinburgh-based psychologist who invented the test, said he was surprised by the fall in teenage IQ. He said: "IQ is influenced by multiple factors that can be dependent upon culture, but the norms tend to be very similar across cultures even in societies that have no access to computers and television. "What we do see is that IQ changes dramatically over time."

He cautioned that since the study did not record the social class of participants, "it is very difficult to make inferences about how changes within social classes can impact on these changes in IQ".

Richard House, a senior lecturer in therapeutic education at Roehampton University and a researcher into the effects of television on children, said: "Taking these findings at face value, it appears that there is something happening to teenagers. "Computer games and computer culture has led to a decrease in reading books. The tendency for teachers to now 'teach to the test' has also led to a decrease in the capacity to think in lateral ways."



RINOs place huge burden of debt on the backs of Americans

How clever of them to support "stimulus" measures that won't stimulate but which do fulfil lots of long-held Democrat wishes. If Senators Snowe, Specter and Collins had held fast, the bill could at least have been cut back to expenditures and tax cuts that will actually be made this year, when they might do some good

Republicans and Democrats offered starkly different assessments of President Barack Obama's newly renegotiated economic recovery plan Saturday, as the Senate held a rare weekend debate in advance of a key vote on Monday. Lawmakers are already looking past Senate action to difficult House-Senate negotiations that will test the mettle of a handful of Senate moderates against House Democrats unhappy over more than $100 billion in spending forced from the bill.

Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate's second-ranking Republican, said central elements of Obama's plan such as the $500 tax cut for most workers would do little to help the economy, just as last year's $600 rebate checks failed to provide a jolt. "It was not effective last year," Kyl said. "There's nothing to suggest it's going to be any more effective this year to stimulate the economy."

Saturday's debate came a day after a handful of GOP moderates struck a deal with the White House and Democratic leaders following White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel weighing in to urge Democrats make a final round of concessions. Architects of the compromise included Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who represented a broader group of moderates unhappy that so much money went into programs they thought wouldn't create jobs. Eventually, every Republican except Collins and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., left the talks, which finally produced a deal with the White House late Friday afternoon.

While ensuring passage of Obama's plan in the Senate within a few days, the deal sets up difficult negotiations with the House. But the Senate GOP moderates votes are crucial to the measure's success, giving them great leverage going into talks with the House. The sense of urgency to wrap the measure up also seems to contribute to the leverage of Collins and Specter, as does White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's embrace of the measure in late stage talks.

Officials put the cost of the bill at $827 billion, including Obama's signature tax cut of up to $1,000 for working couples. Also included is a tax credit of up to $15,000 for homebuyers and smaller breaks for people buying new cars. Much of the new spending would be for victims of the recession, in the form of unemployment compensation, health care and food stamps.

In a key reduction from the bill that reached the Senate floor earlier in the week, $40 billion would be cut from a "fiscal stabilization fund" for state governments, though $14 billion to boost the maximum for college Pell Grants by $400 to $5,250 would be preserved, as would aid to local school districts for the No Child Left Behind law and special education. A plan to help the unemployed purchase health insurance would be reduced to a 50 percent subsidy instead of two-thirds.

Despite a 58-41 majority bolstered by the elections, Democrats need 60 votes to clear a key procedural hurdle [cloture] on Monday and advance the bill to a final vote. In addition to Collins and Specter, Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine pledged to vote for the legislation.



Old crap dredged up to attack Palin

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund sponsored the YouTube video starring Judd. They've dubbed their campaign, launched this week, "Eye on Palin." With all the serious, socially responsible celebrity earnestness she could muster, Judd decried the aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska, the GOP governor's state. "It is time to stop Sarah Palin and stop this senseless savagery," Judd intoned.

Fact is, the policy is intended to protect other animals -- moose and caribou -- from overpopulation of wolves. Alaskans rely on caribou and moose for food. Not all Americans care to live on environmentally correct starlet diets of tofu salad and Pinkberry yogurt.

Neither Palin nor the aerial hunters in those scary low-flying planes that have Judd quivering promote the program out of malice and animal insensitivity. On the contrary, they are the true compassionate conservationists. The bounty helped state biologists collecting wolf age data and provided incentives to reduce the wolf population when wildlife management efforts had fallen behind. This is about predator control. But to liberal, gun-control zealots thousands of miles away, it's all heartless murder. Federal law makes specific exceptions to aerial hunting for the protection of "land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life or crops." Targets are not limited to wolves. And, as Alaska wildlife officials note, the process is tightly controlled and "designed to sustain wolf populations in the future."

No matter. As Judd proclaimed, "It is time to stop Sarah Palin." That is the true aim of left-wing lobbying groups and their allies in Hollywood. Palin is a threat not to Alaska's wolves, but to the liberal establishment's wolves. Defenders of Wildlife isn't targeting the ads in states affected by these policies. They're running the Judd-fronted ads across battleground states. It's about electoral interests, not wildlife interests. The eco-Kabuki theater is just plain laughable.

More 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, February 08, 2009

This judgment of doom from a Brit may well be true

American politics is now run by minorities and those who pander to them. Without huge minority support, the Democrat drift to the Left would have fizzled out

I was in Washington DC the night of the election. America's beautiful capital has a sad secret. It is perhaps the most racially divided city in the world, with 15th Street - which runs due north from the White House - the unofficial frontier between black and white. But, like so much of America, it also now has a new division, and one which is in many ways much more important. I had attended an election-night party in a smart and liberal white area, but was staying the night less than a mile away on the edge of a suburb where Spanish is spoken as much as English, plus a smattering of tongues from such places as Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan.

As I walked, I crossed another of Washington's secret frontiers. There had been a few white people blowing car horns and shouting, as the result became clear. But among the Mexicans, Salvadorans and the other Third World nationalities, there was something like ecstasy.

They grasped the real significance of this moment. They knew it meant that America had finally switched sides in a global cultural war. Forget the Cold War, or even the Iraq War. The United States, having for the most part a deeply conservative people, had until now just about stood out against many of the mistakes which have ruined so much of the rest of the world.

Suspicious of welfare addiction, feeble justice and high taxes, totally committed to preserving its own national sovereignty, unabashedly Christian in a world part secular and part Muslim, suspicious of the Great Global Warming panic, it was unique.

These strengths had been fading for some time, mainly due to poorly controlled mass immigration and to the march of political correctness. They had also been weakened by the failure of America's conservative party - the Republicans - to fight on the cultural and moral fronts.
They preferred to posture on the world stage. Scared of confronting Left-wing teachers and sexual revolutionaries at home, they could order soldiers to be brave on their behalf in far-off deserts. And now the US, like Britain before it, has begun the long slow descent into the Third World. How sad. Where now is our last best hope on Earth?

More here


Weakling Americans are now all too common

And the Leftist nanny-state has made them that way

In an interview in the January issue of Esquire, super tough guy and Cleveland Brown of all Cleveland Browns, Jim Brown said: "A liberal is arrogant enough to think he can do you a half-***ed favor. He is superior enough to think he can give you something that you don't deserve. A liberal will cut off your leg so he can hand you a crutch."

The statements will be no surprise to roughly 50 percent of this country. We know them to be true. It's why we fear liberals. They are arrogant, thinking they can re-arrange people and institutions and money, forcibly re-distribute wealth and manufacture economic justice by punishing success.

But the source of these comments would surprise a lot of people, especially liberals and liberal pundits. For one thing, Jim Brown is black. He is 72 years old, so he came up when being black in America was no stroll through the park. When he switched from football to movies, he broke the color barrier, with a steamy sex scene with the white sex symbol Raquel Welch - creating a firestorm. Another thing: he's an activist. He has spent decades on the streets in L.A. fighting gang violence, working at getting kids to look beyond the ghetto, to look at someone other than drug dealers and pimps as role models. It would be natural to presume him liberal-leaning. He knows better. And he has always been willing to speak the truth.

Jim Brown never missed a game in his nine record-breaking seasons with the Browns. He also rarely stepped out of bounds to avoid a high speed hit or bruising tackle. Instead he lowered a shoulder and knocked everyone else on their ***es. In the interview he says that the biggest crutch is thinking you're a victim. I imagine if a liberal handed Jim a crutch, he'd beat him over the head with it. Even if he had to hop on one good leg while doing it.

In an interview recently on Letterman, the equally aged and, it seems, equally tough Clint Eastwood wondered aloud when we became `a p***y society.' I wonder the same thing. I wonder where the shame is, in lining up for crutches, hand-outs and bail-outs. When I was a kid, my family was very briefly on food stamps, and my father was horribly, terribly ashamed at going to get them, at accepting them, at using them.

Today none of those in the ever-growing line for food stamp equivalents shows shame - not the governors of grossly mismanaged states, nor the executives of criminally mismanaged companies, nor the irresponsible, foolishly leveraged home buyers.

When did it become so ordinary, so acceptable to be a p***y? To be so helpless and inept and pathetic? And why don't we - and our elected officials and our media - look all these embarrassing people in the face and tell them to go make their own crutches or lie by the side of the road and rot as they choose? When will we refuse to enable this ever-expanding victimhood and shameful begging and thievery?

It's not the flying in on the private jet to beg Congress for billions of dollars of food stamps that bothers me. It's the fact that these executives aren't so ashamed as to be physically ill, vomiting, ashen faced, apologetic.

No, I'm not looking for a show of remorse. I'm looking for real, sincere recognition of responsibility and a re-commitment to self-reliance. I'm looking for the auto-maker CEO's and the head of the UAW to say, "We are foregoing our salaries and bonuses in this business we insist is viable, investing all our personal and family wealth, mortgaging our homes and investing that money, and we are going to take no vacations, no weekends off, and work 12 hour days until we fix what we broke." The same from the executives of Citi and AIG, et al. If somebody like Jim Brown had been in charge and made such a mess, I'm pretty sure that's what he would say. It's what small business owners do.

And I'm looking for homeowners to say: "Gee, I should have made sure I understood what I signed. I shouldn't have leveraged myself silly and bought four times the home I could afford then sucked equity out by repeatedly re-financing. I don't want anybody bailing me out. I'll take my lumps, go be a renter for a while, and be more responsible in the future. I certainly don't want to have my government steal money from people who acted responsibly to give me a bail-out I don't deserve.

If somebody like Jim Brown had made such a mess of his personal finances, I'm pretty sure that's what he would say.



Capitalism Should Return to Its Roots

We wouldn't need pay caps if shareholders were given their rights.


President Barack Obama's plan to limit executive pay to $500,000 a year -- plus restricted stock -- for institutions that get government funding is understandable. Still, salary caps are only a stopgap measure that fails to address the root of the problem. The real problem is that many corporate managements operate with impunity -- with little oversight by, or accountability to, shareholders. Instead of operating as aggressive watchdogs over management and corporate assets, many boards act more like lapdogs.

Despite the fact that managements, albeit with some exceptions, have done an extremely poor job, they are often lavishly rewarded regardless of their performance. We must change this dismal state of affairs if we are to rebuild our economy in a sustainable way that restores confidence. If we don't, these problems will keep recurring as investors pile into the next Wall Street innovation or asset bubble, enabled by the kinds of managements that nearly sank Wall Street.

The problem, as I have long maintained, is that boards and managements have been entrenched by years of state laws and court decisions that insulate them from shareholder accountability and allow them to maintain their salary-and-perk-laden sinecures. What we need are fewer government rules at the state level that protect managements. We need to return capitalism -- our great national wealth machine -- to its roots, where owners call the shots to managements, not the other way around. Currently, corporate law is largely the province of state governments, not federal. As a result, most corporations migrate to, and incorporate in, states that offer the most protection for managements.

Management-friendly states have a vested interest in attracting these companies because hosting them generates a substantial portion of state revenues. It's a symbiotic relationship: The state offers management protections and, in return, receives much-needed tax revenue.

However certain states, like North Dakota, offer many more rights and protections to shareholders. Because shareholders own companies, they should have the right to move a company to a state that gives shareholders more protections. What is needed, therefore, is a federal law that allows shareholders to vote by simple majority to move their company's incorporation to another state. That power is currently vested with boards and management.

This move would not be a panacea for all our economic problems. But it would be a step forward, eliminating the stranglehold managements have on shareholder assets. Shouldn't the owners of companies have these rights?

Now some might ask: If this policy proposal is right, why haven't the big institutional shareholders that control the bulk of corporate stock and voting rights in this country risen up and demanded the changes already? This is because many institutions have a vested interest in supporting their managements. It is the management that decides where to allocate their company's pension plans and 401(k) funds. And while there are institutions that do care about shareholder rights, unfortunately there are others that are loath to vote against the very managements that give them valuable mandates to manage billions of dollars.

This is an obvious and insidious conflict of interest that skews voting towards management. It is a problem that has existed for years and should be addressed with new legislation that benefits both stockholders and employees, the beneficiaries of retirement plans.

I am not arguing for a wholesale repudiation of corporate law in this country. But it is in our national interest to restore rights to equity holders who have seen their portfolios crushed at the hands of managements run amok. The suggestions above would do a great deal to change the dynamics of corporate governance in this country. Such a change will make us more productive as an economy, generating more wealth for everyone.

The Wall Street bailout and economic stimulus packages may be unfortunate and necessary steps to revive this flagging economy. But it is important to attack the real problem by demanding more management accountability. I have initiated United Shareholders of America to empower shareholders to institute changes, and I encourage you to join our cause. A majority of the U.S. population owns shares. Their voices need to be heard -- now -- on Capitol Hill and in the boardrooms of corporate America.



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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)


I was at an 8 hour wedding today so posts on my various blogs will be going up later than usual