Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shavuot (Commemorating the time when G-d gave the Torah to Moses)

Happy Shavuot to my Jewish readers!


Obama the disappointer: Hot air gives way to reality

Janet Albrechtsen comments from Australia

FEW leaders have brought so many tears to the eyes of so many people as US President Barack Obama. Oprah Winfrey says she almost cried her eyelashes off when the young Democrat from Chicago accepted the party’s nomination. Jane Fonda admits she became a bundle of nerves, crying all night at the thought of Obama losing the election.

Our own Guy Rundle summed up the election of Obama for many progressives. Writing last November, he described how he and the young desk clerk in the lobby of his Washington hotel, who had just come off a 12-hour shift ("because that’s how you work in (George W.) Bush’s America"), “just held hands and wept for a minute or so, in happiness, in relief, in the victory of something larger than both of us, that contained us both”. “It is a victory for the global Left,” Rundle wrote. “These are the great days.”

More likely those were the salad days. Now, plenty of Obama’s most ardent admirers are rethinking their exuberance. Rundle has attacked the “small stuff” - gaffes over gifts to Russians and bad jokes about the Special Olympics - and the “big stuff”: complaining at the paltry size of Obama’s $1.2trillion stimulus package. Democrats are meant to spend more. Bob Dylan, who once described Obama as “redefining the nature of politics”, is shrugging hisshoulders, describing politicians as “interchangeable”.

Al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is also disappointed: “America came to us with a new face.” But it was a ruse, he says. They have not “changed their crimes, aggressions, thefts and their scandals”, he says in a statement released by the SITE Intelligence Group.

And Wall Street bankers - who barracked for Barack by bankrolling his campaign to the tune of $US9.9million (not to mention giving Hillary Clinton $US7.4 million) - whine about getting hit by higher taxes. What did they expect? Democrats lowering taxes for the uber-rich?

Of course, Obama could never meet the great expectations surrounding his presidency. Indeed, the greatness of Obama’s presidency will depend on him disappointing Rundle’s “global Left”, not to mention al-Qa’ida. The responsibility of power means the 44th President has already proved he is more pragmatic than ideological. As much as the Left will loathe this, the unfolding of his presidency is a lesson in the old adage that the office changes the man more than the man changes the office.

Last November The New York Times was effusive in its praise about Obama’s promise to “restore Americans’ civil liberties and their tattered reputation around the world”. In office, Obama is talking like a Bushie, disappointed Times editorial writers noted in March.

Given Obama’s continuous backpedalling, The Wall Street Journal was right to advise the friends of newspaper editors to remove all sharp objects from their vicinity. Now it’s a case of: How do I not love thee? Let me count the ways.

Obama has refused to support the release of photographs detailing abuse of detainees, has supported warrantless wiretapping, boosted US involvement in the Afghanistan war, opposed the prosecution of those allegedly involved in torture and called a halt to rendition practices only to maintain what are conveniently called temporary facilities.

Campaigning for the presidency, Obama said: “As president I’ll close Guantanamo Bay, reject the Military Commissions Act, adhere to the Geneva Conventions.” He described Bush’s military commissions as a “legal framework that does not work” and promised to release Guantanamo Bay detainees, transfer them to foreign countries or try them in federal US courts. Four months after taking office, Obama says “military commissions have a long tradition in the United States” as he confronts the political reality - and presidential responsibility - of what to do with the 240 detainees still in Gitmo. The President’s lame changes to military commissions are acknowledgment of what Bush knew from the outset: military commissions are essential in dealing with suspected terrorists. And Obama admits indefinite detention will continue for some.

Ah, the fecklessness of those in search of a messiah. Anti-war group Code Pink is wondering whether Obama is a “war criminal”. The American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch are also disappointed. But Obama needn’t have bothered inviting human rights leaders to his 90-minute tea and biscuits, please-still-love-me routine at the White House last week. The more they cry foul, the clearer it becomes to a wider audience that Obama is behaving like a President responsible for the nation’s security, just as president Bush did.

Last week a leaked Pentagon report revealed that one in seven of the 534 prisoners released from the facility in Cuba since 2002 has returned to terrorism. FBI director Robert Mueller has told Congress that he, too, has concerns about the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Then came the ultimate rebuff to Obama supporters. Last Wednesday, in a 90-6 vote, even Democrats in Congress rejected Obama’s request for $US80 million to close down Guantanamo Bay - blocking the release of detainees - until he explains his precise plan. Montana’s senator Max Baucus said: “We’re not going to bring al-Qa’ida to Big Sky Country.” Nebraska’s Democratic senator Ben Nelson said: “I wouldn’t want them and I wouldn’t take them”; and Dianne Feinstein’s office in California said: “Alcatraz is a national park and a tourist attraction, not a functioning prison.”

Notice too that Europe, only too eager to describe Gitmo as Bush’s legal black hole, hasn’t rushed out the welcome mat for detainees. Indeed, Europe’s embrace of Obama as multilateralism man has produced little in the way of multilateral results. When the US received minimal assistance from European allies in Afghanistan, it was blamed on Bush’s brand of unilateralism. When Obama failed to secure more troops from NATO allies during meetings with European leaders in April, it was apparently just a case of Europeans pursuing their national interest. And the US is once again left to do the heavy lifting.

Not much happening over at the UN Security Council either. As the council convenes to consider its response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, it pays to remember that last month it could manage only a lame, non-binding presidential statement because members disagreed on a binding resolution.

Alas, Bush is no longer the reason for UN intransigence.

For some on the Left, the Obama presidency may well be a case of what began in tears ends in tears, of a different, more bitter taste. More canny observers knew that the Obama who presented before the presidential elections would change once in office. When Bob Ellis - who described Obama as “the present world’s likely saviour” - expresses his disillusionment, we will know Obama is on the right track.



Obama is a "Centrist" to the Left

Below is part of a transcript from a recent Chris Matthews Show. The transcript is of comments about 4:20 minutes from the end.

"MATTHEWS: It seems to me that they're--what they're going to do in politics--I'm going back to my baseball metaphor, win big games at the beginning of the season, roll up the score, you don't have to win them in October. It seems to me what they're going to try to do is get a second-rate Republican effort against them. Every week they've--since they've been in office they've ignored the Republican Party. They've gone after the screamers like Rush Limbaugh and Cheney and Newt Gingrich. They don't want there to be another governing party. And I'm wondering if they're just hoping to get a Mondale election against them, or a Bob Dole election, a second-rate effort by the other side so they can sweep 60 percent.

Mr. IGNATIUS: Well, I think they feel the Republicans are very demoralized. But they do want to get legislation passed and they would like to have Republicans voting for it. They're very pleased, for example, they just got a procurement reform bill with a lot of Republican supporters. It was a big John McCain issue. What's striking to me in these first few months is that--is that--is that Obama really is going for the center in American politics. He's really trying to redraw the map.

And Leftist cartoonist Ted Rall is disappointed with Obama too, though with better reason:

Encroaching Fascism: “In practice, Obama wants to let government goons snatch you, me and anyone else they deem annoying off the street. Preventive detention is the classic defining characteristic of a military dictatorship. Because dictatorial regimes rely on fear rather than consensus, their priority is self-preservation rather than improving their people’s lives. They worry obsessively over the one thing they can’t control, what Orwell called ‘thoughtcrime’ — contempt for rulers that might someday translate to direct action.”


Rewriting History

A few minutes ago, I did a radio-show piece with Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, who voiced her hope that this confirmation process would be dignified and merits-based, and not involve the “dumpster-diving” and smear-tactics to which, she asserted, extremists on the left and the right have resorted in the past, etc.

Look for expressions of regret, and calls for seriousness, civility, and the like, in the days to come from President Obama’s surrogates in the press and in the activist groups. You will have to look harder, though, for journalists to observe, and these surrogates to admit, that

(a) the “let’s use Supreme Court nominations as occasions to smear good people” tactic is one that the Democrats — but not, in fact, the Republicans — have practiced enthusiastically;

(b) that Justices Breyer and Ginsburg were easily confirmed, with substantial Republican support, not because they were “moderate,” but because the Republicans voted in accord with the “President gets his (qualified) nominees” standard; and

(c) that dozens of Democratic senators, including the president, abandoned this standard (to the extent they ever respected it) and disgraced themselves by voting against Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts, easily among the most impressive nominees in history.

It also seems safe to predict that the press will, as they swoon over Judge Sotomayor’s personal story and Ivy League credentials, forget the extent to which Justice Thomas’s own story did not protect him from outrageous attacks, and his own prestigious degrees did not prevent snide insinuations that he was merely the beneficiary of affirmative action.

Oh, and I am just guessing that we will not hear any mutterings among those on the left about the nomination of (yet another) Roman Catholic.




A Leftist disparages a disabled person: "Alongside not talking with your mouth full and wiping, one of the elemental lessons in manners that civilized societies teach their young is not to mock the physically disabled. Someone should remind Joe Klein, the ostensibly adult political columnist for Time magazine. In a Politico story last week about conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, Mr. Klein said "there's something tragic" about the quadriplegic writer's work, as it "would have had a lot more nuance if he were able to see the situations he's writing about." In other words, don't trust the cripple because he can't take trans-Atlantic flights. [Imagine the uproar if a conservative had done likewise!]

Obama's men block prosecutiion of black thugs: "Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews. The incident - which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube - had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms. Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as "the most blatant form of voter intimidation" that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago."

A President who wants to emasculate America: "Barack Obama's legacy is coming sharply into focus, four years early. He's out to transform "a nation of laws," once the pride of the Anglo-Saxon heritage and exemplar to the world, into "a nation of feelings." We won't need judges, just social workers damp with empathy. This is in line with the president's larger vision, to cut America down to a size a community organizer could manage, making it merely one of the nice nations of the world, like Belgium or Brazil. The home of the brave and the land of the free would become what our English cousins call "wet," weak, ineffectual, fragile, fearful, and inconsequential. Sonia Sotomayor is one of the building blocks of the president's envisioned Mediocre Society."

GM bondholders offered a stake in the Titanic: "General Motors Corp said on Thursday it had reached a deal with some major bondholders that would give them a bigger stake in a reorganized automaker and could pave the way for a fast-track bankruptcy backed by the U.S. Treasury within days. The announcement was the clearest indication yet that GM, the No. 1 U.S. automaker, is close to filing for bankruptcy under the direction of the Obama administration. It would be the biggest-ever bankruptcy for a U.S. industrial company. Under the proposed deal, which is supported by major institutional creditors holding about a fifth of its debt, bondholders representing $27 billion in debt would be offered 10 percent of a reorganized GM -- the same stake they had been offered previously. In a sweetener, bondholders would also receive warrants to acquire another 15 percent of the equity in the new company, provided they support a quick Treasury-backed sale process similar to one now being used for rival Chrysler."

Indian verbal ability wins the day again: "There were thrills, spills and misspells aplenty as a 13-year-old girl took the crown at the US Scripps National Spelling Bee final in Washington today. Kavya Shivashankar, who at 13 is a four-time veteran of the competition, was the last speller standing after correctly reciting the letters of the word laodicean, which means means to be lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics. She beat 11 other junior spellers, who emerged from a record field of 293 participants, in today's network-televised final. The favourite to take out ths year's 82nd annual competition was Sidharth Chand, who was runner-up last year. Chand missed apodyterium, the entry cubicles to a Roman public baths, and appeared inconsolable burying his head in his hands, even as he received a standing ovation from the crowd and other contestants. The national spelling bee gained a greater cultural profile after the 1999 documentary Spellbound and Kavya cites the winning speller from that film. Nupur Lala, as her hero." [All three kids mentioned above are of Indian origin]

The subversion of capital punishment: “What they lack in popular support, death penalty opponents more than make up in tenacity, skill — and success. When a one-per-27 minutes, 36-year, 707,000 homicide holocaust results in 1,136 executions (0.16%), capital punishment has been all but abolished. What remains is a costly and agonizing farce, with a token few murderers served up to fool the public. The United States Supreme Court and other courts have played a major role, enormously aided by the media in suppressing critical information.”

You can’t handle the truth?: “I have alleles that suggest that I have a lower than average risk of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Other alleles, however, indicate that I am slightly more likely to experience age-related macular degeneration than other people of European ancestry. In addition, if I need to use the blood thinner warfarin in the future, I should let my physician know that I have a version of the CYP2C9 gene, suggesting that I have a greater sensitivity to the drug and probably should start with a low dose. How do I know this genetic information? Because I paid for a direct-to-consumer genotype test from the California start up 23andMe. … does such direct-to-consumer (DTC) genotyping need to be regulated — or banned? Last month, Germany banned direct-to-consumer genetic testing. In 2007, the Genetics and Public Policy Institute found that 24 states limited or restricted direct-to-consumer genetic testing in some ways.”

Army starts testing “Judge Dredd” weapon: “The U.S. Army is set to start testing a computerized, high-tech projectile launcher that can take out bad guys hiding around corners and in caves or trenches, even if they’re out of the soldier’s line of sight. Some experts call it the ‘Judge Dredd’ gun, after the Sylvester Stallone movie. The Pentagon calls it the XM-25 Individual Air Burst Weapon, which uses a laser rangefinder to precisely measure the distance to a target, then primes a fuse on a timed grenade so that the projectile explodes exactly where it should.”


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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, May 29, 2009

White House to critics of Obama's racist court nominee: Be 'careful'

Hey! I've got an idea! Why not be as careful as the Donks were when they were interviewing Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas?

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a pointed warning to opponents of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination Wednesday, urging critics to measure their words carefully during a politically charged confirmation debate. “I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they’ve decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation,” Gibbs said.

He was replying to a question from CBS’s Chip Reid about a blog post by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accusing Sotomayor of imposing identity politics on the bench and declaring: “A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. A Latina woman racist should also withdraw.” “I think we're satisfied that, when the people of America and the people of the Senate get a chance to look at more than just the blog of a former lawmaker… they'll come to the same conclusion that the president did” about Sotomayor’s qualifications, Gibbs replied.

The White House also took shots at politicians and commentators who have questioned whether Sotomayor has the intellectual capacity for the Supreme Court. In a statement Tuesday, Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.) said he planned “to thoroughly review Judge Sotomayor’s record to make sure she has the right intellect and understands the proper role of a judge.” “A lot of people in the last couple of days…they've mentioned ‘intellect,” Gibbs said. “I'm not sure what number they graduated in their class at Princeton, but my sense is it's not second.”

Latino activists were up in arms over what one called “innuendo” challenging the smarts of Sotomayor, who graduated with highest honors from Princeton and was editor of the law review at Yale Law School. [We know what Clarence Thomas thought his Yale degree was worth] “Her intelligence is apparent. It is outrageous that she is being attacked on those grounds,” said Ramona Romero, president of the Hispanic National Bar Association. “I’m assuming these folks are grasping at straws….I wonder if she were a white male we would be hearing that about somebody with the same credentials.”

Gingrich and other commentators leveling the charge that Sotomayor is racist have seized on her comments in a 2001 lecture about how her Hispanic background contributed to her judicial work. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” Sotomayor said.

Gibbs said critics had taken out of context Sotomayor’s attempt to declare that “she has lived a different life than some people have, based on her upbringing—that she understands that.” He said Sotomayor was simply acknowledging that a different background “could certainly lead to different conclusions.” Journalists at the White House briefing were dubious about the press secretary’s explanation, with several shouting back in unison: “She said ‘better.’” “Look at the totality of it,” Gibbs replied....



A revolution is underway

While conservatives have been working to improve our democracy and our free-market economy, liberals have been working to replace our democracy with a dictatorship, and our free-market economy with a command economy controlled by the government. The liberals couldn't say this aloud, because if they did the American people would have tossed them out of office on their ears. So the liberals worked covertly, feigning support for democracy and for the free market while working diligently to undermine both.

This is why our politics has been so partisan, so vicious, and so deadlocked. This is why words have lost their meaning in Washington, why we can never get to the bottom of anything, why we lurch from one manufactured scandal to another. It's all been part of a decades-long effort by the liberals to throw sand in our eyes -- to keep us from seeing clearly where they really want to take us. (And this explains why, when we question their judgment on some issue, they go berserk and accuse us of questioning their patriotism. They're afraid we're on the verge of catching on. If you want to have some fun, the next time you're chatting with a liberal and he goes nuts when you call him a socialist, say to him: "I'm so sorry you're offended. Please tell me, what is there about socialism you don't like?" You won't get a coherent answer; he'll just accuse you of a hate crime.)

With the election of Barack Obama as president, the liberals have launched a massive, two-front offensive they believe will end in victory. They have judged that our public education system is so degraded that only a few Americans are left who even understand what a democracy is, and how the free market actually works. They are convinced that the majority of Americans are too frightened by the current recession to care about preserving the principles that made us the most powerful, productive and innovative country the world has ever known. In short, the liberals are reaching for victory because they believe that history now is on their side.

The speed of their offensive is breathtaking. At the core of democracy is the rule of law, and we have already lost it. The liberals lecture us incessantly that everything is "relative," but that's not true; some things are absolutes. You cannot claim to be faithful to your spouse because you never cheat on her -- except when you're in London on business. And you cannot claim to have the rule of law if the government can set aside the rule of law when it decides that "special circumstances" have arisen that warrant illegality. When the President and his aides handed ownership of Chrysler Corp. to the United Auto Workers union, they tried to avoid sending that beleaguered company into bankruptcy by muscling its bondholders into accepting less money for their assets than the law entitled them to collect. These contracts, and the law under which they were signed, were mere obstacles to a thuggish President bent on paying off his political supporters.

It's going to get much worse, fast. President Obama has told us time and again that among his criteria for choosing Federal judges will be "empathy." Empathy is a wonderful quality in any human being, but a judge's job is to rule according to the law. Once our courts are presided over by judges who will reach verdicts based on how they feel about an issue -- such as abortion or the right of citizens to bear arms -- the law will be whatever the judges wish it to be; the rule of law will become an empty phrase rather than the architecture of our civilization.

We have lost our free-market economy as quickly as we have lost the rule of law. Money is to an economy what blood is to a body; life and death resides within the organ that controls its flow. The government already owns our country's leading banks, which means the government now controls our economy. (And in all fairness to President Obama, it was the Bush administration that started us down this ghastly road.) One indicator of the Obama administration's real objective: When some banks that had taken federal money attempted to repay their loans, the Treasury Department refused to accept repayment and step aside. This shows the government's goal isn't to prop up the banks, but rather to control them.

Here, too, things are going to get much worse, fast. The government now owns General Motors Corp., is reaching for control of insurance companies, and has launched plans to take over our country's healthcare industry. It even wants authority to set the salaries of executives in industries that, at least for now, aren't being subsidized or underwritten by the government.

Put all this together, and what we have in our country today isn't a democracy and it isn't a free-market economy. Reader, what we have now is a revolution.

This revolution won't be stopped, and our country won't be rescued, by the Republicans in Washington. This isn't because they lack the votes. It's because most of them are careerist hacks who've been playing footsie with the Democrats for too long; with very few exceptions they lack the intellectual firepower to articulate the present danger, and the political courage to stand up to this Administration and really fight. But for the absence of frock coats and pince-nez glasses, these Republicans in Washington remind me of those bumbling Weimar Republic politicians in Berlin who never grasped where Hitler and the Nazis were going until it was too late to stop them, or of those hapless Mensheviks in Moscow's Duma who let themselves be tossed into history's dustbin by Lenin and his Bolsheviks. (Yes, of course I realize it's explosive to keep bringing up the Nazis and the Bolsheviks in an essay about the Democrats. I'm not doing this to be incendiary; I'm doing this to be accurate.)

Our country's future now lies within our own hands -- yours, mine, all of us who comprise what the Washington insiders sneeringly call the grass roots. Good, because unless I'm very much mistaken the liberals have over-estimated their strength. There still are more of us than there are of them. I mean ordinary, decent Americans from across the political spectrum who may disagree about specific issues, but who understand who we are and how we became who we are; who love our country, have a genius for self-organizing, and won't let the United States go down without a fight.

We need to launch a counter-offensive, so to speak, and the place to start is at the local level. Working with our county and state political parties when we can -- or working around them when we must -- our objective will be to elect as many people as we can to public office who understand what a democracy is and how the free market works. This will include city council members, county commissioners, school board members, judges, sheriffs and even members of the local parks commission. With the strength and political momentum their elections will provide, we can surge to the state level and then -- before it's too late -- take back the power in Washington DC.

I know this isn't the kind of battle most of us want to fight; we would rather watch the talking heads slug it out on Fox News than stand on a street corner handing out campaign flyers. And given our country's history, for a while it will be uncomfortable to find ourselves fighting against the revolution and for the status quo. But we'll get used to this as we make our case over and over again -- to our friends, our neighbors, at barbeques and PTA meetings and at public rallies like those marvelous April tea parties that drove the liberals insane. And we'll draw strength as our ranks swell with new recruits.

The alternative to launching this kind of peaceful and political counter-attack is horrific. Right now sales of guns and ammunition are rising sharply. This reflects an intuitive grasp by grass-roots Americans of what history teaches may lie ahead. It was only after the Nazis had secured their grip on power in Germany, and only after the Bolsheviks had seized control of Russia, that they set out to disarm and destroy the vast numbers of ordinary citizens who - to the astonishment and fury of the revolutionaries -- just wouldn't go along. That's when the real shooting started, and when blood began flowing in the streets.



And the Angels Rejoice

There is nothing so inspiring as public service, so I’ve been incredibly moved over the past few weeks to watch squads of corporate executives come to the White House so President Obama could announce that he was giving away their money.

A few weeks ago, we were privileged to see a gathering of health care executives standing behind the president as he announced that they would be donating $2 trillion in future revenue to the cause of health care reform.

Recently we were uplifted when the president informed Chrysler’s secured creditors that they had agreed to donate their ownership stake in the company to the United Auto Workers. Just last week, we were enthralled to see a group of auto executives beaming with pride as the president announced that in order to reduce gas consumption, they would henceforth be scaling back on all those car lines that consumers actually want to buy.

These events have heralded a new era of partnership between the White House and private companies, one that calls to mind the wonderful partnership Germany formed with France and the Low Countries at the start of World War II. The press conferences and events marking this new spirit of cooperation have been the emotional highlights of the administration so far.

These events usually begin when the executives gather in the Oval Office, where they experience certain Enhanced Negotiating Techniques. I’m not exactly sure what the president does to inspire the business leaders’ cooperation and sense of public service, though those who remember the disembowelment scene in “Braveheart” will have a general idea.

Then the president leads the executives out onto the White House lawn for the announcement ceremony. Often, the president will still be carrying the riding crop and the pliers used in the private negotiation. He moves to the microphone while the executives take their pre-assigned places behind him, the jingle of their leg shackles blending with the dulcet tones of spring. I thought one hospital executive was so moved by the occasion that he had slipped into catatonic shock, except that he was blinking “Save Me! Save Me!” in Morse code to his shareholders.

“We meet at an exciting moment for our country, a time of unprecedented cooperation between government and private industry,” the president intones, lifting his foot from the trachea of an unconscious pharmaceutical executive. “Many of the business leaders behind me have seized an exciting opportunity to join the nonprofit sector without even switching jobs.”

At this, the C.E.O.’s behind him don frozen smiles, exuding the sort of spontaneous enthusiasm often seen at North Korean pep rallies.

During the press conference with health care executives, I don’t even think Obama meant to give away $2 trillion of their money. He was going to give away just $750 billion, but he got carried away by the Era of Responsibility. “The stakeholders behind me have promised to cut costs by nearly 2 percent a year,” the president riffed. (The executives’ lips were like dead worms stretched across mirthless smiles. Their cheeks were like hardened clumps of concrete.) “They have agreed to support the administration’s reform package.” (Coronaries, epileptic seizures all around.) “They have agreed to donate their kidneys in my office right after this ceremony.” (The executives were now flopping about the stage, like a 3-D version of the Heimlich poster.)

These executives have been invited to make these donations in the same spirit that the Cossacks invited my ancestors to emigrate to the Lower East Side. And yet there is a moment during each of the ceremonies when the spirit of the Almighty descends upon the congregation. It usually happens while the president is describing the glorious future. He’ll be describing how, in three years, he will slash the deficit by cutting taxes and doubling spending. He will be describing how, in three years, he will create millions of jobs by raising energy costs.

You can see the ecstasy of Washington promise-making spread joy from soul to soul. Infected by these visions, automakers vow that in three years they will have created a resurgence of enthusiasm around the Chevy Aveo. Financiers vow they will build an entirely new banking industry that doesn’t rely so much on loan repayment. Health care executives vow that in three years they’ll perform CAT scans at Kinko’s.

Some say these are just meaningless promises that ignore hard choices and that no one has any intention of keeping. But this is ungenerous. At these events, the president has taken former rivals and has joined them in the holy bonds of mutual fantasy. He has taken a divided nation and has given us photo-ops to bind us and remind us of our common humanity. Business lies down with government. Management embraces labor. You call it what you will; I call it beautiful.



The Final Solution

From the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah which, as we all know, unlike Hamas is the ‘moderate’ party which will deliver a two-state solution and peace with Israel:
Therefore, it is high time that we found a final, comprehensive solution...With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.

... The use of weapons alone will not bring results, and the use of politics without weapons will not bring results. We act on the basis of our extensive experience. We analyze our situation carefully. We know what climate leads to victory and what climate leads to suicide. We talk politics, but our principles are clear. It was our pioneering leader, Yasser Arafat, who persevered with this revolution, when empires collapsed. Our armed struggle has been going on for 43 years, and the political struggle, on all levels, has been going on for 50 years. We harvest U.N. resolutions, and we shame the world so that it doesn't gang up on us, because the world is led by people who have given their brains a vacation – the American administration and the neocons.

The P.L.O. is the sole legitimate representative [of the Palestinian people], and it has not changed its platform even one iota. In light of the weakness of the Arab nation and the lack of values, and in light of the American control over the world, the P.L.O. proceeds through phases, without changing its strategy. Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.

This is what the American, British and EU governments are attempting to force Israel to accept. As the man says, it’s not a two-state solution -- it's a final solution.




Muslim charity leader jailed for 65 years: "The leader of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States was sentenced to 65 years in jail today for supporting Palestinian militants, in a major US-based terrorism financing case. The Texas-based Holy Land Foundation and five of its leaders were convicted late last year of funnelling more than 12 million dollars to Hamas. Jurors returned guilty verdicts on 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering and tax fraud. Skukri Abu Baker, whose brother Jamal Issa is the head of Hamas operations in Yemen, was Holy Land's chief executive officer and the first to be sentenced. Holy Land cofounder Mohamed El-Mezain, who is related to Hamas deputy political leader Mousa Abu Marzook, was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Three other Holy Land organisers were expected to receive their sentences later today. The Holy Land case was a major victory in the "war on terror" of former President George W. Bush. Holy Land was one of several Muslim organisations the Bush administration shut down in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for allegedly raising money for overseas Islamic extremists".

Stimulus projects bypass hard-hit states: "States hit hardest by the recession received only a few of the government's first stimulus contracts, even though the glut of new federal spending was meant to target places where the economic pain has been particularly severe. Nationwide, federal agencies have awarded nearly $4 billion in contracts to help jump-start the economy since President Obama signed the massive stimulus package in February. But, with few exceptions, that money has not reached states where the unemployment rate is highest, according to a USA TODAY review of contracts disclosed through the Federal Procurement Data System. In Michigan, for example — where years of economic tumult and a collapsing domestic auto industry have produced the nation's worst unemployment rate — federal agencies have spent about $2 million on stimulus contracts, or 21 cents per person. In Oregon, where unemployment is almost as high, they have spent $2.12 per capita, far less than the nationwide average of nearly $13."

Government Motors: "The government would retain significant control over the restructured General Motors under an Obama administration plan that would allow U.S. officials to directly name or influence the appointments of the vast majority of a new 13-member board that would oversee the company, sources familiar with the discussions said. The plan calls for federal officials to directly appoint five or six members to the board after GM emerges from its expected bankruptcy, the sources said. Another six would roll over from GM's existing board, but even these directors would reflect the government's influence since GM is reconstituting its board under government direction. The United Auto Workers' health-care trust would name one director to the company board, the sources said, adding that Canada is likely to appoint a board seat as well."


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, May 28, 2009

Obama's SCOTUS nominee

Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, "has an inflated opinion of herself" and is "kind of a bully on the bench."

That view doesn't come from a conservative -- it's the view expressed by a former clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where Sotomayor now serves, to Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor for The New Republic. The New Republic is a decidedly liberal publication -- but the magazine published a harsh portrait of the new Obama nominee three weeks ago, when she was being mentioned as a contender for the Court post.

Rosen's article, headlined "The Case Against Sotomayor," also noted that he had spoken to a range of people who have worked with Sotomayor. Rosen wrote: "Most are Democrats and all of them want President Obama to appoint a judicial star of the highest intellectual caliber who has the potential to change the direction of the court.

"Nearly all of them acknowledged that Sotomayor is a presumptive front-runner, but nearly none of them raved about her. They expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.

"The most consistent concern was that Sotomayor, although an able lawyer, was 'not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,' as one former Second Circuit clerk for another judge put it. 'She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren't penetrating and don't get to the heart of the issue.'"

Rosen added: "Her opinions, although competent, are viewed by former prosecutors as not especially clean or tight, and sometimes miss the forest for the trees."

Even's Glenn Greenwald, who defends Sotomayor, cites some of her less-than-praiseworthy behavior in court. Greenwald writes that he remembers, "... she was very assertive and aggressive - at times unpleasantly so - in how she presided over her courtroom. "In the first case I had with her ... I committed some sort of substantial procedural mistake ... and she very harshly excoriated me in a courtroom packed with lawyers from other cases. I certainly did not enjoy that, and at the time harbored negative sentiments towards her (who wouldn't?), but that behavior - for judges - is the opposite of uncommon."

The most controversial case in which Sotomayor participated as an appellate judge is Ricci v. DeStefano. She sided with the city of New Haven, Conn., in a discrimination case that white firefighters brought after the city threw out results of a promotion exam because too few minorities scored high enough.



America is re-segregating

Sotomayor wasn't chosen solely for her liberal judicial philosophy, although that was a prerequisite. She was chosen for her status as a Latina woman. As Stuart Taylor of National Journal writes, "If Republicans attack Judge Sotomayor's more controversial actions, they risk provoking a backlash among Hispanic voters, who have already been moving into the Democratic column in droves.” Following on the heels of President Obama's election, which was largely about his status as a black man, we have entered a period in which politics is becoming more, not less, racial in nature.

With the election of Obama, many Americans believed that racial polarization in the country was over. White Americans in particular assumed that Obama's election would be a transformative moment, effectively capping America's centuries-long odyssey toward racial equality.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Over the past decade, racial groups have become more polarized, not less. A simple example will suffice. A personal friend, a white man who teaches at an inner-city school in Los Angeles County with an almost entirely Hispanic population, polled his students shortly before the 2008 election regarding their parents' presidential preferences. Every hand in the classroom went up for Obama. After class, my friend approached one of the students. "Why are your parents voting for Obama?” he asked a 10-year-old Hispanic girl. She answered him in four words: "Because he's not white.”

"Because he's not white” has become the rallying cry for racial minorities all across the country. There are 24 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Twenty-three are Democrats, and one is an independent. Leaving aside U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and two members of Congress who represent no district, the Hispanic population in the districts they represent averages 59.23 percent. That means that concentrated pockets of Hispanics elect Hispanics.

The same is true for the Congressional Black Caucus. There are currently 44 members of the Congressional Black Caucus; all are Democrats. Leaving aside Senator Roland Burris, D-Ill., and two nonvoting, at-large members of Congress, the black population in the districts they represent averages 48.47 percent. That means concentrated pockets of blacks elect blacks.

The same is largely true of whites, of course. The difference is that whites elect members of both parties -- racial identity is not bound up in political identity. For the Hispanic and black communities, however, racial and socioeconomic identity increasingly mean allegiance to one party: the Democratic Party. Thus, when Miguel Estrada is grilled by Democrats, no one worries about the electoral ramifications for the Democrats among Hispanics, yet when Sotomayor is nominated, critics worry that Republican criticism will drive away Hispanics. The same holds true for the black community: When Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is raked over the coals by Democrats, no one worries that blacks will run from the Democratic Party; when Barack Obama is criticized by Republicans, however, the press declares that Republicans will lose the black vote forever.

The implications of the racial separation of our republic are supremely dangerous. It seems that racial groups more and more often vote along tribal lines; multiethnic democracy now means racial re-segregation, at least in terms of electoral politics. Small-R republicanism relies on the willingness of individuals to discern and vote for the politicians with whom they agree, not the politicians with whom they share a skin color, racial heritage, and economic background.

Barack Obama's candidacy was supposed to usher us into a post-racial America. It seems that his election, and his continuing exploitation of racial differences through nominations like Sotomayor's, has only deepened the racial divides.



GM Bondholders Are People Like You and Me

The government is punishing one group of workers to reward another

I am an American retiree. Like many small investors, I am relying on "safe" investments such as bonds backed by America's largest companies to fund my retirement. One of these companies is General Motors.

First, let's set the record straight about who owns GM's bonds. We are hardworking families, individual investors and retirees who purchased billions of these bonds in $25, $50 and $100 increments. Many bonds were bought directly and others are held in our pension funds, 401(k) plans and other retirement programs. I purchased GM bonds in 2005 and own $91,000 worth. These bonds account for a very sizeable portion of my retirement income, and so it is absolutely devastating to watch GM's problems bring the once venerable company to the brink of failure. My standard of living is truly in jeopardy.

Despite the terrible position my fellow bondholders and I are in, we are being portrayed as the cause of GM's problems and inability to restructure. Who is perpetrating this myth? The American government, which is at once encouraging investment in U.S. companies and vilifying those who have already invested. Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars have been used to stabilize companies to restore investor confidence. But how can investors be confident when they're at risk of ending up on the wrong end of the government's stick?

Even more disturbing: The government's proposed restructuring plans benefit one class of retirees at the expense of another. I understand that we each have equal claims in bankruptcy. However, under the current plan GM's union retirees will receive 39% of the restructured company and $10 billion in cash in exchange for $20 billion in claims. Bondholders, however, receive a mere 10% for $27 billion in claims in the form of stock (and no cash).

I am a retired dye-making trade worker and even worked in the auto industry during my career. I don't understand why the government is penalizing people like me just for having funded my retirement with GM bonds. Bondholders, especially small bondholders, are being ignored in negotiations and singled out to bear the greatest share of the cost of restructuring GM.

We are not an unreasonable group. We understand that to save GM everyone will need to endure economic pain. But we are very troubled by the government's decision to give UAW retirees -- equal members, with the bondholders, of the unsecured creditor class -- preferential treatment. The government cannot be permitted to rewrite bankruptcy rules on a whim to selectively benefit equal groups.

Small bondholders use the interest from GM bonds for everyday living expenses and cannot afford to see GM go bankrupt. And though we've been branded as an obstacle, small investors like me are in fact the solution. Our continued investment in U.S. companies and markets is critical to an economic recovery. By treating investors fairly, GM could take the lead in making the market attractive once again.




Government Expected to Own 70% of Restructured G.M.: "In better times, many employees of General Motors called their company “Generous Motors” because of its rich benefits. Now G.M. may stand for something else: Government Motors. The latest plan for the troubled automaker, which is expected to file for bankruptcy by Monday, calls for the Treasury Department to receive about 70 percent of a restructured G.M. Including the more than $20 billion that has already been spent to prop up G.M., the government will provide G.M. at least $50 billion to get the company through Chapter 11, people with direct knowledge of the situation said Tuesday. By some estimates in Detroit, tens of billions beyond that amount may be required. The United Automobile Workers, meanwhile, will hold up to 20 percent through its retiree health care fund, and bondholders and other parties will get the remaining share. Shareholders would be virtually wiped out."

Homosexuals demonstrate against new law: "Around 175 people were arrested in San Francisco in peaceful protests against a California Supreme Court decision to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage, police said. A spokeswoman for the San Francisco Police Department said the arrests came as demonstrators blocked an intersection near the court building. Those arrested were released at the scene, Sergeant Lyn Tomioka said. Rallies were being held in several cities across California yesterday following the court ruling, which reaffirmed the results of a referendum that redefined marriage in California as unions between men and women."

Crooked NYC top cop: "[Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik -- above] faces trial in Washington on charges he lied to White House officials who were vetting him for the position of Homeland Security secretary. … Kerik is charged with falsely denying to White House officials that as a public official he had any financial dealings with individuals seeking to do business with the city. Prosecutors say contractors seeking work with the city spent more than $255,000 renovating Kerik’s apartment.”

10th Amendment movement: Return power to the states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. — U.S. Constitution, Tenth Amendment. Fed up with Washington’s involvement in everything from land use to gun control to education spending, states across the country are fighting back against what they say is the federal government’s growing intrusion on their rights. At least 35 states have introduced legislation this year asserting their power under the Tenth Amendment to regulate all matters not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution.”

Army chief: US ready to be in Iraq 10 years: “The Pentagon is prepared to leave fighting forces in Iraq for as long as a decade despite an agreement between the United States and Iraq that would bring all American troops home by 2012, the top U.S. Army officer said Tuesday. Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, said the world remains dangerous and unpredictable, and the Pentagon must plan for extended U.S. combat and stability operations in two wars. ‘Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction,’ Casey said.”

Obama Blinks. Union bullying fails: "On April 30th, the Obama Administration sent to the California state government an unmistakably blatant letter threatening to withhold California's Medicaid "stimulus" money if a home healthcare workers wage cut was not rescinded.... To its credit, California pushed back—hard—stating that the budget cuts were necessary to make up for a $23 billion budget shortfall. The truth is, California had every duty to act in its own interests as a sovereign state to save $74 million on home healthcare workers. California's receipt of some $6.8 billion in federal stimulus, supplemental Medicaid money had been conditioned upon rescinding the cut, which reduces the state's maximum contribution to home health workers' pay from $12.10 per hour to $10.10 in July. Last week, ALG News and other media had called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to uphold the principle of federalism, and to rescind the ultimatum. Fortunately, Obama cowered when the blatantly thuggish Obama-union aggression was exposed. The Obama Administration was finally forced to back off its threat to withhold the supplemental Medicaid funds from California."

Millionaires Go Missing: "Here's a two-minute drill in soak-the-rich economics: Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it." One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates."


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, May 27, 2009

Why oh why do a few Jews make it hard for Jews generally??

Once again I am going to go out on a limb and half cut off the branch behind me. But I seem to be one of the few who is ready to speak the unspeakable so I think I should take up that burden again.

Jews are overall exceptionally generous givers. They donate large amounts to charities and to causes that they see as worthy. I gather that around 50% of the funding for Mr Obama's election campaign came from Jews, despite the fact that Jews are only a small fraction of the U.S. population. You may question the wisdom of those donations (I do) but you cannot fault the generosity of them.

Sadly, however, that is good news and one look at any newspaper will tell you that it is bad news that people are interested in and take note of. And bad news about Jews will, sadly, be particularly noted. Jews are just too prominent in the community for it to be otherwise. And one set of foul deeds can negate a large set of good deeds.

So I come to Mr Anthony Steen (Stein) above. He is one of Britain's most well-known Jews. He has been a member of parliament since 1974 and in that time has served on many public bodies. His appalling behaviour has been noted on several occasions -- abusing a secretary who did not know who he was, parking his car in disabled zones etc. And he has always been impenitent about his misdeeds, though an apology usually gets forced out of him eventually.

In his latest performance he has however excelled himself. He is one of the many British politicians who have been caught up in the scandal of misused personal expense allowances. Most of those caught have shown embarrassment and been penitent to some degree but Steen was at his most impenitent when he was confronted and refused to admit to any wrongdoing at all. You can read the whole sorry story here. Rather than admitting any fault for his large and improper expenses claims, he went on the attack and said that his critics were just jealous of his large house -- which of course put pictures of his house into most British newspapers. See above.

It is hard to convey how offensive all that would have been to most Brits. The British are characterized by a self-effacing culture. If you inadvertently tread on a British man's foot, HE will usually apologize, despite being the injured party. Arrogance, ostentation and boasting are about as un-British as you can get. And yet here is a well-known Jew flaunting all those characteristics in public.

Perhaps there are occasions when that would not matter but Britain now is not one of them. Antisemitism has in recent years become acceptable in conversations among Britain's educated classes. And Steen will be seen as a graphic confirmation of all those opinions.

To be a Jew is to be in the public eye and given all the accusations that have been levelled at Jews over the years, people will be alert to bad Jewish behaviour. It may not be entirely rational but that is the way it is. One foul man can destroy the good work of thousands. It is the bad news that will be noted, not the good.

The only reason I am writing this at all is that I am aware that there is a certain cohesion among the Jewish community in a given area. If they do not see one another at shul, they see one-another at charitable functions etc. And it is my probably vain hope that the wiser members of such communities will press other Jews to avoid public displays of arrogance and ostentation. Perhaps that already happens to some degree but I think it should be carried to the point of shunning any offenders who do not reform. That way, if someone like Anthony Steen comes to public notice again, members of the local Jewish community can say: "We do not recognize him as one of us. We deplore his behaviour as much as you do".

That could be a big help.


The arrogant Obama

ADMIRAL Mike Mullen has some unusual credentials for the highest ranking military officer in the US.... Mullen was one of the Bush appointees kept on by Barack Obama but the idea that he gives fearless advice to the new President was called into question at the weekend during an appearance on the political talk show This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Pressured on issues ranging from Guantanamo Bay and the withdrawal timetable for Iraq to rising soldier suicide rates and the military ban on gays, Mullen blurted out a kind of apology.

"I'm not a policy and a strategy guy," he said. "I'm - you know, the military basically supports what the President wants, the decisions that he makes. And he has done that, he has done that in Iraq, he has done that in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. And I find that to be - to be a method that gives the military the kind of focus it needs for where we're going."

The comments reinforced perceptions of Obama as a supremely confident President who knows what he wants and often just goes through the motions of taking advice. This ego factor first became clear in a New Yorker article last year, where the Obama campaign's political director Patrick Gaspard recounted his first conversation with the then candidate.

Obama said: "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."

The New York Times columnist David Brooks has been alarmed by the extent of Obama's self-confidence and by an Obama administration that allows only "certain intellects" to be fluorescent. Therein lays a problem the Obama administration seems destined to confront.

Excess self-confidence and intellectual elitism don't generally help when policy gambles fail and there's a need to adapt to a new strategy quickly. In times like these, governments need honest and timely advice. The worry with Mullen and others is twofold: are they willing to deliver a stern message when needed and, if they are, do they have the ability to be heard?




Pelosi dodges human rights on China visit: “U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, long a fierce critic of Beijing, toured China’s financial capital on Monday on a visit focused on environmental issues rather than human rights, though her presence emboldened protesters. Pelosi took a low-key approach as she prepared for meetings in Beijing just days ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protests.”

Hilarious! One resolution ignored so let's have another: “The U.N. Security Council swiftly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test on Monday as ‘a clear violation’ of a 2006 resolution and said it will start work immediately on another one that could result in new sanctions against the reclusive nation. Hours after North Korea defiantly conducted its second test, its closest allies China and Russia joined Western powers and representatives from the rest of the world on the council to voice strong opposition to the underground explosion.”

Well-run banks to pay for the misdeeds of badly-run banks: “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday voted to charge U.S. banks a one-time assessment of 5 cents per every $100 of assets to replenish the Washington, D.C.-based regulator’s insurance fund, depleted by compensating for bank failures across the country. … Earlier this week, Congress passed legislation to increase the FDIC’s borrowing authority with the Treasury Department from $30 billion to $100 billion with a proviso for emerging funding up to $500 billion.”

Microsoft aims big guns at Google: “Microsoft has used attack ads to go after Apple, and now it has Google in its sights. The software giant is set to launch an $80 million to $100 million campaign for Bing, the search engine it hopes will help it grab a bigger slice of the online ad market. That’s a big campaign — big compared with consumer-product launches ($50 million is considered a sizable budget for a national rollout) and very big when you consider that Google spent about $25 million on all its advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, with about $11.6 million of that focused on recruiting. Microsoft, by comparison, spent $361 million. Certainly Google has never faced an ad assault of anything like this magnitude.”

France: Scientology on trial: “The Church of Scientology could be dissolved in France if it is convicted by a Paris court of organised fraud and illegal pharmaceutical activity. In a trial that opened yesterday, the group — which is considered to be a sect, not a religion, in France — will see seven of its French leaders stand trial, more than a decade after one of the three plaintiffs originally filed a complaint. A guilty verdict could shut down the group’s activities in France, and see the Church of Scientology fined 5 million (£4.4 million). … Investigating judge Jean-Christophe Hullin has spent years examining the group’s activities, and in his indictment criticised practices he said were aimed at extracting large sums of money from members and plunging them into a ’state of subjection.’” [It has always appeared clear to me that they are little more than a money-making racket, though they do appear to be of help to some people]

CA: Crisis spurs spike in “suburban survivalists”: “Six months ago, Jim Wiseman didn’t even have a spare nutrition bar in his kitchen cabinet. Now, the 54-year-old businessman and father of five has a backup generator, a water filter, a grain mill and a 4-foot-tall pile of emergency food tucked in his home in the expensive San Diego suburb of La Jolla. Wiseman isn’t alone. Emergency supply retailers and military surplus stores nationwide have seen business boom in the past few months as an increasing number of Americans spooked by the economy rush to stock up on gear that was once the domain of hardcore survivalists. These people snapping up everything from water purification tablets to thermal blankets shatter the survivalist stereotype: they are mostly urban professionals with mortgages, SUVs, solid jobs and a twinge of embarrassment about their newfound hobby.”

NATO disarms suspected pirates in Gulf of Aden: “A NATO warship from Canada intercepted two boats carrying suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, seizing a large amount of firearms, rocket-propelled grenades and hook ladders. The Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg chased the boats and eventually boarded them, releasing the suspected pirates after confiscating the equipment, the alliance said Monday. NATO does not have an agreement with Kenya to hand them over for trial.” [Once upon a time they would have been made to walk the plank. I am pleased to hear that Canada today has at least one warship, though]


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, May 26, 2009

Does having daughters makes fathers more likely to agree with Left-wing views?

The underlying assumption of the British article below is faulty. Women split roughly evenly between Left and Right at election time. Although it is often asserted, Leftism is NOT in fact "feminine". Women can be very practical and such women are by that fact less likely to succumb to Leftist fantasies. I will be very interested to see what the research methods were when the article behind the story below is finally published.

And other facts run contrary to its conclusions. Married people with children lean heavily towards conservative parties. So having ANY childen, male or female, moves you to the Right. And, in general, people with chidren, male or female, will be older and older people too tend to become more conservative than when they were young. It is young unattached females who lean Left. So the known demographic factors that influence political choice have nothing to do with the sex of the children concerned

When she needs a lift or money to buy clothes, a girl will turn the charm on her father. But it seems that a daughter’s influence on her dad goes far beyond the odd favour. Research has found that the more girls a man has, the more likely he is to be Left-wing. Daughters have such a profound effect on their fathers that they can switch their political viewpoint, a study suggests.

Compared to men, women are more likely to favour Labour or Liberal policies such as higher taxes to fund provisions like the NHS. They also tend to earn less than men so won’t be as hard-hit by higher taxation. As a man fathers more daughters, he will gradually be won round by their more Left-wing viewpoints.

The study, carried out by Professor Andrew Oswald from Warwick University and Dr Nattavudh Powdthavee from York University, also found that a predominance of sons can make a mother more right-wing. The researchers even suggested that well-known Left-wing politicians and personalities owed their beliefs to the high numbers of daughters in the family. The late John Smith, former leader of the Labour party, had three daughters. Similarly Cherie Blair’s father Tony Booth, the actor who starred in the BBC’s Til Death Us Do Part, who was renowned for being a strong supporter of the Labour Party, had eight daughters

In an unpublished article to be submitted to an economics journal, the researchers wrote: ‘This paper provides evidence that daughters make people more Left-wing, while having sons, by contrast, makes them more Right-wing.’ Professor Oswald said: ‘As men acquire female children, those men gradually shift their political stance and become more sympathetic to the “female” desire for a larger amount for the public good. ‘They become more Left-wing. Similarly a mother with sons becomes sympathetic to the “male” case for lower taxes and a smaller supply of public goods.

‘Potential feelings are much less independently chosen than people realise. ‘Children mould their parents. It’s so scientifically because it’s out of the parents’ control whether they have a boy or a girl.’ ‘We document evidence that having daughters leads people to be more sympathetic to Left-wing parties. ‘Giving birth to sons, by contrast, seems to make people more likely to vote for a right-wing party.’

They found that among parents of with between two to four children who voted for Labour or the Lib Dems, the average number of daughters was higher than average number of sons. The study is backed up by recent findings in America that showed US congressmen were more likely to support gender equality policies if they had daughters.

Sociologist Rebecca Warner from Oregon State University and economist Ebonya Washington from Yale University studied the voting records of the politicians before and after they had children. The authors concluded that parents realise the potential struggles their daughters will face and begin to sympathise with them.

Long before he even became a father, Brad Pitt broke down in tears and spoke of his desire to have daughters. The actor, who was in a relationship with Jennifer Anniston at the time, told a US TV show: ‘Yes, I have got family on the mind. Jen and I have been working something out. Little girls, they just crush me - they break my heart.’ Sylvester Stalone, star of the Rocky films, admitted he altered his career path and chose more emotive roles after the birth of his daughter Sophia in 1996. He said: ‘The birth of my daughter was a subtle indication of the way I should go. I want to get back to more emotional, character-driven films.’



If we build it, will they come?

By guest blogger Locutisprime.

Almost everyone has seen the movie Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner. And just as many people remember the tag line from the movie..."if you build it he will come." There are a number of metaphorical references and themes in that film that touch a certain spot in the heart of most people. I know it touched mine.

As I sit here contemplating this Memorial Day weekend, I am torn between realizing that many Americans only see this holiday as the first big cookout weekend of the summer season. It means little more to many than just that. A reason to kick back and relax on a three day weekend off. Time to burn some burgers, drink some beer and maybe go to the lake or beach or perhaps watch the Indy 500 on TV. But beyond those activities of shared interest and commonality, I fear that not many present day contemporary Americans will remember or even be aware of what the Memorial Day holiday is supposed to both signify and pay tribute to. Much more that it is supposed to honor the memory of our honored dead.

Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance. A day when all Americans take pause to reflect on those who have sacrificed their lives in service to this nation. A day of remembrance of those that sacrificed so that there could be cookouts and burgers and beer and all the other activities and blessings of a free nation for generations to come. And ball games and days at the lake and vacations at the beach. For there are those who remain as they always have, prepared to take away our freedoms and abilities to pursue our versions of happiness, freedom and liberty. And there are those who have already deprived many who were innocent of their lives, as they did those who willingly died in the defense of other Americans who never even knew them.

Is there a higher calling than to be of service to your nation? Perhaps.

Perhaps it is a higher calling to be of service to your God and your family. I believe that there are few who would disagree with that, but there also comes the time when each generation is called upon to step forward and offer service to both themselves and their neighbors.

Jesus said: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." I have to agree. But what of the man or woman....who lays down their life for those that they never knew..... Or those who have yet to be born yet? Is this not also a demonstration of the greatest love? Albeit a demonstration of commitment to country, it still remains a commitment to all who cannot stand and defend themselves. At least that is the way I look at it.

And what remains of the lives lost during times of conflict for America. What remains other than the cherished memories of their families and loved ones. They weep in silence. We expect that remembrance from those closest to us, yet what do we expect from those who never knew us. What should be expected of those who follow in the blissful peace of never having known the mind tearing fear of war and combat. Of those who never knew the taste of sudden and brutal death in a land far removed from their former lives.

America's sons and daughters and father and mothers and brothers and sisters have long marched off to defend that which was being threatened here at home. And these same defenders have bled and left members of their bodies strewn across countless battlefields over the past 200 years. And many of them never left those battlefields at all. They lie there now in repose, or they rest in the bottom of the depths of the sea where they were interred having been wrapped in the flag of their nation. Their only remaining connection with their loved ones or descendants or those that came after, are some words on the page of a history book. Or perhaps, some words on a monument somewhere, lost to the day to day passing of time and the memories of those who knew them.

As I think about these things each year, I often wonder what those who have gone before us and who are no longer are with us think or thought about such things. For many of them there was no time to think or contemplate their actions or their death. It just happened suddenly and painlessly and they were gone. For others there was agony and lingering and there must certainly have been a desire of last will and testament to above all be remembered. What else can we leave to this world but our actions and the memory of our actions. And when those actions are of self sacrifice on a battlefield in defense of those who cannot defend themselves? I have to feel and believe that the emotions involved transcend death. I happen to believe that death cannot silence the memories of those who have sacrificed so greatly. I have to believe that our sacred lost stand as silent sentinels and testament to their commitment to love of country and family. Where they stand I do not know, but they certainly must become members of an honored cadre of the many who have similarly served and committed their lives and souls to an eternal presence in the glory of a God who recognizes their sacrifice.

If we build it? Will they come? I have often wondered about that. What of our memorials. What of our memorials in the form of monuments and designated days of observance? Is there really the reverence present that there should be? Do we as Americans truly feel thankful or grateful that we live in a nation, whose liberties have been so dearly paid for. And what of the sentinels that stand on the other side of eternity. Keeping constant watch and vigil. Asking now only that we remember them. Asking only that their lives not have been lost in vain. Asking only that we take a day here and there to remember them. Is that too much to ask? I wonder. As I wonder if our honored dead are aware of our present lives and what they died to preserve.

I wonder if the husband or son or brother, or sister or mother or daughter, can approach the lives we now live if only as an observer. Is it possible for them to return periodically for flickers of time, just to look in on their loved ones or just to see how things have proceeded and progressed in the absence of their lives? Is it possible for those who gave their last full measure to emotionally reach across and touch the minds of those who remain here on this plain of existence? I have often wondered those same curiosities whenever I looked upon that long black wall on the mall in Washington. I have been there three times now. It took me years to make the journey after the tribute was finally erected. I saw the photographs in magazines and I felt the rush of chills when the eerie illusion of the haunting shapes of the dead almost materialized in that black granite wall for a moment.

Then I realized that the images most often were simply the reflections of those passing by and those stopping to pay their respects. But what if there are really those there on the other side of that black granite wall. And what if there are those who went before them, now disembodied and periodically allowed to peek back into our lives via the conduit of their memorials? It is certainly a heavy thought for me to contemplate. If we build it will they come? Is it possible for our heroes to look back across the great divide and see the now aging faces of wives and mothers, fathers and brothers, sons and daughters, sisters and sweethearts. Can they see those others that meant so much to them in their brief lives here with us on earth.

I certainly hope so. I know that I want to believe that. And I know that my heart tells me that through God all things are possible. So yes, they are there as they have always been in my opinion, though not in flesh and bone. They are there in spirit and in love. And they remain there silently watching and remembering and thinking of the love that they held in this life and the love that remains here in the hearts of others for them.

Therefore, as we enter into another Memorial Day observance, before you light up the grill or open that beer, take the time to pause and reflect. Take the time to be thankful for all that you have and the price paid for in blood for you to have it. Take the time to offer up a prayer for those that you knew and those that you never knew. For those who are no longer with us and will never again be allowed to enjoy a May weekend in spring with their family and friends. Think of how the smell of those cookouts and the laughter of children are no longer shared or enjoyed by those who have laid down their lives for you and I.

By all means....thank a veteran this weekend, but even more importantly, pay respect to those who gave their all that you could enjoy the greatness of this nation and its bounty. They deserve no less from those of us who remain. From those of us who but by the grace of God survived and returned. They deserve to be remembered and saluted on these few days when we set aside the day for tribute to them. It is after all their day not ours. They earned it. Paid for in full with no apologies and no regrets.

They wait for us now and from time to time they assemble to look back on that which they preserved. Visit with them. Let them know that you know that they are there and that you know what they did for you and your family. Go to a national cemetery or visit a monument this weekend and reach out and touch the stone work. These are the tangible references to the fact that they lived and these are the conduits between them and us, their world and ours. These are the touch stones between their existence in memory and our continued existence in life. And they are our means of connection and remembrance.

I know that I certainly believe that they are, as I believe that they are there watching and waiting and endlessly loving those which they willingly sacrificed. I believe that when we built these tributes to their sacrifices, that those who gave are capable of seeing what we have done for them and in their honor and in their memory. As I believe that they are aware of those who never stop to think, much less visit one of them where they now stand as entombed sentinels to the memory of their love of country.

Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends.

Honor them. Honor their memory. Never let them die from our thoughts. For as long as they remain in our collective and individual memory, they remain as testament to all that love truly represents. And their sacrifices will not have been in vain.



What America Means to Me

by Bruce Bialosky

The special nature of this country was brought to mind during a recent journey to retrieve my son after his first year of college at the University of Kansas. I was to fly to Kansas City and drive back to Los Angeles, but an unexpected diversion in that plan reminded me of our country’s greatness.

I left LAX on my Southwest flight at 9 A.M. to arrive at 2 P.M. central time. The flight was beautiful except for a seatmate who made too many lavatory trips, interrupting my movie. Everything was wonderful until we were ready to land at KCI (Kansas International Airport) where there were thunderstorms. The pilot was scared of a little lightning so we hung in a holding pattern. Southwest planes do not carry loads of extra fuel so we were soon diverted to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to sit on the tarmac.

While preparing to be a victim of one of those long “sweatfests” I looked at the map and saw Tulsa was pretty much due south of Kansas City and on the road toward Los Angeles. Since there was no clear indication of when we might again attempt our final leg to Kansas City, I had the idea for my son to drive south to Tulsa, and we would push on from there. I went to the flight attendant and asked if I could get off the plane. I had my luggage and could depart without any particular inconvenience. Simultaneously, the pilot decided to head for a gate and humanely let us off until we had a secure time for a landing in Kansas City. I called my son and told him to start driving to Tulsa.

I was now standing in Tulsa’s airport wondering what I am going to do for the next 4+ hours when the wheels (in my brain) started to turn. It came to me that I have a friend who is frequently in Tulsa because his company’s headquarters are in Bartlesville -- not too far from Tulsa. During a call to my friend, I explained the facts – this was my first time here and inquired as to where I should go and what I should do. Of course, as one who lives on the coast, it is ingrained in me that places like Tulsa are “backwater” towns. With a few phone calls and emails, the owners of my friend’s company, who I had never met, had arranged to have me let at a business club of which they are members in downtown Tulsa.

Arriving by cab, I took the elevator to this club called the Summit, located on the 32nd floor of the local Bank of America building. I entered this beautiful club in my shorts, knit shirt and athletic shoes. I apologized for my inappropriate dress, but the people there did not care because I was a guest of Peggy and Tom.

They sat me at a table that had a magnificent view of the Arkansas River. The sunny clear day allowed a view that went on for twenty-plus miles each way, as this is a very flat part of the country. The view was just staggering. Why was I not told of the beauty of this part of the country? This majestic river bordered by beautiful tree-lined areas was captivating.

The staff filled me with some pretty fine grub and plenty of ice tea as I settled in to await the arrival of my son. I took out my book, muted my cell phone and started soaking in a part of America that I had never experienced. Other than driving through Oklahoma on my way home after 9/11, my closest experience in this state had previously been provided by Rodgers and Hammerstein. I had no comprehension about what a wonderful area this part of the country had become.

Early evening faded into nighttime and people started arriving for dinner. Two couples were seated in the table next to me. One of the ladies spotted my KU cap parked on top of my luggage. She mentioned she had graduated from KU in 1954 as had her husband, although their dinner guests were both Oklahoma Sooners. After I again apologized for my informal attire, we engaged in conversation. They had me pull up a chair and delayed ordering their dinner for almost an hour as the five of us talked as if we were long lost friends. They told me all about their wonderful city which Forbes magazine recently ranked the 5th best place to live in America.

I begged off so they could finally order their dinner and I called my son who was near arriving. The picture perfect weather had now turned into rain as can happen in this part of the country during spring. When my son landed in front of building, we stood there hugging in the rain for what seemed like an eternity.

We pushed on from there to Oklahoma City. The next morning we visited the Oklahoma City Memorial, dedicated to those who died at the Federal Building bombing. We drove on to Amarillo where we stopped at the Big Texan – home of the 72-ounce steak. Only in America could you have an experience like this where people would challenge themselves to eat this behemoth. A man had come from Norway to try his hand at tackling this chunk of sirloin. The experience was pure Texas.

For the next two days we drove through New Mexico, Arizona and finally to California. Interstate 40 parallels the historic route 66. As we motored through, we passed many iconic towns well known to Americans through popular songs.

This entire journey reminded me how very fortunate we are to live in this magnificent country which, for the most part, is underappreciated. To many of us, Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer. The fact that we are meant to spend the day remembering those who have sacrificed themselves to allow us to live this fine life is often lost.

Hopefully from reading this, you have focused on your own family and friends who make your life special. You have recalled a day when strangers may have done you a good deed simply because you are a fellow American. Maybe you will spend just a smidgen of time remembering those great people who loved our country and what we stand for enough to defend it and pay the ultimate price for that love. And possibly you might remember how blessed we all are to call ourselves Americans.



The Death of Israel

From Caroline Glick, deputy editor and op-ed writer for the Jerusalem Post, comes alarming news. An expert on Arab-Israeli relations with excellent sources deep inside Netanyahu's government, she reports that CIA chief Leon Panetta, who recently took time out from his day job (feuding with Nancy Pelosi) to travel to Israel "read the riot act" to the government warning against an attack on Iran.

More ominously, Glick reports (likely from sources high up in the Israeli government) that the Obama administration has all but accepted as irreversible and unavoidable fact that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. She writes, "...we have learned that the [Obama] administration has made its peace with Iran's nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the US to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the US will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy."

She goes on to write that the Obama administration is desperate to stop Israel from attacking Iran writing that "as far as the [Obama] administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran's nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself." She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel's doing, not Iran's.

In classic Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the Obama administration is empathizing more with the Iranian leaders who are holding Israel hostage than with the nation that may be wiped off the map if Iran acquires the bomb.

Obama's end-of-the-year deadline for Iranian talks aimed at stopping its progress toward nuclear weapons is just window dressing without the threat of military action. As Metternich wrote "diplomacy without force is like music without instruments." By warning only of possible strengthening of economic sanctions if the talks do not progress, Obama is making an empty threat. The sanctions will likely have no effect because Russia and China will not let the United Nations act as it must if it is to deter Iranian nuclear weapons.

All this means is that Israel's life is in danger. If Iran gets the bomb, it will use it to kill six million Jews. No threat of retaliation will make the slightest difference. One cannot deter a suicide bomber with the threat of death. Nor can one deter a theocracy bent on meriting admission to heaven and its virgins by one glorious act of violence. Iran would probably not launch the bomb itself, anyway, but would give it to its puppet terrorists to send to Israel so it could deny responsibility. Obama, bent on appeasement, would likely not retaliate with nuclear weapons. And Israel will be dead and gone.

Those sunshine Jewish patriots who voted for Obama must realize that we, as Jews, are witnessing the possible end of Israel. We are in the same moral position as our ancestors were as they watched Hitler rise but did nothing to pressure their favorite liberal Democratic president, FDR, to take any real action to save them or even to let Jewish refugees into the country. If we remain complacent, we will have the same anguish at watching the destruction of Israel that our forebears had in witnessing the Holocaust.

Because one thing is increasingly clear: Barack Obama is not about to lift a finger to stop Iran from developing the bomb. And neither is Hillary Clinton.

Obama may have held the first White House cedar [seder?], but he's not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem


Complacent NYC Jews may like to reflect that the Iranian leaders could just as easily put a nuclear device aboard a ship and sail it into NY harbour. There would be no shortage of "martyrs" to man the ship and detonate the bomb


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)