Saturday, June 27, 2009

We've suffered a great loss

While the focus today, tomorrow and for the next God-knows-how-many-days will be the death of a pop culture icon; while many will mourn, wail and quite literally make fools of themselves over it and while as many will speak endlessly about it, allow me, if only for a moment, to remind us all that others have died this month; others whose lives were cut short; others who leave behind loved ones and whose families will dearly miss them; families who'll suffer with much more dignity and honor than we'll be exposed to on the tube in the coming days.

Yes... it's true... we've suffered a great loss... but forgive me while I tell you that I'm not talking about the king of pop music. These American military members died in Iraq this month:

Sergeant Justin J. Duffy
Specialist Christopher M. Kurth
Specialist Charles D. Parrish
Lance Corporal Robert D. Ulmer
Staff Sergeant Edmond L. Lo
Sergeant Joshua W. Soto
Captain Kafele H. Sims
Specialist Chancellor A. Keesling

And these members of our U.S. Armed Forces died in Afghanistan this month:

Sergeant Jones, Ricky D.
Specialist Munguia Rivas, Rodrigo A.
Command Master Chief Petty Officer Garber, Jeffrey J.
1st Sergeant Blair, John D.
Sergeant Smith, Paul G.
Staff Sergeant Melton, Joshua
Sergeant 1st Class Dupont, Kevin A.
Specialist O'Neill, Jonathan C.
Chief Warrant Officer Richardson Jr., Ricky L.
Specialist Silva, Eduardo S.
Lance Corporal Whittle, Joshua R.
Major Barnes, Rocco M.
Major Jenrette, Kevin M.
Staff Sergeant Beale, John C.
Specialist Jordan, Jeffrey W.
Specialist Griemel, Jarrett P.
Specialist Hernandez I, Roberto A.
Sergeant Obakrairur, Jasper K.
Staff Sergeant Hall, Jeffrey A.
Private 1st Class Ogden, Matthew D.
Private 1st Class Wilson, Matthew W.

Let's remember and honor this day those whose deaths are truly impacting. God rest them and God comfort their loved ones they've left behind. And may God use their deaths to remind us all of the shortness of our days.


Pew: Palin Is The Most Popular Republican

By Don Surber

Pew: Palin is the most popular Republican. 73% of Republicans have a favorable opinion of Gov. Sarah Palin (17% unfavorable) while only 57% have a favorable opinion (18% unfavorable) of Mitt Romney.

Now, I may not know much about presidential politics, but I am pretty certain that before one can get elected president, one has to win the party’s nomination first — a concept that Hillary Clinton had a difficult time grasping last year as she began her general election campaign in January instead of the traditional after-winning-the-nomination.

Which leads me to conclude that Mrs. Palin is in the driver’s seat with Gov. Romney riding shotgun.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press polled 1,502 adults on June 10-14. This was at the height of the David Letterman controversy, Letterman having told the Willow Palin joke on June 10. That may have skewed the poll. I don’t know. Also this was an all adults survey, rather than likely voters or even registered voters. That tends to skew the results.

Pew made a big deal about their overall favorable/unfavorable ratings among all voters. It is too early for that comparison. Among all adults, Palin is at 45/44 and Romney is at 40/28 — but by the time the election rolls around, any Republican gets beat up; she’s recovered from 42/48 just before the 2008 election.

Within the party, she is golden. In many ways, her popularity reminds me of Ronald Reagan. She is not as polished as a speaker or as a thinker. Reagan had a very clear — if unfashionable for the time — idea of what America is about in the Carter years. He was considered old and dumb and a good actor.

The 2012 election is way off. But Republicans are known to go with the guy who finished second last time. Is it Mitt Romney, who finished behind John McCain in the primaries? Or is it Sarah Palin, who almost carried McCain to the White House last fall? Republicans seem to be leaning toward Palin



Shift in Political Power Has Catapulted Fox News

Balanced News Channel Could Be Heading for Its Best Year Ever

Fox News is on track to have its most-watched year ever, showing significant ratings growth despite having just come off a highflying election year. With the second quarter coming to a close, Fox News averaged about the same number of viewers as the top three other cable news networks combined. And while rivals including CNN (-22%) and MSNBC (-18%) took hits following last quarter's inauguration-fueled boost, Fox News (-3%) remained nearly steady, Hollywood Reporter reports.

Compared with last year, Fox News (averaging 2.1 million viewers, 509,000 adults 25-54 quarter-to-date) is up 35% over last year in primetime viewers and 48% in the demo. CNN (805,000 viewers, 210,000 in demo) fell 16% in viewers and 29% in the demo. MSNBC (787,000 viewers, 259,000 in demo) climbed 15% in viewers and about on par, -3%, in the demo. And CNN Headline News (553,000, 201,000) showed very strong growth, up 39% and 37%, respectively, and is on track for its best second quarter, reports HR writer James Hibberd.

Earning double-digit growth after an election year is quite a feat for a news network. With Fox News best known for such right-leaning personalities as Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, one might assume having a Democrat in the White House somehow helps boost viewership.

"I don't look at who occupies the White House, I just look at it as news," said Bill Shine, senior VP of programming at Fox News. "How well are you going to report on that news? And certainly, over the course of the last 10 years, we've done a better job at that than anybody else," he told HR. Still, Shine acknowledged that a Barack Obama presidency probably helps because viewers will "see some sides of an issue that they won't see elsewhere."



The Albany-Trenton-Sacramento Disease

How three liberal states got into deep trouble with 'progressive' ideas

President Obama has bet the economy on his program to grow the government and finance it with a more progressive tax system. It's hard to miss the irony that he's pitching this change in Washington even as the same governance model is imploding in three of the largest American states where it has been dominant for years -- California, New Jersey and New York.

A decade ago all three states were among America's most prosperous. California was the unrivaled technology center of the globe. New York was its financial capital. New Jersey is the third wealthiest state in the nation after Connecticut and Massachusetts. All three are now suffering from devastating budget deficits as the bills for years of tax-and-spend governance come due. These states have been models of "progressive" policies that are supposed to create wealth: high tax rates on the rich, lots of government "investments," heavy unionization and a large government role in health care.

Here's a rundown on the results: Government spending as economic stimulus. State-local spending per capita is $12,505 in New York (second highest after Alaska), $10,136 per person in California (fourth) and $9,574 in New Jersey (seventh).

Has all this public sector "investment" translated into jobs? Not quite. California had the nation's third highest jobless rate in May (11.5%). New Jersey and New York had below average unemployment rates in May compared to the national average of 9.4%, but one reason is that so many discouraged workers have left those states. From 1998-2007, which included two booms on Wall Street, New York and New Jersey ranked 36th and 31st in job creation. From 2000 to 2007, the New Jersey Business & Industry Association calculates that nine out of 10 new Garden State jobs were in the government.

Soak the rich. Mr. Obama plans to pay for his government investments through higher tax rates on the top 1% and 2% of taxpayers. Our troika of liberal states are champions at soaking the rich. The state-local income tax burden, according to the Tax Foundation, is the highest in the nation in New York, second highest in California and sixth in New Jersey. New York City boasts the highest business tax rate, 17.6%, according to a study by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Seven of the 10 highest property tax counties in America are located in New Jersey.

Instead of balanced budgets, these high taxes have produced record red ink. California's deficit for 2010 is projected at $33.9 billion, New Jersey's $7 billion and New York's $17.9 billion, despite multiple tax increases this decade. The Manhattan Institute finds that three-quarters of the loss in revenues this year in Albany is a result of reduced income tax payments by rich people even though the state keeps raising taxes on high earners.

California's debt burden has multiplied so fast that it now has the worst bond rating of any state, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislators are pleading with Washington to command the other 49 states to pay off its IOUs. The interest rates on Golden State bonds have nearly tripled in the last two years.

Powerful unions. Mr. Obama believes union power is a ticket to the middle class. The middle class is getting creamed in all three of these "progressive" states, where organized labor is king. The unionized share of the workforce is 20% in California, 19% in New Jersey and 27% in New York compared to 13% across the country. All three are non-right-to-work states, have super-minimum wage requirements and provide among the nation's most generous public-employee pensions.

Workers in these paradises are indeed uniting -- by leaving. New York ranks first, California second and New Jersey third in moving vans leaving the state. A study by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research found that over the past decade these and other high-union states (mostly in the Northeast) had one-third the job growth of states with low union penetration.

Government health care. New York, New Jersey and California are among the leading states in government spending on and intervention into the medical market. A 2008 study by the Pacific Research Institute ranked the states on the basis of government regulation of health care and found that New York is most regulated, while New Jersey ranks sixth and California seventh. "New York," the report declares, "suffers from government health programs that are out of control, a grossly overregulated private insurance market and almost completely uncompetitive provider markets."

Have government controls and Medicaid expansions ("the public option") lowered costs? Here is what the American Health Insurance Plans found. For family coverage annual premiums in 2006-07, the national median cost was roughly $5,300; in California it was $5,884, in New Jersey $10,398, and in New York $12,254. New York's coverage mandates cause families to pay more than twice what they do in other states for insurance.

As a result, California and New York have more than one-third of their residents uninsured or in Medicaid -- much higher than the national average of 25%. More government involvement in health care in California, New Jersey and New York has raised costs and often reduced private coverage. That's hardly a model for the nation.

So goes the real-life experience of progressive governance, with heavy tax burdens financing huge welfare states, and state capitals dominated by public-employee unions. Formerly rich states, they are now known for job losses, booming deficits and debt, wage stagnation, out-migration and laughing-stock legislatures. At least Americans have the ability to flee these ill-governed states for places that still welcome wealth creators. The debate in Washington now is whether to spread this antigrowth model across the entire country.




Report: FEMA misspent $7 million: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency ignored the law and misused millions of dollars to build two warehouses after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, according to government investigators. Some of the money FEMA misused should have gone toward Katrina victims in Louisiana, according to a Homeland Security Inspector General report obtained by the Associated Press. The report is expected to be released today. ‘FEMA had no authority to use appropriated funds to construct the two buildings,’ the investigators said, adding that the agency violated a prohibition against agreeing to spend money without congressional authority.”

Spain reins in crusading judges: “For more than a decade, a drab, beige building in central Madrid has been the global destination of choice for anyone wanting to file allegations of genocide, torture and crimes against humanity. The Audiencia Nacional — National Criminal Court — has heard complaints of human-rights abuses as far afield as Guatemala, Rwanda, Chile, Tibet, Gaza and Guantanamo Bay. Currently, 10 cases from five continents are being investigated by Spanish judges, under the principle of ‘universal jurisdiction,’ which holds that some crimes are so grave that they can be tried anywhere, regardless of where the offences were committed. In a recent statement, almost 100 organisations collectively praised Spain’s ‘pioneering approach,’ gushing that the country ’should feel proud of itself’ for becoming a reference point for other nations. Except, Spain’s left-leaning government sees things rather differently.”

“As naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined” : "Property rights were probably the last thing on President Barack Obama’s mind when he selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter. But that hasn’t stopped Sotomayor’s nomination from reigniting the long-simmering national debate over the use and abuse of eminent domain. The controversy centers on Sotomayor’s vote in a 2006 eminent domain case, Didden v. Village of Port Chester. New York entrepreneur Bart Didden says Port Chester condemned his land after he refused to pay $800,000 (or grant a 50 percent stake in his business) to a developer hired by the village. One day after Didden refused to pay those bribes, Port Chester began eminent domain proceedings against him. As University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein put it, ‘The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined.’ But that didn’t stop Judge Sotomayor and two of her colleagues on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals from upholding the district court decision that ruled in favor of the village.”

How not to help the poor : "People often talk about ‘a culture of poverty’ as if being mired in dependency and despair is a personal choice. But what if government contributes to that culture with counterproductive rules that keep struggling families down? Today, a special state commission will release a report that identifies bureaucratic barriers to climbing out of poverty — some familiar, some new — and recommends ways to correct them. The Massachusetts Asset Development Commission spent the past 18 months looking for ways that low-income people can build up financial cushions, becoming less dependent on state assistance and providing a better foundation for their children. ‘Assets’ can be something as simple as a used car for getting to work, a savings account, or a less tangible benefit such as an education or vocational skills. They are the keys to financial stability.”

Hope versus reality : “There is an element about public choice theory that economists do not emphasize often enough, namely, that the objectives of regulators are often very obscure, unclear, even contradictory. For example, governments often embark on historical preservation but at the same time they are supposed to make sure that building and other facilities are properly managed, kept safe, etc. But historical preservation mostly require keeping things in their original form, while the pursuit of safety involves making use of the most up to date technology and science. One can generalize this kind of conflict within government policies all over the place — which is what accounts for vigilant propaganda against smoking while tobacco farmers keep receiving government subsidies.”

Fueling controversy : “Gaza on the Mediterranean, with an offshore natural gas resource worth an estimated $4 billion and with Palestinian statehood believed an imminent proposition, should be looking at the brightest possible future. But still abject poverty and hopelessness rack Gaza and the standard explanation by many Arabs and Western media is to depict the Palestinians as in a permanent state of Israeli-inflicted victimhood. Gaza is the poster case of how radical Islamism, exemplified by Hamas, has such a difficulty to absorb modernity and Gaza’s problems surely must be related to the 2006 Hamas takeover and the ensuing low-level civil war between Hamas and Fatah that controls the West Bank. As such it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Palestinians are to a large extent responsible for their own misfortunes.”

Privatize the Post Office: “The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may be the next too-big thing if it continues on its present course. It stands to post $6 billion to $12 billion in losses by the end of the fiscal year. So far, USPS has depended on loans from the Federal Financing Bank to help make up the difference, but it’s fast approaching its $15 billion credit limit. Something has to give, says the Washington Post. The USPS has asked Congress to omit a rider on an annual appropriations bill that mandates six-day service, opening the possibility of five-day delivery as a cost-cutting measure. It has also requested a temporary relaxation of its pension program obligations, enabling it to put nearly $2 billion toward breaking even. Both these short-term fixes fail to address the challenges facing USPS.”

UK: Hackers recruited to help fight against cybercrime : “Reformed computer hackers are being recruited by the Government to defend Britain from international crime gangs and terrorists plotting cyber attacks on the country. With internet fraud costing billions of pounds a year and Whitehall computer systems facing repeated assaults from abroad, ministers are hiring hackers to protect state secrets. A new ‘cyber security operations centre’ at GCHQ in Cheltenham will monitor attempts, many orchestrated from abroad, to infiltrate the national computer network.”

Journalism and the British expenses scandal: “Sunday Telegraph editor Ian Macgregor was our guest at a power lunch in Westminster this week. His topic was ‘The importance of journalism in modern society.’ And of course, that’s a topic that Telegraph have earned a right to talk about in the last couple of months, with their brilliantly handled investigation into MPs expenses. There’s no question the story has been good for the Telegraph’s business, winning them many thousands of new readers. But I also think they have performed a genuine public service, by making people realize that you just can’t trust politicians to be responsible with taxpayers’ money.”


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


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


Friday, June 26, 2009

Radicalism, Rewarded

There’s never been a better time to be an enemy of the United States of America. Whether you’re a trained jihadist in US custody, a diminutive cult leader starving his own people while developing nukes, or part of a ruthless regime that murders dissidents in broad daylight, you can rest assured that the United States government is unlikely to act—or perhaps even speak—in a manner likely to disrupt your daily routine. While invoking “our values,” hailing the importance of American humility, and rejecting the “failed policies of the past,” the current administration is projecting a dangerous image to the world. This approach may be extolled as cautious pragmatism on the Beltway cocktail party circuit, but it’s most assuredly perceived as something entirely different by America’s current and emerging adversaries around the globe: Weakness.

Within days of assuming office, President Obama ostentatiously announced his intention to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within one year. That his administration had no workable plan to do so was beside the point; details were not about to obstruct the path to Hopenchange. Obama has since been thrashed by former Vice President Cheney in a public debate on this matter, and public opinion polls are trending decisively against his rushed and irresponsible decision.

Nevertheless, to avoid allowing a campaign promise to go by the wayside—while (quietly) adopting yet another staple of the previous administration's supposed failures—Obama has been working hard to relocate Gitmo detainees. He first floated the idea of releasing some of the supposedly least threatening blokes, Chinese Uighurs, onto US soil, where they’d be supported with welfare checks. His own party was so receptive to that lead balloon that they voted down funding to close the prison altogether. Obama then went knocking at the collective door of the same “international community” that had decried the facility’s very existence for years. Strangely, none of those nations were especially keen on welcoming radical Islamists onto their streets. After being rebuffed more than 100 times, the president finally identified two takers; the island paradises of Bermuda and Palau.

After training with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Uighers were caught on the battlefield (the terrorist Miranda warning policy wasn’t in effect at the time—a grave injustice) and transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where they were afforded soccer, television, and pizza privileges. Their TV viewing got a bit dicey at times, as they reportedly destroyed a television set after being subjected to the obscene image of a woman’s bare arms. Aside from picayune details like that, they’re generally regarded as a pretty reasonable, well-adjusted bunch. They’re now arriving in exotic vacation destinations, along with millions of US tax dollars in aid—making themselves at home on pristine tropical islands. Islands, mind you, that most law-abiding, tax-paying, non-terrorist American citizens couldn’t afford to visit right now, given the current economy. Wage war against the West, and you too might end up catching rays in Bermuda! What a deal.

Meanwhile, the plump, aging woman who rules North Korea has been conspicuously misbehaving for months. The White House has been attempting to determine a productive way forward that—needless to say—bears no resemblance to those failed policies of the past. Remember, the era of US hubris, in which America “punishes” outlaw regimes by refusing to legitimize them, is over. So when Kim Jong Il’s military test fired a missile in April, the Pentagon was instructed not to deploy its most sophisticated missile-tracking technology to, well, track a missile launched illegally by an enemy regime. Why? As the Washington Times’ Bill Gertz reported at the time, officials were concerned that employing our superior technology simply to gather data on North Korea’s test would “provoke” the North Koreans.

The North Koreans, in turn, have exhibited their appreciation for the administration’s non-provocative, humble, “smart power” approach by conducting multiple additional proscribed weapons tests, and pledging to lob a ballistic missile toward US soil on July 4th. So it’s back to the ever-useful bargaining table, it would seem.

Speaking of July 4th, guess who’s coming to dinner at US embassies across the globe? Despite fomenting historic internal unrest by shamelessly rigging an election, denouncing and taunting the aforementioned international community, callously beating and slaying its own reform-minded citizens in the streets, and unilaterally declaring all nuclear negotiations permanently “closed,” envoys of the profoundly evil Iranian regime are invited to Independence Day barbeques hosted by top American diplomats. As State Department spokesman Ian Kelly blithely explained, “We have made a strategic decision to engage on a number of fronts with Iran.”

“Therefore,” he might has well have continued, “literally no level of Iranian barbarity will dissuade us from the undeniable wisdom of inviting to Iranian representatives to our parties, and we just can’t wait to start a dialogue.”

President Obama has insisted for days that America must not “meddle” in Iran’s business, despite demonstrators’ pleas for Western support, and in the face of much stronger statements from European leaders. In fairness, Obama has finally begun playing rhetorical catch-up with John McCain and Nicholas Sarkozy. Still, in his public statements, Iran’s unapologetic meddling in our business (funding terrorism, killing American soldiers in Iraq) goes unmentioned, as does his own administration’s overt meddling in Israel’s internal affairs.

A primary reason for Obama’s rhetorical reticence is his stubborn commitment to the campaign-promise-turned-inoperable-fantasy that he might actually manage to strike a historic accord with the regime in Tehran through direct, unconditional negotiations. In light of recent developments, this notion is more absurd than ever, yet Obama cannot let it go. Consequently, he’s hedging, taking pains to avoid inflaming the Ahmadinejad/Khameini unholy alliance by siding with pro-freedom demonstrators (which they’ve accused him of anyway) in the hopes of eventually inducing them into rational and honest negotiations.

Even if one fully endorses Obama’s no-meddling policy, how can the July 4th barbeque invitation decision possibly be justified? Not only is Obama assuring these theocrat thugs that he won’t lift a finger to stop their violent suppression of millions yearning for freedom, his State Department is taking this posture a step further by reaffirming Iranian emissaries’ friendly invitations to American-hosted parties. Parties held on a day that celebrates freedom from tyranny, no less. He’s not simply refraining from undue interference. He’s actually rewarding coercive despotism. It’s a shameful low point in this young administration’s history.

Enemies of America, this is your moment. This is your time. Considering joining the jihad? If captured, you’ll be read your rights, spared any and all harsh interrogation methods, and might even win an all-expenses-paid trip to a hot vacation spot. Hankering for some illicit WMDs? We’ll bend over backwards to avoid appearing provocative. Want to attend a fun summer BBQ? Just mercilessly quash a reformist uprising in your country, slaughter some unarmed young women, vow to wipe Israel off the face of the planet, and relentlessly pursue nuclear weapons. The State Department’s e-vite to should be arriving any minute.



Monitor ABC World News Sponsors in Light of White House "Town Hall" Meeting on Health Care

New Webpage Provides List to Public

In light of the ABC World News program's decision to host a "Town Hall" meeting on health care at the White House without opposition participation, the National Center for Public Policy Research is making a list of ABC World News sponsors available online for those who wish to boycott sponsors or/or send a letter of protest to them.

The list of sponsors includes sponsors from the June 18, 2009 program - the date ABC announced the White House-based program would take place - to the present and beyond, and is available at

"Town Hall meetings are generally understood to cover a wide range of viewpoints," said National Center for Public Policy Research president Amy Ridenour, "and network newscasts are supposed to be objective. Yet ABC is holding a Town Meeting with the chief backer of government-run health care at a venue entirely favorable to him, and inviting opposition only in the form of questions to him from a generalized audience placed in an entirely inferior position. An objective conversation is impossible under those conditions."

"Moreover," said Ridenour, "ABC News has refused offers from opponents of the President's plan even to buy paid advertising during scheduled commercial breaks. ABC is not only pitching for Obama, it's pitching him a no-hitter."

"Many Americans, probably millions, believe so-called 'ObamaCare' will lead to shortages of health care services, leading to pain, misery and even death," Ridenour continued, "as this is the experience of every nation that has tried government-run health care so far, The health care debate is literally life-and-death, yet ABC is treating it like an afternoon tea at the White House."

"Because of this," she concluded, "the National Center for Public Policy Research is posting online a list of all the sponsors of ABC World News since ABC announced this program, and we encourage people to make their views -- including, if they so choose, with their wallets -- known to ABC's sponsors."

The list of ABC World News sponsors can be found online here.




I have just put up on my Scripture blog an article about John Calvin -- for those who are interested in Christian history.

There is an article here which not only points out that Hitler learnt his eugenics from America but also shows that the American system was twisted and crooked too.

Iran’s unrest: Opportunity or threat? : "Iran’s Sunni Arab neighbors have long feared its revolutionary rhetoric, its Islamist political style, and its popularity among many of their own citizens for its strident criticism of Israel. With that background, one would expect the Arab states to be jumping for joy at the political turmoil in Iran, a Shiite oil power. But so far their response has been muted to non-existent. Here’s why: The mechanism that has created Iran’s biggest political crisis since the Islamic revolution in 1979 is street power, the voice of a disenfranchised populace. And while that might eventually deliver a regime in Iran that Arab states would be more comfortable with, it also provides a powerful immediate example of the sort of popular sovereignty that the autocratic Arab regimes fear most.”

MA: State cuts health coverage by $115 million: “Overseers of Massachusetts’ trailblazing healthcare program made their first cuts yesterday, trimming $115 million, or 12 percent, from Commonwealth Care, which subsidizes premiums for needy residents and is the centerpiece of the 2006 law. The board of the Connector Authority made the cuts as officials confronted two side effects of the recession: the state budget crisis and a surge in enrollment by the recently unemployed. The largest share of the savings will come from slowing enrollment. An estimated 18,000 poor residents who qualify for full subsidies, but who forget to designate a health plan, will no longer be automatically assigned a plan and enrolled and thus could face delays in getting care"

Racism in the market and voting booth: “Nobody likes racism. At least, nobody whose opinion we should take seriously likes racism. Many argue that private racism provides a justification for state intervention to ensure everyone is treated fairly. When we carefully look at basic economic theory and the historical record, though, it becomes clear that government is much more likely to produce racism than to prevent it.”

Obama’s Iran policy is a bomb : “Here is the one immutable fact of Barack Obama’s foreign-policy agenda as it relates to Iran: It’s over. The rule book he came in with is as irrelevant as a tourist guide to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. If the forces of reform and democracy win, Obama’s plan to negotiate with the regime is moot, for the regime will be gone. And if the forces of reform are crushed into submission by the regime, Obama’s plan is moot, because the regime will still be there.”

The nirvana fallacy: “President Obama has announced his ’sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system.’ We can debate endlessly whether the Constitution authorizes any president to ‘overhaul’ the financial system. But I want to focus on a different matter: whether any president, with all his advisers, is capable of overseeing something as complex as the financial system. My answer is no, and it is ominous that a bright guy like Obama doesn’t know this.”

Finally, a state that cuts tax rates on the rich: "At last, there's a place in America where tax cutting to promote growth and attract jobs is back in fashion. Who would have thought it would be Maine? This month the Democratic legislature and Governor John Baldacci broke with Obamanomics and enacted a sweeping tax reform that is almost, but not quite, a flat tax. The new law junks the state's graduated income tax structure with a top rate of 8.5% and replaces it with a simple 6.5% flat rate tax on almost everyone. Those with earnings above $250,000 will pay a surtax rate of 0.35%, for a 6.85% rate. Maine's tax rate will fall to 20th from seventh highest among the states. To offset the lower rates and a larger family deduction, the plan cuts the state budget by some $300 million to $5.8 billion, closes tax loopholes and expands the 5% state sales tax to services that have been exempt, such as ski lift tickets. This is a big income tax cut, especially given that so many other states in the Northeast and East -- Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York -- have been increasing rates. "We're definitely going against the grain here," Mr. Baldacci tells us. "We hope these lower tax rates will encourage and reward work, and that the lower capital gains tax [of 6.85%] brings more investment into the state."


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, June 25, 2009

Thirst for freedom takes root in dust

By Janet Albrechtsen, an Australian commentator

As adults wonder aloud and in print about the finer details of what is happening in Iran, whether opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi is truly a moderate given his history as a member of the political establishment; whether a leadership change would change Iran’s poisonous relations with the West; whether US President Barack Obama struck the correct cautionary note in responding to a rigged election and violent militias operating under the nose of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without stoking stories of a US-led coup, Australian children should hear - and understand - the simpler, more basic yearnings of Iranians for democracy.

I want our children to see how a green democracy takes roots, not just through a technology that is their own - Facebook and Twitter - but the old-fashioned way, in the hearts and minds of Iranians from all walks of life, finally ready to march in the streets. I want them to see the human dignity in people who have the courage to confront a leader who described them as “dirt and dust”, a leader who condones the killing and imprisonment of people whose only crime it is to want to control their own destiny.

Newspapers here in Europe devote page after page to the hunger for democracy among millions of Iranians. That hunger ought to be mandatory reading for all in the West, young and old. Especially the young, those who may be most inclined to take democracy for granted. But also for the old - or older, those who are daily following the battles normal in an established, functioning democracy - arguing over debts and deficits, over ute-gate and political lobbying. Compared to our political debates, there is nothing grander than listening to the first murmurs of democracy from those who have been silenced and manipulated, repressed and ignored by their leaders.

No one can explain why this is happening now. As Michael McFaul from the US National Security Council said: “In retrospect, all revolutions seem inevitable. Beforehand, all revolutions seem impossible.” For years we were told that a slim hope of a reformed Iran lay among the pro-Western educated Iranian middle classes. But we were also told they were outnumbered by the poorer rural voters who supported Ahmadinejad’s anti-West tirades.

Then, after days of demonstrations, tens of thousands of protesters gathered last Thursday in 35C heat, filling Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Square in the poorer south-central part of Tehran, voicing passions that cross class. Britain’s The Guardian newspaper carried some of those voices.

Frustrated by the ruling party’s more recent blockade of mobile phone and internet reception, Morteza Amani, a 25-year-old, said: “They can block SMS and emails, but how can they block hearts? Nearly a million (people) have gathered here in Imam Khomeini Square, although they didn’t have any source of information except for people distributing the news on the streets to each other ... One of the good consequences of these protests is that the world now sees the true Iran and how strong they are to injustice.”

And 29-year-old secretary Somayeh Bahari, who told The Guardian that “For years this regime wanted to hide the real Iran from the world. Today the world is witnessing the real Iran.”

And 60-year-old retiree Hashem Riazi, who dispelled the myth that opposition is only among the educated while Ahmadinejad has the support of the rural poor. “You see the real Iran today in this square; you see rich, poor, young, old, tight hijab, bad hijab, all kind of people. They are not just a specific class of people in our society, they are from all classes.”

As Eric Hoogland, editor of the journal Middle East Critique, wrote: “Is it possible that rural Iran, where less than 35percent of the country’s population lives, provided Ahmadinejad the 63percent of the vote he claims to have won?” The answer is no as he detailed how villagers from towns such as Bagh-e Iman in the Zagros Mountains, most of them under the age of 18, were outraged at the rigged election.

The young wear T-shirts and headbands demanding to know “where is my vote?” They chant slogans such as “we are not dirt and dust, we are Iran’s nation”. Writing from Tehran for the International Herald Tribune, Roger Cohen comes across a four-year-old boy publicly mocking the Iranian President. In the streets where people gather to protest, a man asks the reporter “Where are you from?” When Cohen tells him he is from the US the man says, “Please give our regards to freedom.”

These are the voices I want school students in the West to hear if only to remind them that democracy is a universal aspiration. Could it be that history will now record George W. Bush more kindly than his critics would prefer? What is happening in Iran cannot be separated from what has happened in Iraq. This year, during provincial elections in Iraq, Iraqis came to polling booths in their millions to vote, by an overwhelming margin, for national, secularist parties. Iraqi security forces - not coalition troops - ensured Iraqis could vote safely and securely. There were no suicide bombers endangering polling stations. People turned up with their children to cast their vote.

As Winston Churchill said, “at the bottom of all the high-sounding tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper. No amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly palliate the overwhelming importance of that point.” Lambasted for speaking about exporting “Western values” to the Muslim world, it turns out the former US president was right to remind us that people, whatever their religion, class or creed, will ultimately seek out and embrace democracy. That yearning, now unfolding in Iran, will one day be written up as one of the finer lessons of history.



Obama and the Ayatollahs

As between freedom and dictatorship, in principle Obama is fine with dictatorship — we are seeing less and less freedom in our own country, and I believe Obama (who is dirigiste by nature) values stability over the rambunctiousness of a free society. He has certain values, and while he'd be delighted to have a free society arrive at them, he'd rather see them imposed if the alternative was a free society likely to shun them.

As for "anti-American," I think Obama's sense of the term is different from yours and mine. Obama agrees with a lot of the anti-Americanism that we hear from both apologists for radical Islam and the Left (many of whom are the same people). While the mullahs may be "anti-American" as we understand that term, Obama doesn't think they would be resolutely anti the America that he intends to shape. I think he sincerely believes he could deal with the mullahs and make them less anti-American than they now are, once they realize how he is reversing a lot of what offends them (and him) about America.

I'm not suggesting that Obama loves the mullahs or that he wants to turn America into Iran. I am not saying Obama wants the mullahs to abuse their own people — I'm sure he'd prefer this all to end without (further) bloodshed. I am merely saying that (a) the president does not think the mullahs are evil, (b) he thinks they have a point, (c) he thinks he can forge a rapprochement and deal effectively with them (though he is under no illusions about stopping their nuclear ambitions), (d) he is not a big believer in freedom, and (e) he thinks the world would be more stable and easier for him to navigate if the mullahs win.

First, if you look at the sweeping changes that have occurred in the past five months, I think what I argued before the election about the significance of Obama's Leftist background and radical connections was on the mark. Second, I am saying what I am saying because I respect the president. As I said in the last post, I don't think he is weak at all. To the contrary, I think he has strategic goals that he pursues in highly disciplined, tactical pragmatism. He is a force to be reckoned with, and I don't think you reckon with him by hopefully assuming that, on some level, he shares our ideas about what's best for the country and the world. I credit him for wanting what's best — but only as he sees it.




Iran: Military charges family of dead son “bullet fee”: “The family of Kaveh Alipour, a 19-year-old Iranian killed amidst protests in Tehran, was allegedly charged a ‘bullet fee’ by Iranian security forces, according to a report Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal. ‘Upon learning of his son’s death, the elder Mr. Alipour was told the family had to pay an equivalent of $3,000 as a ‘bullet fee’ (a fee for the bullet used by security forces) before taking the body back,’ relatives purportedly told the Journal. Details of Alipour’s death remain unclear — he was apparently not part of the protests and may have been killed in crossfire.”

Ten days that shook Tehran: “Given its monopoly of guns, bet on the Iranian regime. But, in the long run, the ayatollahs have to see the handwriting on the wall. Let us assume what they insist upon — that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the June 12 election; that, even if fraud occurred, it did not decide the outcome. As Ayatollah Khamenei said to loud laughter in his Friday sermon declaring the election valid, ‘Perhaps 100,000, or 500,000, but how can anyone tamper with 11 million votes?’ Still, the ayatollah and Ahmadinejad must hear the roar of the rapids ahead. Millions of Iranians, perhaps a majority of the professional class and educated young, who shouted, ‘Death to the Dictatorship,’ oppose or detest them. How can the regime maintain its present domestic course or foreign policy with its people so visibly divided? Where do the ayatollah and Ahmadinejad go from here?”

A dangerous precedent: "Here's a political thought experiment: Imagine that terrorists stage an attack on U.S. soil in the next four years. In the recriminations afterward, Administration officials are sued by families of the victims for having advised in legal memos that Guantanamo be closed and that interrogations of al Qaeda detainees be limited. Should those officials be personally liable for the advice they gave President Obama? We'd say no, but that's exactly the kind of lawsuit that the political left, including State Department nominee Harold Koh, has encouraged against Bush Administration officials. This month a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that a civil suit filed by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla can proceed against former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo for violating the terrorist's rights. Mr. Yoo is one of those who wrote memos laying out the legal parameters for aggressive interrogation of al Qaeda captives. If Mr. Yoo can be sued, why couldn't Obama officials also be held liable for their advice if there's an attack on their watch?"

AZ: County feud costs taxpayers $1.1 million : "Disputes among Maricopa County officials over the past 11 months have cost taxpayers $1.1 million in fees, according to an analysis released Monday by the Office of Management and Budget. The fees include billings to date for six legal actions, cases in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio, County Attorney Andrew Thomas, County Treasurer Charles Hoskins and the Board of Supervisors have fought each other in court. The money includes costs associated with a grand-jury proceeding focused on the $340 million court-tower project. Like all government in the current economy, the county’s budget is tight. On Monday, the supervisors adopted a $2.1 billion budget for fiscal 2010, reflecting a $122 million reduction from 2009. Administrators expect that 200 employees will lose their jobs during the early part of the fiscal year. According to County Manager David Smith, that $1.1 million in legal fees could fund 20 low-level county jobs. Officials on all sides agree that the money spent fighting each other is a waste, but no one sees a way to stop it.”

US, Kyrgyzstan reach deal on air base use: “The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan tentatively approved a deal on Tuesday that should allow the U.S. to continue shipping military hardware and troops crucial to operations in Afghanistan through an air base in the Central Asian state. U.S. forces had in February been ordered out of the Manas air base by a presidential decree that stunned Washington and drew suspicion that Kyrgyzstan was acting under the influence of Russia, which staunchly opposes Western military presence near its borders. Russia also has a base in Kyrgyzstan.”

FL: Tea party organizers plan Independence Day protests: “More than two months after the nationwide tax day protests, anti-tax tea party groups are planning to again take to the streets. They will again be protesting, but this time they also intend to mark the nation’s birth. Plans are being crafted between the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County tea party groups, as well as others in Florida and across the nation, to hold protests on July 2 outside the offices of congressional members who support President Barack Obama’s health care plans.”

Census, ACORN and other fertilizer: “Greetings fellow prisoners! Live from inside the Blue Curtain! It’s almost time for the 2010 Census. Says here that if you refuse to answer any questions you can be fined $5000 per refusal and imprisoned! I intend to answer every question like this: How many people in your home? 2 (me and my cat) (this is the only question they’re supposed to ask) How much money do you make? All of it, but my printer is broken right now. … You get the idea. There is absolutely nothing in the census law that says they have to like the answers you give.”

Bid to expand knife ban doesn't cut it with critics: "Hunters, whittlers and Boy Scouts, beware - your knives may soon be on the government's chopping block. The Obama administration wants to expand the 50-year-old ban on importing "switchblades" to include folding knives that can be opened with one hand, stirring fears the government may on the path to outlawing most pocket knives. Critics, including U.S. knife manufacturers and collectors, the National Rifle Association, sportsmen's groups and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, say the rule change proposed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would rewrite U.S. law defining what constitutes a switchblade and potentially make de facto criminals of the estimated 35 million Americans who use folding knives. "Boy Scout knives, Swiss Army knives - the most basic of knives can be opened one-handed if you know what you are doing," said Doug Ritter, executive director of Knife Rights, an advocacy group fighting to defeat the measure. "The outrage is gaining steam," he said."


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


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


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iran: “Conservatives” and Liberals

Comment by David Yeagley below. I add some further notes at the foot of his post

In the great American liberal media, the word “conservative” represents the bad guys, the meanies. Any liberal media report on Iran’s current crisis will use the world “conservative” in reference to the mullahs, Ahmadinejad, and the present regime. By contrast, anyone who respects human rights (sometimes called “freedom”) is to be called “liberal.”

The truth is exactly the opposite. This is not something that should be ignored, unnoticed, or not condemned.

Liberals think the conservatives are those clinging to tradition, or to “their guns or religion,” as Barry Soetoro, acting US president, declared. This is a highly relative, subjective call. When applied to the country of Iran, liberal media shows the classic example of partiality, selective history, and gigantic ignorance.

The tradition of Iran is Persia. The foundational identity of Persia is the reign of the Achamenid emperors, from Cyrus the Great (560-530 BC) through Darius III (336-330 BC). This is the era known for general humanitarian sentiments, internationalism, and advanced civilization. This is Iran. Islam is an Arab religion, brought to Iran by the invading slaughters from Arabia in the 8th century AD. There is nothing Persian about this religion, language, or culture. Iran’s Persian culture has survived today because of patriots like Ferdowsi, Persian patriots, who resisted the Arab Islamicist’s attempt to obliterate Persian glory.

The Iranians who want to honor and preserve their Persian identity are the true conservatives of Iran. The mullahs are coercivists, just like American liberals, like Barry Soetoro in the White House, who want to coerce their ideas on the American people. Coercion is the liberal way.

It is a grave error to equate American conservatism with the Islamic regime in Iran. This is simply grossly mistaken, and should not be ignored. The AP wire by “ALI AKBAR DAREINI and BRIAN MURPHY” demonstrates the typical error:
a state-run television channel reported that a suicide bombing at the shrine of the Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini killed at least two people and wounded eight. The report could be not independently evaluated due to government restrictions on journalists. If proven true, the reports could enrage conservatives and bring strains among backers of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Note that the “conservatives” are those who support the Islamic regime. Therefore, the “liberals” must be anyone who opposes them.

I say it is time to correct this error. Liberals in America will of course try to take credit for anything good that comes out of the opposition movement in Iran. It’s time the lying deceivers were exposed.


This same problem arose in the dying days of the old Soviet union. Hardliners there too were often called "conservatives" in the Western media. Journalists saw nothing strange in calling Communists "conservatives"! That is the sort of blindness that could only come out of Left-dominated journalism schools.

The mistake arises from the very simple-minded nature of Leftism. Leftists define the political spectrum purely in terms of attitude to the status quo. They are against it so conservatives must be for it. But conservatives such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were great changers of the status quo so does that make them Leftists? Clearly not. So defining politics solely in terms of attitude to the status quo is brain-dead. While it is true that rejection of the status quo defines Leftists pretty well, what defines conservatives is something quite different: A desire for individual liberty. But Leftists know that to change the status quo significantly you need coercive power: the power of government in particular. And conservatives don't want to be coerced. They want individuals to be able to make their own decisions as freely as possible. So that is why the Left and the Right clash.

The Soviets, the Ayatollahs and American "liberals" are the ones who are three peas in a pod: They all depend on the coercive power of the State in order to get their way. Conservatives don't want to get their way. They just want to be left alone to do their own thing. Sadly, however, we have to fight the left in order to be left alone. I say much more about the nature of conservatism here -- with particular reference to the history and psychology of conservatism


That fierce Jewish drive and ambition leads to public distinction yet again. Bercow becomes Speaker of the British House of Commons

But, as a "turncoat", he is loathed by his own Conservative party. A wise Jew foresaw this and was horrified. I also have made some previous comments in this general area

How the former secretary of the repatriation committee of the notorious Monday Club became a Tory Speaker elected on almost entirely Labour support is testament to years of work by the MP from Buckinghamshire and the deep cynicism of his backers. Few dispute the fervour with which John Bercow wanted to succeed Michael Martin, a campaign that he has been waging by stealth for months. Indeed, a burning ambition sustained him through a vicious “anti-Bercow” campaign by Tory MPs and parts of the media, much of which had the tacit support of David Cameron, his erstwhile parliamentary tennis partner.

Yet by 11am yesterday morning it was clear that his support on the Labour benches was making him unstoppable, pushing him to victory by 52 votes — a wider margin than some of Gordon Brown’s critical votes.

Mr Bercow did not escape criticism over his parliamentary expenses, paying to Revenue & Customs the £6,500 that he avoided in capital gains tax after “flipping” his second-home allowance.

He is the first Jewish Speaker and at 46, the youngest since Charles Shaw-Lefevre, Viscount Eversley, who was 45 on election in 1839. The result yesterday is a tribute to the organising power of Martin Salter, the Labour MP for Reading — Mr Bercow’s neighbouring constituency — and serial rebel and their desire to punish the Tories for ousting Mr Martin. But who exactly did he persuade them to sign up for?

At first he looks like an unlikely candidate for widespread Labour support. The son of a taxi driver who went to a comprehensive school, in his teenage years he was an exceptional tennis player destined for Wimbledon until his chances were dashed by glandular fever. From this point he became more political. At 18, inspired by the speeches of Enoch Powell and concerned about the impact of mass immigration, he joined the Monday Club — a right-wing Conservative pressure group founded in 1970 that was notable for having promoted a policy of voluntary, or assisted, repatriation for non-white immigrants.

At the University of Essex, he fought battles with the Left and became national chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students. It was the era of “hang Nelson Mandela” T-shirts in the Tory party — he says he never wore one — and one that he would rather forget.

He went into banking before joining the Major Government in its final days as a special adviser, first to Jonathan Aitken — before the minister resigned to fight a libel suit with The Guardian — and then Virginia Bottomley. In 1997, on his third attempt, he became an MP, with a smooth ascent through the opposition ranks, pausing only once to declare that he did not consider himself ruthless enough to reach the top of politics.

Then, in 2002, came the event that defined his political career — his resignation from the Tory front bench in protest at Iain Duncan Smith’s decision to impose a three-line whip on MPs in the debate on gay adoption. Although he was brought back by Michael Howard, this event proved seminal as he “came out” as a moderate Conservative. “It’s true that I’ve got the zeal of the convert but that doesn’t mean that the conversion is any less genuine or that the need for constant repetition of the message is any less great,” he said days after the resignation. “It was extremely ill judged to prescribe how Tory members should vote on that subject. It defies common sense that there can be only one Conservative view on this subject.”

From then on, he was treated differently by Tory MPs and, as if to underline his ideological switch, married a Labour supporter, Sally Illman, who watched his triumph yesterday. “He has been on a journey that makes his one-time hero Michael Portillo seem like a mere day-tripper,” one prominent Conservative said.

More HERE Other comments here and here and here. Positive comments about the man and his character are hard to find. He has paid a price for his success that would be too high for many.



Sarkozy has the balls that Obama lacks: "President Nicolas Sarkozy says the Islamic burqa is not welcome in secular France, home to Europe's largest Muslim community. Condemning the head-to-toe cover for women as a symbol of subjugation rather than faith, Mr Sarkozy overnight was emphasising his divergent views from US president Barack Obama. On a visit to Paris earlier this month, Mr Obama urged Western countries to avoid "dictating what clothes a Muslim woman should wear". "We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity," Mr Sarkozy said. "That is not the idea that the French republic has of women's dignity. "The burqa is not a sign of religion; it is a sign of subservience," he told lawmakers in a major policy speech at a special session of parliament. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic." France, home to an estimated five million Muslims, passed a law in 2004 banning headscarves or any other "conspicuous" religious symbol in state schools in a hotly contested bid to defend secularism. Last year a Moroccan woman was refused French citizenship after social services said she wore a burqa and was living in "submission" to her husband. Mr Sarkozy said he was in favour of holding an inquiry sought by some French lawmakers into whether Muslim women who cover themselves fully in public undermine French secularism and women's rights."

FTC to monitor blogs for “false claims,” payola: “Savvy consumers often go online for independent consumer reviews of products and services, scouring through comments from everyday Joes and Janes to help them find a gem or shun a lemon. What some fail to realize, though, is that such reviews can be tainted: Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all. The practice has grown to the degree that the Federal Trade Commission is paying attention. New guidelines, expected to be approved late this summer with possible modifications, would clarify that the agency can go after bloggers — as well as the companies that compensate them — for any false claims or failure to disclose conflicts of interest.”

White House can’t explain half of alleged drug savings: “The Obama White House cannot explain more than half of today’s announced $80 billion in prescription drug savings. A senior official said the White House estimates $30 billion in savings will be achieved through drug companies reducing by at least 50 percent the cost of brand-name prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the so-called coverage ‘donut hole.’ The other $50 billion in savings will come from unspecified and unknown changes to drug costs linked to Medicare and Medicaid. The $80 billion in savings is a 10-year estimate. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday details on non-donut hole savings remain to be negotiated between the drug companies and the Senate Finance Committee.”

Accident chasers: “Gov. Charlie Crist might have missed the mark with some of the bills he signed last week, but his Tuesday signing of a ban on charges for emergency response was dead on. Across the state, several municipalities and counties, including Tallahassee and Escambia County, were charging those involved in car accidents for police and firefighter response. (Bay County and area municipalities did not.) According to the Tallahassee Democrat, fees ranged from $180 to $200 for police response and $600 to $800 for fire departments.”

GM stiffing a lot of people: "General Motors owes hundreds of millions of dollars to major suppliers who have never made an auto part, rubber tire or sheet of steel — and they're not likely to get paid anytime soon. GM is on the hook for more than $100 million for advertising it purchased before filing for bankruptcy earlier this month. While virtually all of the auto parts makers who work with GM are being declared "critical vendors," which allows them to receive their next payments by July 2, GM's other suppliers are not guaranteed payments anytime soon.... GM's transportation suppliers, such as railroads CSX and Union Pacific also have critical vendor status. So do a handful of its major suppliers from outside the auto or transport industries, such as technology giant Hewlett Packard and telecommunications provider AT&T. But even some of the vendors not granted critical vendor status will have their pre-bankruptcy bills paid, although not as fast at those with critical vendor status... Sorvino said she expects widespread bankruptcies of smaller GM vendors. That could lead to many workers losing their jobs who didn't even realize they were depending on GM for their livelihood. Worse off are suppliers who do not have a continuing contract relationship with GM, but are currently owed money."


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


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


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fundraising idiocy

I quite often respond to donation requests from conservative, libertarian and Israeli organizations but you would not believe how difficult it is. About half the time the organization's computer knocks my donation back. A regular problem is that they want you to say what State you live in but list only American States for you to choose from. So I just hit any State, which seems to freak the Visa card system because they know my card is not from that State. Other errors don't even make that much sense. I tried to donate to JTA in Israel today and got knocked back for some incomprehensible reason and I tried to donate to Patriot Post in America and got accepted -- EVEN THOUGH they are one of those who list only American States. All quite mad. Interesting to see if the Patriot Post payment actually goes through.


Iran has shown the emptiness of Obama's approach to the Middle East

President Barack Obama did not "lose" Iran. This is not a Jimmy Carter moment. But the foreign-policy education of America's 44th president has just begun. Hitherto, he had been cavalier about other lands, he had trusted in his own biography as a bridge to distant peoples, he had believed he could talk rogues and ideologues out of deeply held beliefs. His predecessor had drawn lines in the sand. He would look past them.

Thus a man who had been uneasy with his middle name (Hussein) during the presidential campaign would descend on Ankara and Cairo, inserting himself in a raging civil war over Islam itself. An Iranian theocratic regime had launched a bid for dominion in its region; Mr. Obama offered it an olive branch and waited for it to "unclench" its fist.

It was an odd, deeply conflicted message from Mr. Obama. He was at once a herald of change yet a practitioner of realpolitik. He would entice the crowds, yet assure the autocrats that the "diplomacy of freedom" that unsettled them during the presidency of George W. Bush is dead and buried. Grant the rulers in Tehran and Damascus their due: They were quick to take the measure of the new steward of American power. He had come to "engage" them. Gone was the hope of transforming these regimes or making them pay for their transgressions. The theocracy was said to be waiting on an American opening, and this new president would put an end to three decades of estrangement between the United States and Iran.

But in truth Iran had never wanted an opening to the U.S. For the length of three decades, the custodians of the theocracy have had precisely the level of enmity toward the U.S. they have wanted -- just enough to be an ideological glue for the regime but not enough to be a threat to their power. Iran's rulers have made their way in the world with relative ease. No White Army gathered to restore the dominion of the Pahlavis. The Cold War and oil bailed them out. So did the false hope that the revolution would mellow and make its peace with the world.

Mr. Obama may believe that his offer to Iran is a break with a hard-line American policy. But nothing could be further from the truth. In 1989, in his inaugural, George H.W. Bush extended an offer to Iran: "Good will begets good will," he said. A decade later, in a typically Clintonian spirit of penance and contrition, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came forth with a full apology for America's role in the 1953 coup that ousted nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh.

Iran's rulers scoffed. They had inherited a world, and they were in no need of opening it to outsiders. They were able to fly under the radar. Selective, targeted deeds of terror, and oil income, enabled them to hold their regime intact. There is a Persian pride and a Persian solitude, and the impact of three decades of zeal and indoctrination. The drama of Barack Obama's election was not an affair of Iran. They had an election of their own to stage. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- a son of the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary order, a man from the brigades of the regime, austere and indifferent to outsiders, an Iranian Everyman with badly fitting clothes and white socks -- was up for re-election....

On the ruins of the ancien régime, the Iranian revolutionaries, it has to be conceded, have built a formidable state. The men who emerged out of a cruel and bloody struggle over their country's identity and spoils are a tenacious, merciless breed. Their capacity for repression is fearsome. We must rein in the modernist conceit that the bloggers, and the force of Twitter and Facebook, could win in the streets against the squads of the regime. That fight would be an Iranian drama, all outsiders mere spectators.

That ambivalence at the heart of the Obama diplomacy about freedom has not served American policy well in this crisis. We had tried to "cheat" -- an opening to the regime with an obligatory wink to those who took to the streets appalled by their rulers' cynicism and utter disregard for their people's intelligence and common sense -- and we were caught at it. Mr. Obama's statement that "the difference between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi in terms of their actual policies may not be as great as had been advertised" put on cruel display the administration's incoherence. For once, there was an acknowledgment by this young president of history's burden: "Either way, we were going to be dealing with an Iranian regime that has historically been hostile to the United States, that has caused some problems in the neighborhood and is pursuing nuclear weapons." No Wilsonianism on offer here.

Mr. Obama will have to acknowledge the "foreignness" of foreign lands. His breezy self-assurance has been put on notice... Mr. Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo did not reshape the Islamic landscape. I was in Saudi Arabia when Mr. Obama traveled to Riyadh and Cairo. The earth did not move, life went on as usual. There were countless people puzzled by the presumption of the entire exercise, an outsider walking into sacred matters of their faith. In Saudi Arabia, and in the Arabic commentaries of other lands, there was unease that so complicated an ideological and cultural terrain could be approached with such ease and haste.



Strike Now At Mullahs' Economic Pillars

As we watch the swelling protests in Iran, it's worth remembering that the aspirations of America are eminently compatible with the aspirations of the average Iranian. As we watch the swelling protests in Iran, it's worth remembering that the aspirations of America are eminently compatible with the aspirations of the average Iranian. I know a bit about this, as I am privileged to represent one of the largest Iranian-American communities in the country, in Orange County, Calif.

The compatibilities between Iranian hopes and the American dream center on the yearning for individual liberties and the end of clerical autocracy — hopes as compelling to the Iranian democrat today as the Jeffersonian democrat two centuries ago. The question is whether President Obama will do anything about it.

The basic points of pressure on Iran's clerical autocrats are simple: the control of petroleum, the need for foreign cash, the reliance upon the instruments of force, and the control of internal communications. All remain the material pillars of the regime.

Its psychological pillars are a bit more complex: Iranian resentment at foreign interference, Shia exceptionalism and a peculiar concept of Islamic juridical rule known as velayat-e faqih. It is possible for the president to strike at the material pillars of the Iranian theocracy, while sparing the psychological pillars that might turn the mass of Iranians against us.

Striking at the mullahs' material base is more straightforward. They need legitimacy and foreign trade to sustain an economy that totters along with rising unemployment that approaches 15% — an ominous figure in a country where about 70% of the citizens are under 30. Iran has the world's third-largest oil reserves, yet it had to impose fuel rationing on its own citizens in 2007, and its economy is extremely vulnerable to lower oil prices.

It's no accident that civil unrest in Iran, as in so many countries, erupts when material expectations of a young and comparatively educated citizenry are unmet by a corrupt and inefficient government. Though not a proximate cause, this is surely among the root causes of Iranian discontent now. With this in mind, crafting a strategy to squeeze the machinery of repression would be an exercise in the sort of multilateral diplomacy in which the Obama administration takes such pride.

Of the major recipients of Iranian oil, the top four are Asian economies and the remainder European nations plus South Africa. Though it is unrealistic to assume that the United States could persuade all of them to forgo Iranian oil, we don't have to: Any one of the Asian nations, or a few of the European nations (building upon the European Union's admirable vigor in condemning repression in Iran), would do tremendous harm to the mullahs' coffers.



Get Ready for Inflation and Higher Interest Rates

The unprecedented expansion of the money supply could make the '70s look benign


Here we stand more than a year into a grave economic crisis with a projected budget deficit of 13% of GDP. That's more than twice the size of the next largest deficit since World War II. And this projected deficit is the culmination of a year when the federal government, at taxpayers' expense, acquired enormous stakes in the banking, auto, mortgage, health-care and insurance industries.

With the crisis, the ill-conceived government reactions, and the ensuing economic downturn, the unfunded liabilities of federal programs -- such as Social Security, civil-service and military pensions, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, Medicare and Medicaid -- are over the $100 trillion mark. With U.S. GDP and federal tax receipts at about $14 trillion and $2.4 trillion respectively, such a debt all but guarantees higher interest rates, massive tax increases, and partial default on government promises.

But as bad as the fiscal picture is, panic-driven monetary policies portend to have even more dire consequences. We can expect rapidly rising prices and much, much higher interest rates over the next four or five years, and a concomitant deleterious impact on output and employment not unlike the late 1970s.

About eight months ago, starting in early September 2008, the Bernanke Fed did an abrupt about-face and radically increased the monetary base -- which is comprised of currency in circulation, member bank reserves held at the Fed, and vault cash -- by a little less than $1 trillion. The Fed controls the monetary base 100% and does so by purchasing and selling assets in the open market. By such a radical move, the Fed signaled a 180-degree shift in its focus from an anti-inflation position to an anti-deflation position.

The percentage increase in the monetary base is the largest increase in the past 50 years by a factor of 10. It is so far outside the realm of our prior experiential base that historical comparisons are rendered difficult if not meaningless. The currency-in-circulation component of the monetary base -- which prior to the expansion had comprised 95% of the monetary base -- has risen by a little less than 10%, while bank reserves have increased almost 20-fold. Now the currency-in-circulation component of the monetary base is a smidgen less than 50% of the monetary base. Yikes!

Bank reserves are crucially important because they are the foundation upon which banks are able to expand their liabilities and thereby increase the quantity of money..... When reserve constraints on banks are removed, it does take the banks time to make new loans. But given sufficient time, they will make enough new loans until they are once again reserve constrained. The expansion of money, given an increase in the monetary base, is inevitable, and will ultimately result in higher inflation and interest rates. In shorter time frames, the expansion of money can also result in higher stock prices, a weaker currency, and increases in commodity prices such as oil and gold.

At present, banks are doing just what we would expect them to do. They are making new loans and increasing overall bank liabilities (i.e., money). The 12-month growth rate of M1 is now in the 15% range, and close to its highest level in the past half century.

It's difficult to estimate the magnitude of the inflationary and interest-rate consequences of the Fed's actions because, frankly, we haven't ever seen anything like this in the U.S. To date what's happened is potentially far more inflationary than were the monetary policies of the 1970s, when the prime interest rate peaked at 21.5% and inflation peaked in the low double digits. Gold prices went from $35 per ounce to $850 per ounce, and the dollar collapsed on the foreign exchanges. It wasn't a pretty picture.... For me the issue is how to protect assets for my grandchildren.




Obama Lashes Out at the only major news outlet that is not crawling up his behind: "President Barack Obama vented his frustration with Fox News during an interview on CNBC last week. "I've got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration," Obama told CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood, who had asked him how he felt about coverage of his administration. "That's a pretty big megaphone. You'd be hard-pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front," he said, reports Daily Finance. Fox News is indeed a big megaphone because it speaks to an audience that doesn't feel its concerns represented elsewhere on TV. That's not to say Obama has no grounds for complaint — anyone who watches Fox for a few minutes can tell that its default attitude towards him is skepticism. [Skepticism!! How awful!!] For whatever reason, Fox's ratings have climbed in recent months as the network's stridency towards Obama has escalated. As long as that trend keeps up, It's likely that no amount of finger-wagging from the Oval Office is going to make a difference, writes Bercovici".

Obama Closes Doors on Openness: "As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding "secret energy meetings" with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama's "clean coal" policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged "presidential communications." The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig's office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a "new era" of openness, "nothing has changed," says David -Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. "For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies."

Obama is weighed and found wanting: "During the campaign, Biden warned that Obama would be tested in his first six months in office. We all assumed that Biden knew about a planned terrorist attack on the US. That could still happen, of course, although I devoutly hope it won’t. At exactly the five month mark, however, there is a test taking place, and that is the test of Obama’s moral courage with regard to Iran. So far, he’s not doing very well. When 405 Congresspeople turn on “The One,” the one is finding himself on the wrong side of history. When liberal pundit after liberal pundit writes about his or her support for the Iranian people, and then engages in pathetic contortions to justify Obama’s refusal to voice any support, the One is failing a test. When France is a stronger moral presence than the United States, our leader looks small. I see the handwriting on the wall: Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin. Obama is being weighed and found wanting, in the eyes of fellow politicians, in the eyes of his party, in the eyes of the American people, and in the eyes of the world."

The Frogs knew that their Airbuses had a dangerous design fault: "Air France Airbus jets experienced at least nine incidents in which airspeed probes iced over in the past year, according to an internal company report. A probe into the June 1 crash of AF 447, in which an A330 jet flying from Rio to Paris plunged into the Atlantic with the loss of all 228 people on board, has focused on contradictory readings from its “pitot” speed probes. The probes, made by aerospace company Thales, were found to be faulty on flight AF 447. Air France did not wait for a signal from the aviation safety body. It decided on June 12 to upgrade all sensors on its long-haul fleet as a precaution after protests from pilots. In an internal note sent to Air France pilots on Thursday, the company said it had informed the planemaker Airbus and Thales of eight incidents on A340 jets and one on an A330 over a year-long period".

Iran: Activists get assist from “Anonymous,” Pirate Bay: “Iranian democracy activists, meet your new pals: a masked protest movement best known for needling the Church of Scientology, and a group of file-sharers so infamous they’re facing a year in jail. Anonymous Iran is a collaboration between The Pirate Bay — operators of the world’s largest torrent site, convicted in April of copyright infringement — and Anonymous, the prankster collective dedicated to exposing ‘Scientology’s crimes.’ The new site offers tips on how to navigate online in private, upload files through the Iranian firewall, find the best activist Tweeters, and launch attacks on pro-government websites.”


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


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


Monday, June 22, 2009

They laughed when GWB tried to walk out the wrong door....

Does Obama need a walkprompter too?


A Message From The Boss

To All My Valued Employees:

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests. First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a Back Story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last year's Christmas party. I'm sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the BACK STORY: I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date.

Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury.

I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had. So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child.

You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for. Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why: I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time.

On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero.. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this? It's quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I'll fire you. I'll fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship. So, if you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....

Signed, THE BOSS



BrookesNews Update

Obama's sure-fire formula for rising interest rates and accelerating inflation : Under Obama American finances have become a total mess: deficits are absolutely massive and unsustainable, government spending is out of control, debt is rocketing while monetary expansion is unprecedented. This is a sure-fire formula for rising interest rates and accelerating inflation. Whichever way one looks at it Obama's economic policies are — at the very least — a recipe for stagnant living standards
Has the Fed's monetary policy painted it into a corner? : The Fed faces a dilemma. Despite signs of a recovery there are also signs that the Fed will have to curb the money supply rate of growth. This would set in motion an economic bust. Even if the Fed were to decide to tighten its stance just slightly, given the current strengthening in the growth momentum of economic activity, this could visibly weaken the growth momentum of monetary liquidity thus posing a threat to the stock market. So it seems that the Fed might have painted itself into a corner
State ownership of General Motors will be a total failure: Government ownership of General Motors and AIG is doomed to fail. Entrepreneurship is what matters, not management, bookkeeping or political bribery. All that Obama's policy will succeed in doing is pouring billions and billions of dollars into a black hole with no end in sight
Dollars, manufacturing and free trade : There is considerable concern about overvalued currencies and how they can deindustrialise countries. But there are those who argue that this cannot happen because we are a world of floating exchange rates. The facts, however, strongly suggest that the pessimists are right, something that would not have surprised the classical economists
The carbon tax RAT scheme will destroy jobs: A carbon tax will savage the economy and destroy jobs. There will be round after round of layoffs that will see an inexorable rise in unemployment. For example, Spain lost more than 2 real jobs for every green job created. The economy is prostrate and unemployment has risen to 17 per cent
Israel, tear down? Naw...Now, more than ever, is the time to build! : The madrassas teach another generation of terrorists to be used against the Jewish State and the rest of the free infidel world. The funds that Obama is sending them to re-build Gaza end up building more tunnels for the transportation of more arms for more terrorist attacks. Their indoctrination of hatred of the Jewish State starts when they are toddlers. I've seen their classes and books. Their teachers tell them stories describing the killing of Israeli children so they will be blessed by Allah
Obama's three (of many) great lies : Protected by a thoroughly corrupt mainstream media Obama has told one outrageous lie after another. Deceit and not transparency is the name of the game and smoke and mirrors is what passes for policy debates. He lie about taxes, he lied about deficits and spending, he lied about health — and he is still lying
62 Million Voiceless Americans : Is it still called debate when only one side controls the conversation? That's the question the 62 million Americans who didn't vote for Obama are asking themselves. Consent of the governed is being ignored as the Obama administration hijacks ever more power to the federal government, in direct contravention of the 10th amendment and the Constitution

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


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


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