Saturday, August 22, 2009

Google update

Of the four sites that they originally blocked me from updating, two have now been unblocked. So you will need the following mirror site links to read the latest on the remaining two. That all four have not been unblocked seems rather ominous.

Political Correctness Watch

Eye on Britain


Why America Will Lead the 'Asian Century'

By Dr John Lee

The decline of American influence in Asia is exaggerated. True, power and influence are built on the back of economic success, and the Chinese and India economies have been doubling in size every 10 years since 1978 and 1991 respectively. But America has two important advantages in Asia.

First, even if China continues to grow at double-digit rates, in terms of economic and military power, the United States will remain dominant by any measurement of raw power for several more decades.

Second, Asia has a unique kind of hierarchical security system which will likely entrench America leadership well into this century. Let me explain.

Despite the fact that America spends more on defence than the next 10 powers combined, it actually relies on the cooperation of other states to remain dominant. Without cooperation from allies such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines, the United States cannot retain its forward military positions in the West Pacific. Likewise, it needs the cooperation of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to host its critical radar infrastructure.

On top of this, America requires other key states and regional groupings such as ASEAN to acquiesce in its security relationships. Therefore, there is broad-based regional approval of US alliances with Japan, South Korea and Australia as well as with partners such as the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and India.

Importantly, this interdependent relationship means that the United States – as a foreign power – is not so powerful that it can readily ignore the wishes of key states, making America the overwhelmingly choice as leader in Asia now and in the future. If an Asian country like China were to rise to the top, it would not need the same level of regional cooperation and acquiescence to maintain its position and military footholds. If China were to make a bid for regional hegemony, it would find it difficult to resist the structural constraints placed on it by other states within this hierarchy.

Therefore, despite justifiable talk of this century being an Asian Century, US leadership in the region will remain remarkably resilient.

The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated August 21st. Enquiries to Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590. Telephone ph: +61 2 9438 4377 or fax: +61 2 9439 7310


A New Hampshire Senate hopeful in the mould of Sarah Palin

She’s been labelled folksy, gutsy, pro-gun and anti-abortion. She honed her political philosophy as a bus girl in a small-town restaurant where she learnt that “listening is the most important thing to serving your customers well”. She’s a mom to a fresh faced brood and wife to a real dude who’s back from serving in Iraq and founded his own snowplough business. She’s just announced a premature end to her state office, allowing her to consider a political rocket-launch out of relative obscurity.

Sound familiar? It did to the New Hampshire Democrats. Soon after Kelly Ayote resigned as New Hampshire attorney general to consider running for US Senate, they released the ad above. "Did Kelly "Cut & Run" Ayotte just pull a Sarah Palin" it asks, pointing out that she's "broken her pledge to the public in order to advance her own political career."

Strong words. They, at least, are taking her challenge seriously. But could Republicans really put their money on a repeat formula, given Palin's own disastrous polling? Yes, according to a Washington Times profile. "I think she will be a great candidate, though she is a new candidate, having never run before. But her instincts are very good," they quote Sen. John Coryn of Texas as saying.

And with recent polls showing the Democrats' grip over New Hampshire's top offices weakening, looks like hockey moms are back in the game.



If the Bush Administration Had Done It…

"If the Bush Administration had done it, there would be national outrage." This phrase seems to be thrown about a lot recently with regard to the new administration and its ever-deepening slough of gross misconduct. Whether it's Obama asking people to snitch on their neighbors to "", mocking the Special Olympics on prime time television, or issuing an ill-founded DHS memo targeting "disgruntled veterans" as possible terrorists, the president and his lieutenants have gotten away with record scandal in record time.

In fact, Barack Obama has received a pass from the Mainstream Media "Obamatons" the likes of which George W. Bush and his predecessors never would even have dreamed possible. Well, one can now modify the aforementioned statement and likewise conjecture: "If Karl Rove had done it…"

In brief, David Axelrod, Barack Obama's Senior Advisor, is up to his neck in corruption, which, not surprisingly, has been largely ignored by liberal news outlets—i.e., the Obamatons en masse. As Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico reports, AKPD Message and Media, a firm founded by Mr. Axelrod that currently employs his son, was awarded a significant $24 million advertising contract by Obama Administration allies in the Healthcare Reform debate. Conveniently enough, AKPD also owes Mr. Axelrod $2 million in severance dollars.

AKPD and another firm were contracted by a coalition of liberal groups and other entities—among them PhRMA—to produce and air two separate $12 million ad campaigns designed to bolster support for Barack Obama's government-run healthcare plan. Mr. Axelrod's close ties to both AKPD and the groups pushing Obama-care is raising a lot of eyebrows.

One of those miffed is House Republican Conference spokesman Matt Loyd, who had the following to say regarding the situation: "Let me get this straight: Out of all the firms Pharma could choose to do their media work, they choose David Axelrod's firm, which still maintains Axelrod's son on the payroll and owes Axelrod himself $2 million. How can the public be assured that David Axelrod isn't influenced by any of this in the course of the health care debate? For an administration that promised 'change' and to be above even an appearance of impropriety this does not even come close to passing the smell test."

If Karl Rove had done something like this, at least one head would have rolled —his— and possibly more. And, as Mr. Vogel reports: "On his first day in office, Obama unveiled a strict ethics policy barring officials from working on issues 'directly and substantially related' to their former clients or employers for two years." Apparently, that strict injunction did not apply to the man who put Obama in office and carries his water on a daily basis.

Corruption, ethics —and boldfaced lies— notwithstanding, the hypocrisy regarding the Obama regime's view of America's healthcare system and the "moral imperative" they so proudly proclaim is this Administration's most egregious sin.

On one hand, Mr. Obama and other Democrats in Washington argue passionately that America's health care industry is no place for the greedy pursuit of profits. Morality dictates that people come before profits, they continually intone. Meanwhile, David Axelrod has no qualms about pocketing a few million bucks through his "directly and substantially related" ties to his own advertising firm.

Karl Rove may have been the architect, but David Axelrod is clearly the engineer —engineering corruption and hypocrisy in the nation's highest office while smarmily proclaiming his personal piety. Have these people no shame?

SOURCE. More on Axelrod corruption here



Polls: Opposition to Obamacare on the rise: “Public doubt about health care reform has grown as the debate’s raged this summer, with a rise in views it would do more harm than good, increasing opposition to a public option — and President Obama’s rating on the issue at a new low in ABC News/Washington Post polls. Fewer than half of Americans, 45 percent, support reform as it’s been explained to date, while 50 percent are opposed — with many more ’strongly’ opposed than strongly in favor, 40 percent vs. 27 percent. Support’s at just 36 percent among independents, the crucial political center.”

Dealers stiffed as clunkers pile up: "Some New Mexico auto dealers have backed out of the cash-for-clunkers program and more may do so as the federal government takes its time providing cash reimbursements. Dealers across the state are owed more than $3.6 million, according to a dealers' group which says that so far Uncle Sam has only written three checks totaling about $14,000. Cash for clunkers--officially its the Car Allowance Rebate System--allows consumers to trade their gas guzzlers for a more fuel-efficient rides while earning up to $4,500 toward the purchase price. Dealerships put up the cash for the rebates after being told by the Obama administration they would be paid back within 10 days of the sale."

Official: “Significant” hike in US poverty anticipated: "“The ranks of poor and uninsured Americans are likely increasing — with more than 38.8 million believed to be in poverty. Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department’s undersecretary of economic affairs, spoke to the Associated Press in advance of next month’s closely watched release of 2008 census data. Noting the figures are not yet final, Blank said the numbers likely will show a ’statistically significant’ increase in the poverty rate, to at least 12.7 percent. That would represent a jump of more than 1.5 million poor people compared with the previous year. ‘There’s no question that 2008 economically was a much worse year than 2007,’ she said Wednesday. ‘The question is how much and how bad.’ The number of uninsured also is expected to increase, due to rising unemployment and the erosion of private coverage paid for by employers and individuals, but Blank declined to say by how much.”

Obama backs off attack on whistleblowers: "White House attorneys have backed away from an effort to weaken legal protections for FBI whistleblowers in a bill now before Congress, according to advocacy groups in negotiations with the Obama administration. Officials from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Government Accountability Project (GAP) and Project on Government Oversight (POGO) said this week that they were given guarantees that protections for FBI whistleblowers - federal employees who uncover fraud and waste - would be restored in a Senate bill when Congress returns in September. The shift follows a report in The Washington Times earlier this month about the uproar among civil liberties groups and past FBI whistleblowers about proposed changes in the bill, which critics said would strip existing rights for FBI whistleblowers who expose fraud or misdeeds."

Lutherans abandon the Bible: "Conservatives at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's churchwide assembly here were still reeling Thursday from losing -- by one vote -- their battle to defeat a new social statement that gives validity to same-sex relationships."

Mexico enacts “personal use” drug law: “Mexico has enacted a controversial law that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin. The law defines ‘personal use’ amounts for those drugs, as well as LSD and methamphetamines. It says people found with those amounts will not face criminal prosecution, but that if caught a third time they will be required to complete treatment programs, though no punishment is specified to enforce that.”

Why did Obama's Justice Department dismiss a clear case of voter intimidation?: "President Obama's Justice Department continues to stonewall inquiries about why it dropped a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. The episode—which Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer and publisher of the left-wing Village Voice, calls "the most blatant form of voter intimidation I've ever seen"—began on Election Day 2008. Mr. Bull and others witnessed two Black Panthers in paramilitary garb at a polling place near downtown Philadelphia. One of them, they say, brandished a nightstick at the entrance and pointed it at voters and both made racial threats. Mr. Bull says he heard one yell "You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!"

California awash in unlicensed drivers: "Sobriety checkpoints set up in Bakersfield in recent months haven’t nabbed huge numbers of drunken drivers. But they’re netting unlicensed drivers by the dozens — with 92 cited at a checkpoint in east Bakersfield last month. There’s little doubt that the number of unlicensed drivers on Kern County’s roads is way up, and that means more drivers with no insurance — and higher costs and higher risks for the rest of us.... Authorities say many of those who drive without a license are undocumented immigrants who cannot legally obtain a California driver’s license. But drivers can have their license suspended or revoked for a number of reasons, including multiple DUIs, nonpayment of traffic fines and even failure to pay child support. Timothy Lemucchi, a longtime Bakersfield attorney who handles accident and personal injury cases, said the growing problem of unlicensed and uninsured drivers potentially affects all of us. He cited the Insurance Research Council’s findings that estimate one in five California drivers have little or no automobile insurance. And in places with high unemployment rates like Kern, the ratio may be closer to one in four, Lemucchi said. The repercussions are often heartbreaking for motorists who are injured when they collide with an uninsured driver. Loss of income combined with large medical bills can ruin families financially."

How ethics disappear: "Gosh, what a surprise: A committee of their fellow senators has decided that Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad did nothing unethical when they took out loans from Countrywide Financial on the kind of favorable terms not available to us mere mortals without their financial or political standing – or a personal connection to the head of Countrywide. The very Select Committee on Ethics did recognize that the whole deal looked bad, and gave its colleagues a gentle pat on the wrist for creating "the appearance that you were receiving preferential treatment based on your status as a senator." But in the end one hand washed the other, if not very well."

GM's $4,000 Car We Won't Get: "Now, the $4,000 car is a fine idea. It represents a return to economic sanity. It would be simple and affordable. No six year payment plan. No $40,000 "investment" (like the completely insane Volt electric car) that will depreciate to less than half original MSRP sticker price by the time it's finally paid off. No GPS, closed-circuit cameras, power parallel parking systems, multiplexed seat heaters or built-in coffee pots. Just, you know, basic transportation. But, here's the catch: GM won't be able to sell the $4,000 car in the United States. Because in the United States, new cars must be "government approved" before they can be approved by consumers. And to be approved by government, a new car must be fitted with a horn o' plenty of government-mandated safety and emissions control equipment. "Safety" and "low emissions" may be laudable, but they aren't free. The federal requirement that each new car be equipped with multiple air bags is alone worth an estimated $1,000-$1,500 per car -- or one-third to nearly one-half the projected final cost of the GM $4k car. In so-called "developing countries," there are not (yet) such requirements (which explains why they are still developing while we are treading water and about to go under). And it explains why GM will be selling its $4k car in such countries rather than in this country."

Why Nazism Was Socialism and Why Socialism Is Totalitarian: "My purpose today is to make just two main points: (1) To show why Nazi Germany was a socialist state, not a capitalist one. And (2) to show why socialism, understood as an economic system based on government ownership of the means of production, positively requires a totalitarian dictatorship... The basis of the claim that Nazi Germany was capitalist was the fact that most industries in Nazi Germany appeared to be left in private hands. What Mises identified was that private ownership of the means of production existed in name only under the Nazis and that the actual substance of ownership of the means of production resided in the German government. For it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid...."


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, August 21, 2009

Google update

At the time of writing, Google is still blocking me from putting up new posts on three of my blogs. So go instead to the mirror sites for the latest posts. As under:

Political Correctness Watch

Food & Health Skeptic.

Eye on Britain


Google have just taken the lock off FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC. Let's hope that small bit of sanity spreads


Israeli government Minister: Some of Obama's policies are 'borderline anti-Semitic'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will reject US President Barack Obama's request for a freeze on natural growth in Judea and Samaria, Habayit Hayehudi head Daniel Herschkowitz said Sunday, based on conversations with Netanyahu. In an interview with the science and technology minister at his Jerusalem office, Herschkowitz told The Jerusalem Post that he did not believe Netanyahu would cross any red lines of Habayit Hayehudi, the most right-wing party in his coalition.

"From my own talks with the prime minister, I can say confidently that I don't think he will freeze natural growth in the settlements," Herschkowitz said. "I am sure he is in favor of allowing natural growth, but he must navigate smartly and walk between the rain drops to ensure that he will get along with the American administration."

Herschkowitz suggested that an arrangement could be found that could allow construction in the settlements to continue without public acknowledgment. He said this would be preferable to the opposite scenario of press reports of settlement construction when in fact there is none.

A former resident of Madison, Wisconsin, where he was a mathematics professor at the University of Wisconsin, Herschkowitz did not hold back criticism for Obama, especially his decision to grant the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former UN human rights commissioner and longtime Israel basher Mary Robinson. "I am disappointed in Obama's policies," Herschkowitz said. "Some of the steps he has taken, like giving a medal to Mary Robinson, are borderline anti-Semitic. Israel is an independent state. Relations with the US are important, but relations must go both ways. I don't know if Obama understands it, but most Americans believe that Israel is their only anchor in the Middle East."

Herschkowitz has been criticized by the Right for praising Netanyahu's June 14 policy address at Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center in which he conditionally endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state. He said he himself opposed a Palestinian state, but a prime minister had to speak differently than the average politician. "It was a good speech, because he shifted the ball to the other side by setting important conditions," Herschkowitz said. "If they can't accept recognizing a Jewish state and the end of the conflict, it shows their real face. But if they would have, there would have been something to talk about. A leader must say yes, and not just no, so it's ideal to say yes while shifting the ball back to the other side."

The Habayit Hayehudi leader said there was a consensus that Israel did not want to control the Palestinians. He said a demilitarized Palestinian state as Netanyahu outlined it would not be that different from the autonomy the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians already had.

But Herschkowitz said he did not think a peace agreement could be reached. "It is clear that there is no partner," Herschkowitz said. "Every diplomatic plan, even the most conservative one, is wishful thinking, because there is no plan that both sides would accept."



Where Are The Cost Cuts Going To Come From?

Your Only Options Are Less Care, Less Incentive To Become A Caregiver, Or The Magic Secret Formula For Super-Cost-Efficient Government. Excerpt below

One of the central selling points used by President Obama to push the Democrats’ health care plan is the notion that a comprehensive overhaul of the health care system will reduce costs. But costs to who, and how? Let’s step back a minute and try to figure out how Obama’s cost-cutting argument could possibly be so.

Prologue: Tax That Man Behind The Tree

First, a quick reminder of two reasons why cost-cutting is such an important selling point.

Number one, the core of what the Democratic base, in particular, wants from health care “reform” is universal coverage. You often hear statistics thrown around about there being 30 or 35 or, last I heard, 47 million people without health insurance, and the implication that these people are receiving zero or negligible healthcare. Debunking those statistics and assumptions is itself a cottage industry, but let’s leave that aside for the moment, because the fact of the matter is that in a country of 300 million people, when you strip out the people who

(1) already have health insurance and expect to continue having it,

(2) don’t especially want to buy health insurance,

(3) are only briefly without health insurance and not worried about it, or

(4) don’t or can’t vote,

what you end up with is a very small slice of the electorate that would benefit from getting health insurance they currently lack or fear lacking. Now, voters don’t only vote their own self-interests on any issue - but the fewer people who benefit directly from legislation, the harder it is to drum up public support for a bill that may threaten the self-interest of others. So, it becomes politically necessary, if the bill is to be as sweeping and ambitious as most of the versions circulated have been, to sell it to the public on the basis of some argument above and beyond insuring the uninsured. That’s doubly so because if your goal was solely to insure the uninsured, much of what is in the various bills would be unnecessary.

Second, specific to the issue of saving money for the federal government, the Obama Administration and the Democrats have already severely tried the electorate’s appetite for massive expansions of federal spending, especially deficit spending. The explosion of new spending, most notably the pork-laden “stimulus” bill, makes prior complaints about spending under Bush look like complaints about the deck chairs on the Titanic and flatly contradicts Obama’s read-my-lips pledge during two of last October’s debates that his proposals would result in a net reduction of federal spending. The voters have noticed that they’re not getting anything resembling what they were promised. Thus, Obama has repeatedly pledged, with the same assurance as his campaign pledge on spending, that the health care bill would be “deficit neutral.” The Congressional Budget Office, typically a liberal redoubt, has repeatedly thrown cold water on the claim that any of the proposals on the table would be deficit-neutral. Clearly, to get there, cost savings would need to be found somewhere to completely offset outlays.

How’s that gonna work?

Let’s review the options. The Democrats’ main argument is that restructuring the entire health care sector will reduce the nation’s total (public and private) outlay for health care. When you boil it down, though, there are only three variables you can cut: reduce the amount of medical care provided; reduce what providers of medical care earn for their products and services; and reduce intermediary costs. All are problematic.

I. Less Medical Care

The most obvious way to cut spending on medical care is to buy less of it. That’s at the crux of the public’s worry about “death panels” cutting off care, about rationing; it’s why so many of the people showing up agitated at town halls are senior citizens worried about getting less medical care.

The “death panel” phrase was shorthand, of course, but it neatly captured the core of the problem: government already rations care, albeit not very efficienctly, in programs like Medicare and Medicaid (see, e.g., here - then again, the failure to do more rationing explains those programs’ exploding, budget-busting costs) and the end-of-life consulting procedures criticized by Palin and subsequently dropped by chastened Democrats are not the only way in which government incentives could or would be brought to bear on physicians to push patients from consuming health care to preparing for death or assisted suicide. More here, among many other places. But you don’t have to be looking at the end-stage to see that any plan premised upon cost-cutting by reducing the amount of care provided would, well, reduce the amount of care provided. And if the costs being cut are taxpayer costs, the power to do so would end up being vested in some sort of governmental entity, likely a panel of government-appointed “experts,” as Mickey Kaus notes was alluded to by President Obama himself back in April



Free Speech And Yoo

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism," those on the left were fond of saying when President Bush was in office. Today, with a Democratic president in power, we're finding out what a cynical pose that is. That can be seen in the sad case of John Yoo, a brilliant law professor from the University of California at Berkeley known for his staunch support of the Constitution.

Yoo, working for the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003, allegedly wrote what the left absurdly calls the "torture memos," which justified the kind of tough, coercive interrogations the military used to break up a number of terrorist plots after 9/11. Yet today, for rendering his honest legal opinion to President Bush, Yoo finds himself vilified and attacked by the left — with loud calls for Berkeley's Boalt Hall Law School to fire him.

The campaign of harassment and intimidation against Yoo is sickening. Yoo and his family have been verbally assaulted, spat upon and threatened. On Monday, returning to school, he was met with shouts of "war criminal" by "war protesters" — those who yelled similar things at President Bush but who now under a Democrat utter nary a peep of protest.

Yoo's case shows how those on the extreme left deal with free speech that isn't their own. As blogger Andrew Breitbart noted, it comes straight out of radical organizer Saul Alinsky's playbook: "Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

Change the target from right to left, and you'd have a phalanx of ACLU lawyers coming to his defense. Left-leaning think tanks, always keen to support "civil rights," would take up the cudgel. Not this time. Berkeley law school dean Christopher Edley Jr. rejected calls to fire Yoo, but his reason was pathetic. The university, he said, didn't have the resources to investigate Yoo's work fully.

Memo to Edley: Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution explicitly gives the president the right to "require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices . . ." It seems clear that Yoo is covered. Maybe the federal judge who recently ruled Yoo could be sued for his legal opinions by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla should also actually read the Constitution.

Sadly, Yoo isn't the only recent target of hatred and intolerance of any opposition to the left's far-reaching agenda. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey incurred its wrath by suggesting a massive government takeover of health care was a bad idea. Now, for Mackey's apostasy from liberal orthodoxy, the left is organizing a nationwide boycott of his grocery chain. This is how the left works these days. It's a sad state of affairs when those who make the greatest claims of constitutional rights for their own behavior are the least willing to grant them to others.




There's a new conservative blog up with the ambitious title The Truth. It's got some good stuff on Obamacare. There's a BIG coverage of that issue up again today on SOCIALIZED MEDICINE too.

Princess Michele requires more than twenty attendants: “No, Michele Obama does not get paid to serve as the First Lady and she doesn’t perform any official duties. But this hasn’t deterred her from hiring an unprecedented number of staffers to cater to her every whim and to satisfy her every request in the midst of the Great Recession. Just think Mary Lincoln was taken to task for purchasing china for the White House during the Civil War. And Mamie Eisenhower had to shell out the salary for her personal secretary. How things have changed! If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans facing certain destitution, earning less than subsistence wages stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart or serving up McDonald cheeseburgers, prepare to scream and then come to realize that the benefit package for these servants of Miz Michele are the same as members of the national security and defense departments and the bill for these assorted lackeys is paid by John Q. Public"

"Cash for clunkers" won't be running much longer, government says: "The government will announce a plan as soon as tomorrow for winding down its popular but problem-plagued 'cash for clunkers' program. The announcement by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood came as a New York dealership group said that hundreds of its members had stopped doing clunker transactions because of delays in getting reimbursed by the federal government."

Yale surrenders: "The capitulation of Yale University Press to threats that hadn't even been made yet is the latest and perhaps the worst episode in the steady surrender to religious extremism -- particularly Muslim religious extremism -- that is spreading across our culture. A book called The Cartoons That Shook the World, by Danish-born Jytte Klausen, who is a professor of politics at Brandeis University, tells the story of the lurid and preplanned campaign of 'protest' and boycott that was orchestrated in late 2005 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a competition for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. (The competition was itself a response to the sudden refusal of a Danish publisher to release a book for children about the life of Mohammed, lest it, too, give offense.) By the time the hysteria had been called off by those who incited it, perhaps as many as 200 people around the world had been pointlessly killed. Yale University Press announced last week that it would go ahead with the publication of the book, but it would remove from it the 12 caricatures that originated the controversy."

Hutterites steamrolled by the state: "On July 24, in a case brought by the Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Alberta government is entitled to require a photo on the Hutterites' drivers' licenses. 'The negative impact on the freedom of religion of Colony members who wish to obtain licenses,' the decision summary explains, 'does not outweigh the benefits associated with the universal photo requirement.' The Hutterites-a sect or a religious group as one might want to call them-refuse to have their pictures taken for their driver's licenses and for a related digital photo data bank."

Airline deregulation: "Even the partial freeing of the air travel sector has had overwhelmingly positive results. Air travel has dramatically increased and prices have fallen. After deregulation, airlines reconfigured their routes and equipment, making possible improvements in capacity utilization. These efficiency effects democratized air travel, making it more accessible to the general public. Airfares, when adjusted for inflation, have fallen 25 percent since 1991, and, according to Clifford Winston and Steven Morrison of the Brookings Institution, are 22 percent lower than they would have been had regulation continued (Morrison and Winston 2000)."

Another genuine case of a police officer "acting stupidly" (so where's Obama?) "A 38 year-old mother of three, who posed no threat the police or anyone else, was tasered right in front of her children in January of this year. Yet to my knowledge, President Obama has failed to address this genuine case of the police 'acting stupidly.' Maybe it's because Audra Harmon cannot help the president make his case about the 'history' of race relations and the police since Mrs. Harmon appears to be a Caucasian woman. No, Mrs. Harmon doesn't have the ability to claim she was racially profiled for DWB but this does not make the actions of Deputy Sean Andrews any less shameful."

The broken windshield fallacy: "When governments follow criminally stupid policies, criminals can end up improving overall welfare. This may well be the case with Germany's reprehensible cash-for-clunkers program. Germany's police union, the Bund Deutscher Kriminalbeamter, estimates that about 50,000 cars destined for the scrap yard under Berlin's trade-in scheme have been illegally resold to Africa and Eastern Europe. The government had paid around ƒ,ª125 million for these vehicles to be destroyed so that people would buy new, more fuel-efficient cars. German environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe predicts a doubling of illicit exports by the end of the year. It's probably only a matter of time before American clunkers will likewise find their illegal way to the streets of Mexico and beyond. And humanity would be better off if they did. Imagine if the Salvation Army were ordered to destroy all the used clothing and furniture it receives instead of distributing it to the poor. No doubt this would be considered an outrage. But it is no less economically foolish and morally repugnant to deny poor people in the developing world access to these old cars."

Promises, promises, promises -- from the British Labour party: "Over the past decade we have all felt New Labour's grip tightening around our lives, but perhaps one of the most adversely impacted demographics from their time in power are the young adults who will have to face the New Labour legacy. Throughout its time in power, New Labour has made a series of empty promises to young people in Britain putting them in an increasingly disadvantaged position. Instead of leaving them free to grow up in a more prosperous society, they are now subject to live with falling standards in youth health, rising youth crime and non-existent community cohesion. Despite Tony Blair's promise of 'education, education, education', young people now find themselves with fewer opportunities than when he came to power."

That efficient British bureaucracy again: "The Ministry of Defence has lost track of equipment worth £6.6 billion, prompting calls for a review of the department’s record-keeping. The National Audit Office (NAO) refused to approve the MoD’s accounts this summer after auditors were unable to find equipment worth £6.6 billion, including about a sixth of the vehicles, weapons and radios used by British troops. In a statement released last night, the MoD said that the figure — which is equivalent to the department’s entire annual equipment budget — was simply an extrapolation made by the Audit Office after the MoD was “unable to satisfy the NAO’s demand for paperwork from stock checking to verify their (assets) presence over the year”. This year the NAO said that the strains of war often meant that frontline units were not able to reply to the annual census of equipment, but added that there was a shortage of staff to run the complex registers that keep track of equipment used by troops."


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, August 20, 2009

Wow! Google are being VERY nasty at the moment!

Google must be in a VERY bad mood over their recent court loss. Perhaps as a result, they seem to have really ramped up their blocking software. I have had THREE of my blog sites blocked from further postings in the last 10 minutes.

A few minutes ago I put up my latest post on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH and about 5 seconds after it went up I got a message saying that all future postings to it would be blocked on suspicion that it is a "spam blog".

As the blog has been much the same for years it's all very strange. I have requested a review of the block so it should in theory be back in action in the next day or two. Last time they blocked my GREENIE WATCH blog (for the THIRD time), they removed the block after 24 hours approx. so that was not too bad.

They do sometimes fail to act on review requests, however, and my original Obama Watch blog has never had its restrictions lifted despite many requests.

So if you cannot access any further posts on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, just go to the mirror site instead.

The second blog they have blocked is FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, which is very much a science blog. Strange indeed! Its mirror site is here.

The third site is one I just use for a scratch area so does not matter much. This site that you are now reading could be next so note its mirror site here.

Google loses in court

Vogue cover girl Liskula Cohen has won a precedent-setting court battle to unmask an anonymous blogger who called her a "skank" on the internet. In a case with potentially far-reaching repercussions, Liskula Cohen sought the identity of the blogger who maligned her on the Skanks in NYC blog so that she could sue him or her for defamation. A Manhattan supreme court judge ruled that she was entitled to the information and ordered Google, which ran the offending blog, to turn it over.

Ms Cohen, a tall, Canadian blonde who has modelled for Giorgio Armani and Versace, went to court after reading the wounding anonymous comments on Google's "I would have to say the first-place award for 'Skankiest in NYC' would have to go to Liskula Gentile Cohen," the blogger "Anonymous" wrote in one posting. The blog, since removed, ridiculed the former Australian Vogue cover girl as a "40-something" who "may have been hot 10 years ago", when she was actually 36.

Justice Joan Madden rejected the blogger's claim that the blogs "serve as a modern-day forum for conveying personal opinions, including invective and ranting", and should not be treated as factual assertions.

The model was looking forward last night to discovering the identity of the alleged acquaintance who insulted her. "Everybody is waiting to see who this coward is," Steven Wagner, her lawyer, said.

Andrew Pederson, a Google spokesman, said: "We sympathise with anyone who may be the victim of cyberbullying. We also take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order."




ObamaCare protesters “racist,” including black gun owner: “On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: ‘A man at a pro-health care reform rally … wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip …. there are questions about whether this has racial overtones …. white people showing up with guns.’ Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black. Following Brewer’s report … Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. … Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black.”

Crowley gets ovation from officers in California: "The police sergeant who sparked a national debate on race relations when he arrested a Harvard University professor in his home received a standing ovation Monday from thousands of police officers at a Fraternal Order of Police convention. More than 3,000 officers cheered Cambridge, Mass., police Sgt. James Crowley when he briefly spoke to kick off the five-day meeting. Dozens left their seats to take snapshots of him on the podium at the Long Beach Convention Center. "The past month has been very difficult for my family, my friends and my colleagues back in Cambridge, and it's no exaggeration to say that it wouldn't be as easy for me to handle this without the support from the Fraternal Order of Police ... and the support that the men and women who do this job have given me," Crowley said. "Thank you very much."

Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling: "You read that headline correctly. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is financing oil exploration off Brazil. The U.S. is going to lend billions of dollars to Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobras, to finance exploration of the huge offshore discovery in Brazil's Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's planning minister confirmed that White House National Security Adviser James Jones met this month with Brazilian officials to talk about the loan. The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas. But look on the bright side. If President Obama has embraced offshore drilling in Brazil, why not in the old U.S.A.? The land of the sorta free and the home of the heavily indebted has enormous offshore oil deposits"

You can trust a liberal … to be a liberal: “The liberals are back. For proof, just check out the antics of two noted liberals, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews and editor in chief Joan Walsh. This week both of them went apoplectic over a libertarian’s having the audacity to exercise two fundamental rights at the same time — free speech and the right to bear arms, both of which are guaranteed by the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution. What caused Matthews’ and Walsh’s apoplexy?”

The right’s rebellion: "The altarpiece of the transformational presidency, universal health insurance, is on life support, as huge crowds pour into town hall meetings to denounce it. Responding to the protests, the Obamaites have dumped the end-of-life counselors (aka ‘Death Panels’) and declared the government option expendable. But what are we to make of these ‘evil-mongers’ of Harry Reid’s depiction, these ‘mobs’ of ‘thugs’ organized by K Street lobbyists and ‘right-wing extremists’ who engage in ‘un-American’ activity at town hall meetings? Surely, all Americans must detest them. To the contrary. According to a Pew poll, by 61 percent to 34 percent, Americans think the protesters are behaving properly.”

History repeats with Obama’s anti-growth policies: “During the economic downturn from roughly 1929 to 1939, Franklin Roosevelt implemented a raft of anti-capitalist, anti-growth policies, from wage controls to higher taxes to simple badgering of businesses (especially utilities). The result was that Europe emerged from the depression sooner while Democratic economic policies turned what could have been just a bad recession into the Great Depression. The Obama Administration suffers the same fatal conceit as all socialists, namely the belief that their policies will work where similar policies have failed because now they have the right people, smarter people, implementing them with the latest scientific methods.”

TSA and its brethren: “To the public, at any rate to the many people with whom I have discussed the matter, the air of federal fear seems almost demented. I have had an (actual) TSA woman solemnly examine a pair of tweezers to determine whether they were blunt-nosed (acceptable) or pointed (posing a threat of hijacking). Do we really believe that a team of Al Quaeda terrorists are going to leap up brandishing tweezers? Equally absurd is that a woman cannot enter the US consulate in Guadalajara with her lipstick. Yes, I know it could contain a cyanide dart or a hidden vial of Tabun. So could anything.”

President Obama now looks more like symptom than cause: “Ironically, if President Obama wants to pass health insurance reform now — even with co-ops replacing the public option — he’s going to have to do something that Bill Clinton pulled off with his Sister Souljah moment. He’s going to have to tell the single-payer folks and the Deaniacs to either sign up for his compromise or get off the train. That’s the only way he wins a consistent, even if floating, 60-vote majority that holds the moderate Senators of both parties as well as the House Blue Dogs to a modified version of his social agenda. If it happens it will not be pretty, because the Dean progressives have done the most dangerous thing you can do in politics: they have started to believe their own narrative that they elected this President, and that he can’t survive or win re-election without them.”

AARP losing massive membership over “politics”: “About 60,000 senior citizens have quit AARP since July 1 due to the group’s support for a health care overhaul, a spokesman for the organization said Monday. The membership loss suggests dissatisfaction on the part of AARP members at a time when many senior citizens are concerned about proposed cuts to Medicare providers to help pay for making healthcare available for all. But spokesman Drew Nannis said it wasn’t unusual for the powerful, 40 million-strong senior citizens’ lobby to shed members in droves when it’s advocating on a controversial issue.”

Alinsky’s Rule 12: Starting to wear thin: “The left apparently thought they had been given a weapon with infinite ammunition. But it doesn’t work that way. If you go into your office today and accuse a particular co-worker of dishonesty, you’ll probably be taken seriously. If you do it with a different co-worker every week for a few months, you won’t. Everyone involved starts to realize that it’s just a tactic. Then they begin to wonder why you’re doing it. Are you trying to cover up something?”

Blacks more likely to succumb to Hep C: “Scientists say they’ve found a big reason why treatment for chronic hepatitis C infection works better for White patients than for Blacks. It’s a tiny variation in a gene. People with a certain gene variant are far more likely to respond to treatment, and that variant is more common in people with European ancestry than African-Americans, researchers report. In fact, that probably explains about half the racial disparity in treatment response, the scientists estimate in a study published online Sunday by the journal Nature. The work involved 1,137 patients who had a chronic infection with the most common type of hepatitis C virus in the U.S. and Europe, one that is less responsive to treatment than other types. They were given standard drug treatment.”

Fundamental ingredient for life discovered in comet: “A fundamental ingredient for life has been discovered in a comet sample, supporting the idea that such icy objects seeded early Earth with the stuff needed to whip up living organisms. New research firms up past suggestions of glycine, the simplest amino acid used to make proteins, inside samples from the comet Wild 2 (pronounced ‘Vilt 2′). ‘This is the first time an amino acid has been found in a comet,’ said lead researcher Jamie Elsila of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. ‘Our discovery supports the theory that some of life’s ingredients formed in space and were delivered to Earth long ago by meteorite and comet impacts.’ How life arose on Earth has long puzzled scientists and philosophers alike, with possible evidence for such building blocks showing up floating about in the cosmos and even inside the mouths of volcanoes. The new finding, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, also has implications for finding alien life.”

The California Coastal Commission vs. its critics: “Richard Oshen has spent the past four years making a documentary about the California Coastal Commission (CCC), a state agency too obscure to have gathered any previous documentarian’s attention. It is, however, well known enough in the world of land-use policy to have been called, in a 2008 New York Times story, ‘the most formidable player of all’ when it comes to land use decisions in California. As Oshen learned, the CCC’s powers extend far beyond what anyone would reasonably think of as either land use or the protection of California’s coast. Coastal protection was the ostensible reason a four-year ‘Coastal Commission’ was first invented for California after 1972’s Proposition 20. The CCC was given permanent life by the California Coastal Act of 1976. Its current executive director, Peter Douglas, who is now serving his 29th year, helped agitate for and then draft the very statewide proposition that gave him his job. Oshen, meanwhile, finds himself in a legal battle with the very government agency he’s investigating. The CCC is trying to legally seize copies of much of the raw footage Oshen has shot, as well as a version of the finished product, titled Sins of Commission, prior to its official release.”

The battle of the bulb: “You can lead a horse to water, but not make it drink: except for politicians, especially in Brussels. Europe’s Finest, ever busy fixing the world, stop at nothing to force happiness upon their citizens. Who knows better what’s good for the fine citizens from Bulgaria to Portugal than the 26 commissioners sitting at the avenues de Beaulieu and d’Auderghem, and rue Belliard? This ancient complaint finds new life in Brussels’ latest, saving the planet by telling EU citizens how they may and may not illuminate their homes. Banning Edison’s light bulb proclaiming ‘inefficient!’ while ignoring the mercury-hazard of CFLs (compact fluorescents) is an absurd idea on so many grounds. Most disgracefully, it once again shows politicians don’t trust consumers to make choices. Choice, after all, is anathema for politicians, as the people easily make the wrong decisions.”

CO: Best Buy fires students after they tackle shoplifter: “Jared Bergstreser, 20, and Colin Trapp, 23, were fired Sunday, two weeks after they tried to stop two men fleeing the store at the FlatIron Marketplace. When the students saw the men fleeing with armloads of merchandise, Bergstreser tackled one of the men and Trapp came to help, but the man pulled a knife and broke free. A store manager was also involved in the Aug. 1 fracas and was cut by the shoplifting suspect, police said.”

Cash for clunkers gives GM a boost : “General Motors announced today that it will build 60,000 more cars and trucks this year as supplies have dropped and sales have spiked more than expected, in part because of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program. The announcement will lead to additional shifts and overtime at several factories and the reinstatement of 1,350 workers at two plants. GM said that sales in the month of July and August are between 60,000 and 70,000 units above what the company had predicted as recently as two months ago. In July, the automaker had approximately 300,000 units for sale compared to a peak level of 1.3 million vehicles available at one point in the past four years.”

Lampooning Palin — the sport of progressives: “Palin punching has been the pastime of choice for the Hollywood hordes ever since the former Alaska Governor first burst upon their free-range radars as McCain’s running mate during the last presidential follies. Professional players like Tina Fey and David Letterman have become well known Palin baiters, and William Shatner has shown up on Conan’s Tonight Show reading her resignation speech and subsequent Tweets as beat poetry, accompanied by bass and bongos. So the question that arises is this: is it an absolute ironclad requirement that everyone associated with the American entertainment industry be a political liberal?”


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, August 19, 2009

Does the rally in the picture below remind you of anything?

Hitler? Obama? It is in fact a 1939 rally in London of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Osward Mosley.

Via Powerline, who also note that Sir Oswald was an early advocate of socialized healthcare. Mosley would no doubt be gratified by the extent to which his party's socialist vision of government control over the healthcare industry has become the policy of the current administration in the U.S.A. Note the following quote from the BUF health policy:
The voluntary hospitals which have done so much in the training of doctors, dentists and nurses, are undoubtedly finding it extremely difficult in carrying on at the highest pitch of efficiency, for financial reasons. The British Union of Fascists views with admiration the work done by the men and women who are responsible for the building up of this system, and it sees no reason for the abolition of the voluntary hospitals. On the assumption of power we envisage the appointment of a National Director of Hospitals, who would co-ordinate the working of all the different hospitals (both Voluntary and State hospitals) and who would be represented by a single nominee on the governing Committees of all the voluntary hospitals. The State would make it its duty to find the necessary additional funds for the management of the voluntary hospitals and would not interfere in their internal management.

Does that remind you of someone who repeatedly assures people that they will all be able to keep their existing healthcare insurance after his socialist plan is implemented?


Did Krupskaya cave?

(Krupskaya was the wife of V.I. Lenin)

We have closely followed the story of Obama administration flack Linda Douglass -- a cross between Nurse Ratched and Mrs. Lenin -- and her invitation to report fishy comments on Obamacare to the official email address. I thought the project was, as the liberals say nowadays, un-American, and rather obviously so. How fitting of the Obama administration to hark back to the ethos of Big Brother while promoting socialized health care.

Appropriately enough, the email address disappeared down the memory hole. The White House has apparently issued no announcement on the disposition of the email account. Many would-be informers have been left in the lurch, sadly including those of us who have taken to turning in Obama for his compulsively fishy comments on his putative program. Politico's Mike Allen reports the story without comment.

Did Krupskaya cave? Maybe, but she may also have beat a tactical retreat. Frustrated informants can still submit their neighbors' fishy thoughts on Obamacare to the White House via the "Reality Check" Web page on, which allows the submission of readers' comments. The Web form stresses, however, that viewers are discouraged from from submitting "any individual's personal information, including their [sic] email address, without their permission."

What can we learn from this episode? The Obama administration is sensitive to ridicule, disinclined frankly to admit error and virtually incapable of seeing itself as others see it. In the service of a radical agenda pursued with deceit and demagoguery, it will grudgingly take one step back while it rewrites its playbook to advance three or four steps forward.



Finding no buyers for snake oil

Master politician that he is, Barack Obama is a lousy calculator. He spectacularly misjudged the American public's appetite for a government nanny. Or maybe he miscalculated the power of his slippery tongue to sell government snake oil. His apparent willingness to abandon the attempt - for now - to nationalize the health-care industry appears to defer the Democratic first step in remaking the home of the brave and the land of the free into Little America, cutting it down to a size incapable of intimidating the likes of Switzerland or Swaziland.

But only if the opposition keeps up unremitting pressure. The president signals a change in tactics, not objectives. His concession that the so-called "government option" is temporarily dead does not mean the dream of "postalizing" health care, of making it as responsive as the Post Office, is dead. It's merely that the tenderizing pain in certain Democratic keesters is so acute that somebody had to find a way to get a little relief. Running up a fake white flag might do it; when the opposition puts down its guns the postalizers will fire at will.

The president never actually said he would defer to public sentiment. The special gift of snake-oil salesmen is their ability to say one thing and make audiences hear something else. "All I'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform," he told an audience on Sunday in Colorado. "This is just one sliver of it."

The leftmost fringe of his party is having none of this apparent concession to reasonableness and moderation. House Democrats recall their ecstasy of waking up on the morning after the 2008 elections, imagining that with their 78-seat margin it's now or never, and they can't wait to get started on the plastic surgery to alter the face of America the Beautiful. They've been sharpening scalpels and carving knives since.

This puts the House leaders, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her liege man, Steny Hoyer, in a particular bind. They owe their 78-seat margin to men and women moderate enough to win in conservative districts; many of these freshmen know they will never be sophomores if they vote for a health care plan that dooms the private insurance coverage that works well enough for the middle class.

One of them, Rep. Eric Massa of New York, is a confirmed nanny-state Democrat who understands what a vote for Obamacare is likely to cost him. "I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful. I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them."

The early Democratic strategy of trying to shout down the opposition, painting critics as Nazis waving swastikas (Nancy Pelosi), as "evil-mongers" (Senate Leader Harry Reid), as "un-American" (Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas), as over-dressed snobs and bounders (Sen. Barbara Boxer of California), clearly failed.

So has the attempt to portray critics as ignorant yahoos too thick to understand how well government health schemes have worked in places like Canada and Great Britain. The more we learn about the Canadian and British schemes the less they look like models for anyone.

The new president of the Canadian Medical Association says Canadian doctors must recognize how sick the Canadian system is and figure out how to fix it. "We all agree that the system is imploding," says Dr. Anne Doig, "and we all agree that things are more precarious than Canadians perhaps realize."

Stephen Glover, a columnist for the London Daily Mail, defends Britain's National Health Service but concedes that Americans wouldn't like it. "Consult any American who has encountered the National Health Service," he writes. "Often [visiting Americans] cannot believe ... the squalor, the looming threat, the long waiting lists and especially the target that patients in 'accident and emergency' should be expected to wait for no more than four - four! - hours, the sense exuded by some medical staff that they are doing you a favor by taking down your personal details. Most Americans, let's face it, are used to much higher standards of health care than we enjoy."

Americans aren't as dumb as the politicians often think they are, and nothing educates politicians like a well-aimed two-by-four square across the noggin. That's the hard lesson of the summer of '09.



Obama loses trust of Israel backers

Majority see president as 'pro-Palestinian'

President Obama's harsh criticism of West Bank settlements during his heavily publicized June speech to the Arab world in Cairo continues to reverberate here, undercutting his popularity and heightening tensions with some pro-Israel advocates in the United States. Navigating the complex relationship with Israel is a delicate task for any administration, but relations are especially delicate now as Mr. Obama is making a major push to build trust with the region's vast Muslim population and coordinate a diplomatic drive to halt Iran's nuclear programs.

During his June speech, Mr. Obama questioned the legitimacy of the settlements, saying they violated previous agreements and undermined the peace process, prompting a hawkish public response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A recent poll sponsored by the Jerusalem Post underscored the extent of the rift: Just 6 percent of Jewish Israelis surveyed said they now consider Mr. Obama's administration to be "pro-Israel." Fifty percent said Mr. Obama was "pro-Palestinian, and 36 percent said he was "neutral."

Otniel Schneller, deputy speaker of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, warned that Mr. Obama's approach could stymie the peace process. "He doesn't understand the conflict. He thinks he understands it," Mr. Schneller told The Washington Times. "The formula is very easy. If they will continue to push us to give the Palestinians more than 90 percent of the West Bank, there will not be any peace in the future, ever."

Mr. Schneller, a modern Orthodox Jew, lives in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Mikhmas. He is one of an estimated 300,000 Jewish settlers, many of whom have built homes in the region as an expression of religious conviction.

The United States has always maintained close ties with Israel, an alliance strengthened during the Cold War, when Israel provided vital intelligence about Russian military capabilities to U.S. agents. Cultural and religious ties also bind the two countries.

Pro-Israel groups in the United States initially expressed concerns about some of Mr. Obama's views as he began his White House bid. However, after he secured the Democratic nomination, a number of American Jewish leaders began to coalesce behind him.

Now, several leading Republicans said they think rising anti-Obama sentiment here could translate into inroads for Republicans who have been seeking support from American Jews. Virginia Republican Rep. Eric Cantor, No. 2 in the House Republican Party hierarchy and the only Jewish Republican in an elected national position, appealed to Jewish voters in the Israeli press, telling them they have a place in the Republican Party.

Mr. Cantor earlier this month led a delegation of 25 House Republicans, many freshman members, on a one-week tour of Israel sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, an arm of the powerful lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC maintains an annual budget of nearly $60 million and an endowment of $130 million.

Last week, 29 House Democrats were following suit, completing an ambitious schedule that included meetings with Mr. Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. "There is much discussion, I think, within the scene in American politics about the American Jewish vote, about potential gains for the Republican Party among many minorities, as well as the population as a whole," Mr. Cantor said in Jerusalem during a press conference.

The discussion of any true shift in allegiances, though, may be premature just six months into the new administration, many observers said. "I do not think that the relationship has been damaged yet," said George S. Naggiar, chairman of the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights. However, Mr. Naggiar noted that "because the United States wants to maintain an image of power and credibility among Arabs and Muslims and because Israel's refusal to end settlements will undermine that image, such refusal has the potential to damage the U.S. relationship with Israel."

Mr. Naggiar said American Jews, while strongly linked with the Democratic Party, are not single-issue voters and only a small minority are fiercely devoted to maintaining and expanding Jewish settlements.

But Jeff Daube, director of the Zionist Organization of America's Israel office, said he thinks the president's positions have taken a toll. "There is no doubt that it has damaged the relationship," Mr. Daube said of Mr. Obama's call to halt settlements.



For the Left, war without Bush is no war at all

The soap-bubble "principles" of the Left again

Remember the anti-war movement? Not too long ago, the Democratic party's most loyal voters passionately opposed the war in Iraq. Democratic presidential candidates argued over who would withdraw American troops the quickest. Netroots activists regularly denounced President George W. Bush, and sometimes the U.S. military ("General Betray Us"). Cindy Sheehan, the woman whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, became a heroine when she led protests at Bush's Texas ranch.

That was then. Now, even though the United States still has roughly 130,000 troops in Iraq, and is quickly escalating the war in Afghanistan -- 68,000 troops there by the end of this year, and possibly more in 2010 -- anti-war voices on the Left have fallen silent.

No group was more angrily opposed to the war in Iraq than the netroots activists clustered around the left-wing Web site DailyKos. It's an influential site, one of the biggest on the Web, and in the Bush years many of its devotees took an active role in raising money and campaigning for anti-war candidates.

In 2006, DailyKos held its first annual convention, called YearlyKos, in Las Vegas. Amid the slightly discordant surroundings of the Riviera Hotel casino, the webby activists spent hours discussing and planning strategies not only to defeat Republicans but also to pressure Democrats to oppose the war more forcefully. The gathering attracted lots of mainstream press attention; Internet activism was the hot new thing.

Fast forward to last weekend, when YearlyKos, renamed Netroots Nation, held its convention in Pittsburgh. The meeting didn't draw much coverage, but the views of those who attended are still, as they were in 2006, a pretty good snapshot of the left wing of the Democratic party. The news that emerged is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have virtually fallen off the liberal radar screen. Kossacks (as fans of DailyKos like to call themselves) who were consumed by the Iraq war when George W. Bush was president are now, with Barack Obama in the White House, not so consumed, either with Iraq or with Obama's escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, they barely seem to care.

As part of a straw poll done at the convention, the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg presented participants with a list of policy priorities like health care and the environment. He asked people to list the two priorities they believed "progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most." The winner, by far, was "passing comprehensive health care reform." In second place was enacting "green energy policies that address environmental concerns." And what about "working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan"? It was way down the list, in eighth place.

Perhaps more tellingly, Greenberg asked activists to name the issue that "you, personally, spend the most time advancing currently." The winner, again, was health care reform. Next came "working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections." Then came a bunch of other issues. At the very bottom -- last place, named by just one percent of participants -- came working to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's an extraordinary change in the mindset of the left. I attended the first YearlyKos convention, and have kept up with later ones, and it's safe to say that for many self-styled "progressives," the war in Iraq was the animating cause of their activism. They hated the war, and they hated George W. Bush for starting it. Or maybe they hated the war because George W. Bush started it. Either way, it was war, war, war. Now, not so much.

Cindy Sheehan is learning that. She's still protesting the war, and on Monday she announced plans to demonstrate at Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama will be vacationing. "We as a movement need to continue calling for an immediate end to the occupations [in Iraq and Afghanistan] even when there is a Democrat in the Oval Office," Sheehan said in a statement. "There is still no Noble Cause no matter how we examine the policies." Give her credit for consistency, if nothing else. But her days are over. The people who most fervently supported her have moved on.

Not too long ago, some observers worried that Barack Obama would come under increasing pressure from the Left to leave both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, it seems those worries were unfounded. For many liberal activists, opposing the war was really about opposing George W. Bush. When Bush disappeared, so did their anti-war passion.



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, August 18, 2009

Those model Canadians again

Further to my weekend column on how a government health system inevitably means restricted access to treatment, a word from British Columbia: "The Fraser Health Authority confirmed Thursday it intends to cut surgeries, seniors' programs and services for the mentally ill to help deal with a budget shortfall of up to $160 million. However, it said the emergency department at Mission Memorial Hospital will stay open."

That's awfully sporting of them, all things considered: "The board said 10 to 15 per cent of elective surgeries will be cut in the latter part of the 2009-10 fiscal year, with slowdowns already scheduled for the Olympic period."

That's how it works. You can elect to have the surgery but they won't elect to give it to you. And don't ask me why hosting the Winter Olympics should necessitate cuts in health care. Unless they're expecting an epidemic of two-man luge teams with buttocks frozen to the sled or men's ice-dancing teams felled by attempting a double-axle in a too tight bolero jacket, it would seem to be just one of those things that happens when governments of advanced wealthy nations decide they can run every aspect of life more "efficiently" than the citizenry.



Can Republicans Do Any Better Than This?

A strong alternative to Obamacare needs to be offered

The party in charge in Washington is doing a horrible job. But can Republicans do any better? To say that the Democrats are “drunk with power” or “out of touch” is inadequate. Something on the order of “clueless” or “oblivious” or “tone-deaf” would be more accurate.

But simply to have the Democrats tripping over their own kingly and queenly arrogance and their incompetence, is not enough to create success for the Republican Party. Republicans - in Congress, running for Congress, and elsewhere - need a cohesive message that signals a competent, respectful, “American” styled government leadership alternative. Can the Republican Party produce this kind of message?

Let’s start by examining just how bad things are with the Democrats. The President that put together the bi-partisan economic advisory dream-team has a moderate, Clinton-era, reasonable appearing member in Larry Summers. But where is former Reagan economic advisor Paul Volcker? He’s neither seen nor heard. And despite Summers’ occasional media appearances, Obama’s economic policies look nothing like either the Reagan era or the Clinton era.

Instead, we got an $800 billion economic “stimlus” bill that funded, among other things, “free” tatoo removal, cricket control, the promotion of astronomy in the Hawaiian islands, a federal sex education program called “Booty Call,” and other non-economically simulative pet projects. The so-called “shovel ready” infrastructure construction projects that were promised have yet to materialize, consumer spending is declining again, and unemployment benefits claims are rising.

Then there was President Obama’s $3.5 trillion budget (Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is now asking Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling above $12 trillion for fear that there won‘t be money to fund Obama‘s budget after October of this year); the so-called “cap-and-trade” energy tax bill that Congressional Democrats themselves scuttled because of outrage from constituents; President Obama’s “firing” of GM’s C.E.O. and his take-over of GM and Chrysler; and the $3 billion plus “cash for clunkers” program that was supposed to get people out of fuel guzzling old cars and into energy efficient new cars, but now is known to have been used for purchases of luxury sedans and SUV’s.

And then there is the proposed nationalization of healthcare. Congressional Democrats can’t seem to fathom how their stupid, un-enlightened constituents could possibly dare to question a proposal to intervene into some of the most personal and intimate area’s of a person’s life. Those who dare to ask questions, or worse yet disapprove, have been labeled by Congressional Democrats as “un-American,” “evil,” “Astroturf,” and “the mob,” and have been accused of “carrying swastikas,” “trying to bring down the President,” and have been compared to the KKK in the days of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Congressional disdain for the “commoner” hit a crescendo last week when Liberal Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, at a town hall meeting in her district, was caught on video suddenly stepping away from her podium to take a call on her mobile phone, even as an audience member was on-microphone, in mid sentence, asking the Congresswoman a question about healthcare.

Nothing says “I don’t care about the idiot voters” like a member of Congress taking a mobile phone call, while a constituent is trying to ask a question.

So, yes, those controlling Washington these days are performing horribly. But what can Republican offer as an alternative?

The current healthcare mess provides tremendous opportunity for Republicans. For starters, Republicans could pledge that they will not legislate any healthcare “reforms” that they would not live with themselves. It’s no secret that the healthcare benefits afforded to members of Congress are of superior quality. Yet, Democrats continue to draft legislative provisions that in some cases would restrict people’s access to healthcare, in other cases would tax people’s existing healthcare, and have contemplated the possibility of levying taxes on “plastic surgery” purchases.

The message being sent by the Democrats to America is “we’re better than you, and we’ll decide what you need,” yet that’s an unacceptable message for most Americans. Republicans can’t simply talk about private-sector reforms (although that must be at the epicenter of the message); they must now address America’s outrage towards the Congressional majority‘s arrogance, and convey that, “no, we are not better than you, and we want better choices for everybody.”

Republican leaders would also do well to convene a series of “heatlhcare alternative” town hall meetings across the country. Republican leaders who have sound, free-market heatlhcare reform ideas - some members of Congress would fit this description, like Congressman John Shaddegg of Arizona and Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, but so would Governor Tim Pawlenty and perhaps other Governors as well - should arrange their own speaking tours across the country. The message here would be “we have an alternative to the President’s plan, we’re in the minority, yet our vision is closer to yours..”

The opportunity for Republicans is at hand. Can they seize the moment? Can they do any better?




Much more about the healthcare debate on SOCIALIZED MEDICINE

Rasmussen Poll: 54% Say Passing No Healthcare Reform Better Than Passing Congressional Plan: "Thirty-five percent (35%) of American voters say passage of the bill currently working its way through Congress would be better than not passing any health care reform legislation this year. However, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most voters (54%) say no health care reform passed by Congress this year would be the better option. This does not mean that most voters are opposed to health care reform. But it does highlight the level of concern about the specific proposals that Congressional Democrats have approved in a series of Committees. To this point, there has been no Republican support for the legislative effort although the Senate Finance Committee is still attempting to seek a bi-partisan solution."

Democrats give veterans a pass from ObamaCare: "We're still sorting through the health-care deal Henry Waxman struck with Blue Dog Democrats recently, but one 11th-hour revision stands out. Namely, veterans will now be "exempt from the requirements of the legislation." That's how Mr. Waxman's staff put it in a memo to reporters earlier this month, announcing amendments that the House Energy and Commerce Committee included before passing the bill 31 to 28. These changes were designed to assuage the "grave concerns" of the American Legion, Amvets and others about how their members could be penalized by new taxes and insurance regulations. We're delighted service members will be let off this particular hook, but why doesn't everyone else warrant the same dispensation? Or to put it another way, Mr. Waxman is conceding that his plan will interfere with all insurance arrangements that aren't exempted, including private options that are working well."

LOL! Obama burnt in effigy by Indian Leftists: "Congress workers today staged a demonstration and burnt the effigy of US President Barack Obama here for detention of Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan at an American airport. The party workers, who gathered in front of the historic Anand Bhawan, raised slogans against the US administration and termed as an "insult to one billion Indians" the questioning of Khan at Newark airport. The 43-year-old actor was detained and questioned for two hours at the Newark Airport near New York yesterday." [There is a more reasonable Indian response here].

Russian aircraft good at crashing: "Two Russian air force fighters rehearsing acrobatic manoeuvres have collided near Moscow, killing one pilot and sending the jets crashing into nearby vacation homes. The Su-27 fighters were members of the elite Russian Knights flying group preparing to perform at the MAKS-2009 air show - the largest and most important exhibition for Russia's aerospace industry. Drik said three pilots ejected from the jets after the collision. He said rescuers found two in satisfactory condition but the third was killed. The Kremlin identified the dead pilot as the Russian Knights' commander, Colonel Igor Tkachenko, a decorated air force officer. In recent years, Russian air force jets have suffered a series of mishaps, many blamed on the ageing condition of Soviet-era planes. Earlier this year, officials grounded the air force's entire fleet of Su-24s after two crashes in three days. Two crashes of MiG-29 jets in 2008 let to the grounding of that entire model as well. A subsequent investigation demonstrated that a large number had become unsafe to fly and they were scrapped." [And that's not mentioning the many crashes of Russian civilian aircraft]

What Obama’s Town Hall Charade and Pam Anderson’s Breasts Have in Common: "The only problem with the Portsmouth town hall is that it was more artificially stacked with Obama lap dogs than Pam Anderson’s ta-tas are with boat caulk. Of course the meeting was upbeat and thumping . . . it was contrived. A Cyclops could see that. Look, as a knuckle-dragging heterosexual who lives in a God-blessed testosterone fog, I don’t mind fake when it comes to breasts. But when it comes to being conned by a Boob and his stacked crowd, well . . . I gotta admit . . . that makes me want to spit."

The real astroturfers: "Members of the nation's labor unions have made up a hefty segment of the audiences that flocked to town halls Mr. Obama held in the past week, and they have played an even larger role in a nationwide campaign for an insurance overhaul. Financially, and with boots on the ground, unions have become the backbone of the president's effort... The Obama administration decried the opposition movement as a cynical, fake grass-roots campaign manufactured by the insurance industry to undermine his effort. To respond meant galvanizing a movement of his own. That began to take shape, at least visibly, when AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney sent an Aug. 6 memo to union officers across the country to mobilize."

Dealers get paid for only 2% of “clunkers”: “The federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2 percent of the claims they’ve submitted through the popular ‘cash for clunkers’ program, a Pennsylvania congressman said, calling on the Obama administration to help speed up the process. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., called for ‘immediate action’ to address the problem in a statement Sunday, after writing a letter to President Obama Saturday expressing his concerns. In the letter, Sestak said only 2 percent of claims have been paid and that four of every five applications have been ‘rejected for minor oversight.’”

The enduring testimony of Communists who lost faith: "Although the Cold War was a "great game" played out on the field of diplomacy, a conflict between military superpowers that sometimes turned hot, it was also the 20th century's war of religion: a clash of beliefs and a battle of the books. This mortal combat ­between Communism and liberal democracy produced a vast literature, some books famous in their day, some ­famous still. Now John V. Fleming has had the excellent idea of telling the story of four of them, and the result is the readable and fascinating "The Anti-Communist ­Manifestos." It may be all the better because Mr. ­Fleming, an emeritus professor at Princeton, isn't a modern historian by trade but an authority on medieval literature who knows how to read a text and its context. His four manifestos are "Darkness at Noon," Arthur Koestler's novel about the Soviet show ­trials, and three memoirs: "Out of the Night," by the pseudonymous "Jan Valtin," a mysterious ­Communist ­agitator; "I Chose ­Freedom," by the ­Soviet defector ­Victor Kravchenko; and "Witness," by Whittaker ­Chambers, best known to history as the man who ­accused Alger Hiss of ­espionage."

NY: No lemonade permit? That’ll cost ya, kid!: "Three sourpuss Parks Department agents put the squeeze on a 10-year-old girl in Riverside Park yesterday, slapping the tyke with a $50 ticket for hawking lemonade without a permit. Clementine Lee, who lives just blocks from the Upper West Side park, had dreamed of opening a lemonade stand since last year and took advantage of yesterday’s beautiful weather to set up shop. ‘It was such a hot day I figured people would want a cold drink,’ the aspiring juvenile juice-mogul told The Post. … But yesterday, after The Post contacted the department, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced that the ticket would be nixed.”

Obama wants the government to own your house : "The Obama administration, in a major shift on housing policy, is abandoning George W. Bush’s vision of creating an ‘ownership society’ and instead plans to pump $4.25 billion of economic stimulus money into creating tens of thousands of federally subsidized rental units in American cities. The idea is to pay for the construction of low-rise rental apartment buildings and town houses, as well as the purchase of foreclosed homes that can be refurbished and rented to low- and moderate-income families at affordable rates. Analysts say the approach takes a wrecking ball to Bush’s heavy emphasis on encouraging homeownership as a way to create national wealth and provide upward mobility for low- and working-class families, especially minorities. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan’s recalibration of federal housing policy, they said, shows that the Obama White House has acknowledged that not everyone can or should own a home.”

TN: State law lets thugs pack heat : “Some might question the wisdom of allowing Carlos Antwan Fletcher to carry a loaded handgun in public. He has a lengthy criminal arrest history, including being involved in a violent attack that sent a Metro Police officer to the hospital, a separate aggravated assault charge and various drug and gun arrests. Yet, the state has said it’s OK for the 28-year-old Nashville resident to carry a gun. … Fletcher’s past is not typical of the 237,000 Tennesseans who have obtained gun permits and renew them regularly. … But not touted, and often ignored, is a persistent group of Tennesseans with violent pasts who carry gun permits through loopholes, administrative mistakes and the realities of a court system where charges based on violent incidents can be reduced or eliminated in plea bargains.”

Making a noise about gun rights paid off: “The video of Chris Matthews badgering William Kostric says it all. He was all but foaming at the mouth over the audacity of a CITIZEN bringing a gun to a presidential event. I have to admit to being pretty amused at his outrage, since I figure that there were easily a thousand or more guns carried by citizens at that event the MSNBC cameras DIDN’T see — and I can confirm two from personal knowledge. Let's just think about this, though. The hoplophobes would dearly love to have seen this fellow hauled away. I’ll guarantee you that they tried to get the police to do exactly that. Portsmouth is not exactly one of the more conservative towns in New Hampshire, yet good citizen Kostric was not cuffed and shoved into a squad car. Nor, since he appeared on ‘Hardball’ later, was he ‘neutralized’ by a Secret Service sniper.”

Judges who would be king: "“When a federal judge ordered 17 Chinese Uighurs, detained at Guantanamo Bay, released into the United States last October, he took to its logical conclusion the judiciary’s increasingly bold effort to supervise the president and Congress. Justifying his ruling in the face of Congress’ exclusive constitutional power over when, which, and how foreign nationals may enter the United States, Judge Ricardo Urbina reasoned that ‘our system of checks and balances is designed to preserve the fundamental right of liberty.’ He saw his order as necessary to that end. But if he’s right, then the judiciary itself is the unchecked branch of government. And while judges have expanded their power before in our history, never have the claims to supremacy of some of them been so extreme.”


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