Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's Still the Economy, Stupid

It's been a long time since James Carville said the most famous thing he ever said: It's the economy, stupid. That famous phrase was in fact part of a sign hung in the Clinton campaign headquarters in 1992. There was a sense among the electorate in the fall of 1992, not entirely accurate, that the economy was foundering under George H.W. Bush. Bush lost control of the public's perception of the economy, and then he lost the presidency.

Why with unemployment heading above 10% was Barack Obama on TV last night draining a dwindling reservoir of presidential capital on health care? Redesigning the 17% of the economy that is health care appears to be the siren song of Democratic presidencies. Mr. Obama's crew has famously said it wouldn't make the mistakes the Clintons made on health care. How calling forth both houses of Congress in prime time to join him in betting the ranch on health care qualifies as smarter politics than the Clintons is a mystery. Even more so now than way back in 1992: It's still the economy, stupid.

To save himself and his party from enduring another health-care debacle, Barack Obama should put his agenda on the back burner, bend his efforts to raising the economy, and rebuild his political capital by taking credit for the inevitable rebound. That just might minimize the impending loss of House seats and allow him to revisit his wish list in 2011. The alternative is promising big, accomplishing little and getting credit for nothing. This could be America's greatest failed presidency.

The economy is Barack Obama's 9/11. If you're Mr. Obama, it must seem a little unfair. One year ago at the Labor Day turn toward the stretch, Mr. Obama and his team were on the cusp of one of the most thrilling wins in American presidential history. No matter that many Obama voters were looking past all the state-based initiatives in his politics; the air was filled with possibility.

This was history's moment. Then on Sept. 15, 2008, history hit the wall. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The next day the Fed said it would lend a stunning $85 billion to AIG. A major money-market fund broke the buck. This wasn't just a recession, a reality already discussed in the summer campaign. There was a sense after the nightmare week of Sept. 15 that the American economy was imploding.

Assets in 401(k) accounts were ravaged. Much of the economy appeared to have fallen into the hands of fools and knaves. Businesses that once were economic beacons—GM, Chrysler, Lehman, much of Wall Street—were breaking off and falling into the sea. After its Inauguration, the Obama presidency should have been driving a new health-care entitlement into everlasting law on a wave of good will. Instead, it had to deal with the stumbling economy and credit system.

Whether what they did—stimulus, the auto bailout, TARP and the rest—was the right policy is beside the point for our argument. The administration seemed to think it put a big political problem behind it, clearing the way for health care. That was a false dawn.

The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll has 87% of the public somewhat or very dissatisfied with the economy. The unemployment rate is likely to go above 10% for all 2010. Whatever GDP growth may occur, there is no evidence of new-job creation. Gold's price has risen above $1,000, suggesting inflation is swimming below the economy's flat surface. China is stockpiling gold and worrying out loud about the weak dollar. A U.N. panel said this week the world should abandon the dollar as the world's anchor currency. Just now, Barack Obama's mad obsession with arcane health-insurance puzzles looks beside the point.

I don't think anyone fully understands yet how much damage was done to the U.S. economy and financial system by the events of September 2008. Whatever one's belief in the $800 billion Obama-Pelosi-Summers-Romer Keynesian multiplier, it's reasonable to believe more than rote public spending is needed to restore the American job-creation machine. The public rightly worries that a damaged economy is vulnerable to more blows.

The White House may think it and Democratic incumbents can simply pocket the credit for whatever fly-wheel growth shows up the next six months. It's more likely the public will mark down a president who appears passive to its most pressing concern. A presidency seen leading a genuine agenda for renewed growth—offering at least some oxygen to the private economy—would be more likely to earn the broad support it simply does not have now for the agenda of its dreams.

Fat chance it will do that. We opened with the still-good advice of James Carville. We close with an even higher authority to explain last night's odd spectacle before Congress. It's Elwood, political director for the Blues Brothers: "We're on a mission from God."



Obama is in the pocket of the lawyers

Some "special-interests" are OK, apparently -- the most parasitic ones

On Wednesday the president told Congress "I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are." In fact, the administration is standing by to allow its most special, special interest to drive this debate. What the tort bar wants, the tort bar gets. Health insurers should be so lucky.

The legal question has become the starkest symbol of a broken health discussion, and offers insight into this presidency. For Republicans, legal reform has become a litmus test, proof that Democrats have no interest in a deal, and therefore a reason to step back. For many Americans, legal reform has become proof that President Obama is more interested in an ideological triumph than his stated goal of lowering health costs.

Tort reform is a policy no-brainer. Experts on left and right agree that defensive medicine—ordering tests and procedures solely to protect against Joe Lawyer—adds enormously to health costs. The estimated dollar benefits of reform range from a conservative $65 billion a year to perhaps $200 billion. In context, Mr. Obama's plan would cost about $100 billion annually. That the president won't embrace even modest change that would do so much, so quickly, to lower costs, has left Americans suspicious of his real ambitions.

It's also a political no-brainer. Americans are on board. Polls routinely show that between 70% and 80% of Americans believe the country suffers from excess litigation. The entire health community is on board. Republicans and swing-state Democrats are on board. State and local governments, which have struggled to clean up their own civil-justice systems, are on board. In a debate defined by flash points, this is a rare area of agreement.

The only folks not on board are a handful of powerful trial lawyers, and a handful of politicians who receive a generous cut of those lawyers' contingency fees. The legal industry was the top contributor to the Democratic Party in the 2008 cycle, stumping up $47 million. The bill is now due, and Democrats are dutifully making a health-care down payment.

During the markup of a bill in the Senate Health Committee, Republicans offered 11 tort amendments that varied in degree from mere pilot projects to measures to ensure more rural obstetricians. On a party line vote, Democrats killed every one. Rhode Island senator and lawyer Sheldon Whitehouse went so far as to speechify on the virtues of his tort friends. He did not, of course, mention the nearly $900,000 they have given him since 2005, including campaign contributions from national tort powerhouses like Baron & Budd and Motley Rice.

Even Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus, of bipartisan bent, has bowed to legal powers. The past two years, Mr. Baucus has teamed up with Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi to offer legislation for modest health-care tort reform in states. That Enzi-Baucus proposal had been part of the bipartisan health-care talks. When Mr. Baucus released his draft health legislation this weekend, he'd stripped out his own legal reforms. The Montanan is already in the doghouse with party liberals, and decided not to further irk leadership's Dick Durbin ($3.6 million in lawyer contributions), the Senate's patron saint of the trial bar.

Over in the House the discussion isn't about tort reform, but about tort opportunities. During the House Ways & Means markup of a health bill, Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett ($1.5 million from lawyers) introduced language to allow freelance lawyers to sue any outfit (say, McDonald's) that might contribute to Medicare costs. Only after Blue Dogs freaked out did the idea get dropped, though the trial bar has standing orders that Democrats make another run at it in any House-Senate conference.

It says everything that Mr. Obama wouldn't plump for reform as part of legislation. The president knows the Senate would never have passed it in any event. Yet even proposing it was too much for the White House's legal lobby. Mr. Obama is instead directing his secretary of health and human services to move forward on test projects. That would be Kathleen Sebelius, who spent eight years as the head of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association.

The issue has assumed such importance that even some Democrats acknowledge the harm. With bracing honesty, former DNC chair Howard Dean recently acknowledged his party "did not want to take on the trial lawyers." Former Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley, in a New York Times piece, suggested a "grand bipartisan compromise" in which Democrats got universal coverage in return for offering legal reform. The White House yawned, and moved on.

It isn't clear if Republicans would or should take that deal, but we won't know since it won't be offered. The tort-reform issue has instead clarified this presidency. Namely, that the bipartisan president is in fact very partisan, that the new-politics president still takes orders from the old Democratic lobby.



The Keynesians Were Wrong Again

We won't see a return to growth without incentives for job-creating investment. From the beginning, our representatives in Washington have approached this economic downturn with old-fashioned, Keynesian economics. Keynesianism—named after the British economist John Maynard Keynes—is the theory that you fight an economic downturn by pumping money into the economy to "encourage demand" and "create jobs." The result of our recent Keynesian stimulus bills? The longest recession since World War II—21 months and counting—with no clear end in sight. Borrowing close to a trillion dollars out of the private economy to increase government spending by close to a trillion dollars does nothing to increase incentives for investment and entrepreneurship.

The record speaks for itself: In February 2008, President George W. Bush cut a deal with congressional Democrats to pass a $152 billion Keynesian stimulus bill based on countering the recession with increased deficits. The centerpiece was a tax rebate of up to $600 per person, which had no significant effect on economic incentives, as reductions in tax rates do. Learning nothing from this Keynesian failure, which he vigorously supported from the U.S. Senate, President Barack Obama came back in February 2009 to support a $787 billion, purely Keynesian stimulus bill.

Even the tax-cut portion of that bill, which Mr. Obama is still wildly touting to the public, was purely Keynesian. The centerpiece was a $400-per-worker tax credit, which, again, has no significant effect on economic incentives. While Mr. Obama is proclaiming that this delivered on his campaign promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans, the tax credit disappears after next year.

The Obama administration is claiming success, not because of recovery, but because of the slowdown in economic decline. Last month, just 216,000 jobs were lost, and the economy declined by only 1% in the second quarter. Based on his rhetoric, Mr. Obama expects credit for anyone who still has a job.

The fallacies of Keynesian economics were exposed decades ago by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Keynesian thinking was then discredited in practice in the 1970s, when the Keynesians could neither explain nor cure the double-digit inflation, interest rates, and unemployment that resulted from their policies. Ronald Reagan's decision to dump Keynesianism in favor of supply-side policies—which emphasize incentives for investment—produced a 25-year economic boom. That boom ended as the Bush administration abandoned every component of Reaganomics one by one, culminating in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's throwback Keynesian stimulus in early 2008.

Mr. Obama showed up in early 2009 with the dismissive certitude that none of this history ever happened, and suddenly national economic policy was back in the 1930s. Instead of the change voters thought they were getting, Mr. Obama quintupled down on Mr. Bush's 2008 Keynesianism. The result is the continuation of the economic policy disaster we have suffered since the end of 2007. Mr. Obama promised that his stimulus would prevent unemployment from climbing over 8%. It jumped to 9.7% last month. Some 14.9 million Americans are unemployed, another 9.1 million are stuck in part-time jobs and can't find full-time work, and another 2.3 million looked for work in the past year and never found it. That's a total of 26.3 million unemployed or underemployed, for a total jobless rate of 16.8%. Personal income is also down $427 billion from its peak in May 2008.

Rejecting Keynesianism in favor of fiscal restraint, France and Germany saw economic growth return in the second quarter this year. India, Brazil and even communist China are enjoying growth as well. Canada enjoyed job growth last month.

U.S. economic recovery and a permanent reduction in unemployment will only come from private, job-creating investment. Nothing in the Obama economic recovery program, or in the Bush 2008 program, helps with that. Producing long-term economic growth will require a fundamental change in economic policies—lower, not higher, tax rates; reliable, low-cost energy supplies, not higher energy costs through cap and trade; and not unreliable alternative energy surviving only on costly taxpayer subsidies.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama seems to be wedded to his political talking points, and his ideological blinders seem to be permanently affixed. So don't expect any policy changes. Expect an eventual return to 1970s-style economic results instead.




Obama seen failing to sway health debate: "President Obama's address to Congress Wednesday night did little to immediately convert factions in the Democratic party to unify behind a health care overhaul plan Thursday, and his call for an end to "bickering" was met by Republican carping that he failed to "reset" the debate. Liberal House lawmakers said they still want to see the president embrace a government-sponsored public insurance option as part of any bill, and centrist Democrats said they remain worried about the price tag. "I believe a costly government-run public option is the wrong direction for reform and I will not support it," Rep. Mike Ross, a moderate Blue Dog Democrat from Arkansas who has come out in opposition of the plan that he helped shepherd through committee, said in the aftermath of Mr. Obama's speech."

ACORN crooks caught: "The community organizing group ACORN has fired two employees at its Baltimore office who were seen on hidden-camera video giving advice to a man posing as a pimp and a woman pretending to be a prostitute, as some legal experts raise questions over whether the employees broke the law. The staffers appeared to commit federal tax fraud by offering to help the visitors — for a fee — to establish a child brothel, legal experts say. In a video made public Thursday, two visitors to an ACORN office in Baltimore told staffers they needed assistance securing housing where the woman, a 20-year-old who called herself ‘Kenya,’ could continue to run her prostitution business. An ACORN official told the couple how to falsify tax forms and seek illegal benefits for 13 ‘very young’ girls from El Salvador that they said they wanted to import as prostitutes.”

ATK successfully test fires Ares 1 booster: "With the future of NASA’s embattled moon program in doubt, Alliant Techsystems test-fired a huge five-segment solid-fuel booster in Utah Thursday, a ground-shaking demonstration designed to collect performance data for a new rocket intended to replace the space shuttle. Generating 22 million horsepower, the lengthened 154-foot-long shuttle booster ignited with a torrent of flame at 3 p.m. EDT, sending a towering column of dirty brown exhaust into the Utah sky as hundreds of spectators looked on. Two minutes later, after consuming 1.4 million pounds of solid propellant, the rocket burned out.”

If you can afford beer and cigarettes, you can afford health insurance: "I’ve been doing some shopping on health insurance. I could get a policy that covers me, and I’m no spring chicken, for anywhere from $110 to $220 per month, depending on the deductible and co-payment. Most day to day health care is relatively cheap. It is really on[ly] the major problems, which get covered by the higher deductibles, that ought to cause people to worry. So why don’t people have that? A few, but very few, don’t have that sort of basic policy because of finances. But it is rubbish to say that the X million of ‘uninsured’ don’t have it due to costs. That is a lie. Reason TV’s satirical commercial used footage from interviews they did with people about why they don’t health insurance. And many of the people, as you see here, were quite candid. They don’t have health insurance because they prefer to spend the money on booze, clubbing, cigarettes, fancy jeans, 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)


Friday, September 11, 2009


Of the innocents who on this day in 2001 became merely some of the more recent of the multitudinous victims of a barbaric 7th century religion

Obama and the Left

The abrupt resignation of White House aide Van Jones, deep in the news hiatus of Labor Day weekend, will probably be forgotten in a few days. But it's a story that still deserves elaboration for what it says about the political coalition that helped to elect President Obama and whose demands are leading him into a cul-de-sac.

As a candidate, Barack Obama was at pains to offer himself as a man of moderate policies, and especially of moderate temperament. He said he would listen to both the right and left, choosing the best of each depending on "what works." He sold himself as a center-left pragmatist. When his radical associations—Reverend Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers—came to light, Candidate Obama promptly disavowed them. Now comes Mr. Jones, with a long trail of extreme comments and left-wing organizing, who nonetheless became the White House adviser for "green jobs." This weekend he too was thrown under the bus.

However, Mr. Jones wasn't some unknown crazy who insinuated himself with the Obama crowd under false pretenses. He has been a leading young light of the left-wing political movement for many years. His 2008 book—"The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems"—includes a foreword from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and was praised across the liberal establishment.

Mr. Jones was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, which was established, funded and celebrated as the new intellectual vanguard of the Democratic Party. The center's president is John Podesta, who was co-chair of Mr. Obama's transition team and thus played a major role in recommending appointees throughout the Administration. The ascent of Mr. Jones within the liberal intelligentsia shows how much the Democratic Party has moved left since its "New Democrat" triangulation of the Clinton years.

Mr. Jones's incendiary comments about Republicans and his now famous association with a statement blaming the U.S. for 9/11 had to have been known in some White House precincts. He was praised and sponsored by Valerie Jarrett, who is one of the two or three most powerful White House aides and is a long-time personal friend of the President.

Our guess is that Mr. Jones landed in the White House precisely because his job didn't require Senate confirmation, which would have subjected him to more scrutiny. This is also no doubt a reason that Mr. Obama has consolidated so much of his Administration's governing authority inside the White House under various "czars." Mr. Jones was poised to play a prominent role in disbursing tens of billions of dollars of stimulus money. It was the ideal perch from which he could keep funding the left-wing networks from which he sprang, this time with taxpayer money.

This helps explain why the political left is so upset about Mr. Jones's resignation. Listen to David Sirota, another left-wing think-tank denizen and activist, who wrote the following Sunday on the Huffington Post Web site:

"Finally, the Jones announcement will inevitably create a chilling effect on the aspirations of other movement progressives. Van is a fantastic person who has done fantastic work. He's kept his advocacy real and didn't compromise his principles. And so when he was appointed to a high-level White House job, it seemed to validate that you could, in fact, keep it real and also advance in American politics and government. That is to say, his story seemed to prove that an outsider could also succeed on the inside—and that outside advocacy doesn't automatically prohibit you from one day working on the inside."

Mr. Sirota is speaking for many on the movement left who believe they helped to elect Mr. Obama and therefore deserve seats at the inner table of power. They are increasingly frustrated because they are discovering that Mr. Obama will happily employ "movement progressives," but only so long as their real views and motivations aren't widely known or understood. How bitter it must be to discover that the Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck, who drove the debate about Mr. Jones, counts for more at this White House than Mr. Sirota.

No President is responsible for all of the views of his appointees, but the rise and fall of Mr. Jones is one more warning that Mr. Obama can't succeed on his current course of governing from the left. He is running into political trouble not because his own message is unclear, or because his opposition is better organized. Mr. Obama is falling in the polls because last year he didn't tell the American people that the "change" they were asked to believe in included trillions of dollars in new spending, deferring to the most liberal Members of Congress, a government takeover of health care, and appointees with the views of Van Jones.



BrookesNews Update

The facts about a US recovery and GDP: There is much talk of a US economy with 'green shoots' apparently sprouting up everywhere, even in manufacturing where the PMI is now growing. However, it is being forgotten that though a reduction in idle capacity increases GDP it is still not growth. A genuine economic recovery must also lead to increased capital accumulation. That does not seem to be the case at present
Can a loose monetary policy generate economic growth? : So called economic growth that is a response to loose policy simply mirrors the monetary expenditure rate of growth and is not true economic growth. This means that the more money is pumped by the Fed the larger the so called economic growth rate will be. There may not be sufficient savings to support an increase in economic activity. In this situation neither loose monetary policy nor loose fiscal policy can work. Such a situation may be developing now
The recession: once again our rightwing get it wrong : Once again recession has struck and once again the economic commentariat get it wrong. Failure to grasp the root cause of the boom bust cycle means that central banks will keep on repeating the same gross monetary error while economic pundits continue to act as a cheer squad
The government's green Renewable Energy Target legislation is economic lunacy :If the government's Renewable Energy Target legislation is implemented the consequences for the economy will be severe. This nonsense is obviously the work of a bunch of economic illiterates who are in thrall to the fanatical greens
The Global Warming Scam is The Battle of our Times : Global warming is the biggest political bait-and-switch con in political history. It becomes the Trojan horse that give power-hungry politicians the excuse to massively extend the power of the state. That in doing so they would savage living standards does not bother them one iota
Kennedy and the KGB: the story the media spiked: Senator Kennedy was a vicious partisan opportunist. A man prepared to betray his country for partisan gain. In 1983 this man offered his services to Andropov, the then current dictator of the Soviet Union. Andropov was a former chief of the KGB and was instrumental in Nagy's arrest in 1956 and his murder in 1958 in the KGB's Lubyanka prison. And this is the man Kennedy admired and whose help he sought in an effort to bring down the Reagan presidency. And the treasonous mainstream media spiked the story
Honduras-Cuba: political Kerenskyism and ecclesiastic Kerenskyism : The specter of Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky seems to have recommenced to round up the Americas. Both the political and the ecclesiastic Kerenskyism are right now forming the two teeth of the same jaws used against the cause of freedom not only in Honduras and Cuba, but also in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. And Obama is helping
What Socialism Is : Students of history insist on asking the question: How long can a society survive that rewards failure and punishes success? Unfortunately, America will get an answer to that question if Obama is allowed to continue transforming our country into his 'new and improved' idea of a socialist utopia
Post Bombshell: Conservative candidate Actually - gasp - Conservative! :Bob McDonnell is running against Creigh Deeds, a Democrat senator for Virginia. Fortunately the Washington Post (one of the Obama administration's in-house publications) has discovered that McDonnell is at the heart of one of the worst scandals in Virginia's history. Not only is McDonnell a Republican - the scroundrel is also a committed Christian



I have been rather dissatisfied with the template/theme I have been using for the Wordpress version of my EYE ON BRITAIN blog. I have however now found a template/theme that I like a little better and have applied it. It is still pretty plain but I think it makes the blog a bit easier to read and navigate. Have a look at it and see what you think. I have tried it with Firefox, IE and Google Chrome and it seems to be fine with all 3 of those. All I need now is for some Wordpress maven to tell me how to change the background colour to my preferred lemon yellow. To my mind, the mirror site is actually much prettier as it needs only html to generate its effects and I know a bit about html. Wordpress blogs for some reason ignore a lot of html, even when you set them to html. I obviously have a lot to learn.

Pentagon keeps wary watch as troops blog: "Over the course of 10 months in eastern Afghanistan, an Army specialist nicknamed Mud Puppy maintained a blog irreverently chronicling life at the front, from the terror of roadside bombs to the tyrannies of master sergeants. Matthew C. Burden is a former intelligence officer in the Army who started one of the earliest military blogs, Black Five. Often funny and always profane, the blog, Embrace the Suck (military slang for making the best of a bad situation), flies under the Army’s radar. Not officially approved, it is hidden behind a password-protected wall because the reservist does not want his superiors censoring it.”

Clairvoyant economists still pessimistic: "The Economist magazine, in a column wryly titled ‘Pangloss Revisited,’ notes that ‘The average deficit over the next decade in now expect to be 5.1% of GDP, compared with an average of 4% in the original budget,’ and that even in the last year of the forecast, 2019, the budget deficit is supposed to be 5% of GDP! Wow! As weird as that is, it gets weirder later in the article when Peter Orzag of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), whom the article called ‘Mr. Obama’s top budget man,’ has ‘tried to put a positive spin on the situation. By 2019, he argued on his blog, America’s primary deficit (the difference between revenue and spending excluding interest payments) would be only 0.6% of GDP.’ Excluding interest payments? Hahaha! Why in the hell would you exclude interest payments? Hahaha! You shake your head in amazement that this is the kind of Silly, Stupid Crap (SSC) that is everywhere these days! ‘Excluding interest payments!’ Hahahaha!”

ObamaCare’s crippling deficits: "Martin Feldstein, an economic advisor to Obama, criticized ‘ObamaCare’s Crippling Deficits’ in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, noting that ‘the higher taxes, debt payments and interest rates needed to pay for health reform mean lower living standards.’ Obama probably chose Feldstein as an adviser because of Feldstein’s support for big stimulus packages during recessions. But selecting him was politically unwise, since Feldstein has a history of candidly criticizing Presidents for allowing deficit spending…”

Marxism’s last (and first) stronghold: "Marxism, we’re often told, is dead. While Communism as a system of authoritarian power still exists in countries like China, Marxism’s contemporary hold over people’s minds, many claim, is nothing compared to its glory days between the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in October 1917 and the Berlin Wall’s fall twenty years ago. In many respects, such observations are true. But in other senses, they are not. We need only look at Western Europe — the place where Marxist thought first emerged and took root.”

Political anger: "I am not bitter, angry, or resentful, and even if I were it wouldn’t be due to being a freedom advocate. I doubt many freedom advocates are really angry, regardless of how blunt their words may be. Yet that is how we are usually characterized by advocates of coercion. It is how they justify sending out legions of LEOs to kill us for ‘the common good’ (they are not nearly that honest about their position, of course). What the statists see as ‘anger’ is simply self-assurance and confidence.”

Republican Party of Florida purges pro-liberty members: "On Friday — timed just right to minimize news coverage — Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer and the state party Grievance Committee notified a number of party members, many of them holding elective office, that they were effectively purged from the party and had been removed from their offices and would be ineligible to hold any other party positions for periods ranging from two to four years. The targets of this purge are mostly members of the Florida chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group which seeks to return the party to its core beliefs of individual liberty, limited government, and free markets.

Socialist destruction in Britain: "“Remember the days, just a decade ago, when the UK was reckoned to be the world’s 4th most competitive economy? Well, the World Economic Forum (or ‘Davos’ as it’s known, from its annual conference in the Swiss resort) had downgraded it yet again, from 12th last year to 13th now. They cite the UK’s enormous and chronic public-sector debts as just one of the many causes for Britain’s gloomy report card. As they might. International economists figure that Britain is running a ’structural’ deficit of around £100 billion. That’s nothing to do with the crunch, and the bank bailouts, and the recession — it’s the amount by which the government is spending beyond its means, year upon year upon year. And £100 bn is a big wedge of moolah.”

Obama voter Camille Paglia hearts talk radio: "But the truly transformative political energy is coming from talk radio and the Web -- both of which Democrat-sponsored proposals have threatened to stifle, in defiance of freedom of speech guarantees in the Bill of Rights. I rarely watch TV anymore except for cooking shows, history and science documentaries, old movies and football. Hence I was blissfully free from the retching overkill that followed the deaths of Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy -- I never saw a single minute of any of it. It was on talk radio, which I have resumed monitoring around the clock because of the healthcare fiasco, that I heard the passionate voices of callers coming directly from the town hall meetings. Hence I was alerted to the depth and intensity of national sentiment long before others who were simply watching staged, manipulated TV shows. "


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, September 10, 2009

For Afghanistan, Obama depends on the GOP

by Jeff Jacoby

Obama's opposition to the war in Iraq and those who supported it made him the darling of the Democratic base, and turbocharged his drive to the White House. As a candidate for president, he repeatedly condemned the war as a fiasco and declared that President Bush's "surge" would not only fail to improve conditions in Iraq, but would actually make them worse. In August 2007, when his rival Hillary Clinton told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that the surge appeared to be working, Obama maintained that the war was as futile as ever. As The New York Times headlined its story the next day: "Obama Sees a 'Complete Failure' in Iraq."

But the antiwar liberals who adored Obama the candidate when he vowed to pull the plug on the war in Iraq are not nearly as enamored of Obama the president when he calls for enlarging the war in Afghanistan.

Last month, speaking once again to a VFW convention, Obama reiterated his commitment to a withdrawal from Iraq. The troops will be out by the end of 2011, he said, "and for America, the Iraq war will end." But he made clear that the war in Afghanistan, where American troops have been dying in record numbers, will go on. "This is a war of necessity," the president insisted -- "not only a war worth fighting," but one "fundamental to the defense of our people." He warned that "those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again," and that "if left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans." Earlier this year Obama ordered 21,000 additional US personnel to Afghanistan. By year's end, troop levels there will be at 68,000 -- the most ever -- and Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the theater commander, is widely thought to be on the point of asking for more.

But doubling down on the war -- in effect, committing himself to an Iraq-like "surge" -- will drive a wedge between Obama and the antiwar left that once acclaimed him. Two recent national polls show plummeting support for the war. In a Washington Post-ABC News survey, 51 percent of the public says the conflict in Afghanistan is "not worth fighting," and only 24 percent is willing to send more troops. A CNN/Opinion Research poll finds even wider opposition to the war -- 57 percent, the highest since US involvement in Afghanistan began.

Drill down into those numbers, however, and you find a gaping partisan/ideological divide. "Majorities of liberals and Democrats alike now . . . solidly oppose the war and are calling for a reduction in troop levels," the Post observes. By contrast, Republicans and conservatives "remain the war's strongest backers." A majority of conservatives not only supports the war but even approves Obama's handling of it. The CNN poll puts Republican support for the war at 70 percent, as against the 74 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents who are opposed.

No surprise, then, that Democrats on Capitol Hill have begun to distance themselves from Obama on the war. Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, claiming that "our military presence in Afghanistan may be undermining our national security," wants the troops withdrawn. Massachusetts congressman Jim McGovern complained last week that "we're getting sucked into an endless war here." Two Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee -- Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman, and Jack Reed of Rhode Island -- are signaling that any presidential request for more troops in Afghanistan "probably will run into resistance," the AP reported over the weekend.

Republicans, on the other hand, have publicly let the president know that while they may oppose him on other issues, he can count on their support if he pursues victory in Afghanistan. "Stand strong, Mr. President," proclaimed the Republican National Committee in a statement posted on its website and distributed by e-mail. Explain "why the voices of defeat are wrong."

The success of the Obama presidency likely depends on Afghanistan, and to achieve victory there the president will need the help of the very Republicans he and his backers so often attacked for pursuing victory in Iraq. Now those backers are backing away, while the GOP acts as an honorable and loyal opposition. Politics may not always be fair, but it sure is ironic.



Obama's dangerous strategy

The farce over doorknobs for centrifuges masks the fact that President Obama’s whole Middle East strategy is in the process of imploding. Obama has been pressuring Israel to freeze every brick and widow-frame of all settlement construction as a precondition for the US “getting tough” with Iran. This has caused Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to walk a diplomatic tightrope. But it is arguably President Obama who has the rope around his own neck.

Israel’s supposed policy of expanding the settlements was supposed to be the major stumbling-block to peace with the Palestinians and Arab support against Iran. This was absurd, and indeed Obama is now softening his stance.

Construction of new settlements has been frozen for years with no concessions from the Palestinian side. And the idea that Israeli concessions were needed to bring the Arabs on side against Iran was ridiculous. The Arabs are desperate for the Iranian nuclear threat to be removed because Iran is an overwhelming threat to their existence. The settlements are irrelevant to the Iran crisis — which has predictably become even more acute because Obama’s policy of appeasing the Arab and Muslim world has gone belly-up. In response to his hand of friendship, the Iranian regime rigged its election, tortured and murdered its internal opponents and turned even more extreme.

As for Israel, Netanyahu faced down Obama over his attempt to define Jewish houses in east Jerusalem as “settlements” and to freeze construction there, too. Having united virtually all of Israel against him (only four per cent of Israelis think Obama is pro-Israel) the US President grovelled to the Arabs for a sign of some move towards peace with Israel. They refused.

He begged the Iranians to “engage” with him. In response, they have now appointed as defence minister Ahmad Vahidi, a terrorist wanted for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires and who was also involved in the 2006 bombing of the Khobar Towers complex which killed 19 American soldiers. Meanwhile, Iran continues to develop the nuclear capability which threatens not just Israel but America and Europe.

In any event, Obama has already said that he will get tough with Iran if it remains intransigent by this autumn. So how could the settlement issue have been the clincher? And what does “getting tough” mean? Why, sanctions. The Iranians must be quaking in their boots. We can all write the script for that debacle already. Talk about shutting the stable door after the centrifuges have bolted. And then what? When Plan B fails, what is Obama’s Plan C? I think we know. It’s called “living with a nuclear Iran” or: the surrender of the West.

What Obama may yet come to realise is that he might need Israel to save him from electoral meltdown at home. With his ratings plummeting due to his domestic policies, he leads a country that, unlike Britain and mainland Europe, understands the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear bomb. The failure to stop Iran going nuclear on his watch could destroy his presidency. We may find, therefore, that the attitude towards Israel of the most hostile President in living memory soon undergoes rapid reprogramming.

President Obama is now between a rock and a hard place. An Israeli strike on Iran would utterly destroy his strategy and possibly draw the US willy-nilly into a wider war. On the other hand, it could just be that to save his political skin at home Obama will find himself sweating upon Israel taking out the Iranian nuclear threat. He thus faces a possible choice between war against Iran and a mortal threat to his presidency.

Such is the outcome of denial, the river that runs through the Oval Office.




The K Street Tax Cheat Who's Lobbying to Save Obamacare: "Tom Daschle is the human toe fungus of Washington -- a persistent infection that may disappear from time to time, but always comes back with a vengeance. Despite abandoning his secretary of health and human services nomination in disgrace in February 2009, the K Street tax cheat who evaded IRS rules for years remains a top White House confidante and policy strategist. In fact, he's leading the drive to save Obamacare. He climbed up from under the bus back into the Oval Office and onto the sets of "Meet the Press" and "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" to offer his rescue plan. It's Daschle's idea to morph the unpopular "public option" into nonprofit "health care co-ops" that will almost certainly receive government funding, support and tax advantages over private insurers. Old colleagues on both sides of the Senate aisle are now promoting his alternative. Last week, he penned a Do It for Teddy Kennedy pep rally op-ed in The Wall Street Journal urging Democrats to go it alone and depend on the backroom Senate reconciliation process if necessary to get a deal done."

Listening to a liar: "The most important thing about what anyone says are not the words themselves but the credibility of the person who says them. The words of convicted swindler Bernie Madoff were apparently quite convincing to many people who were regarded as knowledgeable and sophisticated. If you go by words, you can be led into anything. No doubt millions of people will be listening to the words of President Barack Obama Wednesday night when he makes a televised address to a joint session of Congress on his medical care plans.”

Federal program rejects 'card check' effort: "While the Obama administration and its Democratic allies in Congress press to allow private-sector workers to unionize by signing authorization cards instead of voting by secret ballot, the government's legal-aid program for the poor has declared the so-called "card check" strategy "unreliable" and rejected an effort by some of its own workers to organize that way. The Legal Services Corp., a congressionally chartered, taxpayer-funded entity, even hired a law firm to rebuff the efforts of workers in its oversight offices to gain union representation by the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), forcing the workers to conduct a vote by secret ballot later this week. The LSC's decision has prompted concerns on Capitol Hill that the government may be trying to impose a solution on private businesses that its own agencies and panels are reluctant to follow."

China raises the money-printing alarm: “A hugely important story from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph that China is alarmed by U.S. money-printing has helped drive the dollar price of gold over $1,000, at least temporarily, and drive down the exchange rate of the greenback. Other commodities like oil and copper have also rallied today. At a conference in Lake Como, Italy, a leading Chinese economic spokesman — Cheng Siwei — criticized Ben Bernanke’s loose monetary policy. ‘If they keep printing money to buy bonds it will lead to inflation,’ said Cheng, ‘and after a year or two the dollar will fall hard.’ Cheng went on to say that China was diversifying its roughly $700 billion of U.S. foreign-exchange reserves into gold.”

The jobless recovery: "The jobless-recovery theme re-emerged on Friday with the arrival of a disappointing employment report. The daunting number was the unemployment rate, which jumped from 9.4 percent in July to 9.7 percent in August. This is a big-versus-small-business issue. Sort of the haves versus the have-nots. The large companies are gradually recovering as a result of major cost-cutting, inventory reduction, and a lean-and-mean return to profitability and high productivity. So the payroll survey registered a 216,000 job loss, the smallest drop in over a year. However, the household survey, which picks up small, owner-operated, LLC/S-Corp-type businesses, registered a devastating 392,000 job loss, which follows losses of 155,000 and 374,000 in the prior two months. This is the source of the unemployment-rate jump, as 466,000 newly unemployed were scored in the report. So while the big companies are getting healthier, the smaller firms are being left in the dust. Unfortunately, small businesses provide most of the new job creation in the United States.”

Leftists are not interested in seeing the reasons behind poverty: "A member of my family, of known collectivist leanings, once told me: ‘Do you think that I am satisfied that so many people stay worldwide in the most utter poverty? Don’t you think that I’m against raising their living standard?’ To which I replied: ‘Well, then you have to tell me why do you insist in adhering to political and economic ideologies that originate and sustain the economic and social stagnation that condemns so many people to live as paupers.’ She mumbled that she believed what collectivists promised and added that hunger and despair is the result of greedy capitalists grabbing all of the world’s wealth while socialism, if it were only allowed to act, could easily remedy this situation.”

UN may up ante in nuclear dispute with Iran: “Iran veered closer toward the possibility of being slapped with tough new international sanctions Monday after its president refused to stop enriching uranium and the U.N. nuclear watchdog warned of a ’stalemate’ with the country. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran is ready to talk with world powers about unspecified ‘global concerns’ — but he insisted his government will neither halt uranium enrichment nor negotiate over its nuclear rights.”

The burden of liberty: "Freedom means not only choice but also responsibility. Free men and women have to face up to the fact that it is up to them to do the right thing, to find out what that is and to make the effort to do it. The zillions of small and large decisions made by them all require some attention, although because people can cultivate habits — like the habit of driving carefully, of working out, or of being polite to neighbors and such — it isn’t always terribly burdensome to have to choose. They can, with admitted initial difficulty, commit themselves to a wise and prudent course and then stick to it and that way not need to handle every choice anew. Still, the very prospect of being able to go wrong with how one acts can be frightening, so many folks escape into mindless routines or accept other people’s rule over them.”

GOP all talk: "We must not wait for the mis-named ‘Republican’ party to get its act together. It never will. If they sold us out in good times, welshing on their promises after 1994, growing the power and scope of government, not only refusing to reign in the ATF and the FBI BUT GROWING THEIR POWER AND LENGTHENING THEIR LEASHES, what may we expect for them in bad times but ineffectual excuses? The Tea Parties did not come from the GOP, as much as the Dems might wish to imagine it. People are flooding into the streets and the public meetings precisely because they have concluded that the ’system,’ as they have understood it, no longer protects them. Thus, they will make their own arrangements.”

Is America ready to admit defeat in its 40-year War on Drugs?: “Is the ‘war on drugs’ ending? The Argentinian ruling does not stand alone. Across Latin America and Mexico, there is a wave of drug law reform which constitutes a stark rebuff to the United States as it prepares to mark the 40th anniversary of a conflict officially declared by President Richard Nixon and fronted by his wife, Pat, in 1969. That ‘war’ has incarcerated an average of a million US citizens a year, as every stratum of American society demonstrates its insatiable need to get high. And it has also engulfed not only America, but the Americas.”

Governments are the real monopolists: "Federal and state antitrust laws generally forbid any ‘monopolization’ of commerce. Yet, ironically, the City of Vero Beach, Florida (where I live) has maintained a State authorized unregulated electric utility monopoly for decades. And like all government protected monopolies, the City’s electric utility rates (prices) to its captive customers have proven to be far higher than those charged by its nearest potential competitor. Florida Power and Light, which serves adjacent geographic areas (and could serve Vero Beach) charges rates that are dramatically lower than Vero Beach Utilities. For example, FPL’s current total price including tax is $114.06 per 1,000 kwh while Vero Electric charges County customers $180.69 per 1,000 kwh, an incredible 58% more. Thus someone with an electric bill from the Vero Beach Utility monopoly for, say, $400 per month would pay only $253 to FPL for the very same product.”

Labor’s day is over: "U.S. labor union leaders see themselves as champions of the American worker, but their movement has become largely irrelevant to most workers enjoying this Labor Day holiday. For the small and declining share of Americans who still work in unionized industries, the movement has proven to be a job killer. From their zenith in the 1950s, labor unions have witnessed a relentless decline among non-governmental workers. Fifty years ago, about one in three Americans working in the private sector belonged to a labor union. Since then, ‘union density’ in the private sector has declined steadily to less than 8 percent today. Labor leaders blame the decline on union-busting corporations, years of hostile Republican rule in Washington, and a flood of imports from low-wage countries such as China, but the main reason behind the decline of private sector labor unions in recent decades is the anti-competitive nature of unions themselves.”


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, September 09, 2009

A Labor Day editorial

Ironically, work is probably the last thing the American people want to think about on Labor Day. They'd much rather devote their time and energy to the backyard barbecue, the last beach trip of 2009, or, perhaps a pickup football game in the local school yard.

As well they should. But now might be the best time to for all of us across the fruited plains to remind ourselves anew of just why "a fair day's pay for a good day's work" is so important for our future and our past—and how it's being undermined at the highest levels of government.

Work, quite simply, is the ability to get up and make a life for yourself. As an American, you have the right to work for yourself and for the ones you love. And no one else has the right to "wring their bread from the sweat of your brow." It was that fierce individualism, the "can-do" pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps attitude that built America out of nothing and catapulted the nation and its citizens to a level of wellbeing never before thought possible.

As American history has proven time and again, to build a prosperous and fruitful life, all one needs is a healthy dose of self-motivation and a free nation in which to exercise that motivation.

The current administration, however, begs to differ. In their eyes, nothing can —or should— happen without government's consent or even ordination. This is, perhaps, most evident when they speak about their ostensible solution or the recession and unemployment. They believe government alone can create jobs out of thin air—like a magician pulling a rabbit out of its hat. But the truth is: government doesn't "create jobs." And it never will. Small business owners create jobs. Large business owners create jobs. Individuals create their own jobs. Government simply "makes work."

Yet, as American's for Limited Government Chairman Howard Rich points out a recent column, there is a shocking disconnect between public sector pay and private sector pay in the United States. As he says:
"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' recently published study for 2007, in California, which is still trying to climb out of its oppressive $26 billion deficit, average annual income for state employees was $56,777 versus $49,935 for the private sector, a 14 percent gap. In Illinois, a similar story emerges: $53,925 for state workers, and $48,006 for the private sector, an 11 percent split. New Jersey: $57,845 average state salary, $53,590 for private sector workers, at an 8 percent difference…

"Nationally, the story is even worse. Federal workers made on average $64,871 in 2007, with private sector workers making a meager $44,362, so public sector wages in the federal system are 46 percent higher."

Something is amiss when those in government (individuals who produce nothing more than rules, regulation, red tape, and higher taxes) are "rewarded" more than those in private enterprise who truly produce the wealth of the nation. It is a sign of the times —and the leadership.

So on this Labor Day, take a minute to remember what makes America unique —and, yes, exceptional. It is the hard worker, not the bureaucrat. It is the taxpayer, not the tax collector. And it is the people, not the government. It has never been government. It has never been bureaucracy. And it has not been the halls of America's Congress but rather the shelves of America's stores, the fields of America's farms, and the students of America's schools that have made America great.

As summer comes to a close, America's workers —men, women, the old, and young— ought to pat themselves on the back and appreciate the fact that they are the backbone of this strong —and still magnificent— nation. May their numbers multiply.




Generation sloth: "It’s Labor Day, but there’s nothing to celebrate. On July 24 this year, the government raised the minimum wage to $7.25, which is another way of saying that unemployment is mandatory for anyone who is otherwise willing to work for less. You have no freedom to negotiate or lower the price for your service. You are either already valuable at this rate or you are out of the game. Here is how it works.”

Honor Labor Day: End compulsory unionism: "Labor Day is a celebration of the efforts of America’s workers. However, the celebration is hollow for millions of American workers because of compulsory unionism. Throughout the United States, over 12 million workers labor under contracts that require them to be a member of, or financially support, a union as a condition of employment. Additionally, millions of more workers are required by law to accept union bosses’ so-called ‘representation,’ thereby losing the right to negotiate their own employment terms.”

Unions in trouble on Labor Day: "The Gallup findings are unequivocal. Approval of labor unions is down from 59% to 48%. Among Independents, it’s down even more, from 63% to 44%. Do unions mostly help or hurt the companies where they represent workers? Mostly help, 45%; mostly hurt, 46%. How about the U.S. economy in general? Mostly help, 39%; mostly hurt, 51%. Ouch. By more than 2-1 Americans feel unions help union members, but by a similar margin they feel they mostly hurt non-members, who after all are a large majority of American employees these days. Would you like to see unions have more or less influence? More influence, 25%; less influence, 42%. Will they become stronger or weaker? Stronger, 24%; weaker, 48%."

Obama crawls to the labor unions: "President Obama declared Monday that modern benefits such as paid leave, the minimum wage and Social Security "all bear the union label," as he appealed to organized labor to help him win the health care fight in Congress. "It was labor that helped build the largest middle class in history. So, even if you're not a union member, every American owes something to America's labor movement," said Mr. Obama, whose run for the presidency was energized in no small part by unions".

A crucial week for Obama's teleprompter: "This is a big week for the president's teleprompter. He's first taking it across the Potomac for a speech urging schoolchildren to wash their hands, study hard and stay in school. Good advice for everyone, no doubt, and maybe the advice will stimulate the sale of soap to people who really need it. Politicians particularly should take to heart a presidential admonition to keep their hands clean. Who can argue with that? The reception Wednesday night on Capitol Hill, for the president's speech to an unusual joint session of Congress, will be a little different. There will be no one to throw a soft tomato or a rotten egg; this audience will be a wrack of frightened rabbits begging the president for a lifeline (or at least a carrot). Congress is back in town after a month on the Western front, and still befuddled and a little shellshocked from taking fire from angry constituents. Nobody wants what the president is selling, insofar as anybody can figure out exactly what he's selling. The magic elixir may be the president himself, and lately nobody's buying that, either."

Excerpt from Obama's school speech: "I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try. That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, ‘I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’ These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you — you have to let them teach you.” [He can certainly talk the talk but that seems to be his only talent]

Why Obama’s address to schoolchildren is objectionable: “The President is a political leader. He is not in office to be an educator. His duties are clearly laid out, and they do not include educating children. By the same token, the President is not the parent of all these children. He is not their teacher. He is not their religious leader. The reason for these boundaries is so that political figures do not use their power and influence to dominate our social lives. It is a special danger to liberty and society when national powers are developed. These are powers in which the national leadership directly controls or influences individual citizens, while bypassing or circumventing other local sources of governance and influence such as parents, families, churches, schools, and local governments. An Obama address to schoolchildren is an instance of the further development of national power and influence.”

When Bush spoke to students, Democrats investigated, held hearings: "The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president's political benefit. "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," the Post reported. With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students," said Richard Gephardt"

Rubbery standards over lobbyists: "President Obama's nominee at the Department of Homeland Security overseeing bioterrorism defense has served as a key adviser for a lobbying group funded by the pharmaceutical industry that has asked the government to spend more money for anthrax vaccines and biodefense research. But Dr. Tara O'Toole, whose confirmation as undersecretary of science and technology is pending, never reported her involvement with the lobbying group called the Alliance for Biosecurity in a recent government ethics filing. The alliance has spent more than $500,000 lobbying Congress and federal agencies -- including Homeland Security -- since 2005, congressional records show. However, Homeland Security officials said Dr. O'Toole need not disclose her ties to the group on her government ethics form because the alliance is not incorporated" [What??]

China's stimulus powers world economies: "While politicians in Washington debate whether President Obama's stimulus program is helping to pull the U.S. economy out of a recession, economists have already declared the winner in the stimulus race, and it's China. The Asian giant's massive $586 billion stimulus package -- implemented with speed in November just as the world economy was crashing -- is credited with helping to stabilize world markets and contribute to a budding recovery in Asia, Europe and the United States, where the stimulus package came too late to prevent the worst recession in modern times."

Democrats brace for midterm losses: "Few issues in American politics are as supercharged as health care, and when presidents choose to touch the subject, a surge of high voltage often scorches not only the chief executive, but his party in Congress. In 1966, after President Johnson had pushed Medicare through Congress the year before, the Democrats lost 47 seats in the House and four in the Senate. In 1994, after first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton failed to overhaul the nation's health care system, Democrats lost 54 seats in the House and seven in the Senate as Republicans swept in with the "Contract With America."

People power: “Congress returns this week, and here’s hoping that its members, Democrats in particular, learned a little something from this summer’s town hall meetings. The lesson to be drawn from these occasionally raucous events is that America is on the verge of — or already knee-deep in — one of those moments that periodically roil the country and rearrange our preconceived notions about public life. And not a moment too soon. Popular outbursts serve as a check on, and corrective to, our elites’ behavior. The people know things the elites forget or don’t want to remember. The political class is supposed to serve the people, not the other way around.”

NYT embarrassed to admit that their reporter has been kidnapped: "According to reports from Afghanistan, New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell and his driver/interpreter have been kidnapped while attempting to cover the story of the NATO airstrike on the two Taliban-hijacked tankers in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The local Afgha n press is reporting that a reporter has been kidnapped, although Farrell was not directly named; however, the international press and the wires services have been silent on this issue. Multiple sources in Afghanistan tell me that The New York Times is attempting to suppress the reporting on Farrell's kidnapping. The New York Times did the same thing when journalist David Rohde was kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan late last year. Rohde escaped from a Haqqani Network compound in North Waziristan earlier this year. While Rohde's kidnapping was not publicized, his escape was the subject of abundant reporting. The media has not afforded the US military the courtesy of a news blackout when US troops have been captured in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Passionate Leftist "principles" suddenly vanish: "As General Stan McChrystal plans his march on Washington to demand more troops in Afghanistan the antiwar movement lies on the sidewalk, as inert and forlorn as a homeless person in the rain at a street corner, too dejected even to hold up a sign. This is at a time that as Mark Ames has just pointed out, ‘Obama is doubling down in Afghanistan with more troops deployed now than the Soviets ever had.’ Yes, add up US troops and contractors and you get a US invasion of Afghanistan bigger than the Soviet force at its peak. Is there any sign of life in a movement that marshaled hundreds of thousands to march in protest against war in Iraq? Ah, but those were the Bush years. Now we have a Democrat in the White House.”

Ilana Mercer's accent not welcome in the USA?: "The other day, at my local branch of the United States Postal Service, a devoted USPS customer told me in high decibels to go back whence I came. Although I speak and write English at a level this yahoo could not aspire to, I do the former sans an American accent. In the chauvinistic, provincial mind of my post-office foe, my accent condemned me. Even more of a liability was my apparently un-American, unpatriotic audacity. I stood up to a USPS bureaucrat, who has, for the past seven years, faithfully fulfilled her role as a bully. Incidentally, the Asian service clerk in question had not managed to master Pidgin English, but somehow I doubt that the brassy American postal patriot would have dared to order her out of the country.” [I presume her accent is South African. I find the story a little puzzling. I speak with an Australian accent but when I am in America I am often congratulated on my "British" accent. No problems at all. I suspect that Mercer was behaving arrogantly. Her writings on the net do seem to exhibit a wide-ranging hostility]

Britain: Queen is ‘unhappy over equipment shortages’: "The Queen has spoken to Gordon Brown personally to express her anger over equipment shortages suffered by troops in Afghanistan, it was reported last night. According to Andrew Roberts, a leading historian with close links to the Royal Family, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales have also contacted the Prime Minister about the lack of armoured vehicles, helicopters and other vital equipment needed by British forces. “The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles are all furious with Gordon Brown over sub-standard equipment in Helmand, principally the underarmoured armoured cars and the lack of helicopters, and have been making their views known to him in no uncertain terms,” he said. The historian claimed to have been told of the Queen’s anger by three sources — a minor royal, a serving general and a recent former Cabinet minister. “I have it from the horse’s mouth. They take their responsibilities as acting colonels-in-chief of various regiments very seriously,” he said."

British sailors and airmen outnumbered by defence bureaucrats: "The Ministry of Defence is so stuffed with civil servants that they outnumber the combined manpower of the Royal Navy and the RAF. The statistic, produced by the Conservatives yesterday to attack the Government’s record on defence manpower, followed condemnation by General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, a former Chief of Defence Staff, over imbalances between uniform and non-uniformed personnel. Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that 16 per cent of the Civil Service resided in the MoD, and that the number of civilian officials (86,620), was about 12,000 more than the Royal Navy (34,830) and RAF (39,260) put together. “There is one civilian for every two Armed Forces personnel in the MoD. It is time for the MoD to get its house in order,” Dr Fox said, at the launch of Jane’s 2009 Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition in London."


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, September 08, 2009

Media coverup fails

Now that White House "Green Jobs Czar" Van Jones has resigned, what's next? Inevitably, the American mainstream media - ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, et al - must be held to account for sitting on the sidelines as this major story kept building without them, went viral on YouTube, and then became so large that a key appointee of President Obama was forced to step down.

But with their decision to ignore the Jones story, they may have actually done Mr. Obama far more harm than good: Who vetted this guy? How did he get past the FBI? What did he say, and how did he answer the infamous seven-page questionnaire that all Obama appointees were required to fill out? Inquiring Freedom of Information Act minds want to know.

For most people in this country, the resignation was the first they had heard of Van Jones. For this sin of journalistic omission, there's institutional media blame. Bias is too tame a word for the utter shamelessness on display: Only Republican scandals - real and imagined - matter. And it's not just those the Democratic-Media Complex dub as "mobs" or "tea baggers" that are taking notice. Diminishing audience and evaporating subscribership reflect widespread consumer dissatisfaction. Eventually, the money will run out.

But until then, the growing alternative media of Internet and talk radio and a burgeoning mass of justifiably angry Americans will make every effort to expose the sham that is mainstream journalism.

Obviously, it's not that the Jones story wasn't newsworthy. His racist rants, his radical background and his membership in a 9/11 "truther" group made for heavy-rotation YouTube viewing that would have immediately destroyed other mere mortals if the shoe were on the right - or white - foot. Compounding the problem, the Jones narrative hurts Mr. Obama because it underlines how the mainstream media helped elect the president by glorifying him instead of vetting him.

Just as Mr. Obama was not even cursorily investigated, Van Jones, a fellow "community organizer," was not given the slightest media attention when named as an unaccountable "czar" selected to oversee billions in taxpayer money for the ambiguous purpose of "green energy." And that despite having a body of damning evidence that could be found with a single Google search by an ADHD-addled high-school journalism student.

Instead, talk-radio host Glenn Beck and Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, as well as editors Scott Baker and Liz Stephans, led the charge forcing the mainstream media's hand while the usually reliable George Soros-funded "netroots" media defense mechanism couldn't fend off the growing body of charges. Calling Mr. Jones' critics "racist" was their best play, and that gruel gets thinner with every passing scandal cycle. In this case, the Jones "Swift Boat" already had left the harbor.

Much of America has started to realize that not only was Mr. Obama not vetted before he became president, he and his fellow unvetted cohorts continue to be given a pass by the Fourth Estate.

Two more stories demonstrate how the Democrat-Media Complex, the natural alliance of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, is more concerned with trying to figure out how to destroy Glenn Beck - "he's nuts!" - than to follow his methodical, accurate reporting. This dynamic - used against all potent critics and off-the-reservation journalists - shows that not only is the media ignoring all the negative things coming out about the Obama administration, it is acting like President Richard Nixon's henchmen, making life difficult for its whistleblowers.

One of the stories is that ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a massive radical organization, is poised to receive billions from the Obama "stimulus." ACORN's voting division is currently under investigation in multiple states for fraud. And its housing division exists to fulfill an unclear mandate that has been accused of using funds to pay for political protests. If the alternative media digs further and finds out ACORN is guilty as charged, and as corrupt as its ample critics say it is, the onus is those who didn't question when the Obama team decided to allocate billions to expand the group's reach. Brian Williams, the ball is in your court.

Another story not making the evening news is that of artist Patrick Courrielche, who has shown that the National Endowment of the Arts is seeking to use government funds to promote Obama administration initiatives. On Sunday's "This Week," George Will pierced the mainstream media veil. "Recently there was a conference call arranged by the National Endowment for the Arts, with a representative of the White House, for potential grantees or actual grantees of the federal government, getting subsidies - the theme of it was how the arts community could advance the president's agenda. Now I don't know how many laws that breaks, but I am sure there are some."

What are you waiting for, Katie Couric? If the mainstream media continues down the path of covering up the sins of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration, in particular, while it continues to exert its still powerful weapons to destroy those who would dare do their jobs for them, then eventually, perhaps in the near future, those "mobs" that have befuddled the Democratic Party at health care town halls and at tea parties will take their pitchforks to media row.

When the next big scandal hits - and it will, and it most certainly won't come from traditional journalism - all eyes will be on "Pinch" Sulzberger to see if he does his job. All eyes are on the media. We are judging them by the standard they taught us during Watergate: "The cover-up is worse than the crime."



Media-fostered Obama cult is proto-Fascist

“What’s Your Pledge?” “To be a servant to our president,” says Demi Moore. “To be of service to Barack Obama,” says Anthony Kiedis. We are witnessing something beyond the every-day attempt to package a political leader in a compelling way. In fact, we may very well be watching the emergence of a cult of personality. To some, even the suggestion of this is absurd because we associate such things with despotism. How could a free society fall prey to such a thing?

Well, where are the radical mantras of “question authority” now? Where have all the liberal flowers gone? They’ve gone to Washington, D.C., everyone. And because children are our future, let’s teach them well and let them lead the way. It’s time to kick the “juvenile idealization of the President” up a notch.

Ever see pictures of LBJ in homes? Nixon? Ford? Carter? Reagan? Anyone named Bush? Clinton? How about Barack Obama? Oh yeah. They are popping out on walls all over America because, like FDR and JFK were, Mr. Obama is being increasingly seen as a colossus standing above it all. He’s a super leader who can do super things. And children in school next Tuesday will have that image reinforced to them, irrespective of what is actually said in the speech.

A cult of personality happens when mass media creates and fosters an idealized and heroic public image for a political leader. It is most often connected with totalitarian regimes, but, as Jonah Goldberg has pointed out in his book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, the original use of the word “totalitarian” described a “humane” society, “one in which everyone is taken care of and contributes equally. It was an organic concept where every class, every individual, was part of the larger whole.” Sound familiar?

And of course, it just infuriates liberals to hear even the suggestion that their agenda might indeed resemble fascism, because for so long the mantra has been that “right-wing” conservatives are fascists. But, put simply, true conservatives do not believe in big government and are all about individual liberty – two traits that are decidedly anti-fascist. Fascism is about the expansion, glorification, and predominance of the state – that’s liberalism, not conservatism.

But dull facts are no match for frenzied media. And young minds are no match for a massive campaign to foster the image of a president as more than what our constitution requires him – or her – to be. Do I believe that we are on the verge of some kind of massive move toward “friendly totalitarianism” in America? No. But I do think that if it ever really happened here, it would travel along the same national nerve pathways that are being used by this White House right now.



Observing San Francisco

If the poster below does not creep you out, it should. It would go well in any dystopian tyranny. Today's American Left would cheerfully march into Fascism if conservatives and ordinary decent Americans would let them

As I’ve mentioned, my wife, Helene, and I are house-sitting in San Francisco, a wonderful, quirky city but also home pond to Nancy Pelosi and other odd ducks. Following are a few random sightings and quotes that provide a small whiff of the atmosphere here, such as the fact that there are so many Priuses here with Obama bumper stickers that I now suspect that all the cars Toyota shipped to San Francisco last year came with the Obama stickers built into the bumpers at the factory.

When we first saw the following poster in a window we thought it must have been home-made, but subsequent sightings, and this site, reveal that it is in fact mass-produced, presumably with an audience of purchasers. [UPDATE: This link has been corrected. It should have pointed, as it does now, to a site with many Obey Obama posters.]

I think this poster speaks for itself, and it says volumes about the mentality of many of the most fervent Obamaphiles.

Riding on a MUNI bus one day (Helene likes to ride the buses so she can tune up her Spanish) we picked up a copy of the San Francisco Bay Guardian someone had left behind, perhaps the only paper in the land that can make the San Francisco Chronicle seem almost sane. On page 13 of the Sept. 2 – 8, 2009, issue there is a large announcement of High Holiday Services at the Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls featuring Rabbi Michael Lerner and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker. (This announcement is not available in the Guardian online, but almost the same thing is online here.) I was struck by the caption under Alice Walker’s picture in the Guardian, which stated that she would speak “about how Oppressed People can Become Oppressors.” I didn’t realize, I thought at first to myself, that Alice Walker had become a critic of racial quotas, etc., but then, after reading the announcement, realized she was talking about the Jews. Silly me.



"Progressives" (Regressives) Want A World Without Cars

One of the not so secret agendas of Progressives is the regimentation of society. Instead of individual choice, they want mass instruction. Instead of freedom, they want conformity.

North Korean women doing the Goosestep above

Take the French revolutionaries who created the first mass civilian army for Napoleon (and the first mass production of rifles). Take Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and the Dear Leader in North Korea. All want to get people to march in unison, follow the leader, salute on order. One, two three, four, round the block and do it some more.

Where does the motor car fit into this vision of a regimented society? It doesn't. Cars free people to pursue their own agendas, to go to their own destinations, to be individuals. As a result, Progressives favour mass transit, speed limits, gasoline taxation and car-free-zones. Take Vauban, Germany. It has made owning a car so difficult (parking spaces are forbidden on private property) that most residents have given them up. The same kind of anti-car movement can be seen in Vancouver where aggressive bicycle owners regularly block traffic. Or in London, England where special fees are charged for driving in the city centre. Here in BC, a recycling company, Encorp, boasts that its program is the equivalent of taking 27,000 cars off BC roads for a year.

So, yes, Progressives believe cars are killing the planet. Private homes waste space. Lawns requiring fertilizer are anti-social. Should I go on? Progressives have a plan for you folks, and the best example I can think of is that picture at the top of this post from North Korea (not too many cars there, that's for sure. Or much grass, come to that).

So throw away your car keys and get into step, eh? One, two, three four . . . you'll get to like it after a while. This freedom thing is so wasteful when you get down to it.

SOURCE (See the original for links)


Thieves judging thieves

The doubt I have about whether Congressmen are even capable of having conflicts of interest was reinforced by Instapundit’s link today to this New York Post editorial about Rep. Charlie Rangel’s gifts to three members of the House Ethics Committee, which will eventually judge his tax and reporting evasions.
One member of the panel, Peter Welch of Vermont, wisely decided to return his $20,000 gift from Rangel, citing the need for “an abundance of caution.” But the other two — Ben Chandler of Kentucky and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina — are holding on to Rangel’s largesse, claiming it in no way interferes with their ability to sit in judgment on their benefactor.

Now you may well ask, why do I have doubts that this — or any apparently quid quo pro Congressional behavior that fails the smell test — amounts to conflict of interest?

Because to be a conflict of interest there have to be two (or more) actual interests in conflict, and Congressmen for the most part have only one interest: getting re-elected. That said, these two guys — one (Chandler) a Blue Dog and one (Butterfield) a member of the Congressional Black Caucus — are real pieces of work. Chandler, for example, laments the influence of money in politics and supports campaign finance reform because
Americans have lost confidence in their political system.... They believe that our current system for financing campaigns gives disproportionate power to wealthy individuals and groups and exerts too much influence over legislative and regulatory outcomes.

Chandler obviously believes that taking money from someone he’s about to judge will not contribute to any loss of confidence in him, the House ethics committee, or the House itself. (And he’s probably right; how much lower could that confidence get?)

Even more striking is the case of Rep. Butterfield, a former North Carolina Superior Court and Supreme Court judge. He once voted, for example, for a measure that
[p]rohibits members of the House from participating in events that honor them at the presidential nominating convention for the party in which they belong if the event is directly paid for by a registered lobbyist....

Campaigning with cash provided by someone he’s about to investigate and judge, however, is obviously quite kosher.

When Butterfield was appointed to the ethics committee, the News and Observer interviewed him and reported:
“I know that an investigation can destroy someone’s career, so I know how to handle myself,” he said.

The committee, made up of five Democrats and five Republicans, looks into allegations of violations of the House’s ethics rules, such as accepting improper gifts or failing to disclose a conflict of interest.

Unlike his time in Superior Court, Butterfield will act a both judge and juror on the committee, helping investigate and making a decision. The process is also more confidential than a regular trial.

Butterfield said that the position means he’ll have to be circumspect with his colleagues. “It’s a solemn responsibility,” he said. “My interaction with other members has got to be appropriate.”

This former judge sees nothing inappropriate, of course, about taking and keeping money from someone he’s about to investigate and judge.

But let’s give the final word to Butterfield’s spokesman, who insisted a bit too loudly but still ambiguously, I think, that “[h]is integrity is not for sale, and certainly not [for] $5,000.”



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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)