Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some rambling reflections on the flexibility of denominational loyalty among the Protestant laity

There is of course a very large number of Protestant groupings and also some Protestants who avoid groupings altogether. The reason behind the profusion of Protestant denominations is that the founders of the denominations concerned were struck by important points in the scriptures and have made those points of central importance. And if founding a new denomination seems required by the importance of those points, so be it.

But the concerns that led to the founding of the various denominations tend to be very little attended to by the laity. Protestants normally choose their church not according to its doctrine but rather according to its geographical convenience or the friendliness of its outreach.

The lady in my life -- Anne -- is a rather good example of that. Her father was Gospel Hall and her mother was brought up as a Salvationist. But for reasons of convenience Anne attended solely Methodist and Presbyterian churches -- with Presbyterians being by far her most frequent church associates. But Anne is a singer so when her Salvationist friends got to know of that, she was asked to come with them and sing solo hymns during the street corner evangelism for which the Sallies used to be so famous. And she did. She sang with the Sallies on street corners. And I am MOST impressed by that. I find it hard to think of a better recommendation of good character than that.

My own background is also a little mottled. My father was an Anglican of the most nominal sort and my mother was a Presbyterian. I cannot remember either of them ever putting a foot inside a church but my mother's denominational attachment still had some life in it so I was from an early age sent to Presbyterian Sunday School -- which I greatly enjoyed. Then when I went to High School there was a non-denominational Bible study group which met during lunch hour called the Crusaders. And I joined and enjoyed that too. So: Osama bin Laden, watch out. I am actually one of those evil Crusaders that you fantasize about!

For a while after that I joined the Jehovahs Witnesses, who are FEROCIOUS Bible students -- and that suited me down to the ground. I learnt enormous amounts about what the Bible says at that time. I even began to look at the original Greek and Hebrew of the scriptures then. Sometimes it is useful to go back to the original Bible rather than relying on any of the many translations. And to this day I still enjoy reading the Bible. Ecclesiastes is my favourite book for wisdom and Revelations is the most fun.

Eventually, however, by about age 18, I became dissatisfied with the JWs and went back to attending my local Presbyterian church (Ann st.). And I got on well there with the minister: old Percy Pearson. His sermons used to be a bit obscure but I followed them and would nod when he made a good point. So he got into the habit of addressing most of his sermons to me! Though I think only he and I knew that. We used to have good chats in the church hall afterwards too.

And at about age 20 I became an atheist -- largely as a consequence of studying philosophy. By the time I took up formal study of philosophy at university I had already read all sorts of philosophy -- from Aquinas to Bultmann. I have a younger relative (cousin one removed) who was at one time an Assembly of God minister. When he was, I warned him not to study theology as it would destroy his faith. But he did and it did. He is now an academic.

Many years elapsed after that during which I attended no church at all (except to get married). But about 15 years ago, I felt that it would be good to renew some contact with the marvellous Christian faith so have attended the very occasional service at both the magnificent Anglican cathedral and my old Presbyterian church. And I get a lot out of both, atheist though I remain. I am off to Evensong at the Cathedral this Sunday, in fact.

So I think that denominational wandering is almost a defining feature of Protestantism.


ObamaCare and Red State Democrats

The president is changing the political landscape, but not in the way he intends


On Friday, I was at DePauw University in Indiana debating former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. It was two days after Barack Obama's big speech before a joint session of Congress and Mr. Dean is a strong advocate for his party's agenda and a medical doctor, so I expected him to defend the president's idea of adding a "trigger" to health-care reform to ease its passage and thereby guarantee a government takeover of our health-care system.

But Mr. Dean turned out to be tougher on triggers than I was. He called them a "terrible" idea.

It's now becoming clear that Mr. Obama's speech failed to rally voters and failed to inspire Democrats to follow their president's lead. And while the fissures are small now (Mr. Dean's worry seems to be that triggers would give too much away to Republicans), they will likely widen unless the president shows that his policies will do what his campaign did--expand the pool of voters in favor of Democrats.

That's not happening now. A Gallup poll this week found that 38% of Americans say their representative should vote for ObamaCare--40% want their member to vote against it. It was 37%-39% on the same question the day before Mr. Obama spoke.

Part of Mr. Obama's problem is his language. His speech contained little new information and his tone was unpresidential. Instead of binding Americans to his cause, he called legitimate concerns "misinformation," "false," "demagoguery," "distortion" or "tall tales." Earlier in the week he declared them "lies." This was like calling people with concerns stupid, and it's not the way to win them over.

Take the issue of illegal aliens. The president's assertion that his reform "would not apply to those who are here illegally" drew an angry eruption from a GOP House backbencher. Then late Friday night, the White House quietly announced that proof of citizenship would be required to enroll in the president's health plan. This closed the loophole that provoked Rep. Joe Wilson. Had Mr. Obama acknowledged the concern and offered a solution in his speech, he would have come across as reasonable.

Mr. Obama is forgetting that the political landscape can change when the pool of people who vote changes. In 2008, five million more people voted than in 2004. Mr. Obama drew two million more African-Americans to the polls. He also shifted support among younger voters (ages 18-24) from 54% Democratic, 45% Republican in 2004 to 66% Democratic, 32% Republican.

Today, Mr. Obama's approval among young voters is down 10 points since July, according to Gallup polls. It may drop more when those voters discover that the plan put out by Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) this week would fine them up to $950 a year for not being insured. Young people are 9.9% of the population. Fining them only antagonizes them.

Fiscally conservative independents who were already upset with Mr. Obama's stimulus spending will only be more upset with his health-care plan. It starts running annual deficits in its third year, piles up $219 billion in deficits in its first decade, and could add $1 trillion to the debt in its second.

Last weekend's grassroots rally against ObamaCare in Washington was a sign that voters are getting active to oppose the president's agenda. If it keeps up, middle-class anxiety about the national debt could make 2010 a tough year for any Democrat up for re-election.

Those Democrats will soon notice that seniors are worried about Mr. Obama's proposed Medicare cuts and that Hispanics --the fastest growing part of the electorate-- are slipping away from the president. Gallup polls reveal his support among Hispanics fell 14 points to 67% over the summer. Mr. Obama may be changing the electorate for 2010, but in the wrong direction for his party. This has worried many of the 70 Democrats in congressional districts carried by George W. Bush or John McCain.

Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire's district went 55% for Mr. McCain last year. After Mr. Obama's speech, he called the House bill "flawed" and said, "We can do better." Ohio Rep. John Boccieri, whose district favored Mr. McCain 50%-48%, told reporters, "I don't believe the president has shifted any of my opinions." Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith, whose district gave Mr. McCain 61% of its vote, called for health-care reform "without expanding government or adding more debt to an already overburdened treasury."

And it's not only Democrats in red districts who are questioning the president. California Reps. Dennis Cardoza and Jim Costa followed the speech by saying it hadn't swayed them. Mr. Obama carried their districts with 60% of the vote. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri and Artur Davis of Alabama, both African-Americans, voiced similar sentiments.

Mr. Obama will appear on five news shows on Sunday. His time might be better spent praying for more public support.




Civility, 2007-Style: Hanging George Bush: "Some people who are outraged by anti-Obama placards have forgotten that, only a few years ago, many people were condemning George Bush in terms as harsh or harsher. Here is a picture I took at an antiwar rally in Washington in January 2007. The sign – “What’s good for the goose….. gander” – refers to the recent hanging of Saddam Hussein... The artist’s representation of George Bush could have been better, but so could the photograph itself".

ACORN loses its funding, allies in House: "House Democrats on Thursday unexpectedly abandoned their longtime ally ACORN, joining Republicans in an overwhelming vote to end all federal funding for the embattled liberal activist group. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) watched its last bastion of support in Washington crumble a week after hidden-camera investigative videos surfaced that showed its workers advising a supposed underage prostitute on how to cheat on taxes and loan applications. The latest setback followed a decision by the Obama administration to cancel plans for ACORN to work on the 2010 census and a Senate vote to block funding for ACORN in the 2010 housing appropriations bill. The Republican-sponsored measure, dubbed the Defund ACORN Act, passed on a 345-75 procedural vote as part of an unrelated student loan reform bill. Two Democrats voted present. The final tally was a startling rebuke from congressional Democrats, who in the past steadfastly supported ACORN in the face of conservative criticisms that the organization skirts tax laws, violates election rules and commits other crimes while heavily supporting Democratic candidates and liberal causes".

ACORN's Illegal Alien Home Loan Racket: "There's one thing more shocking than the illegal alien smuggling advice that an ACORN official in San Diego gave undercover journalists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles. It's the illegal alien home loan racket that ACORN has already been operating with the full knowledge of the U.S. government... In 2005, Citibank and ACORN Housing Corporation -- which received tens of millions of tax dollars under the Bush administration alone -- began recruiting Mexican illegal aliens for a lucrative program offering loans with below-market interest rates, down-payment assistance and no mortgage insurance requirements. Instead of the Social Security numbers required of law-abiding citizens, the program allows illegal alien applicants to supply loosely monitored tax identification numbers issued by the IRS. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that "undocumented residents" comprise a vast market representing a potential sum of "$44 billion in mortgages." Citibank enlarged its portfolio of subprime and other risky loans. ACORN enlarged its membership rolls. The program now operates in Miami; New York City; Jersey City, N.J.; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Bridgeport, Conn.; and at all of ACORN Housing's 12 California offices. San Diego ACORN officials advised illegal alien recruits that their bank partners would take applicants who had little or no credit, or even "nontraditional records of credit, such as utility payments and documentation of private loan payments."

Eastern Europe unhappy about downgrade in US ties: "Scuttling a missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland helps smooth relations between the U.S. and Russia. But at what price? Some of America’s staunchest allies are the East Europeans — and on Thursday, they expressed dismay at what many see as a slight after decades of their support for the U.S. Among them were some famous names, including Lech Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and Polish ex-president.”

Post-bubble malaise: "The question is, how long can the Obama administration write checks on an account that’s overdrawn by $11 trillion (The National debt) before the foreign appetite for US Treasuries wanes and we have a sovereign debt crisis? If the Fed is faking sales of Treasuries to conceal the damage — as I expect it is — we could see the dollar plunge to $2 per euro by the middle of 2010. Imagine pulling up to the gas pump and paying $6.50 per gallon. Ouch! That should be revive the economy.”

Katie, Matt & Tingly Chris: Suck it Up and Say Goodbye: "Well, surprise, surprise, surprise. According to the latest poll from the Pew Research Center, the “Drive-By Media” no longer have any credibility left with the American people. To quote Pew, “Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate.” Now, let’s see … why would that be? … Hmmm ... Let me think for a second … Hold on, I think I’ve got it! It’s probably because ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post lie through their teeth on a daily basis. Yep, I think that’s it. Once people figure out that you are an inveterate liar who contrives and contorts the news to fit your own perverse world view, you probably are going to end up with a Credibility Gap about the size of the Grand Canyon."

Deal ‘pounded out’ on card-check ought to pass: "Senators have hammered out a compromise that would allow unions to swell their ranks, and a key lawmaker said it should pass this year. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) on Tuesday told the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh that he has been working hard “for hours” on a deal with other key senators, such as Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as labor leaders, on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). “We have pounded out an Employees Choice bill which will meet labor’s objectives,” Specter said. “I believe before the year is out, and I will join my colleague Sen. [Bob] Casey [Jr. (D-Pa.)] in predicting, that there will be passage of an Employees Free Choice Act which will be totally satisfactory to labor.” ... What was unsaid in the senator’s speech was whether a core provision in the bill was part of the deal. Much of the attention has focused on the “card-check” provision, which would allow workers to bypass secret-ballot elections and instead organize by getting a majority to sign off on authorization cards. Attacked relentlessly by business associations as undemocratic, lawmakers have been discussing removing the measure in order to win more support from centrist Democrats."

The expanding public realm: "Virtually every time someone promotes increasing the scope of government’s involvement in our lives, the excuse is that the problem being tackled is a social or public type, not one of individuals. In some cases this is credible, as when a contagious disease surfaces. But in the cases now being dealt with by means of government intervention, such as smoking and even helping people to be happy, this is a phony excuse serving primarily to expand the reach of government into the life of everyone.”

Britain: Hands off my camera!: "Since the Counter-Terrorism Act 2000 came into force, many amateur and professional photographers have found themselves questioned, manhandled and detained by police who have received extended stop and search rights. … As many photographers have experienced, cameras — especially if they are professional-looking or are mounted on a tripod — are now often deemed ’suspicious articles.’ More and more professional and amateur snappers are being stopped by police while documenting everything from demonstrations to bus stations and street life in Britain. … In response to this mood of suspicion and to growing restrictions on individual and press freedom, the newly formed campaign group, I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist, staged a photography ‘flash mob’ on Reuters plaza in Canary Wharf, east London, on Saturday.”

Britain: Call to punish police without ID: "A watchdog said it was ‘extraordinary’ that officers caught policing protests without wearing their ID badges were escaping with ‘a slap on the wrist.’ The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) said senior officers must ensure frontline colleagues can be identified. Some officers were photographed without ID badges during April’s G20 protests. Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison of the Metropolitan Police said discipline may not be appropriate for officers who sometimes forget to attach their ID.”

Ireland may scupper EU power grab again: "With the trappings of wealth that come with having made a multimillion fortune in aluminium, forestry and telecommunications, you might think it difficult for this English-born Irish businessman to paint himself as David against Goliath in the coming Lisbon treaty referendum. But he did it once and believes he can do it again. It was Mr Ganley’s Libertas group that consolidated the ranks of socialists and right-wing Roman Catholics who opposed Lisbon last year to deliver the knockout punch. This week, to the dismay of the Irish Government and the Opposition, he went back on his word and said he would fight again. “They are trying to scare the crap out of the Irish people by saying ‘vote yes for jobs, vote yes for the economy’ when the treaty will not create a single job in Ireland. In fact I am convinced it will result in job losses.” The Lisbon treaty is a repackaging of the European constitution, aimed at streamlining the expanded 27-nation European Union."


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 18, 2009

The Real Political Divide: People's attitudes toward the world in which they Live

Everyone knows that Americans are bitterly divided over politics but what is the fundamental nature of that division? What is the core disagreement that separates conservatives from liberals, right from left?

Norman Podhoretz provided a provocative and persuasive answer to that question in a recent Wall Street Journal column (September 10) based on his new book, Why Are Jews Liberals? Podhoretz wrote: The great issue between the two political communities is how they feel about the nature of American society. With all exceptions duly noted, I think it fair to say that what liberals mostly see when they look at this country is injustice and oppression of every kind economic, social and political. By sharp contrast, conservatives see a nation shaped by a complex of traditions, principles and institutions that has afforded more freedom and, even factoring in periodic economic downturns, more prosperity to more of its citizens than in any society in human history. It follows that what liberals believe needs to be changed or discarded and apologized for to other nations is precisely what conservative are dedicating to preserving, reinvigorating and proudly defending against attack.

The bitterness of the current health care debate demonstrates the power of this important insight. Liberals invariably plead that the United States must follow the example of Britain or France, Canada or Cuba, and expand the governmental role in medicine to guarantee health care as a sacred human right. The left insists that despite the high cost of American medical care we actually lag far behind more enlightened countries in health outcomes. Conservatives, on the other hand, while decrying the rise in costs, cite the many ways that the US system leads the world (in technological breakthroughs, as well as responsiveness where America is ranked number one by the World Health Organization of the UN). Conservatives want other countries to learn from us and follow our example; liberals long for the United States to learn from our European counterparts and to follow their example.

In international affairs, similar differences apply. The left wants the United States to act multi-laterally at all times and in all things, emphasizing the danger that well probably make a mistake if we go it alone and ignore world opinion. The right concentrates on the need for American power in the world and stresses the positive role played by this country in every corner of the globe. Conservatives worry that if we wait for other (and often corrupt) international powers to join us in every endeavor, well make a mistake by abdicating the leadership role only we can play by deferring to world opinion.

When it comes to the nations history, the divisions between left and right remain similarly stark. Liberals stress U.S. guilt for slavery, mistreatment of Native Americans, and more than a century of imperialist adventures oppressing nations around the world. The right dwells on the way that America introduced ideals of liberty to all of humanity, gave rise to the planets first anti-slavery society, and rescued the earth from two world wars and the danger of international communism.

The opposing instincts toward America also help explain the liberal-conservative arguments over religion and its role in our society. All recent polls show a vast difference in political alignment between those who place a priority on traditional faith and those who describe themselves as irreligious or unaffiliated. From the days of our Puritan and Pilgrim forefathers, the people who inhabited the New World always placed a higher priority on religious practice and Biblical beliefs than the communities they left behind in Europe. In the 1830s, the French observer Alexis de Tocqueville singled out the powerful influence of fervent Christianity as perhaps the most dominant force in American society, and the clearest distinction between the new Republic and the Old World. Even today, the United States remains by every measure the most religious nation in the western world. For conservatives, the religious character of our past and our people stands as a point of pride; for liberals, its one more reason for embarrassment and apology.

On all of these issues, liberals and conservatives differ dramatically and profoundly. This is not to say that all liberals hate America, or that all conservatives glorify their country unreservedly. But in questions of emphasis the contrast couldnt be more clear: the left stresses Americas failures, shortcomings, hypocrisies, and embarrassments while the right trumpets the nations achievements, blessings, and distinctive advantages. Nothing enrages liberals more than the conservative tendency for jingoistic flag-waving and super-patriotism; nothing bothers conservatives more than the liberal habit of blaming America first and concentrating on historic guilt and present problems.

The more negative attitude by liberals toward the nation in which they live even accounts for the well-known happiness gap in which all survey data shows conservatives as far more satisfied and optimistic about their own lives. Even controlling for factors like race, age, economic and marital status, conservatives top liberals by all measures of happiness (as described in detail by Arthur Brooks in his valuable book, Gross National Happiness.) The liberal embrace of guilt rather than gratitude, and focus on the nations predicaments rather than its possibilities, clearly contribute to the gloomy temperament (and the inevitable calls for sweeping change) that accompany the leftwing world view.

The critical and even fearful attitude toward the United States has come to characterize the left in every corner of the globe, and it makes sense to extend the Podhoretz paradigm internationally. Contrasting visions of America distinguish every major conflict in todays world; the role of the United States has been the explosive, polarizing, outstanding international issue for the last twenty years.

In 1989-91, with the Western victory in the Cold War, disputes over American influence and values came to replace the issue that had divided the world for the previous 70 years: the response to Marxism. For more than two generations, attitudes toward socialism and the rise of all-powerful (often totalitarian) governments not only separated the nations of the world, but also characterized political disputes within each nation. The Russian Revolution created the prospect of world-shattering revolt, and conservatives defined themselves by their implacable opposition to that prospect just as liberals argued for the need to embrace or accommodate it. Anywhere on earth, your approach toward Marxist ideology placed you in one political camp or the other, just as your response to Americas influence and example will shape your ideological position from Moscow to Mumbai, from Mombasa to Maracaibo.

Some partisans on the left (in America and around the world) will resist this formulation, insisting that they love the United States just as much as any right winger. The distinction, progressives regularly aver, involves their affection for a perfected America that might, through hope and change, come into existence sometime in the future, or else their nostalgic reverence for an America that once was, but ceased to exist through some malevolent influence (greedy businessmen, the religious right, conniving conservatives, take your pick).

Anyone with a modicum of experience in human relations will tell you that a devotion based on what your love object might become, or may have been in the past, is a suspect and toxic form of affection. If, in a moment of insecurity, a wife asks a husband, Honey, do you love me? the last thing she wants to hear is, Actually, I love the idea of you if you changed completely. In other words, its not advisable to tell the woman in your life that youd adore her if shed only lose fifty pounds, submit to liposuction and breast augmentation surgery, get a new set of gleaming white caps for her teeth, and complete a post graduate degree so shed offer more intriguing conversation.

By the same token, it always seems bizarre to hear liberals insist that they consider themselves committed patriots and enthusiastic America lovers because they love the notion of a new U.S. purged of racism, and pollution, and economic exploitation, and sexism, and homophobia, and Mickey Mouse, McDonalds and the Designated Hitter Rule.

Conservatives have an easier time connecting with the sentiments of everyday Americans because our love of country remains less complicated: we admire and relish and savor the United States just as it is, even with all its quirks and imperfections. For us, the sight of Old Glory in the autumn breeze inspires a sense of instant pride and exaltation, not the bittersweet ruminations of a guilty liberal who automatically evokes embarrassing episodes associated with the flag and sighs over the gap between U.S. ideals and contemporary reality.

The more that conservatives understand and adopt the idea that attitudes toward America divide the left and right everywhere, the better our chances of building durable majorities. The health care debate offers a fine opportunity to spread this notion. While the left hopes that well abandon our distinctiveness and welcome international influence in shaping a new health care system, the right hopes for a clear-cut victory for liberty and against big government a victory that can advance the cause of Americanism as a unique and valuable creed both here at home and around the world.



Statement of Deneen Borelli on Allegations of Racism Against Critics of Obama Policies

This statement was issued today by Deneen Borelli of the national black leadership network Project 21: "There they go again. Now Jimmy Carter has joined House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel, Texas Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, New York Governor David Paterson, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, the New York Times' Maureen Dowd and others on the left in claiming racism is behind criticism of President Obama's big-spending policies.

The public is outraged about the president's policies -- the spending, the budget, the deficit -- not his skin color.

President Obama was not elected only with black votes. Are those who cry 'racism' saying the American people suddenly woke up and said, 'oh, he's black so I don't like him anymore'? That makes no sense. The criticism of Obama's policies is about the policies -- the stimulus, the growth of government, cap-and-trade, the health care bills, the overspending.

It's easier for the left to play the race card than address the public's legitimate concerns, but what the left and the media are doing is damaging and dangerous. It's damaging because when everything is racist, then nothing is. Those who cry racism without evidence will cause people to tune out in cases in which there is evidence.

It's dangerous also to send a message that racism is behind everything. What does that tell young black men and women? It tells them they will never get a fair shake and that white people who have never met them dislike them. With a message like that, its no surprise we're seeing apparently racial incidents like the widely-circulated video of a young white student being beaten up on a school bus by black students while other black students cheer. What message have those black students internalized from liberal leaders like Rangel, Johnson, Paterson, Matthews and Dowd and now former President Carter? That white people are their enemy.

If this continues -- if not already -- the left will literally have blood on its hands, and all because it was too dishonest and too cowardly to have a fair debate with the American people on policy."




In case you missed it, the video of ‘The Audacity of Hos’, where Jon Stewart of the ‘Daily Show’ Skewers ACORN is here. He doesn’t sugar-coat the embarrassment at all — to the apparent delight of his audience, who get kudos of their own. How can the national news media ignore the many allegations of corruption at ACORN, which gets millions of dollars in federal funding, and allow a couple of independents with $3,000 and a bad wardrobe scoop them on the undercover story of the year? It’s easy when newsrooms are more concerned with political direction than truth. Stick around to the end, when Stewart zings Michelle Malkin haters.

The Stimulus Didn't Work: "Is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 working? At the time of the act's passage last February, this question was hotly debated. Administration economists cited Keynesian models that predicted that the $787 billion stimulus package would increase GDP by enough to create 3.6 million jobs. Our own research showed that more modern macroeconomic models predicted only one-sixth of that GDP impact. Estimates by economist Robert Barro of Harvard predicted the impact would not be significantly different from zero. Now, six months after the act's passage, we no longer have to rely solely on the predictions of models. We can look and see what actually happened. Incoming data will reveal more in coming months, but the data available so far tell us that the government transfers and rebates have not stimulated consumption at all, and that the resilience of the private sector following the fall 2008 panic not the fiscal stimulus program deserves the lion's share of the credit for the impressive growth improvement from the first to the second quarter."

Egyptian antisemite welcome at the UN: "An Egyptian government minister who offered to burn Hebrew books could be elected tomorrow as the new head of Unesco despite fierce hostility from Jewish groups and unease among western governments. Farouk Hosni, 71, who has been Egypt’s Culture Minister for two decades, was confident that he could win outright in tomorrow’s first round of voting at the Paris headquarters of the United Nation’s cultural section. Until last spring, Mr Hosni was thought certain to succeed Koichiro Matsuura of Japan as director-general because of the feeling, shared in Washington and many EU capitals, that it was time for an Arab to lead Unesco for the first time since it was founded in 1945. Mr Hosni was thrown on the defensive when Jewish organisations and European intellectuals exposed what they said was a long record of “nauseating” anti-Semitic actions and statements. Chief among these was his response in the Cairo parliament last year to an Islamic fundamentalist MP who complained about Hebrew language books in the Alexandria Library. “If there are any there, I will myself burn them in front of you,” he said."

Taxpayer to fund Postal Service retirees: "“The House voted Tuesday to let the struggling U.S. Postal Service cover a budget shortfall by reducing its annual payment to a health care fund for retirees by $4 billion. Under current law, the Postal Service is required to transfer $5.4 billion to the Retiree Health Benefits Fund by Sept. 30, the end of the budget year. Postal officials have said they don’t have enough money to make the payment.”

MA: Health costs to rise again: "The state’s major health insurers plan to raise premiums by about 10 percent next year, prompting many employers to reduce benefits and shift additional costs to workers. Increases will range from 7 to 12 percent, capping a decade of consecutive double-digit premium increases, according to a Globe survey of the state’s top health insurers. Actual rates for 2010 will depend on the size of the employer and the type of coverage, with small businesses and individuals expected to be hit hardest. Overall, premiums are more than twice as high as they were 10 years ago. The higher insurance costs undermine a key tenet of the state’s landmark healthcare law passed two years ago, as well as President Obama’s effort to overhaul health care. In addition to mandating insurance for most residents, the Massachusetts bill sought to rein in healthcare costs.”

Typical Leftist projection from Obama: "But people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Calling Sarah Palin a liar was most unfortunate given the speech on health care Barack Obama gave last Wednesday night. In that speech, President Obama accused his critics of spreading ‘misinformation’ and ‘bogus claims,’ of ‘demagoguery and distortion,’ and of ’scare tactics’ instead of honest debate. But all of that was most prominently featured in his own speech.”

Spreading the wealth: "When Barack Obama said he wanted to ’spread the wealth around,’ he meant it. A new study from Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation estimates that Obama’s policies would spend $10.3 trillion on welfare programs over the next decade. Obama started increasing welfare spending immediately after assuming office. The stimulus bill included $220 billion in new means-tested spending, including a little-noticed provision that repealed one of the key welfare reforms of the Clinton era. The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act capped welfare dollars to states, ending the perverse system that rewarded states for adding cases to their welfare rolls. The 2009 stimulus bill lifted the caps. Once again, states that add to their rolls qualify for more cash.”

Do not be a victim: "As I resumed my rather hectic schedule during the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy, two questions were asked of me more than any others during my travel. First, why would an airplane full of people allow a handful of men, armed only with box cutters, to take over the aircraft and fly in into one of the world’s tallest structures? And, what would have happened if only one or two of the passengers or crew members on those doomed flights had been armed for self-defense? Funny how one question kind of answers the other.”


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 17, 2009

Obama is one of a long line of Fascists

One way to avoid dealing with the substance of an argument is to simply caricature your opposition by focusing on its extreme elements. This is intellectually dishonest. As far as I am concerned, it is not necessary to highlight the true crazies of the left --, Code Pink, environmental terrorists, PETA, etc. -- because the mainstream is already so nuts. It's a full time job just dealing with the New York Times, CNN, Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Van Jones, ACORN, etc.

I've read any number of mainstream analyses of the tea party movement, and not one of them dispassionately discusses the substance of the arguments, i.e., out of control government spending, socialized medicine, legislation to forbid the climate from changing, etc.

To be honest, this post is just an excuse for me to review and assimilate Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which I finished yesterday. Although originally published in 1944, it is as timely as ever, given the events of the day. I had already read some of Hayek's other books, not to mention a couple of recent biographies, but this is considered his most accessible work. There was nothing in it that was new for me, but it certainly reinforces the fact that there isn't anything the least bit controversial about linking Obama and fascism. Indeed, Obama is simply acting from a script that was written (and discredited) long ago. It's timeless, really.

Again, at the time it was published, Hayek was trying to make the then-controversial point that communism and fascism were not opposites, but two consequences of the same underlying assumptions. These assumptions are profoundly illiberal, which is why, if you want to reduce it to a linear map, both socialism and fascism are on the left, while classical liberalism is on the right. But this is not really a useful distinction. I much prefer the four-quadrant graph I discussed yesterday, which distinguishes collectivism from individualism and the worldly from the spiritual.

A classical liberal of the American type believes first and foremost in liberty. But not the unconstrained horizontal liberty of the radical secularist. Rather, it can only be understood in a spiritual context, which is why the Founders wanted a secular state but a religious society infused with Judeo-Christian principles and values. None of them imagined that democracy would work in the absence of a virtuous population (although I am quite sure that our trolls can find the stray comment by a Jefferson or Paine justiying their own hatred of God).

It is important to point out that while critics of the tea party movement will cherry-pick some of the signs to focus on, they object just as much to the intellectual substance. The signs just give them a convenient way to avoid debate.

Thus, when The Road to Serfdom was published in the 1940s, it was greeted by the liberal ignorantsia exactly as if Hayek were holding up a sign of Roosevelt with a Hitler moustache. He was dismissed not just as wrong, but sinister (again, without ever engaging the substance of his ideas). This is because virtually all intellectuals at the time were unquestioned socialists. Of course, they accused Hayek of being "reactionary," which was transparent projection, just as today.

As I've said before many times, I don't necessarily blame someone for being a socialist in the 1930s or 1940s, before economics was the science it is today. Socialism has an intrinsic appeal, especially to intellectuals who believe that irreducibly complex problems are susceptible to easy solutions if we just apply enough brain power. This is one of the reasons the left is so enamored of Obama. For whatever reason, they all think he's "brilliant," so that he can "solve our problems." The same things were said of Clinton. But as Milton Friedman famously remarked, no one has all the knowledge necessary to produce even a single pencil, let alone "control healthcare."

Nevertheless, one of the reasons Hayek doesn't appeal to the left wing ignorantsia is that he renders them not just superfluous, but demonstrates how dangerous they are -- not necessarily because of any bad intentions on their part. To the contrary. It is nearly always with the best of intentions. It is just that they are attempting to control reality before having understood it. The grandiose visions of the left are just fairy tales by another name.

But what is worse, they cannot understand the realities they presume to control, not in fact, nor in principle. Can't be done. A free market economy, for example, consists of millions of people making billions of spontaneous decision based upon a practically infinite amount of knowledge, information, and wisdom dispersed throughout the system. Furthermore, it is non-linear, so that if you tinker with one variable, it will have unforeseen -- and unforeseeable -- consequences that will reverberate throughout the system...

But the left is always blind to the consequences of their policies. And because they are rooted in emotion, not thought, they will simply vilify you if you disagree with them, as they did with Hayek.

The other day, Tom Friedman removed the mask and argued that China was a good country for the United States to emulate, because only with an authoritarian state would it be possible to impose Friedman World on the rest of us. In this regard, Hayek wrote that, once one concludes that central planning is necessary, this leads to "the demand that the government, or some single individual, should be given power to act on their own.... It becomes more and more the accepted belief that... the responsible director of affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure" (emphasis mine).

Not only has every liberal commentator (including the President) taken Sarah Palin's "death panels" comment out of context, but they refuse even to acknowledge that the responsible director of medical affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure in deciding how medical resources will be allocated. How is this belief controversial?

In his introduction to the book, Caldwell notes that Hayek's ideas are not just a kind of "lightning rod," but a Rorschach test that reveals "as much about the reader's prior commitments as it does about Hayek's ideas." Both the ideas and the reaction to them are timeless, man being what he is. After all, slavery and serfdom are the rule in human history, not the exception. Therefore, it is not as if these were simply accidental developments in human history. To the contrary, the culture of liberty is clearly the exception.

But the leftist believes to his core that liberty is possible in a culture of servitude. Apparently, he never pauses to think that for a third or half the year he is in bondage to the state. In my case, there is federal tax, state tax, property tax, payroll tax, sales tax, gas tax, beer tax, and more, not to mention various licenses and fees. And the government is still bankrupt!

Does the leftist really not put two and two together and understand that for the government, it always equals five? Does he really believe that there is no justification for anger at the size and scope of government? Does he really believe that it is somehow "liberal" to want to work even more for an even larger state? Does he really not acknowledge his bottomless greed and sense of entitlement for the fruits of our labors?



Our "Intolerance Festival"

It's very easy to be outraged by the way our "objective" media greeted the massive Sept. 12 rally against Big Government in Washington and across the country. They treated it as a menacing surge of white anger, meanness, and racism. But all the media bias against this rally clearly illustrates one nagging truth for media liberals: They really don't think conservatives should be allowed to protest. It's somehow like a copyright violation.

On Monday night's "Countdown," MSNBC's David Shuster found the protest united "in apparent hatred of the current president, Barack Obama." It was undemocratic, a sign of people not accepting election results, and Shuster even suggested Sen. Jim DeMint's speech at the rally signaled he favored a "military coup." The unglued anchorman also dismissed the crowd as "white, whiter and whitest," all attending an "intolerance festival."

Now, remember David Shuster in 2003, when all kinds of unsavory radical-left elements were opposing President Bush's aim to liberate Iraq. ("Bush lied, thousands died." Remember that?) The leader of the opposition was Ramsey Clark, America's nutty left-wing lawyer for a collection of disreputable dictators, and the man who would in time represent Saddam Hussein in court. But the protesters weren't nasty, even as they railed against Bush and greedy, imperialist, blood-for-oil America. They were ... a superpower.

On "Hardball," Shuster thumped the bongos for dissent: "The size of the demonstrators, at least here, at least in Europe, seems to underscore, Chris, that there are now perhaps two world superpowers. There's the United States and then there are those millions of people who took to the streets opposing U.S. policy."

Over on ABC, anchorman Bill Weir, the man who became a national laughingstock for crowing on Inauguration Day that "even the seagulls must have been awed" by Barack Obama's crowd, could find only a mob "descending" on Washington like the flying monkeys of the Wicked Witch of the West: "This morning, outrage. Protesters descend on Washington to rally against the president's health care plan. As civility gives way to shouting, what's fueling all this anger?"

But on that same ABC network, back in 2003, the attitude was different. Anchor Chris Cuomo told viewers that throughout history, protesters have been a leading national indicator of wisdom: "While protesters like today are a statistical minority, in American history, protests like this have been prescient indicators of the national mood. So the government may do well to listen to what's said today." ....

More here



March on 9/12 shows the right on the rise: "Judging by the massive crowd on Saturday that descended on Washington for the 9/12 March, you’d have to be deaf not to recognize that small-government conservatism remains a vital part of the national conversation. If you’ve been fed a steady media diet of MSNBC over the last few months, though, you could be excused for fearing a Pennsylvania Avenue takeover by a rabble of pitchfork-wielding cranks and extras from ‘Deliverance.’ But the crowd — ‘in excess of 75,000 people,’ according to a D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman — was made up of orderly, pleasant, middle-class Americans from all across the country.”

House GOP moves to cut ALL Federal funding to ACORN: "Today House Republicans will introduce a bill that would end all federal funding to ACORN and its affiliates. Republicans are also sending a letter to President Obama on the same subject. The action comes after the release, on the website BigGovernment, of three undercover videos showing ACORN employees in Baltimore, Washington DC, and New York City offering advice on how to evade taxes, cover up prostitution activity, and abet the use of minors in prostitution. In the wake of those disclosures, the U.S. Census cut its ties with ACORN, and yesterday the Senate voted 83-7 to cut off housing funds for the organization."

ACORN again: "There have been some amazingly outrageous things that have come to light as a result of Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe's undercover investigation of various ACORN offices. But the explosive new video Glenn Beck will run tonight on his 5pm Fox show just might be the most shocking. In the video, ACORN staffer "Theresa" confesses to having dabbled in the prostitution industry herself in the past. In addition, she confesses a pattern of past abuse led her to shoot and kill her own husband. PS: Hey "mainstream" media --do you think you could actually cover this story now?"

Jimmah does it again: "Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act "based on racism" and rooted in fears of a black president. "I think it's based on racism," Carter said at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president." [Projection at work: Carter is himself an antisemite]

Smash the labor monopolies!: "When President Obama addresses the AFL-CIO on Sept. 15, he is expected to reiterate his support for the so-called Employee Free Choice Act. Congress is sharply divided over the proposed law, which would change the voting and arbitration procedures by which federal law forces companies to deal with labor unions. Because the changes favor Big Labor, pro-union Democrats have been locked in a prolonged partisan squabble with their Republican opponents, and legislative compromise seems likely. But that’s really beside the point. Instead of quibbling over the methods by which unions can be forced upon unwilling employers and employees, Congress should be debating how to make the labor market truly free--free from government coercion. For more than 70 years, Congress has maintained a statutory scheme that fastens coercive labor monopolies on individual companies. Starting with the Wagner Act in 1935, any union that wins a simple majority of employee votes becomes, by force of law, the exclusive bargaining agent for every single employee in that workplace. Such a victory slams the door shut on individuals who want to deal directly with the company"

We the rats, we the children: "We aren’t rats. Nor are we children. But Congress and the Obama Administration seem to think so. From Cash-for-Clunkers to the idea that all Americans should be forced to buy health insurance, our leaders are moving away from stewardship of the Constitution to a rewards-and-punishments government. ‘Stimulus and response’ meets ‘hope and change.’ It’s for your own good. But the idea that they can subsidize and tax their way to utopia has its roots in a discredited theory from early 20th Century — the psychology of B.F. Skinner.”

Michael Moore not happy with Democrats either: "Michael Moore was on hand last night at the premier of his latest film, "Capitalism: A Love Story... Mr. Moore is a kind of political weather vane on the left, so interesting is his latest choice of political villains. He gives Barack Obama a free pass for supporting corporate bailouts, but he rakes Bob Rubin, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner ("a failure at everything he has done in life") over the coals. The crowd at Byham Theater, including incoming AFL-CIO boss Rich Trumka, hissed at the mention of each member of this Democratic economic policy troika. Another Moore target is Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, already in deep trouble in his re-election fight next year. Mr. Moore tracks down the Countrywide official who handled sweetheart mortgages for "FOAs" -- friends of Countrywide boss Angelo Mozilo -- including over $1 million for Sen. Dodd. "I guess the point of capitalism," Mr. Moore says in the film, "is it allows you to get away with anything." I guess the point of a Michael Moore movie is that his tendentious logic allows him to make a good living."

UK: Benefits plan to “make work pay”: "Plans to get 600,000 people off welfare and into work are being proposed by an independent think tank set up by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith. The Centre for Social Justice proposes scrapping a system which it says makes it difficult for people to earn more at work than they get in benefits. It says spending more than £3.7bn to subsidise those on low wages in the UK would make work pay for more people. But experts warn that politicians will be cautious about the high cost. All parties are looking to cut welfare bills and reduce the long-term jobless.”


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 16, 2009

Huckabee: No Palestinian State in Israel

Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said during a trip to Israel that the land "belongs to the Jewish people alone." He acknowledged that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own, but insisted: "It just can't be in Israel."

Huckabee, a Baptist minister and Fox News personality, was accompanied on his trip by Helen Freedman, executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel.

He told reporters that two sovereign nations cannot control the same piece of territory, and said: "Many people with many different faiths believe in a strong Israel. They believe in Israel based on issues of security as well as promises made in the Bible. This land belongs to the Jewish people alone."

Asked about the so-called Israeli "occupation" of Palestine, Huckabee said he would characterize the Israeli government's efforts as "accommodation, not occupation," the Jewish Voice and Opinion reported.

He referred to the Barack Obama administration's criticism of the Israeli government over construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, and his backing away from campaign promises of support for a unified Jerusalem. "The current administration has taken a different track from the one followed by the Bush and Clinton administrations, and Obama's position now is different from what it was during the campaign," Huckabee observed.

He also said: "Jews should have the right to live wherever they choose in their homeland. If the Arabs didn't want to lose land, they shouldn't have started wars."



Christian Zionists

It sounds like Huckabee is a Christian Zionist and I don't know how anybody who believes in the Bible can be anything else. But I suspect that Pastor Hagee trumps them all.

It's hard to believe that the videos below were recorded in a Texas church. This is Pastor John Hagee's congregational choir. Hagee is the founder and National Chairman of the Christian-Zionist organization Christians United for Israel. They are singing popular Hebrew songs IN HEBREW. It's an amazing occasion and in my view reflects a proper appreciation of Israel by Biblical standards.

And the average NYC Jew thinks these people are clowns. I think I know who the real clowns are. Except for the mass votes of people of faith like these, Obama would throw Israel under the bus in 5 minutes. As it is, he knows that the Donks would be routed at the mid-terms if he did so. (H/T ICJS)


Why The Return To Zion? The Jewish Connection To The Land of Israel

Not long after the establishment of the State of Israel, Abba Eban, Israel’s representative to the United Nations, remarked, “The peace on Israel’s borders may be no more than the peace of a quiescent volcano; and the crisis of state in its immediate external relationships remain unsolved.”

Given the intractable nature of this conflict, many ask why the Jews have been so tenacious in their desire to reconstitute the Jewish state in the land of Israel. What is it about this land that has inspired their love of Zion through centuries of exile?

Culturally, during the 18 centuries of Jewish life in the Diaspora, the connection to the land of Israel played a vital role in the value system of Jewish communities and was a basic determinant in their self-recognition as a group. Without the connection to the land of Israel, the people who practice Judaism would simply be a religious community, without national and ethnic components. Jews were distinct from the Muslim and Christian communities in which they lived because of their religious beliefs and practices and the eternal link to the land of their forefathers. That is why Jews considered themselves — and are seen by others — as a minority living in exile.

As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel explained: “For the Jews and for them alone [the land of Israel] was the one and only Homeland, the only conceivable place where they could find liberation and independence, the land toward which their minds and hearts had been uplifted for a score of centuries and where their roots had clung in spite of all adversity. . . . It was the homeland with which an indestructible bond of national, physical, religious and spiritual character had been preserved, and where the Jews had in essence remained — and were now once more in fact — a major element of the population.” 3

The Jews did not publicly challenge the occupation of their land by the empires of the East and West. They did so in their homes, sanctuaries, books, and prayers. Religious rituals were instituted to remember the destruction of the temple and the subsequent exile. During times of joy and sorrow, Zion is always part of a Jew’s thoughts and liturgy. At least three times a day, observant Jews pray for the redemption of Zion and Jerusalem and for her well-being.

More here


Massachusetts 'Run Into the Ground' by Politicians

Former Major League pitching star Curt Schilling hasn't finalized his decision on whether to run for the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy, but he's being outspoken in his criticism of elected officials. Schilling, who helped lead the Boston Red Sox to victory in the 2004 and 2007 World Series, has expressed interest in the Senate seat but said in a recent interview in Quincy, Mass., that he doesn’t know when he will make up his mind about running.

He is a longtime Republican supporter who backed John McCain in 2008, but he is not registered with the GOP and would have to run as an independent.

Schilling didn't mince words on his 38 Pitches blog for the WEEI sports radio network: "I live in a state where I can’t drive 1/2 a mile without a torn-up road, or on a major highway without paying a toll, a large toll. How in the hell is this state broke? How in the hell has a state with supposedly as intelligent a voter base as Massachusetts allowed itself to be run into the ground by entrenched and often times corrupt ‘me first’ politicians?...

"I’m not even close to a Rhodes Scholar or Ivy League graduate, but I also know I’m watching many people with those exact credentials run this state, and this country, into the ground."

Schilling, a six-time All Star who announced his retirement earlier this year, also delineated his positions on a variety of issues:

* "I’m pro-life (with exception to rape, incest or terminal consequences to mom or child during birth) and against gay marriage. However, let me be very clear on both of those issues. Those issues are so far beyond the scope or responsibility of one person to legislate, it’s laughable. The state you reside in should be the body that determines BOTH of those laws."

* "I am absolutely for the Second Amendment. But I also think this country has become so beholden to special interests and lobbyists that we have completely sacrificed the safety and well being of the individual American citizen. Why should our police officers have to worry about automatic weapons?"

* "Taxes? Sure I’ll pay them, regardless of the number. Would I prefer lower taxes? Sure, who wouldn’t? But I’ll pay, whatever they are, because that’s the cost of being able to live in this country and I’ve never had a problem with that."

Schilling added: "I’ve always tried to vote for the right team more so than the right person. I believed in Dick Cheney, I believed in Colin Powell, I believed in Condoleezza Rice. I voted as much, if not more, for the team President Bush had assembled as I ever did for the man. It’s the reason I voted for his father, it’s the reason I voted for Bill Clinton."




Heh! Senate cuts off ACORN housing funding: "The Senate voted to cut off ACORN Housing funds following the release of three videotapes that show employees of the activist group advising a ‘pimp’ and ‘prostitute’ on how to break the law. The amendment, offered by Nebraska Republican Sen. Mike Johanns, passed in a vote of 83 to 7 and prohibits the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now from receiving funds from the current Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. It marks the third time this year Republicans tried to block the organization from federal funding. The latest vote comes on the heels of the release of hidden-camera videos showing workers in three separate ACORN housing offices apparently helping a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute evade the IRS and apply for an illegal housing loan for a brothel.”

US launches military strike in Somalia: "A U.S. commando attack in Somalia has killed an al Qaeda operative who is on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists, sources tell ABC News. The dead terrorist, Saleh Ali Nabhan, is believed to have taken part in the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is also believed to have orchestrated the 2002 bombing of a resort hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, and a failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner leaving Mombasa airport.”

Pakistan: US drone attack kills 30: "Attacks by government troops and a US drone have killed at least 30 pro-Taliban militants, leaving several others injured in northwestern Pakistan, Press TV reported. A missile allegedly fired on Monday by an unmanned US aircraft targeted a vehicle believed to be carrying pro-Taliban insurgents in the North Waziristan tribal district, near the Afghan border.”

Military considers revised medical training for troops: "Troops trained in advanced trauma care could prevent up to 20% of combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military’s top medical board says. The Defense Health Board said in a recommendation to the Pentagon last month that enhanced Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) skills developed by military trauma specialists already have saved an estimated 1,000 lives in both wars.”

Stiglitz: Bank problems bigger than pre-Lehman: "Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, said the U.S. has failed to fix the underlying problems of its banking system after the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. ‘In the U.S. and many other countries, the too-big-to-fail banks have become even bigger,’ Stiglitz said in an interview yesterday in Paris. ‘The problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis.’ Stiglitz’s views echo those of former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who has advised President Barack Obama’s administration to curtail the size of banks, and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who suggested last month that governments may want to discourage financial institutions from growing ‘excessively.’”

A tale of two pledges: "I am going to tell you a story about two pledges. The first was written in 1892 and has been recited by America’s public school children ever since. Some of the words have changed since then but it remains virtually the same pledge written over 100 years ago. The second is a pledge recently shown by video, with the permission of the local PTA, to elementary schoolchildren in Salt Lake City in 2009. It was written and produced by Hollywood celebrities, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher both devout disciples of Barack Obama. The first pledge as you may have already guessed is the Pledge of Allegiance. The Moore-Kutcher video should be called ‘The Pledge to Obama.’ … It looks harmless enough until you realize that they all appear to be making pledges to Obama himself like swearing an oath to king or dictator. … Since when did we start pledging allegiance to a person in this country?”

When politics determines crowd size: "When the major media outlets fundamentally ignored the massive rally against Obama they were sure to ignite a controversy. But when they started bullsh*tting the public about how many people attended they poured fuel on the controversy they lit. Earlier this week we provided some fairly convincing video evidence that the crowd was much larger than what biased publications like the New York Times reported. The only honest estimate was from MSNBC which estimated a few hundred thousand. And that number really does make the most sense.”

One year after Wall Street meltdown, Obama targets Main Street: "One year after the Wall Street meltdown, President Obama is touting new regulations he says are urgent for preventing a crisis like this from ever happening again. He is receiving much coverage today for his speech on Wall Street on the eve of the anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ collapse. But a closer look at new rules Obama is proposing shows that the bulk of them do not go after the Wall Street culprits, but Main Street entrepreneurs that had nothing to do with the crisis.”

Obama then and now: Deficit edition: "Obama doublespeak continues to abound. This week Congress and the Prez return to Washington to continue ‘addressing’ our nation’s woes. Up next: the deficit. … Obviously President Obama and his team are being vocal about the necessity of this so that the President can keep spending like a maniac. The administration and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are pushing for the debt ceiling to be increased ASAP. … The Senate had to consider raising the debt ceiling in 2006 and Senator Obama took the opportunity to make a floor speech: ‘Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.’ He obviously voted against raising the debt level.”


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 15, 2009

Leftists blame "society" for their own personal problems

Comment from Australia

IN the sodden northern winter of 1766 the Scottish essayist David Hume - surely one of the most sweet-tempered and agreeable of men - sallied across to Calais to transport the notorious Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the safety of the British Isles. Like many scholars since, Hume had a weakness for the glamorous authors of audacious theories. If shallow thinkers undershot the mark of truth, he reckoned, and abstruse theorists overshot it, the abstruse ones had at least the merit of "providing something that is new".

Poor Hume had occasion to repent his intellectual enthusiasm at his leisure. Pretty soon he discovered his guest to be the very archetype of that distinctive philosophical figure, the radical misanthrope. It was Rousseau, after all, who first combined that burning and sincere love of the people in general with a thoroughgoing detestation of all human beings in the particular; and whose vaulting hopes for some distant imagined future were matched only by his dissatisfaction with every single detail of the present. As Hume put it, Rousseau's extreme sensibility led him to experience pain far more keenly than pleasure: "He is like a man stripped not only of his clothes, but of his skin." And all this grand miserableness of temper transferred itself - as in philosophers it so often does - into a perfectly formulated world philosophy of grand miserableness.

Rousseau was happy only under persecution and he was endlessly ingenious in creating it. Hume's discreet attempts at financial generosity were read by Rousseau, inevitably, as humiliations; his efforts at securing Rousseau an income were read as treachery. When Hume rescued Rousseau's letters, Rousseau accused him of steaming them open.

Soon Rousseau's grand paranoia had woven together these imaginary petty betrayals into the cloth of his own grand theory of the world, in which the torrent of modern life rushes inexorably down the course of atomisation, fragmentation, selfishness and deceit.

If, as Hume suggested, a good deal of philosophy is merely the personality of the author laid over the landscape of the world, we have more than our share of miniature Rousseaus fluttering about us today.

It's to them that we owe the fashionable philosophy - recently given a kind of royal appointment by the Prime Minister - that the entire course of contemporary economic life runs, Rousseau-like, down the path of inexorable privatisation, marketisation, individualism and selfishness.

According to this view the only possible deliverer from this melancholy fate is that great contemporary equivalent of the 18th century's enlightened monarch, our very own Frederick the Great, the nation-building state.

Of course contemporary philosophers and political theorists are no less paradoxical than their 18th-century forebears. And in the otherwise polite and civilised corridors of academe you may sometimes discover - a real shock, this - that those who most zealously put their faith into the hands of grand impersonal entities, in their theories, may happen in life to be the most fissiparous, idiosyncratic and solitary of individuals. Indeed, in some cases it's hard to resist the intuition that the two impulses may be connected: sometimes we seek to cure the wounds in our own heart by diagnosing and resolving the ills of society...

Hume wasn't a romantic acolyte of market economics. (But then which serious political thinker ever was?) He did, however, accurately anticipate the moral liberation that modern economic relations might bring.

He also understood how little these relations relied on the stock of innate human goodness, the same stock in which, paradoxically, the misanthrope Rousseau purported to place so much faith. Once his scarifying encounter with the great friend of mankind was over, Hume recovered his native equanimity and returned to worldlier speculations. Who knows, perhaps our would-be philosophers might now do the same.



The media downplay or ignore what does not suit them (again)

An email below from Dick McDonald of the Ownership Society Institute. The institute wants Americans to be able to INVEST their payroll taxes instead of giving the money to the Feds to waste

Two million people go to Washington DC to protest universal health care reform and their out-of-control Congress on Saturday and on Sunday Morning’s Meet the Press the protest isn’t even mentioned. As it was the largest protest in American history you now have positive proof that our media is not just biased but criminally complicit in failing to carry out the duties our Constitution gave them to report the facts not their political bias (by omission).

What galls me is two Republicans being interviewed claimed that they agreed with 80% of the HR 3200 plan. They remained silent while the Democrats said to them “You don’t have a plan” and “You can’t be for nothing, you have to be for something.” Well folks NO WE DON’T. We are not for their plan or any part of it as written. We don’t believe the President when he says he won’t add one dime to the deficit when his own government budget office says it will add over $2 trillion.

We already have a medical system that provides free health care to the elderly (Medicare) and the poor (Medicaid) and those programs promise $49 trillion in benefits that have not been funded. Congress has no earthly idea how it plans t pay for those promises. We only have a $14 trillion economy and it is overspending $2 trillion this year. Obama wants us to add tens of trillions more right when our economy is in the tank and can’t pay this year’s bills. Is he nuts? Is he in some alternative universe – because he surely isn’t on the planet Earth.

Folks our enemy is not just Obama or the Democrats, it is socialism – the economic philosophy of lazy intellectuals and delusional utopians. They insist that money grows on trees and all we need to do is pick it off and spread it around to other lazy people. Well life doesn’t work that way. Our tree is already bare.

A compassionate people presently tolerate the confiscation of 15% of their lifetime income in return for no nest egg – the Social Security/Medicare fraud. The people have to wake up to the fact that 15% would be better employed in funding our growth and job creation so we could personally afford an affluent retirement and best old-age health care.



China retaliates against U.S. tariffs on tires: “China said Sunday it would launch an anti-dumping investigation into U.S. sales of chicken and auto products, a move apparently in response to Washington’s decision to impose punitive sanctions on Chinese tire imports late last week. China’s Ministry of Commerce said it was starting proceedings after having received complaints that U.S. products were being sold in China at below-market prices, according to reports. The ministry has denied that the actions against U.S. producers are a form of protectionism.”

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman hails China's one-party autocracy: "The dwindling number of readers of the New York Times were treated Wednesday to a column by Thomas Friedman extolling China's "one-party autocracy," which, he told us, "is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people." China's leaders, he reported, are "boosting gasoline prices" and "overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power." All, of course, in the cause of reducing carbon emissions, which so many luminaries assure us are bound to produce global warming and environmental catastrophe. As Jonah Goldberg, author of the scholarly best-seller "Liberal Fascism" notes, "This is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s." Mussolini, we were told then, made the trains run on time. He drained the Pontine marshes. He got things done while Americans, with their chaotic democratic politics, dithered."

Enough to Make Your Blood Boil: "Chris Edwards, the Cato Institute's top maven on federal budget issues, has just published a highly revealing article on federal pay scales that will make most people's blood boil -- except, of course, for federal bureaucrats who are too busy dozing off in their easy chairs to read anything other than the occasional comic page and the union news raise reviews. You see, it turns out that Washington's pointy-headed, bottom-feeding bureaucrats -- whose sole job it is to run up everyone else's taxes by saddling us all with oppressive regulations and endless reams of red tape -- get paid on average $30,000 a year more than those of you who actually work for a living and produce a useful product. That's right: while you’re out working your butt off to make a barely livable wage (which is then taxed down to the poverty level), a bunch of bumptious bureaucrats in Washington are living the high life on the money siphoned out of your paycheck to keep them fat and happy.

CO: Abortion opponents try for no-exception ban: “There’s nothing subtle about the sales pitch by abortion opponents who are gathering signatures at the Colorado State Fair for a ballot measure that would give legal rights to fertilized embryos. ‘Would you like to sign a petition to stop abortion?’ asks Keith Mason, head of suburban Denver’s Personhood USA. Mason and a corps of volunteers gathered thousands of signatures during the two-week fair to have Colorado’s constitution define people from ‘the beginning of biological development of a human being.’”

Are the Brownies to become brownie shirts?: "Obama is determined to use your children to force your compliance with his policies. Totalitarian government have long known that the best way to penetrate the privacy and sanctity of family/home is to have an embedded agent who eagerly acts as an enforcement arm of the state … even against family members. Do not be lulled by the innocuous nature of Obama’s recent address to school children. No one know what he would have said in the absence of the amazing and heartening cries of protest that came from parents and some educators. We do know how much he backpedalled on the prerelease etc. For example, the original ‘homework’ assignment was for every public school child in America to write an essay/letter on how he or she could help the President achieve his goals.”

Low key method of getting information out of terrorists: "The CIA shared with George W. Bush’s Justice Department the details of how an interrogation strategy — with an emphasis on forced nudity and physical abuse — could train prisoners in ‘learned helplessness’ and demonstrate ‘the complete control of Americans.’ The 19-page document, entitled ‘Background Paper on CIA’s Combined Use of Interrogation Techniques’ and dated Dec. 30, 2004, contains repeated references to keeping suspected al-Qaeda captives — called ‘high-value detainees’ or HVDs — naked as part of the strategy for breaking down their resistance.”

On respecting the presidency: “After one senator shouted out ‘liar’ during President Obama’s speech to Congress the other evening, one of Mr. Obama’s cheerleaders at The New York Times intoned gravely that even if one disapproves of a given office holder, one ought to show respect for the office. Well, not really, not any more... the office may well be a good idea but when it is filled with crooks, respecting it is no longer possible or desirable."

Cost per head: "Did you know you’ve shelled out $10,000 to bail out banks, auto companies and the rest of the too-big-to-fail businesses? That’s money taken away from your retirement account or your kids’ college education fund. Money that could have paid for a family vacation, a new car, new appliances, remodeling your home — hey it’s your greenbacks and your damn business how you spend it. Right? Are you kidding, you poor, gullible thing? You have no idea what’s good for you. But don’t worry, Uncle Sam does.”

Bowing to the global tax bullies: "Do you think the Internal Revenue Service should have the right to share your tax information with foreign governments — even ones run by thugs and those that engage in human rights abuses and/or suppress freedom in their countries? A meeting was held in Mexico City last week under the auspices of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), whose implicit goal is to create a global high-tax cartel. It claims to be in favor of transparency and global economic growth. However, as with many domestic and international government organizations, the OECD’s actions are often contrary to its words.”

No bickering or thinking: Just do it: "When the president says he welcomes substantive new ideas, he means that if you have the nerve to offer any ideas — as Whole Foods’ CEO, John Mackey, did in The Wall Street Journal last month — his allies will attempt to destroy your business and reputation. And when the president says he welcomes bipartisanship, what he means is that he hasn’t met with a single Republican on the issue since April — despite numerous requests and two separate House bills chock-full of ideas. When this president says he is a deal-making centrist and will stand up to his own party, he means he will rebuff progressives on a complete straw man, such as a ’single-payer’ plan (a plan he supported at one time), which has been a non-starter in any iteration of health care reform this year.”

Maine outlaws “distracted” driving: “Motorists, drop those cellphones. And lose the laptops, bag the Big Macs, and nix the newspapers and roadmaps while you’re behind the wheel. It’s now against the law to drive while distracted in Maine. More than a dozen states have passed laws making texting while driving illegal, and some states and cities have outlawed use of cell phones while driving. A bill in Congress would force states to ban texting or e-mailing or lose 25 percent of their annual federal highway funding. Maine legislators, however, reasoned that accidents can result from a number of distractions not just limited to handheld communication devices. Roughly 12,000 crashes in Maine each year — about a third of the total crashes in the state — stem from some kind of driver distraction, said Lt. Chris Grotton, who helped to develop Maine’s new law.”

Another British computer bungle: "Hundreds of convicted terrorists from the Ulster Troubles are ‘virtually invisible’ to police in the rest of Britain because of a computer glitch. The Police National Computer is not linked to the criminal database in Northern Ireland, meaning that the criminal records of many serious figures from the province’s past, now living in England, Scotland and Wales, are not available to police officers. Counter-terrorism sources say that in light of the upsurge in terrorist activity in Northern Ireland, including the Real IRA murders of two soldiers and the discovery of a series of unexploded bombs, there are mounting security concerns about the situation.”

Britain: Clamour grows for heroin on the NHS: "A group of government-appointed drug experts will call for a nationwide network of ’shooting galleries’ to provide injectable heroin for hardened drug addicts across the country. A pioneering trial programme prescribing heroin to long-term addicts has shown ‘major benefits’ in cutting crime and reducing street sales of drugs. … The prescription of heroin to hardened addicts is one of the most controversial in medicine. Giving addicts drugs such as heroin on a maintenance basis, rather than weaning them off them, turns existing policy on its head and presents a challenge to ministers.”


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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)