Saturday, October 03, 2009

ACORN's 'Power Plan' Found in Oklahoma City

A five-year ACORN plan to "make Oklahoma a progressive state in the way it was 100 years ago" was found amid thousands of documents left behind last year in an abandoned office formerly used by the Oklahoma City branch of the controversial leftist community organizing outfit.

The tax-exempt non-profit is required by federal law to avoid partisan politics but the heart of the "Power Plan" makes clear the organization's goal of transforming the Sooner State from one of the nation's most consistently red states to the blue side of the spectrum, like California and New York:

"Therefore, the route to power is twofold: First, build powerful city organizations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa that can control these municipalities. Second, become an influential organization by shaping a handful of strategic legislative districts that, by themselves, can change who controls the state legislature. "(W)e will be seen as the force that is making Oklahoma a progressive state in the way that it was 100 years ago. "By using this power to win significant changes for working people, by the end of our 5 years, we will have legitimized the progressive takeover of the statehouse and head into 2012 with a real possibility of changing what Oklahomans look for and expect out of their Congressional delegation."

Also found among the documents, according to, was a suggested script for approaching volunteers in Houston to help ACORN recruit voters to support President Obama during the 2008 presidential election:

"Those internal documents include a sheet titled 'Canvass recruitment' a script directed towards ACORN activists in Houston which says: 'Hi, my name is ____. We are hiring Outreach Workers to remind people to get out and vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming election. One of our team members spoke to you today and you signed up for our intake tomorrow. You are interested in working with us on this important election, correct? "It continues: 'We're hiring for people to go door to door talking to registered voters in Houston to get out the vote for Barack.'"

The documents were left behind in an office in Oklahoma City's "Little Mexico" neighborhood, according to the Red Dirt Report's Andrew Griffin, who originally broke the story. Adam Carter, the ACORN organizer running the office, apparently left town without paying rent owed for the office space.



Worse off than their parents

Parents usually want their children to have a better life than they did. In the United States, the parents of today's under-30 crowd may be disappointed in that hope. Throughout last year, they were far more likely than other age groups to have reported unemployment in their households. Labor force participation for those ages 16-24 has decreased to its lowest levels since WWII as a Pew report on the graying work force notes that the recession has tilted the job market towards older workers and those with degrees.

The Pew report also says that nearly a third of the public has come to believe that a degree is necessary to get a good job, whereas 30 years ago, just under half believed that. As former President Clinton pointed out last week at a a press event, the cost of a degree has tripled in recent decades, entirely wiping out the benefits of every government assistance program for college costs.

Those college costs are usually financed instead by loans which are currently not eligible for bankruptcy protection. Loan repayment therefore eats up larger percentages of future earnings which have been plummeting for 8 years for those under 55. Bad timing for anyone who's taken out student loans in recent years in the hopes that the job market would catch up to their education expenditures, and worse luck if their parents' declining wages reduce the possibility for family assistance.

A third of adults under 27 also lack health coverage, with nearly half of those young adults earning less than $14,000 per year. Since wages for most people have been effectively stagnant, they have not kept pace with health coverage increases, and the lower you go down the economic ladder, the truer that is. Especially because there's been an ongoing decline in employer-based coverage that has disproportionately affected low-income workers and the small businesses that create the most jobs.

For another worrying indicator, an AARP poll earlier this year indicated that around a quarter of adults 18 and over are living with parents or in-laws. Another 15 percent were worried they might have to do so soon, while one in seven lived with a sibling.

I don't know about you, but the American Dream I was sold didn't include worse buying power and relative wealth than my blue-collar, high school-educated parents for myself, my peers and those who came after me.


The Leftist author above can see the problem but goes on to say that the solution is more factory jobs! She seems unable to see that ever more of America's wealth is being sucked up by a vast, continuously growing and useless bureaucracy that has been foisted on Americans by Democrats at Federal, State and local levels. America's vast army of paper-shufflers CONSUME wealth. They don't create it. And, to add insult to injury, they are on average paid far more than private-sector workers



Readers who liked my small gallery of pictures and cartoons from the first half of 2008 may be interested to know that I have now put up a gallery of pictures and cartoons from the second half of 2008. The updated index file to the galleries is here or here.

CA: Brown launches ACORN probe: "The attorney general of California has opened an investigation into ACORN and the circumstances under which its employees were secretly videotaped, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on his Twitter page Thursday. Schwarzenegger wrote he had ‘just heard’ that the state’s attorney general, Edmund G. Brown Jr., is opening an investigation following the release of five hidden-camera videos that depicted ACORN employees offering advice to filmmakers James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, who posed as a pimp and prostitute, on how to skirt tax laws and avoid detection by authorities. ‘Just heard from Atty Gen Jerry Brown that he is opening an investigation of ACORN in Calif,’ the governor wrote. But according to a Sept. 25 letter from James Humes, California’s chief deputy attorney general, an investigation had been launched last week.”

Social Security collectors up 19%: "The number of retired workers who began collecting Social Security benefits jumped by a record 19% in the 2009 fiscal year that ended Wednesday as aging Baby Boomers and the unemployed chose to retire early. More than 2.6 million retired workers entered the Social Security system, up from 2.2 million in fiscal 2008. That’s a much bigger increase than during past recessions.”

Saturn: Why one of Detroit’s brightest hopes failed: "General Motors’s Saturn brand — touted as ‘a different kind of car company’ — had high aspirations, borrowing the Japanese manufacturing model of team production, among other things. But the Saturn experiment fell to earth with a final thud Thursday as a ‘goal-line’ deal to keep the brand alive fell apart. Saturn’s latest slogan — ‘We’re still here’ — suddenly seemed like a cruel joke as 350 dealerships are likely to close and 13,000 people face potential layoffs. True, Saturn made money in only one of its 20 years of car production. But in the end, it was internal resistance to the funky start-up and its pioneer attitude that felled it. In other words, the very qualities that Cornell labor expert Harry Katz, in his book Shifting Gears, predicted could transform Detroit’s ingrained big-car culture, doomed one of its brightest prospects.”

Poll: Abortion opposition grows: "More than four in 10 Americans favor making an abortion more difficult to have, up 6 percentage points from 2007, according to a poll released today by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The poll found that 45% of Americans favor making abortion illegal in most or all cases, up 4 percentage points from last year. The Pew analysis of past polls found that abortion is less of a critical issue for both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans than it was a few years ago; however, the drop-off in concern was more pronounced for liberal Democrats (26 percentage points) than conservative Republicans (9 percentage points).”

Government seeks ban on texting truckers, bus drivers: "The Obama administration said Thursday it will seek to ban text messaging by interstate bus drivers and truckers and push states to pass their own laws against driving cars while distracted. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the administration also would move to put restrictions on cell phone use by rail operators, truck drivers and interstate bus drivers.” [This seems a reasonable safety measure]

The box Obama built: "Once the health care debate ends, President Obama faces another daunting challenge: curbing an unsustainable level of debt in the federal budget. This is more than next year’s problem because the two issues are also linked in a non-obvious way. Due to how Congress addresses deficit reduction, decisions on health care today will affect the White House’s fiscal policy options in the future. Few have mentioned this critical connection: health reform puts the president in a box, and the always politically risky tactic of raising taxes may be the only way out. The ghosts of the current reform effort will haunt Obama’s ability to reduce red ink for the remainder of his tenure.”

Perfect YouTube video stars Rep. Baron Hill: "During one of his recent town hall meetings, a student asked Hill why she couldn’t record the event. Hill explained that he refuses to allow videotaping because of the chance that excerpts could be put up on YouTube in a compromising position. Of course, it’s now on that Web site and I challenge anyone to find a more perfect YouTube video, at least in the political realm. He knew it was going to be difficult to control his message and tried to do it on his own terms by attempting to ban average citizens from recording the event. He even digs a deeper hole in the video excerpt when he says that it was his town hall meeting and constituents aren’t going to tell him how to run his office. So much for the humble public servant aspect of being a representative I guess. Rarely do we see so much truth packed into about 70 seconds.”

How Congress is cooking the books: "Last week, the Senate Finance Committee voted 12-11 not to wait for the Congressional Budget Office to ’score’ its health-care bill before the committee votes on it. Imagine that: Some senators actually wanted to know how much the bill costs before voting on it. Let them get away with something like that, and before you know it they’ll be demanding honest accounting practices — sending the whole legislative process to hell in a hand basket. When it comes to the health-care-reform debate, you see, honest budgeting is nowhere to be seen.”

Zero tolerance gets detention: "Horror stories related to zero-tolerance policies have grabbed headlines for as long as the rigid policies have existed. That could have been predicted by anybody with half a brain. If a policy draws unforgiving lines when it comes to ‘violence,’ ‘drugs’ and ‘weapons,’ then it’s inevitable that children will be expelled and even arrested and jailed for writing gory stories, toting penknives and sharing aspirin. As the outrage, ridicule and lawsuits in response to zero-tolerance, even the legislators and educators who’d implemented the policies to absolve themselves of the responsibility for difficult decisions began to back away from what they had wrought. Even the laziest school administrator must recoil at the response to nine- and ten-year olds hauled away in handcuffs for drawing violent pictures with crayons, if not at the reality of the incidents themselves. So, finally, we get legislation intended to alleviate the worst abuses of zero-tolerance policies.”

Britain: “Go” orders: Guilty without charge: "During the Labour party conference Home Secretary Alan Johnson revealed yet another reason to boot the party out at the next election. Renewing Labour’s pledge to ‘clampdown on crime’ (read: creating more punishments and bureaucracy under the pretence of ‘action’), he has unveiled plans to bar alleged wife beaters from their homes through the Domestic Violence Protection Order. ‘Go’ Orders can be placed on suspects, banning them from their homes for up to two weeks, while allowing victims of abuse time to consider legal action. Apparently, this has been dreamt up to close a ‘loophole’ in legislation whereby the Police can only ‘protect’ a victim of domestic violence if a suspect has been charged with a crime. This ‘loophole’ sounds horribly similar to the long-standing practice in the UK of no-one having their liberty infringed upon without sufficient evidence to suggest it is in the public interest to do so.”

Thomas Friedman’s selective history and left-wing paranoia: "The Friedmans of the world feigned no concern whatsoever about the atmosphere of hate engendered then possibly leading to violence when their ideological foe sat in the White House. They seemed to see nothing wrong with the demonization of Bush. The cries of ‘traitor,’ ‘war criminal,’ ‘liar’ and ‘loser’ apparently didn’t coarsen the dialog or create a ‘poisonous political environment’ like they do now. And the Southern Poverty Law Center had nothing to say about the virulent hate that was evident then. This demand for respect for the President of the United States we hear today wasn’t at all evident in the left’s gleeful celebration of shoes thrown at the President of the United States during a press conference, was it?”


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, October 02, 2009


I have commented on this in the past but I am still rather bemused about how accounts of human evolution leave out dogs. We hear lots about cranial size etc. but such discussions normally leave out our symbionts: dogs.

The relationship between dogs and humans is both ancient and amazingly powerful. How many human households to this day do not include a dog? Not many.

And yet there is a perfectly clear evolutionary reason why that is so. Dogs and humans complement one another. Dogs have the big and sensitive nose, big and sensitive ears and weaponized jaws that we lack. And we have the big brain that can give dogs good direction in the hunting life that comprises most of our evolutionary past. Without dogs we would probably still be tree-dwelling vegetarians. I wonder if modern-day vegetarians are averse to dogs? I wouldn't be surprised. There's a research paper in that.

These days we are long past the stage where we need dogs -- but we still love them. They are our "other half". They made us possible. I believe stories I have heard about a man being upset when his wife left him but being REALLY upset when his dog died. I have shed tears over a dog myself.


The Neocons Make a Comeback

Neocons are back because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin never went away

The other day I was asked by a writer for a mainstream French newspaper to say something about the "return" of the neoconservatives. His thesis seemed to be that the shambles of Barack Obama's foreign policy had, after only nine months, made what was thought to be the most discredited wing of an ostensibly brain-dead conservative movement relevant again. And France—no longer straining at the sight of Michelle Obama shopping in Paris's 6th arrondissement—is taking notice.

My answer was that the neocons are back because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il and Vladimir Putin never went away. A star may have shone in the east the day Barack Obama became president. But these three kings, at least, have yet to proffer the usual gifts of gold and incense and myrrh.

Instead, the presents have been of a different kind. North Korea claims to be in the final stages of building a uranium enrichment facility—its second route to an atomic bomb. Iran, again caught cheating on its Nonproliferation Treaty obligations, has responded by wagging a finger at the U.S. and firing a round of missiles. Syria continues to aid and abet jihadists operating in Iraq. NATO countries have generally refused to send more troops to Afghanistan, and are all the more reluctant to do so now that the administration is itself wavering on the war.

As for Russia, its ambassador to the U.N. last week bellyached that the U.S. "continues to be a rather difficult negotiating partner"—and that was after Mr. Obama cancelled the missile defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. Thus does the politics of concession meet with the logic of contempt.

All this must, at some level, come as a surprise to an administration so deeply in love with itself. "I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world," Mr. Obama told the U.N.'s General Assembly last week with his usual modesty. He added that those expectations were "rooted in hope—the hope that real change is possible, and the hope that America will be a leader in bringing about such change."

Yet what sounds like "hope" in, say, Toronto or Barcelona tends to come across as fecklessness in Warsaw and Jerusalem. In Moscow and Tehran, it reads like credulity—and an opportunity to exploit the U.S. at a moment of economic weakness and political self-infatuation.

For those much-scorned neocons, none of this comes as a surprise. Neoconservatives generally take the view that the internal character of a regime usually predicts the nature of its foreign policy. Governments that are answerable to their own people and accountable to a rule of law tend to respect the rights of their neighbors, honor their treaty commitments, and abide by the international rules of the road. By contrast, regimes that prey on their own citizens are likely to prey on their neighbors as well. Their word is the opposite of their bond.

That's why neocons have no faith in any deals or "grand bargains" the U.S. might sign with North Korea or Iran over their nuclear programs: Cheating is in the DNA of both regimes, and the record is there to prove it. Nor do neocons put much stock in the notion that there's a "reset" button with the Kremlin. Russia is the quintessential spoiler state, seeking its advantage in America's troubles at home and abroad. Ditto for Syria, which has perfected the art of taking credit for solving problems of its own creation.

Where neocons do put their faith is in American power, not just military or economic power but also as an instrument of moral and political suasion. Disarmament? The last dictator to relinquish his nuclear program voluntarily was Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, who did so immediately following Saddam Hussein's capture. Democratization? Contrary to current conventional wisdom, democracy is often imposed, or at least facilitated, by U.S. pressure—in the Philippines, in the Balkans and, yes, in Iraq. Human rights? Anwar Ibrahim, the beleaguered Malaysian opposition leader, told me last week that "the only country that can stand up" to abusive regimes is the United States. "If they know the administration is taking a soft stance [on human rights], they will go on a rampage."

None of this is to say that neoconservatism represents some kind of infallible doctrine—or that it's even a doctrine. Neocons have erred in overestimating the U.S. public's willingness to engage in long struggles on behalf of other people. They have erred also in overestimating the willingness of other people to fight for themselves, or for their freedom.

But as the pendulum has swung to a U.S. foreign policy based on little more than the personal attractions of the president, it's little wonder that the world is casting about for an alternative. And a view of the world that understands that American power still furnishes the margin between freedom and tyranny, and between prosperity and chaos, is starting to look better all the time. Even in France.



Thugs, Tea Parties And Treacle

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi berated town hall and tea party protesters this month, tearfully warning they'd incite violence. Well, there's been violence all right, at Pittsburgh's G-20. But it wasn't the tea partiers. It takes gall to characterize ordinary Americans, freely exercising their rights of speech and assembly in civic forums, as "mobs" while ignoring a pack of leftist thugs now smashing a U.S. city. But that's what Pelosi did, directing her righteous tocsin to the Norman Rockwell-like gatherings of Americans who opposed her expansion of government this past summer.

"I have concerns about some of the language that is being used because I saw ... I saw this myself in the late '70s in San Francisco," Pelosi said, choking up, her eyes brimming with tears. "This kind of rhetoric is just, is really frightening and it created a climate in which we, violence took place and ... I wish that we would all, again, curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made," she told a congressional forum Sept. 17 in a bid to silence peaceful protesters.

Scroll ahead one week to the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh: Some 1,000 hooded rioters descend on the city waving signs such as "Smash the G-20" and "Eat the Rich." Many take "direct action" to "challenge capitalism" in what organizers brazenly call an "unpermitted protest." Unlike the town hall citizens, they didn't "hurl" statements — just tire irons, bricks and rocks, in an effort to damage private businesses. "Sometimes you just got to say f--- it and get down," read a Web statement by the organizers "Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project," making no secret of their intent to wreak mayhem. "Despite the use of rubber bullets, chemical weapons, and LRAD (noise) attacks, demonstrators remained on the streets for hours and actions continue across the city," the group's press release read.

By that they meant attacks on 13 pre-picked Starbucks stores, a Whole Foods, an American Apparel, a Trader Joe's, U.S. military recruiting stations, check-cashing outlets, 13 PNC bank outlets and other institutions, all conveniently listed as possibilities on a Google map. Many of these places saw smashed windows and graffiti attacks after they turned up on the blacklist.

This kind of violence is nothing new. It was found in Seattle in 1999, where former Obama administration green czar Van Jones got himself arrested. It was repeated at other summits in Turin, Italy; Washington, D.C.; and London. These leftists detest capitalism, abhor private property — and have ties to the Democratic Party.

The unwillingness of the Democratic establishment to defend free markets emboldens the rioters. In destroying private property and impeding trade, these anarchists prove their aims aren't democratic. They resemble the mobs of Castro's Cuba who engage in violence against citizens to enforce conformity.

The outrage of it all raises questions about Pelosi's real agenda in her one-sided criticism of tea partiers. By criticizing only tea partiers and ignoring rampant thugs, she seeks to repress peaceful dissent. With that setup, it's no surprise that there's a mudslide of violence now rolling down on us from an energized radical left.




A Leftist wail about them being restrained from street thuggery: "No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of ‘crowd control munitions,’ including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week’s G-20 protests. … Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), I saw the LRAD in action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians, merchants and journalists and drove residents into their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie you didn’t want to be in.”

Progressive claptrap: "There’s something charmingly quaint about the leftists’ continuing attack on capitalism, which is a type of economic order that, if it ever existed at all in this country, has not existed in recognizable form since the 1920s — in a more plausible assessment, not since the years before World War I. Yet the so-called progressives never tire of beating the long-dead horse of capitalism. Are they so ideologically blind that they cannot see how governments at every level have intervened and intervened again until they have displaced or distorted every element of the economic order that might once have contributed to its capitalist character? We live, as F. A. Hayek observed as long ago as 1935, not in a market system, but in a situation of interventionist chaos, where virtually every market is so hog-tied by regulations, laws, and taxes or so artificially pumped up by subsidies, regulatory advantages, and tax loopholes that virtually nothing remains pure and unsullied by the filthy hand of the interventionist state.”

Judge reverses jury, nixes $388 million judgment against Microsoft: "A U.S. District Judge gave Microsoft a break Tuesday, essentially ruling that the jury that heard a patent infringement case against it was clueless. He then overturned its record $388 million verdict against the company. U.S. Dist. Judge William E. Smith issued the ruling in a case brought by Singapore-based Uniloc software against Microsoft. He found the jury was incapable of ruling on the case, vacated its verdict, and entered a new one in Microsoft’s favor. … Uniloc, which claimed Microsoft used its anti-piracy invention in the Windows operating system and its Office productivity suite, said it plans to appeal.”

UK: Woolworths set to return to the high street next month: "Less than 10 months after Woolworths’ final stores closed, the iconic style is set for a high street comeback. Alworths — a new ‘Son-of-Woolworths’ chain selling everything from picture frames to pick ‘n’ mix confectionery — will open its first batch of stores next month. The grand opening on 5 November will be 100 years to the day since Frank Winfield Woolworth unveiled his ‘five-and-dime’ concept to Britain with his first shop, in Liverpool. … While the new Alworths name is at best a compromise between old and new — the original Woolworths brand name and logo were sold for £12m several months ago to the Shop Direct Group owned by the Barclay Brothers — in most other respects, Alworths will prove reassuringly familiar. ‘We are talking about this being a Woolworths by any other name,’ said an insider.”

FBI denies editing OKC bombing tapes: "The FBI says it did not edit videotapes of the aftermath of the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building before turning them over to an attorney who is conducting an unofficial inquiry into the bombing. The FBI turned over more than two dozen tapes taken from security cameras on buildings and other locations around the federal building to Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, who obtained them through the federal Freedom of Information Act. Trentadue said the tapes are blank at various times in the minutes before the blast.”

The brainy bunch: "Many people, including some conservatives, have been very impressed with how brainy the president and his advisers are. But that is not quite as reassuring as it might seem. It was, after all, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s brilliant ‘brains trust’ advisers whose policies are now increasingly recognized as having prolonged the Great Depression of the 1930s, while claiming credit for ending it. The Great Depression ended only when the Second World War put an end to many New Deal policies.”

Government extortion: Egyptian-style and American-style: "The idea of bribing government officials and police officers seems incredibly foreign and ridiculous to ordinary Americans. Indeed, to be extorted into paying money to a person who is supposedly employed to protect you in order to keep him from harming you, seems like the height of outrageous corruption. And so it is, but Americans are hopelessly naive if they think that their government does not engage in extortion on a regular basis as well. To be sure, the American brand of government extortion does not occur in dimly-lit back rooms or on the shoulder of the highway, with government officials secretly demanding cash from their prey, as is the case in Egypt, Mexico, and countless other countries in the so-called “developing” world. On the contrary, American-style government extortion usually occurs above the board, for everyone to see. It just goes by more polite labels, such as ‘permit fees,’ ‘licensing fees,’ or ‘registration fees.’”

Another area where fewer rules seem to work best: "Officials in Drachten, Holland, wanted to reduce accidents and injuries on the town’s roads, so they turned to a traffic engineer with an unusual idea: eliminate rules. Hans Monderman believes that people are more careful when they are subject to fewer commandments and less direction. So he removed road signs, traffic lights and even markings. The so-far positive results suggest that better results may well come from letting people make ad hoc arrangements on the spot than from subjecting them to top-down control. Part of the problem is that regulations seem to create a false sense of security — and entitlement.”

Fiscal alcoholism: "Thanks to our Senior Fellow Tim Ambler for introducing me to a new phrase: fiscal alcoholism. It was coined by Gyorgy Kopits, a member of the Hungarian National Bank’s monetary council, in the Wall Street Journal recently. The phrase neatly sums up the illness in Hungary’s public accounts — and in the spending habits of many other countries around the world. They know that they should be giving up their reckless spending and borrowing. But they like the high it gives them. And they reckon that one little bit more spending or borrowing can’t do them much harm, can it …?”

Myth of the underpaid public employee: "Though it hasn’t been true for years, many people believe that government employees receive lavish employment and retirement benefits in order to compensate for their meager paychecks. The reality is that their paychecks aren’t meager at all: Government jobs often pay more than those in the private sector, and the difference between the two is growing. Consider the lucrative lot of the men and women who work for Uncle Sam. In 2008, according to data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the 1.9 million civilian employees of the federal government earned an average salary of $79,197. The average private employee, by contrast, earned just $49,935. The difference between them came to more than $29,000 — a differential that has more than doubled since 2000.”


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, October 01, 2009

Beware socialist snake-oil vendors

A comment from Australia

THOSE on the Left have a new spring in their step. Right across the spectrum of left-wing politics, from Michael Moore to [Australian Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd, they are determined to build momentum for a new social democratic project. On these pages others have spent the past week bouncing around their ideas about progressive economics and the need to resuscitate the moral impulse behind social democracy. Determined not to waste a crisis, the language of the Left is, as always, clever, tapping our emotions with talk of rebuilding a better society. Yet, under new disguises, the same old frauds are being peddled. What is being sold as progressive is regressive if genuine progress is our aim. As the global Left rises up to claim its ideology will prevail, there has never been a more critical time to be reminded that economic freedom sits at the heart of liberty and human advancement.

Most sensible people won’t fall for the far Left’s new anti-capitalist racket. Moore, who is filling his pockets by denouncing capitalism in his latest shock-doc, Capitalism: A Love Story, is preaching to the converted. Ditto economics professor Richard Wolff, star of another documentary, Capitalism Hits the Fan. Delighted that the global recession “creates space for people like me”, Wolff is riding high on the international speaking circuit as a critic of capitalism. Good luck to them.

Most people, however, realise that free markets have lifted people from poverty in numbers never before seen: those subsisting on less than $US3 a day dropped from half the world’s population in 1970 to 17 per cent by 2000. Yet, in the wake of the economic crisis, recent polls suggest a growing fondness for socialism over capitalism, a dramatic change from polls just a few months earlier.

This shift betrays the danger that emanates from those who understand how to reframe the debate with clever, softer words. Political leaders such as Kevin Rudd, not to mention the commentators who have filled these pages during the past week, talk about social democracy, democratic socialism and social justice. Certainly, many of the wiser minds on the Left have evolved from old-fashioned socialists advocating central control of the means of production, but they remain wedded to the belief that a small group of elites can, and must, fashion a better world.

Their form of “progressive economics”, which places government at the centre of the economy, resurfaced most recently at last week’s Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh. To be sure, the Prime Minister has done well to ensure that Australia will be included in global economic debates. Greater co-ordination among countries is also admirable. But what if co-ordination involves a larger group of countries making co-ordinated but wrong decisions based on a flawed set of beliefs?

The latest G20 statement was full of talk about a profound crisis justifying drastic action. Governments yet again pledged to “do something”: discourage excessive risk-taking, keep up the stimulus spending, limit executive bonuses and impose tighter regulation of financial markets. Government must now be at the “centre of the economy” to avoid the boom and bust cycles of the past, said the leaders.

The glaring omission from these grand-sounding statements is an acknowledgment that government action played a large part in fuelling the boom in the US housing market that became a bubble in the wider mortgage market and finally burst across the globe. Successive US administrations mandated taxpayer-funded home loans to those who, in more prudent times, would be regarded as clear credit risks. There is a great deal of irony, and even more dishonesty, when social democrats such as Barack Obama and Rudd exploit the crisis to demonise free markets.

As [Australian] Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull noted in his speech to the Policy Exchange in London last week, US governments effectively underwrote two-thirds of the US mortgage market using government creations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The GFC was triggered, in large part, by governments in the US assuming a place at the centre of the economy to pursue well-meaning social goals that delivered disastrous unintended consequences. Without an honest appraisal of the causes of the global meltdown, the case for social democracy is a fraud.

While the Left’s catchcry of social justice is intuitively appealing, there is a reason no philosopher has been able to articulate the principles of social democracy. The closer one looks, the clearer it is that the Left’s language of a new social democratic project is deliberately couched in emotional, ambiguous terms as camouflage for an old project of centralising power in the hands of a few elites who presume to know what the rest of society wants.

Refugees from the Left - men such as Irving Kristol - have a knack for nailing the illiberal tendencies of left-liberal “reforms”. Kristol, who died last week, likened them to amateur poetry, “more concerned with the kind of symbolic action that gratifies the passions of the reformer rather than with the efficacy of the reforms themselves”. Their elephantiasis of moral sentiment means that they are overwhelmingly concerned with “revealing, in the public realm, one’s intense feelings: we must ‘care’, we must ‘be concerned’, we must be ‘committed’. Unsurprisingly, this goes along with an immense indifference to consequences, to positive results or the lack thereof.”

These are not arcane arguments for political philosophers. They go to the heart of human progress and how we live. For example, as Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout pointed out last week, the union movement’s hardline push against flexibility clauses in new workplace agreements harks back to an era when “if a mother wanted to collect her kids from school early, they would have to ask everyone on the shop floor whether it was possible and get a collective vote on it”. Those who advocate social justice by centralising power necessarily diminish our individual freedom.

With remarkable relevance to today’s debates, William Simon, US treasury secretary under Richard Nixon, wrote in 1978 of the searing experience of the last great recession caused by the “promise-borrow-spend” programs of social engineers on both sides of politics. In A Time for Truth, Simon tracks a recession that deepened on the back of growing government intervention and stimulus spending. The conclusion was clear: “the country ... taught the social engineers a lesson.”

More than 30 years later, history may repeat itself if we allow ourselves to be duped by those preaching a new order of social democracy little different from its forebears. The danger of replicating neo-Keynesian spending policies of the early 70s is we may end up with the disastrous stagflation - economic stagnation, high unemployment and inflation - that defined the middle to late 70s. With that in mind, it is worth repeating what Milton Friedman wrote in the preface to Simon’s book. Critical analysis of social democracy is needed so that “socialist snake oil no longer sells so readily”.



Opportunity or Dependency?

Despite what its detractors might say, the fact remains that the Republican Party is the party of opportunity. Contrast the historical success of this approach with the historical failure of the opposite approach, dependency, taken by the Liberals and currently embraced by the Democratic Party.

America has long been known as the land of opportunity, however there is now a belief among some that it should become the land of dependency. For hundreds of years immigrants risked everything to come to America not because of the programs it offered, but because of the opportunities it provided.

History has shown that when workers and entrepreneurs get to keep most of what they earn, they work harder and put money back into the community in the form of purchases and charitable contributions.

When governments impose income redistribution schemes to “spread the wealth,” workers and entrepreneurs loose their incentive to work as hard and have less to reinvest back into their communities. This is especially true in the case of charitable giving. Why should individuals make voluntary charitable contributions when the government has already invoked involuntary charity?

The concept of dependency is most extreme in communist nations such as the former USSR and Cuba, where the government controls all aspects of one’s employment and income. The individual is completely dependent upon the government for every aspect of his or her livelihood, and even their life, in these repressive regimes. The same dependency occurs to varying degrees in socialist countries all over the world, however the results are always the same, dependency destroys opportunity and economic growth.

In a recent article by Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek magazine, he correctly states that it has been the spread of capitalism in countries like India and China that has lifted millions of people out of poverty. When one studies the economic winners and losers around the world, the winners are those countries that provide opportunities for its citizens and the losers are those countries that make their citizens dependent upon the government and consequently their government dependant upon IMF loans and international subsidies. Cuba has not survived since 1959 because of its vibrant economy. It was subsidized by the USSR for much of its communist history and is now being subsidized by the leftist government of Venezuela.

Clearly, despite its perceived inequities, opportunity provides a far better life for the citizens of a country than dependency, the alternative being proposed by the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party.



BrookesNews Update

The US recession: more unemployment and a sinking dollar : Unemployment is still rising even though Bernanke has been cranking up the Fed's money machine. His policy using inflation to lower unemployment by cutting real wage rates and driving down the dollar has yet to bear fruit. Even if he succeeds any recovery based on these monetary foundations is doomed to be a short-lived one. Maybe too short to save Obama
Is the Keynesian liquidity trap a threat to the US economy? : Negative interest rates are unlikely to move major economies away from a liquidity trap if the pool of real savings is in trouble. Contrary to popular thinking, the threat posed to the major economies is not the liquidity trap, but the government and central bank stimulus policies aimed at countering it
Interest rates and the recession - what you weren't told : One of the reasons that so many analysts got the recession wrong is because failed the connection between interest rates and production. This failure not only caused some of them make absurd claims about a 'dual economy' it also led some of them to even announce the death of the inverted yield curve is still alive. No wonder so many investors lost their shirts
The Democrats anti-tax hypocrisy : The Democrats' opposition to tax cuts borders on the hysterical at time. Apart from their insincerity (the only kinds of tax increases they support are those their fabulously rich supporters can easily avoid) there is the utter bankruptcy of their so-called economic arguments
Who is the president -Barack Obama or David Axelrod? :There is speculation about who is really behind Obama's teleprompter. At the very least it is clear that Obama's Senior Advisor, David Axelrod, shares mouthpiece honors. We frequently hear Robert Gibbs in his role as Obama press agent explain to the news media what the president means during his speech marathon but comments by Axelrod actually sound like the president speaking
Schoolhouse Shariah in the US :Leftwing judges who banned Christianity from schools forcing children to sit through classes on the Islamic religion and the glories of the barbarism that is called sharia law. Needless to say, these Christian-hating judges are Democrat appointees
President Obama and Brazil's Lula's make the "axis of moderation" a servant of the "axis of evil" : In South America a communist axis has been formed with Chavez and Castro as its linchpin and with President Lula of Brazil hovering in the background. This axis has targeted Honduras democracy for destruction. The strange thing is that Obama is supporting this anti-democratic monstrosity. The same man who insults the UK even as British troops are dying along with US troops in Afghanistan is throwing his weight behind a bunch of Latin American Marxist thugs. Now why would he do that?
The religious left finally discovers with radical Islam: "Many members of NCC churches might be surprised to learn of Islamist violence against Christians, since the NCC and most of its member communions have hardly ever discussed it before
A dog of a health care message : It seems that Obama changes his health care message more often than people change their underwear. It was heath care reform, it was insurance reform, then it was health care reform again and then it was insurance reform. Obama has even changed the villains; first it was the Republicans, then it was talk radio, then Fox News and the CBO



Obama backs down from stupid Israel policy: "Almost unnoticed, Binyamin Netanyahu won a major victory last week when Barack Obama backed down on a signature policy initiative. This about-face suggests that U.S.-Israel relations are no longer headed for the disaster I have been fearing. Four months ago, the new U.S. administration unveiled a policy that suddenly placed great emphasis on stopping the growth in Israeli “settlements.” (A term I dislike but use here for brevity’s sake.) Surprisingly, American officials wanted to stop not just residential building for Israelis in the West Bank but also in eastern Jerusalem, a territory legally part of Israel for nearly thirty years. The geniuses of the Obama administration eventually discerned that this double hardening of positions was dooming their naïve, hubristic plan to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict within two years. The One’s reconciliation with reality became public on Sept. 22 at a “summit” he sponsored with Abbas and Netanyahu (really, a glorified photo opportunity). Obama threw in the towel there, boasting that “we have made progress” toward settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and offering as one indication that Israelis “have discussed important steps to restrain settlement activity.” Ironically, Obama supporters have generally recognized his failure while critics have tended to miss it."

China: Public barred from “celebrations” of regime’s anniversary: "Ordinary Chinese citizens hoping to come onto the streets of Beijing to watch a triumphant military parade to celebrate 60 years of Communist rule have been ordered to ’stay at home’ and watch the event on television. Any thoughts that a spontaneous, flag-waving crowd might gather to cheer on the 180,000 marchers as they process through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square have been scotched by security fears ahead of Thursday’s anniversary. ‘People who can go to watch the parade are invited guests with tickets,’ said Ji Lin, the vice-mayor of Beijing, ‘For other citizens the parade will be screened live and the citizens can watch it via TV.’”

FDIC chief wants overdraft fees restricted: "Even as some banks pull back their policies, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is calling for tight restrictions on fees charged for overdrawn checking accounts. In the past week, some of the nation’s largest banks have announced plans to change the way they assess overdraft fees.”

American commander to send 4,000 more troops home as Iraq war winds down: "The top general in Iraq is sending home 4,000 more U.S. troops by the end of October as the American military winds down the six-year war. Army Gen. Ray Odierno said in remarks prepared for a congressional hearing Wednesday that the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq will total about 120,000 over the next month. He said that will mean about 4,000 fewer troops than are in Iraq now — about the size of an Army brigade.”

NY: Health care workers protest mandatory H1N1 flu shots: "Several hundred health-care workers, civil libertarians and members of anti-vaccine groups on Tuesday railed against a mandate that medical professionals get seasonal and swine-flu vaccines. But the state health commissioner said their arguments are baseless. Nurses and other health-care workers said they shouldn’t be forced to get a vaccine that they don’t believe has been tested appropriately as a condition of keeping their jobs.”

Dodgy Dan loses one: "A New York court on Tuesday dismissed Dan Rather's $70 million breach of contract lawsuit against CBS Corp., noting that the network continued to pay the anchor $6 million a year even after he left the evening news broadcast. Rather sued CBS and its top executives in 2007, claiming he had been removed from his "CBS Evening News" anchor post over a report that examined President George W. Bush's military service. The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court -- New York's trial-level court -- said the complaint "must be dismissed in its entirety." The five-judge panel ruled unanimously that a lower court "erred in declining to dismiss Rather's breach of contract claim against CBS." The court said there was no breach of contract, because CBS still paid Rather his $6 million annual salary after the disputed 2004 broadcast under the "pay or play" provision of his contract."

CT: The State of corruption: "They used to call Connecticut ‘The Land of Steady Habits,’ but lately it has been more like the land of steady handouts. One mayor received expensive wines and Oriental rugs. A governor scored a free hot tub and cathedral ceilings; his aide landed a stack of gold coins. And a state treasurer finagled … well, money. They are just a few of the prominent city and state officials collared in corruption probes in recent years. But their downfalls, and resulting efforts to reform ethics rules, apparently have not stemmed the tide of charges against public servants. The latest to be arrested — for the second time — is Mayor Eddie A.Perez, for alleged extortion. The spate of scandals is a source of chagrin for the state, and the sting of each new nickname — ‘Corrupticut,’ ‘Louisiana with foliage’ — worsens with each new corruption arrest and indictment.”


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 30, 2009

The French have got more balls than Obama

President Obama wants a unified front against Iran, and to that end he stood together with Nicolas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown in Pittsburgh on Friday morning to reveal the news about Tehran's secret facility to build bomb-grade fuel. But now we hear that the French and British leaders were quietly seething on stage, annoyed by America's handling of the announcement.

Both countries wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.

President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been "frustrated" for months about Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn't want to "spoil the image of success" for Mr. Obama's debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.

Le Monde's diplomatic correspondent, Natalie Nougayrède, reports that a draft of Mr. Sarkozy's speech to the Security Council Thursday included a section on Iran's latest deception. Forced to scrap that bit, the French President let his frustration show with undiplomatic gusto in his formal remarks, laying into what he called the "dream" of disarmament. The address takes on added meaning now that we know the backroom discussions.

"We are right to talk about the future," Mr. Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. resolution on strengthening arms control treaties. "But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises," i.e., Iran and North Korea. "We live in the real world, not in a virtual one." No prize for guessing into which world the Frenchman puts Mr. Obama.

"We say that we must reduce," he went on. "President Obama himself has said that he dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Before our very eyes, two countries are doing exactly the opposite at this very moment. Since 2005, Iran has violated five Security Council Resolutions . . .

"I support America's 'extended hand.' But what have these proposals for dialogue produced for the international community? Nothing but more enriched uranium and more centrifuges. And last but not least, it has resulted in a statement by Iranian leaders calling for wiping off the map a Member of the United Nations. What are we to do? What conclusions are we to draw? At a certain moment hard facts will force us to make decisions."

We thought we'd never see the day when the President of France shows more resolve than America's Commander in Chief for confronting one of the gravest challenges to global security. But here we are.



A successful conservative governor

He says that he avoids ideology. But that is of itself a very conservative thing to do. Ideology is for the Left. Conservatives look at what works

The Indiana governor is answering a question he gets asked a lot these days. Will he run for president? He keeps saying no, but the collapse of such GOP notables as Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford has people looking north. Mr. Daniels is today something rare indeed: a popular Republican.

President Barack Obama eked out an upset in Indiana last year, but Mr. Daniels's re-election was almost as notable. Amid a Democratic wave, the Republican beat his opponent by 18 percentage points and received more votes than anyone who had ever run in the state. He swept 79 of 92 counties, nearly 60% of independents and 25% of Democratic voters. His approval rating is near 70%.

At a time when the GOP has done so much wrong, strategists are asking what Mr. Daniels is doing right. Hoosiers would point to his tough fiscal discipline and his overhaul of state government. The governor summed up his approach in a Washington speech earlier this year, saying that a conservatism "that will be credible in the years ahead will be active, will be forward-looking, constructive, intimately connected with the lives of average citizens, and friendly."

If this sounds a bit fuzzy and Midwestern, a colleague of Mr. Daniels puts it more concisely: "It's the old formula: ideas and a big tent. Mitch's success has been in aggressively pushing conservative reform, but not alienating folks along the way." Whether Mr. Daniels's particular brand of reform politics would work nationally—and whether he is the guy to do it—are big questions. But for now, he's in the spotlight.

"We are the initiators, we are always in motion." "Activism works, and we have to drive the agenda." "There is nothing inconsistent about having a conservative outlook and being vigorous."

These statements fly at me within 10 minutes of a two-hour interview in Mr. Daniels's cavernous office. Sitting in his shirt sleeves, the governor looks easygoing but earnest. Mr. Daniels's career has included working for Sen. Dick Lugar (R., Ind.), as an adviser to Ronald Reagan, a think-tank head (The Hudson Institute), a pharmaceutical executive, and budget director for George W. Bush. His fervor for cutting waste in that last post earned him a nickname from President Bush: The Blade.

The 60-year-old won in 2004 by promising to achieve one goal. "Every successful enterprise has a very clear strategic purpose. . . . So, we said, all right, the strategic purpose of our administration is to raise the net disposable income of Hoosiers," which has fallen dramatically in recent decades. "Everything else is just a means to that end."

Mr. Daniels's first step toward that goal was cleaning up a state balance sheet that 16 years of Democratic rule had left in bad shape. He turned what was a $700 million hole into a $1 billion surplus, making Indiana one of a handful of states that today remain in the black.

How? "Well, prepared to be dazzled," he says, with his trademark dry wit. "The answer is that we spent less money than we took in." This underplays the governor's high-profile budget fights with a spendthrift legislature—fights that he won—which allowed him to halve the state's rate of spending growth to 2.8% from 5.9% annually. That restraint has allowed Mr. Daniels to forgo the recent tax hikes of most states.

His approach works well in a state where, as Mr. Daniels puts it, "fiscal prudence never went out of style." He's earned high marks for his willingness to spar with his own party (this year's budget went into special session after he refused to let the GOP-run Senate spend away the surplus), and for his fight against pork. With the help of a power called "allotment"—the right not to spend money appropriated by the legislature—Mr. Daniels trimmed $800 million from state government in fiscal 2009. Allotment had in the past "been used very sparingly," says Mr. Daniels, smiling. "We don't use it sparingly."

He also hasn't spared state government. He axed $190 million renegotiating state contracts, bid out services, cut $250 million in unnecessary spending, and dropped 5,000 government positions. Austere as his budgets have been, they have directed more money to "priorities" like 800 new child-protection case workers, 250 more state troopers, and education spending. This approach has allowed the governor to deflect Democratic gripes that he is gutting the state in a recession. "You can invest in things, even with modest revenue growth, so long as you are willing to do a lot less of things that are a lot less important," he says.

Perhaps most appreciated was the governor's overhaul of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It's gone from one of the worst in the country—a place, he says, "where people would take a copy of 'Crime and Punishment'"—to one of the best, with an "average visit time of seven minutes and 36 seconds."

In 2006, Mr. Daniels gave all state employees the option of switching to health plans with health-savings accounts. A year later, he signed bipartisan legislation creating the Healthy Indiana Plan, which puts those same HSAs at the center of a plan covering 130,000 uninsured. Participants contribute to their account based on income; the state picks up the rest, up to $1,100 per adult, after which private insurance kicks in.

"It's subsidized, yes," says Mr. Daniels, but it's "designed to make sure everybody, with a few exceptions, has skin in the game." It also "doesn't expose taxpayers to the catastrophe in Tennessee or Massachusetts of an entitlement program." More than half of the state's employees have switched to the HSA plan, and Healthy Indiana is fully subscribed.

All this, says Mr. Daniels, serves as a necessary "foundation" for the state to attract jobs and fulfill that goal of raising Hoosier income. "Spend as little as you can consistent with necessary public service, leave the rest in private hands, and you get more jobs in the end." Indiana, with its business-friendly tax environment, has attracted $8 billion in foreign investment in the past two years.

Policy is one thing; selling it another. And Mr. Daniels knows how to sell. Relatively unknown in the state before his 2004 run, he toured all 92 counties—at least twice—in an RV. He bypassed hotels, staying in Hoosier homes. He debuted "Mitch TV," a reality show that pictured, warts and all, the candidate meeting wary Indiana voters.

"We have, I think, tried to face a Republican reality, which is the stereotype that Republicans are disconnected from the lives of average people. It's unfair. It's untrue. A Democrat can be a blue-blood billionaire who wouldn't recognize a working family if his limousine ran over one, but still, they benefit from the presumption that their hearts are in the right place, and we bear the opposite burden," he says.

He's also studiously avoided ideological debate. Most would say that "what we've done was animated by conservative principles," he says. "But I leave the labels out. I rarely mention party names, ours or theirs. I don't use the i-word [ideology] or the c-word [conservative]. I don't use the p-word [privatization]. Because I don't think most people think in those categories."

He uses the example of smaller government. "Our principal goal is not to cut government spending for the sake of cutting government spending. . . . If the goal is 'what can we do, or do more quickly, or stop doing, to make it more likely the next job comes to Indiana,' well, of course that means squeezing tax dollars, it means keeping taxes down. I just don't tend to present it as an ideological imperative, but rather the smart things to do if we are trying to be a more prosperous, free state."




As regular readers here know, I do from time to time put up pictures and cartoons to illustate some news story. Every now and again I also look through the pictures in past postings to see which have an interest beyond their immediate use. I then put up a gallery of such "best" pictures. I am afraid that I have left it rather a long time to do that this time. The last gallery was of 2007 pictures. I have caught up a little however and have just posted a gallery of pictures and cartoons that appeared on my various blogs between January and June 2008. You might like to have a glance at them here. I will try to get up a gallery or two for more recent periods as soon as I get time.

ACORN's Man in the White House: "Newly discovered evidence shows the radical advocacy group ACORN has a man in the Obama White House. This power behind the throne is longtime ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard. He holds the title of White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush's White House. Evidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration, Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York. Lewis, the current "chief organizer" or CEO of ACORN, was head of New York ACORN from at least 1994 through 2008, when she took over as national leader of ACORN. With Gaspard at work in the White House, Lewis might as well be speaking to President Obama through an earpiece as he goes about his daily business ruining the country." Erick Erickson of the website RedState recently did an excellent job explaining the relationship of Gaspard to Lewis and President Obama."

Bank of America suspends dealings with ACORN housing entity: "Bank of America Corp. is suspending its work with the housing affiliate of embattled community organizing group ACORN. The decision comes as three Republicans in Congress ask Bank of America and 13 other financial institutions to give Congress a complete accounting of their dealings with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or its affiliates. In a statement, Bank of America said it would not enter into any further agreements with ACORN Housing Corp. until the bank is satisfied all issues have been resolved. ACORN Housing Corp. and Bank of America have worked together for years on mortgage foreclosure issues.”

Why Obama will throw ACORN under the bus: "The spotlight of scrutiny is shining brightly on ACORN these days and rightly so. Where ACORN’s defenders have the audacity to insist that the employees caught on undercover videotape giving advice to a perceived ‘pimp’ and ‘prostitute’ on how to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and internationally traffic in underage Guatemalan prostitutes were simply ‘a few bad employees,’ anyone with a brain recognizes that the problem is systemic in the organization. But what some are misdiagnosing or not completely understanding is how President Obama could be so nonchalant about the issue in recent interviews.”

What are they hiding? Minutes missing in OK City bombing footage: "Long-secret security tapes showing the chaos immediately after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building are blank in the minutes before the blast and appear to have been edited, an attorney who obtained the recordings said Sunday. ‘The real story is what’s missing,’ said Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney who obtained the recordings through the federal Freedom of Information Act as part of an unofficial inquiry he is conducting into the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more. Trentadue gave copies of the tapes to the Oklahoman newspaper, which posted them online and provided copies to the Associated Press.”

Iran’s missile tests create new standoff: "The United States, Israel and its allies are condemning Iran’s missile tests, conducted a few days after world leaders called out the country for building a secret underground nuclear facility. But Iran refuses to cave under world pressure, continuing its dangerous provocation instead. In a show of defiance, Iran tested short- and long-range missiles today and Sunday, including its longest-range missiles yet, which U.S. experts said are capable of hitting Israel and U.S. bases in Europe.”

Bumper-Sticker philosophy: "The following has apparently been making the rounds on Facebook lately: ‘No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.’ It’s a nice, pretty idea, until you sit down and consider the implications. No one should die because they cannot afford health care. Tell me, please, how are you going to provide this health care to people who cannot afford it? Are you going to steal the money from other people and use it to pay for those who cannot afford it? Or Are you going to force health care professionals to work without compensation?”

The old standby : "Florida taxpayers should be forewarned that the huge drop in cigarette sales due to the state’s cigarette tax hike will come back to bite them. These taxes are borne by a small base that gets smaller as the tax goes up, because people quit or, more likely, find ways to circumvent the tax. That is already happening in Florida. This tax hike will burden Florida businesses and taxpayers, especially in the northern half of the state. Not to mention that such taxes fall predominantly on low-income earners.”


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 29, 2009

Obama ignores reality


Half a decade or so back, I wrote: "It's a good basic axiom that if you take a quart of ice cream and a quart of dog feces and mix 'em together the result will taste more like the latter than the former. That's the problem with the U.N."

Absolutely right, if I do say so myself. When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn't that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way.

That's what happened in New York last week. Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya.

But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it's more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal. To be sure, Col. Gadhafi peddled his thoughts on the laboratory origins of swine flu and the Zionist plot behind the Kennedy assassination. But, on the other hand, President Obama said: "No nation can or should try to dominate another nation."

Pardon me? Did a professional speechwriter write that? Or did you outsource it to a starry-eyed runner-up in the Miss America pageant? Whether any nation "should try" to dominate another, they certainly "can," and do so with effortless ease, all over the planet and throughout human history.

And how about this passage? "I have been in office for just nine months — though some days it seems a lot longer. I am well aware of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world. These expectations are not about me. Rather, they are rooted, I believe, in a discontent with a status quo that has allowed us to be increasingly defined by our differences ... .."

Forget the first part: That's just his usual narcissistic "But enough about me, let's talk about what the world thinks of me" shtick. But the second is dangerous in its cowardly evasiveness: For better or worse, we are defined by our differences — and, if Barack Obama doesn't understand this when he's at the podium addressing a room filled with representatives of Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Venezuela and other unlovely polities, the TV audience certainly did when Col. Gadhafi took to the podium immediately afterward.

They're both heads of state of sovereign nations. But if you're on an Indian Ocean island when the next tsunami hits, try calling Libya instead of the U.S. and see where it gets you.

This isn't a quirk of fate. The global reach that enables America and a handful of others to get to a devastated backwater on the other side of the planet and save lives and restore the water supply isn't a happy accident but something that derives explicitly from our political systems, economic liberty, traditions of scientific and cultural innovation, and a general understanding that societies advance when their people are able to fulfill their potential in freedom.

In other words, America and Libya are defined by their differences. What happens when you pretend those differences don't exist? Well, you end up with the distinctively flavored ice cream I mentioned at the beginning. By declining to distinguish between the foreign minister of Slovenia and the foreign minister of, say, Sudan, you normalize not merely the goofier ad libs of a Gadhafi but far darker pathologies.

The day after the U.S. president addressed the U.N., the prime minister of Israel took to the podium and held up a copy of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference at which German officials planned the "Final Solution" to their Jewish problem. This is the pathetic state to which the U.N. has been reduced after six decades: The Jew-hatred of Ahmadinejad and others is so routine that a sane man has to stand up and attempt to demonstrate to lunatics that the Holocaust actually happened.

One sympathizes with Benjamin Netanyahu. But he's missing the point. Ahmadinejad & Co. aren't Holocaust deniers because of the dearth of historical documentation. They do so because they can, and because it suits their own interests to do so, and because in the regimes they represent, the state lies to its people as a matter of course and to such a degree that there is no longer an objective reality, only a self-constructed one. In Libya and Syria and far too many "nations," truth is simply what the thug in the presidential palace declares it to be.

But don't worry, Obama assures them, we're not "defined by our differences." Hey, that's great, isn't it? Yet if you can no longer distinguish between the truth and a lie, why be surprised that the lie metastasizes and becomes, if not yet quite respectable, at least semi-respectable and acceptable in polite society?

Some Western nations walked out of Ahmadinejad's speech: Canada was first; Austria stuck around; America left somewhere in between. "It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric," huffed U.S. spokesman Mark Kornblau. Oh, come off it, you ludicrous poseur. President Obama's position is that he's anxious to hold talks "without preconditions" with his Iranian colleague. How can you do that if you're going to flounce out like a big drama queen at the first itsy-bitsy pro forma Judenhass?

Although he affects a president-of-the-world manner, I don't think Barack Obama cares much about foreign affairs one way or the other. He has a huge transformative domestic agenda designed to leave this country looking much closer to the average Continental social democracy. His principal interest in the rest of the planet is he doesn't need some nutjob nuking Cleveland before he's finished reducing it to a moribund socialist swamp. And so, like many European nations, when it comes to the global scene, Obama has attitudes rather than policies. If you're on the receiving end — like Israel, Poland, Honduras — it's not pleasant, and it's going to get worse.

It was striking to hear Gadhafi and Chavez profess their admiration for Obama, call him "our son." and declare their fond hope that he remain president for life. The Chinese and Russians are more circumspect in public, and laughing their heads off in private. As for the saner members of the U.N., many Europeans still think they've got the American president they've always wanted: They would agree with John Bolton's indictment — that this was a post-American speech by a post-American president — but mean it as high praise.

As the contours of the post-American world emerge, they will have plenty of time to reconsider their enthusiasm.



Proof conclusive that Obama is a robot

Just watch the smile

Barack Obama's amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.



Media trying to shoot the messenger: "Every journalism inquiry from the mainstream media continues to focus on the successful operation that exposed ACORN, not on ACORN itself, as if there is no evidence to sift through or common traits to be found in the videos. Why is the story about journalistic process rather than institutional corruption? The Washington Post and the Associated Press have had to issue embarrassing retractions for falsely implying Mr. O'Keefe's motives were racist. The New York Times, too, had to issue a retraction on an issue raised to impugn his tactics."

The French think pedophilia is OK: "France's political elite has rallied to the defence of Roman Polanski, calling on Switzerland to free the 76-year-old film director rather than extradite him to the United States. Artists and film makers also urged the release of Polanski, who faces charges of having sex with a girl of 13 in 1977, accusing Switzerland of being overzealous in pursuing such an old case and bowing to US demands. Polanski was due to receive a prize for his life's work at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday, but was arrested on a 1978 US arrest warrant after arriving in Switzerland on Saturday. "I think this is awful and totally unjust," French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand told reporters. "Just as there is an America which is generous and which we like, so there is an America which is frightening, and that is the America which has just revealed its face," he added. The culture ministry said French President Nicolas Sarkozy was following the case closely and wanted the swift release of Polanski, while Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he had expressed his concerns to his Swiss counterpart." [Details of the crime here]

Two troops for every civil servant in Britain's defence ministry: "Britain has more military bureaucrats for every active serviceman than any of its Nato allies, it can be disclosed. Figures obtained by the Daily Telegraph show that the 27 other western alliance countries, including the United States, all employ proportionately fewer civilians in their defence ministries. While Britain has just two active troops for every civil servant in the Ministry of Defence, France has almost five, Spain has almost eight and several smaller countries have many more. The MoD employs 85,730 civil servants. Separate figures showed that the MoD spent more than £61 million on public relations last year – enough to pay the annual wage bill for 3,656 new privates in the Army. The Conservatives last night accused Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, of running a “bloated administration” while troops in Afghanistan faced equipment shortages. The bureaucracy figures will put pressure on Mr Ainsworth to divert funds to the front line or cut the MoD’s budget by reducing the number of officials in his department."

Obama rudely twists the lion's tail: "Barack Obama, as my Examiner colleague Byron York has noted, has been snubbing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. This strikes me as highly regrettable and foolish in the extreme. Does Obama have some gripe against the British related to his Kenyan colonial heritage? If so, it’s time to get over it. Britain has been by and large an exemplary ally. It is one of the few nations in the world with a significant out-of-area military capacity, it maintains constructive ties with its former colonies through the Commonwealth, it shares with us an Anglospheric heritage based on common law and individual freedom which is of priceless value."

William Safire, 1929-2009: "Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist, language expert and former White House speechwriter William Safire died Sunday, his assistant said. Safire, who was 79, had been diagnosed with cancer and died at a hospice in Maryland, assistant Rosemary Shields said. She declined to specify the type of cancer Safire had or say when he had been diagnosed.”

Job losses, early retirements hurt Social Security: "Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that’s happened since the 1980s. The deficits — $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 — won’t affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit.”

Kelo battle ends in farce: "Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation’s most notorious eminent domain project. There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne’s lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot’s towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant. But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing. Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it ‘poetic justice. … They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing,’ said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. ‘I don’t think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision.’”

The common good = collectivism: "Politically-structured collectivism, in whatever form it manifests itself, debilitates and disables individuals, depriving each of us of our biological and experiential uniqueness. This, of course, is its purpose. As long as men and women think of themselves as little more than fungible units in a group-think monolith, they and their children will continue to be ground down into a common pulp useful only to their masters. Collectivism is a religion for losers; a belief system that allows the state to marshal the wealth and energies of people for a coerced redistribution to those it favors. Barack Obama did not invent this vulgar, anti-life concept that he works so assiduously to expand. The collectivist proposition had long been in place when George W. Bush echoed its sentiments in the phrase ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us.’ Nor are the protoplasmic units (i.e., you and I) to be heard questioning the purposes or the costs of our subordination to what is the basic premise of every political system. The state shields itself from such inquiries under the pretense that ‘national security’ would be threatened thereby.”

How to lose friends …: "Instead of reaffirming the importance of our relationship with Israel, Obama has renewed our membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council, presided over by exemplars of self-determination and human dignity, such as Libya, Syria, and Angola. The hobbyhorse of this organization is accusing Israel of war crimes, which isn’t surprising. Noted intellectual George Gilder argues in his most recent book, The Israel Test, that where you stand on Israel — not always, but in general — is an indication about how you feel about the ideals of liberty and capitalism. The debate over Israel, he claims, is the manifestation of a deeper moral and ideological war around the world.”

California reports on excessive regulation: "A report was recently released by the State of California detailing the cost of regulation to the state’s economy. The results are damning. Regulation costs just under half a trillion dollars annually. It costs the state four million jobs. It costs the state twelve billion in taxes. The cost to the state’s economy is equal to what is currently one third of the state’s GDP. The twelve billion in taxes would close the existing budget gap without resorting to fancy accounting. The four million jobs would put the state’s unemployment rate below, instead of above, the national average.”

If you want to know what's true of Leftists, see what they say about conservatives: "One of the best lines in Sam Tanenhaus’s wonderful little book on The Death of Conservatism comes in its opening chapter. Surveying intellectual life on the right in the opening months of the Obama administration, Tanenhaus concludes that too many conservative intellectuals ‘recognize no distinction between analysis and advocacy, or between the competition of ideas and the naked struggle for power.’ Quite so, as one can see from the response (or non-response) of the right to Tanenhaus’s own book. Tanenhaus is a tough critic of the conservative movement, but he is also a deeply informed one.”


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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)