Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fascist Russia

Obamaphiles aren't the only statists who long for mandatory absorption into a scary collectivist herd. Yesterday was Russia's Day of People's Unity. While the Ditherer in Chief loses the war in Afghanistan and maneuvers our economy toward eventual collapse with unsustainable spending, this is what's going on in Russia, which has the firepower to blow up most of the solar system:

It's a scary world out there. Too bad our government is more interested in "fundamentally transforming" America than defending it.



The Israeli difference

People forget how small Israel is. Its entire population is a little over 7 million - smaller than Lima, Peru. Its land area is about 8,000 square miles, smaller than New Jersey or Belize. By comparison, Jordan, its neighbor to the east, occupies 35,000 square miles; Egypt, its neighbor to the West, covers 386,000 square miles....

Defenders of Israel argue that it is despised for different reasons, not least because it is an outpost of Western values in a region, the broader Middle East, engaged in a long-term project of religious and ethnic cleansing. One country after another has become inhospitable toward its minorities. As a result, Jews, Christians, Baha'i's and Zoroastrians are among the minority groups that have been eliminated, decimated or compelled to flee to more tolerant corners of the world.

There also is the fact that, economically, Israel punches way above its weight. As Dan Senor and Saul Singer describe and document in a fascinating new book, "Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle," the "greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today" is found in the Jewish state: a higher percentage of GDP devoted to research and development than anywhere else in the world; more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other country; 80 times as much venture capital investment per capita as in China; more companies on NASDAQ than all of Europe combined.

What's more, Senor and Singer believe the conventional and sometimes stereotypical explanations for this success - e.g. Jews work hard, Jews are smart - are either wrong or insufficient.

An overlooked and key contributing factor, they theorize, is that virtually all Israelis serve in the military where a specific set of skills and values are pounded into them. They learn for example, "that you must complete your mission, but that the only way to do that is as a team. The battle cry is ‘After me': there is no leadership without personal example and without inspiring your team to charge together and with you. There is no leaving anyone behind. You have minimal guidance from the top and are expected to improvise..." The Israeli military encourages a kind of entrepreneurship: the assumption of both responsibility and risk at a young age, coupled with on-the-job experience making life-and-death decisions.

European troops, by contrast, rarely venture onto battlefields and, when they do, as in Afghanistan, too often are instructed to serve as peacekeepers -- where there is no peace to keep. What does that teach?

In recent years, American military men and women have been facing - and overcoming - daunting challenges. Senor and Singer suggest that upon return to civilian life they should not "de-emphasize their military experience when applying for jobs," and that employers should recognize the skills and habits that young Americans are now acquiring while fighting for their country and to ensure that freedom has a future...



The “Stimulus” Stopped the Recession? Not So Fast!

I don’t intend for this column to be a weekly response to Paul Krugman, but there are times he writes such outrageous things that I won’t be silent. The New York Times column of November 2 is one of them. Krugman declares that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”) has “worked,” but still is “not enough.” Its supposedly curative economic powers are described as such:
…not that long ago the U.S. economy was in free fall. Without the recovery act, the free fall would probably have continued, as unemployed workers slashed their spending, cash-strapped state and local governments engaged in mass layoffs, and more.

The stimulus didn’t completely eliminate these effects, but it was enough to break the vicious circle of economic decline. Aid to the unemployed and help for state and local governments were probably the most important factors. If you want to see the recovery act in action, visit a classroom: your local school probably would have had to fire a lot of teachers if the stimulus hadn’t been enacted.

Unfortunately, there is more from where that came: “The good news is that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a the Obama stimulus plan, is working just about the way textbook macroeconomics said it would.”

Unfortunately, according to this star of Princeton University’s all-star faculty, the near-trillion dollars of this program, which came entirely from borrowing and printing money, must have a sequel — or the U.S. economy will have high unemployment for years to come. The only thing that can “save” us is another round of borrowing and printing.
The effects of the stimulus will build over time — it’s still likely to create or save a total of around three million jobs — but its peak impact on the growth of G.D.P. (as opposed to its level) is already behind us. Solid growth will continue only if private spending takes up the baton as the effect of the stimulus fades. And so far there’s no sign that this is happening. So the government needs to do much more.

Stuff like this demonstrates just how much the Times editorial page has fallen since the days when Henry Hazlitt was penning editorials for the Gray Lady. So where do we begin? We begin by explaining something about a real economy, not a creation of the Keynesian textbooks.

An economy is not a “blob” into which people pour money, the Keynesian view. It is an intricate combination of factors of production which individuals harness to meet the real needs of real people. It is a process constrained by the law of scarcity, which means that the workings of an economy – if individuals are permitted the freedom necessary to make it work – are going to be directed toward individual needs.

Factors used for one purpose cannot simultaneously be used for something else, and it matters that these scarce factors be directed properly. Unfortunately, the dominant thinking among professional and academic economists is that the economy is an empty tank into which one pours the fuel of money and magically it “creates jobs” and goods. This is as nonsensical as Aaron’s explanation to Moses that the Golden Calf simply rose out of a fire after he threw a bunch of gold jewelry into it.

The “stimulus” has not “saved” anything. It has been a huge misdirection of resources from things that would meet real-live individual needs to those things that meet the “needs” of politicians to be reelected. As I noted in an earlier column, where I live almost half a million dollars was spent rolling sod onto a narrow median strip on I-68 near my home, an unnecessary and wasteful project if ever one existed.

Our economy is moribund because for many years the government and the Federal Reserve misdirected resources into lines of production that never could be sustained. While the boom lasted, things seemed to be great, but it now is time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, the politicians and intellectuals seem to believe that the “solution” is even more wasteful spending.




Democrats in denial: "Neither Barack Obama nor Nancy Pelosi can be as clueless as they want us to think they are. The White House said the president was so uninterested in the results on election night that he watched a documentary on the '08 presidential campaign, no doubt eager to see who won. Mzz Pelosi, as oblivious of the scoreboard as a ditzy cheerleader unaware of which team has the ball, insists her side won the night. Mr. Obama continues to campaign for the job the rest of us thought we gave him a year ago. The day after the Republicans sent wake-up calls from Virginia and New Jersey, he was back on the stump, working up a sweat -- or at least a gentlemanly perspiration -- and breathing hard against George W. Bush.... But like it or not, Mr. Obama is the president now, and the opportunities and failures at the White House are his. George W. is back home in Texas, where he no longer frightens women and horses. We've still got record deficits, two wars and now our allies don't know what to believe. Someone should break the news, gently, to the president that the election is over and he won."

Obama’s Pet-Goat Moment: "We still don’t know what was behind the killings at Ft. Hood this afternoon, in which 11 soldiers and the killer died, but President Obama’s rushed press conference was surprising in its flippancy nonetheless. Before he got to the issue on everyone’s mind — namely the deaths of Americans in uniform — the president gave a “shout-out” to government bureaucrats gathered for a previously scheduled conference at the Interior Department, complete with appreciative chuckles. He treated the event like a pep rally rather than a tragic occasion with a wider audience than those gathered in the room. I wonder how many media outlets will compare Obama’s performance to President Bush’s “Pet Goat” moment on 9/11. I won’t hold my breath." [The latest info is that the murderer was a Muslim with open Jihadi sympathies. Why nothing was done about that is the question. More here and here]

Celebrating limits: "The single biggest myth in American politics is that advocacy of limited government is a fringe position. The way to attract ‘moderates’ and ‘independents,’ we are told, is for conservatives to adopt some sort of stratagem that involves using government actively but wisely and efficiently, for the right ends, in order to attract the target audience du jour: suburbanites, exurbanites, Bobos, soccer moms, Hispanics, metrosexuals, or any number of other strata of supposedly poll-tested exotica. Balderdash. As Tuesday’s elections showed, support for limited government remains a mainstream position.”

EU’s Deafening Silence Over Russian Threat to Poland: "EU elites have been lining up in euphoric droves to celebrate the passage of the Lisbon Treaty. Having fudged, connived, bullied and browbeaten the final hold-outs, the creation of an EU super-state will now take its greatest leap forward. Contrast the throngs of headlines over Lisbon’s passage with the EU’s response to Russia’s simulation of a nuclear attack on Poland. A Polish newspaper recently revealed that Moscow simulated a war game in which Russian armed forces invaded Poland and nuclear missiles were fired. Eerily similar to the propaganda methods adopted by Moscow during the Russia-Georgia war, Poland was labeled an aggressor country. Speaking in Washington this week, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski drew attention to Russia’s gamed deployment of 900 tanks during this exercise. Brussels’ silence has been deafening; not a word of condemnation has escaped the lips of the elites who have manically pursued the suprantionalization of foreign policy within the EU. With wanton appeasement, Brussels has made it clear that it has no intentions of coming to Poland’s defense over this massive provocation. Polish MP Karol Karski has formally protested to the European Commission over this matter."

KY: Census worker hanging may have been suicide: "Investigators probing the death of a Kentucky census worker found hanging from a tree with the word ‘fed’ scrawled on his chest increasingly doubt he was killed because of his government job and are pursuing the possibility he committed suicide, law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. … In recent weeks, investigators have grown more skeptical that 51-year-old Bill Sparkman died at the hands of someone angry at the federal government. The officials said investigators continue to look closely at suicide as a possible cause of Sparkman’s death for a number of reasons. There were no defensive wounds on Sparkman’s body, and while his hands were bound with duct-tape, they were still somewhat mobile, suggesting he could have manipulated the rope, the officials said.”

The double standard about journalists’ bias: "I made The New York Times last week. It even ran my picture. My mother would be proud. Unfortunately, the story was critical. It said, ‘Critics have leaped on Mr. Stossel’s speaking engagements as the latest evidence of conservative bias on the part of Fox.’ Which ‘critics’ had ‘leaped?’ The reporter mentioned Rachel Maddow. I wouldn’t think her criticism newsworthy, but Times reporters may use MSNBC as their guide to life. He also quoted an ‘associate professor of journalism’ who said my speeches were ”pretty shameful’ by traditional journalistic standards.’ All this because I spoke at an event for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a ‘conservative advocacy group.”

Agreeing with Jesus’ general on sex offenders: "It is heartening to see a growing backlash against the hysterical and destructive sex-offender laws that do nothing to protect victims. Indeed, the laws themselves victimize innocent people, who are often children, while placing violent sex-offenders in circumstances that maximize chances of their re-offending. Current sex-offender laws are written to promote careers in politics, academia and law enforcement. The cry of the ambitious, the experts, and the well-paid enforcers is always for more laws! Stiffer sentences! No tolerance … even toward children whose lives are ruined by being placed on registries for crimes like sexting their own photos or mooning a school bus.”

Remember remember the 9th of November (the fall of the Berlin Wall): "It is precisely now, when the public mood is so bitter towards bankers, so hostile to profit, so seemingly brassed off with the very idea of wealth creation that we should remember how ghastly, grim and unworkable was the alternative — state-controlled socialism. It was a moral disaster, a system that extolled equality but entrenched the privileges of an unelected elite who luxuriated in their dachas and their Zil limos, roaring down their reserved lanes and splashing the people with contemptuous sludge. It was a cultural and artistic wasteland, a regime that promoted the kitsch and camp of socialist realism and whose only literary legacy is the handful of books by authors brave enough to denounce the regime. It was a complete and utter environmental catastrophe, as anyone who travelled behind the Iron Curtain will remember.”

Time to reform the British Parliament — or blow it up?: "If Guy Fawkes came back today and blew up Parliament, would we notice any difference? In a new briefing published today, ASI fellows Tim Ambler and Keith Boyfield say they’re not so sure. The EU writes our most important laws, and ministers are more accountable to the media than to MPs. New regulations, like those giving councils the power to search our homes and freeze our bank accounts, are never even debated. MPs vote as the party whips tell them, not as their constituents want. No wonder 80% of Brits think that Parliament has lost the plot.”

British taxpayers give £20m benefits to Polish children - even if they have never stepped foot in Britain: "Taxpayers are funding child benefit for more than 50,000 children of migrant workers - even though the youngsters still live in their home countries. Treasury figures show that Poles make up the vast majority of the payments made under a loophole in EU legislation. Benefits are paid to 37,941 children in the former Eastern Bloc country, who have one or both parents working in the UK. The cost is estimated at more than £24million a year. The number of Polish children being subsidised by British taxpayers has jumped by 6,542 in two years despite a slowdown in immigration because of the recession. Under 'social responsibility coordinating regulations' drawn up in Brussels, EU migrant workers who pay taxes in their host country are able to claim benefits and tax credits as soon as they start work, even if they have left their families behind. British handouts are much higher than many other countries' payments - particularly in Eastern Europe. Migrants living and working in the UK claim the benefit in their home country, but if that works out to be less than the UK allowance, the Treasury tops up the difference. Where a family is ineligible for child benefit in their homeland - possibly because they earn too much - they can claim the full UK rate of £20 a week for the first child and £13.20 for others. In Poland, the equivalent of child benefit amounts to between £3 and £5 a week."


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, November 06, 2009

America needs some true Realpolitik

Israel's edge in hi-tech makes it an essential ally; China is a potential friend

It is easy to confuse "realism" with a widely shared delusion. In the parlance of American foreign policy, "realism" means accepting a howling lie if it is accepted by a large enough number of people. The "realists" during the Ronald Reagan administration insisted that the Soviet Union was a successful, stable and permanent fixture in the world power equation. Reagan and his advisors saw in Soviet aggression a symptom of imminent internal breakdown. The head of plans at Reagan's National Security Council, Norman A Bailey, told me in early 1981 that American rearmament would overstrain the Soviet economy and bring about the collapse of communism by 2007. I thought him a dangerous lunatic and, like Tertullian, signed up forthwith.

Why pursue detente with a Soviet Union that inevitably would collapse of its own incompetence and corruption? And why ally with Muslim countries sinking into irreversible decline, in some cases civil war? Iran, Turkey and Algeria will age as rapidly as Western European countries, but without the wealth buffer to deal with a burgeoning cohort of dependent elderly.

Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan seem ungovernable. Among the largest Muslim countries only Bangladesh and Indonesia seem stable, but they have little relevance to American policy in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia's influence in the region is expressed mainly by financing fundamentalist madrassas (seminaries) in neighboring countries and writing checks to compliant former American presidents as well as "realist" academics. The Saudis will sell us the oil; we do not need to wash their feet in return.

Reality presented itself to the White House in the course of the current give-and-take over Israel and Palestine in the person of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, perhaps the last functioning realist in the Obama administration. The Pentagon, as I noted two weeks ago, views with realistic horror the possibility that Israel might exchange military technology with Russia and India. An immediate concern is the Russian-Indian joint venture to produce a fifth-generation fighter, but drone, anti-missile, and other technology are also a concern. That, there is reason to believe, explains why the US administration abruptly dropped its demand for a complete Israeli freeze on settlement construction and accepted the Israeli offer of a freeze on acquiring new land, once 3,000 homes at present under construction are complete.

That, contrary to Mearsheimer and Walt, is realism: in a world of weapons of mass destruction, very large numbers of poorly educated people make no contribution to military power. Even in the age of edged weapons, Persia's advantage in numbers at Gaugamela posed little threat to Alexander the Great. Despite its declining population, Russia is determined to exercise military power on a world scale through its edge in key military technologies.

Israel's contribution might be decisive in a number of fields, for example avionics and especially drone technology. Among the million Russians who emigrated to Israel during the breakdown of the Soviet Empire are more than 10,000 scientists, including some who designed Russia's best weapons systems. Moscow's impulse to reunite the old team is understandable. Throw Israel into the briar patch, and America might not like the result.

It seems a long and drafty walk down the corridors of time since Richard Perle, the chairman of Bush's Defense Policy Board, and David Frum, the speechwriter who coined the term "axis of evil", joined to write a book with the grandiose title, An End to Evil. That was only five years ago. Never were policy wonks more full of themselves, or more challenged theologically, or more likely to be forgotten. And it seems like an eternity since Obama set out to dismantle American strategic superiority.

Unlikely as it sounds, there is no "realist" school of foreign policy at work in Washington, just the idiot twins of idealism and the majority-rule fantasists. Gates seems capable of realism, at least when the intelligence reports smack him in the face like a dead mackerel. No one in Washington seems to ask the obvious questions:

# Which countries are inherently friendly, which are inherently hostile, and which are neither friendly nor hostile, but merely self-interested?

# Which countries are viable partners over a given time horizon, and which are beyond viability?

# Where can we solve problems, and where must we resign ourselves to contain them at best?

# Where can we make agreements in mutual self-interest, and where is it impossible to make agreements of any kind?

# What issues affect American national security in so urgent a fashion that we should employ force if required?

A few suggestions:

China is the fulcrum of American strategy. The world's two largest economies have a natural self-interest in strengthening each other. Francesco Sisci and I proposed an economic alliance between America and China in this space a year ago (see US's road to recovery runs through Beijing Asia Times Online, November 15, 2008).

It goes without saying that the political implications of such an economic alliance would be profound. Forget about the Uyghurs of Xinjiang or the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama: China is an empire in constant risk of provincial rebellion and cannot show mercy to any regional separatist without risking internal dissolution. That is the last thing the West should want; were China to descend into internal instability, America's economic prospects would turn sour for a generation.

If America wants to promote human rights in China, it should promote open capital markets, immigration of Chinese entrepreneurs, and other benign ways of opening Chinese society to more individual power. China also wants America to remain a power in Asia: China and its neighbors distrust each other more than ever they distrusted the United States.

Russia is a spoiler, but a bargainer. America has no interest in color revolutions in the Russian "near abroad" (just what is the strategic significance of the "Tulip Revolution" in Kyrzgyzstan?). Georgia and the Ukraine are respectively last and second-to-last in the world fertility tables and will cease to exist as national entities by mid-century. Why should America make commitments there?

The notion that the United States can contribute substantially to energy independence by running pipelines around the edge of Russian borders seems fanciful. These are all bargaining chips. America should trade away what it does not require (democracy in the "stans") for what it does require, for instance Russian strategic cooperation in non-proliferation, especially where Iran is concerned. This may be the one thing that the Obama administration has done right, although it remains to be seen whether it has done anything at all.

India is a prospective friend. The precedent of nuclear cooperation with India as well as India's common interest in suppressing Muslim terrorists brought the world's largest democracy close to the American camp during the Bush administration. India's economic boom, moreover, increases its links to the American economy.

Iran is past bargaining with; it must be ruined.



Fall Of The Wall? U.S. Sends Regrets

The White House has announced our absence at ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Meanwhile, Russia has been practicing a nuclear invasion of an abandoned Poland.

The Berlin Wall has been a famous backdrop for American presidents sounding the battle cry of liberty in the struggle against tyranny. It was there that John F. Kennedy expressed our solidarity with the encircled residents of that outpost of freedom with his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner." And it was there that Ronald Reagan, with a defiant "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," voiced our determination not to merely contain or get along with Soviet Communism, but to defeat it. On Nov. 9, 1989, the people of Berlin did just that, secure in the knowledge that an economically and militarily revived America had their back. But that was then and this is now.

Today, American leaders travel the world expressing their regrets for our alleged past transgressions, and American exceptionalism is no longer part of our vocabulary. We're just another one of the gang, sandwiched alphabetically between Uganda and Upper Volta, whose votes cancel ours in an international community to which we pledge our fealty. On the 20th anniversary of this triumph of freedom, it appears than no American president will be there to celebrate, much less remember, the day that the "evil empire" was consigned to the ash heap of history.

Words have consequences and dates have significance. It did not escape the notice of the Poles and indeed the rest of Europe when we chose the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland on Sept. 17, 1939, to tell the Polish government in a midnight phone call that we were pulling the plug on our commitment to place ground-based missile interceptors in Poland.

Documents obtained by Wprost, one of Poland's leading news magazines, reveal that at that same time the Russians were conducting war games in which nuclear missiles were fired and troops practiced amphibious landings on the coast of a "potential aggressor." In the exercises, the potential aggressor was Poland.

As the London Telegraph reports, the Russian air force practiced using weapons from its nuclear arsenal, while in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Poland on the northeast, forces stormed a "Polish" beach and attacked a gas pipeline. "It's an attempt to put us in our place," said Marek Opiola, a member of Poland's parliament. "Don't forget all this happened on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland."

Before we reneged on our commitment to place ground-based interceptors in Poland, Soviet President Medvedev threatened to deploy SS-26 Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, right between our NATO allies Poland and Lithuania. In the 1980s, when the Soviet Union targeted Europe with its SS-20s, a first-strike weapon of unmatched power, President Reagan responded quite differently, upping the ante by deploying Pershing missiles in West Germany.

In July, leading European freedom fighters, including Poland's Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel, wrote an open letter to President Obama warning that the Russia of Medvedev and Putin "is back as a revisionist power pursuing a 19th-century agenda with 21st-century tactics and methods."

In March, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a red "reset button" to symbolize improved ties, but the gift drew smiles as the word "reset" was mistranslated into the Russian word for "overcharge." Something else was apparently lost in the translation. We need to press the reset button again, back to the days when American presidents stood in Berlin and echoed the cry of Scottish patriot William Wallace: "Freedom!"




Israel seizes Iranian arms shipment: "ISRAELI commandos and warships yesterday intercepted a ship carrying weapons from Iran to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia in a raid dozens of miles off its coast. The pre-dawn seizure near Cyprus was a rare interception of a suspected arms shipment by Israel, which has long accused Iran of arming its enemies. "During the night a special marine force intercepted a ship that was supposed to be carrying cargo around 100 miles from our shore," a military spokeswoman said last night. Photographs of the ship being searched in Israel's Ashdod port identified the vessel as the Francop, sailing under an Antigua flag. "We suspected it was carrying weapons and when we inspected it that turned out to be true," the spokeswoman said. President Shimon Peres said it appeared to be ferrying weapons from Iran to Lebanon. "The IDF successfully seized a boat that apparently came from Iran and was heading to Syria and Hezbollah," Mr Peres said. "All those involved deny involvement, but the world is witness today to the huge gap between what Iran and Syria say and their actions." Local media reported that the vessel was carrying a shipment of several tonnes of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, and Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told army radio that Katyusha rockets were among the cache."

Salary raise counted as saved job: "President Barack Obama's economic recovery program saved 935 jobs at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, an impressive success story for the stimulus plan. Trouble is, only 508 people work there. The Georgia nonprofit's inflated job count is among persisting errors in the government's latest effort to measure the effect of the $787 billion stimulus plan despite White House promises last week that the new data would undergo an "extensive review" to root out errors discovered in an earlier report. About two-thirds of the 14,506 jobs claimed to be saved under one federal office, the Administration for Children and Families at Health and Human Services, actually weren't saved at all, according to a review of the latest data by The Associated Press. Instead, that figure includes more than 9,300 existing employees in hundreds of local agencies who received pay raises and benefits and whose jobs weren't saved".

Be careful what you say: "If you hang around teenagers enough you notice they say some real interesting things. ‘I can kick his ass with my bare hands’ is high up on the list. ‘I’m going to get that little fag, he just stole my girlfriend,’ is another. That second one just turned a fight between two guys because one stole the other’s girlfriend into a hate crime under the defense appropriation bill Obama just signed.”

WTO 'could challenge internet censorship': "Internet censorship is open to challenge at the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it can restrict trade in online services, a forthcoming study says. A censorship case at the WTO could raise sovereignty issues, given the clear right of member states to restrict trade on moral grounds - for example, by blocking access to child pornography websites. The study could hold implications for the Australian government, which is planning to introduce a national web filter against "unwanted material". But a WTO ruling could set limits on blanket censorship and compel states instead to use more selective filtering, according to the study, to be published this week by European think-tank ECIPE. "Many WTO member states are legally obliged to permit an unrestricted supply of cross-border internet services," Brian Hindley and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama wrote in the report. Many countries censor the internet for political or moral reasons. China has developed one of the most pervasive systems, in Cuba all unauthorized surfing is illegal, and the Australian Government is planning a mandatory filter for national rollout."

Tamil Tigers look to regroup in wishy-washy Canada: "The Tamil Tigers organization hopes to use Canada as a strategic base to continue the fight against the government of Sri Lanka, according to an authority on the alleged terrorist group. "I cannot think of any other country that is more important for the Tamil Tigers as Canada, to regroup and continue their campaign against Sri Lanka," said Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, a Singapore-based think-tank. Gunaratna is advising the Canadian government as it investigates the 75 Tamil migrants currently in immigration custody in Vancouver. The men were found aboard a ship seized off the coast of British Columbia on Oct. 17. Lawyers for the men have said they are not Tamil Tigers, but Gunaratna disagreed. "There are many members of the Tamil Tigers on board that vessel," Gunaratna said in an interview from Singapore. The Tigers — banned in Canada as a terrorist organization — were defeated in May 2009 after a 23-year insurgency."

Mortgage crisis shows that government regulation doesn’t work : "Headlines like this drive me nuts: Mortgage Crisis Shows Why Financial Regulation is Needed. Yes, regulation is needed. Market regulation, that is. At every turn, the government and its accomplices in the financial industry — the politically-connected players — have undermined the free market’s ability to self-regulate. But, of course, this is not the sort of regulation to which the author is referring. No, the market is to blame and our benevolent protectors in government must come to our aid through enlightened regulation.”

Daylight saving not helpful: "Although daylight-saving time was sold politically as an energy-conservation measure, it does no such thing. Studies conducted in Indiana prior to 2006, when that state operated under three different time regimes, show either no difference in energy consumption or a small increase in power usage during the months after clocks were moved one hour ahead. The annual ritual of springing forward and falling back thus possibly produces no energy savings and may be counterproductive. It also requires those who live in places where daylight-saving time is observed to waste time twice a year adjusting their clocks and watches. Yet the costs of switching between daylight-saving and standard time go far beyond the hassles of ‘losing’ an hour in the springtime and ‘gaining’ it back in the fall.”


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, November 05, 2009

Junk Science Returns to the White House

Regardless of your tribal affiliations, were you cautiously optimistic when our new president promised to "restore science to its rightful place" in the formulation of public policy? Were you embarrassed by the prior occupant's politicization of issues that should have been decided on a more scientific basis? Did you assume that Barack Obama would surround himself with apolitical science advisors unencumbered by embarrassing anti-science baggage and free of culture-war axes to grind?

To paraphrase a once famous mayor of New York - So how's he doing so far?

You're probably aware that the H1N1 swine flu vaccine supply has fallen dangerously short of the level required to protect the most vulnerable among us. In the spring Federal officials predicted that as many as 120 million doses would be available by now, as opposed to the 16 million doses that actually arrived. Flu vaccine is tricky to make under the best of circumstances, but there are scientifically safe and proven ways to stretch supplies. Are you aware that the Federal Government refuses to allow the use of adjuvants that can be used to produce twice as many doses from the same vaccine stock? This despite the fact that over 40 million doses of flu vaccine containing adjuvants have been dispensed in Europe over the past dozen years without any indication of a safety issue. Some people denied shots because of this decision are going to die. Does this policy sound scientific or political?

You're probably aware that a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal was removed from children's vaccines in 2001 to mollify activists promoting the theory that thimerosal causes autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was then and is still now no scientific evidence linking thimerosal to autism. Despite numerous peer-reviewed studies as well as the empirical fact that autism rates have not plunged since the 2001 thimerosal ban, as one would expect if the preservative were a leading cause of this heart breaking illness, the administration recently made a decision that further reduced the supply of H1N1 vaccine. It switched our country's emergency H1N1 vaccine order from multi-dose to single-dose vials, causing production chain backups as vendors scrambled to accommodate the last-minute switch. Why the change? Because single-dose vials contain a lower concentration of thimerosal. Some people denied shots because of this decision are going to die. Does this policy sound scientific or political?

Did you know that despite the melting ice cap there are estimated to be five times as many polar bears wandering the northern regions of our planet today than there were fifty years ago? Studies indicate that the biggest threat to polar bears are not present climate conditions but forecasts of future conditions made by climate models. These are the same models that have been unable to explain why the hottest year on record was actually 11 years ago despite increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and that the world's oceans appear to be cooling. This has not stopped the administration from proposing that 200,000 square miles of land, sea, and ice along the northern coast of Alaska be designated as "critical habitat for this iconic species." Does reading this statement make you wonder whether polar bears are genuinely endangered or merely charismatic? Does this policy sound scientific or political?

Did you catch the recent peer-reviewed article by Princeton's Tim Searchinger in Science magazine on the impact of biofuels on global warming? The authors found that "corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20% savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years. Biofuels from switchgrass, if grown on U.S. corn lands, increase emissions by 50%." Has the White House called for a halt on ethanol subsidies and blending mandates? Is Obama asking legislators to heed the scientific evidence and pull back from this widely recognized economic and ecological blunder? No. Does this policy sound scientific or political?

Have you looked at the background and track record of the chief scientist the president chose to advise him? In a book co-authored earlier in his career with Population Bomb alarmist Paul Erhlich, Presidential science advisor John Holdren discussed the merits of adding a sterilant to public drinking water supplies to reduce population growth. The book goes on to note that "compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution." You see we, dear readers, are not citizens meant to be served by our government. We are pollutants. Does this policy sound scientific or insane?



The Obama Gang: Tyranny by a Thousand Cuts

Never have so few wreaked so much havoc on so many in so little time.

As Americans continue their dalliance with redistribution and collectivism—policies now being reversed or even shunned in other parts of the world—the process takes on the aura of a car wreck, an out-of-body experience seemingly taking place in slow motion. Yet the pace at which we are surrendering our fundamental rights is not a protracted deterioration but instead is breathtakingly quick, considering the fundamental damage visited upon our democratic system by the Obama administration in its brief tenure of less than ten months. Never have so few wreaked so much havoc on so many in so little time.

The free Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia is a too-convenient tool to illustrate a point and this column usually (but not always) resists the temptation. In the Age of Obama, however, its definition of the phrase "Death by a thousand cuts" is just too perfect to ignore: "The political tactic of making gradual changes over time so that nobody notices or those that do notice do not raise much of a protest."

Creeping normalcy —the way a major negative change, that happens slowly in many unnoticed increments, is not perceived as objectionable. And, for those Americans not blissfully unaware of the seismic political shifts taking place: Slow slicing, a form of torture and execution originating from Imperial China. Thus is the current state of Washington politics -- a case of what the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have called "defining deviancy down."

The very audacity —a characteristic held in high regard by the president —with which the administration has attacked groups of private citizens exercising their right to speak out is perhaps unprecedented in American politics. During the government's massive bailout of the car companies, bondholders who complained that their private property was being precipitously expropriated so that valuable interests could be delivered to Obama's union enablers were publicly vilified as malefactors who were erecting obstacles to the "rescue" effort. In fact, these genuine company creditors were protesting actions by which the administration turned centuries of bankruptcy law on its head, thereby wiping out important private property rights in order to repay a political debt.

The administration and its congressional acolytes have in similar fashion attacked citizens who have exercised their free speech rights at the numerous health care town meetings held all over the country. Administration officials and the Democratic congressional leadership have demonstrated a remarkable ability to selectively ignore opinion polls that do not support their objectives, and they have responded to the rising chorus of objections to their health care "reform" plans by calling into question the motives and integrity of plain citizens who are not falling in line. The Obama gang prefers to meet these objections with ridicule and contempt rather than concern and respect, with the obvious objective of bullying Americans into silence on the subject. Meanwhile, every effort is being made to ramrod through a plan—almost any plan, at this point, no matter how wrongheaded—before more Americans realize what is happening and speak up. These are the politics of intimidation, coercion and menace, Chicago writ large on a national scale.

The administration's thin-skinned and vindictive nature is perhaps best reflected in its rabid attacks on the Fox cable network, something so unseemly, petty and undignified that it sets a standard in political overkill not seen since Nixon's enemies list. It took Nixon far longer than ten months to develop the bunker mentality so evident within the Obama team.

Along with these attacks on freedom of expression has come significant erosion in property rights. At the same time the aforementioned bondholders were being stripped of their assets, hundreds of automobile dealers, some in business for several generations, woke up one morning to a government proclamation that they were no longer in business, instantly reducing to ashes some franchises that had been valued in the millions of dollars. This totally opaque process was overseen by one of many "czars" appointed by the president to conduct large-scale government business, people who were neither vetted nor approved by any other branch of government. Shareholders in public companies suddenly have found their boards of directors circumvented or completely made irrelevant by government fiat. Hapless taxpayers underwrite countless bailouts of favored industries, seemingly without end, often propping up for purely political purposes companies with outmoded business models that would quickly fail in a free enterprise environment. Just today the government announced its third—count them—bailout of GMAC, one of many instances of throwing good money after bad.

While busy muzzling Americans and redistributing their wealth, the administration has been hyperactive on the international front. Its activities include abandoning long-time allies like Israel as it "reaches out" to hostile governments in places like Iran and North Korea. It has double-crossed countries like Poland, whose government took significant risks in agreeing to a missile-shield deal largely disavowed by the president and his advisors. The administration has forsaken principles of democracy by ignoring a brave and persecuted opposition in Iran and attempting to reinstall an ousted tyrant in Honduras. And all the while the president has shamed his country by courting tyrants and offering apologies for the supposed injustices America has heaped upon the rest of the world.



Featherbedding stimulus job numbers

Featherbedding occurs when paychecks are issued for nonexistent employees and the money goes directly into union coffers. Thousands of the jobs Obama officials say were saved or created by the stimulus program are no more real than those invisible positions invented by unions to bulk up their treasuries. We know this to be the case because as Obama’s chief economist, Christina Romer, admitted several weeks ago, “It’s very hard to say exactly because you don’t know what the baseline is, right, because you don’t know what the economy would have done without [the economic stimulus program].”

Even if we take at face value the White House claim that it created or saved all these jobs with approximately $150 billion of the economic stimulus money, a little simple math shows the taxpayers aren’t getting any bargains here: $150 billion divided by 650,000 jobs equals $230,000 per job saved or created. Instead of taking all that time required to write the 1,588-page stimulus bill, Congress could have passed a one-pager saying the first 650,000 jobless persons to report for work at the White House will receive a voucher worth $230,000 redeemable at the university, community college or trade school of their choice. That would have been enough for a degree plus a hefty down payment on a mortgage.

Actually, taxpayers would be better off with such a deal, too, compared with the reality of the Obama stimulus program. Among the top 10 stimulus contracts awarded, there is the one for nearly $339 million that allegedly created or saved 41.19 jobs, or about $8.3 million per position. It was even worse with the $258 million contract to Brookhaven Science Associates in New York, where 25 jobs were saved or created, at a cost of $10.3 million per position. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the ranking House minority member of the Joint Economic Committee, said it best: “What we know for certain is that 2.7 million payroll jobs have been lost since the Obama stimulus was signed into law, hundreds of thousands of more jobs are being lost each month, and America is so deep in debt, China and France are lecturing us to get our financial house in order.”




I have just put up on my home page a collection of what I think are some California toons. You can access them directly here or here. They are some of the funniest I have seen.

Iran: Regime thugs beat, gas protestors : "Iranian police fired teargas during clashes with opposition supporters trying to stage a demonstration in central Tehran on Wednesday and made several arrests, witnesses said. … Witnesses said police beat the opposition supporters in a bid to break up the rally but the crowd of several hundred refused to move. Opposition supporters have since June been staging protests in Tehran against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a presidential they claim was massively rigged.”

No queer marriage in Maine: "Maine voters have repealed a state law that would have allowed gay couples to marry. With 84% of the precincts reporting, those against gay marriage had 53% of the vote last night. The outcome amounts to a heartbreaking defeat for the gay rights movement, particularly as it occurred in a north-eastern New England state, the corner of the country most supportive of gay marriage. On the ballot in the state was a ‘people’s veto’ of a law passed this spring, that made Maine the sixth state to extend marriage to same-sex couples. The law was put on hold after conservatives launched a petition drive to repeal it in a referendum.”

Buffett thinks the worst is over: "Berkshire Hathaway has announced plans to acquire the 77.4 per cent of Burlington Northern it doesn't already own in a deal that values the railroad operator at $US34 billion ($38bn), plus $US10bn in debt. The deal, priced at a 31.5 per cent premium to Burlington's most recent close, would mark Berkshire chief Warren Buffett's largest acquisition, boosting his minority stake in the second-largest US railroad by revenue in what he termed an "all-in wager" on the US economic recovery. Berkshire Hathaway, which already owns 22.6 per cent of Burlington Northern, is placing the bet at the tail end of a five-year "rail renaissance" that saw rail volume and pricing soar, only to have the recession cut deeply into traffic and profitability.... Burlington and the other top railroads, including Union Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern, are considered barometers of overall economic activity because of the breadth of goods they ship. Mr Buffett has said in the past that he uses weekly railroad carload data by railroads as a proxy for the health of the economy."

Claude Levi-Strauss dies: "French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, who helped shape Western thinking about human civilisation, has died at the age of 100. Trained as a philosopher, Levi-Strauss shot to prominence with his 1955 book Tristes Tropiques (A World on the Wane), a haunting account of travels and studies in the Amazon basin and one of the 20th century's major works. Paying tribute, President Nicolas Sarkozy gave “homage to a tireless humanist, a curious academic who was always in search of new knowledge, to a man free of any sectarianism or indoctrination. Levi-Strauss was a leading proponent of structuralism, which sought to uncover the hidden, unconscious or primitive patterns of thought believed to determine the outer reality of human culture and relationships. Among the more striking conclusions of his work was the idea that there is no fundamental difference between the belief systems and myths of so-called “primitive” races and those of modern Western societies. Levi-Strauss was born in Brussels in 1908, the son of French Jewish parents from the German-speaking region of Alsace." [More here]

Man jailed over pointing lasers at airliners: "A California man who aimed a handheld laser at two passenger jets arriving at John Wayne Airport south of Los Angeles has been jailed for two-and-a-half years, justice authorities said yesterday. Dana Welch, 38, was sentenced after being convicted at a trial in April where he was accused of shining a laser at two Boeing jets as they approached the airport in May last year. The first plane, a United Airlines jet, was carrying more than 180 passengers and crew while the second, an Alaska Airlines aircraft, was carrying more than 80 people, a US Justice Department statement said. A pilot of the United flight was struck in the eye by Welch's green laser beam and suffered "flash blindness." One of the pilots of the Alaska Airlines plane was forced to duck under a glare shield after the beam was shone into the cockpit. Welch was the first person in the United States to be convicted at trial of interfering with aircraft pilots by shooting lasers at their planes."

Tory Mayor of London saves film-maker from girl gang attack: "The Mayor of London has saved a woman who was being attacked by a group of hoodies. One of the gang was brandishing an iron bar, but that didn't stop Mr Johnson going to the aid of Franny Armstrong when he heard her cry for help. Documentary film-maker Miss Armstrong was walking home in Camden on Monday night when she was surrounded by a group of young girls. She was sending a text message and did not notice the girls until they pushed her 'quite hard' against a car. She said she feared they were about to mug her. 'I noticed that one had an iron bar in her hand - it was frightening,' she added. She called out for help to a passing cyclist, who turned out to be Mr Johnson. He approached the girls, shouting: "What do you think you are doing?". The girls dropped the iron bar and ran off. Mr Johnson picked up the iron bar and chased after them on his bike. He returned to the woman a few minutes later and insisted on walking her home. 'He was my knight on a shining bicycle,' she said."

Dangerous Airbus fault still not fixed: "A Jetstar plane may have last week suffered the same malfunction that brought down an Air France jet over the Atlantic, killing all on board, five months ago. At 1.30am on October 29 the pilot of the Jetstar Airbus 330-200 reported an instrument blackout as the jet carrying 200 passengers passed through storm clouds midway between Japan and the Gold Coast. During the six-second blackout, the automatic pilot malfunctioned and fluctuating readings were transmitted by one of the jet's three airspeed indicators - a similar situation to what the pilot of the Air France jet is said to have reported in his final radio message before his aircraft broke up and plunged into the ocean. Jetstar said last night that early indications were the airspeed sensing system suffered a momentary interruption, after which the instruments returned to normal. "The crew remained in full control of the aircraft at all times and responded in accordance with training and procedure," an airline spokesman said. "We are also liaising closely with Airbus." He said several parts were replaced during a detailed examination of the jet before it was allowed to resume flying. The Jetstar and Air France jets were similar models - Airbus 330-200 jetliners."


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, November 04, 2009

Excerpts from an interview with Charles Krauthammer about Obama

The interviewers are German and if you read the whole interview you get the impression that they think Krauthammer is from outer space. As you see, however, Krauthammer has some good answers

SPIEGEL: Why do Europeans react so positively to him?

Krauthammer: Because Europe, for very understandable reasons, has been chaffing for 60 years under the protection, but also the subtle or not so subtle domination of America. Europeans like to see the big guy cut down to size, it's a natural reaction. You know, Europe ran the world for 400 or 500 years until the civilizational suicide of the two World Wars. And then America emerged as the world hegemon, with no competition and unchallenged. The irony is America is the only hegemonic power that never sought hegemony, unlike, for example, Napoleonic France. Americans are not intrinsically imperial, but we ended up dominant by default: Europe disappeared after the Second World War, the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, so here we are. Of course Europeans like to see the hegemon diminished, and Obama is the perfect man to do that.

SPIEGEL: Maybe Europeans want to just see a different America, one they can admire again.

Krauthammer: Admire? Look at Obama's speech at the UN General Assembly: "No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation." Take the first half of that sentence: No nation can dominate another. There is no eight year old who would say that -- it's so absurd. And the second half? That is adolescent utopianism. Obama talks in platitudes, but offers a vision to the world of America diminished or constrained, and willing to share leadership in a way that no other presidency and no other great power would. Could you imagine if the Russians were hegemonic, or the Chinese, or the Germans -- that they would speak like this?

SPIEGEL: Is America's power not already diminished?

Krauthammer: Relative to what?

SPIEGEL: To emerging powers.

Krauthammer: The Chinese are rising, the Indians have a very long way to go. But I'm old enough to remember the late 1980s, "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" by Paul Kennedy and the prevailing view that America was in decline and Japan was the rising power. The fashion now is that the Chinese will overtake the United States. As with the great Japan panic, there are all kinds of reasons why that will not happen.

Look, eventually American hegemony will fade. In time, yes. But now? Economically we now have serious problems, creating huge amounts of debt that we cannot afford and that could bring down the dollar and even cause hyperinflation. But nothing is inevitable. If we make the right choices, if we keep our economic house in order, we can avert an economic collapse. We can choose to decline or to stay strong.

SPIEGEL: Do you really believe that Obama deliberately wants to weaken the US?

Krauthammer: The liberal vision of America is that it should be less arrogant, less unilateral, more internationalist. In Obama's view, America would subsume itself under a fuzzy internationalism in which the international community, which I think is a fiction, governs itself through the UN.

SPIEGEL: A nightmare?

Krauthammer: Worse than that: an absurdity. I can't even imagine serious people would believe it, but I think Obama does. There is a way America will decline -- if we choose first to wreck our economy and then to constrain our freedom of action through subordinating ourselves to international institutions which are 90 percent worthless and 10 percent harmful.

SPIEGEL: And there is not even 1 percent that is constructive?

Krauthammer: No. The UN is worse than disaster. The UN creates conflicts. Look at the disgraceful UN Human Rights Council: It transmits norms which are harmful, anti-liberty, and anti-Semitic among other things. The world would be better off in its absence.

SPIEGEL: And Obama is, in your eyes, …

Krauthammer: He's becoming ordinary. In the course of his presidency, Obama has gone from an almost magical charismatic figure to an ordinary politician. Ordinary. Average. His approval ratings are roughly equal to what the last five presidents' were at the same time in their first term. Other people have already said he's done and finished because his health care plans ran into trouble; but I say they're wrong. He's going to come back, he will pass something on health care, there's no question. He will have a blip, be somewhat rehabilitated politically, but he won't be able to pass anything on climate change. He will not be the great transformer he imagines himself to be. A president like others -- with successes and failures.

SPIEGEL: What major mistakes has Obama made?

Krauthammer: I don't know whether I should call it a mistake, but it turns out he is a left-liberal, not center-right the way Bill Clinton was. The analogy I give is that in America we play the game between the 40-yard lines, in Europe you go all the way from goal line to goal line. You have communist parties, you have fascist parties, we don't have that, we have very centrist parties.

So Obama wants to push us to the 30-yard line, which for America is pretty far. Right after he was elected, he gave an address to Congress and promised to basically remake the basic pillars of American society -- education , energy and health care. All this would move America toward a social democratic European-style state. It is outside of the norm of America.

SPIEGEL: Yet, he had promised these reforms during the campaign.

Krauthammer: Hardly. He's now pushing a cap-and-trade energy reform. During the campaign he said that would cause skyrocketing utility rates. On healthcare, the reason he's had such resistance is because he promised reform, not a radical remaking of the whole system.

SPIEGEL: So he didn't see the massive resistance coming?

Krauthammer: Obama misread his mandate. He was elected six weeks after a financial collapse unlike any seen in 60 years; after eight years of a presidency which had tired the country; in the middle of two wars that made the country opposed to the Republican government that involved us in the wars; and against a completely inept opponent, John McCain. Nevertheless, Obama still only won by 7 points. But he thought it was a great sweeping mandate and he could implement his social democratic agenda.

SPIEGEL: Part of the problem when it comes to health care is the lack of solidarity in the American way of thinking. Can a president change a country?

Krauthammer: Yes. Franklin D. Roosevelt did it. Back then, we didn't have a welfare state, we didn't have old age pensions, we didn't have unemployment insurance. This country was the Wild West until FDR. Yes, you can change the spirit of America.

SPIEGEL: If Obama is so radical, why is the left wing of the Democratic Party so unhappy with him?

Krauthammer: They are disillusioned because he has ignored some of their social agenda, such as gay rights; continued some of the Bush policies he had once denounced, such as the detention without trial for terrorists; and on his large agenda for education and energy, where he has had no success.

SPIEGEL: You have called him a "young Hamlet" over his hesitation about making a decision on Afghanistan. However, he's just carefully considering the options after Bush shot so often from the hip.

Krauthammer: No. The strategy he's revising is not the Bush strategy, it's the Obama strategy. On March 27, he stood there with a background of flags, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on one side and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the other, and said: "Today, I'm announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan." So don't tell me this is revising eight years of Bush, he's not. For all these weeks and months he's been revising his own strategy, and that's okay, you're allowed to do that. But if you're president and you're commander-in-chief, and your guys are getting shot and killed in the field, and you think "maybe the strategy I myself announced with great fanfare six months ago needs to be revised," do it in quiet. Don't show the world that you're utterly at sea and have no idea what to do! Your European allies already are skittish and reluctant, and wondering whether they ought to go ahead. It's your own strategy, if it's not working, then you revise it and fix it. You just don't demoralize your allies.

SPIEGEL: Is Afghanistan still a war of necessity, still a strategic interest?

Krauthammer: The phrase "war of necessity and war of choice" is a phrase that came out of a different context. Milan Kundera once wrote, "a small country is a country that can disappear and knows it." He was thinking of prewar Czechoslovakia. Israel is a country that can disappear and knows it. America, Germany, France, Britain, are not countries that can disappear. They can be defeated but they cannot disappear. For the great powers, and especially for the world superpower, very few wars are wars of necessity. In theory, America could adopt a foreign policy of isolationism and survive. We could fight nowhere, withdraw from everywhere -- South Korea, Germany, Japan, NATO, the United Nations -- if we so chose. From that perspective, every war since World War II has been a war of choice.

So using those categories -- wars of necessity, wars of choice -- is unhelpful in thinking through contemporary American intervention. In Afghanistan the question is: Do the dangers of leaving exceed the dangers of staying.

SPIEGEL: General Stanley McCrystal is asking for more troops. Is that really the right strategy?

Krauthammer: General Stanley McCrystal is the world expert on counterterrorism. For five years he ran the most successful counterterrorism operation probably in the history of the world: His guys went after the bad guys in Iraq, they ran special ops, they used the Predators and they killed thousands of jihadists that we don't even know about, it was all under the radar. And now this same general tells Obama that the counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan will fail, you have to do counterinsurgency, population protection. That would seem an extremely persuasive case that counterterrorism would not work.

SPIEGEL: You famously coined the term "Reagan Doctrine" to describe Ronald Reagan's foreign policy. What is the "Obama Doctrine?"

Krauthammer: I would say his vision of the world appears to me to be so naïve that I am not even sure he's able to develop a doctrine. He has a view of the world as regulated by self-enforcing international norms, where the peace is kept by some kind of vague international consensus, something called the international community, which to me is a fiction, acting through obviously inadequate and worthless international agencies. I wouldn't elevate that kind of thinking to a doctrine because I have too much respect for the word doctrine.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that diplomacy always fails?

Krauthammer: No, foolishness does. Perhaps when he gets nowhere on Iran, nowhere with North Korea, when he gets nothing from the Russians in return for what he did to the Poles and the Czechs, gets nowhere in the Middle East peace talks -- maybe at that point he'll begin to rethink whether the world really runs by international norms, consensus, and sweetness and light, or whether it rests on the foundation of American and Western power that, in the final analysis, guarantees peace.

SPIEGEL: Do you basically think Obama is going to be a one-term president?

Krauthammer: No, I think he has a very good chance of being reelected. For two reasons. First, there's no real candidate on the other side, and you can't beat something with nothing. Secondly, it'll depend on the economy -- and just from American history, in the normal economic cycles, presidents who have their recessions at the beginning of their first term get reelected (Reagan, Clinton, the second Bush), and presidents who have them at the end of their first term don't (Carter, the first Bush). Obama will lose a lot of seats in next year's Congressional election, but the economy should be on the upswing in 2012.

SPIEGEL: Is the conservative movement in the United States in decline?

Krauthammer: When George W. Bush won in 2004, there was lots of stuff written that about the end of liberalism and the death of the Democratic Party. Look where we are now.

SPIEGEL: A Democrat is back in the White House, the party also controls Congress.

Krauthammer: Exactly. We see the usual overreading of history whenever one side loses. Look, there are cycles in American politics. US cycles are even more pronounced because we Americans have a totally entrepreneurial presidential system. We don't have parliamentary opposition parties with a shadow prime minister and shadow cabinets. Every four years, the opposition reinvents itself. We have no idea who will be the Republican nominee in 2012. The party structures are very fluid. We have a history of political parties being thrown out of the White House after two terms -- as has happened every single time with only one exception (Ronald Reagan) since World War II. The idea that one party is done in the US is silly. The Republicans got killed in 2006 and 2008, but they will be back.

More here


BrookesNews Update

A rejoinder: Why cap and trade will devastate the US economy :Irrespective of green claims to the contrary Obama's energy policy would devastate the US economy and savage living standards.
US economy and credit contraction: Has the Fed reversed monetary policy from inflation to deflation? : "The pace of monetary pumping by the US central bank is starting to fall sharply, there is a growing likelihood that the fall in commercial-bank lending out of thin air will cause actual deflation
Obama's tax and spend policies are dooming sustained economic growth:Given the administration's horribly irresponsible budget policy, its destructive energy proposals and the flood of taxes it plans to let loose on the economy I cannot for the life of me see how the US can restart the process of capital accumulation
A wave of Marxist tyrants is rising in Central America : So long as Obama and his leftwing cronies see evil only in those who resist becoming democratic zombie states - and there's worse on the horizon. Tiny Honduras, which stood alone to prevent dictatorship, remains ostracized, bullied and reviled by the Obama administration. So why is Obama fostering tyranny?
Obama uses tax payer money to destroy the free market :America became a great country by letting its people be all they can be without interference from government. In just less than a year all this has changed. We have seen the government dictate everything from toilets to light bulbs and take ownership interests in private enterprises in major segments of our economy
Rednecks : Many of the traits that are associated with the redneck culture have since died out in England, and many parts of the south. But many of the black Americans who chose to follow the media anointed spokespersons for blacks, Revs. $harpton and Jackson, have kept the redneck culture alive in many parts of America's inner-cities and ghettos



TX: Planned Parenthood director quits after watching abortion on ultrasound: "The former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in southeast Texas says she had a ‘change of heart’ after watching an abortion last month — and she quit her job and joined a pro-life group in praying outside the facility. Abby Johnson, 29, used to escort women from their cars to the clinic in the eight years she volunteered and worked for Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas. But she says she knew it was time to leave after she watched a fetus ‘crumple’ as it was vacuumed out of a patient’s uterus in September. … Johnson said she became disillusioned with her job after her bosses pressured her for months to increase profits by performing more and more abortions, which cost patients between $505 and $695.”

Death penalty case returns to high court: "The US Supreme Court is considering, for the third time, the case of a California man who was sentenced to die in 1982 for the brutal killing of a young woman. The California Supreme Court affirmed a death sentence for Fernando Belmontes 20 years ago, but since then the case has bounced back and forth in the federal courts. Three times this decade, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Belmontes’ death sentence. The case is the latest skirmish in the battle between California prosecutors and the Ninth Circuit over the death penalty — and it helps explains the oddity of capital punishment in California. While death sentences are common, executions are rare.”

GOP eyes 3-state sweep of key contests: "Voters on Monday prepared to cast ballots in the first major elections since President Obama took office, offering a glimpse into how they think the president and his party have handled issues such as health care and the economy. Republicans and their conservative allies were buoyed by late polls showing they could sweep the three biggest electoral prizes of 2009: the Virginia and New Jersey governors' mansions and New York's 23rd Congressional District seat."

Is the Music Industry Biting the Hands that Feed Them?: "A new survey has taken one big step toward breaking a (perhaps) misapplied industry association — that music file sharers and downloaders are stealing music instead of buying it. The survey, commissioned by a UK-based firm called Demos, shows that those who share files tend to spend 75 percent more on music than the non-sharing types that the industry tends to embrace. It may indeed be the case that file sharers are just more interested in music."


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, November 03, 2009

The British Leftist government helps Muslim extremists

The FCO is Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, handling Britain's relations with other countries. It is a powerful and elite Department but one of its insiders was shocked at how it and its government were abetting Islamofascists -- so he has done his best to tell the world about it

The FCO was not and is not standing up to the totalitarian ideas of the Islamist extreme Right, as it stood up to the totalitarianism of the socialist extreme Left in the second half of the 20th century. On the contrary, the establishment has appeased political Islamism abroad and interfered in the domestic affairs of its own country by mounting a covert operation to aid and abet it at home.

Pasquill betrayed the institutions of liberal democracy by standing up for liberal democracy. He defended it from its enemies, who were not only in far-away countries but closeted in the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street and the offices of Whitehall. As striking a difference between Pasquill and the establishment renegades of the 20th century (indeed, from every other whistleblower I have known) is that he wanted to be caught. He wanted the police to take him to the cells and arraign him at the Old Bailey for breaking the Official Secrets Act. He did not regard jail as a punishment he hoped to avoid, but sought out the risk of imprisonment the better to highlight the scandal. When the police came to his Pimlico home, he admitted everything. In truth, they did not have a hard job finding him. By the end, he was sending documents from his work email to his home computer and the dullest copper in England could have collared him.

"The Observer and the New Statesman were printing my revelations," he told me, "but they were not having an effect. I thought that being caught would be useful because the FCO would have to prosecute. That was part of my strategy, to get publicity in open court; to make people realise how bad it had got. What is so maddening about our attitude to radical Islam is that it is a classic example of group-think. Cognitive dissonance is stopping serious engagement. Leaking documents was my attempt to break the dissonance, my form of engagement."

I am sure you can understand why he so frightens the FCO. The normal threats an employer can make against an employee — the loss of home, salary, position and, in Pasquill's case, liberty — could not intimidate him. He was a man with the inner freedom the Stoics so valued. He had trained himself to be indifferent to the threats and blandishments of official society. Even though governments around the world read his revelations with varying degrees of horror, the FCO dropped the prosecution. Legally, its case was watertight. Pasquill had admitted leaking official secrets with pride. But Whitehall knew all too well that he would use the dock as a platform to appeal to the jury and the wider public.

Now Pasquill is bringing what to my unqualified eyes looks like a hopeless claim of unfair dismissal. On the face of it, a civil servant who passed a filing cabinet full of official secrets to the press cannot seriously claim that the state exceeded its powers by firing him. Yet if you look at his revelations, his claim makes more sense.

As his affidavit to the employment tribunal dryly remarks, "The documents that I disclosed showed that the FCO and other UK government departments were continuing to work with and assist organisations that promote extreme Islamist politics. My concern was that this policy would have the effect of legitimising and supporting groups with extreme Islamist politics and that such an effect was entirely contradictory to FCO and UK government policy of attempting to prevent the radicalisation of young British Muslims. Furthermore, I believe that the FCO and other government departments pursue a policy of portraying these organisations as mainstream and moderate."

Who is the traitor and who the patriot in these circumstances: the dissident civil servant or the two-faced government? Who, to be blunt, is more deserving of summary dismissal? ...

The FCO seconded him to its "Engaging with the Islamic World" unit. From the moment he arrived, everything felt wrong. He was standing in for Mockbul Ali, an allegedly non-political civil servant. Yet, with official approval, Ali had taken time off to help Labour fight the 2005 general election campaign. Specifically, he was trying to persuade Muslim leaders to support Labour, when many of them were in no mood to do so after the second Iraq war. There has always been a Tammany Hall streak in Labour. Many an aspiring politician has found that buying off ethnic block votes by dropping a few principles is a small price to pay for his advancement in inner-city politics. A refusal to condemn the Ayatollah Khomeini's death threat against Salman Rushdie, for instance, saved several cowards' seats.

Pasquill found something more than ordinary compromises, however. Ali was hardly a loner. The entire FCO hierarchy from Jack Straw, then the Foreign Secretary, downwards was supporting a policy of encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

The usual gap between rhetoric and reality had become a dizzying gulf. On the one hand, Labour pretended that it was upholding the 1997 mission statement Robin Cook gave the FCO "to spread the values of human rights, civil liberties and democracy which we demand for ourselves". On the other, it was bending over backwards to appease movements which believed in the subjugation of women, the racist conspiracy theories of the Okhrana and the SS, the murder of homosexuals and apostates, the denial of democracy and the dismissal of human rights as an imperialist imposition on the godly.

Before moving into the unit, Pasquill decided to research the Muslim Brotherhood in the British Library. A small step, perhaps, but as he investigated its totalitarian ambitions it proved to be a decisive one, not because of what he found but because of how he found it. When he left the FCO for the library's reading rooms, he left the received wisdom of his hierarchy behind and returned to work ready to think for himself.

As he went through the files Ali had left in his desk, he realised that the FCO under a left-of-centre government was classifying an organisation founded by the admirers of European fascism and sustained by the adherents of a brutish theocracy as "moderate". The result was a policy at once sinister and naïve. The decayed autocracies of the Middle East were producing an Islamist rather than a liberal opposition, the FCO argued, which Britain must "engage" with at any price. The FCO did not ask how Arab liberals and democrats would feel if Britain embraced men who would happily kill them. Nor did it sigh and say with regret that religious reaction was a deplorable reality Britain had to learn to live with. Instead, it actively sought to promote and fund extremism. As an official argued, "Given that Islamist groups are often less corrupt than the generality of the societies in which they operate, consideration might be given to channelling aid resources through them, so long as sufficient transparency is achievable." In its enthusiasm for appeasement, the FCO did not know or want to know that theocracy is inherently corrupt. By soaking society in piety, it can present its demands for money as the demands of God. As the examples of Saudi Arabia and Iran show, the more Islamist a country is, the more corrupt it becomes.

As his superiors betrayed the liberal Muslims of the Middle East, Mockbul Ali worked to marginalise their counterparts in Britain. Although the domestic affairs of our country are not any of the FCO's business, it sponsored a road show, which purported to be representative of British Muslim voices but was in reality a Muslim Brotherhood front. Ali followed up by lobbying the Home Office to allow extremists into Britain. Eric Taylor, of the India-Pakistan Relations Desk, was one of the few officials to protest. He pointed out that a gruesome Bangladeshi politician Ali was recommending had provoked riots on his last visit and, according to a report from a Bangladeshi human rights organisation, Drishtipat, had compared Bangladeshi Hindus to excrement, while appearing to defend attacks on the country's persecuted Ahmadiyya Muslim community, regarded as apostates by the Islamists.

The more Pasquill read, the more driven he became. He roamed the FCO's corridors picking up Ali's files, first taking them to Soho to copy and post, then just emailing them home and printing them out. I won't say that his leaks had no effect. The story went round the world. In Britain, Hazel Blears, Ruth Kelly and Jacqui Smith — all women, significantly, who were appalled by the official endorsement of misogyny — read Bright's reports and tried to save what was left of the honour of the British Left by fighting back. But I cannot pretend that their stand was anything other than an isolated example. Pasquill's revelations had no impact on a wider liberal society. It did not want to see how hypocritical it had become or to survey the damage it had wrought. The achievement of political Islam in Britain has been to suborn the liberal Left and cut off the most promising escape route for dissidents in the process. An abused woman, a young man fighting religious authoritarianism, an Iranian exile seeking to gain support for the campaign against the Archbishop of Canterbury's and Lord Chief Justice's endorsement of Sharia law or a British Bangladeshi trying to bring the Islamist criminals who massacred civilians in the war of independence to justice, would once have looked left for succour. If they do so now, they will find that progressives take their cue from the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-e-Islami, rather than the best of the liberal Left's traditions, and dismiss Muslims who fight for values they profess to hold as being at best irrelevances and at worst stool-pigeons for imperialism.

Do not make the mistake of believing that such attitudes are confined to the FCO. Only recently, the supposedly left-wing Institute for Public Policy Research was trumpeting "non-violent" Islamism as "the best organised and most popular opposition to existing authoritarian regimes in the Middle East". What "non-violent" Islamists would do to Arab liberals when they achieved power was not a question that detained the British leftists of the IPPR for a second.

As his illusions about the benign nature of the FCO crumbled, Pasquill tried a thought experiment. He asked himself, "Is the Foreign Office a Muslim Brotherhood front organisation?" Obviously, it was not, he replied, although looked at in a certain light, it might as well have been. The light metaphor stayed with him until "one day I was looking at the ivy growing in my garden and it struck me that it was phototropic — growing in the direction of the sun. I realised that the FCO is Islamotropic: it grows towards Islamic extremism, always searching for reasons to excuse it." At the age of 50, Derek Pasquill is now on the dole with no pension, no savings and no prospects. The FCO responded to his revelations by promoting Mockbul Ali. Like ivy on a wall, the liberal establishment still creeps towards the reactionary forces that despise it, entwining itself with its enemies and leaving its friends to wilt in the dark.

More HERE. Another comment on the decline of the FCO here


Why Liberal Journalists are Joining the Obama Administration’s Attack on Fox News

While the Obama administration continues its war against its media critics, well-known liberal journalists — instead of defending freedom of the press — are joining the attack on a news network they despise as much as does the administration. Gone is any seeming concern for the right of commentators to voice their own opinion, because mainstream liberal editorial writers are sure their opponents are both extremists and wrong.

Take, as our first example, Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of The Slate Group. Writing in last week’s Newsweek, Weisberg explained at the start that anyone who watches Fox News knows immediately that Anita Dunn’s charge that Fox has a “right-wing bias” is correct, since Fox always confirms “it with its coverage.” Referring to Fox’s own reporting on the administration’s attacks on the network, he notes that Fox showed what he calls a “textbook example of a biased journalism.” If it is true, it is hardly surprising, since the very network under attack might be expected to come to its own defense.

Next, he refers to its commentators as “platinum pundettes and anchor androids.” He offers no names. Could he be referring to Chris Wallace, whose weekly Sunday broadcast is widely acclaimed as one of TV’s best weekend programs, and who publicly complained that never in his decades of broadcasting has he come across more of a bunch of “whiners” than he has seen in the Obama administration? Is he referring to Megan Kelly, who did a yeoman’s job questioning ACORN founder Wade Rathke in a long and exclusive interview? Wouldn’t he want a defender of ACORN to speak on the one network that reported on its scandals? Is he upset, perhaps, that Kelly came off better than Rathke did?

He thinks it is a silly comparison to their charge that the war on Fox is similar to Nixon’s enemies list. Of course, he gives no reason why the analogy is false — perhaps because to most observers, it isn’t.

Next, he attributes the success of the many “tea parties” as due to Fox’s sponsorship of them — ignoring the fact that it was an internet created phenomenon that Fox alone chose to cover when others ignored them. Evidently, Weisberg can’t distinguish between paying attention to events it finds newsworthy and sponsoring them. [I acknowledge that Glenn Beck anchored his show’s special coverage of the Washington DC tea party, which he supported.] Weisberg’s fear is that now “ideologically distorted news” drives ratings up, and that others will soon imitate them in order to gain more viewers.

Not one word by Weisberg about MSNBC’s equally tilted drift to the precincts of the far left. Chris “thrill up my leg” Matthews is an unabashed liberal whose brand of politics stands at the left end of the Democratic spectrum, and its mainstays in prime time, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, are as far Left as O’Reilly, Hannity and Beck are on the right end of the conservative spectrum. If Fox reports critically about ACORN, for example, one can count on Maddow and Olbermann to offer unabashed defenses of the group presented as accurate news analysis.....

Finally, writing in The New Yorker in the Nov.2nd issue, the brilliant academic literary intellectual Louis Menand argues that Fox has cornered “the market on anti-Administration animus,” and he is concerned that the administration’s opposition “is not likely to put a dent in the ratings.” Indeed, as recent polls have showed, it has done just the opposite. CNN is losing its viewers at a rapid pace, MSNBC is way behind them, and Fox alone stands far ahead of all the other news outlets.

Menand argues that when Fox people charge that they have filled the administration “with Nazis, Maoists, anarchists and Marxist revolutionaries,” they are revealing that they are only “the voice of the fringe.” Look at Menand’s language. We all know that in fact, no one at Fox has made such an argument. When and where has anyone said that they are filling the administration with Nazis, for example? They reported that Anita Dunn told school children that she looked to Mao as an example. No one claimed that she was herself a Maoist. Can Menand name one person at Fox who has said that? Of course not. What he is trying to do with ridicule and made-up claims is to discredit Fox, since it successfully and accurately pointed to appointees who indeed do have a radical pedigree, and forced the most prominent of them, Van Jones, to resign....

More here



Comment from Les Bates: "How a Progressive can turn into a Fascist in three easy steps. 1. Take a bath or shower. 2. Get a haircut. 3. Put on a clean party uniform. That's it. That's all it takes."

Socialism Kills: "What would have happened in India if that country had liberalized its economy ten years earlier than it did? Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar does a commendable job supplying a plausible, if gruesome, answer. He finds that with earlier reform, 14.5 million more children would have survived, 261 million more Indians would have become literate, and 109 million more people would have risen above the poverty line. The delay in economic reform represents an enormous social tragedy. It drives home the point that India’s socialist era, which claimed it would deliver growth with social justice, delivered neither."

A real RINO: "House Republican leader John Boehner said Sunday that the GOP wants moderates in the party and that the special election for a New York congressional seat in which the party’s candidate dropped out — and threw her support behind the Democrat— is an unusual situation. Dierdre Scozzafava, the Republican nominee in the Upstate New York district, stopped campaigning Saturday, days ahead of the Tuesday election. On Sunday, she endorsed the Democrat in the race, not the Conservative Party candidate favored by fellow Republicans. Scozzafava, a state legislator, had been losing support to Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, a former Republican. Hoffman drew endorsements from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other prominent Republicans.”

But will they collect? "“A U.S. District Court judge in San Jose has awarded Facebook $711 million in damages in an anti-spam case the social-networking giant filed against online marketer Sanford Wallace, who is known as the ‘Spam King.’ The Palo Alto company claimed Wallace and two associates registered as Facebook members in November 2008 to start a spam and phishing scheme. According to court documents, the firm said Wallace sent numerous Facebook members a link to a Web site that tricked them into revealing their login information. Some messages sent the Facebook user to other sites that paid Wallace for that traffic.”

Using the criminal justice system to reward political support : "Last Wednesday, President Obama signed a bill into law which adds acts of violence against the disabled, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folks to the list of federal hate crimes. This increases coverage of the federal hate crimes protections which previously only included race, religion, and national origin. In typical Obama euphoria, activist instantaneously proclaimed the measure to be the most important since the civil rights acts empowering blacks were passed in the 1960s. Of course, those of us with clearer, less emotional heads on our shoulders know that hate crime legislation is nothing more than politicians pandering to their base of support by providing them with a special interest perk in an effort to energize that base for widespread support at the next election.”

The welfare state corrupts absolutely: "Let’s begin at the beginning. Medical care is not a free good found in nature. Of course, no one really thinks it is. But that doesn’t keep most people from wanting to pretend otherwise, and the current institutional setting makes that possible. After a while, one forgets one is pretending. Yet medical care goes on being a collection of produced goods and services — subject to the laws of supply and demand, and requiring resources and labor that come with opportunity costs. Therein lies the problem.”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc. He has a lot to say this time about the appearance of the British National Party on BBC TV.


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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)