Saturday, December 19, 2009

The crooked British Left again

Vandals deface town war memorial

A Royal British Legion boss says vandals have “dishonoured those who have given their lives for our country” by defacing Burton's war memorial. Roy Whenman, vice-chairman of the town’s Legion branch, received calls from members saying an extremist message had been written on the statue.

Having been informed at 9.20am, borough council chiefs had cleaned the graffiti from the relic, situated outside Burton College, in Lichfield Street, by 9.40am.

Mr Whenman, of Birches Close, Stretton, has described whoever committed the offence as “diabolical”. He said: “There’s nothing worse, in my eyes, than discrediting a war memorial. It dishonours those who have given their lives for our country. “I don’t know how long it was there for, but I was pleasantly surprised by the council’s quick action and I commend them for it.

Dennis Fletcher, chairman of East Staffordshire Racial Equality Council, said he suspected someone from the far right was responsible.


Do you wonder why the graffiti got cleaned off so quickly? 20 minutes is the speed of light for a British bureaucracy. The picture of it below may help. The details below were "removed" from most pictures of the vandalized memorial

Those dastardly "Far Rightists"!


What Do Believers In Global Warming, Supporters Of Obamacare, And The New York Times Have In Common?

Overweening arrogance

Given the heavy and increasing opposition to Obamacare, Byron York asks in the Washington Examiner, “why are Democrats dead-set on hurting themselves?” “Because,” he asks “a Democratic strategist” who for understandable reasons wants to remain anonymous,
they think they know what’s best for the public,” the strategist said. “They think the facts are being distorted and the public’s being told a story that is not entirely true, and that they are in Congress to be leaders. And they are going to make the decision because Goddammit, it’s good for the public.

Ben Stein makes a similar point in The American Spectator, referring to climategate.
Based upon a great deal of data, many scientists have come up with a theory that human activity is wrecking the climate of the planet and that if the wise, good people are not allowed to compel the stupid, evil people to change their ways drastically, terrible things will happen.

Never mind “that there is major controversy about whether global warming is really happening in a long-term way” or “whether whatever climate change is occurring is anthropogenic....” If you are in any way skeptical of even the more extreme global warming claims or in fact if you disagree with any of a number of favored liberal nostrums, you are either stupid or evil, or both, and in addition, as I argue in a not quite published piece that I will come back and link later, you are “on the wrong side of history.”

This all-knowing, morally self-congratulatory, superciliously sneering attitude of superiority is now so endemic on the left that it has even begun to attack, and thus offend, some of its natural allies. Thus, with fury supported by chapter and verse evidence, this is how Feminist Law Professors summarizes a “contempt-laden” recent New York Times piece: “From the NYT: You Dumb Women are Opposing the New Mammogram Recommendations Because You Don’t Understand Science or Math.

The left is increasingly embattled and defensive, but circling the wagons and then shooting everyone inside the circle has not historically proved to be a winning tactic.



Poll: Tea Party Patriots Most Popular

The Tea Party Patriots conservative grassroots movement is now more popular than either major party according to a major new poll. According to the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday, 41 percent of likely voters now have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party Patriots. That compares to a 35 percent favorable rating for Democrats and 28 percent for the GOP.

The stunning conclusion: If the Tea Party Patriots were a political party – it is increasingly shifting its emphasis in a nonpartisan political direction – it would be the most popular party in America.

The results suggest voter antipathy toward both major parties is more profound than initially recognized. It also indicates that the left-wing bloggers and talk hosts who have consistently derided the Tea Party Patriots throughout the year with an obscene “tea bagger” reference are out of step with the American people. “This is stunning to me just because it shows how angry Americans are – the Tea Party movement [is] more popular than both major parties,” MSNBC Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said Thursday. “The parties are dying.”

NBC chief political correspondent Chuck Todd observed: “Candidates that align themselves against Washington and Wall Street are going to have good success right now in 2010.”

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also reflected the results of other surveys that have shown President Obama’s approval rating dipping below 50 percent. The survey states only 47 percent approve of his job performance. Also, only 39 percent say they have confidence in his goals and policies. Todd described it as “a bad poll for the president.”



Democratic districts receive nearly twice the amount of stimulus funds as GOP districts

A new analysis of the $157 billion distributed by the American Reinvestment and Recovery act, popularly known as the stimulus bill, shows that the funds were distributed without regard for what states were most in need of jobs. “You would think that if the stimulus money was actually spent to create jobs, there would be more stimulus money spent in high unemployment states,” said Veronique de Rugy, a scholar at the Mercatus Center who produced the analysis. "But we don't find any correlation."

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University in Virginia is one of the nation's most respected economic and regulatory think tanks and has a Nobel prize-winning economist on staff. The econometric analysis was done using data provided by -- the government website devoted to tracking the stimulus data -- as well as a host of other government databases.

Additionally, Mercatus found that stimulus funds were not disbursed geographically with any special regard for low-income Americans. “We find no correlation between economic indicators and stimulus funding. Preliminary results find no statistically significant effect of unemployment, median income or mean income on stimulus funds allocation,” said the report.

The Mercatus Center analysis also found that Democratic congressional districts received on average almost double the funding of Republican congressional districts. Republican congressional districts received on average $232 million in stimulus funds while Democratic districts received $439 million on average. “We found that there is a correlation [relating to the partisanship of congressional districts],” de Rugy said. Her regression analysis found that stimulus funds are expected to decrease by 24.19 percent if a district is represented by a Republican.

“During the appropriations process, you're not surprised to see the Democrats are getting more money, but in this case a lot of the money we're looking at is going through HUD [Department of Housing and Urban Development], or Department of Education, Department of Transportation etc. and they're following a formula,” she said. “But the correlation exists, and not only does it exist -- when you look at how much money we're talking about, it's a pretty big deal.”

The analysis found that neither congressional leadership positions of local members nor presidential preference in 2008 were factors in stimulus allocation by congressional district.

Finally, the Mercatus analysis shows that a majority of the funds allocated went to public rather than private entities -- nearly $88 billion to $69 billion. While some of the money given to public entities may eventually filter down to the private sector, it's much less transparent how money given to public entities is spurring economic growth and job creation.



The decline of the almighty dollar

Financial and economic leaders around the globe have finally gained an understanding of just how damaged and weakened the United States is becoming with the daily devaluation of the American dollar. Historically, the United States has never experienced a massive collapse of its currency as have Russia, Argentina and other countries.

However, the recklessness of our current fiscal policy is causing other sophisticated global players to get fed up — and for legitimate reasons. They are made vulnerable by the actions of a belligerent few, and are positioning themselves to do what any other sane person would: seek alternatives in case the dollar collapses.

It’s sad to think that right now the defense of our aimless fiscal policy is to hold the other countries so close to our chest that they will drown with us unless we succeed. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to do this forever. What happens when they see the light?

Before Nixon, we had the gold standard; after Nixon, we were given fiat money — therefore, the government used manipulations to increase the value of the dollar. Now we have more than one major economic player in the global economy that realizes the deception behind the value of the dollar and wants an alternative.

BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), let me introduce the BRIC-plus-1 and we'll rename it CRIBS, adding South Africa is already looking to create the next largest world currency — one that will be pegged to oil. This will be an extreme threat to the dollar, because trading oil in dollars is one thing that gives that currency much of its value.

Currently, the fiscal policy of America should force politicians to seek solutions that restore the integrity of the dollar so our children have a future. Buenos Aires was at one point among the top 10 most expensive cities to travel to. Now it is a discount destination where the people have little to no hope for economic mobility.




To whom is a business manager morally responsible?: "Over the last several decades the field of business ethics has become very popular in colleges and universities, including business schools, around the world. Actually, other professional ethics courses have also gained entry into the medical, legal, engineering, and other curriculums. (Oddly, though, the ethics of education and scholarship have not joined this trend!) In the field of business ethics the focus has tended to be on what has come to be called the theory of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This view takes it as a given, not in need of a lot of argument, that what corporations ought to do, first and foremost, is to benefit society and not those who own the firm.”

A380s are just too complex. Something is always breaking down. One day it will be serious: "An Airbus A380 superjumbo had to turn around mid-flight and land back in Paris due to an electrical fault, a spokesman for its operator Singapore Airlines said. "We had an electrical current fault in the kitchen areas and the captain turned the plane round two hours into the flight to return to Charles de Gaulles airport so it could be fixed," the spokesman said. It was a "minor fault which does not at all compromise the safety of passengers or the crew," he said. "But if it wasn't repaired they could not have served hot food and drinks." It was at least the fourth time an A380 flight had been disrupted by a technical fault. A glitch grounded an A380 operated by Air France in New York on Monday. Last month an Air France A380 was forced to turn around and land in New York after a fault with its navigation system, days after the airline started flying the superjumbo. Air France cited "a minor computer problem" in that incident. An A380 flown by Singapore Airlines also had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a flight to Singapore."

Groupthink as a political mental illness: "Since the first publication of Victims of Groupthink, many researchers have been moved to study, to support, or to refute both Janis's theories and the implications of groupthink. Whatever has motivated any of these people, one thing is clear; that single work has been the starting point for many, if not all of these studies, and research on this phenomenon uniformly refers to Janis as the originator of the concept of groupthink, as well as its definer." [Slow-loading site. Another copy here]

Massive failures: "How many times, in the last year, have I heard praise for FDR's banking reforms, even down to the specifics of federal deposit insurance? The funny thing is, this factoid is false. Roosevelt opposed deposit insurance. Everyone did who at that time knew the history of the states that had experimented with this form of subsidy. Only logrolling pushed deposit insurance into law as a known special favor to small banks in rural areas - not to cure the nation's ills."


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 18, 2009

Once again Obama says one thing and does the opposite

"I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," President Obama told "60 Minutes" onSunday, the eve of White House meeting with top Wall Street bankers. This line, and the credulous media coverage that followed, fed the image of Obama as the people's crusader against the wealthy special interests. But if you skip the rhetoric and focus instead on verifiable facts -- campaign contributions, administration appointees, White House visitor logs, Obama's bailouts and even his proposed regulations -- you see instead that Obama may be closer to Wall Street than any modern president.

Obama raised $14.8 million from Wall Street in the 2008 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics -- more than any politician ever, and more than George W. Bush raised in both of his elections combined. From the fattest cat, Goldman Sachs, Obama raised $997,095, more than four times McCain's Goldman haul and more than any candidate has raised from any single company since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance regulations.

Then there's the revolving door between Wall Street and the West Wing, spinning as rapidly as ever. Citigroup's and Goldman's tentacles into the White House have been well-documented by Obama critics on the Right (most thoroughly by Michelle Malkin in her best-seller "Culture of Corruption") and the Left (most famously by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone).

And on the substance, Obama's policies and proposals have been a boon to Wall Street interests. Begin with the bailout. Back in September 2008, Barack Obama was the only man outside of the Bush administration who could have blocked that $700 billion corporate welfare boondoggle. Had Obama opposed this transfer of wealth to fat-cat bankers, it would have died in the Democrat-controlled Congress. Since becoming president, Obama has ramped up the bailout machine, notably by creating a new double bailout program called the Public-Private Investment Partnership that relies on subsidies from both the FDIC and the Federal Reserve.

Then Obama rewarded the captains of Team Bailout 2008. Timothy Geithner, who ran the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, steered government through the creative bailouts of Bear Stearns and AIG. Obama put Geithner in charge of Treasury (and Geithner picked a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff). Obama also renominated Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the other savior of the Wall Street giants last fall. Obama praised him for his "outside-the-box" thinking. For a president who talks like a reluctant bank saver, Obama certainly has bought into the bailout apparatus with enthusiasm.

But with his new regulations, Obama claims he's calling these banks to heel after using taxpayer money to save them. This is just more example of Obama's shadowboxing. In truth, he's nearly on the same page as the bankers. The AP reported Monday that Wall Street CEOs "believe the president has mischaracterized them as being against the new rules, when in fact they support the vast majority of the administration's proposals."

"I have no intention of letting their lobbyists thwart reform," Obama warned. But neither, apparently, do the lobbyists. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the lobby for Wall Street, applauded the House's passage of financial regulation last week, stating, "There is no doubt that the industry shares the same goal of reforming our financial system as President Obama and the Congress."

Obama's tough talk towards lobbyists looks even more absurd when you see who these lobbyists are. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, ING and the Investment Company Institute are all clients of the Podesta Group, co-founded by Obama's transition director, John Podesta, and the first K Street firm to hire away an Obama administration official. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, the Futures Industry Association, the Managed Funds Association and SIFMA are all clients of Steven Elmendorf, a top Democratic lobbyist who has visited the White House at least five times. American Bankers Association lobbyist Edward Yingling has visited at least six times.

These banks and lobbies have some disagreements with the president, but they are not the intransigent opponents he portrays them to be. But admitting to cordial relations with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan would pierce Obama's crusader image. As his climate bill turns into a corporate porkfest and his health care reform turns into an insurer's and drug maker's dream, Obama needs to keep at least one imaginary corporate enemy.



Obama: Just another crooked and destructive politician

The White House thinks it can jawbone banks into lending to people they don't want to lend to. We've been down this road before, and it led all the way to the 2007 financial meltdown. The president on Monday gave a tongue-lashing to the "fat-cat bankers on Wall Street," as he called them the day before. He wants them to make more loans to small businesses and consumers to give the economy a boost.

But should banks be lending just because a politician tells them to? We tried this before. Indeed, it's the very source of the financial and economic calamity of the past two years. President Obama may think dressing down the top dogs at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and others is good politics. But it's demoralizing and will only lead to more bank write-offs, more bank failures and less lending.

Besides, as economist Thomas Sowell noted in a recent series in IBD, our current economic ills are largely due to just the kind of government meddling we now see in the financial markets. In this, President Obama is treading the very same ground as President Clinton and President Bush in pushing banks to make risky loans they shouldn't make. And it will have the same dire results.

For those who don't remember, the federal government became more involved than ever in determining how banks make their loans — and to what customers — thanks to the creation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of the wreckage of the Great Depression. They were followed by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975, the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 and the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992.

Go back to the 1970s and early 1990s you'll see that, just as today, bankers were criticized heavily for their alleged racism and lack of concern for the poor. President after president lambasted them for not lending more to support presidential social policies. By 2000, President Clinton's HUD required half of Fannie Mae's loan originations to go to poor and moderate-income borrowers — whether they could pay on the loans or not. It marked the triumph of leftist politics over financial common sense.

This is how the subprime meltdown, the source of our current financial troubles, came about. Not by "greedy" banks or by "deregulation." Banks had a choice: make bad loans or face more scrutiny when it came time to raise capital or to merge with other banks.

As such, President Obama must know his attack on banks is dishonest. Plans for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, the $700 billion TARP bailout and the creation of a "pay czar" who determines the pay of the top officers at companies that took bailout funds, have created a timid, risk-averse financial sector.

Banks have nearly $1 trillion in reserves. So why don't they lend them? Simply put, they can't sneeze without government permission. Worse, they don't know what taxes or regulations they'll face in coming years. If the House's vote on Friday to impose a $150 billion "fee" on Wall Street is any indicator, they can expect far lower profits and much more destructive government control — not less.



Democrats' Blues Grow Deeper in New Poll: Many of their voters may stay at home next November

Less than a year after Inauguration Day, support for the Democratic Party continues to slump, amid a difficult economy and a wave of public discontent, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The findings underscored how dramatically the political landscape has changed during the Obama administration's first year. In January, despite the recession and financial crisis, voters expressed optimism about the future, the new president enjoyed soaring approval ratings, and congressional leaders promised to swiftly pass his ambitious agenda.

In December's survey, for the first time, less than half of Americans approved of the job President Barack Obama was doing, marking a steeper first-year fall for this president than his recent predecessors. Also for the first time this year, the electorate was split when asked which party it wanted to see in charge after the 2010 elections. For months, a clear plurality favored Democratic control.

The survey suggests that public discontent with Mr. Obama and his party is being driven by an unusually grim view of the country's status and future prospects. A majority of Americans believe the U.S. is in decline. And a plurality now say the U.S. will be surpassed by China in 20 years as the top power.

Democrats' problems seem in part linked to their ambitious health-care plan, billed as the signature achievement of Mr. Obama's first year. Now, for the first time, more people said they would prefer Congress did nothing on health care than who wanted to see the overhaul enacted. "For Democrats, the red flags are flying at full mast," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. "What we don't know for certain is: Have we reached a bottoming-out point?"

The biggest worry for Democrats is that the findings could set the stage for gains by Republican candidates in next year's elections. Support from independents for the president and his party continues to dwindle. In addition, voters intending to back Republicans expressed far more interest in the 2010 races than those planning to vote for Democrats, illustrating how disappointment on the left over attempts by party leaders to compromise on health care and other issues is damping enthusiasm among core party voters.

But public displeasure with Democrats wasn't translating directly into warmth for Republicans. Twenty-eight percent of voters expressed positive feelings about the GOP -- a number that has remained constant through the Democrats' decline over the summer and fall. Only 5% said their feelings toward the Republicans were "very positive."

And in one arena, Afghanistan, Mr. Obama appeared to have some success in winning support for his planned troop surge. Liberals remain largely opposed to the strategy, but in fewer numbers compared with before Mr. Obama made his case in a speech at West Point. Overall, by 44% to 41%, a plurality believe his strategy is the right approach.

Still, the survey paints a decidedly gloomy picture for Democrats, who appear to be bearing the brunt of public unease as unemployment has risen from 7.6% to 10% since Mr. Obama took office. Just 35% of voters said they felt positively about the Democratic Party, a 14-point slide since February. Ten percent felt "very positive."

More here


Duck-and-Run Obama

President Obama’s athletic prowess is becoming a real advantage in office as he recently has taken the duck-and -run approach to the media. Instead of defending himself in front of the open microphone, he is dispatching his cronies to defend his policy positions. Our commander-in-chief isn’t living up to his campaign promise of presidential access and transparency.

Obama hasn’t held a formal press conference since July 22. At that event he infamously gaffed that Cambridge Police had acted stupidly when confronting Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his home. Since that time, Obama has avoided off-the-cuff question and answer sessions, preferring to rely on his teleprompter for scripted remarks. On his recent trip to Asia, Obama limited questions at his joint press conferences to one each from a U.S. reporter and a foreign journalist. At his “joint press statement” with Chinese President Hu Jintao, no questions were allowed.

This is all shocking given the hyperbole that was spewed during the campaign from the media, who referred to Obama as the ‘Great Communicator.’ While the press were admiring Obama’s rhetorical skills, behind the scenes, handlers were scripting all events and carefully controlling the message.

Rather than running one of the most open and transparent administrations ever, team Obama is running one of the most disingenuous and scripted. As White House Communications Director Anita Dunn boasted, “We controlled the media coverage of the campaign.”

Obama is running a charade. If he were genuine about what he is trying to accomplish, he would not be so afraid to face tough questions. Obama fears that if he makes himself available to the press, he will make another blooper and be caught in his lies.

This past week, Obama again practised deception. After pointedly declaring in his speech to the joint session of Congress that “my plan will not include taxpayer funding of abortion,” Obama lobbied Congress in support of abortion funding in the health reform bill. His administration has even lobbied against the pro-life amendments to these bills. Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs argued that these health bills are not the president’s, therefore “his plan does not include taxpayer funding of abortion.” This is a laughable explanation at best, and one that Obama clearly does not want to say himself. Therefore he is avoiding a press conference like the plague.

The American people are catching on and it is one reason why his approval rating is down to 47 percent in the most recent Gallup poll.




Why independents are abandoning Obama: "Many voters who were attracted to promises of ‘hope and change’ are now asking, ‘What the heck have I done?’ President Obama rode into office on the coattails of some horrible economic realities …. The nation needed both to energize new policies and to help us continue down the path to recovery, specifically in the areas of job creation and economic growth. … In 2008, 43% of evangelical Christians voted for him and he rewarded them by turning around and signing an executive order to authorize the spending millions of dollars for international abortions via the Mexico City policy. And he did it at the peak of the economic meltdown. Those who wanted America to withdraw from Iraq and to see Gitmo closed are still waiting for those promises to come true.”

Credit Suisse bank to pay $536 million for assisting Iran: "Credit Suisse AG agreed to pay $536 million to settle claims the bank helped process payments that let Iran and other nations avoid government sanctions and gain access to U.S. financial markets. The bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement as part of the settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, a spokesman for U.S. District Court in Washington said today. The settlement, which included a local prosecutor and the Federal Reserve, relates to a previously disclosed probe of dollar payments from 2002 through April 2007, the bank said today in a statement.”

Disastrous subway cuts -- but no cuts to the bureaucracy? "New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday approved drastic service cuts as part of its new budget that must close a nearly $400 million deficit. The service cuts would include closing two subway lines, cutting station agents, slashing weekend and overnight service, and forcing pupils to pay for their travel to school, but MTA Chairman Jay Walder, at a webcast board meeting, promised to review the cuts over the next few weeks to see if their impact can be lessened.”

"Let me be clear" means "I am about to lie": "'There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits … and investing in job creation and economic growth,’ President Obama said last week. ‘This is a false choice.’ During the same speech, he asked his audience to ‘let me just be clear’ that his administration, having racked up the biggest budget deficits ever, is embracing fiscal responsibility, as reflected in his vow that ‘health insurance reform’ will not increase the deficit ‘by one dime.’ For connoisseurs of Obama-speak, the address featured a trifecta, combining three of his favorite rhetorical tropes. There was the vague reference to ‘those who’ question his agenda, the ‘false choice’ they use to deceive the public, and the determination to ‘be clear’ and forthright, in contrast with those dishonest naysayers. These devices are useful as signals that the president is about to mislead us.”

Free stuff from Uncle Sam: "I just got a free golf cart. Actually, it cost me $6,490 — but the dealer, Colin Riley of Tucson, Ariz., points out that there’s a $6,480 federal tax credit on such vehicles. Riley runs ads that say: ‘FREE ELECTRIC CAR … !’ Some consumers probably assume it’s a car-dealer scam, but it’s not. It’s an Uncle Sam scam.”

FTC suit against Intel misguided and uninformed: "Today the Federal Trade Commission filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Intel Corporation. The suit, which accuses Intel of violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914, comes on the heels of a separate antitrust lawsuit filed against Intel last month by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Technology analysts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group, questioned whether the FTC’s action is actually about protecting consumer welfare. ‘This lawsuit may succeed at grabbing headlines, but it won’t benefit consumers one bit,’ declared Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies.”


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 17, 2009

Is Protestantism of New Testament or of German origin?

Time for some sociology! I taught sociology for 12 years at a major Australian university so maybe I can claim to have some idea what it is all about. Sociology is actually a lot like climatology. You have to try to find a common thread in a whole lot of crazy data and the thread you think you have found may in the end not be there at all. But some of us like to make the effort anyway. At least we don't try to hide our data in sociology.

Max Weber's essay The Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism is considered a classic in sociology and is usually cited with much reverence. When I was teaching in a sociology school myself, it always rather surprised me that my mainly Marxist colleagues seemed to think highly of it. I never quite saw how believers in economic determinism could accept Weber's spiritual determinism. But accept it they did.

I myself was never convinced. Weber makes a good case but I always doubted that competition for signs of election was enough to explain a capitalist orientation. I think Weber was fooled by the rationalizations that Calvinists put up rather than getting to their real motives.

The broader case that Protestantism in general was the spark that created the modern world did however seem to have something going for it. Many of the innovations and inventions that ushered in the industrial age originated from two communities with large Protestant populations: England and the German lands -- from Gutenberg's printing press to Watt's steam engine.

So it was with some interest that I read a report of some recent research which appears to show with considerable rigour that Protesant cities and Catholic cities of the early modern era in fact did equally well and were equally capitalist. I like the article so much that I have reposted it on my Paralipomena blog. The article is certainly strong support for my doubts about the Weber thesis. But does it also throw into a cocked hat the idea that Protestantism in general was beneficial?

Yes and No. It must be noted that the research concerned GERMAN cities only. It is not a comparison of Northern and Southern Europe, for instance. So it is not too disturbing to the theory overall. But the fact that Germans did equally well regardless of religion does strongly reinforce a theory that I put forward some years ago: That it was the Germanness of Protestantism that gave it its power, not its New Testament loyalties.

I am going to get myself into all sorts of strife here but Protestantism is a long way from the New Testament. I have explored the evidence for that at great length on my Scripture blog so let me just summarize that Luther, Calvin and Co. did not throw off much of Catholic theology. Absurdities of pagan origin such as the Holy Trinity mumbo jumbo (which is mentioned NOWHERE in the Bible) and the pretence that Winter solstice celebrations were somehow related to the (unknown) birthday of Christ were retained tout court. The real innovation was political rather than theological: Rejection of the authority of the Pope.

Perhaps the most vivid proof of what Protestantism is NOT lies in the fact that they still set aside the pagan Day of the Sun as their holy day, which runs contrary to every word on the subject in the Bible. Reverence for the sun was virtually universal in pagan religions and the Children of Israel deliberately set themselves aside from all that by making their holy day the day BEFORE the Day of the Sun. Had Protestantism really been a "back to the Bible" movement, they would have reverted to the Jewish Sabbath practice. Sabbath observance is after all a major aspect of Bible teachings. Jesus and the early Christians observed it, though not in a legalistic way. My copy of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance records over 50 references to the Sabbath in the New Testament. But instead of listening to the Bible the Protestants just used it as a fiddle upon which to play their preferred tunes.

So if theology was not the motor for Protestant innovations, what was? I have argued that Protestantism was a set of attiudes that came naturally to people of German stock, which includes the English, of course. Protestantism is an expression of Germanness rather than of the New Testament. But since the Germanness is basic, it is no surprise that German cities performed equally well regardless of their theology. The theology was not the driving force. It was, if you like, an epiphenomenon. All of which fits in well with the new research findings that I have mentioned above. It does however get me into deep do-do with any Leftist -- because Leftists these days refuse to believe in group differences -- no matter how much evidence you rub their noses in. American blacks as a group are just the same as whites as a group, only browner, don't you know?

So any Leftist reading this (if any) should get ready with the shrieks of "racism" now because what I am saying in summary is that the modern world was largely created by people of German origin and that their Protestant beliefs were a product and not a cause of what they were and became. I might note in passing that direct German ancestry is generally reckoned to be more common in the U.S. population than is English ancestry -- though the English themselves came from Germany 1500 years ago (the Anglo-Saxons).

My brief comments above do of course leave out a lot -- for instance the "counter-reformation" which in German lands did to an extent "Protestantize" Catholicism. But I think I have written enough for now. My earlier observations about Germanness are extensive, however, and can be found here or here.


Privileged Exemption

The contemptible mindset of intellectual elitists can be reduced to just two words: "privileged exemption."

* Al Gore and his soulmates want to "save the planet" from global warming—which completely justifies their flying to conferences in private jets, riding around in gas-guzzling limos, and living in homes that use twenty times the energy of ordinary houses.

* Congress can destroy the best health care system in the world—because they have their own Cadillac health care coverage, and will never have to endure whatever system they foist on us.

* College professors can rail against the injustice of our democratic republic and our capitalist system—because they live in college-supplied housing, have job-for-life tenure, and adjuncts relieving them from much of the "burden" of teaching.

* Politicians and celebrities are overwhelmingly in favor of "gun control"—because they have armed bodyguards and live in protected communities.

* The same bunch wants "social justice," even if it bankrupts America in the process—because they've already amassed so much personal wealth (from the very same capitalist system they ostensibly abhor) that no amount of "income re-distribution" will alter their lifestyles one iota.

* The miserable status quo of public education, due in large part to the intransigence of union contracts which nullify accountability, is acceptable—because the children of the elitists attend private schools, and because elite politicians need union contributions to get re-elected.

* Prosecuting wars without an all-out effort to achieve victory is acceptable—because "other peoples' kids" are doing the fighting and dying, and it's far more important to be "sensitive" to our enemy's concerns.

* Legalizing millions of lawbreaking border-busters is the "right thing to do"—because the privileged in business get cheap labor, and the privileged in politics get cheap votes.

* All attempts to foist world governance on America are perfectly acceptable—because elitists will be running things, and "messy impediments" like the Constitution will be unnecessary.

Privileged exemption, aka "do as I say, not as I do" has always been an integral part of the elitist mindset. It drives them to impose their agenda on the rest of us as a means of realizing a worldwide utopia, in which all the injustice of the world will have been eliminated, and everyone will be "equal."

Except for the elitists.

Why? Maintaining equality requires enforcement. Ask anyone who ever lived in a so-called "worker's paradise" who the most hated among them were, and you'll get the same answer: the "protectors of equality," from the ruling-party apparatchiks driving better cars and eating better food, to the secret police more than willing to crush dissent by any means necessary.

It is no accident that those who never face real world consequences for the bad decisions they make can be so casually indifferent to their irresponsibility. Such consequences are for "little people," and casual indifference can be reduced to one idea: if push comes to shove, I've got mine, the hell with everyone else.

The rest of us? Elitists insist that we don't eat meat or food with trans-fats, don't drive big cars, that we turn our thermostats up in summer and down in winter, mustn't smoke, and shouldn't have too many kids. We, not they, must learn to live with—and be happy with—less. Affluence isn't for everybody.

Only those with privileged exemption can handle it.



Obama was part of the movement to force banks to make high risk loans

This week we saw Obama on all the news shows blaming banks for the credit crisis saying that "you guys caused the problem" and calling them "fat cats."

This is the height of hypocrisy. Let me remind everyone that banks only operate within the regulatory environment that politicians create for them. All throughout the 80's and 90's, leftist groups led by ACORN harassed banks with protests, boycotts and lawsuits, falsely claiming banks were "discriminating" against minorities in terms of their lending practices.

The allegations were bogus. Banks do discriminate, however, against people with shaky finances regardless of race. And they should. Banks are not a welfare program. They're a business. They make lending decisions based on hard numbers such as a person's credit rating. That really don't care what race a person is; if someone's credit history gives a bank reason to believe its loan will be paid back, they'll make the loan. However, this was all before Congress started to meddle in banks' lending decisions.

Many of the 60's activists ended up getting involved with groups that harassed banks and filing lawsuits against them. Some of these suits were successful in that they often ended in settlements in which the banks agreed to make high risk loans to people who simply were not credit worthy. Eventually, this movement led to Congressional legislation called the Community Reinvestment Act, which applied even more pressure onto banks to make lending decisions based not on fiscal worthiness but on "diversity." And that was the beginning of the credit crisis.

So lets be clear here. Banks have been forced to make high risk loans as a result of years of protests, legislation, boycotts, and the CRA act. And who was involved with all of this? Why, our very own anointed one. Barack Obama. You can see his name here in the actual docket from one ACORN suit against Citibank. Or you can read more about this case here.

Yet Obama has the audacity to blame banks for acting under regulations that the movement created by ACORN successfully pushed for? Now that's chutzpah.

It time to face the truth folks: Obama was part of the "social justice" movement which created the incredibly stupid regulatory climate that caused banks to make loans they otherwise would never have made.

More here



WA: Islamist convicted in shootings at Seattle Jewish center: "A King County jury on Tuesday found Naveed Haq guilty of aggravated first-degree murder in the 2006 shootings at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, a verdict that carries an automatic life sentence. … Haq opened fire in the center’s offices, killing Pamela Waechter, 58. Several of the shooting victims who were in the courtroom hugged tearfully when the verdicts were announced. … Prosecutors had introduced as evidence recordings from 10 phone calls Haq, 34, placed to his family after his arrest. In them, Haq told his mother he was ‘a soldier of Islam.’”

OH: Court notices Fourth Amendment: "Police officers must obtain a search warrant before scouring the contents of a suspect’s cell phone unless their safety is in danger, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Tuesday on an issue that appears never to have reached another state high court or the U.S. Supreme Court. The Ohio high court ruled 5-4 in favor of Antwaun Smith, who was arrested on drug charges after he answered a cell phone call from a crack cocaine user acting as a police informant.”

Feds arrest 26 in $61 million Medicare fraud: "Federal agents arrested 26 suspects in three states Tuesday, including a doctor and nurses, in a major crackdown on Medicare fraud totaling $61 million in separate scams. Arrests in Miami, Brooklyn and Detroit included a Florida doctor accused of running a $40 million home health care scheme that falsely listed patients as blind diabetics so that he could bill for twice-daily nurse visits.”

UK: Newspapers victorious in battle to protect sources: "The Independent has helped win an important court ruling protecting members of the public who supply confidential information to the media. Judges at the European Court of Human Rights said that The Independent and four other media groups were right to defy a court order to disclose documents that would have identified the source of a story about a multimillion pound City takeover in 2001. By standing their ground the four newspapers and one news agency faced massive fines and seizure of their assets, while the journalists who wrote the stories could have been jailed.”

Turning children into Orwellian eco-spies: "There is a long and sordid tradition of trying to socialise children by scaring them. The aim of such socialisation-through-fear is twofold: firstly, to get children to conform to the scaremongers’ values; secondly, to use children to influence, or at least to contain, their parents’ behaviour. When I was a schoolchild in Stalinist Hungary, we were frequently warned about the numerous threats facing our glorious regime. I also recall that we were encouraged to lecture our errant parents about the new wonderful values being promoted by our brave, wise leaders. The Big Brothers of the 1940s saw children as tools of moral blackmail and social control. Today, in the twenty-first century, scaremongers see children in much the same way, exploiting their natural concern with the wonders of life to promote a message of shrill climate alarmism.”

Don’t blame the Federal Reserve: "Long ago I quit criticizing the Federal Reserve chairman for failing to avert the latest systemic financial disaster, though I still pity him for enduring the endless Socratic essays, polemics, and indignant soliloquies of his detractors. Criticizing the Fed chairman for a lack of prescience is like criticizing a dog for an inability to recite the alphabet. When something is physiologically impossible, why bother?”

Race-based government established at expense of troops?: "The House and Senate are wrapping up work on the last appropriations bill of the year and rumors are swirling that the controversial Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the ‘Akaka Bill,’ will be included in the Defense Appropriations bill. The defense measure is proving to be controversial, because House and Senate appropriators are using it to carry non related matters like a $1.9 trillion debt limit increase, an extension of unemployment benefits and the Native Hawaiian measure. The Native Hawaiian bill, a long time priority of Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), would set up a race based government of ‘indigenous, native people of Hawaii.’”

The A380 problems never stop: " A glitch on a A380 superjumbo forced Air France to ground the plane in New York, the airline said yesterday, the second technical fault reported since the Airbus started flying to the route last month. The Monday evening flight from New York to Paris, with 511 passengers on board, "was delayed due to a technical problem on the plane," a spokeswoman for Air France told AFP, citing a problem with the fuel tanks. Half of the plane's passengers were put on alternative commercial flights on Tuesday while for the other half, Air France laid on an A340 aircraft that was due to fly on Tuesday evening, the spokeswoman said. Maintenance teams were "determining the cause of the fault," she added. Air France started flying the giant double-decker jet, the world's largest passenger plane, on November 23. Days later an Air France A380 was forced to turn around and land in New York after a fault with its navigation system. A spokesman for the airline cited "a minor computer problem" in that incident. Another A380, flown by Singapore Airlines, had to return to Paris on September 27 after one of its four engines failed during a routine flight to Singapore."


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 16, 2009

The unreality-based community

More Democrats than Republicans believe in ghosts, talking with the dead, fortunetellers. This has emerged in past polls too

A new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals some startling differences between Republicans and Democrats on issues of spirituality and supernatural phenomenon.

The study, "Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths," reports that a significant number of Americans practice a mixture of religious beliefs, and "many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects." The report is not specifically about partisan differences, but the results of the study are broken down by party affiliation, among many other categories. And the news on that front is that Democrats are far more likely to believe in supernatural phenomenon than Republicans.

"Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says. For example, 21 percent of Republicans report that they have been in touch with someone who is dead, while 36 percent of Democrats say they have done so. Eleven percent of Republicans say they have seen a ghost, while 21 percent of Democrats say so. And nine percent of Republicans say they have consulted a fortuneteller, while 22 percent of Democrats have.

There's more. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in reincarnation, while 30 percent of Democrats do. Fourteen percent of Republicans say they believe in astrology, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Fifteen percent of Republicans say they view yoga as a spiritual practice, while 31 percent of Democrats do. Seventeen percent of Republicans say they believe in spiritual energy, while 30 percent of Democrats do.

There are some areas in which the two partisan groups are similar. When Pew asked respondents whether they have had a religious or mystical experience, 50 percent of Republicans said yes, as did 50 percent of Democrats. But overall, there are sizable disparities.

What accounts for them? Pew doesn't say. But the report does note that there are gender, ethnic, and racial differences in the totals. "Having been in touch with a dead person is more common among women than men," the report says. "Women are also twice as likely to have consulted a fortuneteller or psychic. Blacks report more experience feeling in touch with the dead than whites or Hispanics. But they resemble whites and Hispanics on other items, such as encounters with a ghost or consulting a fortuneteller." Some of those gender, ethnic and racial differences might come into play in the partisan totals. But in the end, the Pew report offers no solid answers for why there are such differences between Republicans and Democrats. [That's easy. Anybody who believes in the Brooklyn Bridges that the Democrats keep trying to sell would believe anything -- as in: You can give free health insurance to 40 million more Americans and it won't cost a cent]



A time of universal deceit

Americans, not surprisingly, are feeling cynical. Gallup's just-released Honesty and Ethics of Professions poll shows that for the first time, most people -- 55 percent -- rate members of Congress low or very low for honesty and ethics. Senators come in slightly better at 49 percent. A whopping 9 percent of members of Congress and 11 percent of senators get high or very high ratings in honesty and ethics.

Even members of the clergy do not escape this cynical cloud hanging over the nation. Although 50 percent rate the clergy as high or very high in honesty and ethics, this is the lowest since Gallup starting reporting it.

This prevailing mood of distrust is understandable, given how commonplace it has become for so many in public life to lie to us. A mountain of hacked e-mails shows scientists who held the public trust regarding information on climate change research were liars. The e-mails show they selectively expunged data and suppressed research not supporting the conclusions they wanted showing man-made global warming.

Congress is frenetically trying to pass major health care reform that report after report shows is filled with politically manipulated data and conclusions. And now we learn that even Tiger Woods has been lying to us about who he is.

What is so troubling is that all this is not about human error or fallibility. It's the opposite. It's about individuals intentionally manipulating information to deceive the public in order to advance their own personal agendas.

Back in 2003, writer/physician Michael Crichton pointed out, in a speech he gave at the California Institute of Technology, how common sense was being violated in the research allegedly showing that human activity was causing the Earth's climate to warm irreversibly. "Nobody believes a weather prediction 12 hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everyone lost their minds?"

Similarly in the push for health care reform, the simple exercise of common sense would put the brakes on what is going on. Before us is proposed massive new government expenditures and intervention into health care markets under the assumption that the benefits of all this government activity will exceed the costs. But simple honesty would recognize that if this were true, it would be unprecedented. When Medicare was enacted in 1965, the projections then were that its annual expenditures by 1990 would be $12 billion. Actual expenditures in 1990 were $110 billion. Medicaid started as a proposed modest program with $1 billion in annual expenditures. It's now $280 billion.

We're told that health care reform won't cost more than $900 billion over 10 years. This is accomplished on paper by sleight of hand. Taxes are assumed to start in 2010, but expenditures not until 2014. Starting the meter when the expenditures actually begin shows that over the first 10 years, the costs are more like $2.5 trillion.

It's not that we no longer know how to conduct honest inquiry in America. It's that our interest in doing so is disappearing. How can you search for truth in a society that increasingly denies that truth exists?

What is adultery when our acceptance of something as basic as the definition of marriage can change with the political winds? So Woods, unhampered by moral constraint, simply pays handlers to produce a public image calculated to maximize his income.

Our national history began by asserting "self-evident truths." Now we have a president who, in his interpretation of our constitutional history, writes, "Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth. ..." It's times like this that George Orwell had in mind when he wrote: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."



America's metastasizing bureaucracy under Obama

It's a cancer that seriously threatens America's health

Something President Obama said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo about making foreign policy is equally applicable at home, namely, that the world must be dealt with as it is, not as we might wish it to be. This was highlighted by a USA Today investigative report published last week that found "federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time -- in pay and hiring -- during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector." In other words, bad times for the rest of us are good times for the federal establishment.

This recession has been such a boom time for the tax-supported bureaucracy that "federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months -- and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted." USA Today was especially struck by the fact that there was only one career federal worker making an annual salary of $170,000 or more at the U.S. Department of Transportation when the current recession began. Today, 18 months later, there are more than 1,600 career employees making that much at Transportation. We can only hope that none of those additional 1,600-plus high-paid workers was responsible for the $2 billion Cash for Clunkers debacle run by the Transportation Department.

Hot Air's Ed Morrissey points out something else that has occurred as the ranks of six-digit career government workers in Washington surged: "It's not as if they've been asked to do more with less, either. In the first six months of the year, the federal government was adding 10,000 jobs per month, and over the recession had grown the ranks of bureaucrats by 9.8 percent. The private sector, during that same period, shed 7.3 million jobs."

Hard times for folks outside of the federal establishment are also good times for Washington politicians with their never-ending thirst for finding new ways of grabbing tax dollars to benefit themselves, members of their families, present or former staff members, friends, or campaign donors. The $448 billion appropriations bill approved last week by the House contained more than 5,000 earmarks, many of which will ultimately benefit the favored few rather than the suffering many. It's helpful to keep these realities about Washington bureaucrats and politicians in mind the next time one of them steps forward and proposes solving another crisis with billions more tax dollars.



What Has Obama Accomplished?

Making the rounds of conservative talk shows lately is the question, “What has Obama accomplished so far?” The question is asked of of Obama supporters and the answers range from ‘abolishing lobbyists’ to ’securing world peace’ to ‘lowering taxes.’ One thing all answers have in common: They are all grounded in perception as opposed to reality.

Obama has accomplished the amazing feat of convincing millions of Americans that black is white, that cold is hot, that the bad economy is the fault of George W Bush, and the only things standing between America and peace on earth are those darn Republicans and greedy capitalists.

As author Thomas Sowell points out in ‘Is Reality Optional?’ social history in the last 30 years has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. And no-where is this more evident than in the ‘change’ Obama is foisting on the American people.

The empty rhetoric of ’social justice’ and ‘compassion’ is convincingly and successfully being used to justify ever more ludicrous social policies, which just happen to come with a huge price tag and more government control.

Ignored by the left and the media, however, is the inconvenient fact that every single policy promoted by Obama and passed by congress has been a dismal failure. From the jobs ’stimulus’ package that has cost taxpayers a whopping $236,436 per job created – to the the ‘cash for clunkers’ – to the $61 billion bucks taxpayers just lost through the AIG and auto industry bailout. Add in the $75 billion mortgage relief program to stem the largely government caused ‘foreclosure crisis.’ This program has helped a grand total of 31,000 borrowers to date, a paltry 4% of the 760,000 who have applied.

Despite the dismal failures of these policies, Obama and his cohorts continue advocating more of the same. As Dr. Sowell points out, “The anointed are often wrong but never in doubt.”

Though 80% of Americans are happy with their health insurance, Obama has declared a health care crisis. Obama and congress have devoted most of the year to imposing government run health care on all citizens, despite the fact that 61% of Americans oppose it.

Though evidence has recently surfaced undermining the dire claims of global warming, our elected elites continue to ignore relevant science, insisting that a massive redistribution of our wealth is needed in order to pay an imagined ‘climate debt’ to third world countries. Meanwhile, record unemployment and rising fees and taxes continue to devastate businesses and families across the nation. The exception are federal workers, who just got a 2% pay raise.

As Democrat leaders and their allies take to the airwaves denouncing corporate greed, our public servants are scrambling to enact policies that enable them to extort an ever increasing portion of the wealth created by American workers. In the process, severely undermining the rule of law and ignoring the limitations imposed by our Constitution.

The Obama administration has plunged America into debt to the tune of a record $12 trillion dollars. That’s $39,000 owed by every man woman and child in America. And there is no end in sight. House Democrats just passed a $1.1 trillion dollar spending bill to fund the federal government. This bill includes $2 billion for ‘climate’ research, major spending boosts for domestic agencies and foreign aid. It also includes more than 5,200 pork barrel projects costing $3.9 billion. On top of that, Democrats are preparing to raise the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion before New Year’s.

Obama’s policies are destroying the dollar and bankrupting America. Moody’s just issued a warning that our triple A rating is in danger. Our president is also in the process of ceding American sovereignty to world bodies like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.

What Obama has accomplished is astounding. He has managed in the short space of one year to dramatically alter the historical focus on individual rights and liberties to an ephemeral concept that focuses on government primacy.

Due to Obama’s charisma and his skill in manipulating the system and redefining words to fit transient meanings, many Americans continue to believe Obama’s rhetoric, willfully ignoring the underlying reality. Their belief has taken on a religious fervor based on faith and emotion and any facts to the contrary are summarily dismissed. After all, “Obama won.”

Once again, Thomas Sowell says it best: “We may be entering an era where the greatest dangers to the survival of Western civilization will come from internal social deterioration. Other great civilizations have declined and collapsed. We may be the first, however, to sink slowly into the quagmire, still beaming from ear to ear in self-congratulation at how ‘innovative’ we are in our social policies.”

Obama is a dangerous man. He has convinced millions of Americans that they are entitled to the fruits of another man’s labor. Virtually all of his policies to date have been designed to foster a dependence on government. But what the government gives, the government can take. As millions of enslaved peoples across the globe could attest – if they were allowed.




Obama goes from dazzle to drone: "It wasn’t so long ago that Barack Obama’s speeches were being hailed as ‘extraordinary rhetorical magic’ … that should be ‘required reading in classrooms’ …. Pity the poor grade-schoolers who have to be on the bus at 5 a.m. for a daylong slog through the 4,000-word sludge of the president’s Nobel thank you. … [T]he point of Barack Obama is to dazzle. … The squealing Obammyboppers of the media seem to have gotten more muted since those inaugural specials hit the newsstands back in late January. His numbers have fallen further faster than those of any other president — because of where he fell from. … The Obama speechwriting team doesn’t seem to realize that. They seem to be the last guys on the planet in love with the sound of his voice and their one interminable tinny tune with its catchpenny hooks.”

Is stealing a virtue?: "I am profoundly disappointed in Caritas in Veritate, the encyclical issued on June 29, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. It contains no fewer than six endorsements of wealth redistribution by government. It must be understood that wealth redistribution by government involves the use of its coercive powers to take resources from those who have earned them and give them to those who have not. Previous popes have seen a serious danger in such a forced redistribution.”

Drowning in red ink: "It took the Obama administration less than a year to reduce the United States from the country with a currency that is considered a safe haven when international storms threaten, to one that is warned by a rating agency that unless it mends its profligate ways it will lose the triple-A credit rating it has had since U.S. government debt was first assessed in 1917. Who would have thought when Barack Obama took the oath of office some eleven months ago that Dubai World, Greece, the UK, and America would attract the attention of the rating agencies in the same week. But here we are, caught in what consultants at The Lindsey Group call an ‘Attack on the Sovereigns.’”


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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, December 15, 2009

Is the Brain Like a Muscle, Really?

I thought I would reproduce the Newsweak column below as proof that Leftists never learn anything. Results such as they describe have been known for years. What nobody has been able to show is that the beneficial effects of special training are lasting. Educationally "enriched" kids are just as dumb when they get to adulthood as are control groups -- mainly because environmental handicaps tend to fade in importance as we get older. I noted recently some very powerful genetic research which showed exactly that: Environmental influences do matter somewhat in childhood but that fades out so that in adulthood it is your genetics that dictate your abilities.

Probably what the findings below show is that if you train kids in doing the sort of tasks that you encounter in IQ tests, they will get better at doing IQ tests for as long as they remember the training.

There is a slightly expanded account of the research concerned here but I can find no trace of it being published in a peer-reviewed academic journal. That leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It is, for instance, normal for there to be a "learning effect" in IQ testing. If you give the same test to the same people two weeks apart, they will do significantly better the second time around. That alone could explain the results below. The proper academic way to circumvent that problem is to use a "parallel form" of the test on the second time around. Most tests do have such forms available. Did the researchers below do that? Who knows? Other Problems: Was the study double-blind? Again, who knows? So I think that the bright-eyed enthusiasm shown below is mainly a product of uncritical and uninformed thinking.

For a sidelight on the issue, I reproduce a recent email from a reader underneath the article below. Some people don't need "enriched" education. In fact they do very well with very little. You will never guess who. In the end genetics rule the roost. Education can increase your knowledge and give you some skills but it cannot increase your ability to learn and figure things out
Back in 2007, Ashley and I reported on the science of praise for New York magazine, highlighting in particular the body of work by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dweck had done studies for over a decade – and we covered them all – including a brand new semester-long intervention that had been conducted with Lisa Blackwell at Life Sciences Secondary School in East Harlem.

Life Sciences is a health-science magnet school with high aspirations but 700 students whose main attributes are being predominantly minority and low achieving. The scholars split the kids into two groups for an eight-session workshop. The control group was taught study skills, and the others got study skills and a special module on how intelligence is not innate. These students took turns reading aloud an essay on how the brain grows new neurons when challenged. They saw slides of the brain and acted out skits. After the module was concluded, Blackwell tracked her students’ grades to see if it had any effect.

It didn’t take long. The students who had been taught that intelligence can be developed improved their study habits and grades. In a single semester, Blackwell reversed the students’ longtime trend of decreasing math grades.

The only difference between the control group and the test group were two lessons, a total of 50 minutes spent teaching not math but a single idea: that the brain is a muscle. Giving it a harder workout makes you smarter. That alone improved their math scores.

Ever since that New York magazine story was published, it’s been common now to tell kids the brain is like a muscle, and intelligence is malleable. The catch was that the students at Life Sciences were reading a four-page middle-reader version of neuroscience-lite that was somewhat edited to enhance, or sell, the idea that IQ isn’t fixed.

So it’s been a legitimate ongoing question whether we’re really now telling kids the truth, when we tell the brain is a muscle. Just how malleable is IQ, really? Are we misleading them at all, when we suggest their IQ is something they can control?

As Ashley and I wrote in NurtureShock, children’s IQs do change a lot as they develop. More than half of children will see significant swings in their IQ – not just once, but three times. And the swings are not minor. Two-thirds of children’s IQ scores improve, or drop, more than 15 points. One-third of kids’ scores jump more than 30 points. So there’s clearly a lot of instability going on.

But does that give us license to suggest to kids their brains can really be altered, quickly? Are we lying to them if we ignore there’s some element of genetic predestination?

Well, that’s why yesterday’s column here was, we believe, so important. Drs. Silvia Bunge and Allyson Mackey set up a special afterschool program at a low-performing elementary school in Oakland. For eight weeks, twice a week, kids came into one of two rooms to play board games, video games, and card games. These are games available at most retailers, but they’d been chosen by Bunge and Mackey because they demanded very specific cognitive skills. One set of games – in one room – challenged the kids’ reasoning ability. The other set of games – in the other room – challenged those kids’ processing speed.

Before and after the training, the scholars measured relevant components of the children’s IQs. The scholars expected some modest improvement. But the results were staggering – the group that trained for reasoning ability saw their non-verbal intelligence scores leap 32%. The group that trained for processing speed saw their brain speed scores jump 27%. In just eight weeks – 20 hours total of training – the games had a drastic impact on the kids’ IQ.

Now, Mackey does warn that kids who already come from enriched home environments might already have these games, or something similar, and in many ways they might have already trained their brains. So while Mackey suspects all kids could benefit from the game training, not all kids would benefit so much, so quickly.

Nevertheless, it’s striking evidence that indeed, the brain is like a muscle. While every individual probably has upper limits to what we might be capable of, brain training – like weight training, or fitness training – can lift us towards those limits.


An email from a reader with some relevance: "My wife is picking up our 10 year old adopted Chinese child at this moment. The little girl speaks 3 dialects, knows well over 1000 Hanzi characters, is able to read (not yet speak) quite a bit of English, and is off the charts in technological aptitude. And this from a girl who hasn't been exposed to 1/5 of what kids from even our lowest, social welfare classes receive. Tell me there's not something biological going on. As well as more courage and determination that what is generally inculcated in our society - at that age, anyway."


Harry Reid and Slavery

In remarks intended to further paint the political right as immoral, racist and evil, Reid offered that, "Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, 'slow down, stop everything, let's start over.' If you think you've heard these same excuses before, you're right…When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said 'slow down, it's too early, things aren't bad enough.' "

Reid is obviously confused. Republicans have no power to block passage of the senate healthcare reform bill. Nor are Republicans delaying passage of Obamacare. If Healthcare reform is being delayed and/or eventually dies it will be because one or more of Reid’s fellow Democrats decided to do the right thing and kill this Frankenbill where it lays.

Ironically, had Reid been speaking to Democrats he would not only have been currently correct, but historically accurate as well. It was of course the Democrat Party that was late recognizing the wrongs of slavery; it was Democrats that wrote the Jim Crow laws and enforced them with fire hoses and attack dogs; it was the progressive hero Woodrow Wilson who segregated the federal government and locked Blacks out of jobs; it was the democrat party that filibustered passage of the civil rights acts of 1964 and ’65 and in fact has opposed every piece of civil rights legislation written since the end of the civil war.

Reid’s remarks might also be more properly directed at Democrats given that the reasoning used by new liberals of the 21st century and Democrats of the 19th century bear a striking similarity.

What is slavery except the usurping of one mans liberty and private property in service of another man? The defenders of slavery argued that the founding was a lie, that all men were in fact not created equal, that, in fact – to borrow from Thomas Jefferson – some were “born with saddles and others with boots and spurs to ride them.” They pointed to advances in science and philosophy that proved Black people were a sub-species of human and thus justified their defense of slavery as a moral good. They further argued that the right to self determination meant slave owners could transport their chattel into non-slave states thus making slavery the law of the land through the back door. The defenders of slavery declared that it was they who were on the “right side” of history and the fact of slavery was proof.

The argument is almost indistinguishable from the case the left makes in defense of abortion, which they demand be a part of what they call healthcare reform. The right to self-determination is sacred yet does not apply to children in utero as they are not human; the Rights articulated in the Declaration do not apply to them. We are an advanced society and history demands that we recognize that abortion is a moral good.

Similar arguments run through most of the new lefts social agenda. They will argue that the founders of this great nation never intended that the rights they spoke of applied to all people in all times. For Reid and the rest of his Democratic cohorts some men were in fact born with saddles and others meant to ride them. To the new left a just government - a moral and compassionate government-is one that secures the newly discovered right to healthcare (or housing; or a job; or food) by confiscating the property of some in service to others. The fact that socialist Europe has already moved in that direction is proof enough that they are on the “right side” of history.

Reid invokes the image of America’s original sin in order to preserve the lefts inflated sense of its own virtue. In 2010 who but the most backward of all thinkers would side with the defenders of slavery? Who indeed?

Harry Reid is free to demonize Republicans and turn the past into fiction; it won’t make a bit of difference. It won’t make the healthcare reform bill any less terrible and it won’t make history anymore than an indifferent and no doubt amused observer.



Obama approval index falls to -16

(-16 means that 16% more strongly disapprove than strongly approve)

Rasmussen reports Saturday's Obama's Presidential Approval Index, fell to -16. Yet another record low for Obama.

Only 25% of the nation's voters still Strongly Approve of the way Obama is performing his role as President. Obama's falling popularity is partly the result of declining enthusiasm among Democrats - only 43% of whom now strongly approve of Obama's performance.

Only 36% of all voters believe that the Obama is doing a good or an excellent job handling the economy, while 45% rate his economic performance as poor.

On national security matters, only 39% rate the Obama's performance as good or excellent while, 36% say poor.

Rasmussen Reports presidential job approval ratings are based upon a sample of likely voters, rather than samples of all adults. Obama’s numbers are always several points higher in a poll of adults rather than likely voters because some of Obama's most enthusiastic supporters, such as young adults, are less likely to turn out to vote.

It's not just Rasmussen, a week ago even CNN found Obama's job approval rating fell 48%, confirming similar results from Gallup, Quinnipiac, and Hawkeye a week earlier.




Rap: What's It Good For?: "I would have said absolutely nothing, until I saw this news story in the New York Post: Times Sq. gunman held weapon like rapper: "A Times Square bloodbath was narrowly avoided because the machine-pistol-toting thug who fired at a cop flipped the gun on its side like a character out of a rap video, causing the weapon to jam after two shots, law-enforcement sources said yesterday. When scam artist Raymond "Ready" Martinez held the MAC-10-style gun parallel to the ground, it caused the ejecting shells to "stovepipe," or get caught vertically in the chamber, the sources said. The gun is designed to be fired only in a vertical position. If he had fired the weapon -- which had another 27 rounds in the clip -- properly, Martinez, 25, could have killed the hero cop pursuing him and countless others walking through the swarming tourist mecca Thursday morning." Heh. Martinez was himself a rapper of little note."

Barack Obama ensures a long depression: "Political success, as reflected in the recent gubernatorial races appears ever-more staked on the state of the economy. Official unemployment recently measured 10 percent, though the more-honest gauge (U-6) shows the nation running unemployment at a Depression-like 17.2 percent. In response to high unemployment numbers, Barack Obama has said, ‘I will not rest until all Americans who want to work can.’ Yet Mr. Obama’s policies belie his words.”

TSA: Worse than useless: "Airport security in the USA is a joke, and a bad one at that. It’s easy to create a fake boarding pass with Photoshop. And it’s not that much more difficult to steal someone’s identity to create fake identification documents. Indeed, the entire U.S. airline security process is nothing but ’security theater,’ a term coined by programmer and security consultant Bruce Schneier. But we still have ID checks, secret databases, and no-fly lists.”

Job Growth By Spring?: "The President’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, told me that “by spring employment growth will start turning positive. During my "This Week" interview, Summers said that “everybody agrees that the recession is over,” but he did not say when the unemployment rate could be expected to drop further. The unemployment rate dipped last month to 10 percent from a peak of 10.2 percent. Many private economists, like Moody’s Mark Zandi, predict unemployment will climb through the third quarter of next year to 10.6 percent.

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


Monday, December 14, 2009

The old, old story: "Soaking the rich" does not work

In Britain, it is particularly foolish -- but hate overcomes the reason of its Leftist rulers. The financial services industry is Britain's biggest earner and they are steadily chasing it away to nearby Jersey, an independent country under the crown but outside both the UK and the EU -- where the movers get tiny taxes and lovely freedom from mountains of bureaucracy!

Britain’s financiers and entrepreneurs are quitting the UK at a rate of 10 a week to avoid Labour’s new 50% taxes. The burgeoning exodus threatens to deepen a £178 billion black hole in the public finances and leave middle-class voters with higher taxes for years to come, figures obtained from Companies House reveal. The number of directors of British businesses registered as living in the low-tax centres of Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man has risen by almost 500 to 6,729 in the past 12 months. The British Virgin Islands is also a popular destination, with 615 directors of UK companies now based in the Caribbean tax haven — an 18% rise on a year ago.

Those known to be fleeing the UK include hedge fund managers, property tycoons, bankers and people who made their money setting up companies organising private healthcare, call centres and luxury holidays. “The UK model is broken,” said Stephen Hedgecock, a partner in Altis, a £1 billion hedge fund company with 35 staff that has relocated to Jersey, leaving only a small presence in London. “It’s not just the 50% rate — it’s National Insurance, the treatment of pensions ... everything. It’s just a ridiculous amount of taxation.”

Russell Newton and Danny Masters, co-founders of Global Advisors, another hedge fund with hundreds of millions of dollars under management, also abandoned London for Jersey’s thriving finance community in the summer.

Another 100 Britons have begun working in the island’s businesses since the downturn began two years ago. The Jersey government said it had seen a 20% increase in interest from people looking at moving to the island. A new marketing brochure published by the island’s authorities promises “in Jersey, keep more of what you earn”. The authorities impose corporation tax at 10% and income tax at 20%. There is no inheritance tax or capital gains tax. Property taxes are also low.

Jersey Finance, an agency set up to attract financial talent to the island, has held a series of private dinners in London to woo new residents. Geoff Cook, the agency’s chief executive, said: “The 50% tax rate does seem to have been the tipping point for many people.” However, the island’s authorities maintain that the rich often favour Jersey because of the easy access to London, the sandy beaches, low crime rates and the use of English as the first language. “There is a lot of interest right now,” said Nigel Philpott, the Jersey government’s head of high net worth residency. “Last year I was getting one or two calls a day from people who wanted to come and join us. Now I get four or five on some days.”

Paul Bater, 52, a former bank manager from Swansea, is so happy with his move to Jersey that he has allowed himself to be used as a case study in promotional literature for Jersey Enterprise. “I love living in Jersey. The pace of life is much more civilised than anywhere else I have worked,” he said.

John George, the owner of Jag Communications, the UK’s third biggest mobile phone retailer, has moved to Guernsey, Jersey’s neighbour. The 48-year-old businessman now commutes by private plane to his company’s office at Perranporth, Cornwall. The journey takes just 30 minutes — and ends at his privately owned airfield. “It’s very easy, very straightforward and I never get stuck at the lights or any of that,” said George. His office is fewer than five minutes from the airfield.

For years considered little more than family holiday resorts, Jersey and Guernsey have become a playground for the rich in recent years, with Michelin-starred restaurants, luxury spas and hotels. Almost one in five of the island’s workers has a job in financial services. There are nearly 3,000 experts who help people set up trusts and companies — a rise of 12% since the onset of economic downturn. It is a similar situation in the Isle of Man, which says it has seen a 20% growth in the non-banking financial sector.



In Britain, the more things change the more they remain the same

Article below by Nick Clegg, leader of Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats. The British electoral system is certainly a farce and much to blame for Britain's many periods of misrule

For two professions, 2009 has been a shameful year: politicians and bankers. Both had their worst vices and darkest secrets exposed to public view. Such is the disdain in which these two groups are now held, any rational observer would expect significant consequences: radical reform driven through by public outrage. And yet, as 2009 draws to a close, the stark truth is that both politicians and bankers are being let off the hook.

Nothing is fundamentally changing in Westminster or bankers’ boardrooms. Nothing is changing because the two old parties, Labour and the Conservatives, have chosen to duck reform.

In politics, some simple and welcome administrative changes are being made to iron out the worst excesses of the expenses system. But attempts to go further and really clean up politics, addressing the causes of this scandal instead of just its symptoms, have been blocked.

Proposals to give people the right to sack their MPs were voted down by Labour and the Conservatives. Efforts to get big money out of politics have been stifled by the influence of the donors who control those parties. And still there is no action in sight to elect the House of Lords or create a truly fair voting system.

Our political system has become a glorified stitch-up between the two old parties: the warped electoral system that allows Gordon Brown to govern with little more than 22% of the electorate’s vote; the murky system of party funding that allows offshore donors to the Conservative party to avoid answering questions on whether they pay full British taxes; a House of Lords that has become a dumping ground for political poodles obedient to the government of the day; a Westminster culture still steeped in the 19th-century tastes of the political classes (the House of Commons has a shooting gallery, but not a crèche).

Unsurprisingly, the Labour and Conservative parties have an interest in maintaining this system. They act as vested interests do in all walks of life: trying to get away with the minimum amount of change in order to protect their interests. This is a betrayal of everyone who hoped for a silver lining from the expenses scandal — everyone who hoped it would be the beginning of a new, decent political system.

In banking it’s the same story: yes to cosmetic change but no to real reform. The past few months have been dominated by displacement activity. The government talks tough about the excesses of the Square Mile but refuses to reform the City for good. Plans for a one-off tax on bonuses are little more than a symbolic pinprick. It will be easy for banks and their employees to avoid and, because it is a one-off measure, it will change nothing about the fundamentals of the banking system.

For years, banks took mad risks with other people’s money until eventually the system collapsed. But they didn’t have to pay the price for their failure: we did. The banks have had to be propped up at enormous cost to every one of us. Only a fool would say we do not need substantial reform to stop this happening again.

It is vital that the high-street banks on which consumers, households and small businesses depend are never again put at risk by the casino culture of investment banking. As the governor of the Bank of England has repeatedly recommended, we need to separate high-street and investment banking for good.

Until this split can be introduced, the banks will remain the beneficiaries of a unique, open-ended guarantee against failure from the taxpayer, a guarantee for which they should pay a fair price. That’s why Liberal Democrats are arguing for the introduction of a new banking levy of 10% on the profits of the banks until they can be split up.

But why are we the only voice at Westminster arguing for far-reaching reform? The government and the Conservatives claim it’s too tricky to split up the banks. They won’t get behind a tax on banks’ profits that is both necessary and fair. Just as both of the old parties act as vested interests blocking reform of the House of Commons, so too the vested interests in the City appear to have succeeded in getting the old parties to block real reform of the banking system too.

In banking and in politics, then, real reform is being stifled. The consequences will be profound. If we don’t reform politics from top to toe, we leave in place the ingredients for a repeat of this summer’s scandal. If we don’t reform banking, we leave in place the ingredients for another financial collapse sometime in the future. If we do not act now, while momentum and anger still remain, we will live to regret it.

2009 was a year of scandal and wasted opportunities. But history is not yet done with those scandals. There is still an opportunity for real change. We must make 2010 a year for doing things differently.



New respect for Palin

Talk about turning tides. They are ebbing so fast for Zero and flowing in so fast for Sarah Palin that they are crossing each other in the polls.

As TTP's Jack Kelly tells the HFR, Sarah's book tour has become a cultural phenomenon, with thousands of people waiting hours or even days at each stop to meet her. "Could Barack Obama -- who now seems so last year -- inspire that kind of devotion today?" asks Mr. Kelly.

More fascinating than to watch Palin's rise in the public's opinion of her is the rise in the media's opinion of her. The lib journalists well know how savagely they tried to demonize her, which would have destroyed the spirit of most anyone. Yet she has not only withstood it but done so with grace, guts, and humor.

It's really hard not to respect that. So it was an astonishing scene at the Gridiron Dinner last week during the reception before her speech to see all these media honchos crowding around her and asking for her autograph.

Then she stands up in front of them, the folks who have made every attempt to trash and destroy her publicly, and blows them right out of their seats with this lovably clever and hysterically funny speech.

No, they're not going to love her like Zero. But the media libs have a new, a profoundly new, respect for her. The dynamic between Palin and the media has dramatically changed.

Clear evidence is the review of Going Rogue this week (12/07) by New York Times columnist Stanley Fish. Folks, this is in The New York Times! You should read every word. This liberal journalist's conclusion:

"In the end, perseverance, the ability to absorb defeat without falling into defeatism, is the key to Palin's character... The message is clear. America can't be stopped. I can't be stopped. I've stumbled and fallen, but I always get up and run again. Her political opponents, especially those who dismissed Ronald Reagan before he was elected, should take note. Wherever you are, you better watch out. Sarah Palin is coming to town."

Of course, you have a copy of Going Rogue and are reading it, yes? I'm about half-way through. My favorite quote so far is this one. Who can resist a woman who has the moxie to say: "I love meat. I eat pork chops, thick bacon burgers, and the seared fatty edges of a medium-well-done steak. But I especially love moose and caribou. I always remind people from outside our state that there's plenty of room for all Alaska's animals - right next to the mashed potatoes."

The sun is setting on Zero and rising on Sarah. So - the next time you're gloomy and blue over what's happening to our country, repeat two words a few times and you'll find the gloom soon gone with the wind. The two words are: President Palin. See? I bet you feel better already.




Britain's laughable security vetting: "Ten members of a suspected Islamist terror cell, said by MI5 to be plotting to blow up a shopping centre and a nightclub in Manchester, had been granted permission by the Home Office to work as security guards in Britain. The Pakistani students — who were never charged for lack of evidence — were arrested over an alleged plot to bomb Britain last Easter. Police believed they had conducted “hostile reconnaissance” of the Arndale and Trafford shopping centres and the Birdcage nightclub. It has now emerged that in the months before the alleged plot, the men were given licences to work as security guards by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a Home Office body that regulates the private security industry. They all passed a vetting programme designed to bar criminals and undesirables from taking up sensitive security posts protecting airports, ports and Whitehall buildings from terrorist attack. When arrested, two of the students were working for a cargo firm which had access to secure areas at Manchester airport".

Ireland cuts public sector spending: "Faced with public debts spiralling out of control and a tottering economy, Brian Lenihan, the finance minister, unveiled the toughest budget in the history of the Irish state. He announced cuts in public sector pay and welfare benefits that will save £3.6 billion — about 7% of government spending. Nothing was sacred. The government will save £900m by cutting the pay of every public servant. Those earning under £27,000 a year face cuts of 5%, increasing to 15% for the best paid. The prime minister is facing a 20% drop in salary. Another £900m will be saved from capital expenditure, while cuts in social welfare will save £684m next year. They include reducing the dole from £184 to £176 a week. Disability payments are to be cut by 4% and child benefit by 10%. The tough measures are intended to stop the budget deficit widening beyond £19 billion next year, which is equivalent to 12% of gross domestic product. The deficit is already four times the level allowed by Ireland’s membership of the euro and Brussels wants Dublin to bring it back to within 3% of GDP by 2014. So far the public reaction has been restrained, although the public sector unions have been predictably outraged."


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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)