Sunday, February 28, 2010

Are the Donks prepared to lose this year in order to get Obamacare through?

I generally agree with what appears on NRO, but I think that the anaysis below, while containing some truth, commits the sort of mistake that Leftists usually make: It looks at the group rather than the individual. I have no doubt that the political Left as a whole have an abiding hatred of American success and a yen to destroy it, but the number of Democrat Congresscritters who would voluntarily put themselves out of a job in the service of that hate is surely very small. From all indications, they REALLY LIKE being in Congress and the great majority will do all in their power to stay there: Even to the point of voting down Obama's pride and joy if they think that will help them this November

On Sean's panel last night, when the conversation turned to how nervous Democrats supposedly are over what for now is teeing up like a very bad November, I felt like I was channeling Mark Steyn, Mark Levin and Rush. That is, I think our side is analyzing this all wrong: Today's Democrats are controlled by the radical Left, and it is more important to them to execute the permanent transformation of American society than it is to win the upcoming election cycles. They have already factored in losing in November — even losing big. For them, winning big now outweighs that. I think they're right.

I hear Republicans getting giddy over the fact that "reconciliation," if it comes to that, is a huge political loser. That's the wrong way to look at it. The Democratic leadership has already internalized the inevitablility of taking its political lumps. That makes reconciliation truly scary. Since the Dems know they will have to ram this monstrosity through, they figure it might as well be as monstrous as they can get wavering Democrats to go along with. Clipping the leadership's statist ambitions in order to peel off a few Republicans is not going to work. I'm glad Republicans have held firm, but let's not be under any illusions about what that means. In the Democrat leadership, we are not dealing with conventional politicians for whom the goal of being reelected is paramount and will rein in their radicalism. They want socialized medicine and all it entails about government control even more than they want to win elections. After all, if the party of government transforms the relationship between the citizen and the state, its power over our lives will be vast even in those cycles when it is not in the majority. This is about power, and there is more to power than winning elections, especially if you've calculated that your opposition does not have the gumption to dismantle your ballooning welfare state.

Consequently, the next six weeks, like the next ten months, are going to be worse than we think. We're wired to think that everyone plays by the ususal rules of politics — i.e., if the tide starts to change, the side against whom it has turned modifies its positions in order to stay viable in the next election. But what will happen here will be the opposite. You have a party with the numbers to do anything it puts its mind to, led by movement Leftitsts who see their window of opportunity is closing. We seem to expect them to moderate because that's what everybody in their position does. But they won't. They will put their heads down and go for as much transformation as they can get, figuring that once they get it, it will never be rolled back. The only question is whether there are enough Democrats who are conventional politicians and who care about being reelected, such that they will deny the leadership the numbers it needs. But I don't think we should take much heart in this possibility. Those Democrats may well come to think they are going to lose anyway — that's why so many of them are abandoning ship now. If that's the case, their incentive will be to vote with the leadership.

At the end of the summit debacle, President Obama put the best face on a bad day by indicating that he intended to push ahead with socialized medicine and face the electoral consequences ("that's what elections are for," he concluded). He's right about that. For Republicans, it won't be enough to fight this thing, then deride it if Democrats pull it off, and finally coast to a very likely electoral victory in November. The question is: What are you going to do to roll this back? What is your plan to undo this?

This post from Irwin Stelzer at the Standard caught my eye this morning: "Americans overwhelmingly say that their main concern is jobs, and that they are satisfied with their current health care arrangements. In response, an allegedly chastened President Obama “pivoted,” and says his primary concern from now on will be job creation, which will take priority over his controversial plan to radically change the nation’s health care system. Yet, last week he backed a $15 billion job-creation bill, which passed the Senate, and a $1 trillion health care bill. Since the federal balance sheet is already under huge pressure, this set of priorities tells us that the Obama administration intends to concentrate available resources on transforming the economy — a long-term, permanent restructuring of the health care and energy sectors that was planned long before the failure of Lehman Brothers triggered the financial mess Obama inherited." Yup.



Barack Obama ‘destroys first year in office’

Obama is fixated on health reforms but voters' chief worry is jobs

When Barack Obama took office last year he was compared to Superman, even joking at a dinner that he had been “born on Krypton and sent here ... to save the planet Earth”. Last January he appeared on the cover of Spider-Man. Now, with his legislative agenda in tatters, the president has moved from comic-strip hero to comparisons to one of the great flawed figures of American literature. Ten days ago Charlie Cook, a leading election analyst, compared Obama and his battle to push through healthcare reform to Captain Ahab and his suicidal hunt for the great white whale.

Despite poll after poll showing that Americans’ main priority is jobs, the president has focused on reforming the US healthcare system and extending coverage to the 40m citizens with no insurance. “I think choosing to take a Captain Ahab-like approach to healthcare — I’m going to push for this even in the worst downturn since the Great Depression — is roughly comparable to Bush’s decision to go to war [in Iraq],” Cook told Politico. “It basically destroyed the first year of a presidency.”

Obama made a last-ditch attempt last week to secure opposition support through a seven-hour summit shown live on television. Although he was admired for his unflappable handling of 40 legislators, no progress was made as Republicans called for a clean sheet. “Boy, that didn’t work,” wrote Peggy Noonan, the veteran Republican commentator, in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.

With both sides so entrenched, she was not alone in regarding the summit as a waste of time. CNN described it as “theatre of the absurd”. Dick Morris, political consultant and former adviser to the Clinton administration, said, “I think it’s Romeo and Juliet. The two families fighting.”

Winning over the Republicans may not have been the real objective. “Obama never expected some magical epiphany from the Republicans,” said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a political analyst. “He achieved the point, which was to give the message to the nation that we all agree we need healthcare and it is the Republicans obstructing everything, not us.” The president is left with an unenviable choice. Either he moves on to other priorities or he uses what is still the biggest Democrat majority in 30 years to push legislation through, via a process called reconciliation.

“He’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t,” said Douglas Rivers, professor of political science at Stanford University. “If he rams it through it will be perceived as hardball politics. But the alternative of getting nothing through will be viewed as a political catastrophe.”

The irony is that Obama got close to netting his Moby Dick. After months of wrangling, the Senate voted on Christmas Eve to pass a bill for universal coverage. It seemed the best possible Christmas present. The Democrats had already pushed a bill through the House and all that remained was to combine the two into law.

They had barely digested their turkey when the unexpected victory of Scott Brown in the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts in mid-January robbed the Democrats of the 60 votes they need for easy passage in the Senate. Health reform seemed written off, particularly as polls showed Brown’s opposition to the bill was key to his victory. But Obama refused to give up.

Most Americans support the benefits promised in the House and Senate bills. These include banning insurance companies from screening out customers with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes.

The problem is that by equally large margins Americans oppose all the things necessary to pay for these reforms, in particular the $500 billion (£330 billion) cuts in payments to Medicare, the healthcare system for retired people.

Obama’s case was not helped by a last-minute resort to traditional pork-barrel politics to get the Senate bill passed by his own party. Special deals included giving trade unions a tax loophole on their members’ more lavish plans. The crucial vote from Ben Nelson, the Nebraska Democrat, came only after the federal government agreed to pay his state’s extra costs for Medicaid, a health programme that provides limited help for the poor.

After such a struggle, Obama’s team is insistent that it will not give up and has set a time-frame of a month to six weeks to pass legislation. “We are determined that we are going to pass healthcare reform,” vowed Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said Obama will make an announcement this week about the “way forward”. He cited potential areas of agreement with Republicans, such as imposing ceilings on payouts in cases of medical malpractice and curbing Medicare fraud.

In a rare show of bipartisanship last week, a number of Republican senators voted for Obama’s jobs bill. But Republican support for his healthcare reform is something perhaps only Superman could achieve and the president will instead have to rely on rallying his own party. With mid-term elections looming in November and many Democrats’ seats in danger, they will be reluctant to support an unpopular bill.

Obama has said healthcare is so important that he will get it through even if it means he ends up as a one-term president, like Jimmy Carter. He may get his wish. The latest poll by CNN/Opinion Research found 52% of Americans think he should serve only one term.



Undying Creed: The Acceleration of Our Exceptionalism

Many Americans —particularly those involved with the major news media, academia, and the world of policymaking— envision their country becoming an ever more predictable follower of global fashions in everything from health care to climate change, jurisprudence to economic policy. In other words, they look ahead and see a nation that is a somewhat larger version of those that make up the European Union.

But in reality, those who believe that the United States is sliding down from its historical apex —and that we must accordingly downscale our expectations and adopt the assumptions and economy more appropriate to our European friends— are wrong. American exceptionalism has lost none of its momentum, and the United States is becoming more, not less, distinct among the countries of the developed world in its economic, demographic, and cultural evolution.

For at least a generation, the appeal of declinism and the belief that we must embrace foreign models has constituted, in the words of Georgetown University’s Robert Lieber, a kind of “historical chic” both domestically and abroad. “There is much to be said for being a Denmark or Sweden, even a Great Britain, France, or Italy,” Andrew Hacker suggested in 1971. More than thirty-five years later, the same refrain can be heard from author Parag Khanna, who envisions a “shrunken” America lucky to eke out a meager existence between a “triumphant China” and a “retooled Europe.” America, notes Morris Berman, another critic, is simply “running on empty.”

Such assessments consistently underestimate the sources of what the Japanese scholar Fuji Kamiya has described as America’s unique sokojikara, or reserve power. The peculiar demographic, economic, and cultural strengths of this country, Kamiya believes, create a vastly different reality from that of its major competitors.

This fact was largely ignored at the outset of the current financial crisis, which many pundits here and abroad blithely expected to accelerate American decline as other countries adapted more easily to hard times. Yet Japan’s rate of decline in GNP was three times that of the United States, while Germany and Britain contracted by twice as much. Moreover, the current recession has sparked far more overt social unrest in Europe, China, and Russia than in the United States.

America’s unique strengths will not fade quickly, and it’s difficult to see how an aging Europe, with its own ethnic problems, out-migration of skilled workers, weak military, and weaker technological base, could challenge our preeminent position. India and China are more likely long-term competitors, but both suffer from a legacy of poverty and underdevelopment that will take decades, if not generations, to overcome.

In India’s case, per capita income in 2005 ranked just slightly above that of sub-Saharan Africa; it endures chronic ethnic and religious conflict, as well as an ongoing and lethal struggle with Pakistan. Meanwhile China, like America’s former great rival, Russia, lacks the basic environmental protections, reliable legal structures, favorable demographics, and social resiliency of the United States. Inequality, a growing issue in most countries, including America, has been rising even more quickly in theoretically egalitarian China, which could further undermine its long-term social stability. China’s tendency to ascribe superiority to the Han race will also limit its ability to project itself onto a world that will remain predominately non-Chinese.

Perhaps the key distinguishing characteristics of the once and future American exceptionalism derive from the fact that in the coming decades America’s population will grow dramatically, adding at least 100 million people by 2050. This contrasts with more rapidly aging basic rivals in Europe and the Far East, including China....

Much more HERE


Theodore Roosevelt, Big-Government Man

Theodore Roosevelt has been known as “the Good Roosevelt,” “the Republican Roosevelt,” and “the conservative Roosevelt,” as distinguished from his fifth cousin Franklin, who’s credited with ushering in modern American big government.

Yet promoters of big government have long recognized TR as one of their own.

Biographer Frank Freidel wrote that “While at Groton [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] first fell under the spell of his remote cousin Theodore Roosevelt. . . . Theodore Roosevelt believed in using to the utmost the constitutional power of the president. . . . This strong use of government was for the most part appealing to Franklin.” During the Great Depression, FDR promoted “a program emphasizing national planning in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt.” Freidel noted that “in words reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt, FDR declared ‘the duty rests upon the Government to restrict incomes by very high taxes.’”

Historian Eric F. Goldman said that Lyndon Johnson, who simultaneously launched huge domestic entitlement spending programs and escalated the undeclared Vietnam War, admired “the hyperactive White House of Theodore Roosevelt.” LBJ reportedly remarked, “Whenever I pictured Teddy Roosevelt, I saw him running or riding, always moving, his fists clenched, his eyes glaring, speaking out.”

Richard M. Nixon, who dramatically expanded federal regulation of the economy, liked Theodore Roosevelt “because of his great dynamic drive and ability to mobilize a young country.”

In recent years, influential Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, and John McCain have gushed with admiration for TR.

For starters, TR reinterpreted the Constitution to permit a vast expansion of executive power. “Congress, he felt, must obey the president,” noted biographer Henry Pringle. Roosevelt wanted the Supreme Court to obey him too. TR ushered in the practice of ruling by executive order, bypassing the congressional process. From Lincoln to TR’s predecessor William McKinley, there were 158 executive orders. TR, during his seven years in office, issued 1,007. He ranks third, behind fellow “progressives” Woodrow Wilson (1,791) and Franklin Roosevelt (3,723) in that category.

Much more HERE. See also here



CNN Poll: Majority says government a threat to citizens' rights: "A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll. Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree. The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans. According to CNN poll numbers released Sunday, Americans overwhelmingly think that the U.S. government is broken - though the public overwhelmingly holds out hope that what's broken can be fixed.

The American Bar Association exposes its liberal bias once again: "I wrote here about Goodwin Liu, the leftist law professor nominated by President Obama for a spot on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Among my observations was that Liu has only practiced law in earnest for two or three years. The rest of his time since graduating from law school has been spent as a law clerk or a law professor. Moreover, Liu appears to have no trial experience. Nor, as far as I can tell, has he ever argued a case before a court of appeal... Yet the ABA has rated Liu "highly qualified."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


A nasty memory of bigoted Leftism among American academics

My career as a social science researcher was not a difficult one. As a conservative, I had to write at a much higher standard than if I had been a common or garden variety Leftist but I could do that so 200+ of my articles got published in the academic journals.

One episode from the '90s, however, I still remember with displeasure. In the early '90s the editor of Sociology & Social Research was David Heer -- a sociologist who was basically interested in the facts of the matter rather than pushing an ideological wheelbarrow. He was located then and still seems to be at USC.

And I did at one stage submit a paper to him for publication in S. & S.R. which he accepted for publication. He seems however to have been too mild for the frantic Leftists in USC sociology and got pushed out of the journal editorship shortly thereafter.

And his successor at the journal -- Marcus Felson -- did something almost unheard of in academe: He "unaccepted" my paper. It was apparently too conservative for him, though he gave some other quite specious reason for rejecting it. He seemed to be a young man in a hurry so I appealed the matter to his Department Head at the time: Paul Bohannan. Bohannan was unmoved. So I appealed to the university President. But he was unmoved too.

The paper eventually appeared in another journal so Heer was vindicated and Felson was shown up as the nasty piece of work that he is. Without blowing the dust off some very old files (which makes me sneeze) I cannot remember for certain which paper it was but I am pretty sure that it is this one. I submitted the paper to S. & S.R. because it dealt with a matter originally raised in that journal.

I did write a scornful letter to Bohannan when the paper finally appeared in print. Felson I regarded as beneath contempt.


Low IQ among criminals

This study is from Australia but the same is generally true worldwide

ALMOST half the young people in NSW juvenile detention centres have an intellectual or borderline intellectual disability, a new study shows, and half have parents who have been in jail. "The kids in custody are some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised people in NSW," Peter Muir, the chief executive of the Department of Juvenile Justice, said yesterday.

The Young People in Custody Health Survey shows 28 per cent of the girls in detention centres have been admitted to a mental hospital and 43 per cent have harmed themselves at some time in their lives. More than 65 per cent of the young people have regularly used drugs in the year before coming into custody and almost all have used alcohol regularly. The numbers in juvenile detention increased by 52 per cent between 2004-5 and 2008-9, from a daily average of 280 to 427.

The Minister for Juvenile Justice, Graham West, commissioned the first review of the system in 17 years.

Mr Muir told a juvenile justice conference this week that the public wanted something done about juvenile crime but understanding who the offenders were could lead to a better outcome. "There are other ways to meet community concerns that don't involve custody," he told the Herald.

Rigorous testing found 13.5 per cent had an IQ of less than 70, which signifies an intellectual disability. A further 32 per cent had an IQ between 70 and 79, considered borderline. Only 9 per cent of the general population scores under 79. Mr Muir said intellectual disability might have contributed to the increased numbers of juveniles detained for bail breaches.



A Leftist rot in the body politic

Leftists believe only in themselves -- and it shows. Too bad about anybody else

American politics, particularly in the big-government, ever-more-insolvent blue states, are increasingly driven by scandal. We are witnessing a meltdown of the political class in states where the growth of government has, even in weakened economies, offered bountiful opportunities for living well off the public purse. Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have all had to force corrupt governors from office in recent years. But now New York is sprinting ahead in the scandal sweepstakes. If extraordinary front-page editorials in today's New York Daily News and New York Post calling for the resignation of David Paterson are any measure, the Empire State is headed for its third governor in three years.

That isn't to say that Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut haven't put up a good fight. A recent string of scandals helped defeat New Jersey governor John Corzine at the polls and forced Connecticut senator Chris Dodd to drop his reelection bid. In Illinois, Barack Obama's path to the presidency was paved by two scandals against would-be opponents that opened the door to the Senate for him. The governor whom Obama twice supported for office, Rod Blagojevich, has been impeached, in part for trying to sell Obama's Senate seat, while the man who bought the seat, Roland Burris, has been forced to step aside come November. Alexi Giannoulias--Obama's buddy, heir to the Broadway Bank, and the Democratic nominee for the Obama-Burris seat--is involved in his own troubles. His family's once-thriving bank made loans to the mob-associated Michael "Jaws" Giorango, who was convicted of running gambling and prostitution operations, and to Tony Rezko, a fixer with close ties to both Obama and Blagojevich. It seems unfair not to give Scott Lee Cohen, briefly this year's nominee for Illinois lieutenant governor, a passing mention. Cohen, a pawnbroker who self-financed his runaway victory despite being unable to pay child support to his ex-wife, dropped out of the race after accusations came to light that he had held a knife to the throat of one of his girlfriends, a prostitute.

And then there's Obama's hometown of Chicago, where he racked up an enormous majority in the Democratic Party presidential primary that was crucial to his early lead over Hillary Clinton in the popular vote count. A new study from the Better Government Association notes that in the past 36 years, "31 sitting or former Chicago aldermen have been convicted of corruption or other crimes."

Illinois and New Jersey are probably the only two states where corruption has burrowed so deeply as to involve the public medical schools. In Illinois, until recently, you could buy admission to the state's medical school. In New Jersey, thanks to the patronage of Senator Robert Menendez of Hudson County--a man elected to the U.S. Senate despite being caught on tape engaging in a shakedown--until last year you could buy the presidency of the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Shocking? Not when you remember why former New Jersey senator Robert "the Torch" Torricelli was forced to drop out of his 2002 campaign for reelection: he had accepted gifts from David Chang, a lobbyist of sorts for nuclear North Korea. New Jersey law clearly states that in the final 51 days of a campaign, a candidate, no matter how badly tarnished, can't be replaced by a substitute. Never mind: Torricelli's fellow Democrats on the New Jersey Supreme Court shredded the law and allowed him to be re! placed by fellow Democrat Frank Lautenberg, a former U.S. senator who went on to win the election. Lautenberg, whose accomplishments as senator are less than noteworthy, was one of the 60 votes that allowed President Obama to push his health-care proposals.

But for all this, New York doesn't need to take a backseat to Illinois and New Jersey. In the past few years, Joe Bruno, the Republican temporary president of the New York State Senate, and Democrat Alan Hevesi, the New York State comptroller, have been forced to step down and then convicted of taking bribes. Meanwhile, the inventory of state legislators and New York City Council members caught up in shenanigans is too long to list, though Hiram Monserrate is worthy of special mention. Monserrate, who has enjoyed close ties with the Scientologists, helped paralyze the State Senate for two months this past summer while he switched back and forth between the parties, looking to buy himself the best possible deal. Earlier, he had assaulted a lady friend with a piece of broken glass. When that case finally came before the bar of justice, Monserrate, an embarrassment even in Albany, was rebuked by the courts and expelled from the Senate.

Now, Charlie Rangel--New York State's ranking member in the U.S. Congress and the chair of the House's powerful, tax-writing Committee on Ways and Means--has been given a slap on the wrist by his fellow Democrats on the House Ethics Committee for taking lobbyist money for a junket to the Caribbean. Rangel, who is far better at raising other people's taxes than at paying his own, also recently discovered that his taxable net worth was roughly $1.5 million more than he had previously stated.

But when all is said and done, top billing in this debauched political floor show goes to the governorship of New York. Two years ago, Eliot Spitzer, anointed by The New Republic as a liberal messiah--this was in the pre-Obama days--had a brief rocky stretch as governor after he was caught using the state police to try to gather incriminating evidence about political rival Joe Bruno. But it was his patronage of a brothel that brought down this self-proclaimed supporter of women's rights.

The state police and the abuse of women play a similarly prominent role in the current scandal involving Spitzer's successor, David Paterson. One of Paterson's first acts after his predecessor's fall from grace was to admit his own extramarital affairs, including with staff members, and past drug use. He also demanded that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo investigate the state police, claiming that it had a special unit to collect information on public figures. Cuomo's investigation, released last year, unearthed no such unit, but it did find political interference by state police higher-ups, including an attempt to lessen the impact of a domestic-violence report involving a Republican congressman.

Now, in the middle of a budget crisis, Paterson has been caught in a new disgrace in which, like Spitzer, he's apparently put the state police to personal use. One of his closest aides, David Johnson, had by all accounts physically intimidated a girlfriend who went to court to receive an order of protection against him. But before she was to testify in court, she was visited by state police superintendent Harry Corbitt. She never testified. Key political allies have now called on Paterson to end his reelection campaign. Even more ominously, some political figures, including Congresswoman Nita Lowey, are now saying publicly what they've been discussing privately: that it's time for the inept Paterson, who's been largely ignored by the state's spendthrift legislature, to step down from office. A resignation by the floundering Paterson would turn the governorship over to his unelected lieutenant governor, Richard Ravitch, who no longer seems to be in regular contact with Paterson.

Ravitch owes his office to a dubious ruling by New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals. It was a decision, like that in the Torricelli case, that directly contradicted the state's constitution, which made no provision for appointing a lieutenant governor should the post become vacant. The constitution does provide that in such a case, the president of the State Senate "shall perform all the duties of the lieutenant governor." But as they eyed the chaos in the Senate--where Joe Bruno had been forced to resign as president, and where a collection of parochial pols, including the ineffable Monserrate, were running the show--the majority of the justices decided that the letter of the law needed to be ignored. (This may turn out for the best. As temporary president of the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Malcolm Smith would have been next in the line of succession to the governorship, if not for the court's legitimating Ravitch's appointment. If Smith had become gover! nor, he too would have been mired in scandal, having played a key role in the rigged bidding process that handed a lucrative state contract to run casinos to a group of which he was a partner.)

Paterson's appointment of Ravitch as lieutenant governor may be recorded as his best decision. The widely respected 75-year-old Ravitch, who played a key role in New York City's 1975 fiscal crisis, has no political ambitions, and he has the intelligence and integrity, despite a predilection for new taxes, to stabilize the ship of state for the time being. In fact, it is the presence of Ravitch in the lieutenant governorship that makes it possible to call for Paterson's immediate resignation.

In both New York and Illinois, there is a close connection between fiscal irresponsibility and political malfeasance. Both states are in marked decline; both are essentially one-party polities run by Democrats (although the Republicans, when in office, have engaged in their fair share of corruption). In both cases, a largely unaccountable political class left unchecked by a decreasingly engaged electorate has, buffered by the rhetoric of compassion, gone into business for itself. Big government may not be good for the economy or for the citizens, but it been very good for a political class that has thrived on state spending despite the growing risk of getting hauled off to the hoosegow. In New York and Illinois, oversized government seems immune to reform; scandals have led only to new scandals.

In the absence of functioning political and fiscal systems, excessive spending in New York and Illinois, like that in famously corrupt Greece and Spain, can probably be restrained only by the bond market. But by the time that happens, we can expect each of these semi-sovereign entities to be in for a long stretch of hard times.




I see that Time magazine has picked up on the study that I critiqued yesterday: "Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent". The "Time" article is surprisingly good and even points to evidence contradicting the headline claim. A small point, though: The author says that Leftists are more open to experience but the reference he gives for that shows nothing of the sort. The claim is however an old favourite of Leftist psychologists. My last look at the academic literature on the question is here. I conclude that, as psychologists usually define it, there is no political polarization on openness to experience. Leftists are however sensation-seekers. That might seem like a fine distinction but it is not if you look at how psychologists use the various terms concerned. The "openness to experience" claim is a way of saying that conservatives are rigid and narrow-minded whereas the sensation-seeking finding implies that Leftists like novelty for the sake of novelty.

Turnaround at British car company -- under Indian ownership: "After years in the red, Jaguar Land Rover has achieved a $60 million profit for the final quarter of 2009. The company, now Britain’s largest car industry employer, said that its return to the black had come amid a recovering market in luxury cars, backed by its own well-received new models. An amalgam of two of Britain’s most famous motoring marques, the company, which employs a staff of 14,500, was bought by India’s Tata Motors from Ford, of America, for $2.3 billion in the summer of 2008. Tata said that volumes in the last three months of 2009 had increased by 28 per cent compared with the period between July and September, big rises being recorded in North America, Europe and China. Land Rover was up 34 per cent after positive customer reaction to new vehicles, while the XF helped Jaguar to rise by 11.5 per cent. Despite latest sales data that shows Land Rover’s global sales more than tripled in January from the same month last year to 13,295 and that Jaguar sales more than doubled to 2,974 over the same period, there is more cost-cutting to come."

California is a greater risk than Greece: "Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, has warned American investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece's current debt woes. Mr Dimon told investors at the Wall Street bank's annual meeting that "there could be contagion" if a state the size of California, the biggest of the United States, had problems making debt repayments. "Greece itself would not be an issue for this company, nor would any other country," said Mr Dimon. "We don't really foresee the European Union coming apart." The senior banker said that JP Morgan Chase and other US rivals are largely immune from the European debt crisis, as the risks have largely been hedged. California however poses more of a risk, given the state's $20bn budget deficit, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to reduce. Earlier this week, the state's legislature passed bills that will cut the deficit by $2.8bn through budget cuts and other measures. However the former Hollywood film star turned politician is looking for $8.9bn of cuts over the next 16 months, and is also hoping for as much as $7bn of handouts from the federal government."

Don’t Count on Printing Press, Bernanke Warns Congress: "With uncharacteristic bluntness, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned Congress on Wednesday that the United States could soon face a debt crisis like the one in Greece, and declared that the central bank will not help legislators by printing money to pay for the ballooning federal debt. Recent events in Europe, where Greece and other nations with large, unsustainable deficits like the United States are having increasing trouble selling their debt to investors, show that the U.S. is vulnerable to a sudden reversal of fortunes that would force taxpayers to pay higher interest rates on the debt, Mr. Bernanke said. "It's not something that is 10 years away. It affects the markets currently," he told the House Financial Services Committee. "It is possible that bond markets will become worried about the sustainability [of yearly deficits over $1 trillion], and we may find ourselves facing higher interest rates even today."

Another Democratic incumbent trailing in the polls: "Add New Mexico to the list of states (Arkansas, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota) where polling has shown Democratic incumbents behind Republican challengers. The Democratic polling firm PPP shows New Mexico 2nd district Democrat Harry Teague trailing Republican Steve Pearce by a 43%-41% margin. That’s insignificant statistically but, in my view, significant politically, because incumbents usually do not trail challengers and can usually be expected to top 50% in polling; after all, every House member has won an election less than two years before the poll was taken. Teague carried the 2nd district 56%-44% 15 months ago. There’s a mitigating factor here: Pearce was the incumbent in this district from 2002 to 2008, and in the Democratic year of 2006 won reelection by a 59%-40% margin against a low-spending Democrat. In 2008 he ran for the Senate and lost 61%-39% to Democrat Tom Udall, and in that contest failed to carry the 2nd district.


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)


Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent"

The study excerpted below is amusing. It is coming out in a sociology journal but concentrates on psychology to the exclusion of sociology! Amazing what can happen when you have an axe to grind!

The article is mostly speculation and theorizing but it does have some actual findings about IQ on which to build its house of cards. But the writer totally overlooks the social context in which the findings were gathered. They are not IQ findings from adults but rather findings about adolescents. The fact that data about adults were not presented is of course the giveaway.

The study found that the more intelligent adolescents were more liberal. So what does that prove? As someone who has taught both psychology and sociology at university level, I have little doubt what it means: It means that more intelligent kids are better at picking up and absorbing the lessons drummed into them by our Left-dominated educational system. It means no more than that. The sociological context overlooked is, in other words, the fact that the individuals concerned were still at school. I think that can reasonably be called: "Overlooking the obvious".

For the findings among random samples of adults, see here. Much more pesky!

More intelligent people are significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values. The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years." ....

In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel. So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa's hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as "very liberal" have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as "very conservative" have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans' tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see "the hands of God" at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. "Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid," says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. "So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists."

Young adults who identify themselves as "not at all religious" have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as "very religious" have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.



An Unbridgeable Philosophical Divide?

One quickly realizes the major philosophical and principle divide between liberals and conservatives when they painfully deconstruct and analyze their respective rhetoric. Conservatives and liberals are worlds apart in their ideology; an ideology that is now more than ever serving as the impetus for bold and endlessly complex legislation foisted on the already burdened American people. Conservative cling to the power of equality of opportunity and unfettered freedom; while liberals, on the other hand, are fearfully willing to sacrifice the hard earned dollars of honest Americans for the freedom of equal outcomes.

To illustrate the point, let’s examine some of the more recent contentious political issues to better test and illuminate this hypothesis.

Healthcare: The Left was willing to sacrifice individual freedom to choose doctors, opting instead to impose a state-run monopoly on medical care at the expense of a market driven health system. They unabashedly didn't care that they were redistributing income from the more productive to the less productive; from the young to the old; from the healthy to the less healthy. In contrast, conservatives looked towards market solutions to resolve many of the existing health care issues, one that operated within a framework of the invisible hand of rational behaviors and the proper incentives. If cost is a factor in health care as liberals would argue, then why not ensure the solution has a price-based fixture?

Cap and Trade: Under the Democratic plan, income derived from a cap and trade scheme would be redistributed from productive carbon producing enterprises to non-carbon emitting enterprises. In effect, jobs would be lost, shifting from the USA to less responsible, emerging countries. Wealth would also shift from America to non- compliant nations; for what reason? Because of spotty, inconclusive scientific evidence that reduced carbon emissions would prevent global warming. Conservatives questioned that science. Not because they were Neanderthals. But when you ask the average American to pay $5 for a gallon of gas to save an iceberg in a remote part of the north he may never see when that same person is struggling to pay that month’s mortgage or he himself will be out in the cold, you better be damn sure of the consequences of “global warming.” Frankly, the Left failed in that argument.

Union Card Check: Democrats were willing to sacrifice the sanctity of a secret ballot to insure that Unions could fleece more American workers. With members (and clout) dissipating at record rates, it’s evident union bosses are feeling their grip on power lifting. It was easy to see this political exercise for what it was – a desperate bid to win at all costs, even if it meant cooking the ballot box at union halls. Here again, conservatives stood on an obvious side – the one for more freedom and more individualism.

McCain-Feingold: Democrats howled when the Supreme Court recently overturned corporate prohibitions in the landmark McCain-Feingold law. Here again, they’re willing to sacrifice the constitutionally-protected free speech of corporations and their shareholders. This has the long term effect of preventing this segment of society from spending their corporate dollars on political issues that are or are not in their best interest. The beauty of our First Amendment is captured best in its simplicity – when you abridge someone’s right to speak out for causes he/she believes in, no amount of demagoguing will cover that injustice.

In the real world, most Americans are neither completely liberal nor conservative in their overall views. Views and opinions change, based on one's own station in life and through differing circumstances. That's why we have laws, based on fundamental principles of what's just. Because if left to the devices and whims of populists, so-called principles would change in an instant, and freedoms would suffer. That's why conservatives look back to the Founders - they approached the building of this nation with the freshest of views - chief among them was the unfailing pursuit toward more, not less, freedom.

For the most part, Americans prefer their politicians this way as well. They would much rather have a President in the middle of the political spectrum, regardless of political affiliation, rather than have a polarizing dictator trying to sink their teeth into the free world. In fact, when policy is proposed, whether it has the appearance of being liberal or conservative, once it's vetted through the rigor of intense partisan debate, it usually comes out somewhere along the middle of the political divide. When it comes to the personal lives of Americans it is important to realize that views and opinions continue changing as individuals move up the economic bracket, get an education, have a family and gain a matured perspective.

Our laws are continuously based on fundamental social philosophies of what elevates the quality of the society as a whole. After all, we do not only live for ourselves, but we are active members in a society of people in which dignity, respect and honor must be at the core of growing our great nation. However, with that being noted, the populous is an accurate gauge to feel the pulse of a nation that can only survive if the populous are in the middle class and don’t infest the lower strata of the economic stratosphere.

Conservatives will never be able to cogently persuade a true liberal who is more than willing to sacrifice his freedom and income (and yours) so that there is absolute perceived equality. Likewise, liberals will never persuade conservatives to sacrifice their individual freedom and hard earned wealth to be redistributed by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, DC. For this reason alone, the Left and Right will never meet. It’s probably good that they don’t, for conflict is at the heart of democracy. I’m just glad I and my conservative colleagues are on the side of liberty!



Tax cuts and deregulation ended the Great Depression

Obama has a glimmering of that but much more needs to be done in that department

What finally ended the Great Depression? That question may be the most important in economic history. If we can answer it, we can better grasp what perpetuates economic stagnation and what cures it.

The Great Depression was the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. From 1931 to 1940 unemployment was always in double digits. In April 1939, almost ten years after the crisis began, more than one in five Americans still could not find work.

On the surface World War II seems to mark the end of the Great Depression. During the war more than 12 million Americans were sent into the military, and a similar number toiled in defense-related jobs. Those war jobs seemingly took care of the 17 million unemployed in 1939. Most historians have therefore cited the massive spending during wartime as the event that ended the Great Depression.

Some economists —especially Robert Higgs— have wisely challenged that conclusion. Let’s be blunt. If the recipe for economic recovery is putting tens of millions of people in defense plants or military marches, then having them make or drop bombs on our enemies overseas, the value of world peace is called into question. In truth, building tanks and feeding soldiers —necessary as it was to winning the war— became a crushing financial burden. We merely traded debt for unemployment. The expense of funding World War II hiked the national debt from $49 billion in 1941 to almost $260 billion in 1945. In other words, the war had only postponed the issue of recovery.

Even President Roosevelt and his New Dealers sensed that war spending was not the ultimate solution; they feared that the Great Depression —with more unemployment than ever— would resume after Hitler and Hirohito surrendered. Yet FDR’s team was blindly wedded to the federal spending that (as I argue in New Deal or Raw Deal?) had perpetuated the Great Depression during the 1930s.

FDR had halted many of his New Deal programs during the war —and he allowed Congress to kill the WPA, the CCC, the NYA, and others— because winning the war came first. In 1944, however, as it became apparent that the Allies would prevail, he and his New Dealers prepared the country for his New Deal revival by promising a second bill of rights. Included in the President’s package of new entitlements was the right to “adequate medical care,” a “decent home,” and a “useful and remunerative job.” These rights (unlike free speech and freedom of religion) imposed obligations on other Americans to pay taxes for eyeglasses, “decent” houses, and “useful” jobs, but FDR believed his second bill of rights was an advance in thinking from what the Founders had conceived.

Roosevelt’s death in the last year of the war prevented him from unveiling his New Deal revival. But President Harry Truman was on board for most of the new reforms. In the months after the end of the war Truman gave major speeches showcasing a full employment bill —with jobs and spending to be triggered if people failed to find work in the private sector. He also endorsed a national health care program and a federal housing program.

But 1946 was very different from 1933. In 1933 large Democratic majorities in Congress and public support gave FDR his New Deal, but stagnation and unemployment persisted. By contrast, Truman had only a small Democratic majority —and no majority at all if you subtract the more conservative southern Democrats. Plus, the failure of FDR’s New Deal left fewer Americans cheering for an encore.

In short the Republicans and southern Democrats refused to give Truman his New Deal revival. Sometimes they emasculated his bills; other times they just killed them...

After many years of confiscatory taxes, businessmen desperately needed incentives to expand. By 1945 the top marginal income tax rate was 94 percent on all income over $200,000. We also had a high excess-profits tax that had absorbed more than one-third of all corporate profits since 1943 —and another corporate tax that reached as high as 40 percent on other profits.

In 1945 and 1946 Congress repealed the excess-profits tax, cut the corporate tax to a maximum 38 percent, and cut the top income tax rate to 86 percent. In 1948 Congress sliced the top marginal rate further, to 82 percent.

Those rates were still high, but they were the first cuts since the 1920s and sent the message that businesses could keep much of what they earned. The year 1946 was not without ups and downs in employment, occasional strikes, and rising prices. But the “regime certainty” of the 1920s had largely returned, and entrepreneurs believed they could invest again and be allowed to make money.

As Sears, Roebuck and Company Chairman Robert E. Wood observed, after the war “we were warned by private sources that a serious recession was impending. . . . I have never believed that any depression was in store for us.” With freer markets, balanced budgets, and lower taxes, Wood was right. Unemployment was only 3.9 percent in 1946, and it remained at roughly that level during most of the next decade. The Great Depression was over.

More here



Report: Obama drops Consumer Protection Agency plan: "The Obama administration is reportedly backing down from demanding a separate consumer protection agency in its plan to overhaul the financial regulatory system. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the White House is willing to compromise with lawmakers skeptical of creating a stand-alone agency. … The agency had been envisioned to regulate sales and marketing of mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards and other consumer financial products. Supporters have suggested that community group representatives sit on the board to make sure it addresses individuals’ concerns. Many business groups have stood in strong opposition to the creation of a new bureaucracy, arguing that such an agency would add an unnecessary layer of regulation and bureaucracy that will raise the costs of consumer financial products and limit innovation.”

Spain: Abortion law angers conservatives, Catholics: "Spain approved a sweeping new law yesterday that eases restrictions on abortion, declaring the practice a woman’s right and doing away with the threat of imprisonment, in part of a drive toward liberal policies that has angered conservatives and the Catholic Church. The new law allows the procedure without restrictions up to 14 weeks and gives 16- and 17-year-olds the right to have abortions without parental consent. The senate’s passage of the bill yesterday gives it final approval. The bill brings the country in line with its more secular neighbors in northern Europe and is the latest of a series of bold social reforms undertaken by Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who first took office in 2004 and has ruffled feathers among many in the traditionally Catholic country.”

Whose body is it?: "[Bruce] Tower has prostate cancer. He wanted to take a drug that showed promise against his cancer, but the Food and Drug Administration would not allow it. One bureaucrat told him the government was protecting him from dangerous side effects. Tower’s outraged response was: ‘Side effects — who cares? Every treatment I’ve had I’ve suffered from side effects. If I’m terminal, it should be my option to endure any side effects.’ Of course it should be his option. Why, in our ‘free’ country, do Americans meekly stand aside and let the state limit our choices, even when we are dying?”

The Marco Rubio phenomenon: "Rubio is still behind Crist in fundraising, but Rubio’s rise is something those who favor more limited government should note. If he wins the Senate race he will look like a giant killer, and will be a credible presidential candidate in 2016. From a distance it appears that Rubio is a lot like President Obama, notwithstanding their very different political views. Both rose out of nowhere, apparently, and as a Hispanic minority Rubio, like Obama, will appeal to the ‘diversity’ crowd. If Rubio wins the Senate that parallel will surely be noted. But Rubio and Obama differ in more than just their political views.”

"Historic" Obama victory plates that sold for $20 now $2 at Big Lots: "Just got back from Big Lots while making my weekly Arugula and Wagu Beef run and they had a big stack of handsomely boxed limited run Obama commemorative plates for $2. They used to sell for $20+S&H on TV. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Even though they were placed on an endcap at the front of the store, it didn't look like they were moving. Anyone want to wager this rather embarrassing remaindered stock vanishes very quickly due to an "anonymous" bulk buy?"


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, February 25, 2010

PCUSA: Presbyterians who no longer accept the authority of the scriptures

Which separates them from all their traditions as Presbyterians. They have fallen under the influence of a Satanic Leftist gospel rather than the true gospel. Needless to say, they have lost a huge slice of their membership over the years (estimated at nearly half in the last forty years) as there are many other Presbyterian denominations in the USA for faith-filled Christians to choose from. This latest act of hate will drive many more of their members away

The Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) is about to release a report which denounces Israel as a “racist” nation which has absolutely no historical, covenantal, or theological right to the Holy Land. The report calls for the United States to withhold financial and military aid to Israel and for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. That’s not all. The report also endorses a Palestinian “right of return” and “apologizes to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.” According to the press release, it also states that Israel’s history begins only with the Holocaust and that Israel is “a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem’.”

In addition, PCUSA has also resolved to divest in companies that supply military equipment to the American Army, e.g. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc.

In 2004, this Church became the first mainline Protestant denomination in America to “approve a policy of divestment from Israel.” This was rescinded, but in 2008 the Church “created a committee dominated by seven activists holding strong anti-Israel beliefs. The lone member sympathetic to Israel, quit in protest when he saw their radical agenda.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center notes that 46 members of the US Congress and Senate are Presbyterians and fears potentially “significant repercussions in the political domain” as well as a negative “impact on interfaith relations.” They urge us all to protest directly to the top leadership of the PCUSA “to stop this dangerous campaign which denies the legitimacy and security of Israel,” and to “reach out to your Presbyterian friends.”

Amalek (the eternal enemy of the Jews) has arrived, right on time for the Purim festival. The war against the Jews is precisely what Purim is about. We read the classic indictment against the Jews for the first time in full in the haunting story of Esther. Haman, the Persian King’s advisor, tells him this: “There exists a particular people, far-flung, widespread among the peoples in all the colonies of your realm. Their customs differ from those of all peoples, and they do not abide by his majesty’s bylaws; his majesty has nothing to gain by tolerating them.” Haman also points out that the Jews are wealthy and offers the King the lion’s share of the spoils.

The Jews have been looked at suspiciously, murderously before — in Egypt for example, where their prosperity, fertility, and potential of becoming a fifth column greatly worried the new Pharaoh. But even Pharaoh did not propose what Haman (and Hitler after him) proposed: send the same edict everywhere, “to devastate, slaughter, and annihilate all the Jews (Yehudim), from the youngest to the oldest, children, women, in a single day…with their booty to be despoiled.”



More hatred of black conservatives

Leftists are great haters. That's why they are always desperate to find something in conservatives that they can label as hate

As Black History Month draws to a close, the web site The Root has chosen to publish a hateful article that demeans black conservatives solely for their political views -- grouping them with brutal dictators, convicted criminals and self-centered celebrities. This has drawn a stinging rebuke from Project 21 member Bob Parks. "It doesn't take much for liberals to call black conservatives 'self-hating,'" noted Parks, "but what is it called when someone decides that blacks deemed inappropriate should be wholly removed from history? What kind of egos are we talking about here?"

The Root is operated by The Washington Post. Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. serves as The Root's editor-in-chief. In a recent posting, "Black Folks We'd Like to Remove From Black History" by Jada Smith, 21 blacks are singled out for being "embarrassing." Smith wrote: "[W]hile we love our own, we sure do dream of erasing a few of them."

"It's not enough that progressives intentionally distort and rewrite black history to their political advantage, but now The Root, the Post and Professor Gates are showing additional contempt for black people by allowing open suggestions about who should be excluded from that rewritten history," Parks pointed out.

Of the 21 blacks selected by Smith to purge from black memory, there are five American political figures, five infamous foreign dictators, two criminals and nine celebrities. The two liberal politicos -- current D.C. councilman and former mayor Marion Barry and former Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon -- earned their shame by being convicted of breaking the law.

The three black conservatives are demeaned solely for their politics. Republican Party chairman Michael Steele is the "Bozo of politics." Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas allegedly lacks "standing" among blacks because "he looks to the Constitution as 'colorblind.'" Former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, whose activism extols the values of the Declaration of Independence and the rights of the unborn, has "never managed to make a lick of sense."

Project 21's Parks added: "The Root meticulously nominated five political figures among narcissistic celebrities and murderous dictators. The two liberals broke written laws, while the others were convicted of the crime of being black and conservative. It's ironic that the hyper-sensitive Professor Gates presided over this fantasy of removing certain onerous blacks from our history. Now that he's got me riled up, I wonder if he and his bosses at the Washington Post will have me over for a beer to talk about their writer acting stupidly."



Obama's nanny care insults the American spirit

You are victims. You are helpless against the wiles of big corporations and insurance companies and you need protection. You need the government to take over and do things you cannot do for yourself. That is the thinking of what David Brooks calls "the educated class" that favors the Democrats' health care bills. Members of this elite spout tales of woe of people denied coverage or care with the implication that there but for the grace of government go you. So sign on and the government will take care of everything.

It's an argument that has often been appealing to Europeans but that has always been unappealing to Americans. That's why these advocates segue to other arguments, like Barack Obama's assertion that the government can expand coverage and save money at the same time. But voters quickly sniff out what this means. The government will use the "science" of comparative effectiveness research to achieve cost savings the only way government can: denial of care. The Soviet medical system kept down the heart disease caseload by placing cardiac care units on the fifth floor, walk up. Death panels, anyone?

In the meantime, the House, Senate and the latest iteration of the Obama health care legislation -- which is too vague for a cost estimate, according to Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf -- promise to eliminate Medicare Advantage and cut $500 billion from Medicare, and increase federal spending by something like $1 trillion. Obamacare Plan B would add a new layer of federal regulation on health insurance.

Why do Americans reject such policies while Europeans seem content with them? One reason is history. Twentieth-century history -- and 19th- and 18th-century history too -- showed Europeans that they were often the helpless victims of tyrants and total war. That made them content to rely on government for security. Americans have had a different experience. As scholars like Seymour Martin Lipset have documented, Americans are more likely than Europeans to believe that there is a connection between effort and reward. And to believe that they can improve their situation by their own hard work and ingenuity.

As a result, Americans cherish their independence. One interesting aspect of the spontaneous Tea Party movement is the constant invocation of the Founders and the prominence of the "Don't Tread on Me" flag. Eighteenth-century Americans declared their independence, 19th-century Americans fought so that blacks could be independent too, and 20th-century Americans sacrificed to extend the blessings of independence to the wider world.

Americans tend to see themselves as independent doers, not dependent victims. They don't like to be told, especially by those with fancy academic pedigrees, that they are helpless and in need of government aid. That's why the politically popular American big-government programs -- Social Security, Medicare, veterans' benefits, student loans -- all make a connection between effort and reward. You get a benefit because you've worked for it.

In contrast, Americans have loathed and rejected big-government programs with no nexus between effort and reward. Welfare was begun in the 1930s to help widows with children, whose plight, as Russell Baker's memoir "Growing Up" showed, was often dismal. But when welfare became a mass program to subsidize mothers who didn't work and to excuse fathers from responsibility for their actions, it became wildly unpopular.

Bill Clinton recognized this when he signed welfare reform in 1996. Clinton worked his way up in Arkansas, a state with a highly unequal income distribution, with a few very rich families -- the Waltons, Tysons, Stephenses -- and many people with modest incomes. But polling shows that the Democrats' health care plans are overwhelmingly unpopular in Arkansas, even more than nationally.

Obama, who has chosen to live his adult life in university precincts, sees Arkansans and Americans generally as victims who need his help, people who would be better off dependent on government than on their own. Most American voters don't want to see themselves that way and resent this condescension.

Obama hopes to embarrass Republicans at his Thursday summit and persuade Democrats to change the legislative rules and jam through a health care bill. Tactically he's not likely to succeed. But his greater problem, on health care and other issues, is strategic. Most Americans don't share his view that they are victims, in need of protection and supervision by "the educated class."



The "stimulus" may have created some jobs, but it created no real optimism

A new government analysis says the stimulus act funded between 1 million and 2.1 million jobs as of December and kept the economy humming at a faster rate than it would otherwise, but consumer confidence has tumbled anyway - potentially hindering the continued recovery. With the economy and the unemployment rate crowding out much of the rest of President Obama's agenda, both the jobs figures and consumer confidence will become key pieces of evidence as Republicans and Democrats argue over last year's stimulus and how much more spending is needed.

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday said the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed a little more than a year ago, was responsible for lowering the unemployment rate by between 0.5 percent and 1.1 percent in the final three months of 2009, and added 1.5 percent to 3.8 percent to the country's gross domestic product. "The policies that were enacted in the stimulus bill are increasing GDP and employment relative to what they otherwise would be," said Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Republicans, though, said the stimulus has been good for government but not for creating private-sector jobs. "The fact is, if you are a government worker you probably got a pay raise from the stimulus; if you are a manufacturing or construction worker you got a pink slip," said Rep. Kevin Brady, Texas Republican.

Stimulus contractors say they've created about 600,000 jobs directly from spending, but CBO uses economic modeling to reach its conclusions. That accounts for the wide range of potential job creation. Going forward, CBO said, the effects of the stimulus on GDP will peak next quarter, and its effects on job creation will peak over the next six months before diminishing.

At the same time, consumer confidence is already dipping, according to the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, a private group that surveys consumer confidence. The board, in a survey released Tuesday, recorded a giant drop in confidence from January to February and said its "present situation" index, which measures confidence in the economy as it stands now, is at its lowest point in 27 years. The expectations index, which measures optimism about the future economy, also dropped after three months of improvement.




I can't help noticing that the problem with runaway acceleration in Toyota cars affects drivers of automatic cars only. If my Toyota Echo started uncontrolled acceleration, I would just push in the clutch and move the gearshift into neutral: An entirely mechanical process under my complete control and the end of the problem. Another triumph for old-fashioned tried and true systems?

Public Opinion of Unions Plummets, ALG Cites Public Sector Union Kickbacks as Cause : "A new poll conducted by Pew Research shows public opinion of unions plummeting, which Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson said was caused “by the endless handouts and kickbacks to public sector unions that are milking taxpayers and bankrupting the states.” According to the poll, as reported by, “Favorable views of labor unions have plummeted since 2007, amid growing public skepticism about unions’ purpose and power. Currently, 41% say they have a favorable opinion of labor unions while about as many (42%) express an unfavorable opinion. In January 2007, a clear majority (58%) had a favorable view of unions while just 31% had an unfavorable impression.” “The American people are sick and tired of the class warfare engaged through public policy by government unions and their willing accomplices in federal and state legislatures,” said Wilson."

"Broken" Government is when Liberals Lose: "When Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana announced last week he wasn't running for re-election, he didn't state what may have seemed obvious. He couldn't say he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of losing, or that he worried he'd never achieve national office if that happened. Instead, he launched into a lecture about what was wrong with everyone else. The government is "dysfunctional" with "brain-dead partisanship." It's "Groundhog Day." This scenario repeats itself every time the Democrats take control. Bayh's bleats hardened quickly into the media's conventional wisdom. Why can't the politicians hold hands in a "Kumbaya" circle and get "something" done? Translation: When Obama and a Democrat-dominated Congress can't nationalize the health care system and force everyone to drive a Prius, suddenly government is "dysfunctional." When gridlock is holding up the liberals' agenda, Washington should know "the people" sent them to pass massive ultraliberal bills."

Obama Begins His Assault on Your Life Savings: "The welfare state and your life savings are two cars heading down a one-lane road in opposite directions. One must yield, or there will be a crash. For Americans who believe in the old-fashioned virtues of hard work, self reliance and respect for private property, the solution is obvious. The welfare state must yield. For politicians who believe in the welfare state and redistributing wealth, the solution is equally obvious. Your savings must yield. Barack Obama is of the latter group. In the new health care proposal he outlined this week, he suggested a series of unprecedented tax increases that would extend the greedy hands of government into the life savings of hard-working Americans. These new taxes would essentially construct a new fiscal pipeline capable of carrying money out of the savings of private citizens and dumping it into government coffers specifically for subsidizing Medicare under the new health care system Obama envisions. The White House summary of Obama's proposal presents this would-be pipeline as a facilitator of economic justice."


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, February 24, 2010

Pathetic argument for more government spending

We know that Democrats are great haters but being anti-men is hardly wise -- particularly when the abuse is based on a lie. Reid just does not sound very bright

Advocates for men are calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to apologize for suggesting that men are more likely than women to commit domestic violence, especially when they're out of work for long periods of time. But Reid's spokesman told on Tuesday that the Nevada Democrat is not apologizing for arguing during Senate debate a day earlier that the $15 billion jobs bill he is sponsoring should be passed to help prevent an uptick in violence.

Marty Nemko, co-president of The National Organization for Men, described Reid's comments as "irresponsible," citing numerous studies that show women are just as likely or even more so to commit domestic violence against their male partners. Nemko also noted that that the police reports women advocacy organizations use are misleading because "men are embarrassed to say their wives beat them over the head with a frying pan." "Instead of looking to try and find men jobs, he's bashing men completely unfairly," Nemko told

On Monday, the Nevada Democrat seized on a trend in the rise of domestic violence cases across the country that experts say can be linked partly to the recession that has left millions of Americans unemployed. "I have met with some people while I was home dealing with domestic abuse. It has gotten out of hand. Why? Men don't have jobs. Women don't have jobs either, but women aren't abusive -- most of the time. Men, when they're out of work, tend to become abusive. Our domestic crisis shelters in Nevada are jammed. It's the way it is all over the country." questioned Reid's suggestion that abusive men outnumber their female counterparts, citing a British study in 2000 that found that women are just as likely to initiate domestic violence." "If recession-related stress and money woes are shortening men's tempers, they're probably shortening women's too -- which, ironically, only improves Reid's argument about the jobs bill, although he's too captive to identify politics to try to make that point," reads one post.

Nemko also cited a California State University study that finds that women are as physically aggressive or more aggressive than men in their relationships with male partners.

More here


A very interesting interview with Rupert Murdoch, the new owner of the WSJ

I liked the bit where it was noted that out of ten major American newspapers, nine had lost circulation recently while the WSJ actually increased its circulation.


Obama’s Phony Populism

President Obama likes to portray himself as a man of the people. But a look behind the veil shows this to be a deception. Take the financial regulatory overhaul brewing in Washington. I know what you’re thinking: What could better illustrate Obama’s bona fides as a champion of the people? He wants to regulate the banking industry after the recent debacle and is being fought by the banks and the Republicans. Doesn’t this clearly demonstrate his pro-people agenda?

A closer looks reveals the real story to be something quite different. First, there has never been an unregulated banking industry in the United States. You can look it up. And since 1914 we’ve had a central bank, the Fed, whose regulatory powers have only increased over the decades. Several other agencies also regulate the banks. There are regulators at the state level too.

But to focus only on regulation is to miss a big part of the story. In truth what we have had is a banking cartel, a partnership of government (state or national) and nominally private financial institutions. This partnership has two broad aspects that function as a quid pro quo: regulation and protection from free competition, that is, special privilege. The two sides haven’t always agreed on the exact proportions of the two elements, and the bankers have even disagreed among themselves. But lack of unanimity about details should not be mistaken for lack of agreement about the fundamental nature of the system. It is a government-banking alliance. Neither side would have it any other way....

The upshot is that the government’s promise to represent the public is false. Even if it wanted to, it wouldn’t have the information required to do the job. The irony is that in presenting itself as the guardian against “systemic risk,” the regulators present the largest systemic risk of all. It’s the Federal Reserve after all that brought us the Great Depression and damaging inflationary booms and bust ever since.

So what can we do? A real program aimed at the people’s well-being would take decision-making away from the government-banking cartel and put the financial industry into a free and open market, where competition would discipline bankers and decentralize decision- making. No small group would be in a position to make economywide mistakes and then get bailed out by their friends in high places. Only in the free market is there accountability. Profits would be private, but so would losses.

Obama should study the Democrats of the 19th century, who stood for competition and free trade in all things, especially money and banking. The party has surely gone downhill since then.

More here


ACORN Gives Itself a Makeover

ACORN, the community organizing group unable to erase the scandals associated with them, appears to be dismantling their operating structure. Politico’s Ben Smith reports:
"The embattled liberal group ACORN is in the process of dissolving its national structure, with state and local-chapters splitting off from the underfunded, controversial national group, an official close to the group confirmed.

"'Consistent with what the internal recommendations have been, each of the states are developing plans for reconstitution independence and self-sufficiency,' said the official, citing ACORN's 'diminished resources, damage to the brand, unprecedented attacks."'

"The new organizations, he said 'will be constituted under new banners and new bylaws and new governance,' he said, consistent with the recommendations of an outside panel."

No matter the structure, this is the same group shown on video last summer recommending methods to create an illegal prostitution business. It is the same group which intimidated banks into risky financial practices before the financial collapse. It is the same group whose employees have been indicted for voter registration fraud.

It's my fear that rather than confronting their shady actions of the past, it will just be business as usual for ACORN going forward.

SOURCE. Fuller coverage of the ACORN makeover here


The Really Dark Side of the Proposed Employee Free Choice Act

Many observers are justly alarmed by one of the biggest pending thank-you gifts from the Obama administration to Big Labor—the proposed Employee “Free Choice” Act (EFCA). Already passed by the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 800), the measure would radically change how unions organize employees. Under federal law since 1935, employees have voted by secret ballot on whether to accept a union as their bargaining agent.

But union bosses are now in a panic because not enough workers have been voting the “right” way. Private-sector union membership has plunged from 30 percent in 1958 to just 7.2 percent in 2009. And for the future? A poll conducted by Opinion Research Corp. last year found that, by a margin of 82 to 13 percent, non-union workers did not want their jobs unionized.

But under EFCA, once a bare majority of employees in the target “bargaining unit” signs authorization cards, the National Labor Relations Board will install the union as bargaining agent for all employees in the group. Never mind that the Supreme Court has declared such cards “inherently unreliable” — no more secret ballot.

When confronted by union organizers, workers would have to vote publically for or against the union by either signing a card or not. And most employees know that if they don’t sign and the union is installed, they will, as “scabs,” be marked men and women on the union-dominated shop floor.

Though there have been outcries against this attack on individual voting rights, another feature of EFCA that could do real damage to the economy has been less publicized. A brave worker can still say no to signing a union card, but if EFCA becomes law, firms whose employees become unionized must roll over to union demands in first contract negotiations.

EFCA would force the parties to submit to federal mediation if they cannot reach agreement in 90 days. If that fails, government appointed arbitrators would dictate the new labor contract. Knowing that the purpose of EFCA is to reward unions for supporting the political party to which they have been joined at the hip pocket for 80 years, these arbitrators will not be confused about their marching orders: give the unions what they want.

Such fiats will be binding for two years. There is no appeal. It matters not that arbitrators might lack knowledge of business operations, of the employer’s competitive position, or of the long term implications of their orders, e.g., cancelled expansion plans.

If passed, EFCA will thus be one more step toward nationalization of the U.S. economy, and the tab will be paid in higher consumer prices, higher unemployment, curtailed business investment, or all three.

More here



Hands up: Who has heard of Senator Joseph McCarthy? All hands shoot up. The Left make sure that we never forget him. Hands up again: Who has heard of Richard Ichord? All hands stay down. Yet both men did much the same thing: Endeavour to expose crypto-Communists in America's public life. And Ichord's House Un-American Activities Committee ran for much, much longer than Senator McCarthy's inquiry. So how come we hear so much of one man but hear virtually nothing of the other? Easy: McCarthy was a Republican. Ichord was a Democrat.

America's failed communist past: "Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America, established in Virginia in 1607, had an experience similar to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Early years of starvation were followed by converting to a system of property rights and a free market, which brought abundance. Under collectivism, less than half of every shipload of settlers survived the first 12 months at Jamestown. Most of the work was done by only one-fifth of the men, to whom the socialist system gave the same rations as to the others. During the winter of 1609-10, called ‘The Starving Time,’ the population fell from 500 to 60. But when Jamestown converted to a free market, there was ‘plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure,’ wrote the colony secretary Ralph Hamor in 1614.”

Credit CARD Act penalizes thrift and entrepreneurship: "Today, the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 goes into effect. While the law, passed last May, is being hailed as a boon for consumers, it's already causing a slew of unintended consequences. Congress should carefully consider how the CARD Act will harm consumers and entrepreneurs and revise the law’s flawed provisions. Furthermore, Congress should resist populist proposals that would further distort the credit card market, such as interest rate caps or price controls on payment card interchange fees. The CARD Act will make it harder for consumers to get credit just as policymakers are trying to get credit flowing. Ironically, the bill will result in higher interest rates for many cardholders, because it limits the ability of banks to properly price the risks associated with cardholders who make late payments."

The incredible, vanishing greenback : "The ruling elite in Washington is going to try to inflate its way out of its debt conundrum, attempting to pay off the government’s foreign creditors with greenbacks that lose value right before your eyes, like an ice cream cone melting on a hot summer day. The process is already well under way. If you could once buy a silver dollar for one greenback, but it now costs 15 greenbacks, then the dollar is now worth seven 1960 cents. If gold once cost $35 an ounce and it now costs $1,100 an ounce, than the greenback is now worth about three 1940 pennies.”

City to be barred from hiring the most competent firefighters? "The Supreme Court signaled yesterday that it may be willing to let a group of African-Americans sue Chicago for discrimination over a hiring test that weeded out black applicants to become firefighters. It is the second time in as many years the high court has tackled discrimination in testing within the firefighting ranks. In a landmark case last year, the Supreme Court in a 5-to-4 decision said New Haven violated white firefighters’ civil rights by throwing out an exam in which no African-Americans scored high enough to be promoted to lieutenant or captain. In yesterday’s case, the City of Chicago decided to use a test to weed out potential firefighter trainee applicants. Anyone who scored 64 or below was deemed not qualified. But the city set a second cutoff score of 89 points. Officials told applicants who scored below 89 but above 64 that although they passed the test, they probably would not be hired because of the large number of people who scored 89 or above. The majority of those in the top-scoring group were white; only 11 percent were black.” [If my house was on fire, I'd like the guys trying to save it to be REALLY smart]

We gain from trade with China: "To protectionists and Sinophobes, the news of China recently surpassing Germany to become the world’s largest exporter represents yet another nail in the coffin for manufacturing in ‘[insert Western country].’ But China’s exports include Apple’s ubiquitous iPods and countless other products designed in the West. More than a reflection of China’s growing economic might, this is testament to the erosion of economic, political, physical and technological barriers to production. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism as a viable model, together with containerised shipping, GPS, just-in-time supply, and other technological marvels, has spawned a global division of labour and production that defies traditional analysis — and trade accounting.”

The “stimulus” actually raised unemployment: "Since federal spending accounted for exactly zero of the only significant increase in GDP, how could such spending possibly have ‘created or saved’ 2 million jobs? The bill was launched last year amid grandiose promises of ’shovel ready’ make-work projects. In reality, as the CBO explains, ‘five programs accounted for more than 80% of the outlays from ARRA in 2009: Medicaid, unemployment compensation, Social Security … grants to state and local governments … and student aid.’ In other words, what was labeled a ’stimulus’ bill was actually a stimulus to government transfer payments — cash and benefits that are primarily rewards for not working, or at least not working too hard.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)