Friday, January 29, 2010

What fun! HNN has just run a "special" denying that Fascism/Nazism was Leftist!

It is Jonah Goldberg's book that has got them steamed -- and steamed is the word. Most of the "critique" is little more than abuse, liberally leavened with unsupported assertions. What has got them steamed is that a recognition of the philosophical affinities between historical Fascism and modern "liberalism" has become rather widespread among conservative writers and broadcasters. The Left tried to ignore Jonah at first but now that the cat is out of the bag they are desperately trying to stuff it back in.

I note with some amusement that Jonah seems to be the sole villain as far as the HNN writers are concerned. I have been aware since my late teens (now more than 40 years ago) that Nazism was simply national socialism whereas Stalinism was international socialism so the information has always been there for anybody who cared to look. Additionally, my monograph on the subject much preceded Jonah's book. My monograph was was originally written in the '90s and was available on the net from around the year 2000. And I noted a growing awareness among conservative writers about the Leftist nature of Fascism well before Jonah's book came out two years ago. But Jonah is a much more energetic communicator than I am so he rightly deserves pride of place in the matter.

If interested in the "debate", you can start reading here. There are five "anti-Jonah" writers and Jonah responds here. Jonah notes that there is only one substantial historian -- Paxton -- among his critics and so concentrates his return-fire on Paxton's effusions. Although Paxton knows a lot about history, however, he has always been heavily biased. He has explicitly claimed, for instance, that Hitler was "anti-socialist".

I think Jonah demolishes Paxton pretty thoroughly so will not try to add much to Jonah's remarks. I think, however, that Jonah could have said more about the American Left (the "Progressives") of the prewar era. The similarity between the American Left and the Fascists in the prewar era was crystal clear and the Progressives were actually in some ways the progenitors of European Fascism.

A knowledge of that history would go a long way towards removing what is the big stumbling block these days towards recognizing the Fascism in modern Leftism. The stumbling block is that the Nazis were white-racists, nationalists and eugenicists while the modern Left are not. So comparing the current Left with the Nazis does seem to be missing the central point of it all. But the prewar American "Progressives" WERE white-racists, nationalists and eugenicists. White racism, nationalism and eugenics are no longer central political issues. They were simply the important political issues of the prewar era. They were not of the ESSENCE of Leftism or Nazism. But when they WERE big issues, the American "Progressives" and the Nazis were on the same side.

So what is the essence that Nazism and the modern Left share? Simple: A devotion to comprehensive control of everybody and every thing important in the life of the nation -- a hatred of individual liberty and a yen for lockstep unity behind the current doctrines of the party. Hitler controlled everything in Germany by laws and regulations and that is the always-obvious aim of the modern-day Democratic party too. They positively SPROUT regulations of just about everything that moves. Hitler eventually had a party representative in every factory to make sure that everything done there was politically correct. America has not got quite that far yet but I am sure the Democrats would love to get there, given half a chance.

The lead author in the attack on Jonah was David Neiwert, also known as Orcinus. I have crossed rhetorical swords with him before and my demolition of his arguments was sufficiently savage for Instapundit to remark at the time: "Remind me never to get this guy mad at me". So I am going to be a bit self indulgent and reproduce below what I wrote back then in late November 2004:

I am indebted to the mini-Chomsky himself, the great Brian Leiter, for a recommendation of a long article by Orcinus about the probability of America "going Fascist". Seeing Hitler was a socialist and Mussolini was a Marxist, you might think Orcinus is worried about arrogant trends in the Democratic party but, no, it is the GOP that he thinks is likely to "go Fascist". The Leftist origins of Fascism don't get a mention, in fact, so one knows immediately that the article will be low on scholarship. And its chief scholarly source for the nature of Fascism is in fact R.O. Paxton, the "historian" (much lauded in the N.Y. Times, of course) who said Hitler was an "antisocialist" -- when the very name of Hitler's political party was (translated) "The National Socialist German Worker's Party"! I think I have already at this early stage said enough about the article concerned to dismiss it for the claptrap it is but I cannot resist having a bit more fun with it.

The body of the article is in fact made up of what is actually a rather good proof of the idiocy of its conclusions. Orcinus quotes a long line of sources from the 1930s which offer all sorts of evidence for the claim that America was on the brink of going Fascist then. But it didn't happen! America did get the Mussolini-admiring FDR but thanks to the U.S. constitution and the U.S. Congress there were lots of limits placed on what he was allowed to do. So if America did not go Fascist during the Fascist era despite the many pressures towards it that Orcinus ably documents, how likely is it to go Fascist now, when Fascism is thoroughly discredited? The question answers itself, I think.

But let's have a look at a bit more weirdness. Take this Orwellian statement: "This tendency has finally metastacized into a genuinely dangerous situation, one in which the GOP has become host to a Stalinist movement that exhibits so many of the traits of fascism that the resemblance is now unmistakable." Quite aside from the fact that this great intellectual cannot even spell "metastasized", he is asking us to believe that the people who opposed Communism for decades and finally destroyed it utterly are themselves communists! I guess it's not impossible but seeing that the GOP and their Christian allies have always advocated the exact opposite of communism, the writer is clearly in cloud-cuckoo land. If you can say that free-enterprise=Stalinism, you might as well say black=white. I guess that a Leftist "postmodernist" would have no problem in doing exactly that, however.

More fun: Orcinus also looks for the day when "the attack style of politics -- in which the smearing an opponent substitutes for the lack of any substance or accomplishment -- has been relegated to the ashheap of history". Well. He got his wish. I think John Kerry has now been so relegated. Whoops! In true Leftist "projective" style, Orcinus was actually referring to the GOP rather than John Kerry, it seems!

Orcinus also deplores the way that "families, longtime friends, and communities are being torn apart by the divisive politics of resentment and accusation". He must be talking about all those guys documented at length on Leftists as Elitists! You could not conceivably get more resentment and accusation than is documented there.

Orcinus is a real humanitarian by Leftist standards, however. He ends up conceding: "Conservative-movement adherents are still human beings, and seeing them in terms of participating in a kind of fascism should not render them into mere discardable objects". He must have written that for the benefit of those of his colleagues who still admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.


The arrogant and insulting Obama

In his SOTU speech, he talked like a petulant child that is not allowed to get its own way

One strong piece of evidence to support our surmise about President Obama's character is his apparently unprecedented upbraiding of the U.S. Supreme Court, six of whose members were seated immediately in front of him (Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas were absent). The occasion of this highly unpresidential outburst was last week's First Amendment victory in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission:
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests--including foreign corporations--to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

How can you tell when President Obama is lying? Justice Samuel Alito's lips move. The Associated Press reports that "Alito made a dismissive face and began shaking his head," and this YouTube clip shows Alito saying what looks to us to be "simply not true."

Even Linda Greenhouse, the ultraliberal former Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, admits that Alito was right:
The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries--as opposed to their political action committees--on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well--although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions.

And if Obama has lost Linda Greenhouse, he's lost Middle America.

But the president's error--or lie--is worse than Greenhouse acknowledges. The laws whose provisions the court struck down, known as Taft-Hartley and McCain-Feingold, date back to 1947 and 2002, respectively. Greenhouse seems to understand him as claiming that the court had struck down a century-old law. But what he said was that the court had reversed a century of law. In the parlance of constitutional law--a subject Obama once taught--this means that the court undid its own precedent. And indeed the justices did reverse two earlier decisions, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC, These cases, however, were less than 20 years old, having been decided in 1990 and 2003.

If the president of the United States is going to display his contempt for a coequal branch of government and the First Amendment, you'd think he could at least be troubled to get his facts straight.



"Time" magazine on Obama's SOTU speech

They are grinding their teeth about GOP confidence and Democrat demoralization

President Obama spoke the first 676 words of his State of the Union address on Wednesday night before the first hand clap. His tone was so somber, and the room's mood so grave, that no one moved when Obama said, "We must answer history's call." There were no ovations when he called for "Democrats and Republicans to work through our differences, to overcome the numbing weight of our problems." He got no love for saying, "The worst of the storm has passed."

By the time he announced that "we cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college," Obama was forced to go off script. "I thought I'd get some applause on that one," he said, looking over to the Republicans, who were sitting on their hands. There was some giggling, and some of them relented, offering the congressional version of a golf clap.

So it went all night for the President, who a year ago came before the same body to announce, "Now is the time to act boldly and wisely." That bold wisdom has, in the course of a year, been transformed into a much more qualified vision of something short of significant legislative failure. "To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills," he said.

While the Democrats at times seemed to be considering the exits, the Republicans in the crowd handled the event with a renewed sense of confidence. A few minutes before Obama arrived, Republican Representative Mike Pence, standing in Statuary Hall, explained that he had turned down a chance to run for the Senate so he could help lead Republicans back to power in the House. "This is a genuine, authentic, American movement," he said of the political winds that had won Republicans statewide races in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Virginia.

Inside the chamber, the GOP did away with the pranks and gimmicks they displayed the last time Obama addressed a joint session. Eschewing paper signs or rude interruptions, they seemed content to pass the time with the sort of cool confidence that accompanies a sense of ascendancy. House minority leader John Boehner, bronzed and cocky, kept making faces and spreading his hands in disbelief at Obama's applause lines.

When Obama spoke about creating jobs for small business, Boehner spread his hands and cocked his head as if to say, "So now you're getting it." When Obama congratulated himself for not raising income taxes by "a single dime," Boehner looked incredulous — as if to say, "Really, he wants credit for that?" When Obama asked "if anyone from either party has a better approach" to health care reform, Boehner shot out of his seat and raised his hand. He was not called on....

More here



Obama’s campaign finance rhetoric is misleading: "Actions will always speak louder than words. For instance, President Barack Obama preaching a minimal role for corporations in funding campaigns isn’t ethical when in fact he himself was a major recipient of corporate funds leading up to his presidential election in 2008. In fact, according to The Washington Examiner, ‘Obama’s $995,000 from employees and executives at investment bank giant Goldman Sachs is the most a politician has raised from a single company since the 2001 campaign finance reform law.’”

Obama to end NASA Constellation program: "When President Obama releases his budget on Monday, there will be a big hole where funding for NASA’s Constellation program used to be. Constellation is the umbrella program that includes the Ares rocket — the replacement for the aging space shuttles. A White House official confirmed Thursday that when next week’s budget is proposed, NASA will get an additional $5.9 billion over five years. Some of that money will be used to extend the life of the International Space Station to 2020. The official said it also will be used to entice companies to build private spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the space station after the space shuttle retires.”

Zogby Interactive: 53% Would Not Eliminate Senate's 60-Vote Cloture Rule: "A majority (53%) of U.S. adults does not support eliminating the U.S. Senate rule that requires 60 votes to close debate and bring a bill to the floor for a vote. Also, when asked which statement on cloture they most agree with, 50% felt the 60-vote rule insures broader support for legislation while 28% believed the rule was undemocratic. These results were part of a Zogby Interactive survey of 2,003 adults conducted from Jan. 15-18, 2010. The Senate cloture rule requiring 60 votes has been a key issue in the Democrats' efforts to pass healthcare reform. This poll was concluded one day before Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Edward Kennedy's seat, lowering the Democratic majority from 60 to 59. Since the Senate and House of Representatives have passed differing healthcare reform bills, losing that seat becomes critical to the Democrats' ability to follow the usual procedure and pass a final bill produced by a House-Senate Conference Committee."

Crisis management: "One of the more confusing aspects of the great economic meltdown of 2008-09—even more confusing than collateralized debt obligations—has been the tortured logic of the blame game: the frantic effort, on the part of politicians and pundits, to demonize Wall Street, exonerate reckless government policies and restore the big-government ideals of John Maynard Keynes and the New Deal. George Melloan is having none of it—and, to judge by the Massachusetts poll result on Tuesday, neither are many voters.”

Honduras: Zelaya flies into exile: "Toppled Honduran President Manuel Zelaya emerged from months holed up in a Brazilian embassy compound and flew into exile on Wednesday, ending a months-long political crisis as a new elected president took office. Zelaya, ousted... last June, boarded a plane that took off for the Dominican Republic shortly after opposition leader Porfirio Lobo, elected in November, was sworn in as president.”

Publishing predictions: "One of the media transformations I expect to take place over the next 10 years, if not sooner, is that book publishing will become more blog-like — that is, micropublishing, the interest of the New York houses in putting out blockbusters, and the decline of the industry (and its retail counterpart) generally will lead to a proliferation of vanity presses that will, over time, lose their stigma. Publishing is still treated as if it ought to be a mass-market industry, but it has speedily been transforming into a niche-market industry. The idea that a book has to sell thousands of copies from a major house in order to be taken seriously is going to change. ”

Libertarianism and the British Conservative Party: "Mark Wallace on ConservativeHome argues that based upon British Social Attitudes Survey the people of this country are becoming increasingly libertarian. This would certainly be a welcome development, which if it were to continue would leave the Conservative Party in need of another rebranding.”


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)


SOTU: The night of magical thinking

President Barack Obama's first State of the Union address answered the big question pundits were asking resoundingly. In the face of setbacks and growing opposition, in the face of the cap-and-trade energy bill being considered effectively dead, in the face of the loss of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, in the face of increasing opposition to the health-insurance reform proposal that has yet to take final shape, would the president modulate his agenda to take account of a political climate that has changed radically since he took office a year ago, or would he double-down on the program of increasing the size, scope and responsibility of government?

He chose to double-down, to insist that the growing opposition to his programs is due not to serious concerns about the policies embodied in them, but in his failure to communicate effectively their constructiveness and loveliness. One might view this as admirable determination to stick by a program, or one might view it as stubbornness, defiance, even, dare we say it, a touch of arrogance.

Listening to this overlong speech Wednesday night that was remarkably flat in tone and pedestrian in delivery, one sensed a certain overarching sense of unreality. Almost all observers have considered cap-and-trade effectively dead, especially in the light of revelations about the likelihood that some of the data supporting the theory of climate change has been deliberately skewed, yet President Obama proclaimed utter fealty to it.

The health-insurance reforms his party has proposed were in trouble even before a Republican was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts, yet the president spent a good deal of time trying to make the case that, if we really understood how beneficial it would be, our doubts would melt away like yesterday's clouds.

An emphasis on trying to rejuvenate a flat economy and create more jobs was understandable, given polling data that shows these priorities are uppermost in the minds of most Americans. Yet the president, aside from one rhetorical flourish, showed little or no understanding of the notion that the only jobs that are sustainable over the long haul are those created in the private sector as a result of businesses that flourish and make profits.

All of the jobs he claimed were saved by last year's stimulus bill were public-sector jobs – police, firefighters, teachers, construction workers on government-financed infrastructure projects. But all those jobs depend on the government extracting money and resources from the private sector. If the private sector languishes or is flat, none of them can be sustained over the long haul. Is there any evidence that President Obama understands this?

His proposal on students repaying loans for college was especially telling. He proposed that loans be forgiven after 20 years for people in the private sector but only 10 years for those students who go to work for some government agency. An Obama economy looks like one in which government and those who work for it receive special treatment and favors, whereas those who create the wealth that government must seize to increase the public sector are to be looked upon with suspicion and punished with more taxes and increased regulation.

Such a vision may be inspiring to some, but it is profoundly unsustainable.



President Obama's Lexicon of Rhetorical Devices

President Obama's friends call him the smartest man ever to occupy the White House (a dubious claim in light of the fact that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson all had better intellectual credentials or were far superior writers, or both). According to his supporters, his command of the English language is supposedly unparalleled (when using a teleprompter, presumably).

There's only one problem: Obama is addicted to utilizing language that he has carefully tailored or perverted to obfuscate the truth. In other words, he uses double talk on a routine basis. In order to understand what Obama truly tells us when he speaks to us, it is necessary to grab our Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring and decipher precisely what he means when he uses his pet phrases. This, then, is a list of his favorite linguistic flourishes -- and just what he means when he uses them:

"Hope and change": Socialism at home, surrender abroad. Obama uses this talismanic formula when he wants to activate his base, which responds to it like a jukebox when you drop in a nickel.

"False choice": A very real choice Obama wants to pretend doesn't exist. He uses this when he puts on his "pragmatic administrator" mask. Instead of facing up to the reality that we sometimes have to choose between scientific advances and morality, or between civil liberties and national security, or between environmental regulations and economic development, Obama pretends he can solve these conflicts through some sort of Hegelian synthesis only he is wise enough to comprehend.

"Deficit reduction": Deficit increases. Obama suggests that he will cut the rate at which the deficit is growing -- something he has never actually achieved -- and acts as though this is actual deficit reduction. It's the equivalent of a woman spending $2,000 on her credit card, then informing her credit card company that though she won't pay off her debt, she'll only spend $1,500 next month.

"Let me be clear": Let me lie to you.

"Make no mistake": See "let me be clear."

"Unprecedented": When he's doing something beneficial for the American people, Obama claims he is the first to ever think of it; when he's doing something harmful, he seems to always find a precedent for it in FDR or LBJ.

"This isn't about me": This is completely about me.

"Hitting the reset button": Refusing to learn from the mistakes of the past and acting as though a fresh start requires utter naivete.

"Reaching out to the other side of the aisle": Totally rejecting all ideas from anyone outside the Obama-approved bubble. Then suggesting that subsequent political impasses are their fault, and that they ought to bend down and grab their ankles to establish a new tone in Washington.

"Failed policies of the past": Don't blame me! Blame Bush!

"Teachable moment": I screwed something up, now I'll brag about it.

"Tax cut": Redistribution of money from those who pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to those who pay none.

"Transparency": Deliberate opaqueness, hiding crucial facts from the American public.

"Accountability": Don't worry, I'll fire someone.

"Stimulus": Payoffs to friends.

"Shovel-ready jobs": Jobs that no one wants and that last for two months.

"Green jobs": Imaginary jobs.

"Saved or created": Old Obama language used to futz the numbers on jobs.

"Recovery": Continued economic stagnation.

"Jobs funded": Jobs Obama will take credit for, even though he has done nothing to either save or create.

"It won't happen overnight": It will never happen.

"Progress": Redistribution.

"Cynics": Anyone who doesn't believe in the Obama radical agenda. Obama uses this word to disparage his critics as angry and lacking in basic qualities of human kindness.

Watch for these phrases while marveling at Obama's supposed rhetorical brilliance. They shouldn't be taken at face value, because Obama isn't a master of pure artistry of the English language -- he's a master at manipulation above all.




I have just put up something on my Paralipomena blog about Finland, for anybody who takes an interest in that country. I have also recently put up a bit on my personal blog for anybody who takes an interest in that.

SOTU: I will micromanage your life: "It's so sad to watch the State of the Union. I’m reading his speech as he reads it nearly word for word on the teleprompters. The president makes endless promises while Congress sycophantically applauds. It’s as if he’s saying, “We’re the magic politicians and we can solve all your problems. I will cut that deficit that I inherited from President Bush but simultaneously cut taxes for all of you! I will give you a new jobs bill: green jobs, subsidized speedy trains, hand-outs for small business, tax credits for big business. And then Congress applauds itself for spending more of your money. But we already have an idea of what this will really do: enrich accountants and tax lawyers. We’ve seen it in those stimulus “tax cuts” he bragged about."

Hot air is hard to remember: "Authors, editors and speechwriters interviewed by The Associated Press agree President Obama is indeed a gifted and effective speechmaker," the AP reports from New York. There's just one problem: Even admirers have a hard time remembering what he actually says. Ted Widmer, who edited an anthology of political speeches for the Library of America, praised President Obama for his "masterful" style, but could not cite a specific line the president said. Similar observations were made by Jeff Shesol, David Frum and Harry C. McPherson, who wrote speeches for presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson, respectively. "The speech he made in Cairo--I remember the intelligence, the breadth and the reasonableness," McPherson says. "But I can't tell you--and this is one of the shortcomings of the kind of speech he makes--I can't quote anything, or cite anything, off the top of my head." [That was a characteristic of Hitler's speeches too. They sounded great as he gave them but not so good the morning after]

Indonesia mulls tearing down Obama statue: "Indonesian authorities said Monday they are considering a petition to tear down a statue of US President Barack Obama as a boy, only a month after the bronze was unveiled in Jakarta. The statue of "Little Barry" -- as Obama was known when he lived in the capital in the late 1960s -- stands in central Jakarta's Menteng Park, a short walk from the US president's former elementary school. Critics say the site should have been used to honour an Indonesian and 55,000 people have joined a page on social networking website Facebook calling for the statue to be removed.... Members of the "Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Menteng Park" group on Facebook say Obama has done nothing for Indonesia."

Excellent! Haiti government gets only 1 cent of US aid dollar: "Less than a penny of each dollar the U.S. is spending on earthquake relief in Haiti is going in the form of cash to the Haitian government, according to an Associated Press review of relief efforts. Two weeks after President Obama announced an initial $100 million for Haiti earthquake relief, U.S. government spending on the disaster has nearly quadrupled to $379 million, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Wednesday.”

Who will pay for new child care spending?: "Some parents will probably welcome the news of more subsidized child care. But they need to remember that their children are the ones who will end up paying for the billions that will be added to the ballooning national debt, which is set to explode over the next decade. Put in that perspective, parents and taxpayers need to ask: is another ‘investment’ in child care or preschool really worth it?”

Death and taxes: "According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 30 percent of the world’s population lacks regular access to medicines, with this figure rising to over 50 percent in the poorest parts of Asia and Africa. Governments have often blamed this on the price of medicines, and have responded with a number of market interventions such as price controls and compulsory licenses. However, our new research released this week shows that governments themselves are major contributors to the final retail price of medicines, through import tariffs and a range of domestic taxes. While such tariffs are gradually declining around the world, they are still as high as 15% – thereby acting as a tax on sick people. Other low-income countries such as Ghana and Bangladesh increase the cost of medicines with import duties of between 6% and 8% - self-defeating in countries with such high disease burdens. Some countries levy especially punitive tariffs on antibiotics, hampering the fight against infectious disease. The worst offenders are Nigeria (20%), Burundi (15%), Nepal (15%) and Congo (15%). In contrast, countries like Rwanda, Kenya, Gabon and Saudi Arabia have recently abolished import duties on medicines"

Tennis and luck: " Being an avid tennis fan, it has irked me that Woody Allen appears to believe that whether you win or lose a match is a matter of luck. That seems to have been his viewpoint in the movie he made a few years ago, appropriately titled Match Point. Although I find nearly every work of his intelligent and stimulating, I also consider this positions he appears to be driving home to his audiences quite mistaken. And watching the matches at the Australian Open, as I have been doing these last few days, and many of them at the U. S. Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the other tournaments I try to catch year after year suggest quite strongly that Woody is wrong about how tennis matches are won, at least the majority of the time... And never mind how destructive it can be for people to come to believe this idea, possibly leading them to give up on trying, on learning, on training and so forth since by the tenets of the thesis none of that matters, it is all an illusion."

Britain is no longer free: "It’s official — the UK is no longer a free country. Well, semi-official, because the judgement comes from the independent Heritage Foundation, based in Washington DC, which has been compiling its influential Index of Economic Freedom for a decade and a half. … Sure, we are better than North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Eritrea and Burma, which make up the tail end of the Index. But in any index of free countries, it is a bit galling to fall behind Chile. Galling, but certainly fair.”

Laffer: Obama’s “train wreck” ahead: "Arthur Laffer, creator of the Laffer Curve that showed how low tax rates boost economic growth, is warning anyone who will listen that the economy is headed for a ‘train wreck’ in 2011 that will make the current recession look tame by comparison. The famed economist, whose supply-side, tax-cutting policies enacted by President Reagan in 1981 put the economy on a record-breaking, 25-year economic trajectory of growth and prosperity, is telling Americans not to be lulled by sporadic signs of growth this year, because the economy is headed for a sharper decline next year when tax rates are expected to jump sharply, sending the economy into a new tailspin.”

Conservatives should praise even a small step in the right direction: "The instinctive Republican response (see, e.g., this RNC release) to President Obama’s call for a domestic discretionary spending freeze is to dismiss it as not serious — saying, oh, no, it’s not a real freeze because the baseline is high, and anyway he doesn’t mean it, and here’s what he said in the campaign, etc., etc. However true this indictment in its substantive particulars, it strikes me as politically misguided. Republicans, in a spirit of bipartisanship, should praise the president for beginning to come to his senses about too much government spending (and for acknowledging at the same time that national security spending can’t be frozen).”


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, January 28, 2010

Stupid British Leftist policies have been self-defeating

More equality is the declared British Leftist aim but after 12 years of Labour Party rule, social mobility has DECREASED. The major road out of a poor background for capable kids was the Grammar school system: Government schools run on private school lines that took only academically brighter kids. They were a great success but the Labour government has done its best to destroy them because they were "elitist". So you mostly have to be rich to get a good (private) education in Britain these days. Even a bright working class kid now has to go to a sink school which will teach him virtually nothing and ensure that he stays mired in the poverty he grew up in. So the latest Labour Party idea is to FORCE barely-educated kids into positions where they are unlikely to cope

The gulf between the richest and poorest in society is at its widest since the Second World War, an official report has found. The National Equality Panel, set up by ministers to investigate inequality, says there are “very large” differences in wealth between the classes. Britain is now one of the world’s most divided countries with children born into a wealthy family having far more advantages than those who are not. The report shows that, while gender and ethnic background are all factors in determining a child’s success, it is the social class into which they are born that is still most important.

The report is an embarrassment for the Government as it shows how the gap between rich and poor has failed to narrow under Labour. It will be seized upon by Harriet Harman, the Minister for Women and Equality, who commissioned it two years ago. She is pushing for equality legislation designed to give the working classes better career opportunities.

The report sets out big differences between the haves and have-nots. It says: “It matters more in Britain who your parents are than in many other countries.” It suggests that the “scale of differences in wealth, for instance, may imply that it is impossible to create a cohesive society.” The report finds:

* Parents of public school-educated sons can expect their children to be paid eight per cent more by their mid-20s than boys educated at state schools;

* At school poor British white boys are well below the national average by the time they are seven, deteriorating further after they are 11.

* Women are paid 21 per cent less than the national average, despite women into their 40s having better qualifications than men;

* Britain has one of the most unequal societies in the world, with income inequality ahead of Ireland, Japan, Spain, Canada, Germany and France. Inequality is worse in England than Wales and Scotland;

* A typical professional on the verge of retiring is worth nearly £1 million compared with just £59,000 for someone who is long-term unemployed.

* Poverty rates are among the worst in Europe, with only Italy, Spain and Greece faring worse.

* Average and below average White British children are less likely than those from minority ethnic groups to go on to higher education.

* More than half of children educated at private schools, andmore than 40 per cent of those with professional parents, go to thetop Russell group of universities.

* Two-thirds of those with professional parents receive firsts orupper seconds, but only half of those with unskilled parents.

The panel identifies a number of areas, ranging from education and pensions to taxes and neighbourhood renewal, where action is needed to tackle inequalities.

Theresa May, the Conservatives’ women and equalities spokesman, said: “It is unbelievable that Labour thinks it can claim to be the party of aspiration when its failure to tackle the causes of poverty has let down so many lives.”

Miss Harman said: “We have made progress over the last 13 years, especially in tackling poverty, and halted the rising growth of inequality that dates back to the 1980s. "But we will do more to increase social mobility and tackle the barriers that hold people back unfairly.”

Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary, said that while inequality “took hold” in the 1980s “even in recent years the best that can be said is that it hasn't got any worse”. He added: “We have now tested to destruction the theory that wealth trickles down - it doesn't. Politicians of every party must meet the challenge set by this devastating analysis."

Neil Kinghan, director general of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "The value of this report is how it pinpoints the combinations of circumstance that create the most acute instances of disadvantage: that as well as socio-economic class, race, gender, disability and other factors still matter very deeply."



Obama Donor Gets Sweetheart Real Estate Deal from Obama's man in Chicago

Donations to Obama rewarded by a million-dollar discount on the sale of a public property

Chicago real estate developer Thomas Bennett thought he had a deal in hand to purchase the old Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) building at 626 West Jackson, just blocks from Union Station. Bennett thought he was paying a fair price for the property as he had a written commitment from two tenants –SEIU and ACORN- to occupy office space in the building.

Bennett was dealing with Chicago Housing Authority Chairman Marty Nesbitt on the attempted purchased and put forth an offer of $9 million for the building.

But Bennett didn’t put forth the winning bid. A company called Sterling Bay properties had the top bid. Actually, top bid is not the proper description. Sterling Bay won with a $7.7 million bid, $1.3 million less than Bennett’s $9 million offer....

But later Bennett discovered Nesbitt also had another role: treasurer of the Obama Victory Fund. Sterling Bay made a substantial campaign contribution ($28,500) to the Obama Victory Fund within months of the deal closing in late December 07. This $28,500 donation was after about $16,000 worth of campaign donations by Sterling Bay principals (Scott Goodman, Andrew Gloor and Craig Golden) to various Obama campaign funds going back to his U.S. Senate bid in 2004.

Bennett was willing to move on, but something keeps nagging him about the deal. “I put in the highest bid…a credible deal…and I lost to a party with a track record of contribution to Obama’s campaign and Nesbitt has a track record of being Obama’s money guy,” Bennett said. “Look at how political fundraising has evolved. This appears to be a very corrupt quid pro quo involving campaign contributions.”



Defending the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United

Bad arguments have been proliferating in the wake of this week's Citizens United case, which struck down restrictions on political expenditures by corporations and unions. The opinion leaves in place limits on campaign donations, but frees up corporations and unions to spend as much as they like to disseminate political messages. Here is a rogue's gallery of the most common arguments I've heard against the holding, followed by brief explanations of their profound misguidedness.

1) This 5–4 decision is a blatant example of judicial activism, and conservatives are hypocritical for supporting it.
Judicial activism occurs when judges abandon constitutional or statutory meaning and impose their policy preferences instead. A decision that faithfully applies the First Amendment is not activism but rather a proper exercise of the judicial responsibility to keep Congress within its constitutional bounds. The government argued in Citizens United that it had the power to outlaw books and movies produced by unions and corporations, both non-profit and for-profit, if they included even a single line addressing an election or a political issue. Such blatant censorship of core political speech falls well within the text and original meaning of the First Amendment, which supported an open marketplace of ideas by declaring in broad terms that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Contrast this with the paradigmatic examples of left-wing judicial activism, which have manufactured a host of "fundamental" rights without anything resembling such a clear textual basis.

2) Political expenditures are not "speech" and should not be protected under the First Amendment.
The force of this seductive argument evaporates upon the realization that spending money is an indispensable component of effective political speech, especially when it involves any audience above a trivial size. If the government could ban expenditures related to speech, it could easily circumvent the First Amendment simply by targeting the necessary funding underlying any communication. Imagine the New York Times being prohibited from paying for its writers, production, advertising, and distribution. Wonderful as this might sound in some of its particulars, you can see how the paper's right to free expression might be crimped. And so it goes for any person or group wishing to disseminate a political message through print or broadcast media, which is why the Court has properly subsumed the right to political expenditures within the right to free speech.

3) The protections of the Free Speech Clause properly apply only to individuals, not corporations.
Justice Scalia dispatched with this argument nicely in his concurring opinion by pointing out that the First Amendment has long been extended beyond isolated individuals to groups and associations whose members gather for a wide variety of purposes ranging from political to commercial. The Democratic party, the Sierra Club, and the New York Times aren't individuals, but their speech nonetheless falls under the umbrella of First Amendment protection. But the formalistic obsession with whether a corporation should have the legal status of a "person" with a "right" to free speech quite misses the substantive issues at stake, which concern how the principle of free expression should be applied to the political speech of certain types of social groups. In particular, is there something uniquely harmful and/or unworthy of protection about political messages that come from corporations and unions, as opposed to, say, rich individuals, persuasive writers, or charismatic demagogues? Which brings us to our next point:

4) A deluge of corporate and union speech will corrupt the democratic process.
The very idea that political speech in an open democracy can be "corrupting" rests on fundamentally illiberal assumptions about individuals' capacity for reasoned deliberation and self-government. The First Amendment was designed to allow all speakers to put their messages out into the public debate, be they rich or poor, vicious or virtuous. The underlying principle is that over the long run, a society of free individuals is best equipped to evaluate the merits of political arguments for themselves, and that a distrustful government cannot ban speech out of the worry that its citizens will be unduly swayed by it. Rich individuals and talented polemicists have always been permitted to put out quantities and qualities of speech that may exert a disproportionate influence on society, but political opponents and voters have always been trusted to evaluate these speakers' arguments for themselves, respond with counter-arguments, and ultimately make up their own minds about the truth of any matter of controversy. Especially with the explosion of diverse viewpoints and avenues of expression that have come from the Internet media revolution, it simply defies common sense to think that any corporation or union could ever hope to so overwhelm the political debate as to prevent dissenting voices from being heard and reasonably contemplated by the electorate. Of course, this freewheeling political dialogue may be messy, imperfect, and prone to abuses, but the First Amendment makes it constitutionally preferable to censorship targeted at disfavored groups.

5) This decision will radically increase powerful corporate influence in politics, compared to the status quo.
History and economics together suggest that powerful corporate interests operating under an extensive regulatory state will always find a way exert a strong influence in politics. Up until now, campaign-finance regulations have had two ugly impacts: First, they have imposed huge legal costs on those wishing to participate in the political process, effectively shutting out smaller voices who cannot afford to pay campaign lawyers and risk legal trouble in getting their messages across. Loosening legal restrictions on smaller businesses will now allow them to enter the marketplace of political ideas on a more equal footing with their larger competitors. Second, campaign-expenditure limits have driven corporate money away from public dialogue and into channels that have been more corrosive and less transparent (think lobbyists, lawsuits, and regulatory capture). While these more pernicious forms of corporate influence are not likely to disappear any time soon, they may be mitigated to the extent that corporations can now pursue their policy objectives through a more open, deliberative process.

6) Corporate political expenditures violate shareholders' rights to withhold funds from messages they disagree with.
Two problems here. First, like members of any free association, shareholders have an absolute and easy-to-exercise right to exit from any corporation — in this instance, by simply selling their shares and relocating their investments. It is true that mutual funds and retirement accounts can complicate things, but shareholders maintain the ultimate legal right of control over their assets, including initial investment decisions. In any event, the level of "message subsidy" involved in most of these cases will be so diffuse as to be negligible, especially when compared to government policies and messages that taxpayers must fund despite strong disagreement. Second, corporations commonly disseminate non-political messages and make corporate decisions, including charitable donations, that might strongly offend shareholders. This is tolerated as part of the trade-off inherent in the structure of corporate governance, wherein shareholders voluntarily surrender control of their companies' day-to-day operations in exchange for the efficiencies of corporate decision-making.

7) This decision will harm Republicans by rallying public opinion in favor of populist-progressive reform and against the "conservative" Supreme Court majority that decided the case.
While four members of the Citizens United majority might fairly be called conservatives, the actual author of the opinion was Justice Kennedy, who defies easy political categorization. In the past few years, he has been repeatedly toasted in liberal circles for penning such sweeping decisions as Lawrence v. Texas and Kennedy v. Louisiana, declaring a constitutional right to sodomy and forbidding the death penalty for non-homicidal child rape, respectively. At the very least, those opinions give him some credibility as an independent voice. But perhaps more importantly, a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of the public actually agrees with the Court that corporations and unions should be treated just like individuals in terms of their political-expenditure rights, and that the government should not attempt to protect its citizens from hearing seductive messages put out by sinister, powerful interests.




Taxpayers should demand a permanent ban on funding to ethically-challenged Acorn: "If you think Congress stripped all federal funding from the ethically-challenged group ACORN, think again. Though it voted to ban federal funding for ACORN — aka the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — this September, funding for the disgraced group could resume whenever Congress stops renewing the continuing resolution containing the funding ban. What’s more, ACORN could receive a windfall should the cap-and-trade legislation now making its way through the Senate eventually become law. In June, the U.S. House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act — better known as Waxman-Markey for its Democratic sponsors, Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts — ostensibly to alleviate global warming by mandating an 83 percent reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2050. A similar bill, introduced in the Senate by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA), has been approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Buried in both bills are provisions that would allocate vast amounts of federal money to community development organizations such as ACORN."

US suspends aid to Kenya’s education ministry (rather amazingly): "A U.S. diplomat says the U.S. has suspended a five-year plan to fund Kenya’s education programs because of corruption allegations. The U.S. made the decision based on claims late last year that Education Ministry officials misappropriated $1.3 million of Kenyan government and donor funds to finance the country’s much-lauded free primary school education program, U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger told a luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya.” [After decades of sending billions to line the pockets of corrupt African government officials, they're stopping now?]

US redefines antiterrorism strategy for Yemen: "The terrorism incubator in Yemen, birthplace of the Christmas Day airliner attack, is forcing the United States and allies to pour millions of dollars into a shaky government that officials suspect won’t spend the money wisely and isn’t fully committed to the battle against al-Qaida. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other world leaders meet in London on Wednesday to hash out a plan.”

A more highly educated military now: "The number of new recruits who hold bachelor’s degrees jumped by nearly 17 percent last year, from about 5,400 in 2008 to more than 6,400 for the armed services, Pentagon statistics show. The number of enlistees with associate’s degrees from community colleges also increased, though more modestly, from roughly 2,380 to just over 2,570. The number of recruits with four- and two-year degrees represents 5.2 percent of the total 2009 military recruitment of 168,000. They are part of a strong recruitment year fueled by high unemployment, particularly when compared with two years ago, when the Pentagon struggled to fill its ranks despite offering five-figure enlistment bonuses and granting waivers to recruits who failed to meet its standards.”

Income angst? Not for public sector: "Last month, the US economy shed another 85,000 jobs. It marked a miserable end to a calamitous year in which an estimated 4.2 million American jobs were liquidated, and unemployment rose to 10 percent. In addition, more than 920,000 ‘discouraged workers’ left the labor force entirely, having given up on finding work and therefore not included in official unemployment data. Meanwhile, millions of Americans who do have jobs have been compelled to work part-time or at reduced wages; many others have not seen a raise in years. But not everyone is having a rotten recession. Since December 2007, when the current downturn began, the ranks of federal employees earning $100,000 and up has skyrocketed.”

Obama’s bank-busting regulation full of bugs: "President Obama’s proposal on Thursday to bring back 1930s-era separation of commercial and investment banking would do little to prevent the problem of financial institutions being too big to fail. What it would do is hurt economic recovery, reduce types of financing available to businesses big and small and give European and Asian financial services firms a huge competitive advantage over their U.S. counterparts.”


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, January 27, 2010

Britain becomes a nation of conservatives for the first time in 20 years

People's views are becoming more conservative and there has been a mass move away from tax-and-spend values, an influential annual study said yesterday. Even Labour supporters have weakened in their belief in equality and redistribution of wealth, said the British Social Attitudes report. It said that after a dozen years of New Labour, 'British public opinion now has a more conservative character'.

For the first time in 20 years, more people called themselves Conservative than Labour, 32 per cent against 27 per cent. The large-scale survey, carried out every year since 1983, points to a hardening of views on many issues. People are less willing to consider legalising cannabis than they were just a few years ago and more than half think a single mother with a school-age child has a duty to go out to work to support the household. But there has also been a liberal swing on family life, with increasing numbers tolerating homosexuality and fewer condemning cohabiting couples.

The survey also found a declining sense of civic duty, with only 56 per cent believing everyone should vote in an election, down from 68 per cent in 1991.

The report says the shift of thinking against high public spending and the use of the tax system to redistribute wealth is the first resurgence of conservative values since Margaret Thatcher's premiership was nearing its end in 1989.

The survey, taken among nearly 5,000 people by the social research group NatCen, found that only two out of five back higher taxation, down from nearly two-thirds in 1997. However, the public remains devoted to spending on health and education - only eight per cent think those areas of spending should be cut.

Only 38 per cent now back spending to move wealth from the well-off to the poor, down from 51 per cent in 1994. Just one in five think unemployment benefits are too low, down from half in 1994.

The shift has been especially pronounced among Labour supporters who have followed the Blairite rejection of Old Labour values. Their belief in redistribution of wealth has dropped from 68 to 49 per cent since the mid-1990s, while Tory views have hardly changed. John Curtice, one of the authors of the report, said: 'Labour's increased public spending on health and education was an astute recognition of the public mood in the late 1990s. But the public's thirst has now been satisfied.'

The survey was funded by Whitehall ministries and quangos including the Economic and Social Research Council.



Obama's loose grip on reality

President Obama's response to the catastrophic political failures of his freshman year in office is to fight harder for more of the same. Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett made the point explicitly on Sunday, asserting that the White House is "not hitting a reset button at all." That reflects the kind of political savvy that handed the safest Democratic Senate seat in America to a Republican.

Mr. Obama seems unaware that he is part of the problem. The president credited Scott Brown's historic Senate-race victory in Massachusetts last week to the same voter frustration that swept him into office in 2008. The glitch in that worldview is that Mr. Brown ran explicitly against the Obama agenda.

Mr. Obama's response to comparisons to 1994, when Democrats lost control of both the House and Senate, is that "the big difference here and in '94 was you've got me." Mr. Obama certainly is making a big difference, but none that should give comfort to his party.

Gallup polling data show he is the most polarizing first-year president since records have been kept, significantly more so than Bill Clinton, the previous record holder. Mr. Obama's approval rating dropped faster than Mr. Clinton's in his first year, and generic ballots for the 2010 race show Republicans in an as good or better position compared to 1994 or 2006, when Congress last changed hands. A Fox News poll from January 2006 found a 51 percent disapproval rate for the then-Republican Congress. The same poll this month shows disapproval with the Democratic Congress at 63 percent.

The White House claims it hasn't reached out enough to the American people, but the real problem is that Mr. Obama's vaunted oratorical skills have had a short shelf life. In the administration's first months, the president regularly took to the airwaves to push his agenda, attempting to mimic President Reagan's effective use of television to circumvent congressional roadblocks. However, networks began to push back when it became clear that giving up valuable prime-time slots to Mr. Obama meant ratings death. Now the half-serious story making the rounds is that the State of the Union speech was scheduled so as not to conflict - or compete - with the premiere of the final season of "Lost." The president's relentless reliance on teleprompters likewise has become a national joke, building the impression that America elected a reader when it needs a leader.

The Obama team is reaching out to 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe for damage control, which suggests that since they cannot govern, they might as well campaign. Mr. Plouffe counsels pushing ahead vigorously on health care, which would doom many Democratic members of Congress. He suggests that the government "create" jobs, which it claims to be doing even as unemployment swells. He says the Democrats should not accept any "lectures" on spending, even though last year's $1.42 trillion deficit tripled the record set in 2008. Mr. Plouffe advises that Democrats "run great campaigns," which is the equivalent of a coach telling his team that the way to win is to score more points. He also helpfully cautions against "bed-wetting," an echo of Mr. Obama's admonition not to get "wee-wee'd up." Apparently Democrats see bladder control as the key to victory.

Mr. Obama is in a state of denial. His party's losses in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts all sent the message that the American people want the party in power to govern more wisely. For the time being, Democrats still enjoy substantial margins in both houses, but their agenda is stalled because it's painfully out of step with what the country wants. Mr. Obama pledges to keep on fighting, but pushing harder for ruinously bad policies is not populism; it is political suicide.



NYT columnist slams the Donks

Noted black columnist Bob Herbert writing below. If the Donks have lost the NYT, what is left?

How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.

The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.

While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.

The public interest? Forget about it.

With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care, the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

A new study from the Brookings Institution tells us that the largest and fastest-growing population of poor people in the U.S. is in the suburbs. You don’t hear about this from the politicians who are always so anxious to tell you, in between fund-raisers and photo-ops, what a great job they’re doing. From 2000 to 2008, the number of poor people in the U.S. grew by 5.2 million, reaching nearly 40 million. That represented an increase of 15.4 percent in the poor population, which was more than twice the increase in the population as a whole during that period.

The study does not include data from 2009, when so many millions of families were just hammered by the recession. So the reality is worse than the Brookings figures would indicate.

Job losses, stagnant or reduced wages over the past decade, and the loss of home equity when the housing bubble burst have combined to take a horrendous toll on families who thought they had done all the right things and were living the dream. A great deal of that bleeding is in the suburbs. The study, compiled by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, said, “Suburbs gained more than 2.5 million poor individuals, accounting for almost half of the total increase in the nation’s poor population since 2000.”

Democrats in search of clues as to why voters are unhappy may want to take a look at the report. In 2008, a startling 91.6 million people — more than 30 percent of the entire U.S. population — fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which is a meager $21,834 for a family of four.

The question for Democrats is whether there is anything that will wake them up to their obligation to extend a powerful hand to ordinary Americans and help them take the government, including the Supreme Court, back from the big banks, the giant corporations and the myriad other predatory interests that put the value of a dollar high above the value of human beings.

The Democrats still hold the presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress. The idea that they are not spending every waking hour trying to fix the broken economic system and put suffering Americans back to work is beyond pathetic. Deficit reduction is now the mantra in Washington, which means that new large-scale investments in infrastructure and other measures to ease the employment crisis and jump-start the most promising industries of the 21st century are highly unlikely.

What we’ll get instead is rhetoric. It’s cheap, so we can expect a lot of it.

Those at the bottom of the economic heap seem all but doomed in this environment. The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston put the matter in stark perspective after analyzing the employment challenges facing young people in Chicago: “Labor market conditions for 16-19 and 20-24-year-olds in the city of Chicago in 2009 are the equivalent of a Great Depression-era, especially for young black men.”

The Republican Party has abandoned any serious approach to the nation’s biggest problems, economic or otherwise. It may be resurgent, but it’s not a serious party. That leaves only the Democrats; a party that once championed working people and the poor, but has long since lost its way.



Another bad sign for Democrats: Sarah Palin is popular in liberal San Francisco

In San Francisco, I haven’t seen too many bumper stickers saying “Palin for Prez in 2012,” but if you’re looking for a gauge of America’s current political temperature, look no farther than liberal San Francisco, where Sarah Palin – yes, that Sarah Palin – has a widespread fan base. In the city that begat the Summer of Love and jump-started the counter-culture movement, the conservative ex-governor of Alaska has become a much-admired figure – among both women and men.

Let me name some names. Nancy Workman. Steve Rodriguez. Shevon O’Rourke Dieterich. Mark Silverman. Roy Azem. Maureen Ennor. All of them are connected to San Francisco, and all of them admire Palin in a public way. How public? Workman, Rodriguez, Dieterich, Silverman, Azem, and Ennor spotlight their support for Palin on Facebook, which is the place to go these days and advertise your allegiances.

Rodriguez told me that Palin “is a leader who could bring this country true change,” adding that, “Sarah Palin is a perfect example of a strong-minded and strong-willed woman who can be an extremely positive role model for women who don’t have to abandon their values in order to achieve a high professional status. She is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs.”

Rodriguez supports the Republican Party, but he and other San Francisco fans of Palin are no fringe group. Rodriguez enjoys the Sopranos, listens to Marvin Gaye, and is a fan of a tattoo site that shows off celebrities (Rihanna, Eminem, et al.) and their fashionable markings. Silverman, a producer for a San Francisco radio station, is into stand-up and improv comedy. Workman, who works for a consulting firm, admires the heroic airline pilot Sulley Sullenberger and comic Dennis Miller. Azem watches South Park, and listens to Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and Michael Jackson. Ennor also likes Michael Jackson – along with Johnny Depp and Johnny Cash. Dieterich is a Facebook fan of a company that makes gourmet alcohol.

In the last week, there’s been lots of handwringing about the Democrats’ loss of Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat. Yesterday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich weighed in, writing that Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts is “a dire omen for the White House” – that President Obama has shown too little backbone in taking on the U.S. banking system and pushing through healthcare reform, while jobs continue to evaporate. Into this void came Scott Brown, who credited his victory to Massachussets’ “independent majority,” then warned Obama and his fellow Democrats: “For them it is just the beginning of an election year filled with surprises. They will be challenged again and again across this country. When there’s trouble in Massachusetts, there’s trouble everywhere – and now they know it.”

Yes, they do. So does Palin, who hopes the Democrats’ troubles continue until 2012, when the Iowa caucus will be held. Political columnist Walter Shapiro has outlined a scenario where Palin could win the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination. For the legions of anti-Palinates out there, the idea of a Palin presidency is more than sickening. It’s absurd. But Palin – unlike Obama – has seen her poll numbers go up of late. I once called Palin “the Wicked Wink of the West,” but she could have the last laugh if former Democratic seats continue to go into the Republican column. Talking to Rodriguez online has given me a greater sense of Palin’s power to attract voters looking for a giant change of pace.



Who is Ellie Light?

I predict you’ll start seeing the question as a popular bumper sticker soon (a la “Who is John Galt?”…and voila, someone has already made a t-shirt!). It’s a handy rhetorical rejoinder the next time the White House or your nutroots neighbors and co-workers try to tar the Tea Party or any other grass-roots revolts against President Obama as phony, top-down operations.

When Obama’s Soros-funded, Big Labor-directed, K Street-organized goons engage in classic projection and you need a glib way to call out the pot calling the kettle black, just snap back: "Who is Ellie Light?"

A Cleveland Plain Dealer blog first broke the story over the weekend of a “suspicious” letter-writer named “Ellie Light” who submitted more than a dozen pro-Obama letters to the editors in recent weeks using addresses from Philadelphia to California and all points in between. Open-source-optimizing blogger Patterico has added much more information on both “Donald Trump Astroturfing” (”a letter published in multiple places from one person claiming to live in multiple cities”) and “David Axelrod Astroturfing” (”identical letters published in multiple places claiming to be from different people”).

Kudos to the Plain Dealer for smoking out the initial ringer and Patterico and his readers/tipsters for delving deeper. But so much for the rest of the vaunted gate-keepers of the Fourth Estate, eh?

The bogus letters are just the latest example of Obama theater — doctors in costumes, town hall stage props, trumped-up Obamacare anecdotes, kiddie proxies, etc., etc., etc. Underscoring this administration’s dependence on centrally planned, teleprompter-dependent perpetual campaigns of manufactured support, the other half of Obama’s Astroturf Twin Power — David Plouffe — will soon rejoin Chicago cronies David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and the rest to rescue the Democrats in a new expanded role as outside White House adviser.




Obama knows he is finished: "US President Barack Obama would rather be a good one-term president than a "mediocre" leader who served eight years. As he navigates his latest political storm, Mr Obama told ABC News ahead of his State of the Union address tomorrow that he wanted to look back in future at his time in office and say he had tackled the most challenging issues - not just what was popular. “I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” Mr Obama said in the interview, excerpts of which were released on the ABC News website. The president, who last week saw his Democratic Party lose its super-majority in Congress when Republicans snatched a Senate seat in Massachusetts, said he would not shirk from tackling big issues. “You know, there is a tendency in Washington to believe our job description, of elected officials, is to get re-elected. “That's not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people. “I don't want to look back on my time here and say to myself all I was interested in was nurturing my own popularity.” Mr Obama goes into the State of the Union address with his ambitious health care reform plan in limbo, doubts clouding his wider agenda and his poll numbers hovering around the critical 50 per cent level".

Obama does something half-right: "The Obama administration has agreed to sell a new package of arms to Taiwan in a move that is expected to be met with an angry response from China, according to U.S. officials. The long-delayed arms package will include offers of sales of UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopters and additional Patriot PAC-3 missile defenses, but not additional F-16 jets that the island's government has sought to modernize its air forces, according to congressional and administration officials. Additionally, the Taiwanese military will be offered defense communications equipment, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. One official familiar with the discussions said the F-16 sale was rejected as "too provocative" to the Chinese. A Taiwan diplomatic source said the F-16s were needed to replace aging warplanes and because the production line for the jet could be closed soon."


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, January 25, 2010

More politically-correct inability to see the obvious

Both sides of the debate below seem to be assuming that it is upbringing that is responsible for the difference in children's intellectual achievement -- when all the research shows that genetics is the major influence -- with upbringing of negligible importance. Smart people tend to get rich and pass on their smart genes to their children -- and that is all there is to it. The finding is in fact just another confirmation of Charles Murray's well-known scholarly work that showed a strong link between social class and IQ. To be very blunt about it, the poor tend to be dumb and the rich tend to be smart. There are of course exceptions but that is the general tendency that is being detected below

A CHILD’S reading age and ability to count develop a month earlier for every extra £100 a month in family income, according to a government-funded study to be unveiled this week. Gaps in the development of children from different socio-economic backgrounds appear by the age of three and widen until 14. The findings, written by a panel chaired by Professor John Hills, are based on the Millennium Cohort Project which tracks 19,000 youngsters.

It will fuel divisions between Labour and the Tories over the link between a child’s prospects and household income.

Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, said last night: “[The report] provides an incontrovertible basis for us to move beyond inaccurate assertions made by the opposition ... David Cameron says that the differences in child outcomes between a child born in poverty and a child born in wealth are statistically insignificant when both have been raised by confident and able parents. “But what he fails to say is that you can’t separate out good parenting skills from family income. The two are so strongly correlated. So this is an utterly misleading portrayal of the evidence.”

The report says inequalities are exacerbated by differences in the mother’s education, the father’s job and deprivation in the area where they live. Details of how far up the salary scale the effect occurs are expected in the report.



Brain areas linked to mental performance

What? It's not "poverty" that makes you dumb? Once again the data contradict Leftist nostrums. Many of the skills mentioned below are closely linked to IQ. Mental speed and brain size have long been known as correlated with IQ. So the research below confirms a lot in IQ research. Note the confirmation that IQ can't be "trained"

HOW well you play a video game can be predicted by measuring the size of structures in your brain. Researchers have found certain brain centres play a vital role in influencing traits crucial to video game success. The findings could lead to applications for education and treatment of dementia.

The study, published in the scientific journal Cerebral Cortex, adds to evidence that a collection of distinctive tissues deep in the brain influence the ability to refine motor skills, learn, plan, and adapt quickly to a changing environment. "This is the first time that we've been able to take a real-world task like a video game and show that the size of specific brain regions is predictive of performance and learning rates," said University of Pittsburgh psychology professor Kirk Erickson.

The study was done by Pittsburgh University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois.

Researchers explored an anomaly between novice and veteran players. Research had shown expert players outperformed novices in areas such as attention and perception. But training novices for endless hours produced no measurable benefit to their cognitive abilities.

The study's authors believed existing differences between individual brains might explain the anomaly. They concentrated on an area known as the striatum. "Our animal work has shown that the striatum is a kind of learning machine - it becomes active during habit formation and skill acquisition," said McGovern Institute investigator Ann Graybiel. "So it made a lot of sense to explore whether the striatum might also be related to the ability to learn in humans."

The researchers used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging to analyse brain regions of 39 adults aged between 18-28 who'd spent less than three hours a week playing video games in the previous two years.

Half were asked to focus on maximising their score; the rest were asked to periodically shift priorities, improving skills in one area before moving to something else. Players who had a larger brain "reward centre" did better early on; players whose brain centres for motor skills and adaptation were larger performed best overall.



Democrats now dissatisfied with Obama

At the end of Barack Obama’s worst week since taking power a year ago, the US president’s fortunes look set only to deteriorate over the coming days. Following the shock defeat of the Democratic candidate in Massachusetts on Tuesday, a move that deprived the president of his 60-seat super-majority in the Senate and left his legislative agenda in tatters, Mr Obama has just four days to reboot the system.

The US president had originally delayed next week’s State of the Union address to Congress in the hope he would get his signature healthcare reform bill enacted in time. That prospect, already waning, was killed dead by the voters in Massachusetts. A growing number of Democrats believe the nine-month effort could collapse altogether.

The death of the healthcare effort would rob Mr Obama of what he had hoped would be the centrepiece of his first State of the Union message. “It now looks extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get anything resembling a broad healthcare bill out of Congress,” said Scott Lilley, a senior fellow at the liberal Centre for American Progress, the think-tank that is closest to the White House. “In his State of the Union, Obama has to slim down his ambitions. It should be short and simple and focus on jobs.”

However, even a more modest agenda looks tough for Mr Obama now. Believing their strategy of total opposition was vindicated by the voters last Tuesday, Republicans are in even less of a mood to co-operate with Democrats than before. The difference is that with 41 seats in the Senate they are in a position to block almost anything Mr Obama proposes – including the Wall Street regulatory measures he announced on Thursday.

“Obama has to decide whether he wants to be a transformational president, which looks optimistic at this stage, or merely an effective president,” says Bruce Josten, head of government affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, which has spent tens of millions of dollars opposing healthcare. “My advice would be that he pick up the phone and ask for Bill Clinton’s advice on how to recover from a situation like this.”

Nor can Mr Obama rely on unity within his own party, which has been in disarray, if not panic, since Tuesday. For example, Mr Obama’s more populist tack on Wall Street re-regulation failed to attract endorsement from Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee, even though he was present when Mr Obama made the announcement.

Others, such as Tim Johnson, Democratic senator for South Dakota and a senior member of the banking committee, were already opposed to elements of Mr Obama’s regulatory proposals including the plan to establish a consumer financial protection agency.

Worse, most people do not think Mr Obama can even command unity within his own administration on the Wall Street proposals amid growing speculation about whether Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, can survive in his job. Mr Geithner was conspicuously sidelined during Thursday’s announcement by the presence of Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman, who lent his name to the push to rein in Wall Street banks.

The speculation about Mr Geithner is only likely to grow. “The Obama proposals were clearly politically motivated and came from the White House not the Treasury,” says a Democratic adviser to the administration, who withheld his name.

Finally, there is increasingly open Democratic disaffection about the way Mr Obama is managing relations with Capitol Hill. Many believe that Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama’s aggressive chief of staff, served Mr Obama badly by persuading the president that his election was a transformational moment in US politics that gave him the opportunity to push through long-cherished Democratic goals, such as healthcare reform.

In fact, exit polls from Mr Obama’s election showed that almost two-thirds of the voters cited the economy as their chief concern, with fewer than one in 10 mentioning healthcare. Mr Emanuel is also perceived to have mishandled the day-to-day logistics of getting healthcare through Congress.

By leaving the scripting of the details of the healthcare bill to Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, the White House openly courted the risk of chaos. Tellingly, in his victory speech in Boston on Tuesday, Scott Brown, the new Republican senator, cited voter disdain for the sight of lots of “old men” on Capitol Hill bickering over healthcare reform at a time when their priority was jobs.

“I haven’t seen Rahm Emanuel except on television,” Jim Pascrell, a Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey, told Politico, the news website, on Friday. “We used to see him a lot; I’d like him to come out from behind his desk and meet with the common folk.”

In short, Mr Obama’s nightmare January could easily slip into a nightmare February. “Unless and until the president changes the way his White House, works, things are going to continue to go badly for him,” says the head of a Democratic think-tank. “Heads still have to roll.”



Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive

The Obamabots can't keep their lies straight

White House advisers appearing on the Sunday talk shows gave three different estimates of how many jobs could be credited to President Obama’s Recovery Act. The discrepancy was pointed out by a Republican official in an email to reporters noting that “Three presidential advisers on three different programs [gave] three different descriptions of the trillion-dollar stimulus bill.”

Valerie Jarrett had the most conservative count, saying “the Recovery Act saved thousands and thousands of jobs,” while David Axelrod gave the bill the most credit, saying it has “created more than – or saved more than 2 million jobs.” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs came in between them, saying the plan had “saved or created 1.5 million jobs.”

Their remarks in context:

Axelrod, on CNN’s State of the Union: “But understand that, in this recession that began at the beginning of 2007, we've lost 7 million jobs. Now, the Recovery Act the president passed has created more than — or saved more than 2 million jobs. But against 7 million, you know, that — that is — it is cold comfort to those who still are looking.”

Jarrett, on NBC’s Meet the Press: “The Recovery Act saved thousands and thousands of jobs. There are schoolteachers and firemen and— and— teachers all across our country, policemen, who have jobs today because of that recovery act. We're investing in infrastructure. We're investing in public education so that our kids can compete going forth into the next— generation.”

Gibbs, on “Fox News Sunday”: “Well, Chris, let's take for instance the example you just used of the stimulus package. We had four quarters of economic regression in terms of growth, right? Just last quarter, we finally saw the first positive economic job growth in more than a year. Largely as a result of the recovery plan that's put money back into our economy, that saved or created 1.5 million jobs.”




The President of the United States addressed 6th grade students at the Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia on Tuesday, January 19, 2010. For this speech, he brought along teleprompters, Presidential Seal podium, speakers, lighting etc.

What has this Presidency come to, when all the above props are needed to speak with 6th grade students?




Obamabot laments that tea partiers keep Republicans honest: "NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday said the Tea Party movement has made it impossible for President Obama to buy the Republican votes he needs to pass his agenda. Appearing on "Meet the Press," Todd told his fellow panelists, "I think the most striking thing about the minority party that a Republican can't go home, and it's mostly because of this tea party crowd, cannot go home and sell a piece of pork that they got from Washington." In Todd's view, this makes it tough for Obama because "it's not as if he can trade, you know, go and have these trades with a Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, or let's say Lamar [Alexander]...or something like this, because they're not getting a benefit at home of bringing something back" (video embedded below the fold with transcript):

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


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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)