Friday, April 23, 2010

St George's Day

It is late Friday night as I am writing this in Australia, which means that it is sometime around Friday morning in America and around lunchtime in Britain.

And Friday 23rd is of course St. George's day -- England's national day. So as I am mainly of English descent, I thought it appropriate to mark the day -- which I did. I have had the St George cross flying from my flagpole all day and we had a leisurely commemorative dinner for just four family members.

We started the evening by standing and singing "God save the Queen" (the English national anthem) followed by a toast to the Queen and a toast to "St. George and merrie England". Then we sat down to a meal of England's favourite food: curry.

We washed the curry down with some good Australian "champagne" and a very pleasant evening was had by all. The chat over dinner was very wide-ranging and at one stage I even read a couple of choice excerpts from the 39 "Articles of Religion" from the 1662 "Book of Common Prayer" of the Church of England. None of us are religious but we still enjoyed the power of those historic words.


Gangster Government Becomes a Long-Running Series

Almost a year ago, in a Washington Examiner column on the Chrysler bailout, I reflected on the Obama administration's decision to force bondholders to accept 33 cents on the dollar on secured debts while giving United Auto Worker retirees 50 cents on the dollar on unsecured debts.

This was a clear violation of the ordinary bankruptcy rule that secured creditors are fully paid off before unsecured creditors get anything. The politically connected UAW folk got preference over politically unconnected bondholders. "We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government," I wrote. "It is likely to be a continuing series."

Fast forward to last Friday, when the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Goldman Sachs, alleging that the firm violated the law when it sold a collateralized debt obligation based on mortgage-backed securities without disclosing that the CDO was assembled with the help of hedge fund investor John Paulson.

On its face, the complaint seems flimsy. Paulson has since become famous because his firm made billions by betting against mortgage-backed securities. But he wasn't a big name then, and the sophisticated firm buying the CDO must have assumed the seller believed its value would go down.

That's not the only fishy thing about the complaint. Yesterday came the news, undisclosed by the SEC Friday, that the commissioners approved the complaint by a 3-2 party-line vote. Ordinarily, the SEC issues such complaints only when the commissioners unanimously approve.

Fishy thing No. 3: Democrats immediately used the complaint to jam Sen. Christopher Dodd's financial regulation through the Senate.

You may want to believe the denials that the Democratic commissioners timed the action in coordination with the administration or congressional leaders. But then you may want to believe there was no political favoritism in the Chrysler deal, too. The SEC complaint looks a lot like Gangster Government to me.

The Dodd bill, however, has it trumped. Its provisions promise to give us one episode of Gangster Government after another.

At the top of the list is the $50 billion fund that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp could use to pay off creditors of firms identified as systemically risky -- i.e., "too big to fail."

"The Dodd bill," writes Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman, "has unlimited executive bailout authority. That's something Wall Street desperately wants but doesn't dare ask for."

Politically connected creditors would have every reason to assume they'd get favorable treatment. The Dodd bill specifically authorizes the FDIC to treat "creditors similarly situated" differently.

Second, as former Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey points out, the Dodd bill gives the Treasury and the FDIC authority to grant an unlimited number of loan guarantees to "too big to fail" firms. CEOs might want to have receipts for their contributions to Sen. Charles Schumer and the Obama campaign in hand when they apply.

Lindsey ticks off other special favors. "Labor gets 'proxy access' to bring its agenda items before shareholders as well as annual 'say on pay' for executives. Consumer activists get a brand new agency funded directly out of the seniorage the Fed earns. No oversight by the Federal Reserve Board or by Congress on how the money is spent."

Then there are carve-out provisions provided for particular interests. "Obtaining a carve-out isn't rocket science," one Republican K Street lobbyist told the Huffington Post. "Just give Chairman Dodd and Chuck Schumer a s---load of money."

The Obama Democrats portray the Dodd bill as a brave attempt to clamp tougher regulation on Wall Street. They know that polls show voters strongly reject just about all their programs to expand the size and scope of government, with the conspicuous exception of financial regulation.

Republicans have been accurately attacking the Dodd bill for authorizing bailouts of big Wall Street firms and giving them unfair advantages over small competitors. They might want to add that it authorizes Gangster Government -- the channeling of vast sums from the politically unprotected to the politically connected.

That can boomerang even against the latter. Goldman Sachs employees gave nearly $1 million to the Obama campaign and $4.5 million to Democrats in 2008. That didn't prevent Goldman from being shoved under the SEC bus.

Gangster Government may look good to those currently in favor, but as some of Al Capone's confederates found out, that status is not permanent, and there is always more room under the bus.



John Stossel and the Media's "Statist Syndrome"

When he first began his career as a crusading consumer journalist in the 1970s, John Stossel believed fervently that higher taxes and greater government involvement in the marketplace were integral checks against corporate greed and malfeasance. With an irreverent, intelligent and skeptical tone that riled corporations – but resonated with viewers – Stossel’s career flourished, leading him to the pinnacle of his profession at ABC News.

But then Stossel experienced a metamorphosis in his thinking. After observing the chronic, costly failure of so many of the numerous big government solutions that he and his media colleagues repeatedly prescribed for society’s ills, Stossel reexamined his fundamental beliefs.

“I started out by viewing the marketplace as a cruel place, where you need intervention by government and lawyers to protect people,” Stossel explained shortly after undergoing his transformation. “But after watching the regulators work, I have come to believe that markets are magical and the best protectors of the consumer.”

In fact, Stossel realized that in most cases regulators and bureaucrats only made matters worse, spending billions of tax dollars on so-called “solutions” that invariably wound up creating larger problems. Needless to say, Stossel’s conversion to free market, libertarian principles – which he trumpeted every bit as loudly as he had previously trumpeted government interventionism – was not warmly received by his colleagues.

“Once I started applying the same skepticism to government, I stopped winning awards,” the 19-time Emmy Award-winner said.

Today, Stossel is at the center of another media debate – only this time he’s not just telling the story, he’s a big part of the story.

In October of 2009 Stossel – who has also published two best-selling books – announced that he was leaving ABC News after 28 years to take a position with FOX News, which is widely regarded as the most “pro-free market” of America’s major TV news networks. Ordinarily a reporter moving from one network to another isn’t considered big news, but in Stossel’s case it’s significant.

While both Stossel and ABC describe their break-up in the most amicable of terms, the fact remains that ABC has been among the most vocal cheerleaders of the Obama administration and, in particular, his recently-passed socialized medicine plan. Stossel, meanwhile, watched as his reports on the perils of “Obamacare” struggled to find airtime. And while /20/20/ (to its credit) permitted Stossel’s voice to be heard, his perspective was increasingly drowned out by a steady barrage of pro-Obama news coverage as well as a glorified “Prescription for America” infomercial from the White House.

In fact, during the first six months of 2009, an analysis by the Business and Media Institute found that ABC’s health care stories featured Obama or supporters of his policies 55 times compared to just 18 times for critics of the administration’s plan – a 3-to-1 advantage.

Speaking of 3-to-1 margins, though, the public clearly isn’t overlooking this ongoing media bias.

In fact, in each year from 2001 through 2009, Gallup polling revealed that three times as many Americans viewed the media as being too liberal compared to those who believed it had a pro-conservative bias.

And more of those Americans than ever before now vote with their television remotes, as network ratings from the first quarter of 2010 were a bloodbath for CNN and MSNBC, arguably the nation’s top two “pro-government” networks. Larry King’s show – CNN’s top-rated program – saw its numbers among the coveted 25-54 year-old demographic decline by 43 percent from last year, while Anderson Cooper’s show experienced a 42 percent decline. At MSNBC, the network’s top two primetime programs, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “The Rachel Maddow Show,” saw their ratings plunge by 43 percent and 38 percent.

Meanwhile, viewers continued flocking to Stossel’s new home at FOX, which saw its top three shows expand their audiences by anywhere from 25-50 percent over the previous year – giving FOX more viewers than CNN, MSNBC and CNBC combined and extending its streak as the nation’s number one network to 100 months. Also, Stossel’s new TV show thrives on FOX Business Network.

Clearly, the free market is still alive and well in America – if only in our marketplace of ideas.



Tea Party is a ‘bowel movement,’ says ACORN boss Bertha Lewis

It is she who looks like the sh*t-headed one to me. Going by her utterances below, she's certainly got sh*t for brains

ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis praised socialism and said the Tea Party was a “bowel movement” filled with racists in a speech to a left-wing youth group, a new video shows.

The edited two-minute video surfaced on the Verum Serum blog Wednesday as a federal appeals court reversed a lower court ruling and temporarily upheld a congressional ban on funding the faltering community activist group.

The comments by Lewis came during a March 25 speech to the winter conference of the Young Democratic Socialists, which is the youth arm of the radical Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). DSA is closely tied to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, an 80-plus member group of left-wing Democratic lawmakers.

President Obama worked for ACORN’s Project Vote affiliate, trained ACORN organizers and represented ACORN as a lawyer.

Although ACORN leaders typically refuse to be labeled as socialists because they realize the term carries with it a negative connotation in American culture, Lewis openly embraced socialism.

“First of all let me just say any group that says, ‘I’m young, I’m democratic, and I’m a socialist,’ is alright with me,” Lewis said.

Lewis then seemed to predict that America would soon enter a period of possibly violent upheaval. “Right now we are living in a time which is going to dwarf the McCarthy era,” she said. “It is going to dwarf the internments during World War II. We are right now in a time that is going to dwarf the era of Jim Crow and segregation.”

Lewis told the audience unnamed forces are “coming after you.” They are “going to be brutal and repressive. They’ve already shown it to you,” she said. “Organize. Get out into the street. You really have got to circle the wagons. This is not rhetoric or hyperbole. This is real.”

Lewis said to applause that the Tea Party movement, a grassroots movement against big government, was a “bowel movement in my estimation” that is associated with “racism.”

Meanwhile, ACORN lost a round in court after the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated a congressional ban on federal funding of the advocacy group.

A three-judge panel slapped a stay on a ruling by federal judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York who ruled the funding ban was an unconstitutional bill of attainder that punished ACORN without a trial. The Department of Justice filed the appeal that led to the ruling.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said the ruling reversed Gershon’s “attempt to legislate from the bench.” Congress has “the constitutional right to deny an organization the benefit of taxpayer dollars,” he said.

The appeals panel gave the parties to the lawsuit until May 24 to file briefs on the case. Oral arguments are expected soon after.

Outside the appellate court hearing, Lewis told reporters ACORN was barely alive. “We’re still alive. We’re limping along. We’re on life support,” she said. Although ACORN previously said it planned to dissolve its national structure on April 1, the group continues to operate. As recently as last week, ACORN sent out an e-mail soliciting funds from its supporters.

The ACORN empire of activism remains in flux. At least a dozen state chapters have disaffiliated themselves and incorporated under new names. The largest of the state chapters, California, has morphed into a new entity called Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.




US Navy Seal cleared over beating of Iraqi terrorist suspect: "A US Navy Seal was cleared on Thursday of collusion in an assault on an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding a 2004 attack that killed four American security contractors. Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, 28, was found not guilty by a six-man military jury of dereliction of duty by failing to stop a colleague from punching the prisoner, Ahmed Hashim Abed. He was also acquitted on charges of trying to cover up the assault by influencing the testimony of another service member. The verdict will be welcomed by veterans groups and other supporters in the United States, where the case has brought calls from congressmen for the department of defence to step in and stop the trial."

US military launches X-37B reusable spaceship: "An unmanned Atlas rocket carrying a miniature space shuttle blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Thursday on a technology test flight that could last as long as nine months. The 20-story rocket, built by United Launch Alliance — a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing — lifted off at 7:52 p.m. ET and soared over the Atlantic Ocean, heading toward orbit.”

Police find Tea Parties more peaceful than anti-war protests: "On Monday, the Christian Science Monitor bucked its mainstream peers by reporting something truthful about the TEA party movement: police officials have begun to relax security requirements at conservative rallies because of the remarkable absence of violence. Yes, you read that right: despite nonstop media warnings about hateful protests, violence from TEA party attendants is so nonexistent that police feel safe allowing them to bring large items and sometimes even guns. … No matter how much prominent liberals talk about rampant violence, the facts on the ground tell a different story, and reporters end up leaving with rather dull footage — no police clashes, no tear gas, no images of people being carted away.”


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thanks For What?

Rather than protesting the greatest expansion of government in U.S. history, Tea Party attendees should be thanking Big Government for all it's done. At least, that's what President Obama thinks.

As the Associated Press reported Thursday, the president said he was "amused" by the Tea Party faithful gathering in cities across America to protest soaring government spending, ballooning debt and the explosion in taxes that will be needed to pay for it all. "You would think they'd be saying thank you," he said.

And why should they be thankful? As the president himself said on his weekly radio address a week ago, "one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000; that's another promise we kept."

In fact, that wasn't his promise at all. Here's what candidate Obama really said in September of 2008: "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

Got that? "Not any of your taxes." The claim of no tax hikes on those below $250,000 as a result of the current administration's policies is completely and utterly false.

A report from the House Ways & Means Committee's GOP members notes that, since January 2009, Congress and the president have enacted $670 billion in tax increases. That's $2,100 for each person in America. At least 14 of those tax hikes, the report says, break Obama's pledge not to raise taxes on those earning less than $250,000. Roughly $316 billion of the tax hikes — 14 increases in all — hit middle-class families, the report says.

This comes in addition to recent data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing U.S. spending and indebtedness growing at an alarming rate. Government spending now totals 25% of GDP, a quarter above its long-term average. By 2035, it will hit 34% of GDP at current trends — a 70% increase in the real size of government in just 25 years.

More spending means more debt. In 2008, total federal publicly held debt was about $8.5 trillion — an amount Uncle Sam took 220 years to accumulate. By 2020, that will soar to $20.3 trillion, a 139% jump. No surprise the Government Accountability Office last week said the U.S. is on "an unsustainable long-term fiscal path."



Obama's Goldman hypocrisy

While President Obama assails the culture of greed and recklessness practiced by the men of Goldman Sachs, his administration is infested with them. The White House can no more disown Government Sachs than Obama can disown Chicago politics.

Obama is headed to Wall Street tomorrow to demand "financial regulatory reform" -- just as the US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed civil suit against Goldman Sachs for mortgage-related fraud.

Question the timing? Darn tootin'.

As the New York Post reported Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee immediately bought sponsored Internet ads on Google that direct Web surfers who type in "Goldman Sachs SEC" to Obama's fund-raising site.

"It's time to hold the big banks accountable," the DNC message bellows.

Democrats are silent on the $994,795 in Goldman Sachs campaign cash that Obama bagged in the 2008 presidential race. The class-warfare Dems are also mum on all the president's Goldman men sitting in the catbird's seat:

* Goldman Sachs partner Gary Gensler is Obama's Commodity Futures Trading Commission head. He was confirmed despite heated congressional grilling over his role, as Reuters described it, "as a high-level Treasury official in a 2000 law that exempted the $58 trillion credit default swap market from oversight. The financial instruments have been blamed for amplifying global financial turmoil."

Gensler said he was sorry -- hey, it worked for tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner -- and was quickly installed to guard the henhouse.

* Goldman kept White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on a $3,000 monthly retainer while he worked as presidential candidate Bill Clinton's chief fund-raiser, as first reported by Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney. The financial titans threw in another $50,000 to become the Clinton primary campaign's top funder.

Emanuel received nearly $80,000 in campaign contributions from Goldman during his four terms in Congress -- investments that have reaped untold rewards, as Emanuel assumed a leading role championing the trillion-dollar TARP banking bailout law.

* Former Goldman lobbyist Mark Patterson serves under Geithner as his top deputy and overseer of TARP bailout -- $10 billion of which went to Goldman Sachs.

Paul Blumenthal of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based think tank devoted to transparency in government, noted that, while Patterson agreed to recuse himself on any Goldman Sachs-related issues or related policy concerns, it "still creates a serious conflict for Geithner, as Treasury is being partly managed by a former Goldman lobbyist. Geithner is also placed in a tough position considering that his chief of staff is limited in the areas in which he can work (supposedly)."

* National Economic Council head Larry Summers reaped nearly $2.8 million in speaking fees from many of the major financial institutions and government bailout recipients he now polices, including JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Lehman Bros. and Goldman. A single speech to Goldman in April 2008 brought in $135,000.

Summers has prior experience negotiating government-sponsored bailouts that benefit private concerns. In 1995, he spearheaded a $40 billion Mexican peso bailout that bypassed Congress.

Summers personally leaned on the International Monetary Fund to provide nearly $18 billion for the package. Summers' boss, then Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, was former co-chairman of Goldman -- the Mexican government's investment banking firm of choice.

Rubin continues to mentor another of his former employees with regular visits and chats -- Treasury Secretary Geithner, who was head of the New York Federal Reserve in 2008 when it ordered bailed-out AIG not to disclose its sweetheart payments to big banks including, you guessed it, Goldman Sachs.

As Obama harangues Wall Street to clean up its house, all the president's Goldman Sachs men have their feet on the coffee table at his.



Tea Partyers, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Clinton

by Emmett Tyrrell

Not so long ago, there arose on the American political scene something called the Angry Left. It was an indignant group of ritualistic liberals whose appearance the mainstream media apprised us augured well for Democratic victory in 2008, and so it did. The Angry Left turned out the vote for the Prophet Obama. At the time, do you recall any public figure on the right stepping forward and warning against possible violence from the indignados of the Angry Left? Did, say, the Hon. Newt Gingrich step forward at a conservative forum, say The Heritage Foundation, and remind his fellow Americans of the bombings of government buildings, the burning of university libraries, the robbing of banks by angry leftists in years gone by? I cannot recall any such warnings from any conservative eminence.

It is not as though such lawlessness is unknown in American history. Politically motivated bombings, burnings and bank robberies actually have been committed in America by leftists. Some of those leftists are still with us, for instance, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, who were fugitives from justice for such antics and went on to become friends of the present president of the United States. In fact, lawlessness on the left still is being committed, for instance, at universities, where speakers who offend the left -- the Angry Left or simply the Fastidious Left -- are regularly shouted down or barred from scheduled appearances, as Ann Coulter recently was, at least, in Canada. Yet Newt has remained mum about the danger posed by the Angry Left, and it is not easy for Newt to remain mum.

Now just the other day, ex-President Bill Clinton -- some of us still call him The Groper -- rose up at the Center for American Progress and drew parallels between the tea partyers (call them the Caffeinated Right) and the homicidal maniacs who participated in the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people and injured hundreds more. Clinton's charge was typically duplicitous. "This tea party movement can be a healthy thing if they're making us justify every penny of taxes we've raised and every dollar of public money we've spent," Clinton opined. "But when you get mad, sometimes you wind up producing exactly the reverse result of what you say you are for," said the president famous for, among other things, his temper tantrums. He also said, "Before the (Oklahoma) bombing occurred, there was a sort of fever in America," which I guess depends on the meaning of the word "fever." I recall no fever, but then I was not impeached for lying and obstruction of justice.

A long-standing conceit of American liberals has been to lecture conservatives on how to conduct themselves. They are famous for telling us what we can and cannot say. They tell us we cannot call them socialists even when they take over industries and transform the federal budget into a simulacrum of European social democracy. Yet they can call us racists and enemies of the poor when we advance alternatives to such failed policies as affirmative action or welfare. In fact, much of the liberals' stance toward conservatives in our ongoing dialogue with them is an insult. The most recent politician to dabble in race-baiting was not a conservative, but Bill Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

What Clinton depicts as a precursor to more bombings modeled on the vile Oklahoma City bombing is nothing more than a civic upheaval inspired by American constitutional liberties. The tea partyers are no cause for alarm. For Clinton to suggest that these generally peaceful and good-natured libertarians are opening the door to domestic terror is Clinton at his reckless worst. In doing so, he has given would-be bombers cover for their evil acts. If more bombings of federal buildings follow, we can thank Clinton for his speech of encouragement. Ironically, federal investigators looking for the perpetrators might begin their investigations with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. No tea partyer I know has their record of violence.



BrookesNews Update

The booms and busts and the economic punditry's terrible grasp of economics : What makes manufacturing an important part of the boom-bust phenomenon is the crucial role that time plays in production. Once an understanding of the relationship of time to production has been grasped the importance of manufacturing as an economic bellwether becomes much clearer
The Australian economy's gloomy outlook : The Australian economy is doing just fine — if you ignore the parlous state of manufacturing. That manufacturing is the key economic indicator is completely lost on our economic commentariat, the sort of people who seriously argue for the existence of a "two-speed economy", which is like an obstetrician telling a women that she is half pregnant
Siemens to use green energy hoax to ripoff taxpayers : Siemens has come up with a wonderful scheme to make billions of dollars. Unfortunately it amounts to conning taxpayers out of their hard earned money by using the government to subsidise the company's renewable energy scam. It the seems the days have gone when Siemens made money by serving the public instead of milking it
Behavioral economics — breakthrough or dead end : Sit is being reported that so-called behavioural economics is playing significant role in shaping President Obama's economic decisions. Unfortunately behavioural economics is a dead end. Moreover, it will actually misdirects and retards economic thinking
The truth about the Bay of Pigs: They Fought Like Tigers : It is 50 years since the Bay of Pigs, Castro stooges are still lying about that tragic event. Humberto Fontova relates what really happened, including the Kennedy administration's treachery and cowardice
Jobs on aisle three: Leftists move to kill Walmart job-creation project : A gang of sensitive, caring and humane leftists have sabotaged a Walmart project that would have created hundreds of jobs in desolated downturn Chicago. These friends of Obama argue that the increased demand for labour would lower real wages! To prevent this outrage they plan to raise wage rates to a job-destroying level
Barack Obama: Enemy within : There's no other way to say it. As goes the war to preserve liberty, national sovereignty, national solvency and American exceptionalism: Intelligence suggests we have an enemy within


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Myths About Capitalism

by John Stossel

I won 19 Emmy Awards by reporting a myth: that business constantly rips us off -- that capitalism is mostly cruel and unfair. I know that's a myth now. So I was glad to see the publication of "The 5 Big Lies About American Business" by Michael Medved. I invite him on tomorrow's Fox Business Network show to talk about that.

"You can only make a profit in this country by giving people a product or a service that they want," he says. "It's the golden rule in action."

Medved used to write about the movies, so he's familiar with the businessman as villain. I'll play a clip from the movie "Syriana," in which an oil tycoon makes this ridiculous speech: "Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the street."

"What's interesting," Medved commented, "is that in the old days, Hollywood would have businesspeople who were very positive: George Bailey, the Jimmy Stewart character, is a banker in 'It's a Wonderful Life.'"

No longer. Today's movie capitalists are criminals or playboys. Apparently, Hollywood writers think it's plausible that CEOs have lots of time to sip cocktails and chase women.

"In school, we all studied a book called "The Theory of the Leisure Class," which ... indicted the leisure class and these people who were out there exploiting other people and really had nothing to do except sit on their yachts and go to their swimming pools and their vacations."

In real life, that's nonsense. "The higher up on the income scale you go, the less leisure time you have. You make money in this country by working hard."

Medved's second myth is that when the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. This is the old zero-sum fallacy, which ignores that when two people engage in free exchange, both gain -- or they wouldn't have traded. It's what I call the double thank-you phenomenon. I understand why politicians and lawyers believe it: It's true in their world. But it's not true in business.

"If you believe that when the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, then you believe that creating wealth causes poverty, and you're an idiot," said Medved. "One of the things that I hate is this term 'obscene profits.' There are no obscene profits ... . (The current economic downturn shows) "that when the rich get poorer ... everybody gets poorer."

Myth No. 3: Government is more fair and reliable than business. "Remember the last time you went into Starbucks, and then remember the last time you went into the DMV to get your license," Medved said. "Where did you get better treated? And it's not because the barista is some kind of idealist or humanitarian. She wants a tip. She wants you to come back to the Starbucks ... ."

But the left doesn't get it. "This is the suspicion of the profit motive -- the idea that if somebody is selflessly serving me, they're going to treat me better than somebody who wants to make a buck," Medved said. But "(i)f you think about it in your own life, if somebody is benefiting from his interaction with you ... it's a far more reliable kind of interaction than someone who comes and says I'm in this only for you."

Myth No. 4: The current downturn means the death of capitalism. "Capitalism is alive and well," Medved said.

I'm also bugged when people argue that today's problems prove that capitalism "failed." What failed? We had a correction. A bubble popped. But from 1982 to now, the Dow rose from 800 to 11,000. Had it happened without the bubble, we'd say this is one of the great boom periods.

Medved added: "This is one of the biggest lies -- the idea that because of capitalism, we're all suffering. ... Poor people in America today, people who are officially in poverty, have a higher standard of living in terms of medical standards, in terms of the chances of going to college, in terms of the way people live, than middle-class people did 30 years ago. It's an extraordinary achievement of technology and of the profit sector."



Regulations are made to be evaded

Igor Volsky at WonkRoom has just discovered that when you arbitrarily set restrictions on what sorts of expenses companies can take, they will arbitrarily reclassify those expenses as something else. Specifically, government officials think it would be nicer if insurance companies spent a higher percentage of their revenues on medical care rather than administrative overhead.

Without particularly investigating whether this was sound, or even possible, they enacted a rule dictating that the "medical loss ratio" had to be a fairly high percentage of revenues. Predictably, companies are reclassifying administrative expenses as medical in order to make their numbers.

Now, maybe this is an example of evil companies struggling to hold onto their profits. But you certainly couldn't prove it by Volsky's post. He seems to confuse administrative overhead with profits, and further seems unaware that overhead (apart from profits) is usually higher when dealing with a lot of small clients rather than a few big ones. He refers to the MLR rules as "one of the few ways to prevent insurers from earning outrageous profits before most of reform's provisions kick in", even though the health insurance industry isn't particularly profitable.

It is true, of course, that profits are part of the overhead targeted by the medical loss ratio rules. But it does not therefore follow, as night to day, that if you raise the percentage of money that you spend on treatment, you lower profits. It certainly doesn't follow that you lower profits the way you want to--by taking money from greedy executives and giving it to nice folks seeking treatment--rather than, say, by forcing companies with high overhead out of the market entirely.

He seems blind to the other obvious way to meet your MLR requirements: stop searching for fraud on either the customer or provider end, and let costs balloon. If you stop paying attention to controlling costs, your overhead goes down, especially relatively to your costs. Normally, this is a recipe for bankruptcy, as your competitors undercut you. But when your competitors are all subject to the same rule requiring them to let this happen....

Given how much focus reformers put on controlling health care costs, reclassifying administrative costs as medical expenses is probably a positive development.

I'm generally annoyed by conservatives who claim that Washington is full of pointy-headed wonks who have never held a "real job" . . . but I do think that the most dangerous weakness on the pro-reform side is a broad ignorance of how companies actually work.

There seem to be a lot of assumptions that are intuitively satisfying, but blatantly silly to anyone who has ever managed a company (or spent much time talking to those who do). The assumption that lower overhead is invariably better is one of these, but not the only one. Others include a fairly persistent confusion about how companies make investment decisions, and how capital markets work; the belief that price rationing and government rationing are somehow economically equivalent because they both contain the word "rationing"; and the belief that having more the one product in a market is obviously wasteful "me-too" competition which is bad for consumers.

It's a dangerous weakness because it leads them to an extremely simplistic model of how companies work, and I think it makes them believe that they can mandate a lot more than they really can. The pro-reform side has been at its best in describing market processes that look a lot like what happens in government programs--things like adverse selection, and bargaining with providers. But when you have to add in processes that don't look much like what the government does--things like capital costs and investment decisions*, competition, and price discovery--their mental models often seem suspect.

I suspect that's going to be a big problem as we go forward, particularly when it comes to controlling costs.

*Before you rush to tell me that the government does too make capital investment decisions, let me just say that the government capital investment process simply looks virtually nothing like what happens in a company. Just try to imagine calculating an IRR on a highway.



Democrats Hate That Tea Parties Are Peaceful

Former President Clinton reminds us, on the 15th anniversary of the bombing in Oklahoma City, to police our discourse so as not to incite the "delirious" and "unhinged." Timothy McVeigh, he notes, "took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated … by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government … "

This is only the latest and most high profile installment of a long-running campaign by Democrats to malign their opposition. It worked very well for Mr. Clinton in 1995 -- the baseless insinuation that right-wing radio hosts had ignited murderous rage with their intemperate rhetoric -- and he's reaching into that seedy toolbox again.

By citing "the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government" as the chief motive of murderous terrorists, the former president implies that resistance to government overreach and encroachment is illegitimate; the province of extremists.

There are two problems with this. First, it is perfectly true that government can be a threat to liberty. This is so obvious that it hardly bears rebutting. Two examples: Alien and Sedition Acts, internment of Japanese Americans. No one understood government's capacity to constrain freedom better than the Founders, who designed a system so diffuse and balanced that power would be difficult (though not impossible) to abuse.

The second problem with Mr. Clinton's intimation is that his pious concern about a "vocal minority" protesting government threats to freedom was nowhere in evidence during the Bush administration, when many liberal commentators were caterwauling that President Bush was "shredding" the Constitution. A "vocal minority" certainly believed that the government was the greatest threat to American liberty (they thought Bush a far greater threat than Islamic extremism) -- but their saying so didn't trouble Mr. Clinton.

Nor was Clinton moved to speak out when anti-Bush protestors labeled him the world's "worst terrorist" and carried posters of the president wearing a Hitler moustache.

You can delegitimize all political speech you dislike by suggesting that it may inflame the violence-prone. The press attempts this again and again. Rather than openly debate, they smear. The 1994 election, which unseated the Democratic majority, was described by the press, without any evidence, as the eruption of "angry, white, male" voters. One fan out of 8,000 at a McCain/Palin rally was reported to have shouted "Kill him" in reference to Obama. Rafts of stories dwelt upon this revelation of the "ugly" side of Palinmania. A later investigation found no evidence that it had even happened. And of course the tea party movement, a spontaneous, widespread upwelling of grassroots dismay at the direction of government policy, has been falsely and savagely maligned as racist, violent and primitive. (The best poster spotted at a tea party rally: "It doesn't matter what I put on my sign because you will accuse me of racism anyway.")

Actually, Democrats are reduced to warning that certain attitudes can lead to violence because there hasn't been any actual violence at the tea party rallies. All have been remarkably orderly and even friendly. You can almost feel the Democrats' frustration at this.

By contrast, many, many left-wing protests and demonstrations have sparked violence. Just last year, at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh, rampaging protestors broke shop windows and scuffled with police, who used batons and tear gas to subdue them. A 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle was so badly disrupted by anti-globalization fanatics, who smashed windows and shut down the center of the city, that the governor had to declare a state of emergency and call out the National Guard. (President Clinton failed to assail those who criticize corporations as inspiring the violence.)

In 2007, several hundred protesters who descended on Washington, D.C., during the International Monetary Fund meeting turned over trash cans, smashed windows, threw bricks, and pushed a police officer off her motorcycle.

In 2008, as John Hinderaker of Powerlineblog recalls, anti-Republican protesters at the convention in St. Paul: "threw bricks through the windows of buses, sending elderly convention delegates to the hospital. They dropped bags of sand off highway overpasses onto vehicles below." The violence was only fleetingly covered in the press and went unmentioned by leading Democrats.

Republicans have been very quick to condemn violent acts or even intemperate words by right-wing individuals or groups. They've even condemned some that didn't happen -- like false account of racial slurs shouted at members of the Congressional Black Caucus. While it's important to police one's ranks, it's also necessary to expose the Democrats' persistent and malignant libels.




Americans down on federal government: "Already wary of the federal government, Americans have grown even more critical, less trusting and even fearful of Uncle Sam since President Barack Obama took office, according to an exhaustive new study being released Monday. The in-depth poll found Americans not only rejecting the idea of an activist government, but a growing number urging that its power be curtailed. The findings reinforce the anti-big government message of tea party rallies and suggest anew that incumbents, particularly Democrats, face a strong headwind in this fall’s elections for control of Congress."

Value-added tax would be a big disaster: "The idea that the Obama administration wants to make the United States more like France can no longer be considered a black-helicopter conspiracy theory concocted by Tea Partiers and ‘right-wing extremists.’ It is, in fact, a serious possibility. White House adviser Paul Volcker went on the airways recently to resurrect the idea of implementing a value-added tax (VAT). He did this after the president signed a massively expensive health care bill that will soak ‘the rich,’ tax the Jersey Shore’s tans and add other burdensome taxes and regulations.”

Media sensationalism obscures the facts: "It isn’t unusual for a TV reporter to get his facts wrong. It’s rarer for the images that accompany his dispatch to flagrantly contradict what he says. But on January 21, broadcasting in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, CNN correspondent Ivan Watson fretted about ‘chaotic crowds’ as the camera showed people who were calm and patient. When Watson announced that we were watching a ‘chaotic scramble’ onto a rescue ship, this was illustrated by a group of refugees carefully, methodically passing a baby onto the boat. Then, while more men and women peacefully loaded their luggage in the background, the reporter asked the ship’s owner his burning question: ‘Has anybody offered you any help with crowd control of these thousands of desperate people?’ Bizarre as the report was, it was only an especially egregious expression of beliefs that have taken hold in far more places than just CNN.”

Justice and commercial crime: "The very institution of government regulation of people in business is flawed — it involve[s] what in other contexts is considered impermissible prior restraint. Just because a business might do something untoward, it is deemed a valid target of prior punishment or imposition of burdens. In the criminal law this is nearly uniformly resisted and condemned. Just because one might do harm to another–is rumored to be planning such harmful conduct - -it doesn’t mean one may be imposed upon via some kind of criminal sanctions. Due process requires that the suspect be shown to be guilty, not merely feared to be so.”

That terrible “we” again: "Sure many people I know are concerned with their economic situation, especially over the last couple of years. But who wouldn’t be, what with the recent evidence mounting that all the government meddling in the country’s commercial life since the early 1900s has produced little else than irresponsible government plans and, recently, endless purchases of homes, massive deficits and debts, and whatever else can go wrong with a macroeconomic system. None of this is about you and me — any kind of ‘we’ — but about quite specific people, officials in various parts of the federal and state governments, parts where politicians and bureaucrats basically spend other people’s resources and take it upon themselves to rearrange the world guided by their own murky utopian vision.”


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Comment on Nazism by "Theodore Dalrymple"

Who is Jewish

The worst thing about the passage that I have quoted is its apparent endorsement, or uncritical acceptance, of Freud’s characterization of the Nazis as “right-wing.” This seems to me simplistic to the point of dishonesty, or at least symptomatic of a desire that complex social and political realities should be located on an analogue scale from right to left or left to right. If such a scale must be used, it seems to me that there is as much, if not more, reason to place Nazism on the left of it rather than on the right.

Not that this would be satisfactory, far from it. As Bishop Butler said, every thing is what it is and not another thing; Nazism was what it was and not another thing. If it could not, and cannot, be fitted neatly on to a political analogue scale, so much the worse for the scale. To change the figure of speech, we must not construct Procrustean conceptual beds.

Does it matter, however, if Nazism — being what it was and not another thing — is routinely characterized as being right-wing? I think that it does matter, for the following reason. There is a false syllogism that has a profound psychological effect:

Nazism was right-wing.
Conservatism is right-wing.
Therefore Nazism was conservative and conservatism is Nazi.

But Nazism was not conservative; when the Nazis called their advent revolutionary, they were right. There was nothing conservative about their movement at all. But the “syllogism” above has insinuated deeply into the minds of our intelligentsia, which is why so many of them are afraid of the supposed taint of conservatism.



The Limits of Power

by Thomas Sowell

When I first began to study the history of slavery around the world, many years ago, one of the oddities that puzzled me was the practice of paying certain slaves, which existed in ancient Rome and in America's antebellum South, among other places.

In both places, slave owners or their overseers whipped slaves to force them to work, and in neither place was whipping a slave literally to death likely to bring any serious consequences.

There could hardly be a greater power of one human being over another than the arbitrary power of life and death. Why then was it necessary to pay certain slaves? At the very least, it suggested that there were limits to what could be accomplished by power.

Most slaves performing most tasks were of course not paid, but were simply forced to work by the threat of punishment. That was sufficient for galley slaves or plantation slaves. But there were various kinds of work where that was not sufficient.

Tasks involving judgment or talents were different because no one can know how much judgment or talent someone else has. In short, knowledge is an inherent constraint on power. Payment can bring forth the knowledge or talent by giving those who have it an incentive to reveal it and to develop it.

Payment can vary in amount and in kind. Some slaves, especially eunuchs in the days of the Ottoman Empire, could amass both wealth and power. One reason they could be trusted in positions of power was that they had no incentive to betray the existing rulers and try to establish their own dynasties, which would obviously have been physically impossible for them.

At more mundane levels, such tasks as diving operations in the Carolina swamps required a level of discretion and skill far in excess of that required to pick cotton in the South or cut sugar cane in the tropics. Slaves doing this kind of work had financial incentives and were treated far better. So were slaves working in Virginia's tobacco factories.

The point of all this is that when even slaves had to be paid to get certain kinds of work done, this shows the limits of what can be accomplished by power alone. Yet so much of what is said and done by those who rely on the power of government to direct ever more sweeping areas of our life seem to have no sense of the limits of what can be accomplished that way.

Even the totalitarian governments of the 20th century eventually learned the hard way the limits of what could be accomplished by power alone. China still has a totalitarian government today but, after the death of Mao, the Chinese government began to loosen its controls on some parts of the economy, in order to reap the economic benefits of freer markets.

As those benefits became clear in higher rates of economic growth and rising standards of living, more government controls were loosened. But, just as market principles were applied to only certain kinds of slavery, so freedom in China has been allowed in economic activities to a far greater extent than in other realms of the country's life, where tight control from the top down remains the norm.

Ironically, the United States is moving in the direction of the kind of economy that China has been forced to move away from. China once had complete government control of medical care, but eventually gave it up as the disaster that it was.

The current leadership in Washington operates as if they can just set arbitrary goals, whether "affordable housing" or "universal health care" or anything else -- and not concern themselves with the repercussions -- since they have the power to simply force individuals, businesses, doctors or anyone else to knuckle under and follow their dictates.

Friedrich Hayek called this mindset "the road to serfdom." But, even under serfdom and slavery, experience forced those with power to recognize the limits of their power. What this administration -- and especially the President -- does not have is experience.

Barack Obama had no experience running even the most modest business, and personally paying the consequences of his mistakes, before becoming President of the United States. He can believe that his heady new power is the answer to all things.



One reason why many conservatives support Israel

To the left in America and around the world, this reason is dangerous nonsense. But for a vast number of America's Christians, many Jews and even many non-religious conservatives, it is deeper than any military or political reason. The reason is based on a verse in Genesis in which God, referring to the Jewish people, says to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you."

One need not be a Jew or Christian or even believe in God to appreciate that this verse is as accurate a prediction of the future as humanity has ever been given by the ancient world. The Jewish people have suffered longer and more horribly than any other living people. But they are still around. Their historic enemies are all gone. Those who cursed the Jews were indeed cursed.

And those who blessed the Jews were indeed blessed. The most blessed country for more than 200 years has been the United States. It has also been the most blessed place Jews have ever lived in. Is this a coincidence? Many of us think not.

Those who curse the Jews today seem to be cursed. The most benighted civilization today is the Arab world. One could make a plausible case that the Arab world's preoccupation with Jew-hatred and destroying Israel is decisive in keeping the Arab world from progressing. The day the Arab world makes peace with the existence of the tiny Jewish state in its midst, the Arab world will begin its ascent.

The converse is what worries tens of millions of Americans: The day America begins to abandon Israel, America will begin its descent.

Israel shares America's values, such as liberty, an independent judiciary, a free press, freedom of religion, free speech and women's equality. The Arab and Muslim worlds have none of these. Those facts -- and America's Judeo-Christian roots -- make support of Israel, no matter what the Arab and Muslim "street" feels about America, a moral lynchpin of American foreign policy.

This administration's desire to have America liked in the Arab and Muslim worlds therefore has to mean altering that lynchpin. You cannot protect Israel and strive to be liked in the Arab and Muslim worlds at the same time. And you cannot weaken that protection without weakening America's moral values, which form the basis of America's greatness.

Even aside from compromising America's moral essence, weakening American support of Israel will only strengthen the America-hating Islamists. The notion that the primitive monsters of the Taliban, Hamas, al-Qaida and the like will become pro-American -- or just stop attacking America -- if America weakens its support of Israel betrays an ignorance of evil that is frightening.

So there is nothing to gain -- and America's soul to lose -- by weakening, or by even seeming to weaken, American support for Israel.

In 1968, Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman turned philosopher and author of the classic work "The True Believer," wrote in The Los Angeles Times:

"The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us." Hoffer concluded: "I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us."

Genesis was right.




CA: Villaraigosa urges 10% cut in LA government work force: "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday proposed cutting the work force of America’s second-largest city by nearly 10 percent to close a $485 million budget deficit projected for the next fiscal year. The mayor’s plan, conveyed in a letter to the City Council ahead of his formal budget presentation on Tuesday, would permanently eliminate 3,546 municipal jobs in the biggest downsizing by Los Angeles in at least three decades.”

The left’s pension dilemma: "You know the pension tsunami is getting close to shore when the mainstream media are filled with hard-hitting stories about the coming crisis, such as the front-page article April 11 in the Sacramento Bee and Fresno Bee, documenting the manner in which huge pension costs for retired public employees ‘threaten California cities [and] counties.’ Most of the news stories focus, understandably, on the unsustainable costs to government and taxpayers, as the bill for these millionaires’ pensions come due. There’s no escaping the financial problem, borne of elected officials who have bought labor peace by selling out current and future taxpayers to the politically muscular public employee unions. In a down economy, it’s impossible to hide the numbers much longer. But the other real story is that these pension crises are undermining public services.”

Trader Joe’s gets FTC discount: "Portland, Maine, is getting a new Trader Joe’s — courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission. For some reason, Trader Joe’s didn’t see a reason to enter the Portland market until the FTC offered to seize some property from rival grocer Whole Foods and sell it to Trader Joe’s at below-market price. The locals appear ecstatic; the FTC has already received over 340 comments from Portlanders praising federal intervention in their local grocery market.”

Restoring federalism and state sovereignty: A constitutional path to prosperity: "The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution provides: ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.’ Over the first century of our nation’s history the 10th Amendment was an important part of the Constitutional rules constraining the growth of the federal government.”

NYT’s Tea Party coverage: "The piece has the usual tone when The Times discusses those whose views it despises — snooty, derisive, and uninterested in substance, as if what these people believed was some kind of disease, not worth serious consideration. The piece went into the history of Tea Party members, associating them with 60s conservatism. Like those sociological studies that aim to explain away people’s thinking, treating it as an affliction rather than a product of considered judgment, the study put Tea Party members under a microscope. This is fairly typical of those like the writers at The Times. It reminds me of a movie by Woody Allen, in which a boy fell on his head and temporarily became a conservative, subscribing to National Review and such. It took another fall by the boy to get rid of this problem. No argument, no examination of the merits of the ideas. Instead it is like some kind of virus one catches, not a set of ideas one might actually find intellectually compelling."

Thanks, I’ll do it myself: "The Obama Democrats see a society in which ordinary people cannot fend for themselves, one where they need to have their incomes supplemented, their health insurance regulated and guaranteed, their relationships with their employers governed by union leaders. Highly educated mandarins can make better decisions for them than they can make for themselves. That is the culture of dependence. The tea partiers see things differently. They’re not looking for lower taxes — half of tea-party supporters, a New York Times survey found, think their taxes are fair. Nor are they financially secure — half say someone in their household may lose their job in the next year. Two-thirds say the recession has caused some hardship in their lives. But they recognize, correctly, that the Obama Democrats are trying to permanently enlarge government and increase citizens’ dependence on it.”

Laotian stabs Nigerian: "The Chico State University student body president was stabbed several times early Sunday morning in what officials call a hate crime. Joseph Igbineweka, 23, who is of Nigerian descent, today was reported in stable condition at Enloe Medical Center. Chico police said Igbineweka was walking with friends on Warner Street near West Sacramento Avenue just off the north end of the university about 2:20 a.m. Sunday when a young man began yelling racial slurs at him. Police say the alleged assailant, Barry Sayavong, 19, of Chico then pulled a knife and began to slash and stab Igbineweka.” [I mention this event because the ancestry of only one party was mentioned in the original article]


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Monday, April 19, 2010

That idiot, George Bush

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had stated that there were 57 states in the United States, would you have said that he is clueless.

If George W. Bush would have flown all the way toDenmark to make a five minute speech about how the Olympics would benefit him walking out his front door, would you have thought he was a self important, conceited, egotistical prick?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had mis-spelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoe as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have approved.

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He did all this in the first year of his Presidency -- so you'll have three more years to come up with an answer.


Can the real motives of the Left be any clearer...

... after more than 40 years. More than 40 years of apologizing for fascists despots like Ho, Castro, and Arafat. More than 40 years of suppressing history they don't like. More than 40 years of twisting news reports to damage the forces of freedom and democracy and help the forces of revolutionary totalitarianism. More than 40 years of demonizing productive inventors, employers and investors, and glamorizing sloth, extortion, and mendacious whining. More than 40 years of ridiculing a millenia-proven concept known as "normal marriage," and pathetic experimentation and boosterism of every perverted notion that rejects it.

And now, in the latest and most unbelievable chapter, a solid 20 years of coddling and patronizing of the most regressive force unleashed on the globe in 500 years, jihadism. Apparently feminist women only feel free to roar when oppressive males pay them 15% less per hour, not when they execute them for getting pregnant outside of marriage, or throw acid in their faces for walking in the street without a male escort.

And then there's the strange consistency of so many of Pres. Obama's friends, which has never incurred any complaint a thousandth the magnitude of, sayyyyy, Sen. Lott's birthday comments to Strom Thurmond. Consider such characters as Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Rashid Khalidi, Noam Chomsky, Ray Hananiah, William Ayres, Samantha Power and Robert Malley --they're all just filthy little peas in the same crowded Jooooooo-hating pod. And all of this is pointing to the grand blood sacrifice that they secretly yearn for: the conquest of Israel, and the return of the Jews to their proper place of dhimmitude.

Is this really where "liberals" and "progressives" intended to end up as they directed their fearsome energies over the past 40 years? Serving as willing accomplices to a pre-medieval despotism in its efforts to mass-murder peaceful Jews? Yet that is where they are. And in their shriveled, perverted heart-of-hearts, they still know it. They ALWAYS know. Conservatives often give them the benefit of the doubt on their "good intentions," when it is never justified. They know.



Tea Partiers keep dissent alive

This morning there were many reports of yesterday’s Tea Party Demonstrations from across the country. These people did not act at all like they are consistently portrayed. The mainstream the media has described them as: Racist, Homophobic, Narrow-minded, Anti-government, Second Amendment fanatics. But, I neither saw nor heard reports of disorderly or rude conduct.

So what is wrong with this picture-perfect participation allowed and encouraged under the First Amendment of our U.S. Constitution? Why are the media and the likes of Bill Clinton so afraid today? To be sure, the Tea Party vision of America does clash with the vision of America that Obama and his followers want. So what? Why all of the establishment fear? The media loved it in 2008 when the voters took out their frustrations on the GOP and elected this man, Obama, who has no past and no resume. The media still loves to trash Sara Palin all day, every day. Where is the true fear and loathing coming from? Does the political process belong exclusively to the Left?

Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media share most values. They fear genuine grass roots movements. The only revolutions that they know are of the kind described by their Left-wing beliefs. Perhaps they are projecting what they know [violent revolution] on the Tea Parties and this creates their fear. Barack Obama takes this same, elitist Left-wing view toward normal Americans. Recall his very own words:
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them…And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” - Candidate Barack Obama, April 11, 2008

Or had you forgotten those remarks by our President? He and his elitist supporters apparently believe that present-day America is a collection of backward hicks badly in need of re-education. Tea Parties are a vestige of a bad “Old America” that must be destroyed and replaced with Obama’s vision of a European-style, Statist Paradise.

Imagine for a moment what it might be like if Barack Obama and his “Blame-America-First” Coalition of Union Tough Guys, aging SDS Terrorists, former Weathermen, Anarchists, Leftist Revolutionaries, Nihilists, and their “Lumpenproletariat” base were to complete not only their first, but also a second “Four Year Plan” [perish the thought].

Consider: If there were no Tea Party movement, where would we be headed and how fast would we get there? [Hint: Think of Health Care Legislation as the model.] Without the Tea Party Resistance, “Obama’s New America” would look very different indeed from the “Old America. “Obama’s New America” defined: A compressed effort of political re-education in Progressive Group-Think; Psychological bullying by True Believers; Physical intimidation for “hard cases;” Prosecutions of “Enemies of the State;” A total destruction of the Free Enterprise System; and Big Government intrusion into every facet of or lives.

After such a “fundamental transformation of America,” the remaining, outspoken Conservatives would be an endangered species. Think of it: possessing “dangerous literature” such as unapproved versions of the U.S. Constitution, “The Federalist Papers,” or even a copy of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” could be a heresy and might even be a “crime against the state.”

I simply cannot bring myself to believe that the American Public will long suffer Obama and his Propaganda Machine, listen to the fawning, slavish media, and prefer them to the liberty loving people of the Tea Parties!

Progressive Democrats and their wacky coalition have erred, their ambition has outstripped their abilities and their political capital. These are the same loony Leftists, [now transmogrified into Progressive Democrats] that spitefully contributed to Hubert Humphrey’s loss in 1968. Hubert Humphrey, the last true Liberal Democrat to run for President, lost in 1968 precisely because the American Public correctly saw that those radicals represented the crazy Left Wing of that same Democrat Party. After 42 years of mutation, permutation and fermentation in a dark place they are all grown up and making their play to finish what they started in the late 1960s.

Mind you, I am not speaking about the respectable and law abiding traditional Democrats who have yet to figure out that their once proud party of Andrew Jackson is no more. I’m talking about the street brawlers. They are the true face of the Progressive Movement. Blood and violence in the streets is their gig, not ours.

Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and all of the Leftwing “Czars” will be held responsible for the monster they have created, characterized by divisive politics and their blind hatred of traditional American values. The American voters will ultimately come to see Obama, and his Leftist Cabal for what it is. Our rejection must be complete But, we will forever have to guard against a return of their style of politics. Our watchwords must be, “Never again!” Our touchstone must be the U.S. Constitution.

Keep up the good work, Tea Parties. Keep pushing back against this Progressive Democrat Statism. We must never hear any eulogy for America. Long live the Tea Party Resistance!




Even more pointless government work: "I reported recently on a government boondoggle proposed for sleepy Forest City, Maine. To keep the stimulus cash flowing, the Feds wanted to waste millions of your money to expand a customs border station that sees only 5 cars cross the border on an average day. Jane Johnson told us that the government wanted to take half of her property to build residences for customs agents and a parking lot. The parking lot would be within 12 feet of her home. But on Friday came word that Homeland Security had backed down a little. It would not seize Johnson’s land. DHS said Friday that it would limit the size of the port of entry to land already owned by the government, backing away from the previous plan to acquire land owned by local residents. Of course, many millions will still be wasted on the station, but at least Johnson’s property is safe. Johnson credits her senator, Susan Collins for beating back the government’s encroachment. Johnson says media coverage also helped.”

Obama space policy not grounded in reality: "As President Barack Obama has been dancing around the space issue, one thing is certain, science is taking a back seat to politics, jobs and economic development. His plan is nonsensical, a mixing of compromises to supporters and target dates so far away they are useless, such as landing on an asteroid by 2025 and orbiting — not landing on — Mars in the 2030s. The 2030s? Is he for real?”

Taxpayers take another hit from Obama: "Taxpayers will pay billions more due to an executive order signed by President Obama that effectively restricts federal construction contracts to the minority of construction firms whose workers are unionized. That will encourage them to jack up their prices, by shielding them from having to compete with lower bids from non-union construction firms.”

The huge, hidden tax you pay for government: "Taxpayers rushing to fill out and file their form 1040 today may think their obligation to the federal government is complete. But it’s really just beginning. Although Americans paid more than $900 billion in income taxes last year, there’s a far larger tax bill hidden from view. That tax is regulation.”

The United States is the new Europe: "Many of President Obama’s advisers want America to emulate Europe. That is, after all, where health care is free, where taxes are high but no one seems to complain, and where the brightest students go to work for the government because the private sector is simply disappearing. The president’s advisers are seeing their wishes come true. While the government is hiring, the private sector is losing millions of jobs rather than creating them.”

Survey indicates a lack of trust: "Can you trust Washington? Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they can't and they have little faith that the massive federal bureaucracy can solve the nation's ills, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center that shows public confidence in the federal government at one of the lowest points in a half-century. The poll released Sunday illustrates the ominous situation facing President Obama and the Democratic Party as they struggle to maintain their comfortable congressional majorities in this fall's elections. Midterm prospects are typically tough for the party in power. Add a toxic environment like this and lots of incumbent Democrats could be out of work."


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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mr. President, is a strong America a problem?

From Sarah Palin's Facebook page:

Asked this week about his faltering efforts to advance the Middle East peace process, President Obama did something remarkable. In front of some 47 foreign leaders and hundreds of reporters from all over the world, President Obama said that “whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower.”

Whether we like it or not? Most Americans do like it. America’s military may be one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever seen, liberating countless millions from tyranny, slavery, and oppression over the last 234 years. As a dominant superpower, the United States has won wars hot and cold; our military has advanced the cause of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan and kept authoritarian powers like Russia and China in check.

It is in America’s and the world’s interests for our country to remain a dominant military superpower, but under our great country’s new leadership that dominance seems to be slipping away. President Obama has ended production of the F-22, the most advanced fighter jet this country has ever built. He’s gutted our missile defense program by eliminating shield resources in strategic places including Alaska. And he’s ended the program to build a new generation of nuclear weapons that would have ensured the reliability of our nuclear deterrent well into the future. All this is in the context of the country’s unsustainable debt that could further limit defense spending. As one defense expert recently explained:
The president is looking to eliminate the last vestiges of the Reagan-era buildup. Once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “ended” (not “won”), the arms control treaties signed, and defense budgets held at historic lows while social entitlements and debt service rise to near-European levels, the era of American superpower will have passed.

The truth is this: by his actions we see a president who seems to be much more comfortable with an American military that isn’t quite so dominant and who feels the need to apologize for America when he travels overseas. Could it be a lack of faith in American exceptionalism? The fact is that America and our allies are safer when we are a dominant military superpower – whether President Obama likes it or not.



The Israeli Left want to undermine their own country too

It's in the nature of Leftism everywhere. Leftism is the ideology of hate -- though always disguised as doing good. The disguises vary but the destructive behaviour reveals that the hate is constant

The Anat Kam affair has sent shockwaves throughout Israel's military and political establishment.

Allegations that the young reporter stole reams of sensitive IDF documents and passed them along to Ha'aretz reporter Uri Blau raise serious questions about basic subjects such as security procedures and information controls in the army.

Sweeping changes will need to be implemented to ensure that such an outflow of documents does not recur, and one assumes that the military brass has already taken steps to plug the leaks in an obviously creaky system.

But of all the secrets that Kam may have revealed about operational and intelligence matters, few are likely to be as explosive as the real bombshell that she has unwittingly uncovered.

For through her actions, Kam has cast the spotlight on a critical question that does not get nearly as much attention as it deserves: why does the Israeli Left seem to produce so much treachery against the state?

Indeed, the sad fact is that if the charges against Kam are true, she is but the latest in a long line of ideologically-driven left-wingers who have betrayed the country and its secrets.

Remember Mordechai Vanunu, the former nuclear technician who disclosed details of Israel's atomic-energy program to the Times of London in October 1986?

Or how about Marcus Klingberg, one of Israel's top military scientists, who passed data to the Soviets out of ideological conviction before his arrest in 1983?

And then there is Tali Fahima, who was convicted in 2005 for her contact with Zakaria Zubeidi, a Palestinian terrorist from Jenin who headed the local branch of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

There are plenty of other such examples, which only leads one to wonder why some on the Left seem to have no compunction about committing duplicitous acts which cause harm to the state.

Obviously, it would be unfair and wrong to tar the entire Left with the brush of disloyalty. But the lifting of the gag order on the Kam affair should prompt some serious introspection on the other side of the political spectrum.

The fact is that leftists need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their ideology. Based on some of what has emerged from their ranks over the past few decades, it is clear that something has gone very, very wrong.

Of course, such an accounting is unlikely to occur, as various leading left-wing commentators have already rushed to Kam's defense. They are trying to paint her as a whistle-blower, portraying the young journalist as an Israeli Erin Brockovich motivated by the highest ideals to pursue truth and justice, rather than a Benedict Arnold who violated the trust that was placed in her.

For example, former Meretz chairman Yossi Sarid, writing in Ha'aretz on Sunday, sought to defend Kam's actions by suggesting that plenty of politicians have leaked documents over the years.

That may be true, but it is beside the point. Just because a lot of people engage in an illegal act does not in any way make it lawful or honorable, and Sarid should know better than to suggest otherwise.

And then there is the irrepressible Gideon Levy, who went so far as to praise Kam and Blau for their actions. "These two youngsters," he wrote, "each in his own way, wanted to contribute to the state. They saw evils and would not keep silent. This should be described and portrayed as patriotism and love of one's country - certainly more than sending soldiers to eliminate fugitives in cold blood."

Just how exactly Kam "saw evil" when she purportedly made copies of documents outlining the deployment and order of battle of IDF forces is hard to fathom. If anything, the reckless disclosure of such information could have endangered the lives of soldiers in the field had it gotten into the wrong hands.

That isn't patriotism – it is subversion, pure and simple.

Needless to say, when a handful of soldiers recently raised a banner at a military ceremony saying they would refuse to evacuate Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, the Left went into a frenzy, blasting the Right over the need to "follow orders" and "maintain discipline" in the army.

Oddly enough, however, those principles seem to fall by the wayside when it comes to the case of Anat Kam, whose actions are inexplicably trumpeted as those of a hero.

Perhaps, as Kam goes to trial, the Left will finally take pause and stop to think. Maybe, just maybe, they will look at the young, naive ideologue and finally see the hazards which their ideology has produced.

In this respect, the Kam affair is a wake-up call, and the alarm bells are ringing.

The only question now is whether the Left will heed the buzzer and finally awaken.

SOURCE (See also Steven Plaut on the matter)


Tinpot Hitlers attacking a low cost airline

SPIRIT AIRLINES put a few noses out of joint when it announced this month that it will begin charging passengers between $20 and $45 for carry-on luggage too big to fit under their seats. One of those dislocated schnozzes was that of Ray LaHood, the US secretary of transportation, who pronounced Spirit's new carry-on fee "outrageous," and growled: "We're gonna hold the airline's feet to the fire on this. Because we have an obligation to do it and we have the ability to do it." Asked to characterize the airline's change of policy, LaHood asserted: "I don't think they care about their customers."

According to his biography at the Transportation Department website, LaHood's entire career has been spent on government payrolls; he has no business experience of any kind. Perhaps that explains his fatuous notion that Spirit, a for-profit company in a fiercely competitive industry, can jack up its fees without regard to customer reaction.

Maybe LaHood imagines that air travelers, like taxpayers, have no choice but to pay whatever they're told to pay. A lifetime in the public sector may have so calcified his ignorance of how markets function that he simply cannot grasp that passengers who don't want to pay Spirit's new carry-on fees can always switch to an airline that doesn't charge them.

But ignorance is no excuse for LaHood's threat to "hold the airline's feet to the fire." Washington does not "have an obligation" to second-guess the fees charged by Spirit or any other private business. Absent evidence of fraud, theft, or coercion, airlines should be able to charge what they think the market will bear, free of governmental meddling.

Spirit's $30 fee for the use of an overhead bin may well strike people as "outrageous." But for Washington to bully the airline into rescinding its fee -- for no better reason than that some passengers don't like it -- would be a greater outrage by far.

LaHood isn't the only public-sector lifer carrying on about Spirit's carry-on policy. New York Senator Charles Schumer squawks that the new fee "is a slap in the face to travelers," and declares that passengers should have the right to bring a carry-on aboard "without having to worry about getting nickeled and dimed by an airline company."

Firm in his conviction that anything he personally dislikes ought to be illegal, Schumer is pushing legislation to ban airlines from charging for carry-ons. "I think it will go through the Senate and House like a hot knife through butter," he predicts.

Maybe it will. But if Schumer grieves so deeply about travelers being "nickeled and dimed" when they fly, why has he never gone after the US ticket tax, which adds 7.5 percent to the price of every domestic flight? Or the $16.50 the federal government charges for each international departure and arrival? Or the $17 in customs and inspection fees paid by passengers flying into US airports from abroad? Or the "passenger facilities charges" (up to $18 per round-trip)? Or the "US Security Service Fee" ($2.50 per departure)? Or the "domestic segment fee" ($3.70 per flight segment)? The government's unremitting "nickeling and diming"of airline passengers doesn't trouble the sleep of New York's senior senator. Only when a private firm acts does he toss and turn in anguish.

Reality check: Every airline charges for its overhead bins, just as every airline charges for bathrooms, oxygen masks, and flight attendants. The cost of those amenities is built into the airfare you pay when you fly, and you pay whether you use them or not.

The same used to be true of the "free" meals, pillows, and baggage handling airlines provided, before they unbundled those services, made them optional, and began charging for them separately. Spirit, an ultra-low cost carrier that describes itself as "the unbundling leader in the industry," has decided to do the same for carry-on luggage, simultaneously reducing its base fares by $40 or more each way.

Ben Baldanza, the president of Spirit Airlines, argues that making every passenger pay for carry-on luggage would be like McDonald's forcing every customer who buys a hamburger to cover the cost of French fries, too. "Not everyone wants fries," Baldanza says. "Why should everyone have to pay for them?"

Is Spirit's strategy a good one? The free market can answer that question faster and more accurately than any one of us can. The less assistance it gets from grandstanding senators or transportation secretaries, the better off all travelers will be.



The return of the blimp aerostat

The U.S. military has begun testing massive high-tech dirigibles — designed to provide battlefield commanders with a bird's-eye view of cruise missiles or other threats — in the skies over the Utah desert.

An unmanned 242-foot-long balloon was launched Wednesday morning about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City. It stayed aloft for about three hours before it was pulled back down as planned, according to Paula Nicholson, a spokeswoman for Dugway Proving Ground.

Vast tracts of military-owned desert were chosen for the testing because of their remoteness and resemblance to the mountainous, arid environment of Afghanistan, the military said in a statement.

Known as aerostats, the dirigibles are outfitted with radar and communications systems to provide long-range surveillance targeting threats from aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles.

Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon Co. was awarded a $1.4 billion contract from the Army in 2007 to design, build and test the aerostats.

Several more tests are proposed for Utah later in the year, including over the remote northern portion of the Great Salt Lake and parts of the Snake Valley.

The aerostats were first flight-tested in Elizabeth City, N.C., last summer but were limited to a height of 3,000 feet. In Utah, the dirigibles are expected to fly some 10,000 feet above the U.S. Air Force's Utah Test and Training Range, where air space is restricted up to 58,000 feet, the military said. The dirigibles are tethered to processing stations on the ground, and each is capable of staying aloft for a month.

Officials said the aerostats will be less expensive to maintain and operate than conventional aircraft-based radar while providing battlefield commanders a bird's-eye view of threats in a given area.

"Not only will it expand the view well over the horizon, but do so at the least cost to the taxpayer. This is a critically needed capability as we continue to prosecute the global war on terrorism," Col. William E. King IV, Dugway's commander, said in a statement.




I have been pointing out the Leftist bias of Snopes for years now but a recent article does a pretty good job of pointing out that they cannot be trusted on anything political. Even when given the facts, they ignore whatever does not suit their Leftist agenda


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